Getting to New Brunswick for your next road trip

by W. Andrew Powell
Saint John, New Brunswick

New Brunswick is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, so what are the best ways to get there for a summer road trip?

If you’re dreaming of a vacation to the friendly and picturesque province, this is your guide to planning the perfect trip.

Looking for more NB road trip tips? Read the full New Brunswick road trip guide.

New Brunswick by road

On the road in New Brunswick

If you’re planning a longer road trip, and you want save on flight costs, you can drive to New Brunswick through Quebec, Maine, Prince Edward Island, or Nova Scotia.

Driving from the Quebec and the north west you’ll enter along the Trans Canada Highway, past Rivière-du-Loup, at Edmundston. This drive is the easiest from anywhere west, it doesn’t require you to cross the border into the United States, and a lot of the highway is now divided, making it fairly quick.

As one example, driving from Toronto to Saint John is around a 15 hour drive without stops, and for those who don’t mind longer drives you can stop along the way in Levis, Quebec or Quebec City to stay the night before continuing on the next day.

If you have the time, stopping in Montreal for a day is also a fun way to enjoy the whole trip, and then you can take another break in Edmundston before continuing on with your trip in the province.

From the south west you can arrive through the Calais, Maine border into St. Stephen, and you can also enter N.B. further north from Houlton, Maine near Woodstock, and Presque Isle, Maine into Perth-Andover. St. Stephen is the more popular border, and it will bring you closer to St. Andrews By-The-Sea and the Saint John area.

From Nova Scotia and the east you can drive from Amherst into Sackville, and it’s only about a 3 hour drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia. More on that further below.

Or you can also drive into New Brunswick from Prince Edward Island, across the incredible Confederation Bridge. From Charlottetown, PEI to Moncton is just a two hour drive, so it’s fairly close if you also want to explore PEI.

Flying into New Brunswick

New Brunswick Legislative Building in Fredericton
New Brunswick Legislative Building in Fredericton

There are three main airports in New Brunswick where you can fly in and then rent a car for your trip: Fredericton, Saint John, and Moncton. Depending on the airport you can find flights with Lynx, Westjet, Porter, and Air Canada, just to name a few Canadian airlines.

Each of the airports has their own benefits and advantages.

For instance, from Moncton, it’s a short drive to Fundy National Park, while Saint John is closer to St. Andrews By-The-Sea, and Fredericton is along a beautiful stretch of the Saint John River.

If you have more time, you can also fly into Halifax, and explore Nova Scotia before you visit New Brunswick. The drive is only 3 hours directly from Halifax to Moncton, and there are a number of places you can explore along that drive.

Some car rental companies will also allow you to rent a car in Halifax and return the rental at an airport in New Brunswick, to save you the trip back to Halifax. Just keep in mind that there often are additional fees for returning a car rental to a different airport.

Digby to Saint John by ferry

MV Fundy Rose from Digby to Saint John
MV Fundy Rose from Digby to Saint John

Finally, if you’re exploring Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Yarmouth and Acadian Shores, or the Annapolis Valley, you can take the Digby ferry between Digby and Saint John.

Bay Ferries operates the ferry, and it takes 2 hours and 15 minutes, with food and lounge space, usually running two times per day.

The MV Fundy Rose can take a wide range of vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, pick-up trucks, motorhomes, trailers, and cars or trucks towing trailers.

Arriving by ferry will cut hours off of your trip, compared to driving from Digby, and they also have a gift shop on board, plus during some trips they have educators talking about the Bay of Fundy, and even musicians.

To be safe, it’s best to book your spot on the ferry in advance, as it’s a popular route at times.

More information

You can also get to New Brunswick by train, and even by boat, however I’ve summarized driving and flying since those are generally easier for getting around the province.

For more information on planning your trip, visit the Tourism New Brunswick website, Fredericton Tourism, Discover Saint John, and Experience Moncton.

Want to see more from the road? Watch my New Brunswick road trip video.

Looking for more travel stories? Visit our Canadian Travel Guide for ideas across the country.

All photos by W. Andrew Powell/The GATE.

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