The Nanaimo Bar is a quintessential BC treat and comes with many creative adaptations. In addition to the OG bar, there are a ton of specialty bars, ice cream variations, and even savoury Nanaimo bar-inspired bites. Best of all? You can eat your way through all of them on this self-guided tour, which features a route of 39 stops in—you guessed it—Nanaimo, BC. If you’re looking for a fun trip out to the Island before summer’s end, this is it.

The Nanaimo Bar Trail takes you everywhere from Lantzville in the north to Cedar in the south – with an added stop on Gabriola Island. Since it’s self-guided, it’s really up to you to decide which spots you want to hit, so we’ll get right to it.

The sweets

We’ll start with the classic no-bake, three-layer bar with a wafer-crumb base, custard icing middle, and a top layer of chocolate ganache. You’ve likely seen this version around town at plenty of coffee shops, but we think it’s definitely worth starting here in the treat’s namesake city. Whether you hit all of them or opt for one or two, here are some cafés in Nanaimo to check out:

  • A Wee Cupcakery – 407 Fitzwilliam Street (Old City Quarter)
  • Brud House – 1861 Dufferin Crescent
  • Nanaimo Bakery – 2025 Bowen Road
  • Serious Coffee Downtown – 300-60 Commercial Street (Downtown)
  • Serious Coffee North – 6357 Hammond Bay Road Unit B (North)
  • Hearthstone Artisan Bakery – 50 Tenth Street, #115A (South)
  • Javawocky Coffee House – 90 Front Street #8 (Downtown)


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  • Mad Rona’s Coffee Bar – 500 North Road (Gabriola Island)
  • Red’s Bakery – 101 Commercial Street, Nanaimo (Downtown)
  • Vault Cafe – 499 Wallace Street, Nanaimo (Downtown)

And now, we get into some of the OG bar’s funky relatives. Whether you go for a sour cherry bacon bar or spice things up with a Chilli bar, there are plenty of options to choose from.

  • Smokin’ George’s – Maple Bacon Topped Nanaimo Bar & Dulche De Leche Nanaimo Bar, Unit 5- 4131 Mostar Road (North)
  • BOCCA Cafe – Peanut Butter, Gluten Free, Seasonal, Chilli, & more, 427 Fitzwilliam Street (Old City Quarter)
  • Hearthstone Artisan Bakery – Peanut Butter Crunch Nanaimo Bar – 50 Tenth Street, #115A (South)

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  • Red’s Bakery – Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bar – 101 Commercial Street, Nanaimo (Downtown)

Finally, we’ve got a couple of spots with inspired treats that aren’t bars at all. Folks can check out the French Macaron (classic bar in macaron form) at Burnt Honey, the cupcake variation from A Wee Cupcakery, the waffle from Waffle Magic, and the specialty fudge from Cabela’s.

Oh, and there are several ice cream and cheesecake options to add to the mix!

Ice cream

  • Living Forest Cafe – Nanaimo Bar Milkshake (seasonal), 6 Maki Road (South)
  • The Bold Knight Restaurant – Death by Nanaimo Bar Martini, 1140 Trans Canada Highway (South)

  • Waterfront Confections – Nanaimo Bar Gelato (Downtown)


  • Minnoz Restaurant – 11 Bastion Street (Downtown)
  • Longwood Brew Pub & Restaurant – 5775 Turner Road (North)
  • The Buzz Coffee House – 1861 Dufferin Crescent (Central)
  • Red’s Bakery – 101 Commercial Street Nanaimo (Downtown)

The savoury

While this section is far less extensive than the ‘sweets’ category, we think the spring rolls at Noodlebox Nanaimo deserve their own shoutout. Because seriously – Nanaimo bar spring rolls?? That has to be one of the most creative BC eats we’ve heard of.


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The drinks

Now, for the bevies. You might be thinking, do I really want to sip on something that sweet in cocktail form? And the answer is yes. Yes, you do. A dessert in a martini glass with Kahlua and Baileys sounds like the perfect pick-me-up to us.

  • The Grand Hotel – Nanaimo Bar Cocktail, 4898 Rutherford Road (North)
  • Modern Cafe – Nanaimo Bar Martini, 221 Commercial Street (Downtown)
  • Bold Knight Restaurant – Death by Nanaimo Bar Martini, 1140 Trans Canada Highway (South)


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  • The Nanaimo BAR – Cocktail/Shot/Martini, 75 Front Street, #2 (Downtown)
  • Wolf Brewing Company – Dead Whale Beer, 940 Old Victoria Road (South)
  • The Nanaimo Bar Porter – Vancouver Island Brewing, available at most liquor stores.

Finally, we’ve got some classic coffee & tea to fully bring you back to life after your food & drink coma. Check out the cold brew from Nanaimo Bakery or the latte at BOCCA Cafe.

And that’s the tour, folks! We hope you’re just as intrigued by BC’s glorious treat as we are – or that your curiosity is piqued at the very least. Let us know if you’ve tried out any of these unique eats!