what to see in lunenburg nova scotia

The town of Lunenburg (map) is a gorgeous fishing town on Nova Scotia’s eastern seaboard, southwest of Halifax. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lunenburg is one of the best surviving examples of planned British colonial settlements in North America, with immigrants from Germany, Switzerland and France making the settlement their home in the 18th century. The town is most famous for its beautifully preserved houses, many of which are painted in vivid colours. There’s lots to see in Lunenburg but the lovely palette of colourful houses and interesting architecture were the first things that struck me. As I went for a stroll around the town, I couldn’t help but feel cheery despite the grey skies and incessant drizzle.


A stroll around Lunenburg

I started my stroll above the Old Town at the Lunenburg Academy, a striking 19th century building that enjoys a commanding position overlooking the Old Town. The Academy was opened in 1895 and was modelled after the Gothic Revival style from the Victorian era.

The Lunenburg Academy

From here, I criss-crossed the town in the direction of the harbour. I was greeted by a chorus of gorgeous houses and buildings everywhere I turned. The variety of architectural styles was fascinating; within the space of a few blocks, I came across a mix of Cape Cod, Victorian and Gothic influences.

Beautiful Lunenburg architecture
More beautiful houses!
A green building? You bet!
Lunenburg street
All sorts of sea creatures adorn the streets, reflecting the town’s rich maritime tradition
Love that red building!
I found more examples of red at the waterfront! 🙂


Another building that will grab your attention is the St. Johns Anglican Church. Built in the Gothic style, it is Canada’s second oldest Protestant church and features a series of pinnacles and striking black lines against a white façade. The church was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 2001 but was lovingly rebuilt and opened just four years later!

St. John’s Anglican Church
The hauntingly beautiful interior of St. John’s Church

I continued my stroll down to the harbour and found the Bluenose II. The Bluenose is a legendary fishing schooner and racing ship, built and launched in Lunenburg in 1921. She earned the nickname ‘Queen of the North Atlantic’, beating every American and Canadian vessel in races each year for 17 years! An image of the Bluenose has adorned the Canadian dime since 1937. The Bluenose sank off the coast of Haiti in the 1940’s and a replica is currently being built in Lunenburg. The schooner will serve as a leisure vessel, sailing around Lunenburg from 2013.

The Bluenose II
The Bluenose on a Canadian dime

Book a 6-hour tour of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay.

Lunenburg has a long and rich maritime history and the best place to get acquainted is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Located along the Lunenburg waterfront, the Museum is home to an amazing collection of exhibits that tell fascinating stories of the town’s shipping and fishing past. Without doubt, a visit to Lunenburg would not be complete without a visit to the Fisheries Museum.

Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
Visiting the Fisheries Museum is a must!

Another historic site that provides a unique insight into Lunenburg’s past is the Knaut-Rhuland House on Pelham Street. The museum does a great job in illustrating the town’s history through a wonderful collection of costumes, documents and other artifacts. When you’re there, find out how the plots of land were divided among the settlers.

My guides at the Knaut-Rhuland House

I ended my stroll at the Ironworks Distillery for a taste of ‘proudly-distilled-in-Lunenburg’ brandy. A great way to end a stroll on a cold day, don’t you think? 🙂

Ironworks Distillery
Ironworks produces a variety of spirits

Visit Lunenburg Tourism for more information about the town and upcoming events.

Read other Velvet Escape posts on Nova Scotia


Note: I was hosted in Nova Scotia by the Canadian Tourism Commission. All opinions expressed above are mine.

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