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Around 100km (62mi) from Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax, you’ll find the charming town of Lunenburg – one of the Atlantic Coast’s most popular destinations, which was named a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1995. Best-known for the brightly colored buildings lining its streets and its postcard-perfect harbor, there’s no shortage of things to do in this little fishing village. Here are 12 of our top recommendations.
It may be small, but Lunenburg hosts some amazing festivals throughout the year. The Boxwood Festival has a worldwide presence and embraces all types of traditional music, while The Folk Harbour Festival is Nova Scotia’s longest-running festival and one of the oldest in Canada. Music, dance, workshops and conferences over the course of four days in early August offer something for everyone. Other annual festivals include the Festival of Crafts and the Lunenburg Doc Fest (documentary film festival).
With Lunenburg being best known for its ocean adventures and seaside location, it’s no wonder taking to the water is one of the best ways to experience this tiny port town. Options include sailing tours, offered by the likes of Star Charters, as well as deep-sea fishing for adventurous seafarers or kayak rentals. The south shore’s longest operating whale watching business, Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours, also gives you the chance to spot minke, pilot, finback and humpback whales as well as seals, porpoises and dolphins during a fun excursion.
For a small town, Lunenburg is positively brimming with buildings from the Canadian Register of Historic Places as well as with National Historic Sites. In addition to the Knaut-Rhuland House, you can explore the town’s history at places like the Lunenburg Academy – the only 19th-century academy building still intact in Nova Scotia, which sits on top of Gallows Hill. St. John’s Anglican Church, built in 1754 and the first to be established in the town, is also recognized as one of the best examples of Carpenter Gothic architecture.
The streets of this small town have long attracted creative types, making the arts scene here much bigger than you’d expect. Lunenburg is home to numerous studios, galleries (including the popular Quartet Gallery and the Laurie Swim Gallery) and even a tattoo parlor. Those visiting during the summer months can take advantage of the art events on offer here, like the Lunenburg Festival of Crafts and the Lunenburg Street Art Festival. You can also visit the Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival here in August, featuring artists’ talks, a buffet dinner and an art show and sale.
Outdoors enthusiasts can take advantage of over 90km (56mi) of hiking and biking trails in Lunenburg, including the Back Harbour Trail, stretching 4km(2.5mi) through the town with nice lookout areas and benches along the way. The Bay to Bay Trail is a slightly longer route, spanning approximately 10km (6mi) from Mahone Bay to Lunenburg. The nearby Indian Falls Municipal Park is also a popular hiking region where you’ll find beautiful waterfalls, rocky beaches, a picnic area and ample lookout stations. It’s also known for having some of the area’s best salmon fishing.
Additional reporting by Emma Gibbins