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Exploring Nova Scotia’s South Shore By Bicycle

Exploring Nova Scotia’s South Shore by Bicycle

One of the best ways to explore Nova Scotia’s south shore is the slow way – on the back of a bicycle. But as you’ll see from the photos, it’s worth a drive if you don’t like to bike. You can do the trip on your own; you can try a self-guided bike trip where a company moves your bags every day and provides you with a route description or you can go with the full guided tour.

South shore of nova scotiaI did the self-guided option. I’d picked up a bike compliments of Freewheeling Adventures at their headquarters just outside of Hubbards. My plan was to cycle as much as I could of the south shore between Hubbards and Lunenburg. But if you haven’t been to Peggy’s Cove then you must absolutely include that as part of your bike tour.

What I hadn’t thought through when I organized my bike rental was how I was going to fit the bike into my rental car as I moved around. I had rented a Fiat Mini. And trust me, it is one small car. But when I took both tires off I could carefully maneuver the bike into the trunk and the back seat. All my other gear had to go in the front seat and there wasn’t room for another soul.

"Squeezing my bike into the back of a Fiat Mini"

Squeezing my bike into the back of a Fiat Mini

Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove, even with busloads of tourists is an amazing sightin all types of weather. And Highway 333, the road that takes you though Peggy’s Cove, is beautiful – filled with outcrop that begs to be explored. Take the time to visit the Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial just a few kilometers away from Peggy’s Cove too.

The road to Peggy’s Cove is hilly and the shoulders if there are any, aren’t very big. The good news though is that drivers are extremely courteous. And if you need a great place to stay in Peggy’s Cove try Peggy’s Cove B&B, located right on the water.

The colourful harbour in Peggy's Cove

The colourful harbour in Peggy’s Cove

Beautiful sunset in Peggy's Cove

Beautiful sunset in Peggy’s Cove

Lovely peaceful evening and nice light in Peggy's Cove

Lovely peaceful evening and nice light in Peggy’s Cove

Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial

Two communities, Peggy’s Cove and Blandford were crucial to the recovery operation following the crash of Swiss Air Flight 111 on September 2nd, 1998. The sites for the memorials – Whalesback and Bayswater Beach were chosen because of the proximity to the communities and because the view lines are tied in together along with the crash site to form a triangle.  That is reflected in the design of the memorial for Swiss Air Flight 111.

"Swiss Air Memorial for Flight 111"

Swiss Air Memorial for Flight 111 at Whalesback near Peggy’s Cove

The one way distance between Peggy’s Cove and Hubbards is 47 kilometres.

Other points of interest include white sand beaches and small coves that offer photo opportunities.


Another full day’s bike ride takes you 78 kilometres around the Aspotogan Peninsula near Hubbards.

It’s a quieter road that the one to Peggy’s Cove and still very scenic. You pass through a number of small fishing villages including Northwest Cove, Aspotogan and Blandford. You may want to get off your bike at Bayswater Beach for a stroll; nearby is the second memorial for the Swiss Air flight. Don’t miss a bowl of chowder at The Deck Restaurant, a few kilometers north of Blandford.

"Empty beaches on the Aspotogan Peninsula"

Empty beaches on the Aspotogan Peninsula

"Another Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial"

Another Swiss Air Flight 111 Memorial near Blandford

"Scenic views even on a dull day"

Scenic views even on a dull day

"Colourful lobster traps"

Colourful lobster traps

"Fishing boats don't lack fo"

Fishing boats don’t lack for colour either

"Wild flowers growing along the edge of the road"

Wild flowers growing along the edge of the road

"a lawn full of dandelions"

It was dandelion season when I was there

"Have you had Solomon Gundy?"

Have you had Solomon Gundy?

"Seafood chowder for lunch"

Seafood chowder for lunch

Cycle approximately 40 km round-trip from Mahone Bay to Blue Rocks and into Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Chester area itself is pretty but I don’t think the road between Chester and Mahone Bay is anything special. I opted to drive to Mahone Bay and do a day trip out of there.

Chester though warrants a visit. It feels a bit like Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario if you’ve ever been there – all manicured lawns and gardens and plenty of old money around. Stay at the Mecklenburgh Inn where you’ll be well taken care of by Suzi, the owner and gourmet cook extraordinaire and don’t miss the best lobster roll I had in Nova Scotia at The Rope Loft, down on the water.

"The three churches in Mahone Bay"

The three churches in Mahone Bay

"I loved the colourful scenes along the water"

I loved the colourful scenes along the water

"blue, blue water"

Passed a lot of rural scenes like this

A side trip to Blue Rocks is a must. It’s charming, beautiful and it feels like you’ve stepped back in time. It ranks as one of my favourite small villages in Nova Scotia and the subject of a previous post.

"Boats in Blue Rocks"

Boats in Blue Rocks


You could easily spend a day in Lunenburg wandering around the neighbourhoods with a camera in your hand. It received UNESCO Site status because it is the best surviving example of a planned British Colonial Settlement in North America. There has been a real effort on the part of the locals to preserve the heritage of the town and in fact some of the houses date back to the 18th century.

"The blindingly bright colours of Lunenburg houses"

The blindingly bright colours of Lunenburg houses

"The architectural details in the Lunenburg houses are exceptional"

The architectural details in the Lunenburg houses are exceptional

On the way back to Mahone Bay I took whatever backroads I came across. Scenes like the one below were common.

"The only thing missing is sunshine"

The only thing missing is sunshine

If you enjoy kayaking don’t miss a trip out of Mahone Bay in protected waters.

"Quilt shop in Mahone Bay"

Quilt shop in Mahone Bay

Other possible day trips along the south shore of Nova Scotia I didn’t do include:

  • A bike ride out the the Ovens Natural Park where you can explore sea caves. I remember visiting as a kid and loving it.
  • Take the cable ferry to West La Have and cycle the coastal road down to Liverpool.

There are a number of companies that offer bike tours in the area. Freewheeling Adventures and Pedal and Sea Adventures are two locally run and operated companies. Randonnee Tours also runs a trip.

I highly recommend exploring this wonderful, scenic section of Nova Scotia. It’s sure to capture your heart.

Have you been to Nova Scotia’s South Shore?

Exploring Nova Scotia's South Shore by Bicycle

Other posts that may be of interest.

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 24 Comments
  1. Love your photos, Leigh – Nova Scotia is one of my favourite places in the world! I think the Peggy’s Cove pics are my favourites – we have always been there on bright sunny days and I love seeing what it looks like as the sun is setting. Haven’t been in Lunenburg for about 7 years – I need to go back!

    1. @Lisa I hadn’t been to Lunenburg in about 25 years and I didn’t remember as many brightly painted houses but perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention. I truly love Peggy’s Cove and on this trip I wish I’d had more time for Mahone Bay.

  2. What a fantastic journey this must have been! Peggy’s Cove looks positively quaint and charming and love the nautical landscapes along the entire route and the scrumptious seafood chowder to fuel you onward.

    The wild flowers you photographed above are “Lady’s Slippers” I believe and it’s illegal to pick them in NJ! Gorgeous aren’t they?

    The Swiss Air monument must have been a profound experience.

    Thanks for taking me a long for the ride!

    1. @Jeff Thanks for your great comment. A visit to the Swiss Air monument was a profound experience – and oddly personal – perhaps because of the lone red rose laid at the bottom of one of the rocks. When you look out to sea – and it’s an icy sea – it’s hard to imagine the horrible last few seconds of these people’s lives. But on a more upbeat note, this is a special area in Canada that is simply a fantastic place to visit – friendly, laid back and very pretty.

  3. I’ve seen some pretty colorful buildings in my time, but Lunenburg just might have outdone them all. Everything is so beautifully kept up, too. I’m sorry to say that I had actually forgotten about that Swiss Air tragedy. I guess that’s why these memorials are so important. The memorial at Whalesback is so well done and meaningful.

  4. Great as usual! Here the lady slipper is the state flower and you have to really hunt for them, and there you found them growing wild along the road! I love that part of Canada. . . guess I need to plan a return trip.

  5. I just love all the colors in all these pictures but wow on the Lunenburg houses. I really want to visit Peggy’s Cove and Mahone Bay and just spend some time exploring this part of Canada – with or without sunshine. I’m sure I can live on seafood chowder and lobster rolls all that time. What a beautiful area! This was such a great itinerary, Leigh.

  6. If I had the choice, I’d like to tour a town or city by bike. It allows for stopping anywhere that interests me and not as exhausting as walking. But because my travelling companion doesn’t do bikes (pedal or electric) I can’t do it as much as I would like to. But one of these days, I’ll join a biking tour they organise all the time in the town where we spend our summer holidays in Germany. Without my travelling partner, if need be. 😉

    1. @Marlys I like both hiking & biking but sometimes biking is preferable when you can cover so much more ground but still have the time to poke about. And Nova Scotia is such a great place because the towns on the south shore are close together =- and you are never far from a good meal.

  7. Okay, Leigh, you’ve tempted me enough! I’ve just decided: Peggy’s Cove is going on my list for 2014. And by summer, my ankle will be in much better shape to tackle the bike tour.

  8. What delightful views these are, Leigh. From the first shot, you convinced me that this is somewhere I have to go in the future.

    1. @Andrew Peggy’s Cove is touristy but I still love the spot. It’s wild, especially on a windy day when the waves pound the shore.I don’t think you’d be disappointed and as a photographer there is a lot of great scenery over a short 100 kms distance.

  9. I had half a mind to go visit the eastern part of Canada late summer this year but found that everything was beyond my budget at the moment. Touring on a bike seems to be a cheap way to do it… did you get to bike and camp along the way or did you stay mostly in B&B?

    1. @Jill Bike touring is always a less expensive option and there is lots of camping. I ended up camping a few times but not while biking.I stayed in some nice B&B’s and quite enjoyed myself every night after a day on the bike.

  10. Oh wow I remember that horrible tragedy with Swissair Flight 111, Leigh. That’s a beautiful memorial they’ve put up. What a gorgeous right you went on. Every picture gave me a feeling of calm and serenity. Very nice. Yikes, those Lunenburg houses are really bright except for that last one of which I would love to have a home like that! And yes please on the clam chowder – yummy! 🙂

  11. Hi Leigh, such a lovely shore area to explore by bike. I remember that lovely Peggy’s Cove from your previous post. A great yummy clam chowder is always a nice treat. I’d love to bike that route from Mahone Bay to Lunenburg – so scenic with a lot of splash of color. I hope to make it make it to Nova Scotia sometime soon

  12. Oh my goodness, I love the bright colours in all of your photos! Very magical, especially the one with the red house and the dandelions. Pretty!

  13. What a fantastic trip! I’ve driven the south shore many times, but I think traveling by bike would force me to slow down and really admire the scenery like you did.
    I would recommend a trip to Brier Island the next time you find yourself biking around the south shore. It’s tough to get to…but worth it. You need to go all the way to the end of the Digby Neck and take 2 ferries, but they’re FREE for cyclists!

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