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Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia: Take a world-famous drive on the scenery-rich Cabot Trail

Rugged and secluded, Nova Scotia has developed a unique culture that bears the imprint of the French, Scottish, Irish and Native peoples that have called it home over the centuries. Its most compelling areas are accessible via the legendary Cabot Trail, which is ranked among the world’s most beautiful drives. From Baddeck’s lake life to Cheticamp’s Acadian cuisine and Margaree’s Celtic performances, the fantastic culture and landscape of Cape Breton beckons.

Drive 147.3 miles, 4 hours, 7 minutes

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Baddeck

Starting Point

The Cabot Trail begins and ends in this small town, nestled on the shore of stunning Bras d’Or Lake. Start your day exploring the waters of this vast inland sea, perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles that nest in the tall lakeside trees. Alexander Graham Bell recognized the beauty of the landscape, and his residence in the town has been preserved at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

Getty Images/Design Pics RF

Getty Images/Design Pics RF

2. South Harbour

83 miles, 2 hours, 8 minutes

South Harbour boasts unrivaled views of the North Atlantic coast and some of the freshest seafood you’re likely to find. Local fishing fleets harvest ample mussels, oysters and lobster, so make sure to stop at one of the harbor eateries that specialize in shellfish—you can watch the crews unload your lunch straight from the dock. For an off-coast experience, try a day-hike to Beulach Ban Falls in the nearby Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


3. Cheticamp

46.2 miles, 1 hour, 25 minutes

Acadian culture comes alive in this bustling fishing village. Get the lay of the land by hiking the Skyline Trail, a boardwalk that winds above the Gulf of St. Lawrence and leads viewers to views of moose, bears and bald eagles. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, the restaurants in town offer traditional Acadian French-style meals suffused with the local seafood ingredients. In the summertime, end the day with a sunset excursion on a whale-watching cruise that takes you within view of the behemoths swimming offshore.


4. Margaree

18.1 miles, 34 minutes

No place is better for a peek into Cape Breton’s Celtic past. Dance to bagpipes, fiddles and drums at a “ceilidh” (rhymes with “Kelly”), a social gathering centered around Celtic music that occurs nearly every night in the bars, barns and homes of Margaree’s residents. In October, the Celtic Colours International Festival draws performers from around the world to regale visitors with the music and stories of the island’s singular traditions.