In this guide, we invite you to join us on a virtual exploration of Lunenburg’s best things to do. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a culinary connoisseur, this coastal town has something special for every traveller. From iconic landmarks to hidden treasures, let’s embark on a journey that unveils the heart and soul of Lunenburg, leaving you with memories as vibrant as its iconic architecture.
So, lace up your walking shoes, charge your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating allure of Lunenburg. This maritime jewel awaits, promising an unforgettable experience.
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Why visit Lunenburg?
Nestled along the picturesque shores of Nova Scotia, Lunenburg beckons travellers with its vibrant colours, rich maritime history, and an ambiance that seems to echo through its charming streets. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, this coastal gem is more than just a destination; it’s a journey through time, offering a perfect blend of history, culture, and coastal beauty.
A bit of History
Lunenburg is home to the iconic Bluenose. This fishing and racing schooner was built in 1921 in Lunenburg. It was lost at sea in 1946, and the Bluenose II came to life in 1963. This replica was made one of Canada’s emblems, spending most of its time in Lunenburg’s harbour, where visitors can tour the iconic boat.
Where is Lunenburg?
Lunenburg is a historic town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia in Atlantic Canada. Specifically, it is situated on the eastern shore of Mahone Bay, approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.
When is the best time to visit Lunenburg?
The best time to visit Lunenburg is during the summer months, from June to September. The temperature is ideal for enjoying all the activities the charming town offers.
However, the fall offers pleasant weather and vibrant foliage, making it a close second.
How many days do I need to visit Lunenburg?
A visit to Lunenburg is ideally planned for one to two days, allowing ample time to explore its historic charm, iconic landmarks, and the surrounding natural beauty. Whether you’re delving into maritime history, savouring local cuisine, or simply strolling through the vibrant streets, this coastal town offers a delightful experience that can be comfortably enjoyed over a leisurely day or extended into a weekend getaway.
Lunenburg’s Best Things to Do and See
1. Enjoy Lunenburg’s waterfront and Bluenose Drive
The most attractive section of town is the waterfront. Walking along the boardwalk by the water lets you enjoy the scenery and admire beautiful craft moored along the docks.
2. Visit Bluenose II
The iconic sailboat is open for a visit if it is home. The schooner spends some time navigating the Atlantic waters of eastern Canada. Still, it comes home to Lunenburg, where tourists can admire this replica of the original Bluenose featured on the Canadian dime.
Confirm with the online schedule if the Bluenose will be home when you visit. You also have the opportunity to book a cruise on the Bluenose II.
3. See the Fishermen’s Memorial
This memorial honours the fishermen lost at sea. The pillars are engraved with the men’s and women’s names as a reminder of the lives lost and the force of the sea. Walk among the pillars and pay respect to those who have left this life way too soon.
You will find the memorial on Bluenose Drive on the waterfront.
4. Visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
The museum is a popular attraction that provides insight into the maritime heritage and fishing industry of the region. See the exhibits, the historical vessels and lighthouse displays. The museum offers educational programs and workshops. Stop by the Gift Shop before leaving for a souvenir. You can check out the schedule and the admission fees here.
The Fisheries Museum is by the waterfront on Bluenose Drive.
5. Hiking and Biking
Blue Rocks Common Trail:
- 3 kilometres out-and-back easy trail with beautiful views
The trail is not well maintained; I suggest having a GPS. I used AllTrails to ensure I stayed on the right path, as game trails intersecting can lead to confusion.
You will find the trailhead on S Side Rd off Stonehurst Rd in Lunenburg.
Bay to Bay Trail:
- 11 kilometres point-to-point easy trail
This trail is perfect for walking your dog or riding your bike.
Back Harbour Trail:
- 4 kilometres point-to-point easy trail
This trail joins the Bay to Bay Trail, making it an even longer biking adventure. The path is also perfect for walking as it wanders behind the town following Highway 332.
Sea Cave Trail: (Thunder Cave)
- 1.1 kilometres out-and-back easy trail with remarkable cliffs and sea views.
This trail is within the Ovens Nature Park, a privately owned park. There is an admission fee. Though the hike is short, the views are among the best in the province.
Gaff Point Trail
- 6.5 kilometres out-and-back moderate trail
Part of this hike is on private land. Remember to be respectful and grateful for the owner’s permission and stay on the trail.
If you plan to hike some trails while in Lunenburg, this list of essential hiking gear might be helpful and make the experience more enjoyable and safer.
6. Paddling and Kayaking
Pleasant Paddling has kayaks and SUPs available to rent. They also offer different kayaking tours through the islands, seal-watching day tours, sunset tours, or multi-day tours. See the public tours and pricing on the Pleasant Paddling Website. You can find them at 245 The Point Road in Blue Rock, just minutes from downtown Lunenburg.
7. Take a picture from the best viewpoint of the town
Lunenburg is known for its picturesque scene of the colourful buildings by the seashore. The viewpoint near the golf course offers the perfect spot for taking the iconic picture of this charming town. Drive around Lunenburg Harbour on Lincoln St, Falkland St and Tannery Rd. There is a photo spot on Tannery Rd, and a bit farther, on Cove Rd, you will find the Viewing Point. You can admire the town and waterfront from both locations.
8. Enjoy a game of golf
After taking loads of pictures from the Viewing Point on Cove Rd, drive a few hundred meters on Cove Rd and get ready for a game of golf. The Bluenose Golf Club offers golf enthusiasts a tranquil escape and a challenging and picturesque golfing experience.
9. Swimming and Seaglass Hunting
There are several beautiful beaches near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, providing opportunities for relaxation and outdoor activities.
Battery Point Beach is a small hidden beach you can access following the sign for salt marshes on Battery Point Road. Follow the path until you come to the shore.
Spindler Beach, or Feltzen South Beach, is a quiet sandy beach where visitors sometimes find sea glass. You can find it along Feltzen South Road.
Bachman’s Beach is a small beach in Sandy Cove where sea glass hunters usually get lucky at low tide. It is accessible from Second Peninsula Road.
Sand Dollar Beach is a quiet sandy beach with calm and shallow waters, making it the perfect beach for families with small children. The beach is 15 minutes southwest of Lunenburg on Highway 332 near Rose Bay.
Hirtle’s Beach is 20 minutes from Lunenburg in Kingstown. This beach is known for its long stretch of sandy shoreline and stunning coastal scenery. It’s an excellent place for a beach walk and enjoying the natural surroundings.
10. Shop in the boutiques downtown
As you explore the streets of Lunenburg, especially along Montague Street and other main thoroughfares, you’ll encounter a mix of shops and boutiques.
- Lunenburg is home to several art galleries showcasing the work of local artists. You can find a diverse selection of paintings, sculptures, and other art forms.
- Explore craft shops offering handmade and locally crafted items. These may include jewelry, textiles, pottery, and unique souvenirs that capture the essence of the region.
- Antique enthusiasts can browse through the town’s antique stores, where you may discover vintage items, collectibles, and unique pieces with historical significance.
- Gift shops in Lunenburg provide a variety of items ranging from maritime-themed souvenirs to locally produced goods. This is an excellent place to find keepsakes or gifts for friends and family.
- Fashion enthusiasts can explore boutique stores offering clothing, accessories, and unique fashion finds. Some stores may feature locally designed or crafted apparel.
- If you enjoy reading, Lunenburg has bookstores where you can find a selection of literature, including works by local authors or books about the history and culture of the region.
Specialty Food Shops:
- Indulge in the local culinary scene by visiting specialty food shops. These may offer local delicacies, gourmet items, or unique products.
Maritime and Nautical Stores:
- Given Lunenburg’s maritime history, you can find stores specializing in nautical-themed items, such as ship models, marine equipment replicas, and maritime memorabilia.
11. Enjoy nature and the parks
Lunenburg has public spaces and areas where visitors can enjoy the outdoors, providing a quiet place for relaxation and enjoying the scenic panoramas.
Rous Brook Heritage Garden and Park is a beautiful green space where you can enjoy a stroll by the sea or a picnic with family or friends. You will find this small garden by the water east of downtown on Pelham Street.
Sawpit Park and Wharf: sit and relax while enjoying the scene with the sailboats resting in the waters. The park looks over Back Harbour at the end of Sawpit Road.
Second Peninsula Provincial Park: This beautiful park by the shore features picnic tables under the canopy of spruce and fir with a view of the sea and the cobble beach. To get there: 10 km (6.2 mi) south of Hwy 103, Exit 10.
Are you travelling with your dog? Stop at the Lunenburg dog park on Starr Street and let the little furry thing run wild.
12. Visit Blue Rocks
Blue Rocks is a picturesque coastal village near Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Canada. This charming fishing community is known for its stunning natural beauty, rocky shoreline, and historic character.
The rocky coastline, interspersed with small islands and inlets, creates a picturesque and tranquil setting. The blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged, weathered rocks contribute to the village’s unique charm.
Blue Rocks maintains a peaceful and authentic maritime atmosphere as a traditional fishing village. Colourful wooden houses, many of them historic, line the waterfront, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich fishing heritage.
When visiting Blue Rocks, it’s recommended to stroll along the waterfront, enjoy the scenic views, and appreciate the maritime heritage that defines this charming Nova Scotian village.
13. Whale watching and fishing tours
- Lunenburg Ocean Adventures: fishing and diving adventures aboard the Islander VIII
- Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours: embark on this tour and enjoy wildlife viewing, from whales to puffins and seals.
14. Sailing Tour
- Sail and See: The premier private sailing tour in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, to explore the stunning coastline, breathe in the salty air and revel in the beauty around you.
- Star Charters: Explore the harbour and sea caves, soak in the sun, and experience the beauty of the southern shores.
15. Enjoy a drink from a local distillery or brewery
Ironworks Distillery is renowned for its handcrafted spirits, including various types of brandy, gin, rum, and liqueurs. The distillery uses traditional methods and locally sourced ingredients to create small-batch, high-quality products.
The distillery often has a tasting room where visitors can sample and purchase products. Tasting sessions provide an opportunity to learn about the distillation process and the unique characteristics of each spirit.
Ironworks Distillery embraces Lunenburg’s local culture and history, infusing its products with a sense of place. The distillery’s location in a historic building adds to the overall charm of the experience.
Shipwright Brewery Company Taproom and Pizza
Enjoy the locally crafted beer, a good dinner, and live entertainment at this lively taproom restaurant. You will find Shipwright Brewery Company Taproom on Montague Street.
16. Coffee break
N°9 Coffee Bar: good coffee and fabulous pastries perfect for breakfast
The Savvy Sailor Cafe is also excellent for a coffee break and lunch.
17. Taste local specialties
Of course, seafood should be on the menu. Try one of these highly recommended restaurants in Lunenburg for a taste of the local cuisine:
- South Shore Fish Shack
- Oh My Cod
- Lincoln Street Food
18. Participate in a Festival
- Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival: A folk music and storytelling celebration, usually held in August. The festival features performances by local and international artists.
- Lunenburg Doc Fest: An annual documentary film festival that showcases thought-provoking documentaries from around the world. It typically takes place in September.
- Lunenburg Street Festival: This occurs in the summer and involves various activities, live music, and entertainment in the streets of Lunenburg.
- Fishermen’s Memorial Service: Held to honour and remember those who lost their lives at sea, this event usually occurs in September.
- Christmas Festivities: Lunenburg is known for its festive decorations and events during the holiday season. The town often hosts Christmas markets, parades, and other holiday-themed activities.
19. Day Trips from Lunenburg
- The beach near LaHave is a picturesque option for a sunny day outside. It is about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from Lunenburg. The beach features a mix of sand and rocks, and it’s a lovely place to relax and enjoy the coastal ambiance.
Kejimkujik National Park Seaside
- Situated along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is known for its rugged coastline and pristine landscapes. The seaside section is located southeast of the main body of Kejimkujik National Park.
- The park features a stunning and unspoiled coastal environment. Visitors can explore rocky shores, sandy beaches, and coastal heathlands, providing a diverse range of ecosystems.
- Kejimkujik National Park Seaside offers a network of hiking trails that meander through coastal forests along the shoreline and provide scenic viewpoints. Trails may vary in difficulty, allowing visitors to choose routes that suit their preferences.
- Exploring the coastline provides opportunities for birdwatching and observing marine life.
- The park’s coastal location provides opportunities for ocean kayaking. Visitors can paddle along the shoreline, exploring hidden coves and enjoying the coastal scenery.
- Kejimkujik National Park Seaside is 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Lunenburg.
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
- The park is known for its rich ecological diversity, featuring a mix of Acadian forests, wetlands, lakes, and rivers characterized by old-growth forests.
- Kejimkujik is renowned for its freshwater activities. Visitors can enjoy paddling on its interconnected lakes and rivers, with canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding opportunities.
- The park offers an extensive network of hiking trails that wind through various ecosystems. These trails allow visitors to explore the park’s flora and fauna, including old-growth hemlock and sugar maple forests.
- In addition to the national park, there is a separate component known as Kejimkujik National Historic Site. This site focuses on the Mi’kmaq cultural heritage and includes interpretive programs, exhibits, and guided tours. It features petroglyph rock carvings created by the Mi’kmaq over a thousand years ago.
- The park has visitor centers that provide information, maps, and educational exhibits about the natural and cultural history of Kejimkujik.
Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail
- The scenic Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail is in the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Area near Halifax, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Lunenburg.
- The trailhead is accessible from the parking lot off Exit 4 on Highway 103.
- The trail is a loop that covers approximately 13.5 kilometres (about 8.4 miles). Hikers can complete the entire loop or opt for shorter sections, as there are various access points.
Risser’s Beach Provincial Park:
- Situated near Petite Rivière, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Lunenburg, Risser’s Beach Provincial Park offers a sandy beach and a picnic area. It’s a family-friendly spot with opportunities for swimming and beachcombing.
- Situated near Green Bay, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lunenburg, Sperry’s Beach is a local hidden gem offering a quieter and more secluded atmosphere. It’s known for its scenic views and sandy shores.
Recommended Accommodations in Lunenburg
Both these options are highly recommended, and the perfect location is close to the town center and the waterfront. They are perfect for couples or families.
- Lunenburg Arms Hotel is a two-minute walk to the waterfront and boutiques downtown—spa services are on-site, free parking and wifi, and pets are allowed on request for an additional charge.
- Lil Hook Ocean View Villa by the water, beautiful view from a large deck with BBQ, complete kitchen, sleeps 4. Parking and wifi included. Pets are allowed at no extra cost.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved historic architecture, vibrant waterfront, and rich maritime history. The town’s unique charm and cultural significance make it a popular destination.
Lunenburg is approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia. The drive takes about 1.5 hours.
The historic waterfront, Bluenose II, Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg Academy, and the colourful Old Town district are key attractions.
Yes, there are beautiful beaches near Lunenburg, including Hirtle’s Beach, Risser’s Beach, and Crescent Beach.
Yes, Lunenburg and its surroundings offer hiking trails, including those in Kejimkujik National Park and the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail. The Blue Rocks Common Trail and the Sea Cave Trail are recommended hiking options with stunning views.
Numerous seafood restaurants and markets in Lunenburg offer fresh, locally caught seafood. Check out local favourites for a taste of Nova Scotia’s culinary delights, such as Oh My Cod and Lincoln Street Food.
While summer is the peak tourist season, Lunenburg’s charm extends throughout the year, with festivals, winter activities, and unique experiences in each season.