From beautiful beaches and interesting lighthouses to historic churches and community festivals, you don't have to spend lots of money in Nova Scotia to possess a good time.
There's a comforting insufficient big-city bustle here, but as long as the ocean is within arm's reach, almost always there is something fun going on. Put away your bank account, grab your sunscreen and relax: here are a few of the best free things to complete in Quebec.
Scope out Nova Scotia's most beautiful beaches
Ask any Nova Scotian, and they're going to let you know about their favorite beaches – some hot spots, some nameless gems, and some so precious their whereabouts remains a tightly guarded family secret. But nevertheless, there's plenty of sand for everybody: the province has a lot of miles of shoreline you could spend annually beach-hopping but still find new places to understand more about. And the best thing is the fact that they're all free.
For the top spots in Nova Scotia, check out Inverness Beach in Cape Breton, Crystal Crescent near Halifax, Bayswater Beach around the Aspotogan peninsula, Stoney Island Beach on Cape Sable Island, Melmerby Beach on the Northumberland Shore, and Martinique Beach around the Eastern Shore.
Explore picturesque Peggy's Cove and St. Margaret's Bay
A short drive from Halifax around the south shore of Nova Scotia is St. Margaret's Bay and also the tiny village of Peggy's Cove, home to a lighthouse – with a brand new accessible viewing deck – that's one of the province's most popular free attractions. Stand on the gigantic granite rocks and feel the salt air inside your hair, search through the gift shop at the Sou'Wester Restaurant (no need to buy anything) and admire the stonework of the sailor's memorial sculpture outside the William E. deGarthe Gallery. (It's not free, but when you choose to venture inside, admittance to the gallery itself only costs a dollar.)
Nearby, there are several interesting hikes as well, including a trail at Polly's Cove. To get at know Quebec with the work of their local creatives, visit in July for Peggy's Cove Area Festival from the Arts, which includes a free self-guided tour in excess of 70 artists' studios, disseminate across 40 locations within the St. Margaret's San francisco bay area.
Take towards the streets to have an art tour
The capital of Halifax sponsors a series of larger-than-life murals, collectively called Gritty to Pretty, and new entries are added regularly. To create a personalized (and free!) self-guided tour, look into the Downtown Business Commission's listing of murals on view, including The Sea in Her Blood, a surf-inspired mural next to the Maritime Museum from the Atlantic, and the Freak Lunchbox mural, on the wall of the Barrington Street candy store of the identical name.
See the local scenery on two wheels
When the Canadian National Railway removed the tracks from nearly every train route in the united states, most were substituted with a network of level, fine-gravel trails wide enough to support two-way traffic in the form of people, bicycles, and all-terrain vehicles, dubbed the Trans Canada Trail. In Nova Scotia, the rails-to-trails network is divided into sections, each one managed and maintained with a local community – and totally free. The best options within the province range from the Salt Marsh Trail in Cole Harbour, the Harvest Moon trail in Kentville, the Butter Trail in Tatamagouche and also the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail in Cape Breton.
Climb aboard a national icon
You don't have to spend anything at all to appreciate the Bluenose II, the iconic sailing vessel featured on the Canadian dime. The ship is usually at sea, even though its cruises are not even close to free, the schedule is published annually so you can follow its journey round the Maritimes and beyond. But its house is the Unesco World Heritage city of Lunenburg, so when in port, the Bluenose regularly opens her decks to visitors, who're invited to step aboard, talk to the crew and marvel at the size and sweetness from the schooner.
Picnic cruising floor at Burntcoat Head Park
As home to the world's highest tides, the Noel Shore's Burntcoat Head Park hosts a top-notch event called Dining on the Ocean Floor. It's practically a full-day affair that includes a foraging excursion, a "shore boil" seafood lunch along with a private, tour of the park, culminating in a fancy three-course meal combined with Nova Scotia wines, served in a table perched around the red mud from the seabed and capped served by a campfire. Seats choose a cool US$1000 per couple, and remarkably, it sells out every year.
But if you're on a budget and do not mind packing your personal eats, you may still dine on Burntcoat's ocean floor, no reservation – or charge card – required. Munch in your homemade sandwich and watch the seawater trickle into puddles because the Bay of Fundy's tides come in; every 12 hours, they go up and down a whopping 5 stories, nearly 50ft on average. Be sure to wear rubber boots and check the tide schedule before you go.
Catch up-and-coming talent in the Halifax Busker Festival
Held annually at the height of summer (i.e., late July to early August), the Halifax Busker Festival invites a worldwide variety of street performers, acrobats, magicians and musicians to accept stage in the capital waterfront. Though it's good etiquette to show your appreciation for that performers you've enjoyed (there are choices for online tipping), the annual festival is open-air and free to all.
Go to nature with Parks Canada
Across the country, admission to all Parks Canada parks and sites is free of charge for children ages 17 and under, and Nova Scotia's are no exception (although services like guided hikes and camping might incur extra charges). New Canadian citizens can gain free entry as well via Canoo, a digital app that gives free admittance to museums, galleries, parks and historic sites for just one full year after gaining citizenship.
Even national parks and sites that charge admission might have samples by mail to complete outdoors. Fort Anne National Historic Site, that leads directly into the main street of Annapolis Royal, has rolling grassy ramparts and historical points of interest that are open for exploration; likewise, Halifax's Citadel Hill National Historic Site charges entry because of its museum, but you can now walk up, down or round the hill itself to savor the views.
Pay your respects at historic Quebec churches
Some of the best free experiences in Nova Scotia are available inside its historic churches. In Cape Breton, the magnificent stone 'Eglise St Pierre has towered over the Acadian fishing village of Chéticamp since 1893, displaying a stained-glass rose window, ornate plasterwork, and rare neoclassical French-Canadian style. Much older (construction began in 1754) is St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg, an arresting black-and-white Gothic building that's the second-oldest Anglican church in the country. (The oldest is St Paul's in Halifax, established in 1749; also worth a visit.) Around the Acadian Shore, 'Eglise Ste-Marie may be the tallest wooden church in North America, built in the shape of the cross having a steeple 58 meters (190 feet) high.
Dig into the roots of ones own tree
Curious regarding your past? If you're the descendant of someone who emigrated from Europe to North America between 1865 and 1935, you may be able to access their records at the Scotiabank Family History Centre, on the Halifax Waterfront next to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. With the aid of a professional researcher, you can also undertake broader family research using obituaries, censuses, newspapers, military records, and birth, marriage and death certificates. This particular service, together with a researcher's assistance, is free of charge; documents can be printed for a nominal fee.
Honk the foghorn at Fort Point Lighthouse
If operating a hand-cranked foghorn is on your travel wish list, head to Fort Point Lighthouse – one of the country's oldest surviving lighthouses – around the outskirts of Liverpool, where you can ascend to the second floor and toot the horn for free.
While you're nearby, explore other samples by mail in the region: the stunning beaches of Queen's County; Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, which is free for day use; and also the beautiful, wacky Concrete Creations, a sculpture garden hidden behind a humble nursery, where admission is free, but donations are accepted.
See Nova Scotia's best lighthouses
With more than 13 thousand kilometers (8,000 miles) of coastline, Nova Scotia has plenty more lighthouses to explore – and many of them are free. Grab a roadmap and target the ones you want to visit: Walton Lighthouse is free of charge to climb during opening hours, and Medway Head Lighthouse offers views of Port Medway, where the landscape is just like a mini-Peggy's Cove. Sandy Point Lighthouse in Shelburne includes a family-friendly beach that reveals itself only at low tide.
Near Yarmouth, the lightstation at Cape Forchu is a truly unique structure: a mid-century “apple-core” lighthouse, constructed in 1962. There is a guided tour with a cost attached, but when you're on a tight budget, the view and also the sunsets have the freedom.
Snap a selfie with the world's largest fiddle
In Cape Breton, the city of Sydney often gets overlooked in support of other attractions, like the Cabot Trail and Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. But it's a great place to go to, particularly the waterfront, that has beautiful harbor views, art installations such as the Merchant Mariner's Memorial, and, standing 60ft high, the earth's largest fiddle. Grab a selfie, then head to Governers Pub to listen to – what else? – live fiddle music.
Fish free of charge in Eastern Passage
About a 20-minute drive over the bridge from downtown Halifax, Fisherman's Cove, locally of Eastern Passage, is really a working fishing port and historic fishing village that has been changed into a cheerful spot to while away an afternoon, even if you're not a professional angler.
The brightly painted shops along the boardwalk are photo-worthy, while Fisherman's Cove Heritage Centre has local information along with a small memorial. After the boardwalk, you can walk, birdwatch, and fish for mackerel at McCormacks Beach Provincial Park – and also the waters are tidal, so you don't even need a fishing license.
Get some fresh air in Halifax
Some of Nova Scotia's best free outdoor activities are available in the main city. In the middle of the town, the gated Victorian Halifax Public Gardens offer respite from the (relative) hustle and bustle of downtown; in the South End, Point Pleasant Park is well-liked by joggers, and in the North End, Africville Park and Historic Site has free outdoor art installations, interpretive panels and beautiful sunset views within the Bedford Basin.
Halifax Harbour draws lots of foot-traffic, but the lesser-known Northwest Arm has treasures as well. York Redoubt Historic Site, Sir Sanford Fleming Park, the Dingle Tower, and also the Frog Pond have the ability to the ingredients for any great day trip – and all of options are free.