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Cape Breton Road Trip

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810.3 miles: 16 hours, 51 minutes
This nearly 800-mile road trip explores one of Canada’s smallest provinces (only Prince Edward Island covers less territory). Nova Scotia, however, boasts an outsize abundance of natural beauty, from the spectacular coastline scenery of Cape Breton Island to rural countryside that’s the spitting image of Scotland. Allow plenty of time for photo stops along the way.
1
Halifax to Baddeck
248.7 miles: 4 hours, 20 minutes
In 1621 Scottish King James VI granted the territory that became Nova Scotia (Latin for “New Scotland”). On almost any summer Sunday—and summer is the best season to take this road trip—Nova Scotians of Scottish descent gather together for a ceilidh (kay-lee), or party. You just might hear some traditional fiddle music while winding your way through the countryside.
2
Baddeck to Chéticamp
130.7 miles: 3 hours, 14 minutes
The Cabot Trail encircles magnificently scenic Cape Breton Island, which also is the location of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. One of Canada’s most famous scenic drives, this loop road is a visual feast of spectacular ocean views, lush green valleys and impossibly picturesque fishing villages. Plan your itinerary in advance to get the most out of the journey.
3
Chéticamp to Louisbourg
138.5 miles: 3 hours, 4 minutes
More scenic splendor comes courtesy of Bras d’Or (Bra-door) Lake, actually an inland sea connected to the North Atlantic Ocean by two channels. This recreational boating paradise offers one panoramic vista after another. Near the town of Louisbourg, Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site is an impressive reconstruction of a massive 18th-century fortification.
4
Louisbourg to Sherbrooke
167.4 miles: 3 hours, 18 minutes
After leaving Louisbourg the route follows the southern shoreline of Bras d’Or Lake, which underscores the fact that at no point in Nova Scotia are you more than some 56 kilometres (35 miles) from a body of water, whether it be lake, bay or ocean. Little Port Hawkesbury, which bills itself as “Cape Breton’s front porch,” is one of Canada’s major shipping centers.
5
Sherbrooke to Halifax
125.0 miles: 2 hours, 53 minutes
Nova Scotia's craggy southern coast fronts the open Atlantic. Pocked with coves and natural harbors and sprinkled with offshore islands, it’s a rich marine life environment and thus has long provided small fishing villages with an economic livelihood. End your Nova Scotia adventure in cosmopolitan Halifax, where several outstanding festivals take place in summer.