Driving the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia

Tips for making the most of your coastal island road trip

cabot trail travel

Ron Garnett/Getty Images

The Cabot Trail, a scenic roadway that takes you around the greater part of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, is one of the most famous drives in Canada. Many visitors to Cape Breton Island set aside an entire day—or several days—to see the Cabot Trail's sights. Because there are so many scenic overlooks, cultural heritage sites and hiking trails on the Cabot Trail, spending some time planning your excursion will make your road trip much more enjoyable.

Choose a Direction

The Cabot Trail makes a loop around Cape Breton Island, cutting across the top of the island and closely following the western and eastern coastlines. If you travel in a clockwise direction, you'll be on the "inside" lane as you drive along both coasts. Because the road goes up and down steep grades and curves, the clockwise direction is better for drivers (and passengers) who dislike driving next to steep drops. Many of the turnoffs into Cape Breton Highlands National Park are right turns if you travel clockwise.

Driving counter-clockwise may give you a better view of some of the more spectacular ocean vistas along the way. While this direction is less popular (it's billed as the direction for the brave driver), it may be easier to handle if you dislike slow traffic, as fewer people travel counter-clockwise.

Whichever direction you choose, you need to be aware of a few essential facts:

  • Once you begin this drive, you have to finish it, either by completing the loop or by turning around and retracing your path. You cannot cut across the center of Cape Breton Island.
  • Tour buses and RVs move very slowly on the grades. Passing lanes are few and far between. Pack your patience.
  • If you are driving your own car, be sure the brakes are in good shape before attempting this drive. You do not want your brakes to fail on one of the 13 percent grades.

Understand the Drive

According to the Cabot Trail tourism map, available at Nova Scotia welcome centers and various museums and merchants on Cape Breton Island, the entire Cabot Trail drive takes approximately five hours. What the map does not tell you is that this time is calculated without any stops. If you plan to pause for meals, hikes or sightseeing beyond the occasional photo stop, you will need to allow an entire day, at a minimum, to drive the Cabot Trail.

Nova Scotia's roads are, for the most part, well-maintained. The Cabot Trail, however, has sections that could stand to be completely repaved. Nova Scotia's harsh winters and summer tourists' vehicles take their toll on the Cabot Trail. There are potholes, bumpy cold-patched areas and gravelly spots along the way. Take your time, especially on blind curves. You never know when you will come upon an accident.

The posted speed limits, particularly on sharp curves, are not meant to be mere suggestions. Slow down to the posted speed, even if you are an expert driver and the sun is shining. The curves are sharp, the grades are steep, and the other drivers may not be experienced mountain drivers. Use extra caution if you are driving the Cabot Trail in fog, mist, or rain, all of which are common on Cape Breton Island.

Plan Your Stops

Most visitors want to stop here and there along the Cabot Trail, not only to stretch their legs or take photos but also to more fully enjoy the Cabot Trail experience. If you are planning to stop along the Acadian coast, in the national park or near Ingonish's beaches, take a few minutes to think about how long you plan to spend at each place. Add this to your five hour drive time to determine when you should begin your Cabot Trail adventure.

Some of the more popular Cabot Trail stops include:

  • Margaree Harbour and villages in the Margaree River valley, for fishing, the Salmon Museum, and water sports
  • Chéticamp, the largest village on Cape Breton Island's Acadian coast
  • Pleasant Bay, for whale watching
  • Hiking trails and scenic viewpoints ("look-offs") in Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Ingonish and the surrounding beaches, for water sports, golf, and scenery
  • St. Ann's, for the Gaelic College and local art studios
  • Baddeck, for the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, golf and summer ceilidhs (Celtic music and dance events)

If you have extra time, plan to drive up to Cabot's Bay (the presumed site of John Cabot's landing in 1497) and Bay St. Lawrence. You can take a whale watching trip here (allow two to three hours) or enjoy the maritime scenery. If you plan to drive to Meat Cove, one of the northernmost points on the island, be aware that the road is a combination of gravel, dirt, and mud.

Allow for Delays

Build some time into your itinerary for unexpected stops, slow meal service, and traffic issues. Because there is only one road around the island, a serious accident can create traffic problems very quickly.

You may also find that the stunning coastal scenery and the gentle allure of local museums and shops might take more time than planned. If you plan and get an early start, you will still be able to complete your drive before sunset.

Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park

You will need to bring cash for the Cape Breton Highlands National Park entrance fee. The Cabot Trail cuts right through the park, and you will not be able to avoid paying the fee to use the road. Daily fees (as of 2019) are Can$7.80 per adult, Can$6.80 per senior, Can$15.70 per family group (up to 7 in one vehicle), and under 17 free. The park ranger will give you a map of the park, marked with trails, picnic areas, and sites of interest.

In addition to traditional park activities, such as camping, hiking, and fishing, check the park's website for information about special events and programs throughout the year.

Cabot Trail Practicalities

The Cabot Trail is mainly a scenic drive. Choose the best weather days available to make this trip. This is easy if you plan to drive the loop in one day, but becomes more difficult if you are spending a couple of days on the Trail.

Gas stations are few and far between on the Cabot Trail. Gas up before you start driving. You should be able to complete the entire loop on one tank if you are in a car that gets 20-plus miles to the gallon.

If you plan to take a walk or hike, bring insect repellent and use it liberally. Put on some sunscreen, too.

Dispose of all trash in covered, designated containers, particularly in the national park. There are bears and other garbage-loving animals on Cape Breton Island. If you are camping, be sure to secure your food so bears cannot reach it.

Watch for moose. If you crash into one, the best you can expect is an extended hospital stay. Many drivers do not survive direct encounters with these large animals. If you do see a moose, stop and wait for it to go away.

The weather on Cape Breton Island can vary from moment to moment. You can be in a fog one minute and emerge into the sunshine the next. Bring appropriate clothing and be ready for abrupt changes.

Pay attention as you enter and exit the scenic look-off areas. Some drivers do not pay attention to opposing traffic; they pull off and swerve toward an available parking place.

Above all, take your time and enjoy the experience. Driving the Cabot Trail encompasses the best of Cape Breton Island. Savor this time by including a hike to a waterfall or spend a few moments at a scenic overlook. Find a local radio station and listen to the island's music. Stop at a bakery or restaurant and eat with the locals. You won't be sorry; in fact, you'll wish you'd planned more time for the Cabot Trail.

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The Ultimate Cabot Trail Itinerary: Cape Breton Road Trip

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Looking for one of the most beautiful road trips in the world? Consider driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. While this is one of the best known road trips in Canada, I hadn’t heard of it until recently — and I was stunned at just how special it was.

This summer I’ve been spending a lot of time in Atlantic Canada, which is one of the better decisions I’ve made lately. This is one of my new favorite parts of the world. But one of the biggest highlights of Atlantic Canada has been driving the Cabot Trail and discovering the Cape Breton region of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia was in the works for awhile. Earlier this year, I met representatives from Visit Nova Scotia and we decided to do a campaign together. I did my research on the province, trying to figure out where to go, and landed on Cape Breton, the rural, beautiful island in the northeast part of the province, and driving the Cabot Trail. I’m always down for a road trip. And I had great company — my frequent travel buddy Cailin , who herself is from Nova Scotia! ( Check out her list of best things to do in Nova Scotia here. )

This was my first time in Nova Scotia (well, I also went when I was a fetus, my parents are quick to point out), but it reminded me so much of where I grew up. The Halifax area and its surroundings reminded me so much of Massachusetts — but once you get into Cape Breton, everything spreads out and countrifies. It feels more like New Hampshire or Maine!

I loved Nova Scotia because of its beauty, because of its friendliness, because of how relaxed it was. And on top of that, it had a quality I’m having trouble defining. It was special .

And if you’re from the New York City area or New England — and I know many of my US-based readers are — Nova Scotia is a very easy trip. Hop on a short nonstop flight to Halifax from New York or Boston. It’s a two-hour flight from either city!

This post was last updated in April 2023.

Table of Contents

What is the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is a scenic driving route on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and considered one of the most beautiful road trips in North America. Cape Breton is the large island in the northeast of Nova Scotia, home to 18% of the province’s land and 14% of the population. Cape Breton is known for being a slow-paced and beautiful corner of Nova Scotia.

The Cabot Trail is well-marked, easy to drive, and filled with tons of attractions. At 298 kilometers (185 miles), it’s ideal for a four-day road trip.

Cape Breton Road Trip FAQs

ABSOLUTELY. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Novia Scotia, which you’ll soon realize after you start driving and maybe even do a hike, like the Skyline Hike at sunset.

I recommend at least 4 days for the Cabot Trail drive, though 3 or 5 would also work. I dive into that more here . This gives you plenty of time to drive the entire loop, and even backtrack a bit if you need to.

Chéticamp , in my opinion, is the most beautiful town on Cape Breton. Plus it’s a great place to base yourself for a few nights, as there are so many activities to do in the area.

The world-famous Cabot Trail is a scenic drive that’s quite easy to drive. It’s a paved road that will take you through some small towns and though there are some curves, most people will have no problem. As I said in my Cape Breton road trip tips below , be sure to watch out for moose and take extra care pulling in and out of any scenic stops.

You’ll want to plan your Cape Breton road trip for summer or fall. Late spring is also a possibility but keep in mind that many businesses are seasonal and do not re-open until May or June. If you want to see the foliage, the best time is in October, though you’ll want to check annual foliage calendars as it can change.

A curvy road surrounded by forest in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Reasons to Travel the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

There are so many reasons to travel the Cabot Trail. Here are some of my favorites:

The most beautiful winding roads.  Driving through Cape Breton Highlands National Park is like driving in a cartoon. The roads are so windingly photogenic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beautiful roads as I did in Cape Breton!

If you want to get photos like I did, have the person in the passenger seat turn their camera to a super-fast shutter speed and shoot as you drive along. Be sure to periodically clean your windshield.

A pot full of bright red lobsters.

The freshest, most succulent, most delicious lobster. For years Cailin has been telling me that Nova Scotia has the best lobster in the world (or, more often, yelling, “THAT’S NOT LOBSTER!” whenever I eat lobster in the Caribbean). To be honest, I rolled my eyes at her exultations — but then I tried it and WOW. I’m used to Maine lobster, but Nova Scotia lobster is on another level. And it’s available everywhere on the Cabot Trail.

A bright pink and purple sunset over purple mountains. Evergreen trees in the foreground.

Endless changing landscapes. At times, like in White Point, I felt like I was in Normandy. At other times, driving through the lusher parts of the highlands, I almost felt like I was in Hawaii! And when the sun dipped behind the mountains, I was reminded of Colorado.

The Canadian, Nova Scotian, and Acadian flags set against a blue sky.

Three interesting cultures in one place, shared proudly with visitors. You can explore indigenous Mi’kmaq culture, Acadian culture, and Gaelic culture all on this same island. And they’re all respected as being essential parts of Canadian culture. It really hits you when you walk into the visitors’ center at the national park and it reads, “Welcome. Bienvenue. Pjila’si. Fáilte.”

A small cabin covered with wooden art and brightly painted signs, surrounded by a fence overgrown with grass.

A slow, country pace. When you live in a city (especially New York City), you notice how much slower it is in the country. Things move at a slow pace. People take their time to enjoy themselves. It’s a nice break for your brain.

The mountains and winding roads of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

One incredible national park. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the one national park on Cape Breton Island, and the Cabot Trail drives right through it. It’s a sensational park. The best known activity on the Cabot Trail is the Skyline Trail, a hike in the park best done at sunset for beautiful views.

A small village next to the sea with several houses illuminated by the setting sun.

Wonderful and welcoming people. So many memories from Cape Breton are tied up in the wonderful people we met. The Acadian ladies who invited us to come back and stay in their homes for the Mi-Carême celebration in winter. The Mi’kmaq educator at Eskasoni Cultural Journeys who told us about their natural cancer-fighting remedies that Westerners may be on the verge of exploiting. The artist who worried about the impact of Airbnb on young Cape Bretoners being unable to afford homes. The smart, thoughtful guides at Parks Canada who were bubbling over with their love for the outdoors.

Kate and Cailin pose for a selfie on the Skyline Trail.

How Many Days Do You Need on the Cabot Trail?

I think you can travel the Cabot Trail in a minimum of three days — but I would recommend stretching to four days if you can. You can travel the Cabot Trail for longer if you’d like, having a more leisurely trip than we did, and traveling for longer gives you a bit of insurance in case you have some rainy days.

If you only have one or two days, I recommend staying in the Chéticamp area rather than trying to do the whole trail. Most of my favorite experiences on the Cabot Trail were in or around Chéticamp: hiking the Skyline Trail and the Learn to Lobster Boil experience in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Mi-Carême Centre, Aucoin Bakery, and L’abri restaurant.

It’s best to rent your car in either Sydney or Halifax and drive to the trail. Sydney is the largest city in Cape Breton and it has a small airport and several car rental locations. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the Cabot Trail and you enter at Englishtown, near Baddeck.

Halifax is a bigger city and major air hub and it’s on the mainland of Nova Scotia. It’s about a 3.5-hour drive from the Cabot Trail and you enter at Hunters Point, also near Baddeck. You can rent a car one-way from Sydney to Halifax, as we did, but one-way rentals can be very expensive in Nova Scotia.

A road leading straight ahead, surrounded by pine trees. Two cyclists are riding along the road.

Cape Breton Road Trip Itinerary

Driving the Cabot Trail for four days will give you enough time to enjoy the best of this gorgeous part of Nova Scotia. This Cabot Trail itinerary gives you an extra day in what I think is the nicest part — Chéticamp — but gives you enough time to enjoy some of the other lovely places, like Ingonish, Baddeck, and of course Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

A lot of people ask whether you should drive the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. It would matter if you only drove in one direction and never backtracked whatsoever. Cailin and I ended up driving back and forth several times in the most photogenic part of the national park because the weather kept changing and we wanted better photos!

We ended up driving the bulk of the trail clockwise and we felt happy with it. Here is our full itinerary:

A rocky coastline falls into the sea. On the top is grass, two yellow cottages, benches, and picnic tables.

Cabot Trail Itinerary, Day One: Sydney to Chéticamp

Cailin and I began our Cape Breton road trip immediately after our OneOcean cruise docked in Sydney.  Sydney is close to the Cabot Trail at Englishtown, but I had wanted to explore indigenous culture in Nova Scotia, so we headed south and started slightly off the trail in Eskasoni.

Kate gets smoke "smudged" on her in a Mi'kmaq ceremony with a local man.

Eskasoni Cultural Experiences is where you can learn about Mi’kmaq indigenous culture and traditions from Mi’kmaq people. You take part in a smudging ceremony, learn about hunting and weapons, learn some dancing, and even cook some bread over the fire, Mi’kmaq-style.

A Mi'kmaq man plays a drum and sings.

It is a bit field trip-y — you can tell that groups of students are their bread and butter. But I loved learning about Mi’kmaq culture and I especially loved learning from so many Mi’kmaq folks directly. Learning from actual indigenous people is all too rare these days, and it should be cherished.

I loved how the guides weaved in traditions and how they use them today, like medicinal plants that are used to treat cancer. One of the guides, Steve, even offered to smudge my passport to give me protection on my travels.

Next, if you have the time, visit the Highland Village . Just off the trail in Iona is a village that re-creates life among Gaelic settlers in Cape Breton from centuries ago, complete with costumes, set beautifully on Bras d’Or lake. While we didn’t have time to do this due to a late start, this is absolutely worth the beautiful setting alone.

Giant letters reading L'abri in front of a one-story restaurant

Spend the afternoon driving to Chéticamp and get an early dinner.  You are now officially on the Cabot Trail! The drive to Chéticamp is lovely, especially once you hit the water. For an early dinner, I recommend L’abri — a relatively new, very queer-friendly restaurant that the locals can’t stop raving about. They do a great lobster roll. Cailin and I loved L’abri so much that we went multiple times!

Kate standing in front of the mountains wearing a "Canada 2019" tank top in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

In the evening, hike the Skyline Trail, the most famous hike in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is an easy, even hike with a gorgeous view at the end, even better at sunset. I think it’s the best Instagram spot on the Cabot Trail. While you can do this hike on your own, Parks Canada offers a guided sunset hike  that takes about three hours altogether.

The Skyline Trail is the best place on the Cabot Trail to see moose, so keep your eyes open! There is even a moose “exclosure” (first time I had ever heard that word) where you have a moose-free zone and can climb a platform to see if you can spot them outside.

A staircase descending the hills at dusk in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

The Skyline Trail seems mostly even, but you don’t realize until you turn around and head back that the path had been slowly sloping downward the whole time. You can definitely do this hike with kids but it helps to bring a light source for the walk back, even if that light source is the flashlight on your phone.

Keep in mind the hike starts two hours before sunset, but you also have to pick up your park pass at the entrance and the start of the hike is about a 20-minute drive from the entrance. This is why you get an early dinner!

A one-story white motel underneath a blue and white spotted sky.

Where to Stay in Chéticamp: Silver Linings Inn

In Chéticamp we stayed at Silver Linings Inn , a midrange guesthouse and motel that I highly recommend. We were the first guests to stay in a new suite above the main guesthouse: a loft with two incredibly comfortable queen beds, tons of excellent pillows, and an ensuite bathroom. Rates from $149 CAD ($112 USD).

Two queen beds in white bedding with lots of pillows in Silver Linings Inn, Cheticamp, Nova Scotia.

The guesthouse also has the best continental breakfast I’ve ever seen anywhere. Tons of muffins, bread from nearby Aucoin Bakery, cereals, fruit, drawers filled with peanut butter and all kinds of jellies and jams, even a designated gluten-free zone. They really make an effort to do a simple breakfast well, and the breakfast room is airy and beautiful.

The internet wasn’t great and only worked decently in the public areas of the guesthouse, which were closed at night, but this is standard for Cape Breton. (See more on internet in Cape Breton in the “Cabot Trail Travel Tips” section below.)

One qualm: there is a doorstop right in the middle of the bathroom floor and it blends into the tiles, so Cailin and I stubbed our toes on it multiple times. (I would yelp from the bathroom and Cailin would yell, “Did you step on it again?”) However, we brought it up with the manager and since we were the first people to stay there, they had no idea and said they’d look into removing it.

Find deals on hotels in Chéticamp here .

A red and blue Cheticamp sign shaped like a lighthouse.

Cabot Trail Itinerary, Day Two: Chéticamp and Around

Chéticamp was my favorite part of the Cabot Trail because there are so many cool things to do nearby. It’s absolutely worth spending an extra night in Chéticamp to get the most out of this part of Cape Breton. Start your day with breakfast, then plan to hit up a lot of sights.

A recreation of an Acadian home at Les Trois Pignons with a china cabinet, wooden dining table, iron stove, and braided rug on the ground.

Learn about Acadian culture at Les Trois Pignons. This museum and cultural center is a great place to learn about the Acadians who lived in Cape Breton centuries ago. While you can see recreated living quarters for Acadian families, the coolest part is seeing the hooked rugs.

A woman's hand hooks wool through the backing to make a rug.

The hooked rugs were so interesting. Artist Elizabeth LeFort was one of the most gifted hooked rug artists, and she was particularly talented with hooked rug portraiture. In the 1960s, she did portraits of all the Apollo astronauts — as well as JFK, Jackie Kennedy and Pope John Paul II!

But for me and Cailin, our favorite portrait was of a white Persian cat. It actually used long mohair strings that were pulled through, making a very fluffy cat — and had a very necessary DO NOT TOUCH sign beneath it. So tempting.

Two wooden buildings side by side: an espresso bar and an art gallery. A man orders a coffee with his pit bull.

Stop for coffee at the Frog Pond Cafe and check out folk art at Sunset Art Gallery . These two establishments are located side by side in Chéticamp. Artist William Roach has been carving and painting works of art for decades, and the gallery is now home to works by 15 Cape Breton folk artists. This is a great spot to stop for a coffee and a browse.

Elevator doors with a blue night sky and quarter moon wearing a mask painting on

Next, paint your own masks at the Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre . When I saw “paint traditional masks” on my itinerary, I wasn’t too excited — but this ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. It was definitely my favorite indoor activity, too!

Mi-Carême is a traditional French celebration that brings joy to a dark time — the name means “middle of Lent” and it’s a leap of fun in the midst of a month of austerity. People dress up in elaborate costumes to conceal their identities — seriously, people wear full masks, gloves, wigs, and stilts to fully disguise themselves — and go around from place to place, having people guess who they are.

Mi-Carême was celebrated as early as the Middle Ages, but sadly it has died out everywhere but a few communities in French Canada. It has similarities to Mardi Gras in Louisiana (where the Acadians migrated from Canada), Mummering in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Carnival all over the world.

Cailin paints a lobster on her mask at the Mi-Careme Centre

This was SO MUCH FUN! Cailin and I chose masks and began painting. She painted a full Nova Scotia seascape with a lighthouse and a lobster. I did a black and white and pink design. The whole time we painted and chatted with resident artist Diane Bourgeois about Cape Breton and how it’s changed over the last several years.

After that we actually put on costumes that matched our masks and took some photos! There is a full museum at the Mi-Carême Centre that shares the history of the event.

“I so want to come back for Mi-Carême!” I exclaimed to the staff. “We should do it next year.”

“Yes! You can stay at my house!” one of the women offered. I OFFICIALLY LOVE CAPE BRETON.

Kate sits in a red chair and has her arms up giving double thumbs ups. In front of her are hills, winding roads, and the ocean at Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It depends how much time you have at this point before dinner, but this is a great opportunity to explore the western part of the park and take lots of photos!

Kate holds a live lobster by the claws and smiles nervously. Tents are behind her.

Get ready for the best meal of your trip — you’re going to Learn to Lobster Boil in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  You enjoy a lobster boil on the beach with Parks Canada guides, including Robert, who is the authority on cooking and eating lobster.

This is a great activity for people who are lobster aficionados like me and especially Cailin, but it’s extra special for people who live inland or have no idea how to eat a whole lobster. We were joined by a family of six from Alberta who had never eaten whole lobster before and were delighted. There’s no better introduction to eating lobster than cooking your own on the beach and being instructed by an expert!

(2023 update – Unfortunately, Parks Canada no longer offers this activity.)

Kate pulls the rubber bands off her lobster's claws and grimaces while her guide pulls them off more expertly.

There were a few differences in the lobster-cooking process here: they only use a few inches of water instead of filling the whole pot with water, and they GENEROUSLY salt the water. It basically has to be like cooking the lobster in the ocean.

And it paid off. This is the best lobster I have ever had. It was so incredibly fresh and succulent. And sharing it with an interesting group of travelers and Parks Canada guides made it even better.

This is usually done on the beach, but it was a rainy night, so they moved our group to an indoor/outdoor shelter. Don’t despair if rain is in the forecast!

Stay at Silver Linings Inn one more night.

Cars driving along a curvy road on tree-covered mountains.

Cabot Trail Itinerary, Day Three: Chéticamp to Dingwall

Before you hit the road, know that today will be the most rural part of your Cabot Trail road trip. Phone service will be its weakest along this part of the route, and there won’t be a lot of dining options. It’s best to plan ahead and double-check for opening days — don’t leave anything until the last minute! You may want to make your dinner reservation in advance.

Red, white, and blue Aucoin Bakery with flags waving in the air above it.

In the morning, stop at Aucoin Bakery . Aucoin Bakery is a huge source of local pride for Chéticamp! Everyone raves about it. Silver Linings Inn uses Aucoin Bakery bread for their breakfast. Learn to Lobster Boil uses Aucoin Bakery rolls for their dinners. Nearly every local we met recommended that we stop here.

Pastries in a basket in front of two bakers putting orders together at Aucoin Bakery.

We grabbed some cinnamon buns and oatcakes — both delicious. Cailin was sampling oatcakes, a Nova Scotian delicacy, throughout Cape Breton, and we found that Aucoin Bakery had the largest and softest oatcakes of all.

Aucoin Bakery is small — there is almost no seating. It’s a better spot for picking up pastries and taking back to wherever you’re staying — or even to one of the picnic areas in the national park!

Kate wears large sunglasses and takes a selfie in front of hills and oceans at Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Next, drive through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is a beautiful day of driving, and the Cabot Trail will take you through most of the park. There are lots of viewpoints and hiking trails just off the highway, but it’s nice just for driving through.

A wooden fisherman holds up lobster outside the Rusty Anchor restaurant in front of a sign that reads Fresh Local Mussels and Oysters.

Have lunch at the Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay. With its jaunty fisherman waving you in with a lobster, the Rusty Anchor restaurant is a quintessential road trip stop! They’re especially known for their mussels and oysters. I sampled both and they were terrific!

White limestone cliffs topped with grass plunging into the ocean in Cape Breton.

Drive around and explore the local area. We checked into our accommodation at the Blue Bayou (see more on that below) and had lots of time to explore. This is a great area for getting off the Cabot Trail and exploring. If you have time, you can drive all the way to hilariously named Meat Cove, near the northern tip of Cape Breton. It’s about a 45-minute drive each way.

We stayed close by and checked out White Point, including the Normandy-esque white cliffs above. There is a hiking trail here too.

A lobster placed on a plate head up, looking like he's going to eat YOU.

Have dinner at The Markland .  The Markland is one of the more upscale hotels in the area. We were originally supposed to eat at at restaurant that was closed, and this was one of few options in the area. They were booked up and we had to wait about an hour, but it was worth it to have YET ANOTHER DELICIOUS WHOLE LOBSTER and some lovely strawberry rhubarb pie.

Kate poses hanging out the door in a Blue Bayou Geodesic Dome

Where to Stay in Dingwall: Blue Bayou Geodesic Domes

Ever wanted to sleep in a dome? Here’s your chance! The Blue Bayou Resort is a campground near Dingwall on the eastern shore of Cape Breton, right on the ocean. Rather than tents, this campground is filled with geodesic domes (as well as three tipis). Each deodesic dome has electricity, hot water, and a private bathroom with a toilet, sink, and shower. Each contains two queen beds or a king bed. Domes from $229 CAD ($170 USD).

Two beds side by side in front of the triangular windows of the Blue Bayou Geodesic Domes

After I posted this, the most popular question I got asked was “Does it get hot?” During the day, it gets quite warm inside and smells a bit of plastic — but opening the screened-in windows makes a big difference. At night, it’s much cooler, and you’ll be ready to bundle underneath the covers. There is plenty of hot water, and you can easily get privacy by pulling down the curtains.

Do note that this is not a luxury glamping experience — it’s cool-looking, but simple. As someone who grew up camping and took her first steps in a tent, I thought it was a fun place to stay for a night; if you require a higher level of luxury, this place is going to be too basic for you. I loved waking up to the sound of raindrops the next day.

Find deals on Dingwall hotels here .

A Scottish-looking gray house in front of purple flowers in Cape Breton.

Cabot Trail Itinerary, Day Four: Dingwall to Baddeck

On this day, everything changes. You’ve left the Acadian, French-flavored part of Cape Breton and have entered the Celtic part of the island, complete with tartans and bagpipes and kilts. It feels so different from where you’ve been, but that’s the magic of the Cabot Trail. On this day we dealt with a lot of rain, but still managed to have a great time.

Kate wears a pink coat and smiles while holding a cup of coffee at a table beneath a blackboard detailing the restaurant's specials.

Get breakfast at Danena’s Bakery and Bistro . Danena’s is a small diner that doubles as a thrift shop. You can even eat amidst the piles of stuff for sale! We enjoyed a hearty Canadian breakfast here, perfect on a rainy day.

Several goats and a cow feeding on a bale of hay together in Cape Breton.

Explore the shops, cafes, and sights along the Cabot Trail. Since it was a rainy day, it seemed like a good opportunity to check out some of the local businesses! Luckily, the town of Ingonish was filled with lots of places to see, and we had been given suggestions from our new friends in Cape Breton.

A bathtub filled with soaps made from goat milk in Cape Breton.

Groovy Goat is a goat farm and soap company. Their products are made from goat milk, which makes them a good option for sensitive skin. You can buy all kinds of bath and skincare products here, and they operate a petting zoo when the weather is nicer.

A light-filled room filled with local prints and jewelry in Cape Breton.

Salty Rose’s is a beautiful shop featuring work by Nova Scotia artists. If I had been in a souvenir-buying mood (or house-furnishing mood), I would have bought everything from here. While you see a lot of folk art on the Cabot Trail, the selection here is more refined and modern.

A latte topped with lavender seeds (which are not tasty).

Attached to Salty Rose’s is the Periwinkle Cafe .  A great place to relax with a hot beverage. They actually had lavender lattes and lavender London Fogs on the menu! I had a lavender latte, but be forewarned — they serve it with lavender seeds on top. I recommend removing the seeds or asking for no seeds on top — they taste too much like soap to me.

White cottages on top of red-brown cliffs among green vegetation, looking mysterious in the mist.

Stop at Keltic Lodge for lunch. The Keltic Lodge is home to some of the most high-end accommodation in the region and the best golf course in Cape Breton. It’s also one of the best Instagram spots on the Cabot Trail.

The restaurant features classic Canadian and American dishes — nothing too culturally significant, but a nice solid option.

Go whale watching with Ingonish Whale Tours . We were supposed to go whale watching, but it ended up being too rainy. But if you’re eager to see whales, Ingonish is one of the best spots for whale watching in Nova Scotia.

Kate wears a hot pink coat and dances on a platform at Ingonish Beach, surrounded by rocks.

Check out Ingonish Beach. This beach is rocky until you get to the shoreline, where it’s filled with soft sand. It’s great on a beautiful day, but a moody day will get you some ethereal photos! What I really liked was the sound the water made as it ran over the rocks — such a gentle whisper. Time your visit during high tide if you want to hear it.

A modern triangular church-shaped building with a Canadian flag flying in front.

Head to Baddeck and visit the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site .  While I didn’t get to this Alexander Graham Bell museum on our trip, I’ve heard so many good things, including from Cailin — and small, tightly focused museums are my favorites!

A spruce tree-shaped beer tray holding four small glasses of different beers.

Try some beers at Big Spruce Brewing . Breweries are popping up all over Nova Scotia, and Big Spruce is a nice one to visit if you’re in the town of Baddeck. It’s a cozy setting and they have board games. My favorite, not surprisingly, was the Silver Tart, the sour raspberry wheat beer…

A red fish and chips food stand in front boats in Baddeck, Novia Scotia with signs saying "Fish and Chips" and tree stumps to sit on

Explore Baddeck. Or leave your exploring to the next morning, if you’d like. It’s a small but very pretty town.

Kate smiles and holds up two lobster claws while wearing a lobster bib.

Have dinner at Baddeck Lobster Suppers . This fun, friendly, and casual restaurant featured the best deal of our trip. You can choose between whole lobster (obviously), Atlantic salmon, Cape Breton snow crab, or strip loin steak, and you get that, plus unlimited mussels, plus unlimited seafood chowder, plus a dessert, plus a nonalcoholic beverage, plus tea or coffee, for $60 CAD ($45 USD).

Hell yeah, I jumped in. Then I quickly realized that they give you so many mussels that you probably won’t want to order a second serving!

A navy blue house with white trim, porches in front, and two red chairs sitting on the ground in front of the house.

Where to Stay in Baddeck: Inverary Resort

Our final accommodation, the Inverary Resort , was beautiful to look at — all dark wood with white trim and pops of color with Canada’s symbolic red chairs out in the sitting areas. We had a room with two queens for our final night. Rates from $159 CAD ($120 USD).

Two queen beds with plain blankets at the foot.

We had a comfortable sleep and a nice hot breakfast the next morning. And the grounds are absolutely beautiful — so peaceful. I wish I had more time to relax in one of those chairs with a book.

One caveat: originally we were given a room on the same floor as the pool and sauna, and the room reeked of mold and had a ground-floor window that didn’t close or lock. The staff moved us to another room, but if you want to stay here, I would request a room not on the floor with the pool and sauna.

Find deals on Baddeck hotels here .

A yellow "Brake for Moose" sign with a moose in the middle of it, o the side road in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Tips for Driving the Cabot Trail

Brake for moose. Keep an eye out for wildlife constantly, and if you see a moose, hit the breaks. Hitting a moose will likely kill you, as they are tall, weigh a ton, and will fall onto your windshield and crush you. It’s much more dangerous than hitting a deer.

I grew up in Massachusetts and camped in New Hampshire every summer, so “Brake for Moose” has been driven into my head since birth. (Even some guys at my theater camp were in a band called Brake for Moose.) This isn’t common knowledge if you’re not from an area with moose, so please take it seriously. Moose tend to congregate around the Skyline Trail.

Keep an eye out for cyclists and motorcyclists. Especially be cautious when going around those hairpin turns in the eastern part of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The Cabot Trail is a very popular spot for motorcyclists especially (and from what I noticed, French-speaking motorcyclists).

Get a Canadian SIM card. Having a phone signal will make your Cape Breton road trip much easier, especially when you’re navigating with Google Maps. I got a SIM card and data plan from Lucky Mobile. Signal is good in the larger towns but often drops out in more rural areas.

Internet is poor in this part of Nova Scotia. Phone signal is weak and often nonexistent, especially in the national park; some places (and hotels) have wifi with very limited reach. Basically, if you’re not within 20 feet of the router, the wifi probably won’t reach you.

If you’re working from the road, I recommend taking time off from work while you’re in Cape Breton. If you must work, I recommend bringing a wifi extender .

Prepare for rain — and don’t let it ruin your trip. You could luck out and have a perfectly sunny Cabot Trail road trip — or you could get a lot of rain. If you’re like us, you could have a mix of sunshine and rain.

But rain isn’t a deal-breaker. Cailin and I used rain as an opportunity to check out cool local businesses in the area — like the Salty Rose in Ingonish. You’ll always find interesting places to explore.

Get travel insurance. Travel insurance is vital for every trip, even in a country that has great healthcare like Canada. If you get injured while hiking, if you get robbed, or even if you have to be flown home, travel insurance will protect you from financial ruin. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Canada.

Kate standing in front of the mountains wearing a "Canada 2019" tank top in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Best Instagram Spots on the Cabot Trail

So much of the Cabot Trail is beautiful — there are hundreds if not thousands of places where you can take beautiful shots.  But if you’re looking for the VERY best spots for Instagram photos, here are my recommendations:

1. The Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  My pick for the absolute best Instagram spot on the Cabot Trail, if not Cape Breton. There are so many interesting shots you can get at the end of the trail, overlooking the mountains. Get the best light by going at sunset.

2. Curvy roads in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Most of the cartoon-like curvy roads are along the 30-minute drive between the entrance at Chéticamp and the Skyline Trail. Don’t pull over unless it’s in a designated parking area where you can pull over safely.

3. Keltic Lodge in Ingonish. The white cottages perched atop the red-brown cliffs are spectacular, whether it’s sunny or rainy. You can get them from another angle (albeit from a distance) at Ingonish Beach.

4. Between the rocks at Ingonish Beach. There is a boardwalk that leads to the beach through high piles of rocks. The symmetry makes for a great Moses-in-the-Red-Sea pose. The rocks make a great texture, too.

5. The moose ears in Englishtown.  Just for laughs! They’re right outside The Clucking Hen Cafe and Bakery .

Kate poses in front of a diorama where you can pretend to have giant moose ears.

Cape Breton Road Trip Packing List

If you’re traveling to Nova Scotia during the summer, pack for warm days and cool nights, with extra layers like fleeces and leggings. The weather can change frequently, and almost every day I wore some kind of cardigan, long-sleeved shirt or fleece on top.

Cape Breton is a very casual destination. I needed exactly ZERO nice pieces of clothing. While you might want to bring something nice to wear out in Halifax, you won’t need anything upscale here.

A light hooded rain jacket. A simple windbreaker like this one is easy enough to stash in your backpack and throw on when you need it. Much better than carrying an umbrella.

Hiking gear.  I usually hike in workout clothes; if you prefer something more specialized like zip-off pants, pack them. If you hike with poles, bring them. You’ll want the good stuff if you’re doing challenging hikes.

Hiking shoes. If you’re doing the Skyline Trail, which is pretty level, you can get away with sneakers or athletic sandals; if you’re doing anything more intense, you’ll want hiking boots. I wore my Merrill Siren Edge Q2 Waterproof Trail Runners , which are a great hybrid between sneakers and hiking boots.

Consider a Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf .  These beautiful scarves have a hidden pocket in them, which is great for holding onto valuables or cash without carrying a purse. I love these scarves ( I even designed my own! ) and they come in a variety of weights that work for Cape Breton.

Bathing suit.  It might be a little too cold to swim in Cape Breton — or not! You never know when you’ll need it, and you never know if there will be a jacuzzi somewhere.

A portable safe . This is a great way to lock up your valuables in your accommodation and I consider it the most important thing I pack .

A reusable water bottle . The water is safe to drink throughout Cape Breton and this cuts down on waste.

Insect repellant . Some of the areas get buggy, and you’ll be glad to have the protection.

A stone wall has a red wooden gate open. There is a yellow building in the background underneath a blue sky streaked with white clouds. Louisberg, Nova Scotia.

Where Else to Go in Nova Scotia

Once you finish your road trip in Cape Breton, where do you go next?  There are plenty of options!

Louisburg. Louisburg is home to a historic village in the south of Cape Breton. Historic villages aren’t usually my thing, but I had a great time here (don’t miss the rum tasting!) and it’s definitely worth a stop if you love history.

Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish.  If you’re driving back to Halifax, Antigonish is an easy stop right off the highway. You may have heard of Peace by Chocolate — it’s a chocolate shop run by Syrian refugees who were chocolatiers before they were forced to flee their home country. They’ve built a new business in their new home of Canada. Justin Trudeau even brings their chocolate as gifts to other world leaders.

I loved stopping in and getting to chat with the lovely women. The Gold Bar in particular is SO decadently good! I bought a bunch of chocolate, thanked them in Arabic, and they were delighted and insisted on giving me even more chocolate.

Halifax and the surrounding area. Halifax is a fun city and worth a full day in its right. Ride the ferry to Dartmouth and sample ciders at Lake City Cider . The waterfront is an EXCELLENT place to hang out with a beer and some poutine. And you must try the infamous “ donair ” — a Halifax invention, similar to a doner kebab with a sweet white sauce.

I recommend spending a day doing a loop around the Halifax area. In a day you can visit Peggys Cove, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world and home to a beautiful village; Mahone Bay, a quintessential Nova Scotian village; and Lunenberg, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town that is a lovely place to explore.

A white lighthouse with a red top on a tiny island filled with pine trees in a calm bay. In the foreground is a sailboat.

The Takeaway

When I was younger, I felt like the only destinations worth visiting were the most “exotic” ones.  That’s why I originally went off to Southeast Asia for six months and why I spent years racking up far-flung destinations. Why would I waste my time going somewhere like Canada?

I’m so glad I got over that. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of more familiar places. Canada may not have scorching hot summers or street food meals for a dollar, but Canada is beautiful and entertaining and safe and full of surprises. As for Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail, it reminded me so much of my New England upbringing, then dazzled me with the most spectacular views and lobster.

Nova Scotia is waiting for you. It’s close by. And it’s fantastic.

More Atlantic Canada Adventures:

  • Why You’ll Fall in Love with Newfoundland
  • Quebec’s Best Islands: Iles-de-la-Madeleine
  • Visiting St. Pierre and Miquelon
  • My Favorite Experiences Cruising Atlantic Canada
  • 5 Stunning National Parks in Quebec
  • 1 Week Nova Scotia Itinerary: The South Shore

cabot trail travel

Cabot Trail Essential Info

Visits at Eskasoni Cultural Journeys are Monday to Friday only and must be booked in advance. Sometimes special arrangements can be made on weekends. $40 CAD ($30 USD) per adult and $20 CAD ($15 USD) per child under 10.

Admission to the Highland Village is $15 CAD ($11 USD) per adult, $12 CAD ($9 USD) per senior and $5 CAD ($6 USD) per child.

Admission to Cape Breton Highlands National Park is $8.50 CAD ($6 USD) per adult and $7.25 ($5 CAD) per senior per day, and free for kids. You can also get an annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass to all the parks for $72.25 CAD ($53 USD) per adult,  $61.75 CAD ($45 USD) per senior, and $145.25 CAD ($106 USD) per family.

In the park, the guided Skyline Trail sunset hike is $29.70 CAD ($22 USD) per participant.

Visiting Les Trois Pignons is free of charge!

Entry to the  Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre  is $5 CAD ($4 USD) per adult and $4 CAD ($3 USD) per senior or student. Painting a mask is $25 CAD ($19 USD) for a preformed mask and $80 CAD ($60 USD) for a papier-mâché mask.

Ingonish Whale Watching has fishing boat tours from $65 CAD ($48 USD) per person and zodiac tours from $65 CAD ($48 USD) per person.

Admission to the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site is $8.50 CAD ($6 USD) per adult, $7 CAD ($5 USD) per senior, and free for youths.

Rates at Silver Linings Inn  in Chéticamp start at $149 CAD ($112 USD). Find deals on hotels in Chéticamp here .

Rates for domes at the Blue Bayou Resort  in Dingwall start at $229 CAD ($170 USD). Find deals on Dingwall hotels here .

Rates at Inverary Resort  in Baddeck start at $159 CAD ($120 USD). Find deals on Baddeck hotels here .

Travel insurance is vital for every trip, even in a country that has great healthcare like Canada. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Canada.

This campaign is brought to you by Tourism Nova Scotia and Discover Cape Breton , who covered most of the costs during my time in Cape Breton. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Have you been to Nova Scotia? Would you like to do this road trip? Share away!

Teaspoon of Adventure

5 Day Cabot Trail Itinerary on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Lakies Head on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful roads trips in the world complete with picturesque coast lines, fresh seafood, local culture and friendly Canadians (if I do say so myself as a Canadian), then you’re going to want to drive the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada!

One of the best parts of our three week honeymoon through the Maritimes was our Cabot Trail itinerary. I loved sitting next to my new husband as we explored the natural beauty of the Cape Breton Highlands.

Growing up in Ontario, I visited the Maritimes as a kid and had always heard that Cape Breton Island was beautiful. Visiting as an adult, I’m so glad to report that it lived up to the hype!

The great thing about the Cabot Trail is there is something for everyone. Whether you’re into hiking and camping, love great food or live for rich cultural experiences, you’ll find it all on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Forget fall foliage in New England! Drive on up to Cape Breton to experience leaves that are just as stunning but at a discount (thanks to the weaker Canadian dollar)!

I believe this is truly one of the most beautiful places in Canada (maybe the world?), so it should definitely be on your travel bucket list.

Below I’m answering the most asked questions about a Cabot Trail road trip, such as how many days you’ll need for the Cabot Trail, what direction to drive it in and the best place to base yourself.

I’ll also walk you through my full Cape Breton itinerary, plus my advice for where to stay, what to see and where to eat.

CAPE BRETON ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA: Check out how to spend 5 days on Cape Breton Island with my Cabot Trail itinerary! Where to stay, when to go, what to see and more on the Cabot Trail! #cabottrail #capebreton #capebretonisland #roadtrip #travel #novascotia #canada #travelcanada

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Table of Contents

Summary: Cabot Trail itinerary for 5 days on Cape Breton Island

Cabot Trail map with Cape Breton itinerary driving route

Cape Breton Island itinerary summary: 

  • Day 1: Drive to Baddeck, explore the Alexander Graham Bell museum and enjoy a lobster dinner
  • Day 2: Drive to Ingonish (90 mins) with stops along the way to kayak, shop and learn about Gaelic culture
  • Day 3: Explore the lakes, waterfalls and beaches around Ingonish
  • Day 4: Drive to Cheticamp (2 hours) taking in the views and looking for whales along the way
  • Day 5: Explore hikes, lakes, beaches and an awesome bakery near Cheticamp

Keep scrolling for all of the details of this epic Nova Scotia road trip!

Cabot Trail Map

Check out my detailed Cabot Trail route map below where I’ve highlighted things to see, places to eat and accommodation to stay at. You can open up this link on your phone and use the Cape Breton map to guide you on your trip!

Cabot Trail Itinerary Day 1: Baddeck

Baddeck is the most common entry point for the Cabot Trail and a good place to spend a night. To be honest, there’s not a ton to do in Baddeck, so you don’t need more than one night here.

But since you likely drove here from Halifax (4 hours away) or from New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island, it’s the perfect spot to spend the day before you enjoy more of the Cabot Trail tomorrow.

What to do and eat in Baddeck:

PS: All of these points are saved on my map of the Cabot Trail above!

Visit the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site to learn more about famous Canadian inventor and Cape Breton resident, Alexander Graham Bell! AGB is most well-known for inventing the telephone, but he (and his wife!) contributed a lot more to modern technology.

Eat at the Freight Shed Waterfront Bistro . This restaurant was packed when we stopped by for dinner but staff were friendly and the food was tasty. It’s a little pricy, but big portions and nice views make up for it.

Enjoy a late night snack from Tom’s Pizza . You really can’t go wrong with a late night pizza or donair (famous in Nova Scotia) during a Cape Breton Island road trip. We picked this up on our way back to our hotel!

Check out Baddeck Lobster Suppers . Unfortunately, Baddeck Lobster Suppers was closed for the season when we arrived in late October, but I’ve heard it’s a tasty spot in Baddeck!

Wander Uisge Ban Falls Provincial Park . Just a short drive from Baddeck is this 1.5 hour hike to a beautiful waterfall.

Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Where should you stay in Baddeck?

We stayed at Auberge Gisele’s Inn in Baddeck. It was $175 CAD ($130 USD) per night in Oct 2021; click here for pricing and availability for your dates.

The decor was a little old fashioned, but it was a nice, clean place with a large room and friendly service. Breakfast was included in our stay which was convenient, but it was nothing to write home about.

Considering we visited in late October, we were surprised that the hotel was so full. It seemed like most of the hotels in Baddeck were full, so make sure you reserve your Cape Breton accommodation in advance.

Find more great places to stay in Baddeck, Nova Scotia!

Auberge Gisele's Inn in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail Itinerary Days 2 & 3: Ingonish

On day two of your Cape Breton Island itinerary you’re hitting the road and driving to Ingonish. The drive from Baddeck to Ingonish is about 90 minutes .

Along the way you can visit The Gaelic College to learn more about Gaelic culture on Cape Breton, pick up a souvenir at Leather Works By Jolene, take to the water with North River Kayak Tours, and stop for a snack at the Clucking Hen Cafe & Bakery (open seasonally).

With lots to see and do in Ingonish, I’d recommend spending the next two days of your Cabot Trail itinerary here.

Visiting in October, we had most of these Ingonish sites all to ourselves. Get ready for some stunning views!

Moose ears along the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

What to do in Ingonish:

Stroll along North Bay Beach . This was a quick stop for us but it’s worth it to pull off and check out this little rock beach and cove.

Take in the views at Warren Lake . The fall foliage across Warren Lake was really pretty. There’s a cute little bridge you can cross as well as a longer hike if you want to explore further.

Appreciate the might of Mary Ann Falls . It’s a bit of a bumpy drive to get to Mary Ann Falls, but I say it’s worth it! Once there, you can check out the waterfall from the top and take the stairs down to the bottom to feel the power of the falls.

Check out the stunning views at Lakies Head . Lakies Head was probably my favourite stop along the entire Cabot Trail route. It was absolutely breathtaking and easily accessible from the parking lot.

Enjoy Black Brook Cove Beach . We packed a lunch and brought it to Black Brook Cove Beach which was the perfect backdrop for our picnic. It was a beautiful spot and so cool to hear the waves crashing against the rocks.

North Bay Beach in Ingonish, Nova Scotia

A few other things you can do in Ingonish that we didn’t get to include hiking the Middle Head Hiking Trail, hiking the Franey Trail, checking out Neil’s Harbour Lighthouse (apparently there’s an ice cream shop inside!), and going whale watching.

There’s also Cape Smokey where you can ski, snowboard or snowshoe in the winter, and ride the gondola in the summer and fall.

The gondola had just opened when we visited Cape Breton but was a bit outside of our budget.

Where to eat in Ingonish:

Main Street Restaurant : This was one of very few restaurants open in Ingonish in late October, so we lucked out that it was a tasty one! We enjoyed great mussels and seafood chowder for lunch, as well as tacos and salad to go for our dinner.

In 2023, Main Street Restaurant was open for the season from mid-May to end of October. Check out their Facebook page for opening announcements if you’re travelling in the off-season.

Salty Rose’s and the Periwinkle Cafe : This cafe is a cute stop along the Cabot Trail for a charming (but slightly overpriced) breakfast. If you’re happy to splurge, you can enjoy a tasty breakfast sandwich and fancy coffee.

They also have a store and B&B connected to the cafe. Don’t miss browsing their artisan gift shop (I wanted to take home everything!) and consider staying with them too.

Salty Rose’s has limited hours in the off-season, so double check their social media pages to see when their shop and cafe are open. Their B&B is open year round (with discounts in the winter).

Ingonish Freshmart : While this grocery store won’t be winning any culinary awards, it’s a great place in Ingonish to load up on some snacks or get picnic supplies for lunch on the road like we did!

Salty Rose's and the Periwinkle Cafe sign, Ingonish, Nova Scotia

Where should you stay in Ingonish?

We stayed at Knotty Pine Cottages in Ingonish and the place was beautiful. We paid $209 CAD ($156 USD) per night in October 2021.

Our little cottage was adorable, had plenty of living space and boasted a gorgeous view of the water. I parked myself right in front of the window while I worked to enjoy it!

Unfortunately, the wifi did not work well in our room. We were pretty disappointed by the runaround the employees gave us about trying to fix it.

Colin walked up to the reception area twice (they didn’t answer their phone or offer to come down to our cottage) and despite his efforts and the promises of the employees, the wifi did not improve.

So while we loved the view, the wifi issue left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths – especially as this was one of our more pricy stays of our honeymoon.

I would still recommend staying here, because the water view and cute cottage were great, but maybe not if you have to be online. And hopefully their wifi connection has improved since our stay!

Find more beautiful places to stay in Ingonish here!

Knotty Pine Cottages in Ingonish, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail Itinerary Days 4 & 5: Cheticamp

From Ingonish we’re going to drive around the top of Cape Breton to our next base, Cheticamp. It’s a two hour drive from Ingonish to Cheticamp.

Cheticamp is on the northwest side of Cape Breton Island and is a former Acadian fishing village. We found it more lively than Ingonish, but still quite sleepy compared to most cities and towns.

Along the way from Ingonish to Cheticamp you can whale watch in Pleasant Bay, take in the view from MacKenzie Mountain and visit Benjies Lake.

I’d recommend spending the final two days of your Cabot Trail itinerary based in Cheticamp exploring the sights nearby. From Cheticamp, it’s a 4.5 hour drive back to Halifax.

Views of the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island

What to do in Cheticamp:

Enjoy the views from Aspy Fault . Above are some of the sights of Aspy Fault, a fault line that runs through Cape Breton Island and is responsible for most of the epic geography of the region.

I loved seeing Aspy Fault in fall with the changing leaves. There are lots of places to pull over, read informational plaques and take in the views.

Visit The Lone Shieling . The Lone Shieling is a replica of a Scottish farmhouse that would have existed in one of the first settlements on Cape Breton Island.

It’s an easy and short trail through the woods to reach the house, so I would recommend it as a quick stop.

Take in the Skyline Trail . The Skyline Trail is probably the most popular hike on Cape Breton Island, and really the only time we saw more than a handful of people on the Cabot Trail.

We’re not hikers, and it was a pretty gloomy day when we got there, so we chose not to walk it. But we did enjoy the views of the Skyline Trail from the car and various lookout points.

Lone Shieling, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Go back in time at La Bloc Beach . La Bloc Beach is the site of an old Acadian settlement. Plaques in the area will describe the village that used to exist on what is now a quiet beach.

Drive along Cheticamp Island . Take a bumpy drive across the water from Cheticamp to Cheticamp Island to see the lighthouse, enjoy the coast and spot lots of cows.

Stroll up to Gypsum Mine Lake . Gypsum Mine Lake was one of my favourite finds along the Cabot Trail.

It’s a 15-20 minute (relatively easy but a little uphill) walk from the parking lot to a gorgeous turquoise lake surrounded by trees. Besides a few guys driving by on ATVs, we had the lake to ourselves!

Enjoy Margaree Harbour Beach . It was a cold day when we visited, so we didn’t spend much time on the beach. But I loved the sandy scenery and picturesque trails.

Explore Lake-O-Law Provincial Park . Unfortunately, we also didn’t spend much time at this park as it was quite chilly out and we were hungry.

If we had visited a week or so earlier, all of the trees would have been bright yellow, which would’ve made for a very scenic walk.

Skyline Trail coast line on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada honeymoon

Sadly, the following places in Cheticamp were closed when we visited in late October, but I’ve heard good things about them: Les Trois Pignons Cultural Center, Flora’s Gift Shop Ltd (under new ownership as of 2023), and Centre de la Mi-Carême.

We also skipped out on Egypt Falls, as apparently the hike down is quite steep and you need to use a rope. But it looks like a very cool spot!

Where to eat in Cheticamp:

L’abri café : L’abri is the most talked about restaurant in Cheticamp and for good reason. It’s a trendy spot with a bit of a high price tag, but I think it’s well worth it.

The service is awesome, the vibes are great and the views are beautiful. I recommend splurging on the steak, which was fantastic, instead of cheaping out on the sandwiches, as they were just so-so.

Aucoin Bakery : Another famous spot in Cheticamp is Aucoin Bakery. Go early and get your fill of fresh pastries and breads!

We really loved their croissants, cinnamon buns and turnovers.

Dancing Goat Cafe & Bakery : The Dancing Goat is yet another institution in the Cheticamp area. We stopped by for a lunch of caesar salads (it had been a minute since we had eaten any vegetables) and they were surprisingly affordable and filling.

We also couldn’t resist a slice of cheesecake to go!

L’Abri restaurant in Cheticamp on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Where should you stay in Cheticamp?

We stayed at Cheticamp Outback Inn in Cheticamp and I could not recommend it more highly! We paid $129 CAD ($96 USD) per night in Oct 2021.

This place feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere but it’s really only a five minute drive from the main street.

This was probably our favourite stay in Cape Breton because of the awesome hospitality. The woman who welcomed us was so kind and filled us in on everything to do in Cheticamp.

She even went to Aucoin Bakery to bring us some baked goods as a surprise on our first morning. Plus, the wifi worked very well!  

Find more awesome places to stay in Cheticamp!

Room at the Cheticamp Outback Inn in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

Short on time? Cabot trail itinerary for 2-4 days

If you don’t have time for my full 5 day Cabot Trail itinerary, you can definitely still enjoy the Cape Breton Highlands with less time.

4 day Cabot Trail itinerary:

With four days, you can pretty much follow my itinerary above, but just skip Baddeck . This would mean a longer drive straight to Ingonish (e.g. Halifax to Ingonish is about five hours).

3 day Cabot Trail itinerary: 

With three days for your Cabot Trail road trip, you can skip Baddeck and then cut a night from either Ingonish or Cheticamp , since my original itinerary suggests two nights in each.

To decide which one to cut a night from, take a look at the itinerary activities above and prioritize whichever place sounds more appealing.

2 day Cabot Trail itinerary:

For a speedy two night Cape Breton road trip I would spend one night each in Ingonish and Cheticamp . Wake up early so you can make the most of your time on the trail!

Margaree Harbour Beach, Cabot Trail itinerary, Cape Breton Island, path to the lighthouse

Extra time? Cabot trail itinerary for 7-10 days

If you have more than five days to spend on the Cabot Trail, that’s awesome! There really is so much to do in Cape Breton that this itinerary barely covers, like whale watching, kayaking, golfing, hiking, camping and more.

You can easily extend your stay in Baddeck, Ingonish or Cheticamp to spend more time out in nature. If you visit in the summer, there will be lots of activities to take part in.

If you want to explore further, you can head north off the trail past Dingwall and explore more of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I’ve heard this area is very scenic, but the terrain makes it harder to drive.

You could also spend time in Inverness , just south of the Cabot Trail , which is a great spot for golfing or hitting the beach.

Or you could head east to Sydney and explore more of Cape Breton off of the Cabot Trail route, such as the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Miners Museum (open seasonally), and Bras d’Or Lake (a UNESCO designated biosphere).

You could take the ferry to Newfoundland and turn your trip into a full Atlantic Canada itinerary . Or really go for it and expand your adventure to a full cross Canada road trip !

Cape Breton itinerary FAQs

Where is the cabot trail.

Map of Canada with an arrow pointing out Cape Breton Island

The Cabot Trail is a loop around Cape Breton Island, which is the most northeastern part of the Canadian Maritime province, Nova Scotia.

The most southern point on the loop and natural start to the trail, the city of Baddeck, is about a four hour drive (350 km/217 miles) from Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia.

What is the history of the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is named after John Cabot, an early European explorer who landed in the Maritimes in 1497. Controversially, it seems John Cabot actually landed in Newfoundland, not Nova Scotia.

However, in the 1930’s, Nova Scotia’s premier wanted to rebrand the province for tourism purposes by leaning into its Scottish history.

So he renamed the area the Cape Breton Highlands and called the loop around it the Cabot Trail. And we’ve been driving it ever since!

Lakies Head on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

When should I visit Cape Breton Island?

We visited Cape Breton Island in October 2021 (though I updated this post in January 2024!) and I thought it was a great time to be there.

October on Cape Breton was beautiful with the fall foliage and there were way fewer crowds than the summer.

However, I think the perfect time to visit Cape Breton Island would be late September . That way, you get the beginning of leaf peeping season and all of the park facilities and seasonal shops and restaurants are still open.

For our late October trip, we found some of the leaves had already fallen and quite a few places were already closed for the season.

How long does it take to do the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is 298 km (185 mi) long and takes about five hours to drive without stops .

However, you’ll want to give yourself way more than five hours to enjoy all of the trail’s beautiful scenery, activities, natural wonders and small towns.

Keep in mind that five hours is just the amount of time it takes to drive the trail. This doesn’t include the time it takes to get to the start of the trail and back.

Road trip on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

How many days do you need for the Cabot Trail?

I think 3-7 days is the perfect amount of time to spend on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, depending on your interests.

If you really love spending time in nature, hiking or getting to know a small town, you’ll find plenty to fill a week on the Cabot Trail.

If you’re not so into hiking or small towns and you’re happy to just see the views from the car, one or two nights on the trail will do.

Can you do the Cabot Trail in one day?

Technically, you can drive the Cabot Trail in one day. However, the best part of the trail is taking your time and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

There are lots of places you’ll want to turn off to see the views, go on hikes or check out nearby waterfalls and beaches. There’s also all of the small towns, shops and restaurants to enjoy along the way.

If you only give yourself one day, you’ll be speeding past all of the best parts of the Cabot Trail .

Plus, you also have to factor in time to get to the Cabot Trail and back. For example, if you’re staying in Halifax, I do not recommend Cape Breton Island as a day trip .

It’ll take you four hours just to get to the start of the trail from Halifax, another five hours to drive the trail, and then four more hours to get back to Halifax. That’s a very long day!

Is it better to do the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise?

As the Cabot Trail is a loop, you can drive it in either direction – clockwise or counterclockwise.

We decided to drive counterclockwise from Baddeck for a few reasons.

I had read that the road was less windy and the hills more gradual going counterclockwise , and as someone who gets carsick, that was a selling point for me.

But more importantly, we wanted to be as close to the coast as possible .

While there are viewpoints on both sides of the Cabot Trail, it was really nice to drive on the righthand side along the water and easily pull off to take in the coastal scenery that Cape Breton is known for.

Warren Lake in Ingonish on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

Where is the best place to start the Cabot Trail?

The best place to start the Cabot Trail is Baddeck , the most southern point on the east side of Cape Breton Island. From there, you can drive counterclockwise around the island.

Baddeck makes the most sense as it’s the closest point on the trail from Halifax (where you’ll likely be driving from).

If you’d prefer to drive the trail clockwise or you’re coming from PEI or New Brunswick, you can start on the west side of the trail.

Many people will start in Inverness on the west side, though it’s 20 minutes south of the actual Cabot Trail. Either way, you’ll get on the trail soon enough!

Where should you base yourself in Cape Breton?

While there are accommodation options all along the trail, the main bases would be Cheticamp on the west coast and Ingonish on the east coast .

There’s also Baddeck, which would make a good stopping point if you had to drive a while to get to the trail, as well as Inverness, which isn’t technically part of the loop but is another southern rest stop.

If you only wanted one base or had a limited time to visit Cape Breton, I’d recommend basing in Cheticamp as it’s central to a lot of the best sites and a more built up town than Ingonish.

Find lots of incredible places to stay in Cape Breton here!

Black Brook Cove Beach on Cabot Trail itinerary, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Is the Cabot Trail dangerous?

In terms of crime, the Cabot Trail, like most of the Maritimes, is definitely not dangerous. Other dangers, like road safety and animal encounters, may be more of a concern.

We did not find it scary to drive the Cabot Trail at all . The road was not very busy in late October, and we never found it too windy or narrow.

There were lots of easy places to turn off to take in the views, so it never felt unsafe to stop. Of course, it’s best to drive during daylight hours and to stay on marked and paved roads.

In terms of animals or other dangers out in nature, we didn’t have any unpleasant encounters. We also didn’t do any long hikes – mostly just short walks from the car (max 30 minutes).

If you’re looking to hike or camp in the Cape Breton Highlands, definitely do your research ahead of time so you can stay safe. There are also Parks Canada information centres along the trail you can visit.

3 things to know before driving the Cabot Trail

Here are three important things to know about driving the Cabot Trail:

1) Phone service is spotty . Be prepared to completely lose service in some areas.

I highly recommend downloading an offline map before you set off.

2) The weather can be pretty wild depending on the time of year . Pack accordingly.

We always had raincoats and sweaters in the car. If you’re camping or going on longer hikes, ensure you have everything you need.

3) At certain points on the trail, bathrooms and gas stations are harder to come by .

And if you travel in the off-season, some of the public park bathrooms will be closed. Plan to refill your gas tank (and empty your personal tank!) whenever you get the opportunity.

One more note about off-season: Many of the local restaurants, shops and accommodations on Cape Breton Island are seasonal and close down for the winter . Some of the hiking and camping opportunities also close.

So if you’re visiting anytime from October to May, double check that the places you want to visit will be open.

Wrapping up: Is the Cabot Trail worth it?

selfie on the Skyline Trail coast line on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Yes! The Cabot Trail is absolutely worth driving and Cape Breton Island is worth adding to your Nova Scotia itinerary.

It was one of the highlights of our honeymoon in Atlantic Canada and a road trip we will remember forever.

From orange leaves, tumbling waterfalls and rocky coasts to fresh seafood, local art and Canadian history, a Cape Breton road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list.

This is a stunning part of Canada and I’m so glad I, living on the opposite coast, got to experience it.

I hope you enjoyed my guide to all things Cape Breton Island and my 5 day Cabot Trail trip planner!

I’d love to know: Have you ever been to Cape Breton? If not, have I convinced you to add it to your travel bucket list?

Check out these posts to plan your next Atlantic Canada trip:

  • 22 Fun Things to Do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • What to Eat in Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • 42 Photos that Will Convince You to Visit Charlottetown, PEI
  • Our Atlantic Canada Honeymoon Itinerary

CAPE BRETON ISLAND, NOVA SCOTIA: Check out how to spend 5 days on Cape Breton Island with my Cabot Trail itinerary! Where to stay, when to go, what to see and more on the Cabot Trail! #cabottrail #capebreton #capebretonisland #roadtrip #travel #novascotia #canada #travelcanada

Riana Ang-Canning is a travel writer who has been sharing her global adventures as the founder of Teaspoon of Adventure since 2012. In that time, Riana has travelled to almost 50 countries on 6 continents, including interning in Eswatini, working in Tokyo, road tripping New Zealand and living abroad in Prague. Riana helps everyday travellers discover the world on a mid-budget, proving that you don't have to be athletic, wealthy or nomadic to have an adventure!

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What a beautiful area to spend 5 days on the road. And sounds like some great food too! Congrats on #400! I can’t even fathom that 🙂

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. And yes, a really beautiful and delicious area!

Riana, thank you so much for this info! It’s very helpful as I’m planning a week in Nova Scotia. I’m very interested in the Cabot Trail. I appreciate how you gave options for different amounts of time spent on the trail, and also how long it takes to get from one town to another. And great to have restaurant and lodging ideas. Many thanks! Alice

Thanks so much, Alice! I’m so glad you’ve found the post helpful. Have an amazing time in Nova Scotia!

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7 Day Itinerary on the Cabot Trail

Are you ready to drive one of the best road trips in the world?  The view just above your dashboard will now be a window to North America’s #1 Island.  With jaw-dropping scenery along the drives to Cape Breton Island’s most famous locations and communities, your 7 day itinerary will make memories that will last a lifetime.

Accommodations 19

Sydney to Baddeck – 91 km

Start your road trip with a quick drive from Sydney to Baddeck. Baddeck is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, amazing restaurants, and Uisge Ban Provincial Park. Be sure to get outside and enjoy this easy 2 km hike to one of Cape Breton’s beautiful waterfalls.  Then make your way back to the village of Baddeck for a lobster dinner and live music!

Couple eats lobster while pouring wine

  • Drive to Baddeck
  • Hike Uisge Ban Falls
  • Have lunch at establishments like the Freight Shed
  • Visit the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
  • Treat yourself to lobster at the Lakeside Restaurant
  • Check into accommodations such as The Inverary Inn , The Broadwater Inn , The Silver Dart Lodge or the Telegraph House Motel

Baddeck to Margaree – 63 km

Your second day of this epic road trip begins with a drive along the Bras d’Or Lake UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Take the exit at the Red Barn and start your journey to Margaree. This magical valley is home to the Margaree River, a designated National Heritage River, and a slower pace of life where you can savour the views as much as the local food.

fly fishing in the river

  • Drive to The Dancing Goat Cafe & Bakery for lunch
  • Check out the Maragree Salmon Museum
  • Check into your accommodations such as Island Sunset Resort or, Cajun Cedar Log Cottages

Margaree to Chéticamp – 84 km

Drive along the west coast of Cape Breton Island and marvel at coastal views as you make your way to Chéticamp. This coast is home to a thriving Acadian Culture that invites you to explore and revel in their culture. When you arrive at the Mi-Carême Interpretive Centre in Grand Ètang, you’ll learn of the centuries-old story of the Acadian Culture.

Centre de la Mi-Carême

  • Leave Margaree
  • Drive along the Cabot Trail to Chéticamp
  • Visit Centre de la Mi-Carême
  • Dine restaurants like L’abri Cafe, Restaurant et Bar or Le Gabriel Restaurant and Lounge
  • Take a stroll in Chéticamp and explore the waterfront
  • Check into your accommodations such as The Chéticamp Outback Inn , Auberge Baywind Suites , or Soleil Chalets among many other great options

Chéticamp to Pleasant Bay – 42km

Your fourth day sees you head farther north into the Cape Breton Highlands where the panoramic sights will give you pause for thought. Take your time and drink in the divine beauty that is on the west coast of Cape Breton. You will arrive in Pleasant Bay and change vehicles from car to boat. Here you will be sent from your car to a whale watching adventure that you have only seen on TV, after which you can satisfy a ‘whale’ of an appetite at the Rusty Anchor Restaurant on the Cabot Trail.

A family watches two whales from a boat

  • Leave your accommodations
  • Enter the Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Explore amazing trails like Acadian Trail , Skyline Trail or Benjie’s Lake
  • Whale watch in Pleasant Bay
  • Enjoy a great meal at The Rusty Anchor
  • Check-in at your accommodations such as True North Destinations or Poplar B&B and Cottages

Pleasant Bay to Dingwall – 33 km

How could a day that starts in “Pleasant Bay” get any better?  Easy— jump and your car and drive across the northern edge of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park along North Mountain.  As you make your way to Meat Cove, the scenery and views will justify why Cape Breton has the reputation that it does.  When you arrive at Cabot Trail Adventures, you have your choice of award-winning hiking, biking or sea kayaking.

7 Natural Wonders of Cape Breton 1

  • Drive to Meat Cove , explore hiking trails like Meat Cove Mountain or Little Grassy
  • Arrive at Cabot Trail Adventures
  • Hike, Bike, Kayak
  • Dine at restaurants like Morrison’s Restaurant or the Markland Resort
  • Check-in at accommodations like The Markland Resort  or the Highlands Hostel

Dingwall to Ingonish – 45 km

Your penultimate day of driving will find you heading south from Dingwall to one of the most beautiful beach locations on the Island.  The drive will once again provide you with another set of world-renowned vistas along the Atlantic Ocean.  Upon arrival at Cape Smokey, you will be treated to a ride – and a view— that is the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada.  Destination Cape Smokey is the home to the only Gondola ride east of Quebec!

7 Day Itinerary on the Cabot Trail

  • Drive to Ingonish
  • Enjoy Lunch at restaurants like The Periwinkle Café or the Coastal Restaurant and Pub
  • Have supper at William’s Beachhouse
  • Have a sunset walk along Ingonish Beach
  • Check into your accommodations like Ingonish Chalets , The Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa , Knotty Pine Cottages or Castle Rock Country Inn

Ingonish to North River – 56 km

Your last day on the Cabot Trail will see you go from one of the most iconic views on the Island to the stunning tranquillity of St Ann’s Bay, located at the base of the trail. Be sure to stop in enjoy some of the local artisans that call this part of the Cabot Trail home.

7 Day Itinerary on the Cabot Trail 1

  • Leave Ingonish, enjoy the look off from Smokey Mountain on the Cabot Trail
  • Explore local artisans like Glass Artisans ,  Cabotto Chocolate Shop and Art Gallery or Wildfire Pottery
  • Eat at restaurants like The Dancing Moose Cafe Cottages and Camping Cottages , The Clucking Hen , Cabot Shores GoBistro , or the 100km Restaurant at Chanterelle Country Inn and Cottages
  • Kayak with North River Kayaks
  • Check into your accommodations such as River Nest Cabins Wilderness Cabins , Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort , or the Wreck Cove Wilderness Cabins

To help you find that PERFECT place to stay on your journey around the Cabot Trail, click here to find all the accommodations available to you. There are also many delicious options for Places To Eat around the Cabot Trail. Happy Planning!

Businesses and Activities on your Itinerary

cabot trail travel

Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort

Region: Cabot Trail

Community: St. Ann’s Bay & North Shore

Awaken. Explore. Discover. Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort is a Wellness and Wilderness retreat centre located along the serene landscape o...

cabot trail travel

Glass Artisans Studio & Gallery

TripAdvisor Traveler Rating

A glass gallery featuring over 40 glass artisans. Visit our glass-blowing studio and watch how it’s made. We also offer a class for yo...

Hostels

Highlands Hostel- The Temple of High Adventure & Culture

Community: North Highlands

The Famous Highlands Hostel is a Cabot Trail must!! This four season outdoor adventure base camp is strategically nestled between the mighty...

cabot trail travel

Knotty Pine Cottages

Community: Ingonish & Area

At Knotty Pine Cottages, nestled between two mountains, the view is magnificent. The cottages overlook Ingonish Bay and the ocean. 8 cotta...

North River Kayak Tours 4

North River Kayak Tours

For over 30 years, we have been providing award-winning kayaking experiences around Cape Breton Island. Located on the Cabot Trail, we offer...

A rolling landscape of dense forest overlooking the ocean

Acadian Trail

Regions: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cabot Trail

Community: Chéticamp & Area

Climb 365 metres above the Chéticamp River for panoramic views of the Acadian coastline, the Chéticamp river valley and the park’s h...

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Regions: Cabot Trail, Bras d’Or Lake

Community: Baddeck & Area

French follows below | Le français suit ci dessous Be inspired by the fascinating life and work of Alexander Graham Bell – inventor, sci...

Auberge Baywind Suites

Auberge Baywind Suites

4 luxury waterfront suites (Q,sofa-bed), ensuite 3-pc bath (1 with roll-in shower, 3 with double airjet tub), A/C, SaTV, DVD, phone, Wi-Fi, ...

cabot trail travel

Baddeck Lobster Suppers

Baddeck Lobster Suppers is family owned and operated,  with over 100 years tradition of working in the fishing industry.  Offering...

cabot trail travel

Benjie’s Lake Trail

On the plateau at the top of French Mountain, this trail crosses wet barrens and evergreen forests typical of the highlands, ending at a sma...

cabot trail travel

Broadwater Inn & Cottages

Just two minutes outside the beautiful village of Baddeck, known as the beginning and the end of the world-famous Cabot Trail, the Broadwate...

Overhead view of a salad and a piece of short rib

Cabot Shores GoBistro

About Go Bistro: Our GoBistro stays open year round! We keep serving delicious local seafood, meats, vegetarian dishes, homemade pasta and m...

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Ultimate Cabot Trail Road Trip Itinerary, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

If you’re looking for an amazing road trip that will take you through some of the most stunning landscapes in North America, look no further than the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.  

*This post may contain affiliate links, as a result, we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) on any bookings/purchases you make through the links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Read our full disclosure

Cape Breton Island is connected by a causeway to mainland Nova Scotia and is located 3 hours east of Halifax. The island is spoiled with striking views in all directions and unique cultural heritage sites throughout. 

The Cabot Trail winds its way around the island, circling the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park and taking in so many scenic overlooks, steep drops, mountains, oceans, and forests along the way. There’s something for everyone on this scenic route, from hiking and biking to fishing and whale watching. 

After spending a week on the Cabot Trail on our recent East Coast trip, we discovered plenty of beautiful stops, unique accommodation options and fun activities for all ages. We hope that this Cabot Trail guide will help others explore the best stops for the ultimate Cape Breton road trip .

cabot trail

Traveling Soon?  Here is a list of our favourite travel providers and accessories to help get you ready for your upcoming trip! Book Your Accommodation HERE Search for Great Tours HERE Get a Car Rental HERE Buy Travel Insurance HERE See our Favourite Camera Bag HERE Grab a Reusable Water Bottle HERE or a Filtration Straw HERE Order an eSim HERE

FAQs About the Famous Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

How long does it take to do the cabot trail.

It takes 4-5 hours to drive the Cabot Trail if you wanted to do the entire loop in one day. The Cabot Trail is about 300 km (185 miles) and loaded with scenic viewpoints, so it’s not one you’d want to rush. For the full Cabot Trail experience, you should set aside 3-5 days or plan to spend at minimum an entire day.    

Why is Cabot Trail famous?

The Cabot Trail is one of the most famous drives in Canada thanks to its spectacular scenery. The scenic roadway loops around stunning western and eastern coastlines, passing through old-growth forest, rocky cliffs, and picturesque surrounding beaches . It’s a major draw of Cape Breton Island and a postcard destination for Nova Scotia tourism.  

cabot trail

Where does the Cabot Trail begin and end?

The Cabot Trail makes a loop around the northern arm of Cape Breton Island, starting in Baddeck . You can do the road trip in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction. 

Traveling clockwise, the route begins in Baddeck and ends in Ingonish. If you plan on driving counter-clockwise, Baddeck will be your first destination on the Cabot Trail and Chéticamp will be the last.  

Map of Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia via Cape Breton Tourism

How to Get Around the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia 

Driving the Cabot Trail is the best and most popular way to explore Cape Breton. Bring your own vehicle or rent a car or RV and plan a multi-day Cabot Trail road trip filled with cultural experiences and outdoor adventures. 

If you dislike driving, you can look into taking a tour or plan a multi-day bike trip . Many visitors cycle the loop over 5-7 days and camp along the way. Just prepare for steep grades and lots of hills , particularly while traveling through the Cabot Trail National Park section.

the road along the Cabot Trail

Cabot Trail Itinerary & Suggested Stops

Whether you do the Cabot Trail clockwise or counter-clockwise, there are tons of amazing stops and things to see on this scenic drive. The below Cabot Trail itinerary follows the clockwise route , starting in Baddeck and ending in Ingonish. But if you want to see the road trip from a different perspective, head to Ingonish first and end your loop in Chéticamp.   

READ NEXT: The Ultimate East Coast Canada Road Trip

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot Trail Benji 0265

Baddeck 

Start or end here

Baddeck is a charming town located on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake in the center of Cape Breton Island. It’s an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area and starting or ending your Cabot Trail drive. 

Baddeck is home to a strong Gaelic heritage and culture. The Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts is located in the town and offers classes in traditional music, dance, and language. During the summer, the college hosts an annual Gaelic festival that celebrates Cape Breton’s Celtic traditions. 

Baddeck is also known for being the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. You can see his works at the museum at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site .     

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Island Cabot Trail Baddeck Inverary Resort 0371

Other Things to do in Baddeck, Nova Scotia 

Get on the Water at Inverary Resort – Inverary Resort is a beautiful waterfront resort and hotel with lots of activities. You can rent kayaks, bicycles, or pontoon boats, or dine at the Lakeside Restaurant. The floating picnics are especially cool—enjoy a lobster lunch from Lakeside and float your way around the lake on a floating picnic table!    

Join in on Baddeck Ceilidh Evenings – “Ceilidh” is Gaelic for gathering and summer ceilidhs in Baddeck are parties for locals and tourists alike. They’re all about celebrating Scottish heritage with traditional Celtic music and dance events at St. Michael’s Parish Hall every night in July and August.  

Visit the Alexander Graham Bell Museum and National Historic Site – See many of Bell’s impressive inventions including the largest collection of his artifacts and documents.

cabot trail, Alexander Graham Bell Museum

Visit Kidston Island and See the Kidston Lighthouse – Take the free shuttle boat to uninhabited Kidston Island to enjoy the beach. You can walk around the island and see the Kidston Lighthouse and admire the views as yachts and sailboats circle the lake. 

Explore Uisge Bàn Falls Provincial Park – Follow the 1.5 km (1 mile) hiking trail up to the beautiful granite waterfall. It’s an easy trail and a great spot to have an afternoon picnic. 

Canada Cape Breton Cabot Trail Baddeck Inverary Resort 01144

Where to Stay in Baddeck, Nova Scotia 

Inverary resort.

 Spread out on 11 acres of waterfront property, Inverary Resort is an ideal place to stay in Baddeck. The rooms are cozy and comfortable and have access to an on-site Lakeside restaurant. Guests also have access to an indoor pool and outdoor hot tub on a first come first serve basis and can enjoy the grounds of this beautiful property during their stay. Plus, there are loads of other activities to enjoy the lake with a paddle or floating picnic. 

Canada Cape Breton Cabot Trail Baddeck Inverary Resort 03697

Chéticamp/Pleasant Bay

Baddeck to Chéticamp: 89 km / 1 hour 15 min

We drove the trail in a clockwise direction, so our next stop on the Cabot Trail was Chéticamp. It’s the largest village on the west coast of the island and is the best launch point for hiking the Cabot Trail. Cheticamp has a rich Acadian heritage, a number of local art studios and marks the west entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. 

There are lots of worthy stops on the Cabot Trail and the Chéticamp area is brimming with them. Explore Acadian food and culture, go whale watching, or hike the famous Skyline Trail —it’s one of the best things to do in Cape Breton.

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot Trail Cheticamp 0286

Things to do in Chéticamp and Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia

Learn how to rug hook at Les Trois Pignons – Celebrating Canada’s “Artist in Wool,” Dr Elizabeth LeFort, the gallery displays her beautiful tapestries and hooked rugs. The museum and shop serve as a gallery and window into Acadian culture, featuring woven portraits and scenes. Les Trois Pignons is also an informal visitor centre, where local guides can help you plan your visit. 

Visit Le Centre de la Mi-Carême – Mi-Carême, or Mid-Lent, is one of the oldest Acadian traditions and a celebration involving masks and disguises. Learn more about Mi-Carême and see locally crafted masks on display. The Centre also hosts mask and rug hooking workshops led by local artisans.

Try Acadian Food at Le Gabriel Restaurant & Lounge – Dine on Acadian seafood and traditional dishes inside of a unique lighthouse. Le Gabriel offers daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner with live music throughout the week. 

See the Enragée Point Lighthouse – Travel to Cheticamp Island to see the heritage lighthouse built in the 1950s. It’s the perfect place to catch a sunset! 

Go Whale Watching – From May-October, the waters around Cape Breton Island are home to humpbacks, finbacks, minke, and pilot whales. Go on a zodiac tour to see them from the water as they swim by. Chéticamp Adventure Co and Captain Zodiac Whale Cruise in Cheticamp are two reputable local operators offering Whale Watching Tours in Cheticamp. But be sure to plan ahead! We didn’t book ahead while traveling in July and sadly found out that neither operator had any availability for our dates when we arrived on Cabot Island.

Digby Neck Whale

Visit Gypsum Mine Lake – The Gypsum Mine Trail follows 2.6 km of groomed trails around a lake and quarry. It’s suitable for all skill levels and opens up to a stunning viewpoint over a sparkling lake enveloped by trees.

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot Trail Cheticamp Le Gabriel Restaurant Acadian food 01008

Where to Stay in Pleasant Bay/Cheticamp, Nova Scotia 

Cabot Trail Tiny House Vacation Rentals – Located in Margaree River Valley near the town of Margaree Harbour, the Cabot Trail Tiny House Vacation Rentals are built and operated by the Page Family and offer a colourful and unique stay on the Cabot Trail. There are currently 3 homes available (with more on the way) that feature cozy and comfortable living quarters and outdoor spaces. Visitors can also enjoy water sports, campfires, BBQs, and ATV rentals on-site to make the most of their stay. 

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot Trail Margaree Harbour tiny house 0247

READ NEXT: Things to do in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton National Park

Chéticamp to Cape Breton National Park Entrance: 10 mins 

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is arguably the biggest highlight of the Cabot Trail. The park is located on the northern tip of Cape Breton Island and is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Nova Scotia. The park is an expanse of forests, rugged mountains, and winding rivers and is home to moose, black bears, bald eagles, and other wildlife. There are plenty of hiking trails and camping spots in the park, so be sure to spend some time exploring its natural wonders.

The park’s main activities are spread across Cheticamp/Pleasant Bay Area in the West and Ingonish/Neil’s Harbour in the East. To see it all, plan to spend at least 2-3 days in the park . 

Canada Nova Scotia Cabot Trail Cape Breton National Park Skyline trail OM 03618

Best Hikes in Cape Breton National Park

Acadian Trail:  One of the best hiking trails in Cape Breton, the Acadian Trail boasts panoramic views of the coast. It’s a moderate 8.4 km loop that takes 3-4 hours to complete. The trailhead begins at the Chéticamp Visitor Centre, with another entrance at the Chéticamp Campground. Climb through the forest for a rewarding view over the Cabot Trail and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Skyline Trail: The Skyline Trail is one of the best hikes in Nova Scotia and a Cabot Trail must-see! You’ll follow the trail to a boardwalk with steps down the headland which opens up to a birds-eye view of the coast. It’s the perfect place to snap some photos and watch the sunset.   

Mackenzie Mountain Lookout: The Mackenzie Mountain Lookout is one of the best whale-watching hiking trails on the Highlands Plateau. Look out over Pleasant Bay while whale-watching boats float in the bay.  

Le Chemin du Buttereau Trail – This trail features a short climb through the woods where Acadian pioneers once travelled. You’ll see remnants of historic homes, local wildlife and views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

MacIntosh Brook Trail –   This level inland hike meanders through old-growth forests along the shores of a babbling brook. It ends with a beautiful waterfall with interpretive signs throughout, sharing the Mi’kmaw legend of maple syrup.

Aspy Trail – Beginning from Beulach Ban Falls, this hike follows the Aspy fault line through Acadian and mixed forests. Listen for owls and birds along the way.

Franey Trail – Perched high above Ingonish and the Atlantic coast, Franey Trail is a beautiful forested hike. It can be steep and rugged in sections but opens up to large flat rocks that are perfect for admiring the view. At the top, you will look out over Clyburn Brook Canyon, Cape Smokey, and the town of Ingonish.

Duncan’s Cove Trail is a moderate 5 km (3.1 mile) hike that takes you past beautiful waterfalls and coastline cliffs.

Canada Nova Scotia Cabot Trail Cape Breton National Park Skyline trail Oksana 01045

Where to Stay in Cape Breton National Park:

Camping is one of the best ways to truly experience and appreciate Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Camping season in Cape Breton National Park runs from May 20 to October 23, 2022 . Reservations are highly recommended, especially in the busy summer months. 

​​There are seven front country campgrounds at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, all of which offer beautiful views and access to hiking trails in the park. The following are some of the best campgrounds in the park.

Broad Cove Campground is a small campground with only 20 campsites. It’s located in a quiet cove on the east side of the park and offers hikers easy access to the Skyline Trail.

Chéticamp Campground is the largest campground in the park, with over 200 campsites. It’s located close to the town of Chéticamp and offers easy access to a variety of trails, including the popular Ceilidh Trail.

Ingonish Campground is located on the northeastern side of the park and offers stunning views of Cape Smokey. It’s close to a number of trails, including the Keltic Express, which leads to some of the most popular hiking areas in the park.

Middle River Campground is a small campground with only 10 campsites. It’s located in a beautiful valley near Middle River and offers hikers easy access to a variety of trails.

North River Campground is located on the north side of Cape Breton Highlands National Park and offers stunning views of North River Gorge. It’s close to a number of trails, including the popular Skyline Trail.

Pleasant Bay Campground is located in a picturesque bay on the west side of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It offers easy access to a number of trails, including the Broad Cove Head Trail, which leads to some beautiful waterfalls.

South Gut Campground is located on an isolated peninsula on the west side of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It offers hikers amazing views of South Gut Harbour and Stirling Mountain.

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot trail road 00995

Top of the Island

Chéticamp to Meat Cove: 100 km / 1 hour 40 minutes 

The northern tip of Cape Breton Island is an off-the-beaten-path area with even more spectacular ocean vistas. Cruising along the Cabot Trail and veering north from Cape North, you’ll find several towns and communities including Aspy Bay, Dingwall, Bay of St Lawrence , and Neil’s Harbour.

Things to do on the Top of Cape Breton Island

Camp at Meat Cove – Journey to the northernmost point of Cape Breton with beautiful look-offs jagged cliffs and grassy headlands. You can visit for an afternoon or spend the night camping perched above the ocean’s edge.

Meat Cove Campground, Cape Breton

Go Sea Kayaking with Cabot Trail Adventures – Paddle your way around the Cape Breton Highlands on a guided kayaking tour. Cabot Trail Adventures offers hourly and full-day rentals to explore the scenic northern coast. 

Visit Neils Harbour – Visit the small town of Neils Harbour to see the lighthouse and feast on seafood.

Hike the White Point Trail – Located just past Neils Harbour, the White Point Trail can be done in less than an hour and offers lovely views over the headlands.

Go Whale Watching – There are a few different tour operators on the top of the island that offer whale watching tours. Hop in a zodiac to see minke whales, humpbacks, and porpoises. In these northern waters, you can sometimes even spot a blue whale or orca.  

Black Brook Cove Beach – A beautiful tucked-away beach, Black Brook Cove has spectacular ocean views and a peaceful waterfall. It was our favourite beach on the Cabot Trail and one you can not miss! Go for a swim, walk the beach, or have a picnic overlooking the sea. 

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Cabot Trail Dingwall Blue Bayou resort 0328

Where to Stay Near Cape North, Nova Scotia  

Blue Bayou Resort – Located in the small fishing village of Dingwall, the Blue Bayou Resort offers camping and glamping experiences. We stayed in their geodesic dome overlooking the water. The domes are well equipped with a private bathroom, double bed and even a little tea/coffee station. There is a BBQ and a picnic table outside of each dome. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or SUP to explore the water before settling in for an evening campfire. The North End is one of the coolest places to stay in Cape Breton!  

Canada Nova Scotia Cape Breton Blue Bayou Resort domes 0312

Meat Cove to Ingonish: 60 km / 1 hour 

Ingonish is a popular coastal town on the eastern coast of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s known for great hiking, beaches, and the famous Keltic Lodge Resort , which houses the incredible Highlands Links golf course. You can hike along Cape Smokey to look out over the vast Atlantic Ocean before dining on fresh local seafood at the restaurants in town. 

Other Things to do in Ingonish, Nova Scotia

Climb the Broad Cove Mountain Trail – The short, steep climb up Broad Cove Mountain can be a bit of a challenge with its rocky switchbacks. But the views are well worth the climb, with panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean and the sounds of nature and wildlife.

Hike Middle Head Trail – Middle Head Trail follows a long skinny peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. With open, ocean views on either side, the headlands are an excellent place to see whales, seabirds, and eagles.

Visit Ingonish Beach – Ingonish Beach is a unique stretch of land that’s flanked by a lake and ocean. On one side, Freshwater Lake has a sandy beach with calm, peaceful lake water that’s ideal for swimming. On the other, the salty water of the Atlantic is perfect for a refreshing dip or for enjoying an evening paddle in the bay. Ingonish Beach also has a tennis court, playground, picnic area, and walking and cycling trails.  

Ride the Cape Smokey Gondola – Known as the first gondola in Atlantic Canada, this gondola climbs to the summit of Cape Smokey. Here, you’ll be treated to the best view of the Cabot Trail, with access to mountain top hiking trails and a licensed mountain top snack shop. There are multiple viewing platforms with spectacular views of the Cape Breton Highlands and the Atlantic Ocean. In the winter, Cape Smokey becomes a popular skiing destination. 

Cape Smokey Gondola

Where to Stay in Ingonish, Cape Breton 

The Keltic Lodge Resort is a popular choice, offering cabins, hotel rooms, and suites with incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. The resort also has a restaurant, lounge, spa, and golf course. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, there are a few motels in town, as well as the Ingonish Campground located close to the village.

Completing the Cabot Trail Road Trip 

Ingonish to Baddeck: 105 km / 1 hour 30 minutes

After exploring Ingonish and departing from Cape Breton Highlands National Park, you can circle your way back down to Baddeck. To get there, either take the short ferry to Englishtown or detour along the North River to St. Anns, home of the Gaelic College. 

Another option is to continue east from Englishtown, toward the other half of Cape Breton. This is where you catch the ferry to Newfoundland in North Sydney or explore the southern shores of Brass d’Or Lake. Sydney is also the main town on Cape Breton Island so it’s a good place to stop if you need to restock on supplies.  

Have you explored the Cape Breton Cabot Trail? What was your favourite stop?

     

Disclaimer: We visited Cape Breton Island & Cabot Trail as guests of the Nova Scotia Tourism Board , but, as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own.

READ NEXT: Best Things to do in Prince Edward Island

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The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

22 Incredible Stops on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

Written By: The Planet D

Canada , Popular

Updated On: April 8, 2023

The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s ultimate scenic highways.  Located on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is a 298 km (185 miles) scenic drive through Cape Breton Highland’s National Park and the Atlantic Coast. It is considered one of the best road trips in the world.

We drove the Cabot Trail in a counter clockwise direction starting in Baddeck and ending in Cheticamp. The Cabot Trail can be driven in a day but we recommend four days to really explore everything there is to see and do.

Table of Contents

Cabot Trail Stops Map

map of stops on the cabot trails

Make sure to give plenty of time to see all the sights. There is a lot to see and do on the Cabot Trail including spectacular coastal hiking trails, cultural experiences, and great adventures. So, are you ready to explore the best stops on the Cabot Trail? Let’s go!

Cabot Trail Stops You Cannot Miss

Driving the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

These are the stops along the Cabot Trail in order as we saw them driving counterclockwise from Baddeck to Cheticamp.

We set off from Halifax early one morning to spend five days exploring the famed coastal. After the nearly four-hour drive north from Halifax, our Cabot Trail road trip started in the town of Baddeck where we continued in a counter-clockwise direction. The next few days were spent exploring the entire loop through the Northern half of Cape Breton Island.

  • Want to explore more of Nova Scotia? Check out Best Things to do in Nova Scotia – The Ultimate Travel Guide

Baddeck Cape Breton Cabot Trail Nova Scotia

Baddeck was the summer home to Alexander Graham Bell and there is an excellent museum built near his cottage named “Beinn Bhreagh”, Gaelic for “Beautiful Mountain.”

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is an excellent history lesson of not only the invention of the telephone but other achievements by Bell. He was an avid inventor working on everything including the first aircraft to fly in the Commonwealth (it also flew farther than the Wright Brothers).

He also developed many medical machines including the iron lung to help polio patients breathe and he developed techniques for the hearing impaired, becoming good friends with Helen Keller. Alexander Graham Bell also founded the National Geographic Society.

2. The Uisge Ban

Uisge Ban Waterfall Hike Cape Breton

Just outside of Baddeck is one of the most pleasant hikes we took during our drive. The Uisge Ban (pronounced Ishkaban ) hike is an easy 1 1/2 km stroll to a beautiful waterfall. It goes through a mossy forest meandering along a running stream.

Roots stick out of the ground twisting around fallen tree trunks and rocks create small rapids in the running water.

Watch our Uisge Ban Waterfall Hike

uisge ban waterfall hike

The waterfall itself is beautiful. Its size surprised us. We were expecting a much smaller set of waterfalls, but it’s a tall three-tiered cascade where you can swim or soak in the bottom pools.

Many trees have grown over, blocking sight of the top and keeping it from being the ultimate photo stop, but for a day in nature, it’s wonderful. T

3. North River Kayaking

north river kayak drone shot

North River Kayak Tours  is an excellent stop for all levels of kayaking. Located on the North River, your excursion starts in easy flowing water out to the bay where you’ll witness the Cape Breton Coast from a different view.

Expect to see several bald eagles flying overhead. We even saw a nest with babies sticking their heads out, waiting for mom to arrive.

Fresh tea and baked goods are served during a tea break on a picturesque beach where paddlers can take a short hike to another pretty waterfall.

Dave and I love kayaking, but I must say, this was one of the most pleasant kayaking excursions we’ve ever had.It was a relaxed, easy-going half-day excursion that offered beautiful views and great conversation.

  • Enjoy our other Kayaking trip of Nova Scotia’s South Shore. 
  • When traveling around the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, you must get out on the water. Watch our kayaking video

4. Glenora Distillery

glenora distillery

Technically on the Cleideh Trail, The Glenora Distillery is still a great stop on your Cabot Trail Road trip. Glenora is the first single malt whisky distillery in North America. Tours occur daily to see how the whisky is made and there are tastings as well.

We bought a bottle to take home. It’s our favourite souvenir whenever we travel.

Read our favourite Canadian Road Trips.

5. Clucking Hen Cafe and Bakery

cabot trail moose

A quirky bakery along the Cabot Trail between North River Kayaking and Ingonish Beach is the Clucking Hen Cafe and Bakery. It not only is a good stop for delicious coffee and pastries, it’s a fun photo opportunity.

There aren’t a lot of lunch stops along this route of the Cabot Trail, so be sure to bring some snacks and plenty of water. But make sure to stop and enjoy the few cafés along the way, the best part of the Cabot Trail drive is meeting the people.

The people of Nova Scotia remind us a lot of the people of Ireland. They are so friendly and open, you’ll end up having conversations with everyone you meet.

6. Ingonish Beach

rock beach in Cape Breton Nova Scotia

The excitement of the Cabot Trail really begins once you reach Ingonish Beach, located in  Cape Breton Highlands National Park . This is a great place to make a base for a day or two as the beach is beautiful and there are plenty of hikes in the area.

Plus, there are excursions, boat tours, and kayak rentals. A corner store is located about 10 km away from Igonish Beach where you can stock up on supplies,

7. Glamping at Ingonish Beach

glamping on the cabot trail canada

We booked two nights in an Otentik which was absolutely perfect. If you don’t have camping gear, the Otentik is the way to go. Read more at The Most Beautiful National Parks in Canada

These glamping style camps sleep up to eight people and are built on solid foundations offering room to walk around and even play cards at the wooden table inside.

All cooking and cleaning materials are supplied including a small camp stove, or you can use the barbecue out front. We love this style of camping. It’s a great introduction for those who aren’t keen on sleeping in a tent, but who want to try something rugged and new.

There are a few different campsites for the Otentik, we stayed in the Ingonish Beach camp which was a great location.

Pick up a copy of The Lonely Planet Nova Scotia to help you plan your trip. 

8. Lantern Walk

lantern hike cape ingonish beach

When staying near Ingonish Beach, be sure to go on the Lantern Walk. We were surprised just how much we enjoyed it!

Starting at dusk, the tour is run by Parks Canada and they put on a great show. It begins with your guide lighting lanterns for everyone that will direct your way as you walk through the forest.

There is a lot of history in these parts, and our guide told us of all the tales of the early settlers. There are plenty of ghost stories too. The mood is set with people chanting in the forest and shadows walking through the path.

We found this thoroughly entertaining and informative. It’s one of the most unique things you’ll ever do in a National Park!

9. Hike The Middle Head Trail

Middle head trail cabot trail cape breton

If you drive through the Keltic Lodge (which we highly recommend staying at if you want to splurge or have it in your budget) you’ll find the entrance to the Middle Head Trail.

The 3.8 km route takes you through forests and fields leading out to high cliffs for beautiful views of Ingonish Beach to the right and the Cabot Trail winding north to the left along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The walk takes about two hours and is well maintained.

Looking for Nova Scotia Adventures? Enjoy our time Tidal Bore Rafting on the World’s Highest Tides.

10. Lakies Head

Dave on rocks at Lakies Head

One of the most striking parts of the Cabot Trail is the rocky coast of Lakies Head. The shore is amass of rocky boulders where visitors can walk out to explore the coast. There’s a bridge and boardwalk that will take you out to a viewing platform and you can stop there.

amazing landscape of Lakies Head Nova Scotia

But half the fun for us was hopping over the rocks in search of that perfect tourist shot.

11. Zodiac Tours at the Pier

cabot trail fishing boats

As you continue farther north you must take a turn onto Wharf Road of the Cabot Trail. This takes you out of Cape Breton highlands national Nation al Park for a little bit, but it is a charming fishing village.

tours along the cabot trail

Here you’ll see that classic Canadian East Coast view of Cape Breton fishing boats lining the pier. Walk along the beach and if you are up for some excitement, you can take a zodiac tour to do some whale watching.

You can take whale watching tours and boat tours on the Cabot Trail to see the coast from a different perspective. See our zodiac tour of Antarctica 

12. White Point

white point hike nova scotia

Our next stop on the Cabot Trail took us to White Point, located outside the National Park. One of the most beautiful hiking trails on the Cabot Trail is the White Point Hiking Trail at Neil’s Harbour.

There are excellent hiking trails taking you out to overlook the high sea cliffs offering beautiful panoramic views.

13. Grave of the Unknown Sailor

grave of the unkown sailor cabot trail

Out on the point, there is a cemetery where you’ll encounter the grave of the unknown sailor paying tribute to the fisherman lost at sea.

The grave of the Unknown Sailor is marked by a wooden plaque and large cross. Beside the Unknown Sailor is the grave of Dan Dixon. When looking up who this man was, I found out that Dan hiked daily to Point Hill and took great pride in maintaining the cemetery of the unknown sailor.

14. Neil’s Harbour

neils harbour fishing village on cape breton island

Neil’s Harbour is a tiny fishing village with colourful fishing boats docked in the water. There are only 300 residents in the village but the population soars in the summer with people stoping along the Cabot Trail. There’s the Periwinkle cafe, the lighthouse ice cream parlour and whale tours leave here by zodiac.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the scenes of Nova Scotia featuring White Point in the video below to really get a sense of its beauty. watch our video here

15. Coffee a the Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch coffee located on the Cabot Trail Nova Scotia

We had some of the best coffee on our entire trip at the Pumpkin Patch in town. Everything in the store is organic and the coffee is delicious, but the homemade fudge is to die for.

The owner even sells organic beauty products that you can buy online. Don’t miss stopping here to get a coffee to go (and to stock up on sweet treats). When driving in a counterclockwise direction, it is located between Red River and the Skyline Trail.

16. Pleasant Bay

pleasant bay nova scotia

Another stop off the Cabot Trail is the fishing village of Pleasant Bay. It was here that we met many friendly local fishermen who chatted with us as we took photographs and flew our drone over the spectacular coast.

There’s a great spot at the top of a hill located beside the parking lot where the fishermen hang out. You can sit on Muskoka Chairs (Adirondack chairs if you prefer) to take in the view. This might be a great spot to have a picnic lunch.

17. Mackenzie Mountain Look off

makenzie mountain lookout cabot trail

Mackenzie Mountain is another great lookout viewpoint. From the highlands plateau, the Mackenzie Mountain Lookout offers grogeous views of Pleasant Bay. If you didn’t have time to do any whale watching while touring the Cabot Trail, you can take you time to keep an eye out for minke whales and pilot whales migrating through here.

18. Skyline Trail

skyline trail cape breton

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The Skyline Trail is the most famous stop on the Cabot Trail and with good reason.

This 7.5 km loop is one of the longer hikes on the trail, but it is very easy and the scenes are worth every minute. We hiked at sunset which is highly recommended.

sunset over ocean

The sunsets over the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the crowds are much lighter at this time of day. We saw about 10 other people on the boardwalk during our time on the Skyline Trail, but it is so spread out, we barely noticed them at all.

Skyline Walk Cabot Trail

There are several tiers for watching the sunset and if you really want some privacy, you can hike down further off the boardwalk to view the scenery from the tip of the trailhead on a narrow dirt trail.

  • To see more about the Skyline Trail, check out our post about our experience there.

19. French Mountain

viewpoints of Cabot Trail

The Cabot Tail has some of the best scenic stops in Canada.  If you have the time, pay attention to road signs and stop at all the lookout points. This is the classic view of the Cabot Trail from the Veterans Monument half way down French Mountain when driving counterclockwise.

There are easy hikes into waterfalls and even easier hikes out to lookout points. There are so many stops along the Cabot Trail, you could easily take a week to explore them all.

We popped in at many of the turn-offs to take in the panoramic views of the Cabot Trail. Another popular view along the way is Cap Rouge exhibit.

20. Beaches of the Cabot Trail

scenic view on the Cabot Trail nova scotia

There are beautiful secluded beaches on the Cabot Trail. We stopped at one on our way to Cheticamp just after the Skyline Walk that makes for a gorgeous stroll and a perfect vantage point of the iconic winding road view of the Cabot Trail.

Stopping at the beaches along the Cabot Trail lets you see the scale of the massive sea cliffs and rolling hills. It’s rare to find beaches that are so pristine in this world.

Few people stop to take a look so you will often have them all to yourself. Or perhaps, it will be just you and an artist capturing the scene before their eyes.

The Best Beaches on the Cabot Trail are:

21. Epic Views

road trip Cabot Trail nova scotia

If you love taking road trips, you’ll love exploring the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton Island. The road winds through the Highland Plateau surrounded by green rolling hills. It is truly one beautiful view after another.

22. Cheticamp

cheticamp nova scotia

The Acadian Village of Cheticamp is a great base for hiking the skyline trail. It’s just 20 minutes from the trailhead. Make sure to visit the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery and Museum at Les Trois Pignons to see her rug hook portraits.

mararee river island sun resort nova scotia

The Island Sun Resort is a great place to stay at the mouth of the Margaree River. This is where you can also try your hand at fly fishing at the Margaree River. It is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the world and was appointed as a heritage river.

deb eating nova scotia lobster

And end your day with fresh Nova Scotia Lobster. And once you’ve had lobster in Nova Scotia, your bucket list is complete.

And that my friends is a tour of Cape Breton Island’s Cabot Trail. Isn’t it amazing?

About the Cabot Trail

cabot trail eagle

While the Cabot Trail can be driven in one short day, we suggest 3-5 days to drive the Cabot Trail. There are so many things to see and do, you’ll really be missing out.

Driving it in a counter clockwise direction puts you on the outside lane offering better views of the coast. But the real views happen when you get out of the car.

Boook your accommodation in advance. It is even recommended to make a base for a day or two to explore and do day trips from your campsite or hotel.

What to Pack for the Cabot Trail

Pack extra water and snacks in advance. Surprisingly, there are not a lot of places to stop for food along the Cabot Trail.

Be sure to pack hiking boots. There are a lot of trails along the coast and you’d be missing out if you didn’t get out to explore them.

We suggest packing water-shoes for your Cape Breton trip. The shores can be rocky, but water shoes let you hop in and out of kayaks, wade in the shallow waters, and take short hikes inland.

Accommodation along the Cabot Trail:

skyline trail home

  • Inverary Resort  for the start of the route on the West side of the Cabot Trail.
  • Island Sun Resort  (for the Eastern side of the Cabot Trail.
  • Camping or Otentiks in the National Park for the Northern portion of the route.

Map of the Cabot Trail, Canada

Click on the Interactive map for all the stops on the Cabot Trail that we mention.

Planning a Road Trip? Check out our list of the Best Songs to Get You Through the long Drive

best stops cabot trail

Have you driven the Cabot Trail? What is your favourite road trip in the world?

Our trip around the Cabot Trail was in partnership with  Nova Scotia Tourism who we went on assignment with to capture adventures and photography around Nova Scotia.

Find out more about traveling around Nova Scotia at VisitNovaScotia.com . All opinions are our own.

  • Why Nova Scotia Should Be Your First Stop on the East Coast
  • Discover an Unexpected Gem on the South Shore of Nova Scotia
  • Nova Scotia Accommodations
  • Welcome to The Skyline Trail -The Most Scenic Hike on an Epic Drive

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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26 thoughts on “22 Incredible Stops on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia”

Great information! I love the way you broke down this area into things to check out, lodging, etc. It is helping my sister, husband and I plan our trip in June!

Dear Deb and Dave, Thank you so much for this great article about the Cabot Trail. We are heading to that area this fall and we would have missed planning it into our trip if I hadn’t read your article. I have a question for you, do you know if mountain bikes are allowed on the hiking trails? Also, we will be coming in October, do you know if the crowds will be less that time of year? Thanks so much!

The Cabot Trail is breathtaking. Everyone should take an extra few minutes to visit the villages off the trail. Neil’s Harbour, Dingall, Bay St. Lawrence, Meat cove, to name a few. All.places have wharves where fresh seafood is available, whale tours, accommodations, and eating establishments.

OMG did you guys hike Pollet’s Cove? It doesn’t look like it but next time you’re in NS you MUST – it’s the most amazing hike! It’s challenging yes but so worth it… with horses and (sometimes) cattle along the trail to distract you from the brutal climbs 😉

I have been to CApe Breton 4 times in the last 10 years. I live in Scotland with family in Prince Edward Island. Cape Breton – well the only way I can explain it is there is a surprise round every corner. It is the most beautiful place to visit and the people of Cape Breton are so friendly. I have been over for the Celtic Colours festival 3 times and this was a lifetime experience from watching concerts in Fire Service halls in the north to watching concerts in very large Community halls. Of course had to visit the GlenOra distillery which looks very Scottish.Ever time we have stayed there we were in The Silver DArt Lodge in Baddeck and this was so central for everywhere we went and we went on the boat trip from Baddeck Pier which was an amazing afternoon and were lucky enough to see the Bald EAgles. I loved to see all the small harbours on our journey through CB and it is well worth a visit and they saying is so true, if you visit there you will leave a bit of your heart there.

As a resident of Cape Breton Island, all around the Island is beautiful! Come visit us on the other side of the Cabot Trail, we have beautiful scenery, surfing, lovely restaurants, sailing and sailing curses on the Bras d’Or Lakes, beautiful beaches, accommodations, museums,walking trails, hiking, music, etc.. Check us out and come visit!!!

Thank you so much Dave and Deb for the beautiful pics and comments about our beautiful home Cape Breton! It was a pleasure to have you at the Pumpkin Patch Organic Shop! Hope to see you again! Trina

Great article, just a couple things for those who intend to do themselves a favour, and come here themeselves: 1. Please do not leave the boardwalk on Skyline Trail – because of high winds this area is extremely prone to erosion, and going off the boardwalk destroys important vegetation that holds the little soil left where it is…be a responsible steward of the environment when hiking in order to preserve this beauty for future generations.

2. If you go to Pleasant Bay, continue following the road through Red River Valley, and you will come to Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist Monestary. There are a few short hikes here, and they actually open the gardens and temples of the Monestary for public tours a few times every year.

3. Pollett’s Cove – this is a very difficult hike, up and down two mountains before entering the beautiful Cove inhabited by a few horses and cows. It’s an incredible place to set up a tent on a grassy delta where 2 rivers converge, within earshot of the waves rolling into the shore. As a day hike, it may be rather difficult, as it takes 5-6 hours one way. This trail is part of the proposed multi-day backcountry SeaWall Trail system.

Hiking the Cabot Trail is a feast for the senses regardless if it’s a newbie or veteran hiker on the trail. Breathtaking does not even come close to the experience.

These places are awesome, they’ ve just cast a spell me. Everything is ideal. You’re the luckiest and happy couple, really appreciate you! But nature is like in the fairytale, I can’t believe my own eyes, coz these photos are stunning, meanwhile video about Nova Scotia is inimitable, I’ve even watched again the video, so like it’s very beautiful panorama.)

Wow! This looks so amazing, especially the spectacular views. Thanks for all the info! Will sure chec out the trail when in Canada. Happy travels you two 🙂

Having been to every part of Nova Scotia excepting Cape Breton,this place I have on my bucket list. Having ancestors who lived in Margaree,I know I have to do it. An Acadian ancestry got me interested close to 30 years ago. Hoping for next year to do some hiking there !!

We celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary this year and chose the Cabot Trail. I’ve always wanted to see it. We stayed at an inn in Baddeck and spent a good 4 days travelling right round the trail, including the south end of Inverness. Just loved the trip, all the good food – most every place has its own version of chowders, and we sampled them all. The scenery was beautiful and it really is not possible to really enjoy the trip in just 5 -6 hours. Every town and fishing village you come to you want to stop. Every turn and bend in the road you want to stop. It was the best trip ever and the people we met were all friendly and helpful. Loved it and your videos and pictures brought it all back for me. Well done.

Beautiful pictures of Cabot Trail! I would love to take as many photos of the place as possible if I were you. I especially love the photo of the coast and the mountain trails, its mesmerizing me alot.

Dave and Deb – thank you so much for your beautiful article. I try to explore our island each and every year and learn something different. I have not yet done the Lantern Walk in Ingonish nor the Middle Head Trail so they have both been added to my bucket list. I love that visitors like yourself open up new adventures for me to explore in my own backyard. Learning through the eyes of others makes each and every trip a new one for me each time I travel this beautiful island. Beinn Bhreagh, Alexander Bell’s home, is still in the possession of the Bell ancestors who live there at times throughout the year. It has been recently announced that the family has decided to open the home to the public as a national museum. Should you come back to the island and it’s open to the public it is worth a visit. I tried to post a pic for you however the post does not allow pics in the comment section. Google the home, it’s spectacular. Cheers, D

Actually Steve, Baddeck is part of the Cabot Trail and is often noted as both the start and finish of the trail and is included in all map routes. A little hostile there don’t you think….these people are guests to our island and have done a beautiful PERSONAL photo & video presentation of what they encountered on their trip and presented it well. They may have erroneously listed the odd tidbit but nothing to encourage your first statement “so inaccurate you couldn’t finish the article”. You did say Baddeck was not part of the trail after all – so – you know – we all make mistakes. On a lighter note we agree that you can do the trail in 5-6 hours depending on your start but you really need to get off the track and stop and explore. I try to take visitors to our island “around” the trail at least once or twice every year. What I often tell them is you need at least 3-5 days to do that area of the island justice and at least 10 days minimum for the island as a whole. If you haven’t finished the article have a second look and just enjoy…Cheers!

So inaccurate I didn’t bother finishing the article. 1. Baddeck (and its Inverary Inn) is not on the Cabit Trail, although it is near. 2. It takes 5-6 HOURS to drive around the trail, not 3-5 days, but if you have 3-5 days you’ll enjoy it more. 3. There are many places along the trail to stop and eat from small mom & pop convenience stores to bistros to restaurants (seasonal). What they did get right is that the trails and scenery are fantastic, and I don’t know if it was mentioned but the Cabot Trail is one of the best if not the best motorcycle ride in North America.

Hi Steve, We said we started in the town of Baddeck. It is a great starting point before heading off around the trail. And we said, we continued from there in a counter clockwise direction. Sure you can drive anything in a few hours, but to actually see it, you should take 3-5 days. When we travel, we like to meet the people and enjoy the beauty. If people are going out to Nova Scotia, I doubt many are going to rush around such a beautiful drive as the Cabot Trail in 5 hours. And of course, naturally if you are going to drive something in a car, chances are you can also drive it on a motorcycle. I don’t think motorcycle enthusiasts need to be told that they can do it on a motorcycle.

PS, it’s Cabot Trail, not Cabit.

The Cabot Trail has been on my bucket list for some time now. Thanks for this great post!

Found a couple of places where me and my bike can certainly enjoy both the wonderful scenery and cycling. That waterfall shot is simply unreal, by the way!

wow, This leaves me astounded. Your Cabot Trail itinerary is worth reading for. I like that skyline trail photo of yours, the sunset is grand.

Just came from there. Amazing!! Got see a moose up close on one of the trails.

Perfect we will be there end of the month

This looks stunning – beautiful photos! I’ve wanted to visit Canada for years, and I finally made it for just a few days on a recent road trip. I only travelled about 3 miles across the border from the US into British Columbia, so I’ve barely even scratched the surface, but it’s definitely given me a taste for the country and I can’t wait to go back to explore it some more. Will have to add the Cabot Trail to my ever-growing list! 🙂

Wow, great post and it looks absolutely amazing! I cannot wait for our tour de Canada (sadly it will be only next summer) and we must put Cabot Trail on the list!

Explore With Lora

A Perfect Cabot Trail Itinerary in Cape Breton Nova Scotia

By: Author Lora Pope

Posted on Published: May 8, 2022  - Last updated: February 6, 2024

This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking and making a purchase through the links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclaimer for more information. This and display ads allow me to keep the site up to date and give back .

If you’re looking for the most beautiful landscapes in Nova Scotia, you need to add the Cabot Trail to your itinerary.

Winding roads through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, charming fishing communities, fantastic restaurants, and endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and waterfall chasing are just some of the reasons you’ll love Cape Breton.

A Cabot Trail road trip has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. Yet even though I grew up next door in Newfoundland, it only happened in 2020. But that’s what the year ended up being about – discovering what’s in our own backyard.

This guide will help you plan the best Cabot Trail Itinerary.

cabot trail itinerary pinterest pin

This trip was in partnership with the Nova Scotia Tourism board as part of the creator coast campaign. I am so grateful to them for supporting local creators during this time and giving me the opportunity to explore this incredible part of Canada.

Where to Start Your Cabot Trail Itinerary

car looking over the cabot trail

Depending on what direction you are coming from, there are a few options for where to start your Cape Breton road trip.

If you’re doing an East Coast Canada road trip and coming from New Brunswick, PEI, or Halifax , you’ll take the Canso Causeway onto Cape Breton Island and start in the South. From there, a great first stop is the town of Inverness. It’s just an hour’s drive from the Causeway.

If you’re traveling from Newfoundland on the ferry via North Sydney, start your Cabot Trail road trip in Baddeck, as it’s just a 40-minute drive from the ferry.

If you’re flying into Nova Scotia, you’ll most likely land in Halifax. You can easily rent a car from the airport there – it’s about a two-hour drive to Cape Breton.

There’s also a small airport you can fly into in Sydney, but I recommend renting a car from Halifax so you can explore other areas of Nova Scotia!

It’s also worth spending a few nights exploring Halifax and staying in one of the charming accommodations.

@explorewithlora Is the Cabot Trail on your bucket list? #cabottrail #capebreton #novascotia #scenicdrive #explorecanada #fyp #canadianroadtrip ♬ The Banjo Beat, Pt. 1 – Ricky Desktop

Top Places to Visit in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Inverness cape breton.

inverness cape breton

Inverness is a beautiful small town, not to be confused with Inverness, Scotland. Although the two share strikingly similar landscapes along with unpredictable weather and a love for good whiskey.

If you’re interested in discovering the whiskeys of Cape Breton, make a stop at the Glenora Inn & Distillery. When you enter Cape Breton Island via the Causeway, take the Ceilidh Trail/Route 19.

It’s a gorgeous road, and you’ll pass right by the Glenora Inn, which is about 10-minutes before Inverness. There, you can tour the distillery, which is home to North America’s oldest single malt whiskey. They also have a delicious restaurant on-site!

Top things to do in Inverness

Golfing in Inverness

inverness cape breton

The Cabot Trail is home to one of the world’s best golf resorts, Cabot links, where I stayed in Inverness. Honestly, I’d never played golf before this trip – but when in Rome, right?

I booked a golf lesson with one of the instructors there, who patiently taught me as I swung (and missed) more times than I’d like to admit.

After the golf lesson, we drove along the many kilometers of courses at Cabot Links, which is quite impressive.

The golf courses go right along the coastline and in some of them, you are meant to hit the ball over the cliffs/ocean to the hole. My golf skills aren’t at that level yet, but I enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Inverness Beach and Boardwalk

inverness beach cape breton

Inverness has one of the prettiest beaches I found while in Cape Breton. You can stroll along the charming boardwalk, which leads you down to the beach.

When I was visiting, there was no one on the beach because a thunderstorm was looming in the sky, but I’d imagine this place would be packed on a hot sunny day.

I didn’t even know we had beaches like this in Atlantic Canada; the golden sand is so soft to walk on.

I managed to walk a good while on the beach and made it back to my hotel room just in time before the thunderstorm started! I love watching them from the comfort of inside a warm room.

There’s also a beach hut on Inverness beach serving food which I really wanted to try, but sadly it was closed the day I was there.

One of the other content creators on this campaign has written a review of it along with everything else you need to know about eating in Cape Breton.

Egypt Falls Cape Breton

egypt falls cape breton

I spent a lot of my time in Cape Breton chasing waterfalls, but Egypt Falls was my favorite. It’s just a half-hour drive from Inverness and a 15-minute hike down from the road.

It’s a steep hike, but there is a rope there to help you get down. I saw families with small children, so it is accessible.

egypt falls inverness cape breton

There were a couple of groups of people when I first got to the waterfall, but after a while, I had the entire thing to myself and managed to get my drone up, where I discovered a whole other part of the falls. It’s gorgeous. Hiking back out is a lot harder, but the rope is very helpful!

Gypsum Mine Lake

gypsum mine lake cape breton

Gypsum Mine Lake is another popular hiking trail/swimming hole in the Inverness area. It’s just a 20-minute walk to the lake from the parking lot, which is a stunning turquoise color.

You can also climb to the top for a birds-eye view, but unfortunately, it started pouring on me, and I had to make a beeline for my car. You may be sensing a theme here!

Where to stay in Inverness

If you want to treat yourself, book a room at the Cabot Links golf resort . I was hosted here, and it’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in. If you’re into golf, even better.

This luxury resort has two acclaimed world top 100 courses. But even if you’re not into golf, this place is a treat to stay in. It’s got award-winning accommodations, private beaches, and three delicious on-site restaurants.

room at cabot links golf resort

For a more affordable option, check out Tullock Inn & Gifts.

Chéticamp

cheticamp harbour at sunset

Chéticamp is an excellent place to base yourself if you want to enjoy the many activities in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

It’s just a couple of kilometers away from the park entrance and has great places to stay , wonderful restaurants, and lots of fun things to do.

cheticamp at sunset

Things to do in Cheticamp

Cheticamp Whale Watching

boat in cape breton

You can go whale watching in Cheticamp, which I really wanted to do, knowing that Cape Breton has some of the best whale watching in the world. But as you may have picked up, the weather was not on my side during this trip.

After six days of whale watching tours being canceled due to high winds, one finally went out on my last day in Cheticamp.

However, we didn’t find any whales because the seas were so rough. I’ve been spoiled with whales and puffins in Newfoundland all summer, so I guess I can’t complain too much!

seals in cheticamp

On the bright side, we found some seals, which are so cute to see bopping their heads in the water. And at least I can say I’ve seen Cape Breton from land, sea, and sky now.

The coastline of Cape Breton is stunning to see from the water, so I think it’s worth going whale watching on the Cabot trail regardless.

boat tour in cape breton

Also, the whale watching tour operators here are so confident that they will offer you a refund if you don’t see any whales. So, what’s the harm in trying?

Helicopter Tour from Cheticamp with Celtic Air

helicopter ride with celtic air over cape breton highlands national park

One of my favorite activities from the trip was taking a helicopter tour with Celtic Air Services from Cheticamp. The sun finally came out for me that day, and the views were unreal.

aerial view of the cabot trail

What made the ride even more exhilarating was that we decided to take the side doors off the helicopter before flying! I’ve been in helicopters before, but this was an entirely new experience.

We flew right over the park and got incredible views of the Cabot Trail, Cheticamp, and the breathtaking landscapes of Cape Breton, including some secret waterfalls. We even flew over Gypsum mine lake!

aerial view of the cabot trail

It was such a fantastic experience to get a birds-eye view of one of the most beautiful places in Canada. I can’t recommend this experience enough, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Cape Breton.

Must eat: Visit L’abri Cafe Restaurant for brunch/lunch/dinner/all the meals. This place is so good I went here twice. 

Where to stay in Cheticamp

I was hosted at Auberge Bay Wind Suites, which are these quaint seaside self-contained apartments. The inside isn’t luxurious, but it has everything you need for a comfy stay, and the location is perfect.

It’s right in the center of town next to the ocean, which you can see from your bed. There’s also a cute lighthouse just outside of it and an excellent restaurant attached to the rooms.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

aerial view cape breton highlands national park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park has been on my Canada bucket list for so long, and it was well worth the wait.

This park is home to one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, but it’s also full of opportunities for outdoor adventure , including some of the top hikes in Cape Breton.

You need to have a valid Parks Canada pass when you’re inside the park. You can buy them at the entrance just a few km away from Cheticamp.

If you want to go camping on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the best place for it. You can stay at one of seven  Parks Canada campsite s – in Cheticamp, Corney Brook, Fishing Cove, Macintosh Brook, Big Intervale, Broad Cove, and Ingonish Beach.

Cabot Trail Hiking

There are 26 hiking trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, so you could spend weeks just hiking here. If you’re interested in doing that, a great time to visit is during the Hike the Highlands Festival, which takes place every September when the fall colors are in bloom.

cabot trail hiking skyline trail

The most popular hike in the park is the Skyline Trail. Hiking the trail at sunset has become a signature experience in the park, so I went to see what all the fuss is about.

I was running late that day, so I actually got there just after the sun had gone down, but it was still stunning to witness.

The trail itself is easy. It’s a mostly flat, 8.7km gravel loop. There is a boardwalk and stairs at the main viewpoint, where you get incredible views of the Cabot Trail.

skyline trail sunset

If you’re looking for a short trail with fewer people, check out La Chemin du Buttereau. It’s a 4.6km path that takes you through a beautiful forest with glimpses of the Chéticamp River. The trailhead is near the turn-off for the Cheticamp campground.

forest hiking trail cape breton

Parks Canada even has a 10 hikes in one day challenge , which will earn you a souvenir magnet if you show proof at one of the visitor’s centers! There are so many gorgeous hiking trails in Cape Breton; I wish I could have done them all.

Viewpoints in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

You’ll want to stop for photos every two minutes while driving through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and luckily, they’ve done a fantastic job building lookout points for you to do just that.

One not to miss is the Cape Breton Highlands Lookout which is shortly after the entrance from Cheticamp.

cabot trail road trip

Another fun thing you can do in Cape Breton Highlands National Park is book a Perfect Picnic . You place an order the night before and then pick up the meal, which a local restaurant will prepare. Then you can bring your picnic to a scenic location in the park to enjoy!

Pleasant Bay

pleasant bay cape breton

The next town you’ll come across driving through on this Cabot Trail itinerary is Pleasant Bay. It’s a small quaint fishing village where you can take whale-watching tours.

I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here, but there are some lovely places to stay and restaurants. Rusty Anchor is a good one. If you want to stay further in the park then Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay is a good option.

Where to stay: A good option is  Mountain View Motel & Cottages , which offers self-contained cottages with kitchens.

Top of the Island – Cape North / Meat Cove

meat cove cape breton island

If you want to get off the beaten path from the traditional Cabot Trail itineraries, turn left at Cape North and head up the most Northerly point of Cape Breton.

There’s a town called Meat Cove at the very top, which is home to one of the coolest camping spots I’ve seen in Atlantic Canada. It’s right on the cliff – the name is Meat Cove Campground .

The views here are fantastic, but the road to Meat Cove is rough. It’s a dirt road, and it’s filled with potholes. I drove it in my tiny Chevrolet Cruze, but I was nervous!

Tenerife Mountain Cape Breton

tenerife mountain cape breton

There’s a hike on the way up to Meat Cove called the Tenerife mountain trail. It’s a short but extremely challenging hike that will give you 360-views of Cape Breton Island .

This hike is not for the faint of heart – it climbs almost 200m at the very end, and it’s a scramble up rocks to get to the top.

tenerife mountain hike

I hiked this solo and had to give myself a lot of encouragement to make it, but I felt so rewarded when I got to the top. The views are unparalleled to anything else in Cape Breton. There’s even a guest book you can sign!

The entrance to the hike is a bit confusing, as there’s no sign. You turn off at Cape North onto Bay St. Lawrence Road and drive for about 4km.

You will see a small parking area to the right, and the entrance to the hike is across from that. It’s also on Google Maps, although that will take you slightly past the actual trailhead.

ingonish cape breton

On the other side of the Cabot Trail is the town of Ingonish. It’s a great place to stay if you want to feel like you’re inside the park while having the amenities of a town.

Things to do in Ingonish

Ingonish has beautiful beaches, whale watching tours, golf courses, and hiking trails. It’s home to the Franey Trail, which I’ve heard is stunning. Middle Head Hiking trail is another popular one nearby. It seems like I will have to make a trip back to Cape Breton – there just wasn’t enough time for all the hikes!

Ingonish Beach

Ingonish Beach

If you do anything in Ingonish, go to the beach. It’s absolutely stunning! If you want to see the sun over the beach, you’ll have to visit at sunrise, but even the light from the sunset on the other side was gorgeous.

The castle-like building you can see in the background of the above photo is the Keltic Lodge at the Highlands , which is a great option if you want to stay in Ingonish.

Mary Ann Falls

mary ann falls ingonish

Mary Ann Falls is another beautiful waterfall you can visit in Cape Breton near Ingonish. I stopped here on my way from Cheticamp to Ingonish while driving the Cabot Trail.

The turn-off is well marked with a sign, and then you just follow a dirt road to a parking lot. From there, it’s just a short walk to the falls. There are two viewpoints to admire the falls from!

lighthouse in baddeck

Baddeck is considered the beginning and end of the Cabot Trail, so it’s the perfect place to start/end your Cabot trail road trip no matter where you’re coming from.

It’s a charming town that was founded in the 1900s. Although it’s small, there are many places to stay and restaurants here.

Things to do in Baddeck

Water Sports on the B’ras D’or Lake

kayakinig in baddeck cape breton itinerary

Situated along the shores of the stunning Bras d’Or Lake, Baddeck is the perfect place for water sports such as sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

You can rent kayaks and SUP from the Inverary Resort adventure center and paddle to Kidston Island Lighthouse. Do this in the morning so you can see the reflection of the lighthouse in the water – it’s gorgeous!

Uisge Ban Falls

Uisge Ban Falls cape Breton

Another waterfall? Of course. I never stop chasing them! This waterfall is inside Uisge Ban Falls provincial park, which you can get to from Baddeck in about twenty minutes.

There’s a parking lot inside the park, and from there, it’s a half-hour easy walk to the waterfall. There’s a lower waterfall you can easily access, but you can also get to the top part by climbing up. It’s very steep but doable!

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Baddeck is the hometown of Alexander Graham Bell, a renowned inventor best known for inventing the telephone. Parks Canada established the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site to commemorate his genius.

Inside the museum, you can learn about the fascinating life of this inventor and see original artifacts, films, and photographs that highlight his scientific and humanitarian work.

Must eat: Baddeck is home to many excellent restaurants, but one I loved was The Freight Shed. It’s right on the water, and they have delicious seafood options including the iconic Nova Scotia lobster roll.

Where to stay in Baddeck

I was hosted at Inverary resort , a lovely place set right on Bras d’Or Lake. If you want to feel like you’re at a cottage – this is the place!

The interior of the rooms could use some updating, but the facilities are gorgeous. There’s a private beach with chairs to relax on, which is the perfect place to soak in the sunset.

sunset inverary resort cape breton itinerary

My favorite part about Inverary resort is the onsite adventure center, where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and boats – you can even rent a floating picnic table!

There’s also an on-site spa where you can treat yourself to a massage, pedicure, or manicure. It was raining one of the days I was in Baddeck, so this was the perfect thing to do. Inverary also has a restaurant on-site that serves delicious food and live music daily.

North River

north river cape breton

Another gorgeous spot to visit in Cape Breton is the North River, between Ingonish and Baddeck. There’s not a lot to do here, but the scenery is spectacular, and it’s the perfect place to go if you want to experience kayaking in Cape Breton.

Sydney is the capital city of Cape Breton. If you’re coming from Newfoundland on the ferry, you’ll be arriving in North Sydney which is right next to it.

Sydney has many accommodation options and restaurants, so this can be a good option to stay in if you need to catch the ferry the following day.

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

If you have some extra time on your Cape Breton island itinerary, another great place to visit is the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. It’s a 40-minute drive from Sydney.

There, you can step back in time to see French colonial life between 1713 and 1758. The original site was destroyed, but Parks Canada rebuilt it to 1/4 of its size.

It’s the largest reconstruction of its kind in North America, offering visitors a unique and fun way to learn about this period of history. There’s also a beautiful lighthouse you can visit in Louisberg!

How long to Spend on the Cabot Trail?

I spent a week in Cape Breton driving along the Cabot Trail and still didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted! Even though the Cabot Trail is just under 300km, most people recommend spending 3-5 days as there is so much to do.

How many days in Cape Breton depends on how many activities you want to do. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, than you could easily spend a week.

While it is possible to drive in one day, this would feel very rushed. I’d recommend spending at least two nights, and more if possible!

Cabot Trail Itineraries

road on the cabot trail itinerary

Cape Breton/Cabot Trail One Week Itinerary

If you’ve got a week to explore, here’s a sample Halifax to Cape Breton road trip itinerary:

  • Day 1: Leave Halifax for Inverness, stay overnight in Inverness
  • Day 2: Explore Inverness in the morning, Depart for Cheticamp in the afternoon (1 hr drive), stay overnight
  • Day 3: Explore around Cheticamp, stay overnight
  • Day 4: Head into Explore Cape Breton Highlands national park, stay overnight in Ingonish
  • Day 5: Explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park, head to Baddeck in the evening
  • Day 6: Explore Baddeck, stay overnight
  • Day 7: Depart for home

Cabot Trail Itinerary 3 Days

If you’ve only got a few days to explore the park, I recommend spending one night in either Cheticamp or Plesant Bay and another in Ingonish or Baddeck. This will give you time to see both sides of the park.

You can drive from Cheticamp and Baddeck through the Cabot Trail in three hours, but it’s so beautiful that you’ll want to give yourself a full day because you’ll be stopping so much for photos!

Cabot Trail Tours

If you don’t have a car or just don’t want to drive the Cabot Trail alone, there are a few tours you can join.

This day tour from Sydney is a “mini” tour that shows some of the best highlights along the Cabot Trail, with many look-off stops for photographs and breathtaking viewpoints.

This full-day driving tour from Baddeck will take you with a small group to discover the highlights of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, including photo opportunities at St. Ann’s Bay and Kelly’s Mountain.

Best Time to Drive the Cabot Trail

skyline hike cape breton itinerary

Cape Breton is a destination that can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit Cape Breton is during the summer when the days are long and the weather is warm, making activities such as swimming and kayaking accessible.

Although in the maritime, you are never guaranteed good weather. I visited the last week of August and got quite a bit of rain and wind!

Another great time to visit Cape Breton is when the leaves change color during the fall. It’s one of the most beautiful places to see the fall colors in Canada!

Don’t discount visiting Cape Breton during the wintertime. It’s a perfect place for winter sports such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

FAQ: Exploring Cabot Trail

Where is the cabot trail.

The Cabot Trail is on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. It starts in Baddeck.

How long is the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is just under 300km

How long does it take to drive the Cabot Trail?

While it is possible to drive the Cabot Trail in one day, I recommend spending at least three. There are many sights to see and things to do; you could easily spend one week here.

Why is the Cabot Trail famous?

The Cabot Trail is famous for its breathtaking scenery! The roads wind through Cape Breton Islands National Park along the Atlantic Coastline, offering stunning seaside views at every turn.

What is the most beautiful part of Cabot Trail?

The most beautiful part of the Cabot Trail is subjective, but many find the drive through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with its stunning coastal views and lush highlands, to be particularly breathtaking.

Is Cabot Trail worth the drive?

Absolutely! The Cabot Trail offers a unique blend of spectacular scenery, cultural experiences, and outdoor activities that make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Can you do the Cabot Trail in one day?

Yes, it is possible to drive the Cabot Trail in one day, but to fully enjoy the experience, including hikes, scenic stops, and local culture, spending at least two to three days is recommended.

Are there bathrooms along the Cabot Trail?

Yes, there are bathrooms available at various points along the Cabot Trail, especially within Cape Breton Highlands National Park and at some restaurants and visitor centers.

What is the best time to visit Cape Breton?

The best time to visit Cape Breton is during the summer months (June to August) for warm weather and outdoor activities, or in the fall (September to October) to enjoy the stunning fall foliage.

Where is the best place to start the Cabot Trail?

The best place to start the Cabot Trail depends on your direction of travel, but Baddeck is a popular starting point due to its central location and access to amenities.

What to Pack for a Cabot Trail Road Trip

lora on cabot trail road trip itinerary

If you plan to enjoy the great outdoors while road tripping in Cape Breton, here’s what I suggest packing.

  • Light hiking boots for the trails. I use La Sportiva Hiking Boots.
  • Small backpack for carrying water & hiking essentials on the trail
  • Car phone mount so you can see directions easily while driving (there is no service for many parts of the trail, so download them offline on Google Maps, or bring a GPS.  
  • Optional: GoPro and car mount for capturing the epic drive!
  • Sunglasses – essential for when you are driving into the sun
  • Rain Jacket /Wind Breaker – based on my experience, this is essential
  • Parks Canada Discovery Pass  – This will get you unlimited admission for 12 months at over 80 parks across Canada. This may be worth it if you plan to visit many national parks, which I highly recommend!
  • Insect Repellant – they are fierce in the summertime
  • Roadside emergency kit
  • Canada Road Map
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and Pillows – Just in case. It can get cold in Canada, even in the summertime!
  • Audiobooks for the road. I love  Audible  for this!
  • A  car charger  for charging your devices

Visiting Cape Breton and driving the Cabot Trail is definitely something that should be on your Canada bucket list. It’s such a beautiful part of the country; I can’t believe I didn’t get here sooner. And with so many hiking trails left to explore, I have a feeling I’ll be back again soon.

Traveling to Nova Scotia? Check out these posts!

  • How to Plan an Epic East Coast Canada Road Trip [2023]
  • Where To Stay In Halifax Nova Scotia
  • The Best Places to Stay on the Cabot Trail
  • A Perfect One to Three Day Halifax Itinerary

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Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

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Really Really good Tips!! Thank you! My wife and I just bought the tickets to go In September (next month). We have a little dog who always travels with us. I was wondering how pet friendly NS is….

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It’s very pet friendly! I was traveling with my foster dog Layla through Nova Scotia. The Inverary resort even gave her a welcome pack!

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These are indeed some really good options…I think saving and putting into my list… thanks for sharing 🙂

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Glad you found them helpful!

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Really need to visit Nova Scotia still! The scenery looks amazing and your photos are making me very jealous!

It’s a beautiful place! Hope you can visit soon!

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Your photos from the helicopter look incredible. I’ve really been meaning to visit here! I’m pinning for later. 🙂

Thanks so much – the helicopter ride was the highlight for me! Hope you can visit sometime! 🙂

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I was in Nova Scotia with my family years ago. We managed a two night stay at the Keltic Lodge and it was glorious. The drive alone is worth the trip to Cape Breton. Thanks for sharing your tips!

The Keltic Lodge looks awesome! I didn’t get to stay there but the views of Ingonish from there are stunning. Hope you and your family can get back again!

cabot trail travel

The Ultimate Guide for Exploring the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton: what you need to know

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Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton is one of the most spectacular activities to do in Nova Scotia. The scenery is so unique compared to the rest of Nova Scotia, with tall hills and winding roads. There are plenty of hikes, waterfalls and live musical events that make Cape Breton truly a worthwhile place to visit. Below are my top tips for visiting the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

cabot guide pinterest graphic

First things first – what is the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is a scenic roadway 298km (or 186 miles) long that circles around the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. To enter the National Park, you need to pay a fee of $7.50 a day (as of 2020). This gives you access to the park and all of the hikes!

map of cape breton showing the cabot trail

How long does it take to go around the Cabot Trail?

If you were drive around the Cabot Trail without stopping it would take about 5 hours. But where’s the fun in that! It is possible to drive the Cabot Trail in one day, but it would be really rushed. It is recommended a minimum of 2 full days to drive on the Cabot Trail.

Read my 3 day itinerary for Cape Breton here .

Which direction is the best way to drive around the Cabot Trail?

The short answer is – either direction. I promise! Each direction is incredibly scenic, but here is a breakdown of each direction so that you can choose:

If you drive clockwise : for the majority of the drive you will be on the inside lane. You will for the most part need to cross the road to get to the pull-over stops.

If you drive counter-clockwise : for the majority of the drive you will be on the outside lane and be closest to the water. It will be easier to pull off to the side of the road where the majority of the look-off points are too. In the morning, you will be on the same side as the sunrise.

When I drove the Cabot Trail, I drove counter-clockwise. There were sections when I was on the outside lane overlooking the water. As the road twists and turns you will end up with views on the left hand side, and be on the inside lane. There were occasions where we had to turn around to look at the view behind us, and it would have been easier to see them if we had travelled clockwise. The same could be said for driving clockwise too, though.

So to summarize : go in whichever direction you want and is most convenient for you. The views are equally as good. There are loads of pullover stops so that you can fully appreciate the views too.

cape breton road. the cabot trail road surrounded by trees

Is it scary to drive on the Cabot Trail?

A lot of concerns before driving the Cabot Trail is if it is scary or not. If you are driving in the dead of winter in ice and snow, then yes it is. BUT, chances are you will be driving in the summer or fall months (the best time to go).

It isn’t scary to drive the Cabot Trail. It can get twisty and have steep inclines, but the roads are wide and you aren’t close to the edge. Here is a video showing the most “extreme” part of the trail (driving in the counter-clockwise direction):

@natalieexplores Driving the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This was probably the steepest section. #roadtrip #novascotia #capebreton #cabottrail ♬ We’re Not Just Friends – Parks, Squares and Alleys

When is the best time to visit?

In my personal opinion, Autumn (from around October 8th-18th) is the BEST time to see the Cabot Trail. Seeing the vibrant fall foliage from above is stunning.

The waterfalls in the fall are exploding with water and extra “water-y.” In the summer, the waterfalls are still incredible, but they are a bit more dry. Read my 5 most beautiful waterfalls to visit in Cape Breton – with minimal hiking .

The weather in the fall is much cooler, so you won’t feel like dying from heat exhaustion during an uphill hike. The only downside to traveling in the fall is that the weather can be more unstable. It also gets dark earlier, which means less time exploring during the day.

For crowds , the autumn months are generally less busy too. With the exception during Thanksgiving Weekend during Cape Breton’s Celtic Colours Music Festival . The added bonus to traveling during this time is that there are plenty of places to enjoy traditional fiddle music!

If you travel after the Thanksgiving weekend , a few places start to shut down. If there is a restaurant or activity you want to do, check online beforehand to make sure they are open.

cape breton in the fall

Tips for Hiking

If you are planning to hike , you have LOTS of options. There are 26 hikes that range in difficulty and length. My best advice is to research each trail on the National Park’s website to see which one’s peaks your interest. A good rule of thumb is 2 hikes per day.

Allow plenty of time for stops to enjoy the scenery too!

The AllTrails app is extremely useful for planning hikes . It provides a map and shows your location on the trail. It also shows tips, photos and time it took others to hike.

Dogs are not allowed on the Skyline Trail . If you want to bring your dogs, unfortunately this one isn’t for them.

Bring lots of snacks! Save money (and time!) by bringing breakfasts to eat in the morning, and snacks for hiking.

Be careful of the wild life. There are black bears, coyote and moose. It is best to hike with others. Bring either coyote or bear spray with you (can be purchased from Canadian Tire or Amazon). There are signs on every trail which will tell you what to do if you encounter an animal. Also, keep an eye out for them when driving!

Download an offline map of Cape Breton since cell service is VERY spotty. There are emergency phones along the Cabot Trail just in case you run into an emergency. The National Park provides a map too, so keep this too just in case.

Wear lots of layers! On one hike, it switched between rain, hail and bright blue sunny hikes – all within a 10 minutes. Wear a hat, gloves, and layers (I wore a T-shirt, sweatshirt and water-resistant winter coat and was fine).

franey trail in cape breton

Have you been to the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia? What would you recommend seeing? Let me know in the comments below!

cabot trail in cape breton pinterest graphic

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2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide for Exploring the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton: what you need to know”

Thanks for sharing this! Looks like it would be an amazing trip with great views!

Thanks for sharing! My husband and I are considering doing more local trips in 2021 (if we’re even allowed to go to Canada by then) and have been looking at different locations throughout the provinces. This is certainly being added to the potential locations list!

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10 Things To Know About Driving The Cabot Trail

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  • Activities and Interests
  • Canada National Parks
  • Cape Breton Highlands
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  • History and Culture
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  • Nova Scotia
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  • Types of Travel

The Cabot Trail is a scenic highway in the northern part of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. However, the word “scenic” is a bit misleading. This isn’t just a pretty drive, but rather one of the most famed roads in the world, renowned for its views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Breton highlands.

It is a frequent entry on “top 10” lists of the most beautiful driving routes in the world and is a favorite for the top slot on many “best drives in Canada” roundups. Therefore, it’s no surprise that it’s on so many travelers’ bucket lists. If you’re planning a trip to Nova Scotia, here are 10 important things you should know about driving the Cabot Trail.

1. More Than Hills And Highlands

Fans of Ireland and Scotland love visiting Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail because the rolling green hills look so familiar to what you’ll see on the other side of the ocean. However, while the most famous part of the Cabot Trail is indeed the oceanside drive along the highlands, that’s just one portion of the adventure. For instance, a common starting point is the town of Baddeck. This inland town is flat and miles from the sea, and life here is centered around the Bras d’Or Lakes . Other areas of the drive are heavily forested with old-growth trees. In short, the Cabot Trail is more diverse than you might think!

The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.

Vadim.Petrov / Shutterstock

2. The Drive Is Longer Than You Think

At 185 miles, the Cabot Trail is longer than most people think. Driving it is a lot slower, too. There are narrow roads, plus plenty of big bends and dips. All in, you have a drive that can take the better part of a day. If you have just a day to explore, I personally recommend an early morning start to minimize traffic and have some of the scenic lookouts all to yourself.

3. Take A Day — Or A Week

You can easily drive the Cabot Trail in a day, even taking into account the slower traffic and plenty of scenic stops. However, a lot of people recommend that you take three or even five days to complete the trail.

This isn’t just a driving route — it’s also a lifeline that connects dozens of small towns and even smaller villages. Along the way, there are plenty of attractions, including beaches, community shops, museums, churches, and special events including festivals, concerts, and more. The Cabot Trail also goes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park , a superb hiking destination. You could easily spend several days along the route, enjoying slow travel at its finest.

Whale watching at Pleasant Bay.

Regine Poirier / Shutterstock

4. Whale Watching

Whether you’re doing the Cabot Trail in one day or several, make some time for Pleasant Bay . The tiny community of Pleasant Bay marks the Cabot Trail’s midway point and is the whale watching capital of Cape Breton Island. From June to mid-October, the Whale Interpretive Centre is open and kids, in particular, will love seeing the life-size model of a giant pilot whale, plus a tank of live sea creatures. A number of local outfitters also operate whale watching boat rides.

Motorcycles on the Cabot Trail.

SamiL / Shutterstock

5. Plan Your Meal Stops

In major towns, like Baddeck, Cheticamp, and Margaree , there are several restaurants to choose from. In smaller areas, like St. Ann’s and Ingonish, you’ll likely find just one or two choices open year-round. But in smaller villages, the selection is understandably limited and in the off-season, restaurants may be closed or only open part-time. It pays to plan ahead. You can find a comprehensive list of Cabot Trail restaurants here , including information on hours of operation and menu choices. Note that if you have a seafood allergy or prefer vegetarian dining, you’ll want to scope out your options well before you travel. Seafood — and especially shellfish — are the undisputed stars on local menus.

6. Book Accommodations In Advance

In the peak summer months and during the autumn Celtic Colours festival season, you might not get your first-choice accommodations unless you book in advance. Along the trail, you’ll find cottages, rental properties, campgrounds, motels, old-fashioned bed and breakfast properties, and a few elegant inns and holiday “resorts” (mostly privately owned and operated hotels by the Bras d’Or Lakes). There’s even a Hosteling International property in Pleasant Bay ! However, there are no international chain hotels and many accommodations are seasonal in nature.

The Cabot Trail on the coast of Nova Scotia.

Colin D. Young / Shutterstock

7. English Isn’t The Only Language

English isn’t the only language spoken in communities along the Cabot Trail — and it’s definitely not the only language you’ll see on the signage! Along the way you’ll probably spot signs in Mi’kmaq, an indigenous language, too.

French is a local lingua franca as well, as a significant portion of the route goes through traditional Acadian French land in the north. The town of Cheticamp is one of the largest French settlements in Nova Scotia. Finally, you’ll find Scottish Gaelic around the route’s center and eastern areas. Keep an eye out for the community of St. Ann’s, home to the Gaelic College , which provides programming about the Gaelic language, music, dance, and crafts.

8. The Most Important Word of All: Ceilidh

Of all the words in all these languages, there’s just one that’s essential to know during your road trip: ceilidh . Pronounced “kay-lee”, this is the Gaelic word for a social gathering or kitchen party, and it’s a word you’ll hear a lot of along the Cabot Trail, no matter what language you’re speaking!

On Cape Breton Island, a ceilidh can be a casual affair of neighbors gathering for music and drinks at home or a more-organized event at a community center, church hall, or cafe with a slate of musicians, a host, and a small admission fee. You’ll hear about them in local newspapers, such as the Inverness County Oran , on bulletin boards at restaurants and other popular spots frequented by tourists, and by word of mouth. At most public ceilidhs, admission and concessions are cash only. You can often buy small concessions like soda or coffee on site, and many ceilidhs include a “tea” or “lunch” midway in the evening. This is a buffet of coffee, tea, sweets, and sometimes light sandwiches and is especially common at ceilidhs designed as community fundraisers.

A moose in the wilderness of Nova Scotia.

Bianca Muller / Shutterstock

9. Watch Out For Wildlife

Moose are common along the Cabot Trail, especially the portion of the drive that goes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park . While they look goofy in photos, these are strong, sturdy, agile animals who won’t hesitate to protect their young and should never be approached. The Cabot Trail is popular with bird watchers and, while not common, bears, wolves, coyotes, and foxes are sometimes seen on the route. Staff at the park can advise on the best wildlife viewing areas.

10. Clockwise Vs. Counter-Clockwise

Which way should you drive around the Cabot Trail? Better brace yourself for an opinionated answer before you quiz a local! Strong preferences are part of the local culture, and there are plenty of arguments to back up each perspective! Of course, in some circumstances, you may have your route dictated to you by default depending on where you are going and what is on your itinerary. But many travelers with a flexible itinerary must choose between going clockwise, which means your car is hugging the interior of the road against the forest and rock face, or counterclockwise, which means your car is on the exterior lane of the road — closest to the ocean, the scenic lookouts, and the plunging cliffs.

Cyclists — and yes, there are many hearty, experienced souls who bike the Cabot Trail — prefer going clockwise in order to benefit from the prevailing winds on the west side. This also means a more gradual climb along Cape Smokey. Driving clockwise is also considered easier for those in small vehicles. If you want to read more opinions about the pros and cons of taking on the Cabot Trail in both directions, the tourism board surveyed its staff to get their personal recommendations, which you can read here . No matter which route you take, you’re in for an amazing drive!

Whether you visit before or after cruising the Cabot Trail, here’s how to spend a day in Halifax, Nova Scotia .

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Vanessa Chiasson is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, and blogger from Canada bringing warmth and depth to travel and human interest narratives. In the industry since 2012, Vanessa coaches writers from all backgrounds, areas of focus, and experience levels on developing business strategies that support their artistic endeavors. She chronicles her cozy travel adventures at TurnipseedTravel .

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Things to Do on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

December 21, 2021 By Matthew G. Bailey 5 Comments

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Cabot Trail

Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is easily one of the most beautiful places in Canada. It offers a great mix of stunning views, beaches, hiking trails, small towns, and so much more. It’s also one of the best places to see fall colours in Canada .

In this travel guide, we’ll fill you in on the best way to explore Cabot Trail, including things to do, where to stay, where to eat, and more!

Cabot Trail during the fall.

Table of Contents

What is the Cabot Trail?

The Cabot Trail is a world-class Canada road trip that consists of a 298-kilometre (185 miles) loop around the northern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia . Most of the Cabot Trail lies within the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which means you will need a parks Canada pass. Parks passes can be purchased here .

Although the drive only takes 3-4 hours, we highly recommend spending at least two nights to really enjoy the incredible sights. If you really want to enjoy a variety of hikes in the area, spend time on the beaches, and visit the towns, you may want to stretch your visit to 4 nights or more.

Cabot Trail Map

The Cabot Trail loops in either direction, starting from Baddeck along the Trans Canada Highway. Many wonder what driving direction offers the best views, but in all honesty, both ways are stunning. If you can, we recommend driving one way and then coming back the other way. That way, you see it in both directions.

Cabot Trail Map

Things to Do along the Cabot Trail

One of the things we love about the Cabot Trail is that it’s not just scenery. There are loads of hiking trails, scenic lookouts, whale watching excursions, beaches, helicopter tours, and more. Below are some of the top things to do on the Cabot Trail.

Cabot Trail Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia

Enjoying the Views

Without a doubt, the top things that people enjoy along the Cabot Trail are all the scenic lookout points. All of them are spectacular but some of our favourites stops include Veterans Monument, which is where one of the most classic images of Cabot Trail is taken, the various viewpoints along the “twisty” road near Wreck Cove, and Sunrise viewpoint near the top of the trail. However, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Other great ways to get stupendous views include hiking the many trails or jumping on a helicopter for a sightseeing tour.

Hiking Aspy Trail during the Fall colours in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Nova Scotia Hiking Trails

Cabot Trail is within one of Canada’s most stunning national parks, which means there are a variety of hiking trails that lead to beautiful views. Some hiking trails take you through the forest, some take you to the top of the mountains, and some lead you along the coastline. We’ve done a number of hikes in the area and highly recommend them:

Skyline Trail : The highlight of this trail is the spectacular views of the ocean and parts of Cabot Trail. The hike takes about three hours but we recommend at least four or five if you want to take your time and really take it all in. We’ve done this hike twice now and can’t get over the ocean views. Parks Canada has built wooden walkways and viewing platforms that take you partially down the side of the mountain and it almost feels like you could reach out and touch the ocean.

Franey Trail : This is one of the best hikes in the park for those wanting to reach a summit that includes ocean views. It’s also one of the best hikes you can do to see fall colours. It doesn’t take too long and is very straightforward, although all uphill. We recommend four hours to take it all in.

Franey Trail is one of the best hikes along the Cabot Trail.

Aspy Trail : This is another nice trail that starts near the popular Beulach Ban Falls. The first half of the hike leads through a forest that’s wide enough for a vehicle. Eventually, you’ll start making your way up the mountain. The trail sorts of ends on the trail with one bench at the top. What makes this hike great is the views of the valley. It is truly spectacular in the fall.

Jack Pine Trail : This short trail actually joins up with another trail and gives you the opportunity to hike through the forest and along the stunning coastline. What we did was start at the Jack Pine Trailhead and then made our way towards Black Brook Cove Beach. Not only did we get to stop by some stunning coves along the way, but we also ended up at the top of a waterfall, climbing down to eventually reach the beach itself. The hike was very easy and took just one hour.

These are just four of many, many hiking trails in the area. We found these to be very good trails to get a wide overview of the area as well as both ocean views and fall colours (if you’re visiting in early October). For more trails, check out the Parks Canada guide .

Cape Breton Beaches

Cape Breton Beaches

With so much coastline, there’s a number of beaches you can enjoy along the way. We loved hanging out at Black Brook Cove Beach, which is a rocky beach near the popular Jack Pine Trailhead. However, there are many other beaches in the area, including Ingonish Beach (probably the most popular beach in Cape Breton), Cheticamp Island Beach, Indian Beach, West Mabou Beach, Point Michaud Beach, Port Hood Beach, and many others.

Helicopter Tours

Something that’s relatively new to the area is helicopter tours. We were lucky enough to take a helicopter tour during the fall and it was an incredible way to witness the fall colours around the area of Ingonish. The helicopter tours depart near the Cape Smokey gondola and are operated by Breton Air .

best road trips in canada

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

During our last visit to Cabot Trail when we took a helicopter flight over the mountains, they were telling us how cool the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site was. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see it on that visit but it’s now high on our list for the next time we explore Nova Scotia.

This is your chance to step through Louisbourg’s fortress walls and feel what it was like to live in the 1700s. This is one of those costumed living history sites where French soldiers march down the streets of the town as ladies dance in formal parlours. You’ll be able to hear the Cannon firing and smell freshly baked bread aromas from the stone bakery. With fishermen, sailers, and servants to talk to, as well as rum to drink and 300-year-old games to partake in, this historic site truly feels real.

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

You’ve probably heard of Alexander Graham Bell? The inventor, scientist, teacher, and devoted family man lived in Baddeck, Nova Scotia! Now you can visit the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site and witness the spirit of innovation through diverse experiences, as you explore his inventions that helped shape our modern world.

You’ll find full-scale replicas of the Silver Dart airplane and HD-4 watercraft, engaging multi-media displays, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the genius of Bell, and beautiful water views of Baddeck Bay.

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Whale Watching Tours

This is one thing we haven’t done yet in Cape Breton but it’s something on our Nova Scotia bucket list! We’ve been whale watching near the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia as well as in many parts of Newfoundland and we can confirm that this area of Atlantic Canada is known for its spectacular whale watching opportunities.

Ride the Gondola

Imagine skiing with ocean views! If you happen to be visiting Cape Breton and Cabot Trail in the winter, you can now go skiing at Cape Smokey. However, in the summer, the gondola becomes a popular sightseeing attraction and a great way to do some hiking at the top of the mountain without actually having to hike to the top! Plus, in 2022, they’ll be opening North America’s first Treewalk and you’ll be able to sip award-winning Pilsner at the one-and-only brewery at the base of a mountain along the world-famous Cabot Trail. Sign us up!

For golf enthusiasts, there are a whopping 8 beautiful golf courses within Cape Breton Island. Perhaps the most scenic of them all is Cabot Cliffs, which features postcard-worthy panoramas of the dramatic coastline. From cliffs and rolling sand dunes, this is a wonderful golf course located in Inverness on Canada’s Musical Coast. It’s also a walking-only course, which makes it a great opportunity to get some exercise and truly take in the vistas.

Other golf courses include Cabot Links, The Nest, Le Portage Golf Club, Cape Breton Highlands Links, Bell Bay, Lakes at Ben Eoin Golf Club & Resort, and Dundee Golf Club.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park Skyline Trail

Celtic Colours International Festival

As someone with Celtic heritage, I was so excited to witness this Canadian Signature Experience when we visited Cape Breton for the fall colours in 2021. Unfortunately, Covid canceled the experience for the second year in a row so we hope to return one day.

The Celtic Colours International Festival is a unique celebration of Cape Breton Island’s living traditional culture. Held over 9 days during the incredibly beautiful fall season, it’s truly a sight to behold. It’s also one of Canada’s premiere musical events and a cultural highlight in Nova Scotia as it showcases the musical culture of Cape Breton. This is your chance to witness Celtic musicians, singers, dancers, and storytellers while surrounded by some of the best scenery Canada has to offer.

Cape Breton Miners Museum

If you’re looking to go underground, this is a great place to do it . Located on one of the most picturesque coasts of Cape Breton Island, this museum pays tribute to the region’s long and rich history of coal mining. You’ll be able to join a retired miner and go on an underground tour as well as learn about the life of the miners with modern exhibits and a historic village. There’s even a restaurant where you can enjoy delicious home-cooked meals.

Highland Village Museum / Baile nan Gàidheal

If you’re looking for a truly Gaelic experience, there’s none better than the Highland Village Museum , a living history museum and cultural centre in Iona. This 40-acre site is dotted with 11 historic buildings that depict the life of Gaelic settlers in Nova Scotia and offers the chance to see a blacksmith in action, costumed interpreters doing things like spin weaving and wool-dying, and even traditional livestock. You’ll also get to smell the lovely aromas of cooking on an open hearth and admire the stunning views of the panoramic landscapes.

LeNoir Forge Museum

Built between 1780 and 1800, this is a great chance to visit one of the oldest stone buildings in Cape Breton. The LeNoir Forge Museum offers the chance to see what it was like when shipbuilding was a flourishing industry in these parts as well as experience a working forge, admire a collection of tools and artifacts and learn the stories of Isle Madame. You’ll also find a genealogy centre, community archives, a boat barn containing displays and information on their seafaring past, a gift shop, and other shanties used for exhibits.

Cabot Trail Restaurants

Cabot Trail Restaurants (Where to Eat)

Outside of the winter months when tourism slows dramatically, there are lots of choices for delicious food and cold drinks. We’ll list some of the ones we’ve tried personally below.

Coastal Restaurant & Pub : If you’re looking for delicious pub food that’s served in big portions, this is the spot. From their famous Ringer burger with onion rings and ringer sauce to their delicious Chicken Alfredo with tiger shrimp, we loved every bite. Conveniently located in Ingonish, it’s a popular place to go for food, drinks, and dessert.

Danena’s Bakery & Bistro : If we had to select only one restaurant to visit when we return, Danena’s would win. This small restaurant offers gourmet food cooked by Danena herself. The atmosphere is cute and the food is delicious. In fact, our meal was so good, I had to ask how they cooked the vegetables because the squash was to die for. I wish I could replicate it at home. The menu changes but everything was very, very good. It’s also a bakery, so you can also swing by for a latte and a baked good.

Harbour Restaurant & Bar : It’s been a few years since we made it over to Cheticamp to go back to this restaurant but I’ll always remember the massive lobster dinner I had here while admiring the ocean views right from the window.

The Fall colours in Cape Breton and Cabot Trail are some of the best in Canada.

Where to Stay on the Cabot Trail

In general, we recommend staying around Ingonish on the east side, Chéticamp on the west side, or anywhere north of those locations. We find most of the activities and sights are north of those two towns. Plus, those towns have the highest concentration of restaurants.

Castle Rock Country Inn : Located near Ingonish, this is the only place open year-round, making it a convenient place to stay throughout the year. We stayed here during the fall and thought it was good. The rooms aren’t fancy but they have everything you need, including beautiful views in some of the rooms that face the ocean. Breakfast is also included here and typically includes eggs, toast, meat, juice, and coffee or tea. It’s only a few minutes’ drive from the Inn to the Helicopter tours, gondola rides, and one of the top hikes in the park.

If you’re looking for something fancy, the Keltic Lodge really caught our eye when we flew over it in a helicopter. It’s located on a slice of land that has water on both sides. It’s widely regarded as the premier resort in the Maritimes and has 120 rooms.

Maison Fiset House : This beautiful bed and breakfast is a great place to stay in Chéticamp. This was our accommodation during our Road to 150 road trip back in 2017. What we loved about it is that it’s a home from 1895 and was built for the village’s first doctor. Each room has a private in-suite bathroom, a balcony, and comes with a full hot breakfast. This place is located quite close to the famous Skyline Trail.

Camping on the Cabot Trail : If you’re looking to RV in Canada or pitch a tent, there are plenty of options for camping along the Cabot Trail as well, including Broad Cove Campground (also home to the Parks Canada oTENTiks), Chéticamp Campground, Ingonsih Beach Campground, Blue Bayou Resort (also home to domes), Two Rivers Wildlife Park Campground, Corney Brook Campground, and many more. Find all the options here .

One of the many waterfalls you can find on the Cabot Trail.

After the Cabot Trail

Although the Cabot Trail is truly an incredible place to explore, there’s much more to Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada in general. If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the laid-back east coast, check out our other articles below:

  • Things to Do in Halifax
  • Things to Do in New Brunswick
  • Things to Do in Prince Edward Island
  • Things to Do in Newfoundland
  • The Newfoundland Ferry

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About Matthew G. Bailey

Matthew G. Bailey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Must Do Canada. Growing up in Alberta to a mother from Quebec and a father from Newfoundland, Matt spent his childhood playing hockey under the Northern Lights and hanging out in the forest before moving to Calgary and travelling to more than 250 cities spanning 42 countries and 6 continents. He loves travel, learning new things, playing sports, writing, making videos, photography, and scuba diving. You can also find him at LiveLimitless.net .

Reader Interactions

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February 20, 2022 at 10:21 am

Hi Matt and Hailey 905-381-9421 I have been to 10 provinces and Yukon and driving the North West Territory in July. I want to get your recommendation. Thanks I m in Hamilton, ON.

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March 13, 2022 at 7:56 am

Planning to hit the Cabot Trail this summer – looks amazing! Can’t wait!!

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May 25, 2022 at 5:13 am

Very informative articles but the Cabot Trail info can be a bit misleading. Several sites such as the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Miner’s Museum and the Highland Village of Iona are not part of the Cabot Trail nor close enough to be considered part of the 3-4 hour drive. All are worthy of a visit but it should be known they will require more time and travel to visit.

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May 25, 2022 at 11:13 pm

Good call. We’ll try to make that more clear 🙂

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August 27, 2022 at 8:18 am

Would love to visit Nova Scotia one day and this was a great article.

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Find the best roads, the ultimate guide to driving cabot trail in canada.

Cabot Trail

Discover the beauty of Cape Breton Island with a journey through the picturesque Cabot Trail. This scenic road takes you through northern Victoria and Inverness counties and offers breathtaking views of the coastline, historic woods, glacier-carved rock formations, and the majestic Cape Breton Highlands.

In truth, the Cabot Trail’s journey is the destination in and of itself. Above all, it’s a path you may take at your speed.

The northern part of the route passes through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The western and eastern parts follow the rugged coastline, offering spectacular ocean views. This tourist route is open year-round.

Where is the Cabot Trail ?

The Cabot Trail, which runs along the Atlantic Ocean’s cliffs, is peppered with charming hamlets. There are numerous viewpoints along the road that offer breathtaking views. It’s important to pause and reflect on the scene of this untamed nature, where a restless sea, steep hills, and a dense forest filled with diverse fauna collide.

The road officially designated as “Road 30” is a well-known and frequently traveled route for both local residents and visitors alike.

The route winds its way up and along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, eventually arriving at the stark plateau of Cape Breton’s Acadian region. The villages of Belle-Côte, Cap Lemoyne, Saint-Joseph-du-Moine, Grand-Étang, and Chéticamp all have French names.

You can locate the Cabot Trail road on the map below:

Facts about the Cabot Trail road

How long is the cabot trail .

The Cabot Trail is a magnificent scenic road located in the northern part of Victoria and Inverness Counties on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Measuring a total of over 300 kilometers in length, it winds its way along the northern tip of the island and offers breathtaking views of the Cape Breton Highlands.

It’ll take a few hours to complete the journey because it’s a long one. If you want to take in the surroundings, plan on spending at least a whole day doing so. It is available all year and completes a loop around the northern side of the island.

Furthermore, the route is enjoyable to drive. It has a smooth asphalted surface and several twists and bends, making for an enjoyable drive. You’ll travel across the greater part of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island on a meandering route with spectacular views. It’s ideal for a thrilling ride. It must be properly enjoyed if you want to get the most out of it. Also, if you want to discover the road in interactive way you could for example book this experience if you’re gonna be there.

Riding a motorcycle on the Cabot Trail is a popular choice as it allows you to traverse the route swiftly. Experience the rush of a thrilling ride in a natural setting as you wind through twisting roads along the ocean cliffs. This picturesque route is a dream come true for driving enthusiasts, as it resembles the scenic routes often featured in car advertisements.

Why is it called Cabot Trail ?

It was named after the famous explorer, John Cabot, who is credited with discovering Atlantic Canada in 1497, although some historians believe he actually landed in Newfoundland instead of Cape Breton Island. The road was completed in its initial construction phase in 1932.

Cabot Trail map:

The Cabot Trail circles Cape Breton Island, passing the island’s peak and following the island’s west and east coasts. The municipality of Baddeck, known as the beginning and end of the Cabot Trail loop, is the ideal starting location for this classic Canadian route.

Travel & Leisure magazine named Cape Breton Island the best island in Canada, and it’s easy to see why. No matter which way you look, the views are simply stunning and breathtaking.

Another dope road in Canada is the Sea to Sky highway .

You can see the itinerary of the Cabot Trail on this map:

Cabot Trail itinerary

Must see on the Cabot Trail :

Baddeck: .

Overlooking the Bras d’Or Lake, Baddeck is a charming village where it is nice to take the time to walk around or to sit on a small terrace to have a meal. This village is as charming as you could wish for and has many attractions that are worth a visit. You can choose it as a stopover or find a camping.

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site presents a series of inventions developed by Bell, as well as the instruments he used during his research. It also tells the story of Bell’s life.

cabot trail travel

Bras d’Or Lake:

The Bras d’Or Lakes are a nearly 1,100-square-kilometer lagoon surrounded by hills. Indeed, it divides the island into two sections: the Cape Breton Lowlands and the Cape Breton Highlands.

The lake is a large stretch of salt water that attracts a variety of wildlife, including the majestic bald eagle, which can occasionally be spotted. Furthermore, the lake and its various arms (Channel St. Andrews, Channel St. Patrick) are abundant in fish, including trout and salmon, for the enjoyment of anglers. The Bras d’Or Lakes Scenic Drive allows you to drive around the lake.

Glace Bay is situated on the Atlantic coast in an area rich in coal. Which served as the region’s primary source of income until the early 1990s. Its name comes from a French phrase that refers to ice floes off the coast.

Glace Bay once had a thriving mining sector. Visit the Cape Breton Miner’s Museum to learn more about this ancient industry. Some processes and tools used to extract coal are displayed in exhibits. There’s also a recreation of a mining village from the early twentieth century. Finally, maybe the most fascinating aspect of this museum: a guided tour of an old coal mine.

cabot trail travel

A preview of the Cabot Road:

If you are planning to drive this road, or just want to discover this beautiful road, you can obviously watch this YouTube video:

Is the Cabot Trail open?

This tourist route is open all year round.

Because there is no route to traverse the middle of Cape Breton Island, you must complete the trail, either by completing the loop or turning around.

The Cabot Trail has a limited number of gas stations. You should be able to finish the loop on one tank if you fill it up before you begin.

On the hills, you must be extremely cautious when riding. Before you travel to Nova Scotia, make sure your brakes are in good working order.

Aside from its ancient sites, the island attracts thousands of nature lovers each year who come to explore the island’s extraordinary wilderness, such as the enormous Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which offers hiking routes and breathtaking views. You should try taking the Cabot Trail, which encircles the island and is surrounded by deep forest and sprinkled with quaint settlements, to really appreciate the island’s beauty. This is a must-see!

Pictures sources: By chensiyuan – chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7880429 / By Michel Rathwell from Cornwall, Canada – Baddeck, Nova Scotia, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68646769 / By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada – DGJ_4808 – Glace Bay North Breakwater Light, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45850770

Discover other roads around the world: click here or see our road map!

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Posted on Last updated: April 18, 2024 Categories Family Travel

By: Author Kate

The Ultimate Guide to the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Nova Scotia (with Kids!)

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Our trip to explore the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Nova Scotia was hands-down one of the best trips we have ever taken. The beautiful vistas, amazing food and friendly people made this trip so worthwhile. The Cabot Trail and all of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is perfect for travelers of all ages. We had a blast bringing along our toddler but would have loved this trip before kids as well.  There are beautiful (and toddler-friendly!) hikes including the Skyline Trail , budget-friendly Cabot Trail accommodations with AMAZING amenities, along with gorgeous drives and a great selection of places to eat (lobster, of course!). Check out my post below for my guide to this amazing part of Canada, and be sure to drop me a line in the comments if you have any questions before your next trip to the Cabot Trail.

A Week in Cape Breton (Cabot Trail) Nova Scotia

Where to stay in cape breton nova scotia:.

We spent a week on Cape Breton Island and stayed in 3 different towns while we were there. I think this was perfect because we got to see a lot of the island and minimized our driving all day long. Take a look at this Cape Breton Nova Scotial map to see our route. We didn’t do a full circle because of time but usually the best plan is  to do the trip around the island  “clockwise” or “counter-clockwise” stopping in 2-3 places along the way. We stayed in Margaree Forks , Cheticamp , and Port Hood .

Popular Cape Breton Towns::

Baddeck: A very cute lakeside town with lots of activities and great restaurants. They have a great beach that you take a ferry to and offer sailing trips which are really popular among tourists.

Ingonish: Home to the famous Keltic Lodge and Ingonish Beach.  This town is located right next to the Cabot Trail and provides a great starting point for exploring the trail. Lots of great cabot trail accomodations options in this small town.

Cheticamp : We stayed in Cheticamp for the two nights that we explored the Cabot Trail . It is also right next to the park entrance (on the other side of Ingonish) and is the closest town to the Skyline Trail which is very popular for hiking the Cabot Trail. There are no large hotels here (or on all of Cape Breton island), but there were lots of great options for accomodation near the Cabot Trail.

Cheticamp Cape Breton with Kids

Mabou: A lively town, which is home to the famous Red Shoe pub.  Close to the famous Cape Breton golfing and beaches. Lots of great options on Airbnb and HomeAway in this area.

Port Hood: We stayed here on our trip and loved it. It is close to the highway that heads to Halifax and makes for a great stop either on your way there or back. This place has more of a cottage feel and seems to be popular amongst locals. The house we stayed at was right on the ocean and even had its own beach. What a great way to relax at the end of our trip.

Cape Breton Nova Scotia Cabot Trail

Hotels on the Cabot Trail:

The Keltic Lodge: This is the most famous hotel on Cape Breton Island and is close to the entrace of the Cabot Trail. The setting is breathtaking and the hotel is being updated.

Cabot Links: This is the only true luxury option on the island. We did not stay here but we golfed and ate here and the views and landscaping were gorgeous. Expect to pay for the luxury, but you will be amazed! It is a short drive to the entrance to the Cabot Trail.

Our Cape Breton NS  HomeAway Rentals:

We stayed at HomeAway and VRBO rentals while we were on our trip. There are not a lot of hotels on the cabot trail or on the island, so rentals seem to be very popular in Cape Breton. We love renting a house on vacation with kids because you have lots of amenities. We were so happy to have separate bedrooms for our son so we could all sleep in peace! Finding a rental with a crib can be difficult so we brought along our Phil and Ted’s Traveler Crib which I highly recommend!

Margaree Forks

Margaree Forks Homeaway Cabot Trail

The Best Restaurants on Cape Breton Island:

Baddeck Lobster Suppers: You have to eat lobster at least once on a trip to the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton! We went to this restaurant in the lovely town of Baddeck which provides a “lobster supper” experience. They offer all you can eat lobster, salmon, snow crab or steak. They had crayons for the kids and the restaurant is loud enough that we weren’t bothering anyone. Check out their TripAdvisor rating , there is a reason they are #1!

Baddeck Lobster Suppers. Cape Breton Nova Scotia with Kids.

Red Shoe Pub: We went to the Red Shoe Pub three times on our trip we loved it so much! Owned by the famous Rankin Sisters, this landmark restaurant was always packed each time we went. There is entertainment every night with live traditional music. The place is always loud and lots of kids get up to dance. Its a great hang out for the family crowd.

The Red Shoe Pub. Cape Breton Nova Scotia with Kids.

The Dancing Goat Cafe: A must stop!! We also went here more than once on our trip because it was so amazing. This cute little bakery is family friendly and had a great selection for kids and adults. Try the pancakes, they are amazing!

The Dancing Goat. Cape Breton Nova Scotia with Kids.

Cabot Links Panorama Restaurant: My husband and I went here on a “date night” during the trip and we left the kids with our babysitter. The food was delicious and the setting was very romantic.

Cabot Links Panorama Restaurant

High Wheeler cafe: This cute bakery and cafe has amazing baked goodies. So yum!!

Rusty Anchor: For your day hiking or driving the Cabot Trail, we stopped at the Rusty Anchor which is one of the few restaurant options on the trail. There is a great selection of seafood options. Try the lobster rolls, they are delicious!

What to do (with kids!):

There is so much to do on the Cabot Trail and on Cape Breton island. It is easy to spend a week and still feel like you haven’t explored the whole island.

Hiking the Cabot Trail: Skyline Trail

Hiking is an absolute must on the Cabot Trail . The most popular hike is The Skyline Trail and this iconic hike is perfect for young children. The majority of the trail is stroller friendly. It is only for the last 15 minutes of the trail (which is the part with the breathtaking views) that it is not stroller friendly. What we did is parked our stroller right when we got to the first set of stairs. There is a bench and if you have a lock/safe (like this one that is AMAZING and I highly recommend) you can lock your stroller and valuables up. We didn’t have a lock on this trip and I just left my stroller folded up. I don’t think there are too many people wanting to steal a stroller on this trail, so I took my chances!

Hiking with kids has so many benefits, including fostering their fitness and gross motor development all while allowing them to naturally explore their environment. At first I was a bit nervous to bring a toddler on a hiking trip, but it turned out to be such as easy activity. Kids love open spaces to explore, and my toddler will run and full speed and climb things any day, so this was a fun adventure that we all enjoyed.

Skyline Trail Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Driving the Cabot Trail:

If your kids will nap in the car I highly recommend doing some naps “on the go.” I feel like my husband and I had our mouths dropped the whole time we drove around the island. There are gorgeous views everywhere you look. We stopped to take pictures at the many ‘scenic spots’ along the way.

Cabot Trail. Cape Breton Nova Scotia with Kids.

Fishing in Cape Breton Nova Scotia:

There are lots of places to fish on the Cabot Trail and the rest of Cape Breton island. You can organize a tour through one of the many companies available on the island. We have basically zero experience fishing and we just wanted to give our son the chance to catch a fish. We went to a trout farm run by a local family on the island and had a wonderful time. The couple who owns this place are so lovely, you must visit! My son and our babysitter caught a fish right away but my poor husband had to go to the “small pond” which is basically more fish than water in order to catch one. He doesn’t have much luck with the fish!

 The Best Beaches in Cape Breton:

There are lots of gorgeous beaches on the island. You don’t have to drive far to get to a beautiful spot anywhere on the island. Several times we came upon a beach that was completely deserted. If you are looking for the best beaches, check out this review here . The water on Cape Breton isn’t warm, so it wasn’t swimming weather for me! My son still went in the water but I enjoyed making sandcastles on the beach. The best time for beach weather is August.

Cabot Trail. Cape Breton. Nova Scotia. Secret Beach. Family Vacation.

Whale Watching on the Cabot Trail:

On our day doing the trail itself we went whale watching. We went with guaranteedwhales.com and absolutely it! We saw at least 6 whales and my son (who at the time didn’t really understand the whales) thought that going on a boat was the coolest thing he had ever done! Book in advance, especially during the peak months, it gets busy!

Whale Watching Cape Breton Nova Scotia

Golf in Cape Breton Nova Scotia:

Obviously, this activity is less kid-friendly, unless you have older kids who like to golf! We were fortunate to be able to bring our babysitter on the trip, and spent one afternoon doing “adult-only” activities. The Cabot Links golf course is certainly one of the best in Canada. It’s sister course, Cabot Cliffs, has some of the most breathtaking views of Nova Scotia. My husband is the golfer in my family (as you might be able to tell from my swing ha!) and he absolutely loved this course and we will certainly be back again!

This golf course also has some of the nicest accomodations near the Cabot Trail. The rooms at Cabot Links look amazing!

Cabot Links Golf Cape Breton Nova Scotia

The Glenora Distillery:

This was part of our “kid-free” afternoon and was a great stop for a tour and dinner. The Glenora Distillery makes single-malt Canadian Whisky, called “Scotch” if it’s from Scotland. Learning about the history of this place was great and our tour guide was really knowledgeable and entertaining. The highlight for my husband was getting to purchase his own bottle to fill right from the barrel! We loved it!

Things we missed:

We didn’t get a chance to check these things out but have heard they are great with kids!

Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck

The Fortress of Louisbourg

How to get there:

Flying: airports in nova scotia.

There are two options for flying to Cape Breton: Syndey, Nova Scotia and Halifax, Nova Scotia both have airports with a variety of flights. I always use Skyscanner to compare prices and get price alerts, so I know I am are getting the best deal on my flight!

cabot trail travel

The first option is to fly into Sydney, Nova Scotia and rent a car from there . These flights are harder to get and the rental car selection isn’t as large. However, it is convenient if you can get a flight that works because the drive from Sydney to the entrance of the Cabot Trail is only about 2 hours.

The second is to fly into Halifax, Nova Scotia and rent a car from there . This is what we did as there were more options this way for flights. The drive from Halifax to Cape Breton island is about 3 hours and the drive from Halifax to the entrance of the Cabot Trail is about 4.5 hours.

Driving to the Cabot Trail:

If you live on the East Coast, driving to Cape Breton Nova Scotia is an option. For Canadians, the drive through Quebec is beautiful and there are lots of great stops on the way.

Example drive times:

Toronto to Cape Breton: 19 hours

Montreal to Cape Breton: 14 hours

Boston to Cape Breton: 13 hours

Weather in Cape Breton Nova Scotia:

The peak time to go with the best weather is definitely July and August. August is the most reliable month for warm weather. We went in August and the locals joked that summer had ‘just begun’ and was coming to an end soon. Our days were hot enough to wear tank tops and short sleeves but not so hot that we felt like we couldn’t function. The ocean was way too cold for me, even at the warmest time of the year!  Fall is also a nice time to travel to see the leaves change on the Cabot Trail. Keep in mind that in the off-season many of the restaurants, cafes, and even lodgings are closed.

What to pack:

cabot trail travel

  • What to pack for the beach with kids
  • Toddler Travel Packing
  • Baby Travel Packing

Hope you have enjoyed my guide on Cape Breton Nova Scotia with kids. The Cabot Trail is absolutely a must see and should be on everyone’s bucket list! Would love to hear about your favorite spots on the island for our next trip back. Drop me a line in the comments and let me know!

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cabot trail travel

Cabot Trail: How To Plan A Road Trip On Nova Scotia's Most Beautiful Island Roadway

The Cabot Trail is one of the world's most scenic drives, here's what you can do, and where to stay, if you're planning a weekend there or more.

The Cabot Trail is located on the island of Cape Breton in stunning Nova Scotia . This winding road spans roughly 186 miles and encompasses the entire northern half of the island. Visitors to Cape Breton can explore the trail in a number of ways, with the two most popular options being by car and by foot (hiking). While it might seem like a lot to hike, there are plenty of ways to break up the journey, including multi-day tours and guided hikes.

Alternatively, driving allows visitors to explore the island of their own volition, making any stops they want along the way. There are pros and cons to both, and neither is the best way to explore the trail - just another option to see an absolutely stunning island route! Here are some helpful tips for those considering one or the other, or maybe even both.

Driving The Cabot Trail

Echoing the oceanside coastline comparable to that of Maine , Breton Island offers seaside views with dramatic cliffsides that one could only dream of. The island itself is home to more things than could fit in a single week, so for those looking to get the most out of their island activities, driving is definitely the way to go. The trail itself can be driven in one day but the question remains - why would anyone want to do it in a day? There's so much to see and do that most suggest reserving at least five days, preferably seven, in order to see all that it has to offer. If nothing else, the trail should be driven in no less than three days, which could make it a perfect weekend trip, as well.

There are literally  hundreds  of things to do on Breton Island at any one time, but here are some to consider factoring into a road trip.

  • Culinary Delights.  Cape Breton is known for its fresh seafood, specifically, its shellfish. The number of restaurants that road trippers can stop at along the Cabot Trail is almost overwhelming, and any one of them is bound to have a fresh catch of the day. Visitors can also opt to follow the Good Cheer Trail , which will appease the tastebuds of those who appreciate a good whiskey or rum that's made right on Cape Breton Island.
  • Take in the local culture.  Cape Breton Island is known for its rich history and culture, specifically, that of the Mi’kmaq peoples, the Acadians, and the Gaelic peoples. In fact, Cape Breton is often called the 'Celtic Heart of North America.' Visitors can listen to stories passed down through generations by Mi'kmaq leaders, learn about the fishing communities started by the early Acadians, or learn Gaelic at a cultural center.
  • Relive Breton Island History . The entire island is alive with 17th-century history, at least, when it comes to cannon fire is concerned. Visitors have the chance to fire an authentic cannon at one of four National Historic Sites. The Cape Breton Highlands are home to Gaelic tradition, and it's easy to factor in one of these stops from the Cabot Trail.
  • Cape Breton Festivals.  Much of the island's culture takes center stage in its festivals, which happen year-round. Those who visit the Highland Village will be treated to traditional Gaelic customs, with many festivals celebrating Gaelic history.

Where To Stay Along The Way

Since the Cabot Trail snakes its way around a majority of the island, it's easy enough to find good accommodations depending on a variety of budgets. Those who choose to visit Highlands National Park can also opt to spend the night at a campsite there, making the visit very affordable.

Rates are in CAN and may differ when converted to USD. 

Where To Stay In Cheticamp

  • Auberge Bay Wind Suites / $149/night
  • Maison Fiset House Inn / Contact for rates

Best Places To Camp In Highlands National Park

The following include flush toilets, shower, oTENTiks - so minimal camping gear is needed. The average rate is $33/night with an $11 reservation fee, plus a $16 daily admission fee for two adults.

  • Ingonish Beach

Where To Stay In Pleasant Bay

  • HI-Hostel / Call for pricing and reservations
  • Mountain View Motel & Cottages / $84/night
  • True North Destinations / Starting at $250/night

Where To Stay In Meat Cove

  • Meat Cove Campground (scenic cliffside views, see above campground pricing)
  • Blue Bayou / Starting at $158/night

Where To Stay In Ingonish

  • Keltic Lodge at the Highlands / Starting at $339/night, rates dependent on room option
  • 20 Acre Woods Bed and Breakfast /  $102/night
  • Cabot Shores (wilderness resort and retreat center) / $115/night

Where To Stay In Baddeck

Baddeck is often where travelers will begin or end a trip around the Cabot Trail, so this is a good place to book a starting location or a place to book a final overnight stay.

  • Inverary Resort and Spa / Starting at $128/night
  • Telegraph House / $102/night

Next:  This Nova Scotia Island Is Free To Explore, But Not For The Faint-Hearted

IMAGES

  1. Travel the Cabot Trail

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  2. Travel the Cabot Trail

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  3. Cabot Trail travel

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  4. 7 Day Itinerary on the Cabot Trail

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  5. The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

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  6. Take a Scenic Drive Along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

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VIDEO

  1. Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

  2. East Coast of Cabot Trail

  3. Bluenose II sail past Cape Smokey, Nova Scotia

  4. Cabot Trail Nova Scotia Motorcycle Roadtrip

  5. The Cabot Trail

  6. Cap Le Moine, Cape Breton, NS

COMMENTS

  1. Driving Tips for the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island

    The Cabot Trail is mainly a scenic drive. Choose the best weather days available to make this trip. This is easy if you plan to drive the loop in one day, but becomes more difficult if you are spending a couple of days on the Trail. Gas stations are few and far between on the Cabot Trail. Gas up before you start driving.

  2. Explore the Cabot Trail

    Experience the natural beauty of the Cape Breton Highlands as you drive the famous Cabot Trail. This 298 km (186 mi) highway weaves through The Cape Breton Highlands National Park, rewarding travellers with spectacular valley and coastal views all along the way. Looking for more ways to explore? Hike and camp within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, play a round of golf at Highlands ...

  3. Ultimate Cabot Trail Guide (+23 Epic Things to Do)

    23 Things to Do on the Cabot Trail. #1 - Eat your Weight in Seafood. #2 - Hike or Ski Cape Smokey. #3 - Stop to Eat Pannekoek at this Local Favorite. #4 - Play a Round of Golf at Highland Links. #5 - Enjoy a Drink and Local Music at Keltic Lodge Highlands Sitting Room. #6 - Enjoy a Lobster Roll Picnic by the Turquoise Water at ...

  4. The Ultimate Cabot Trail Itinerary: Cape Breton Road Trip

    The Cabot Trail is a scenic driving route on the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and considered one of the most beautiful road trips in North America. Cape Breton is the large island in the northeast of Nova Scotia, home to 18% of the province's land and 14% of the population. Cape Breton is known for being a slow-paced and beautiful ...

  5. Cabot Trail

    The Cabot Trail makes a 185-mile (298-kilometer) loop around a sizeable chunk of the island, passing through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park at its northernmost point. The Cabot Trail loops in either direction, starting from Baddeck or the Trans Canada Highway, this will give you time for some stops. It is best to have at least 5-7 days ...

  6. Ultimate Cabot Trail 2 Day Itinerary (Hikes + Highlights)

    The Cabot Trail in scenic Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia is a world-famous road trip and destination for the avid outdoorsman. ... Stay up to date with my latest adventures and travel guides. Reader Interactions. Comments. Josee says. November 19, 2021 at 10:11 pm. Merci pour votre billet, j'ai adoré. Cela va m'aider à préparer mon ...

  7. 5 Day Cabot Trail Itinerary on Cape Breton Island

    Summary: Cabot Trail itinerary for 5 days on Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton Island itinerary summary: Day 1: Drive to Baddeck, explore the Alexander Graham Bell museum and enjoy a lobster dinner. Day 2: Drive to Ingonish (90 mins) with stops along the way to kayak, shop and learn about Gaelic culture. Day 3: Explore the lakes, waterfalls and ...

  8. 7 Day Itinerary on the Cabot Trail

    Sydney to Baddeck - 91 km. Start your road trip with a quick drive from Sydney to Baddeck. Baddeck is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, amazing restaurants, and Uisge Ban Provincial Park. Be sure to get outside and enjoy this easy 2 km hike to one of Cape Breton's beautiful waterfalls.

  9. Cabot Trail

    The Cabot Trail is 298 kilometers long and technically you could drive it in under 5 hours, if you drove non-stop. However, it wouldn't be much fun. To have an enjoyable trip, eat some good food, stop at a few gift shops, lookoffs and short hikes, you need an absolute minimum of one full day.

  10. The Ultimate Guide to the Cabot Trail: Nova Scotia's Scenic Road Trip

    This scenic road trip is not just a drive along the coast, but a voyage into the soul of Maritime Canada. Winding through the highlands of Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is a 298-kilometer loop that offers some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in North America. Known for its steep cliffs, deep valleys, and panoramic ocean views ...

  11. Ultimate Cabot Trail Road Trip Itinerary, Cape Breton Island, Nova

    It takes 4-5 hours to drive the Cabot Trail if you wanted to do the entire loop in one day. The Cabot Trail is about 300 km (185 miles) and loaded with scenic viewpoints, so it's not one you'd want to rush. For the full Cabot Trail experience, you should set aside 3-5 days or plan to spend at minimum an entire day.

  12. The Best Way to Travel the Cabot Trail

    You've asked... so WE'VE asked our Travel Counsellors at each of the six Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centres and our Contact Centre what their recommendations are to experience the best of Cape Breton Island's famous Cabot Trail. We've compiled their suggestions below to help you plan your trip around the Cabot Trail.

  13. 22 Incredible Stops on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia

    The Cabot Trail is one of Canada's ultimate scenic highways. Located on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, the Cabot Trail is a 298 km (185 miles) scenic drive through Cape Breton Highland's National Park and the Atlantic Coast. ... Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend: Allianz - Occasional Travelers.

  14. A Perfect Cabot Trail Itinerary in Cape Breton Nova Scotia

    Cape Breton/Cabot Trail One Week Itinerary. If you've got a week to explore, here's a sample Halifax to Cape Breton road trip itinerary: Day 1: Leave Halifax for Inverness, stay overnight in Inverness. Day 2: Explore Inverness in the morning, Depart for Cheticamp in the afternoon (1 hr drive), stay overnight.

  15. The Ultimate Guide for Exploring the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton

    The Cabot Trail is a scenic roadway 298km (or 186 miles) long that circles around the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. To enter the National Park, you need to pay a fee of $7.50 a day (as of 2020). This gives you access to the park and all of the hikes! Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.

  16. 10 Things To Know About Driving The Cabot Trail

    The Cabot Trail also goes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a superb hiking destination. You could easily spend several days along the route, enjoying slow travel at its finest. Regine Poirier / Shutterstock. 4. Whale Watching. Whether you're doing the Cabot Trail in one day or several, make some time for Pleasant Bay. The tiny ...

  17. Explore the Cabot Trail

    Trip Ideas. Top 25. Explore the Cabot Trail. The natural beauty of the Cape Breton Highlands awaits as you drive the famous Cabot Trail with its spectacular valley and coastal views. Plan your trip.

  18. Things to Do on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

    What is the Cabot Trail? The Cabot Trail is a world-class Canada road trip that consists of a 298-kilometre (185 miles) loop around the northern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Most of the Cabot Trail lies within the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which means you will need a parks Canada pass. Parks passes can be purchased here.

  19. The Ultimate Guide to Driving Cabot Trail in Canada

    The Cabot Trail is a magnificent scenic road located in the northern part of Victoria and Inverness Counties on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Measuring a total of over 300 kilometers in length, it winds its way along the northern tip of the island and offers breathtaking views of the Cape Breton Highlands. ... Travel & Leisure ...

  20. Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Tourism

    Travel Cape Breton Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia One of the the World's Best Adventures. Facebook; Close to 300 km of unforgettable scenery. To enjoy the trip, make sure sure plan for 3-5 days to ensure that you can visit all the sites along the way.

  21. Things to Do on the Top of the Island

    At the Top of the Island, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, we boast the northernmost points in Nova Scotia. Here you can discover the sheer beauty of some of the most rugged and untouched lands in the province as you take in the stunning terrain and churning ocean waves. Throw on your hiking boots and traverse alongside the cliffs and ...

  22. The Ultimate Guide to the Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Nova Scotia (with

    Hiking is an absolute must on the Cabot Trail. The most popular hike is The Skyline Trail and this iconic hike is perfect for young children. The majority of the trail is stroller friendly. It is only for the last 15 minutes of the trail (which is the part with the breathtaking views) that it is not stroller friendly.

  23. Cabot Trail: How To Plan A Road Trip On Nova Scotia's Most ...

    The Cabot Trail is located on the island of Cape Breton in stunning Nova Scotia. This winding road spans roughly 186 miles and encompasses the entire northern half of the island. Visitors to Cape Breton can explore the trail in a number of ways, with the two most popular options being by car and by foot (hiking).

  24. Cabot Trail

    The Cabot Trail is a scenic highway on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. It is a 298 km (185 mi) loop around the northern tip of the island, passing along and through the Cape Breton Highlands and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.. It is named after the explorer John Cabot who landed in Atlantic Canada in 1497, although modern historians agree his landfall likely took place in ...