What to Pack for Nova Scotia: 29 Essentials.
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What to Pack for Nova Scotia: 29 Essentials

Stretching from the colorful port town of Yarmouth in the southwest to the dramatic mountain vistas of Cape Breton in the northeast, Nova Scotia offers visitors a wide range of sights and landscapes. The region’s location on the Atlantic Coast means its weather can be changeable, with periods of fog and strong winds off the ocean. So when deciding what to pack for Nova Scotia, you’ll want to bring lots of layers and accessories that will protect you from the elements.

Check out the recommended Nova Scotia packing list below to make sure you’re thoroughly prepared for your trip, whether you’re planning to visit picturesque fishing villages or go hiking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

See recent posts by Sarah Schlichter

The Suitcase

Rockland 19-Inch Expandable Spinner: This soft-sided bag is affordable, fits most airlines’ carry-on size limits, and comes in several different colors, including a pale orange and an electric blue.

The Personal Item

Hikpro 20L Backpack: This water-resistant backpack works equally well for walking around town or hiking around a national park, and folds up into a small pouch for easy storage between trips.

The Purse

Kipling Alvar Crossbody Bag: This water-resistant purse will protect your stuff during a downpour, and can be worn either over your shoulder or as a crossbody bag. It comes in more than a dozen colors and patterns.

In-Flight Essentials

  • Earbuds: Many airlines that fly into Nova Scotia, including Air Canada and WestJet, charge a fee for headphones if you’re flying in economy class. Save a few bucks by packing your own.
  • Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: An e-reader stocked with your favorite books will get you through the hours at the airport and on the plane.
  • Granola bars: These are good snacks not just for the plane but also for hikes once you arrive, and won’t fall afoul of customs restrictions on food you can bring into Canada.
  • Sleep mask with earplugs: This combo will help you catch a few winks on the plane.


  • Comfortable walking shoes: For strolling around cities or fishing villages, pick a shoe that feels good on your feet and will work equally well during the day and at night.
  • Hiking boots: If you’re looking to hit the trails in the Cape Breton Highlands or Kejimkujik National Park, you’ll want sturdy, comfortable boots to protect your feet and ankles.

The Jacket

Columbia Interchange Jacket: Columbia’s Interchange jackets let you pack multiple coats in one. You can mix and match the waterproof liner with a warm inner layer as the weather dictates.


  • Jeans: You can’t go wrong with jeans for walking around town or casual nights out.
  • Hiking pants: If you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, a pair of water-resistant, quick-drying, lightweight hiking pants should be on your Nova Scotia packing list.
  • T-shirts: You’ll want a few short-sleeved tees for summer trips.
  • Long-sleeved tops: It’s worth bringing long-sleeved tops at any time of year. They can be layered under heavier shirts in the winter, or stand alone in spring or summer.
  • Base layer: A pair of leggings or tights under your hiking pants will keep you warm on chilly, windy days along the coast.
  • Sweatshirts or sweaters: On summer trips to Nova Scotia, you’ll likely want one lightweight sweatshirt for cool evenings. At other times of year, heavier sweatshirts and sweaters will keep you cozy.
  • Hiking socks: Keep your feet warm and dry on long hikes with high-performance socks.




  • Sun hat: Protect your face and eyes from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat. Traveling in winter? You’ll want a knit cap.
  • Scarf: The right scarf can not only keep you warm on a windy or chilly day, but also add a splash of style to a casual outfit.
  • Sunglasses: They’re a must when driving or walking on a sunny day in Nova Scotia.
  • Umbrella: On days when the sun isn’t shining, you’ll want a compact umbrella or a lightweight rain poncho.

What to Pack for Nova Scotia (That I Didn’t)

  • Reusable water bottle: Instead of buying a single-use Dasani bottle at the airport, which I ended up having to toss before going through security again between flights, I should have brought an empty bottle and refilled it throughout my trip.
  • Touchscreen gloves: Even during a June trip, there were a few unseasonably cold and windy days that made me wish I’d packed some gloves—and you’ll definitely want them if you’re traveling during the cooler months. This pair is designed so you can use your phone’s touchscreen while wearing them.
  • Trekology Collapsible Hiking Poles: If you need a little extra support for your knees when hiking up and down hills, it’s worth slipping these poles into your suitcase. They collapse down to 15 inches for easy packing.

What Not to Pack for Nova Scotia

  • Dressy clothing and jewelry: Unless you’re headed to Nova Scotia for a wedding or other special event, there’s no real need to dress up. Most restaurants are casual even in the main cities—so save your suitcase space.

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