As the world’s second largest country, it’s no surprise that Canada has some truly beautiful towns from coast to coast.
If you’re looking for hiking trails, sailing adventures, a rare glimpse into the highest tides on the planet, walking the long beaches at dusk, or visiting historic lighthouses, head to the East Coast, where you’ll encounter some of the friendliest folk in the country and enjoy the freshest seafood. The equally stunning West Coast has its own particular charm, with gorgeous mountain views, unique beaches, the Pacific’s cool breeze, and a mellow, welcoming vibe—no matter what island or beach town you find yourself in.
Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
Located on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, the small fishing town of Twillingate—with its quiet country roads, stunning coastline, and friendly locals—is a perfect depiction of what the province has the offer. The town is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination due to its location alongside Iceberg Alley, a vast corridor of ocean that runs down from Greenland, where you can spot whales, dolphins, seals, and if you’re in the right season–icebergs.
If you visit: Don’t miss Notre Dame Bay, where you can catch the best views at Long Point Lighthouse.
Cavendish is a small rural town on the coast of Prince Edward Island, with a population of less than 300 residents, which grows in the summertime due to a tourism spike. The long beach on the north part of the island is perfect for a warm dip or nighttime walk, but what the area is most famous for is that it was once home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.
If you visit: Check out the author’s famous home, where you can take in the surrounding scenery, which was the setting of her books.
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Not only is Lunenburg the province's only UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its distinctive architecture, it’s also home of the original Bluenose, the finishing and racing schooner built in 1921 (that also happens to appear on the front of the Canadian 10-cent coin). Situated on the western side of Mahone Bay, Lunenburg will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the past.
If you visit: Take in the array of antique streets and homes, enjoy a walk or a bike ride on the beautiful beach, or take a sailing course around the Bay.
Chester, Nova Scotia
Located in the southeastern part of Lunenburg County is the picturesque village of Chester, which, every August attracts sailboats from all over the world for its annual Chester Sailing Week boat race. The town of about 3,400 residents is an artist hub, known for the many art studious among the small main street strip.
If you visit: Check the museums and artist spaces in the small town or take a leisurely kayak ride around the 100-plus islands in Mahone Bay.
St. Andrews, New Brunswick
St. Andrews is a dreamy little town in New Brunswick that boasts its scenic architecture, beautiful landscape, and rich marine life. Perfect for a romantic getaway, the town of fewer than 2,000 residents has been dubbed "St. Andrews By-the-Sea" and is a premier tourist destination on the East Coast.
If you visit: Don’t miss out on the hiking trails along the coast, check out the cannons at Market Square, or spend the day whale watching at sundown.
Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Maybe a bit more well known, but a worthwhile visit nonetheless, is Nova Scotia’s Peggy’s Cove, with its beautiful lighthouse situated on granite rocks with perfect white waves crashing below it. Peggy’s Cove is a more frequented tourist destination, but visitors are often returning ones.
If you visit: Sign up for a free tour of the local history and geology or take a kayak ride around the coast exploring the old fisherman’s houses.
Nanaimo, British Columbia
Known as the “Harbour City” due to its central location on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is a natural haven known for hiking, boating, kayaking, biking, and world-class scuba diving and snorkeling. Take a seaplane and see the sparkling blue water underneath or marvel at the province’s largest forestry industry from above.
If you visit: Don’t miss the coalmines at the Nanaimo District Museum, and the rocks and coves of Newcastle Island Provincial Marine Park.
Prince Rupert, British Columbia
Located on Kaien Island on Northwest British Columbia’s Pacific Coast, the port city of about 15,000 residents offers a one-of-kind wilderness exploration, where you can see deer wandering city streets, or from the safety of a boat gaze at wild grizzly bears, or catch some whales a mere hour offshore.
If you visit: Try some of the region’s amazing seafood and immerse yourself in the history, events, and tours of the region’s Aboriginal culture.
Saltspring Island, British Columbia
Like many of the nearby small towns, Salt Spring functions on “island time,” where locals take a moment to catch up in the town square, trading stories about the latest sunset on Vesuvius beach, or the local band playing at a small beach bar that evening.
If you visit: While there are many beautiful beaches, walking trails, boating, cycling, and diving excursions, the views from the top of Mount Maxwell will simply take your breath away.
Tofino, British Columbia
Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on the tip of the Esowista Peninsula, and at the southern edge of Clayoquot Sound, Tofino is a district of about 2,000 residents living among relatively untamed land. From surfing and whale watching to relaxing in the cool shade of the tall evergreens, Tofino has something for everyone.
If you visit: Be sure to check out the nature-themed arts scene rooted in First Nations culture.