I honestly can’t believe it took me 5 years of living in Nova Scotia to visit The Cabot Trail. It’s one of the most stunning places in Nova Scotia (I would even say all of Canada) and steeped with hundreds of years of history. The Cabot Trail is located on Cape Breton, an island just off the coast of Nova Scotia. It’s easily accessible by the Canso Causeway, about a 5 hour drive from the biggest city in the province, Halifax.
We stayed in Baddeck, which is close to the start of the Cabot Trail. I’d recommend starting on that end of the trail, because then you’ll be driving on the side of the road closest to the water. I’d recommend staying in Baddeck, as there were plenty of things to do while still maintaining that Cape Breton charm. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, made Baddeck his Summer home and developed many inventions in the Baddeck area. Check out the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site if you’re interested in learning more about his life and inventions. We stayed at the Silver Dart Lodge, which we quite enjoyed. The onsite restaurant, McCurdy’s, was also lovely and offered a lot of great seafood options. If you’re looking for somewhere to grab breakfast, I’d recommend a local bakery called The High Wheeler (they have amazing scones!). We also checked out one of the local Ceilidhs (a gathering with classic Cape Breton fiddle music).
I was in Cape Breton in early October, and it was surprisingly packed. There were masses of American tourists on guided bus tours that would take over restaurants or attractions. I can’t imagine how busy it would be in the peak of Summer! Most things in the area shut down after Canadian Thanksgiving, so I’d really only recommend visiting from late May – early October.
On our 2nd day in Cape Breton, we ventured onto the Cabot Trail. Make sure you have a good map before you leave because cell service is not widely available on the trail. Most hotels will have maps that point out local shops and restaurants along the trail. Our first stop was at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, a resort and golf course located on top of a cliff. We walked around the lodge and popped into the restaurant. We didn’t have time to stop, but it looks like it would be a delightful place for a meal. From there, we checked out Ingonish Beach, which we had all to ourselves.
We continued our drive around the Cabot Trail and made some stops at some local shops. One of our favourites was Cabotto Chocolates, which makes fresh chocolates. They also have an adorable West Highland Terrier that greets all of their guests. We stopped at a The Rusty Anchor restaurant in Pleasant Bay for some seafood chowder. The restaurant has a large patio with a great view of the ocean; unfortunately it was quite cold and rainy so we took shelter inside.
One of the most photographed places on The Cabot Trail is the Skyline Trail, a 8km foot path that leads to some spectacular views. We didn’t have the time (or the footwear) to do the trail. There are some great vistas with parking so you can get your classic Cabot Trail shot.
We continued to drive through Cheticamp, one of the French settlements along the Trail. You’ll notice that the Acadian flag is quite prominent in these French areas. We made our next stop near Whale Cove, where we stopped near a local cemetery to take some photos from the cliffs. This area is much less touristy and we basically had it all to ourselves.
If you need more ideas for your next trip to The Maritimes, you can read my Maritime Bucket List. Is there anything else I should add to my list?