Lunenburg

When the notion of an RV trip to Eastern Canada first began to percolate in our minds, we envisioned one place: Lunenburg. The entire downtown of this tiny Nova Scotia community is a UNESCO World Heritage site, its waterfront one of the most recognizable of any in the Maritimes. In addition to offering colorful, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that exude charm, there’s an RV campground located just a few blocks from the waterfront, allowing easy access to the town’s many appealing features. We had high hopes this stop would be a memorable one, filled with the kinds of experiences we love. Happily, Lunenburg did not disappoint. It was one of our favorite Canadian destinations.

The Lunenburg waterfront

While Lunenburg is undoubtedly touristy, there is an air of authenticity that surrounds it which we enjoyed very much. This sense of authenticity was even more noticeable when we visited the famous fishing village of Peggy’s Cove a few days later. Peggy’s Cove was so pristine and perfect, it looked like a Hollywood set. Lunenburg, on the other hand, just seemed a bit more genuine.

The Lunenburg waterfront from the pier.

a dockside building in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Further lending a sense of authenticity to this working port is the large memorial, located on the docks, commemorating the many local fishermen who have perished at sea since 1890. Two things jumped out as we examined the sadly lengthy list of names; first, the large numbers of men with the same last names who died at the same time, presumably family members working on the same doomed ships; and second, the continued danger fishermen face today. While, thankfully, the number of entries on the memorial has vastly decreased over the years, deadly accidents still occur with surprising frequency. Indeed, the most recent name was added in 2014.

The Lunenburg Fishermen's Memorial in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Of course, plenty of the boats docked in Lunenburg were less about work and more about play…

A private sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

A private sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Sailboats anchored in the harbor in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

However, our favorite boats were the PIRATE SHIPS!!!

The Europe docked in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Several of these tall ships were in port during our visit, and every time we saw one, we had a Jack Sparrow moment! Sure, our fellow tourists gave us some odd looks as we yelled across the docks, “Ahoy, me hearties!!”, but you know they were just jealous of our deep knowledge of authentic pirate lingo!

Even more exciting, we got to see the famous Blue Nose II, a replica of a famous racing and fishing schooner that was lost in 1946. The Blue Nose II is considered the “sailing ambassador” of Nova Scotia and docks in Lunenburg for several months each year.

One night we noticed the decks were open to visitors so we climbed aboard to have a look. The ship is simply magnificent!

The wheel of the Bluenose II in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

The Bluenose II in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
I can’t keep my vacuum cleaner cord from getting all tangled up. I cannot begin to imagine how the crew deals with all this!

Realizing we were quickly approaching the end of our time on the Atlantic coast and that we had, somehow, not yet spent any time out on the water, we decided to take a two hour cruise with a local touring company. The sail was on a slightly smaller vessel than the ships we’d been ogling all week.

Star Charters sailboat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

As we headed out on our cruise, our guide noted that the Blue Nose was out on the water for an event. He raced over as quickly as he could so we could see it with its sails up, but, unfortunately, we were too far away for me to capture a good photo of it.

Lucky for us, though, as it was motoring back to port, it sailed right by us….

The Bluenose II sailing in the waters near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Even without its sails up, the Blue Nose was impressive.

We spent the remainder of our time on the tour boat attempting to capture the beautiful Lunenburg waterfront…

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from the water

and enjoying a calm night on the Atlantic while watching the sun set.

Sunset sail near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Sunset sail near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg reminded us quite a bit of Saint Andrews in that it was within walking distance of our campground, it offered a veritable ocean of picturesque waterfront scenery, and the homes in the neighborhoods were chock full of character. Indeed, there are no boring houses in Lunenburg….

Private home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Hell, there are no boring doors in Lunenburg….

In addition to the colorful houses, the shops are all independent (no Starbucks here…), there are numerous captivating art galleries, and the streets are full of horse drawn carriages…

Horse drawn carriage on streets of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

What Lunenburg had that Saint Andrews fell short on was a long list of bars and restaurants to while away the day. Several, like The Salt Shaker Deli, The South Shore Fish Shack, and The Grand Banker offer fabulous views in addition to delicious and inventive seafood dishes.

Other Lunenburg restaurants were winners for a different reason.

The thing was, Lunenburg was our last stop in Canada. And after five weeks in coastal Canada and three weeks in coastal Maine, we were finding ourselves pretty burned out on seafood. On a particularly rainy and chilly night, I started looking around for options when I came across the perfect remedy for all that ailed us: Schnitzel!!

Dinner at the Old Black Forest Cafe Restaurant in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, and Spatzle

Located just three miles from the waterfront, the Old Black Forest Cafe offers traditional German favorites in a warm and cozy environment. It was perfect!

We also discovered this place – The Knot Pub. Considered a locals bar, set away from the main tourist area, and larger than it looks from the outside, we found this watering hole to be an easygoing and welcoming spot for a meal and a beer after a long day of sightseeing.

The Knot Pub in Lunenburg

The Swiss Air 111 Memorials

One of the things I wanted to see when we visited Nova Scotia was the memorial to the victims of the 1998 Swissair Flight 111 crash. What I didn’t realize is there are actually two memorials. It was only when we pulled up to the first site, and it looked nothing like the pictures I’d seen online, that we realized there are two different monuments set several miles away from one another. Turns out, after the crash, members of the communities of Peggy’s Cove and Bayswater assisted local authorities with the recovery mission. Both towns, therefore, have memorials.

The monument at Bayswater lists the names of those who perished and is the final resting place for many of the victims. This is the much less visited memorial and the one I was unaware of.

Swissair 111 Memorial at Bayswater

Swissair 111 Memorial at Bayswater

The memorial in Peggy’s Cove is the one you’ll see photographed more often.

Swissair 111 Memorial at Peggy's Cove

Perched on an overlook, commanding sensational views of the coastline, it is a solemn and moving remembrance.

Peggy’s Cove

Peggy’s Cove is a tiny picturesque fishing village built next to an iconic and oft-photographed lighthouse. It is spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, the village kind of feels like a movie set. Everything was so beautiful and clean and pristine and perfect, we couldn’t help but wonder whether anyone actually lived in the houses or whether they were just set pieces. Whatever the case may be, it was stunningly beautiful and our arrival, just prior to sunset, could not have been better for taking it all in.

Peggy's Cove village in Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Row boats in the water at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is the main draw here for good reason. The structure itself, its location out on the rocks, and the way the last sunlight of the day illuminates it, combine to create a mesmerizing picture. It’s like stepping into a painting.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse at sunset

We were also awed by the powerful surf that surrounds the village. The waves were massive and relentless and, as we learned later, can sometimes be deadly.

Heavy surf surrounding the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove

Finally, we noticed that while the area surrounding the lighthouse was consistently very busy with photo-taking tourists, by simply turning around and looking down the coastline, we were gifted with views just as fabulous, but much less frenetic.

Not a bad view. Not a bad view at all.

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Where we stayed: Lunenburg Board of Trade Campground

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18 COMMENTS

  1. These pictures are stunning! What incredible scenery and quaint buildings. Totally looks like something out of a book that you try to picture and figure out if it is real. The weather looked fairly cooperative, too. I definitely want to explore Canada now after reading your posts. Can’t wait to see you in Chicago!!! Safe travels!

    • Yeah, some of the scenes in Peggy’s Cove literally looked like they were set pieces. Like those lobster traps on the dock in the top picture? Real or props? Who knows? It was all just so perfect, it was crazy. But whatever the case may be, it was lovely to look at. I think you guys would really like the Maritimes – especially PEI and this part of Nova Scotia. It’s all just beautiful with lots of stuff to do, good food, and nice places to stay. Looking forward to Chicago!

  2. As always your photos are spectacular. What a beautiful place. I love the lighthouse. About 25 years ago I bought a painting of this lighthouse. Through your photos I get to see how beautiful it is.

    • Wow, that’s crazy! There are a LOT of lighthouses around. That’s some crazy small world stuff to think you had a painting of this one! Though, on the other hand, it is a particularly striking one. Our two favorites of all the ones we’ve seen were this one and the one in Portland. They are both awesome, but for different reasons. I think for the next leg of our trip we’ll mostly be comparing grain silos and trying to figure out which one we like best. 🙂

  3. Your photos are stunning! I love this place and want to visit. Exquisite. We are currently just outside of Chicago in the Indiana Dunes State Park (Mike grew up here) and are leaving tomorrow. Being an Ohio girl born and raised (but left many years ago and had a Florida Gator baby)–I hope the landmarks are at least toilet papered artistically. Paybacks in Penn are sure to come some day. All in good fun, though. Good thing he’s not from Michigan. 🙂 Safe travels to you. Enjoy Chicago and the marathon.

    • I think he would agree that Michigan is terrible too, so at least you all can agree on that!! We are actually also staying in Indiana, but I’m not sure I realized there was a state park there. We are booked at a commercial campground. I’ll have to check it out. We’re pretty burned out on commercial places after all the Canadian campgrounds. A state park sounds lovely.

  4. I know, I know you are probably tired of reading my comments saying, thanks for taking me back to the Maritimes! But yes I’m am reminiscing thru your lens and perspective! Great photos of yet another colorful town. That was smart camping near Lunenberg and you got explore the town and enjoyed their food.

    • I am not tired at all of your comments! Actually, I am very happy to hear them because your posts provided a lot of the inspiration for us to go to these places. So I consider your positive feedback high praise indeed! We really enjoyed our visit to all of these places. It’s just a spectacular area!

  5. Your photos all look like postcards! Very artistic postcards. Just gorgeous — really, you’re making a good case for us prying ourselves away from the PNW for a summer. Tired of seafood? Never!!! Well, maybe….last night we did end up at a pop-up barbecue joint in Tofino on Vancouver Island after many, many seafood meals. :-)) Love that there’s a campground in Lunenberg — we like being able to just park and walk or bike everywhere.

    • Of all the places we stayed in Canada, our two favorites were Lunenburg and Saint Andrews, and I think that’s because for each of them, we were able to walk or bike to town. It just makes such a difference in how we perceive places. Neither of us wants to sit in the car for 40 minutes or an hour before and after checking something out. It just makes for such a long day. Whereas, when we can walk or bike, the whole day is enjoyable. There’s no wasted time.You guys really should consider going up there one summer. I’ve no question you all would love it!

  6. Great.. now I have another place to add to the travel list!!! Thanks for the stunning photos especially love the food photos. So hungry now ????

    Safe travels,

    Brenda

    • Given your love of the water, I think you guys would really love the entire region. It is kind of the perfect place really. And yeah, we went a little nuts eating out in Lunenburg, but there were just so many great options, it was hard to stay home! Safe travels to you as well!

  7. Amazing photos, as always! I am so disappointed our trip to the maritimes got cut short last year and your blog is making me jealous, but I have enjoyed following along. And day drinking is the best … especially when you don’t have to have one person drive 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words! Hopefully you’ll eventually be able to make your way back there. It really is a perfect place to slowly explore over the summer months. And yes, having to drive all the time definitely puts a damper on our carefree ways, so it’s nice to have the option to make bad choices every so often. 🙂

  8. I’m loving Florida, but I have to admit to severe travel envy every time I read one of your posts. You do such an incredible job of capturing the “feel” of each location and conveying it to us readers. And, of course, you’re photography is pretty great too. 🙂

    • I somehow missed this comment…Sorry for my late reply. Anyway, thank you for the kind words. Oddly enough, we have been feeling quite burnt out the last couple weeks after putting on so many miles running around Canada, so I have been getting jealous of folks who are staying in one place! Things should calm down for us in about a week. We’ll still be on the move, but we’ll be staying in our destinations for longer periods of time, which I think will be enormously helpful. I just think it’s funny how you want to be travelling more and we want to be stationary more. Somehow, we’ll all find the right balance. I think it just takes some time and patience!

  9. Looking forward to the “mechanics of RV travel to Canada” post! I’m just getting serious about our summer 2018 planning, up through VT, NH, ME, and Canada. I have lots of “dots” on the map but when I connect them it doesn’t form any kind of a reasonably plan! Time to get selective and once again admit that we “can’t do it all” and need to prune the list a bit…

    Mike & Kat

    • I am in the process right now of writing an entire article about all the ways I screwed up the trip planning in Canada, and most of it comes down to ‘trying to do it all’. Of course, I’m not done with that article, and I haven’t even started the ‘mechanics’ article yet because we’re busy running around Chicago like idiots trying to do it all. Someday we’ll learn….

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