How To Plan A Road Trip On Nova Scotia’s Most Beautiful Island Roadway Leave a comment


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.

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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.

  • Cheticamp
  • Broad Cove
  • 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

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