The Cabot Trail, which winds along the coast of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, is often included on the list of the world's most scenic drives—and for good reason. This highway, hugging the rocky coast, winds past beautiful villages, soaring highlands, and epic golf courses that would look right at home in Scotland. Whether you're traveling by bike, foot, kayak, car rental, or a combination of these, touring the Cabot Trail Nova Scotia is an amazing and scenic place to visit in Nova Scotia.
This most scenic of byways covers 185 miles along the northern coast of the Cape Breton Island, taking its name from John Cabot. The important figure in coastal Canada's history arrived shortly after the time of Columbus. The Italian explorer, sailing for the English Crown, was the first European explorer after the Vikings to arrive on the coast. When today's visitors spend time touring the Cabot Trail Nova Scotia, they'll see some of the same views that greeted the explorer. Of course, today's explorers have all of the modern comforts to make their vacations comfortable and memorable.
One of the best places to start exploring is the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, located along the northern portion of the trail. The park is open all year, but the majority of things to do are available in the summer. This crown jewel of the Cabot Trail offers two visitor centers in Chéticamp and Ingonish where friendly park rangers can fill you in about the best places to go hiking, watch wildlife, and soak in the views. The wide-open spaces are also conducive to geocaching and picnicking, while the water areas set the stage for swimming and fishing adventures. The park is also an option for Cabot Trail accommodations with several campgrounds located in its most scenic areas.
Outside of the park, the Cabot Trail will pique your interest. If you're the type who likes life in the slow lane, a drive along the trail or maybe one of the guided whale watching cruises is a perfect thing to do. If golf is your ideal choice for recreation, you'll be pleased with the array of scenic courses. The Bell Bay Golf Club offers an 18-hole championship course designed by Thomas McBroom; the course overlooks the Bras d'Or Lakes on the center of the island. Active types can experience the scenery up close from a bicycle or hiking trail, especially during the summer. Off land, rafting and kayaking are popular activities along the Cabot Trail. Local outfitters can equip you with everything you need, including gear and guides.
There's more to the trail than the great outdoors. Two museums along the Cabot Trail reflect the heart and heritage of the region. The North Highlands Community Museum is located at the tip of Cape Breton Island, close to Cabot Trail accommodations and shopping. As you explore the exhibits, you'll have the chance to meet the people who came to the island and made a life as lighthouse keepers, fishermen, and other useful professions. The boat shed is staffed by volunteers who work to keep the trades of the past alive, and there is a nearby garden as well. The Cabot Trail also winds by the North Highlands Culture Centre, where exhibits and live music keep the spirit of the community alive and the onsite restaurant serves traditional cuisine.
No matter what time of year you choose to tour the Cabot Trail Nova Scotia, you'll be treated to amazing views. As a coastal location, the Cabot Trail is shielded from the dramatic changes in the weather, although you'll find a different view in every season. When the autumn leaves are blazing bright, the Cabot Trail accommodations tend to fill up quickly. So if you're planning to visit in September and October, be sure to make your reservations nice and early.