From the northern end of I-95 in Maine, it's 1700km / 1050 miles to St. John's, Newfoundland. The Trans-Canada Highway is an all-season route, well ploughed and salted. Driving at night is to be avoided if possible on the island of Newfoundland, as moose outnumber people. Otherwise, night driving in NB and NS on the Trans-Canada is fine.
In Nova Scotia, the TCH reaches Cape Breton Island via the Canso Causeway. Cape Breton is home to the scenic Cabot Trail through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Fortress Louisbourg, the summer home of Alexander Bell, and the ferry to Newfoundland at North Sydney. See Maritime Tour for more information on Cape Breton. To have time to take the Cabot Trail and see more of Cape Breton, add an extra day to the trip.
The NS-NL ferry takes about 6 hours and costs ~C$130 for a car and two passengers each way without an overnight cabin, C$180 each way with a cabin (so, round trip per person, this works out to about US$110 or US$150, but this includes 2 nights 'stay'). Upon arrival in Port aux Basques, you will enter the land where citizenship is gained by swilling some screetch and kissing a cod. It's beautiful, but look out for the moose, they're everywhere. A fun time can be had deciphering the local Newfie accent.
Minutes after the ferry, you will notice the Long Range Mountains, through which the TCH will pass for the next few hours. Central Newfoundland has a north coast dotted with spurs leading to some truly neat fishing villages and outports. This is also the site of North America's only TARGA race, a premier road race that tears across the island in the summer.
The author can't say much about eastern Newfoundland. It's rocky and beautifully rugged, the people are incredibly friendly, and it's as far east as you can drive without crossing the Atlantic. Signal Hill near St. John's is a popular place to see the sun rise on the very tip of North America. St. John's is Newfoundland's only true city, with a population of about 150,000. A place to soak up all there is to Newfie culture. Being a city, there are more things to do in winter than in the rural areas.
Local delicacy: cod tongues. 'nuff said.
Newfoundland is reached via the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH), which passes through New Brunswick (NB) and Nova Scotia (NS) before reaching the ferry terminal at North Sydney, NS. The ferry trip is about 6 hours long, but is often boring and fog-shrouded.
The TCH is accessed via I-95 at its terminus at Houlton, ME, or via I-87/91/93 and connecting Autoroutes in Quebec. Another slightly shorter alternative is to use US-9 from Bangor, ME to the border at Calais ME, then use NB-1 along the Bay of Fundy to TCH-2 at Moncton.
Alternatives / Spurs
There are several significant spur options. Halifax is about an hour south on NS-102 from Truro. Cabot Trail in Cape Breton is a must-see, as mentioned in the description section. NL-480 to Burgeo road travels through the Annieopscotch mountains and is popular for spotting caribou. The Viking Trail is a giant spur off of the TCH.
Sights / Attractions
Grand Falls, Hartford bridge, Confederation Bridge, Anne of Green Gables, Cape Breton, Cabot Trail, Louisbourg, Gros Morne, Terra Nova, outports, seals, Signal Hill. And lots of fog. If you've never seen a moose, you can pretty much be guaranteed to see them here, often by the dozen.
Claims to Fame
The Trans-Canada Highway is the longest national highway in the world. This trip covers the easternmost quarter of the highway mainline. It leads to St. John's, NL, the easternmost point in North America.