From the lakes, hills and valleys of the southwest to the ripe, forested mountains of the north, CAPE BRETON ISLAND offers the most exquisite of landscapes, reaching its melodramatic conclusion along the fretted, rocky coast of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Encircling the park and some of the adjacent shore is the Cabot Trail, reckoned to be one of the most awe-inspiring drives on the continent. The Trail begins at Hwy-105 (Exit 7) before weaving its way on a scenic loop of 298km around the northern tip of the island, passing through Cape Breton Highlands and ending in Baddeck, back on Hwy-105 (see w cabottrail.com). Allow time also for a whale-watching cruise: these are big business hereabouts and they are available at almost every significant settlement from May to October when fin, pilot, humpback and minke whales congregate off the island.

Cape Breton Island is also a major locus for Scottish culture; it attracted thousands of Scottish Highlanders at the end of the eighteenth century, and many of the region’s settlements celebrate their Scots ancestry and Gaelic traditions in one way or another – museums, Highland Games and bagpipe-playing competitions.

Cape Breton’s weather is notoriously unpredictable, even in summer. The Cabot Trail is pretty miserable in mist and rain, so if possible you should build a bit of flexibility into your itinerary.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month