Cape Breton Island is located at the northern tip of the province of Nova Scotia. With its blend of Gaelic, Aboriginal and Acadian cultures, it is a unique place to explore! Connected to the mainland by a rock-filled causeway, Cape Breton Island is one of the most picturesque destinations in Canada — the Cabot Trail being rated by many as one of the best road trips in the country! Although we had quite a bit of rain and fog while we were there (not exactly the best time of year to visit haha — I think July, August and September would probably be best!), we got lucky and had a gorgeous sunny day. We chose that day to do the Cabot Trail and hike to Skyline Trail, and got to see the most beautiful views! Here is my itinerary for a Cape Breton road trip!
Bras D’Or Lake — Our first stop in Cape Breton was Iona, right next to Bras d’Or Lake! It was a very quiet area and, although the fog settled in pretty quickly, the lake looked beautiful! Bras D’Or Lake is an inland sea (apparently the largest in the world!) and it is a very popular summer vacation destination (as are many other places in Cape Breton)!
Sydney — The biggest city in Cape Breton, Sydney, is obviously worth a stop while visiting the island. My favourite bit was seeing the Giant Fiddle and the Port of Sydney. In the summer months, I highly suggest going on a cruise departing from this port — there are many different options, such as dinner cruises and whale watching cruises!
The Fortress of Louisbourg — This fortress is that largest reconstruction in North America — It is based on an original French settlement which dates back 1713. Besieged by the British (twice!), it was eventually destroyed in th 1760s. Today, you can experience life in the fortress as it would have been in the 18th century. Unfortunately, the exhibitions and restaurants were closed at the time of our visit (we were a little too early, as everything opens May 15th and we were there about a week before then), but we still got to walk around inside the fortress! It was a super foggy day, and there weren’t many people around, but we really enjoyed our visit – the fog actually gave the place a really eerie vibe!
Louisbourg Lighthouse — While you’re in Louisbourg, make sure you also check out the Louisbourg Lighthouse! First built in the 1730s, it has been rebuilt twice since, once in 1842 and another time in 1923 following a fire. It is located at Lighthouse Point, which actually played an important role in both of the Fortress of Louisbourg’s sieges.
Cabot Trail — Our first stop on the Cabot Trail was Chéticamp, which is a fishing town at the entrance of the Highland National Park. We stopped at Flora’s gift shop for a couple of souvenirs and at AuCoin Bakery for a snack before heading into the park. In the park, we stopped at many look out points, and decided to do the Skyline Trail which is meant to have some of the best views! It takes a little more than 2 hours to do the full loop of the trail and to check out the boardwalks (from where you have the amazing view), obviously depending on how long you stop at the various look outs. The hike itself was quite easy as there aren’t too many hills! However, we ran into three moose, which was actually quite scary as they were literally 5-10 meters away from us (for those who don’t know, moose can be quite aggressive)! Thank goodness, we managed to get passed them without attracting too much attention! After the hike, we headed to our Bed & Breakfast in Dingwall, which was absolutely beautiful. After a good night’s rest, we drove along the end the Cabot Trail and stopped in Ingonish, where we saw a couple of whales not to far off the coast! We also made a quick stop in Baddeck, where you can visit the Alexander Graham Bell museum if that interests you!
For more information on Cape Breton, take a look at the Cape Breton Island Tourism website or the Nova Scotia Tourism website!
Hope this helps you plan your Cape Breton road trip! Let me know if you have any Canadian road trip suggestions in the comments below! And be sure to check out my post on my Road Trip to New Brunswick for a little road trip fun!