Cape Breton is breathtaking and is a ‘must visit’ location. Planning a 3 day trip to Cape Breton can be overwhelming with all the stops that you can make along the Cabot Trail and the Trans-Canada Highway. When you are packing for your trip, make sure to pack some good walking shoes, along with extra layers of clothes because the weather can change in the blink of an eye. To help you plan your visit to Cape Breton, here is an itinerary to get you started.
Day 1: Drive the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is iconic and will take you around nearly all of Cape Breton. It takes about 8 hours (185km loop) to drive the Cabot Trail, without any stops. However, most people make stops along the way.
When planning your trip, you will need to decide if you are going to drive clockwise or counter-clockwise. Clockwise is the more popular choice for many people because it does not hug the shore as close as the counter-clockwise route does. The decision is up to you.
If you are travelling the clockwise route, you should plan a stop at the Dancing Goat Café for breakfast or a mid-morning snack. They are known for their tasty, freshly made baked goods and coffee. You can also pick up some cookies for the road.
Around 40-minutes (45km) from the Dancing Goat Café up the Cabot Trail is the Enragee Point Lighthouse. You will need to take the dirt road to Cheticamp Island to get to Enragee Point and its picturesque lighthouse. Along with the lighthouse, there are also amazing views of the harbour and Cheticamp (Things to Do in Cheticamp).
A 40-minute drive (40km) from Cheticamp, in Pleasant Bay, is a great lunch stop called The Rusty Anchor. Pleasant Bay is around the halfway point on the Cabot Trail. The Rusty Anchor is known for their famous lobster rolls and homemade fish cakes. If you are not a fan of seafood, they also offer burgers, pasta, and daily specials. After lunch, you can stop by the Whale Interpretive Centre, where you can view the life-size whale models, along with a saltwater livestock tank that contains live creatures found in the whale’s environment. There are also interactive media presentations and exhibits exploring local sea life.
An hour and 45-minute drive (127km) from Pleasant Bay is Baddeck (Things to Do in Baddeck), which is a good place to stop for the night. There is the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, where you can see how the telephone and the first powered flight in Canada came to be.
Depending on what time you get to Baddeck, you may be able to take an Amoeba Sailing Tour to see the town from the harbour. The perfect way to end the day is with a dinner at a restaurant called Baddeck Lobster Suppers. You can either enjoy an all-you-can-eat meal or try something off of their main menu.
Day 2: Sydney and Louisbourg
A 53-minute drive (78km) from Baddeck is the breathtaking Sydney Waterfront. The main attractions on the Sydney Waterfront are The Big Fiddle and the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavillion. The Big Fiddle is over 60 feet tall, which makes it the biggest fiddle in the world. The Joan Harris Cruise Pavillion is a popular location for concerts, conventions, trade shows, and press conferences. You can check their website for upcoming events.
A 10-minute (6km) drive from the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion is the Cape Breton Farmer’s Market. This farmers market is open year-round from 8:30am to 1pm every Saturday. It has been a popular community hub for over the last 30 years and has an outdoor market in the summer months.The market is a great place to get both breakfast and lunch or pick up some gifts or mementos of your trip.
Around a 50-minute (49km) drive from the Cape Breton Farmers Market is the Fortress of Louisbourg, where you can travel back in time into the 18th century. During the summer, from July to September, you may feel the ground shake from the blasting cannons. You can also see how artisans created important tools for daily living in the 18th and 19th centuries. You should be prepared to spend a few hours at the Fortress of Louisbourg because it is large and there is so much to do, see, and experience.
After spending time at the Fortress of Louisbourg, head back to Sydney by driving 50 minutes (44km) to the Governors Pub & Eatery. It is located in the historic home of Sydney’s first mayor and is one of the best restaurants in Sydney,possibly in all of Cape Breton. The Governors Pub & Eatery is famous for their seafood and the local beers that they serve.
Day 3: Skyline Trail
If you head back to the Cabot Trail and go for a 2 hour and 25-minute drive from Sydney, you will find the Skyline Trail. While you can stop at the Skyline Trail when you are travelling around the Cabot Trail, the best way to experience the trail is by spending the day there. The trail will take you to cliffs overlooking the rugged coastlines and gives you an eagle’s eye view of the Cabot Trail. You may be able to spot whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the viewing decks. Make sure to bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water. You should also be sure to bring extra layers because the weather can change in just a few minutes.
Before you leave the Skyline Trail to return to your lodgings, you should take a short 2-minute drive (0.3km) to The Olive Tree. It is a casual bistro that features Mediterranean, Canadian and European flavours. They specialize in vegetarian, vegan, and pasta dishes along with artisan sandwiches that they call a ‘Sammie’. You can indulge in one of their delectable desserts to finish off your delicious meal.