How to get to Nova Scotia really depends on your mode of transport!
Most visitors make their way to Nova Scotia by car. The main entrance point is Amherst as you enter the province via New Brunswick. There is an excellent Visitor Information Centre in Amherst. This is a must stop!
You will be able to get maps and travel brochures and the friendly staff will also be able to help you with accommodation reservations, if needed. You'll see the Welcome Lighthouse as you cross the border.
So you will need to travel through New Brunswick (NB) if you are driving to Nova Scotia (NS). In NB, the Trans Canada Highway is #2 and it changes to #104 once you enter NS at Amherst.
There are 5 ferries that arrive in Nova Scotia (NS). 1 via Portland, Maine (USA), 1 via New Brunswick (NB), 1 via Prince Edward Island (PEI) and 2 from Newfoundland (Nfld).
The high-speed CAT ferry departs Portland, Maine crosses the Gulf of Maine and arrives in Yarmouth, NS. The ferry ride is about 5.5 hours. You can make reservations at Bay Ferries.
The ferry departing Saint John, NB crosses the Bay of Fundy. If you do this you will land in Digby, NS. The ferry ride from Saint John to Digby is 2-3 hours. I strongly recommend that you make reservations aboard the Fundy Rose This is a beautiful way to arrive in Nova Scotia. This map gives a good idea of the route.
Finally, there are several ferries that arrive in Nova Scotia from Newfoundland. There are operated by Marine Atlantic and reservations are absolutely necessary.
The ferry ride from Port-aux-Basques, Nfld takes about 7 hours and the ferry from Argentia, Nfld takes 16 hours. Check out this map to get a good view of the locations.
Both ferries arrive in North Sydney on Cape Breton Island where you can start your tour of all that Cape Breton has to offer including the Cabot Trail, the Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.
The Halifax Stanfield International Airport is located approximately 30-45 minutes from downtown Halifax. It is Atlantic Canada's hub for all flights. There are scheduled flights from all major Canadian cities and US cities (via Boston and Newark).
The connecting hub from Europe is London. There are also regular flights from Halifax to the Sydney airport in Cape Breton.
There are a large number of services at the Halifax airport including a Visitor Information Centre. They have brochures, maps, event listings and they can even help you to find an accommodation.
Airport Car Rentals:
You may wish to rent a car since you are arriving by air. Reservations are a must!!See the lowest rates online at Avis.com
Airport Shuttle Service:
If you are planning to stay in Halifax for a period, another option is to travel to your hotel via the Airport Shuttle Service. I suggest that you do this, explore Halifax by foot and then rent a car if need be when you are ready to explore the rest of Nova Scotia.
Exploring Halifax by walking around is a great way to really see the essence of the city! Check the shuttle service website first to make sure that they service your hotel.
The best place to find a cruise from New York or Boston headed to Nova Scotia is Cruise Atlantic Canada.
Cruises to NS are part of the Canada/New England cruise itinerary. Over 140 cruise ships visit the province between April and November each year. Cruise ships visiting Nova Scotia dock in Halifax and Sydney, Cape Breton and many go to Baddeck as well.