There are many different transportation methods available for travelling to, from and around Nova Scotia. Halifax is also the closest North American mainland port to Europe – a full day’s sailing closer to major northern European markets than any other North American port.
Nova Scotia has one international airport, the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. There are also two other airports connecting key Atlantic Canada destinations – Sydney Airport and Yarmouth Airport.
An award-winning international airport with direct two-hour flights to 40 million people.
The Stanfield International Airport is the busiest airport in Atlantic Canada. It is a connection to anywhere in the world, including Atlantic Canada and the Eastern United States.
In Nova Scotia, most people find it necessary to own a car. If you need a car but do not own one, you can rent any kind of car.
Automotive fuel (gasoline)
Most cars in Nova Scotia run on unleaded gasoline, though some do use diesel fuel. The cost of fuel in Canada is usually a bit more than the cost of fuel in the United States, but less than the cost in Europe.
In Nova Scotia, it is illegal to drive a car without being insured. Insurance protects you in the event of an accident, if your car is stolen, or if your car is damaged.
Driver’s license and car registration
You must have a valid driver’s license to drive a motor vehicle. Licenses from some countries are recognized in Nova Scotia, but some are not. You may need to take a written test and a road test to be issued with a valid Nova Scotia driver’s license.
If you own a car, truck or motorcycle, you must register your motor vehicle and get a license plate. Registry of Motor Vehicles Service Centres can be found throughout Nova Scotia. For more information visit the Service Nova Scotia website.
Nova Scotia law requires that all licensed and registered vehicles in the province undergo a thorough safety inspection every two years. You can be fined if your car does not have a valid inspection sticker on its windshield.
Driver and public safety
To protect drivers from serious injury, seatbelts are mandatory in Nova Scotia. You could be fined if any passengers are not wearing their seatbelts.
Nova Scotia also requires, by law, infant car seats, child seats and booster seats for all children who are BOTH under the age of 9 years and under 145 cm (4’9”) tall. If you do not follow these laws you could be fined.
Cars, vans and trucks can be rented from many different companies in Nova Scotia. There are some general rules when renting. You must be 21 years of age, your driving record will be checked by the rental company, and you must provide a valid drivers license and credit card. Each rental company also has individual policies.
Taxi cabs are available in most cities and towns in Nova Scotia. The fees are different depending on where you are. The easiest way to get a taxi is to call and order one to come to your address. In Halifax, you can also find taxis at designated taxi stands located throughout the city.
Maritime Bus provides passenger and parcel service between New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia, with connections to Quebec and further west in Canada. Their website includes information on route maps, schedules and an online ticketing system.
For local public transportation, major cities and towns provide bus services. In Halifax, Metro Transit is the public transportation service. Metro Transit has routes running throughout Bedford, Dartmouth, Halifax, Sackville, Timberlea, and Cole Harbour.
Metro Transit provides a service for people with disabilities called Access-A-Bus. It is for people who do not have the cognitive or physical ability required to use the regular Metro Transit bus service.
Information on public transit outside of Halifax can be found on the Community Transit Nova Scotia website.
VIA Rail, Canada’s main passenger train carrier, runs The Ocean which departs from Halifax and runs through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, ending in Montreal.
There are a number of ferry services that offer travel between Nova Scotia and other locations in Atlantic Canada. Services vary for each and some only operate during warmer seasons.
- Port-Aux-Basques, Newfoundland – North Sydney (year round)
- Argentia, Newfoundland – North Sydney (summer season)
- Wood Island, PEI – Caribou (May – December)
- Saint John, New Brunswick – Digby (Year Round)
The Nova Star Cruises offers ferry services between Yarmouth, NS and Portland, Maine. Scheduling information can be found online.
There are also Provincial Ferry Services between smaller waterways in Nova Scotia. Four of the provincial ferries are cable ferries, while three are ocean-going ferries.