Canada is the second-largest country on the planet. It’s so vast that many of our provinces are the same size or larger than the average country! Because Canada’s provinces are so large, there’s only one place in the entire country where you can visit three provinces in one day, never take the same road twice, and end up back where you started in time for dinner. You’ll find this in Atlantic Canada by driving in a loop between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

If you’re visiting Atlantic Canada and short on time, this loop jams plenty of sightseeing into a short stay. Read on to learn how to visit three provinces in one day and check this iconic Canadian driving achievement off your bucket list.

Three provinces in one day in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus

Our vehicle for this drive through three provinces in one day is the all-new 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. This mid-size SUV from Ford’s luxury brand is completely redesigned for the 2024 model year. The star of the show is the new Lincoln Digital Experience, which appears here as a massive 48-inch wide screen. It’s paired with another 11.1-inch touchscreen for controlling system functions. This sounds like a lot, but we find it surprisingly intuitive. The information is divided up logically, it’s partially customizable, and it’s easy to interact with while you’re on the road.

There’s plenty more that’s new about the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. An available hybrid powertrain, increased interior space, and Lincoln BlueCruise hands-free driver assistance technology are among the additional highlights. Find a full review of the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus here at Modern Motoring.

See three provinces in one day around the Northumberland Strait

You can realistically complete this loop in a single day from just about any point on the Northumberland Strait, whether that’s in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, or Prince Edward Island. Given a little more time, you could even venture further and start from the nearby towns of Truro or Antigonish in Nova Scotia or the city of Moncton in New Brunswick.

Our journey starts in Nova Scotia at the luxurious Fox Harb’r Resort. This world-class seaside golfing resort was established by Nova Scotia native Ron Joyce. His real-life rags to riches story took him from a simple home without running water in the nearby village of Tatamagouche to building the Tim Hortons brand into an empire. Fox Harb’r Resort is a playground for the well-heeled. It has a championship-level golf course, stables, a vineyard, luxury accommodations, and a gated community. These are served by both a landing strip and a marina.

A fun fact: you won’t find a Tim Hortons anywhere in Tatamagouche, or within a 50-kilometre radius. Joyce decreed that no Tim Hortons franchise would open in Tatamagouche for as long as he lived. This is so the brand wouldn’t compete with local businesses in the community he called home. Joyce passed away in 2019, but the town’s Tim Horton Children’s Camp and Fox Harb’r Resort stand as memorials to his community contributions to this day.

Westbound toward New Brunswick

From Fox Harb’r Resort, our journey takes us west along scenic seaside roads lining the Northumberland Strait. If you choose the most direct route, the route leads through quiet villages until you cross your first provincial border from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick at the community of Tidnish Bridge.

This part of New Brunswick is sparsely populated, but you’ll still notice the heavy Acadian influence here. New Brunswick is the only Canadian province with both English and French as official languages. Its Acadian culture has deep roots, especially in the southeast portion of the province. If you’d like to explore this further, consider side trips to Fort Beausejour-Fort Cumberland National Historic Site in Aulac at the end of the Bay of Fundy, or to Monument-Lefebvre National Historic Site near Memramcook to visit the Acadian museum and cultural centre.

Extend your time in New Brunswick with a Bay of Fundy road trip >

As you join the Trans-Canada Highway at New Brunswick Route 16, head east toward the Confederation Bridge.

Crossing the Confederation Bridge

More than 25 years after it first opened in 1997, the Confederation Bridge remains an engineering marvel. To this day, it is still Canada’s longest bridge at a distance of 12.9 kilometres. It’s also the longest bridge in the world spanning a body of water that becomes ice-covered in winter.

At the bridge’s halfway point, you’ll cross the border to complete your goal of three provinces in one day as you go from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. The Confederation Bridge is PEI’s only permanent connection to mainland Canada.

Passing through Prince Edward Island

Whether it’s your first visit to PEI or your hundredth, it’s worth making a stop at the Gateway Village in Borden-Carleton. This is a bustling tourist hub in the summer months, but visitor services are available here year-round. If you’re extending your stay and would like some guidance, the staff here will be happy to help.

When you’re ready, rejoin the Trans-Canada Highway, Prince Edward Island Route 1, and head toward Charlottetown. Along the way, you can’t miss the iconic outposts of COWS Creamery and Anne of Green Gables Chocolates just off the highway on Milky Way. There’s definitely something special about the milk on PEI. Grab some of Canada’s best ice cream and delicious chocolate, and maybe even some cheese to take along your journey. Take some time to check out the COWS signature whimsical t-shirt logos. And it just wouldn’t be right to visit PEI without enjoying some of Anne’s raspberry cordial!

Don’t miss downtown Charlottetown

You’ll likely reach downtown Charlottetown just as you’re getting hungry for lunch. While it’s the largest city on Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown is one of the smaller cities in the Maritimes with a population of less than 40,000. It’s easy to make the most of a brief visit here, even if you only have a couple of hours.

If your time in Charlottetown is limited, focus your attention on Victoria Row. This cobblestone street is pedestrian-only in the summer months and is lined with fantastic shops and restaurants. We’re partial to the Sea Rocket Oyster House, right on the corner of Queen and Richmond Streets.

Although Province House National Historic Site remains closed for refurbishing until sometime next year, you can visit the nearby temporary site to learn more about this important location that played a role in Canadian confederation. Head down to Confederation Landing to explore more shops and restaurants. Consider taking in a Charlottetown Festival show if your timeline allows for a longer stay.

Head toward the return ferry

When it’s time to leave Charlottetown, continue east on the Trans-Canada Highway. This will lead you directly to the Wood Islands ferry to Nova Scotia. Ferries are a quintessential part of the Canadian travel experience. The ferry from Wood Islands, PEI, to Caribou, NS, operated by Northumberland Ferries, is considered part of the Trans-Canada Highway—and it’s not the only one with that designation!

This ferry operates on a fixed schedule, and you’ll need to arrive at least 40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. View the ferry schedule here. There is a fee to depart Prince Edward Island, regardless of whether you choose to take the bridge or the ferry. We’ve provided more information on this below.

Onboard the ferry, you’ll leave your car parked on the lower decks and head to the upper decks for the 75-minute crossing. You’ll find a cafeteria with coffee, beverages, and hot and cold food items, indoor seating areas with tables, and several outdoor sections for admiring the scenery. If you’d like to spend some time outside, be sure to bring warm layers such as jackets or hoodies with you. The air can be quite cold on the open water at any time of year!

Returning to home base

Once the ferry is docked in Caribou, you’ll be back in Nova Scotia. Congratulations—you’ve just travelled through three provinces in one day! Head back toward where you started in time to enjoy a leisurely supper.

Explore more of Nova Scotia by clicking here >

Driving three provinces in one day: A look at the route

From any starting point along this loop, it will take roughly five and a half hours of driving time to complete your drive through three provinces in one day. This does include the 75-minute ferry crossing from Wood Islands, PEI, to Caribou, Nova Scotia, but it does not include time spent waiting for the ferry or any stops along the way. Expect to spend eight to nine hours in total on the road depending on your stops.

This drive can be completed in either direction with the same result. One important thing to factor, though, is the costs to enter and leave Prince Edward Island.

It’s free to enter Prince Edward Island via the Confederation Bridge at any time. It’s also free to enter Prince Edward Island on the Wood Islands ferry, but only if you travel on standby. This means if a ferry is full, you’ll need to wait for the next one. If you’re on a strict schedule and need to make a reservation, you’ll need to pay a fare to cross into PEI on the ferry.

To leave Prince Edward Island, there is always a charge. On the Confederation Bridge, outgoing passenger vehicles pay $50.25 and motorcycles pay $20 as of 2024. Find the full rate list for Confederation Bridge tolls here. On the ferry, a round-trip ticket costs $86 for a passenger vehicle and $45 for a motorcycle. There’s no one-way ticket available for this ferry. Find the full rate list for the Wood Islands, PEI-Caribou, NS ferry here.

Should you take the bridge or the ferry to leave PEI?

The most economical way to complete the drive loop outlined here is to take the ferry to PEI on standby at no charge and return to the mainland via the Confederation Bridge. However, if you prefer to travel on a schedule, you’ll benefit by crossing into PEI at the Confederation Bridge at no cost and returning via the ferry. You’ll need to purchase a round-trip fare, but you’d need to do that regardless of your direction. Since you don’t need to pay the bridge toll by entering via the Confederation Bridge and departing via the ferry, this route saves you money.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *