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Cycling The Annapolis Royal Area Of Nova Scotia

Cycling the Annapolis Royal Area of Nova Scotia

Last summer I spent a couple of days cycling and exploring the Annapolis Royal area of Nova Scotia. The town, founded in 1629, is actually the oldest European settlement in Canada. It’s located on the south bank of the scenic Annapolis River about 200 kilometres northwest of Halifax. It’s a quiet, picturesque part of Nova Scotia and perfect for exploring from the seat of a bike.

"The view across the river from Annapolis Royal"

The view across the river from Annapolis Royal

Renting a bike in Annapolis Royal – a no go

Unfortunately, there is nowhere to rent a bike in town so you have to bring one with you. (Rent from Valley Stove and Cycle in Wolfville or from Freewheeling Adventures in Hubbards – other suggestions???) On the other hand, the town has published an excellent bicycle map with 16 routes described, ranging in length from 8.2 kilometers to 102 kilometers. There’s a huge variety of countryside to explore. Some of the suggested routes include a challenging coastal tour along the Bay of Fundy, a ride down to Kejimkujik National Park and a dirt road ride to Belleisle Marsh.

Where can you cycle around Annapolis Royal?

For a pretty out and back ride, with little traffic, head across the Annapolis Causeway. This is a remarkable spot especially when the tides are changing and you can feel and see the power of the churning water. It’s the only place in North America right now that generates energy from the tides.

"A lot of foam is generated when the tides change"

A lot of foam is generated when the tides change

At the end of the causeway, head west towards Victoria Beach on a road that offers views of the Annapolis River, the Annapolis Basin and the Digby Gulf.  Plan a stop at Port Royal, the site of a French Colonial settlement in the early 17th century, and now a National Historic Site. You can take a tour or just admire the view. As you continue cycling you’ll pass one lighthouse and the rest of the ride is very pastoral with gently rolling hills. Retrace your steps to return.

"Pastoral scenes are the norm"

Pastoral scenes are the norm

"Lighthouse on the way to Victoria Beach"

Lighthouse on the way to Victoria Beach

"Cycle past blots of old houses with character"

Cycle past blots of old houses with character

"Flowers line the side of the road in June"

Flowers line the side of the road in June

"Unfortunately you see far too many For Sale signs in rural Nova Scotia"

Unfortunately you see far too many For Sale signs in rural Nova Scotia

"Colourful boats at the end of the road"

Colourful boats at the end of the road

Another interesting but hillier ride, takes you along the south shore of the Annapolis Basin past colourful homes with character, to the village of Bear River. Stop for a wine tasting at the Bear River Winery. Try to time your arrival in Bear River to coincide with lunch. Pull up a chair at one of the waterfront cafes built on stilts, and enjoy the scenery. The Bear River is a tidal River and as such sees huge swings in the level of the river twice a day. Explore the town on foot before continuing on a loop that takes you back to Annapolis Royal on quiet back roads past fields of wildflowers. One more winery, the Annapolis Highlands Vineyard, might beckon you to stop. If not you’ll be back in Annapolis Royal in under an hour.

"The view out from one of the Bear River cafes"

The view out from one of the Bear River cafes

Annapolis Royal is a delightful destination with a surprising amount to offer. No matter what your cycling ability, there will be a route for you.

There are loads of truly exceptional B&B’s as well. I can personally recommend the Hillsdale House Inn.

"Sunset over the Annapolis River"

Sunset over the Annapolis River

Have you ever been to the Annapolis Valley area?

***Thank you to Freewheeling Adventures for providing me with a great bike!***

"My Freewheeling bike"

My Freewheeling bike

Other posts that might be of interest that pertain to the area:

Leigh McAdam



Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 18 Comments
  1. Nova Scotia is so beautiful. No I have not been there, but I have seen lots of posts on them from yourself, Nancie and Lisa Goodmurphy. When we were over your way in 2010 we flew from NYC to Quebec and then overland to Montreal and Toronto. We had planned to visit Novia Scotia from Montreal? by train but we ran out of time and in April most things were closed because it was too early in their season. I really want to visit there though and if I do I will visit the Annapolis area. I want to visit a lot of places, not all of which are realistically achievable, but I definitely think Novia Scotia is. I can’t wait.

    1. @Jan Nova Scotia should definitely get included on your itinerary if you get another pass. It’s about a 2 day drive from Montreal – 20 hours from Kingston if you’re a university student (I did that once to see a football game) and once you make it to Nova Scotia you feel like you’re in a different world. I have lots of ideas for you when the time comes.

  2. I love the photo of the old house with wild flowers all around it. And the sunset of course. Just stunning!

  3. Another beautiful area of Nova Scotia. I’m not surprised that there isn’t a bike shop. The season here is so short. A bike shop could never support itself year round. Too bad some of the B&Bs don’t offer them. Bear River is probably one of my favorite villages in the province. It is just so quaint and laid back. Your photos are gorgeous, and they make me homesick!

    1. @Nancie It was a part of the world I wasn’t familiar with and I was very pleasantly surprised by what I found. Bear River is a great spot isn’t it – friendly and with a lot going for it considering its size.

  4. What a pretty area to bike through and there don’t seem to be any hills! It’s interesting that they produce a bike map but you can’t rent bikes..maybe some enterprising person will read your post Leigh!

  5. What a lovely area! Love that reflection shot and those pastoral scenes. It also looked like you had the place to yourself while biking. I really want to visit this part of Canada one of these days. Beautiful scenes and photos as always, Leigh.

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