“For me Lunenburg is a special place. I consider myself very fortunate to live in this wonderful part of the world. History is my passion and as I go about my daily tasks I am surrounded by it in every corner of this old town. I feel a strong connection to those who have gone before, mindful of their trials and triumphs, and am thankful my ancestors chose this place as home so long ago”– Ralph, a resident of Lunenburg for over 60 years.
On our trip around Nova Scotia in Canada, we had the privilege of visiting Lunenburg for the day and it was by far one of our highlights of our 7 day trip!
For us what stood out the most in Nova Scotia were the conversations with strangers and the smiles from unfamiliar faces and Lunenburg was no different!
Lunenburg has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1995 and after visiting we can see why. Lunenburg is a tiny town with 2,263 residents and just four square km or 48 blocks, with each block being wooden, colourful and quirky! It’s also full of so much history, culture and amazing food so we’ve come up with a list of the top 10 things you can do in Lunenburg!
1.) Explore the famous Bluenose II
The original Bluenose was once the fastest racing fishing schooner in the world and is a popular icon in Canada. It’s actually on the Canadian ten cent piece! The Bluenose II which is anchored at the town pier, is a replica which was recently relaunched in 2012. You can take a ride on the famous ship for a tour around one of the local harbours which runs twice a day!
2.) Do a walking tour
This was by far our favourite thing we did on our visit! The hour long tour is filled with local history and quirky bits of information and shows off the amazing 18th century and Victorian architecture.
With a walking tour you discover hidden gems you’d never have found yourself, and to hear information from your tour guide; someone who’s lived in Lunenburg their whole life, you hear the stories and history of their town, you hear things you’d never find online or in a guide book and the tour is personalised by the passion and love the guide has for their home town. We booked our tour with this company here.
3.) See some whales
Lunenburg offers the amazing chance to see whales from ashore! There are 4 tours throughout the day and you have the chance to see fin, pilot, minke and humpback whales! Along with the whales you can see the beautiful rugged coastline, the colourful landscape and other marine life. The perfect activity for a sunny day!
4.) Watch the sunset from across the harbour
Take a walk along the water, admire all of the ships docked by the piers and walk to the opposite side of the harbour (this takes around 15 minutes). Hear you’ll see the multi-coloured houses dotted along the beautiful landscape. This feels extra special to see as the sun starts to set!
5.) Eat amazing seafood
Our top picks are the Salt Shaker Deli, Rime Restaurant and Wine Bar and Lincoln Street Food!
The Salt Shaker Deli– their menu, crafted by award-winning chef, Martin Ruiz Salvador, showcases the region’s fresh seafood, locally-grown produce and artisanal products. We recommend the fish cakes!
Rime Restaurant and Wine Bar– Rime is known for their fresh produce like their local oysters, mussels, artisanal cheeses and meats. All presented in an innovative take on traditional classics.
Lincoln Street Food– A newcomer to Lunenburg, they’re a modern, coastal neighbourhood kitchen serving market inspired fresh food that includes vegan, vegetarian and sustainable fish and meat options. Lonely Planet says they have ‘an uber-chic interior that looks like it’s straight out of NYC’s Lower East Side’. A very different vibe to your traditional restaurants in Nova Scotia!
6.) Try some handcrafted spirits at the IronWorks distillery
Ironworks is a micro-distillery who pride themselves on their premium spirits which are handcrafted by locally sourced natural ingredients. They took their name from the heritage building they reside in- a marine blacksmith’s shop that once produced ironworks for the shipbuilding trade. You can do a 45 minute tour of the distillery, learn their story, visit the fermentation room, stop off at the barrel cellar and finish with a guided tasting of their products. The staff are so passionate about their work which is reflected in their produce. The tour is a must do on your visit and take home a bottle of something special to remember your trip by!
7.) Go to to a festival
If you’re fortunate enough to plan your visit well you can be in town for a festival!
Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival, Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival and Boxwood Festival are just a few that take place in Lunenburg.
Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival- This festival is a fund raising initiative of the Lunenburg Heritage Society and is one of North America’s premier Folk Art shows. The event showcases the art of over 50 Nova Scotian folk artists and was initially inspired by antique and folk art collector Chris Huntington.
Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival- This 4 day festival features some of the best artists representing traditional folk music and is the longest running music festival in Nova Scotia! They showcase music and dance from a wide range of cultures.
Boxwood Festival- Boxwood is a week long festival focusing on community building and making music together. This includes performances, classes, sessions and social dancing! With something for all ages, this festival is a week packed with various exciting activities.
8.) Visit the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Here you can explore the fishing heritage of Nova Scotia and discover what life was like at sea. This museum not only has exhibitions, activities, daily talks and demonstrations but also has 2 vessels which you can explore aboard; the Theresa E. Connor and the Cape Sable. These are docked just outside the museum.
9.) Check out the independent shops
Lunenburg is filled with quaint independent shops, boutiques and galleries. Pelham, Montague and Lincoln Street are filled with these and are the perfect place to find a special memento to remember your trip!
Our favourite shop is Dots & Loops which has quirky and unique gifts and items made in Nova Scotia!
10.) Visit one of the many national historic sites
Although a small town, Lunenburg is full of national historic sites! One of these is the Lunenburg Academy, a 19th century building sitting atop the Gallow’s hill. The building is one of few large scale wooden buildings in Canada still surviving from the 19th century. It was once a school but now it houses the Lunenburg Academy of Musical Performance (LAMP) which holds performances open to the public. This location is also the meeting point for the walking tours mentioned above!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Mariner King Inn. The famous coloured buildings sit in the heart of the town, providing the perfect location. The hotel has 3 buildings, the original building with traditional decor and then the cranberry house and candy apple house have a more contemporary feel. With a beautiful sunroom to have your breakfast, friendly staff and a view of the water from our room, this was the perfect hotel for our trip to Lunenburg!
If you have been to Lunenburg or have any questions please comment below as we would love to hear about your time in this beautiful town!
Our trip to Nova Scotia was in partnership with Destination Canada, who we went on assignment with to explore Nova Scotia for 7 days, capturing the most beautiful spots and destinations along the way.
Find out more about Lunenburg and Nova Scotia at DestinationCanada.com