This story was updated in June 2023. It was first published June 27, 2022.
If you asked someone to list the popular icons of Nova Scotia, along with lobsters, tartan and the Bluenose, lighthouses would certainly come to mind. They’re on our postcards, promotional websites and keychains. It makes sense—our coastline is dotted with over 170 of these structures. Lighthouses are steeped in history and mystery, and they’ve saved countless lives. No Nova Scotia road trip Instagram feed is complete without a photo or two of a lighthouse, and a visit to one is always worth it because a gorgeous ocean view is guaranteed. Here’s our guide to lighthouses that are only a short drive (or boat ride) from downtown Halifax.
Peggys Point Lighthouse
No lighthouse list is complete without the iconic Peggys Point Lighthouse (that’s the Peggy Cove lighthouse’s official name), the darling of Nova Scotia postcards and tourism sites. Built in 1915, it’s said Peggys Point is the most photographed lighthouse in the world. A large accessible viewing deck was added to the site last fall, making it even more of a destination. The lighthouse is located in a charming fishing village about 40 minutes away from downtown Halifax. While you’re there, grab a lobster roll from Tom’s Lobster Shack. Just stay off the black rocks.
178 Peggys Cove Road, Peggys Cove
Chebucto Head Lighthouse
This lighthouse looks similar to the one at Peggys Cove, but is much lesser known. Chebucto Head Lighthouse is located within the Duncans Cove Nature Reserve, which is a great spot for hiking, berry picking and enjoying the coastal view. The first lighthouse at this site was made of wood and built in 1872. The current concrete tower was built in 1967. It’s only a half-hour drive from downtown Halifax.
279 Duncans Cove Road, Duncans Cove
Maugher Beach Lighthouse
Maugher Beach Lighthouse has been called “our own statue of liberty,” because every ship to come through Halifax Harbour since 1828 has been greeted by this lighthouse on McNabs Island (the current lighthouse building dates back to 1941). You can gaze at the lighthouse from the shore in Eastern Passage, or take a ferry from either side of the harbour to McNabs to see the lighthouse up close. Fun fact: Back in the day, Abraham Gesner used this lighthouse to test his new invention, kerosene.
McNabs Island, Halifax Harbour
Sambro Harbour Lighthouse
Just half an hour from downtown Halifax, this cute little lighthouse was built in 2016 to replace the original from 1899. Don’t worry, the new tower looks just like the historic light.
125 Bull Point Road, Sambro
Terence Bay Lighthouse
The first lighthouse in Terence Bay was built after the SS Atlantic sank near the shore in 1873, the deadliest maritime disaster for the White Star Line until the sinking of the Titanic. The current Terence Bay Lighthouse is made of wood and dates to 1973. It’s only a half hour drive from downtown Halifax, and there’s a beautiful trail leading to the lighthouse.
Terence Bay Road, Terence Bay
Georges Island Lighthouse
Originally built in 1876 and replaced in 1917, Georges Island Lighthouse is one of the best parts of the view from the Halifax waterfront. Sit on a boardwalk hammock and watch the lighthouse disappear as the fog rolls in. You can also take a ferry to Georges Island to see the light up close and learn about the island’s history.
Georges Island, Halifax Harbour
Indian Harbour Lighthouse
This lighthouse built in 1901 is only 10 minutes away from the famous Peggys Point, and it’s much quieter. Make a stop at this light before or after a visit to Peggys. It’s a scenic drive along the coast with a lovely view of the lighthouse, but it’s not easy to get upvclose as it’s located on private property. Indian Harbour Lighthouse is a 45-minute drive from downtown Halifax.
302 Paddys Head Road, Indian Harbour
French Point Lighthouse
A one-hour drive from downtown, French Point Lighthouse is a great spot for lunch, as there’s a picnic table right next to the tower. The lighthouse, built in 1904, sits on a grassy field with a great view.
107 Kent Road, Musquodoboit Harbour
Updated with files from Matt Stickland