Scenic Travelways

Learn about each of the six scenic travel regions on Cape Breton Island .

Cape Breton Island is divided into six main travel regions:

1. The Bras d’Or Lakes Scenic Drive

The Bras d’Or Lakes – Some of the finest sailing and boating in the world!

Welcome to Cape Breton’s rolling heartland, where the highlands meet the lowlands along the shores of the island’s beautiful inland sea – the Bras d’Or Lakes.

marblemtnThe Bras d’Or Lakes Scenic Drive circles the lake along shoreline roads that offer an ever-changing panorama of woodlands, farms and villages, and are ideal for walking, biking and birdwatching. The region is a major nesting area for bald eagles, and these impressive birds can often be seen soaring aloft or perched on shoreline trees.

There’s something new around every corner along this route.  At Marble Mountain Museum you can learn about marble quarrying in the late 1800s, and the Orangedale Railway Station Museum offers a special look at late 19th-century trains and train travel. At St. Peter’s sail the historic St. Peter’s Canal to the beautiful Bras d’Or Lakes.

highlandvillExperience the daily life of the early Scottish settlers at the Nova Scotia Highland Village Museum.

Known for its gentle, fog-free waters, beautiful anchorages, and hundreds of coves and islands, the Lake are an international cruising destination, attracting hundreds of boating enthusiasts every year. Visitors who want to get out on the water will find numerous boat tours available, from seabird tours and ecological sailing tours to elegant cruises.

The Bras d’Or Lakes’ unique tidal waters create a rich ecosystem that supports a dazzling array of wildlife. Hundreds of pairs of bald eagles nest along the lake shore and in the surrounding countryside. White-tailed deer, osprey, fox, porcupines and raccoons are also frequently seen.

The Bras d’Or Lakes are a traditional home of Nova Scotia’s native Mi’kmaq, and the Mi’kmaq language and culture are still evident today in the four reserves along its shores: Whycocomagh, Eskasoni (the largest reserve in the province), Wagmatcook, and Chapel Island in St. Peter’s inlet. Wagmatcook First Nation has a Mi’kmaq cultural and heritage centre, with a museum, exhibits, craft shop and restaurant.

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2. The Cabot Trail

Discover why it has been named “Most Scenic Drive” & “World’s Greatest Road Trip”myown

Besides being treated to stunning rugged coastal scenery with interludes of peaceful green rolling hills along this route, you can also enjoy swimming at the many sandy beaches, golf at 3 world class courses, explore the Cape Breton Highlands’ hiking trails, take a whale watching tour, fish for salmon, sea kayak, and experience both Acadian and Gaelic culture. The Cabot Trail is a 185 mile circular drive that loops around the northern part of Cape Breton Island. Most choose to begin this not-to-be-missed drive in the pretty village of Baddeck where Alexander Graham Bell chose to build his summer estate ‘Beinn Bhreagh’ Gaelic for ‘beautiful mountain’. Along your way you’ll experience the serene pastoral Margaree River Valley  meandering alongside this world famous salmon river through rolling fields dotted with century-old wood-frame farmhouses, many still occupied by the descendants of the hearty Gaelic-speaking Scots who first settled these lands so reminiscent of their distant highland homeland. margareeharbThe sparkling blue waters of  the Gulf of St. Lawrence provide many delightful ocean vistas along the stretches between Margaree Harbour and the Acadian village of Cheticamp where you can sample authentic Acadian cuisine and stroll the picturesque fishing harbour. Then it’s on and up into the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and Pleasant Bay (home to the Whale Interpretive Centre). Discover the ‘Lone Shieling’ a thatched rood Scottish crofters’ dwelling hiding in the shelter of a 350 year old virgin forest, one of the largest old growth hardwood forests in the Maritimes.

Two hikes you won’t want to miss on this journey are the ‘Skyline Trail’ on the Gulf side of the island, and ‘Middle Head’ on the Atlantic side at Ingonish where you’ll also find gorgeous sandy beaches.
The Cabot Trail also boasts, not one, but three great golf courses, Bell Bay in Baddeck; Le Portage in Cheticamp; and Highlands Links in Ingonish.

3. The Ceilidh Trail

Captivating Cultural Charisma!

The Ceilidh (pronounced Kay’-Lee) Trail is a pleasant coastal drive along Route 19 on ‘the sunset side of Cape Breton’ beginning where the Canso Causeway introduces you to Cape Breton Island and journeys northward ending at Margaree Harbour, where it meets up with the Cabot Trail.

natalie-macmaster‘Ceilidh’ is the Gaelic word for a folk music and storytelling party… a social event with singing and dancing to traditional Scottish or Irish music and storytelling. This scenic route is appropriately named since the area is steeped in Gaelic culture and music and has produced such well-known musicians as Natalie MacMaster (from Creignish), Ashley MacIsaac (from Troy), and the Rankin Family (from Mabou). If Celtic music is your passion or you’d like to learn about its influence on Cape Breton Island, don’t miss a lunchtime ceilidh at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in the little village of Judique.

SightPointThe area has its share of stunning scenery – rugged coastline, sparkling bays and inlets, green rolling hills as it follows the shoreline for 107 km (67 mi.) Hikers – for jaw-dropping coastal vistas, try the Sight Point Trail Head that starts at Broad Cove Banks on the outskirts of Inverness Village and continues on to Port Ban and Sight Point. Did we mention some of the best sandy swimming beaches on the island including Port Hood beach, West Mabou beach, Whale Cove beach and the beach at Margaree Harbour? These beaches are lapped by the ‘warmest waters north of the Carolinas’, the Northumberland Strait.
cabotlinksOther activities you can enjoy along the Ceilidh Trail are: a visit to Glenora Inn & Distillery where you can take a guided distillery tour to learn how Glen Breton, Canada’s only single malt whisky, is made. Or dine at the Inn’s renowned restaurant, consistently featured in ‘Where to Eat in Canada’.
Another attraction not to be missed is the Red Shoe Pub, (owned by Cape Breton’s famous musical family, The Rankins) where they offer up ‘food for body & soul’ along with ‘lots of fine music including a fiddlers’ matinee every Sunday afternoon.’
Or, for the avid golfer, you’ll be thrilled to discover Cabot Links, ‘Canada’s only true links course’.

4. The Fleur-de-Lis Trail

300 years of history re-enacted before your eyes!

French Acadian history is the predominant influence for the historic Fleur-de-Lis scenic travelway. Beginning at the Canso Causeway and ending at Louisbourg you’ll meander through quaint fishing villages, learn the history of the making of the St. Peter’s Canal, discover the amazing 2 mile long sandy Point Michaud Beach (where you can even take a surfing lesson), visit the gallery of the world famous marine photographer W.R. MacAskill in his home town of St. Peter’s, and to top it all off immerse yourself in some of Nova Scotia’s oldest history as you interact with live animators at an 18th century fortress town at the Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site.

5. The Marconi Trail

You’ll be surprised at the history that was made along this route!

Besides the rugged coastal scenery along this drive which is perfect for birdwatching, you’ll learn some interesting history you may not have known before. For instance, the first radio waves were sent from this location across the Atlantic to England by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (thus the name ‘Marconi Trail’. As well, find out what it’s like to descend into a real coal mine at the former Ocean Deep Colliery, part of the Glace Bay Miners Museum.

Metro Cape Breton

Ocean Gateway to Scenic Cape Breton Island!

bigfiddle-emmaMetro Cape Breton encompasses a large area surrounding Sydney (Cape Breton’s only city). Nova Scotia’s official tourism site says of the capital, Sydney: “As the largest urban area on Cape Breton and the island’s historical capital, Sydney, Nova Scotia is the perfect mix of metropolitan charm and down home hospitality… the heart of Sydney is its waterfront. On a warm, summer evening it’s a great place to go for a walk, stop to listen to a busker and watch the ships in the harbour. Along the way, be sure to get your photo taken beside the world’s largest fiddle (it’s 60 ft tall!), built in recognition of Cape Breton’s musical talent.”

Activities in  this area include walking tours of historic ‘Old Sydney’ including 2 museums, ‘Cossit House’ and ‘Jost Host’, or stroll the boardwalk; discover 300-million- year-old plant fossils at the Cape Breton Fossil Discovery Centre in Sydney Mines; admire the work of over 70 Cape Breton artisans at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design in Sydney; savour ‘fresh-from-the-ocean seafood’ overlooking Sydney Harbour; learn about the culture and history of the Mi’kmaq of Membertou First Nation;