10 Coastal Towns and Fishing Villages in East Coast Canada You Need to Visit

A red house in the middle of a rocky beach

Posted by on 12 Jul 2023

Some people travel to Canada for bustling cities, like Toronto and Vancouver. But there’s more to this beautiful country than that. Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean on its west coast and the Atlantic on the east, Canada is also rich in small but beautiful coastal fishing villages.

The west coast of Canada has its fair share of these quaint coastal towns, such as Ganges and Prince Rupert. But when it comes to historic charm, rugged cliffsides and views of icebergs and whales in the Atlantic, the small cities on the east coast of Canada take the prize.

In the mood to visit a quaint, scenic fishing village on the underrated east coast of the Great White North? Here are 10 of the prettiest, most charming coastal towns in fishing villages you should visit on your next east coast Canada road trip.

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Many Canadians might argue that Lunenberg is the most idyllic, storybook-like fishing village Canada has to offer. This charming village is about 60 km from Halifax and is a must-see while visiting Nova Scotia.

UNESCO, which has deemed this historic town a World Heritage Site, calls it the best surviving example of a British colonial village. Many of the town’s European buildings from way back in the 18th century are still standing today—most of them in bright, vibrant colours that make Lunenberg a wonder to behold.

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador Lunenberg

St. John’s is the easternmost city not just in Canada, but in North America. This fishing village is known for its rugged cliffs, picturesque hills and old lighthouses that serve as viewing points to see the Atlantic.

One of the most remarkable areas of St. John’s is a famous row of colourful houses, fondly called “Jellybean Row” by locals. It adds a lively charm to this old, rugged city. You should also drop by the iconic, 100-year-old Cabot Tower, which is perched on Signal Hill.

Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador

Another town to visit in Newfoundland and Labrador is Twillingate, which is made of several small islands. These isles are known for their rocky beaches, tranquil cliffs and views of the Atlantic from the famous Long Point Lighthouse.

Twillingate sits right along Notre Dame Bay, where many icebergs from Greenland are known to float in the waters. This area is often called “Iceberg Alley.” These remarkable icebergs alone make Newfoundland and Labrador one of the best regions to visit in Canada. A trip to Twillingate may give you the most unbelievable view of these icebergs.

Percé, Quebec

Quebec is another favourite region for travellers on a Canada east coast trip. One charming, picturesque town in this area is Percé, a small town with a view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. From European-style houses to artisanal shops, this town has French settlement written all over it.

A must-see here is Percé Rock—a huge limestone rock formation that sits on the coast of the town. Birdwatching aficionados should also make the trip to nearby Bonaventure Island, where there are over 200 species of birds to see.

Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador

In the 1500s, Trinity was used as a fishing port by European voyagers. Today, it’s a quiet town with charming, historic buildings like a wooden church, traditional saltbox houses and a stunning, European-style courthouse. In its backdrop are rolling hills that give it that extra New England charm.

Lovers of the outdoors should take the Skerwink Trail on their next hike in Trinity. This trail gives you remarkable views of the ocean cliffs.

Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Mahone Bay is most famous for having three classic churches lined up on its shores. Around the town, you’ll see small Victorian houses that mirror the style and ambience of these European churches.

Aside from its fascinating architecture, this town is known for its boating activities. Kayaking and sailing along the bay are activities you don’t want to sleep on while you’re here.

Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec

Îles de la Madeleine, also called the Magdalen Islands, is an archipelago off the shore of Quebec. It has loads of beaches, making it the perfect location for a seaside holiday. You can do all sorts of seaside excursions here, like sailing, windsurfing, fishing and birdwatching.

This fishing village is also known for its delicious seafood. Fresh oysters, lobsters, scallops and more abound in the restaurants here. Their main specialty? Smoked herring!

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove is home to Peggy’s Point Lighthouse—one of the most popular landmarks in all of Nova Scotia. This red and white lighthouse has been around for over a hundred years and remains to guide ships home to this day. It’s a must-visit if you’re on the east coast.

This fishing village is quite popular among travellers. Luckily, it’s been able to maintain its quiet, serene atmosphere. It’s a terrific town to visit to see how traditional Canadian fishermen and artisans conduct their day-to-day life along the coast.

Shediac, New Brunswick

Shediac is most known for the giant lobster sculpture it has in the heart of the city. It symbolizes how impactful the town has been in the fishing industry, particularly when it comes to catching lobster. It even hosts an annual Lobster Festival in the summer!

Aside from that, Shediac has a beautiful marina where you can see the ocean from. It also has lots of sandy beaches, perfect for a seaside getaway.

Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Lastly, we have Annapolis Royal, formerly Port Royal. The highlight of this small town is Fort Anne National Historic Site, an area with British colonial buildings and historic exhibits.

Must-sees on this site include St. Luke’s Anglican Church and the Sinclair Inn Museum. All around town, you’ll also see Victorian-era homes that make you feel like you travelled back in time.

Visit a Charming Fishing Village on Your Next Canadian Holiday!

The east coast of Canada is riddled with small, quiet, but incredibly charming towns and fishing villages.

It may not be as adventurous in these towns as it is in the Canadian Rockies or the fast-paced cities in the West. But if you’re looking to explore peaceful towns rich in culture, art, and maritime history, these fishing villages are perfect for you.

Want to see what else Canada has to offer? Check out the rest of our Canadian destinations and plan your next holiday with us soon!

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