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UNESCO Sites in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia boasts five UNESCO designated sites, several are so close together you can explore them all in a few days. To be recognized as a UNESCO site, these locations have to be universally significant. Nova Scotia is proud to be included in the company of other outstanding places such as the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The Landscape of Grand Pré

For culture lovers, the Landscape of Grand Pré is Nova Scotia's newest UNESCO World Heritage Site in the picturesque Annapolis Valley. Acres of immaculately tended farmland pay homage to the dyke system first built by 17th century Acadian settlers on land reclaimed from the sea. The area is the scenic setting for American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. Learn about the Acadian Deportation at the Grand Pré National Historic Site which is located within the Landscape of Grand Pré. 

Today this landscape is bordered by lush farmland and prolific vineyards producing award-winning wines. Wine tours and tastings, local farm markets, and restaurants provide the delicious opportunity to combine a fascinating cultural and culinary experience.

Old Town Lunenburg

The Old Town Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site weaves its own special spell taking visitors back to the 18th and 19th centuries when this fishing port bristled with tall ships. Vividly coloured historic homes line streets banked sharply up from the harbour which is home to Bluenose II Nova Scotia's famous sailing ambassador. The bustling Lunenburg waterfront is alive with industry, architecture and artisan shops that showcase the character of this historical port. Tour on foot or via horse-drawn carriage throughout the town, chat with local residents, taste some Lunenburg pudding, and learn about lobsters, rum running and tales of adventures on the high seas at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Plan to stop by the blacksmith's shop, now a micro-distillery, where you can sample some fine spirits.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

On Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy coast the Joggins Fossil Cliffs have attracted scientists, visitors and geology enthusiasts from around the world, for over a hundred and fifty years. It was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site because it’s the world’s most complete record of life in the Carboniferous era. You can stroll the beach for a glimpse of life on earth 300 million years ago. With Over 15kms of coastal cliffs, you can explore the fossil record of life in the “coal age”, when lush forest covered Joggins as well as much of the rest of the world. Plants, footprints, insects and the ancestors of the dinosaurs are all represented in fossils exposed by the amazing force of the world’s highest tides. The interpretive centre showcases fossils of plant and animal life and offers guided tours.

Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve

The Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve, located on Cape Breton Island, is the newest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Canada and includes the complete watershed of the Bras d’Or Lake, a salt-water inland sea. The area is home to many beaches, headlands and numerous ponds and wetlands, making the region a popular kayaking, hiking and sightseeing destination. The area also boasts many examples of sustainable development such as eco-tourism (sailing tours), award-winning woodlots, and even an organic micro-brewery. Home to Mi’kmaq First Nations and descendants of early French, Scottish, and English settlers, the communities throughout the watershed maintain close ties to the language and culture of the early settlers through art, music and storytelling. Visit the Bras d’Or Lake Biosphere Reserve YouTube channel for more information about this unique environment.

Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve

The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, protecting a spectacular expanse of over 1.5 million hectares of picturesque coastal and inland terrains along with rare wildlife and cultural treasures, offers an exciting range of hands-on activities to fire the imagination and provide stimulating learning opportunities. Led by dedicated and skilled locals, each adventure offers an authentic experience like kayaking age-old native canoe routes, preparing a feast of dulse collected at low tide along the Bay of Fundy, seeing a massive whale breach within metres of your boat, discovering rare petroglyphs in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. Visit the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve’s YouTube channel to explore these experiences or read more about them here.