Province/Territory: Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island: Celtic Splendour

  • 10311 sq km island
  • 1775 founding of Judique, first permanent settlement.
  • 05 Mi'kmaq reserves

Visit historic Louisbourg, hear the fiddle and bagpipes at a ceilidh, whale-watch in Pleasant Bay, sail on salty Bras d’Or Lake or cross country ski beside the Cabot Trail. Go sea kayaking, cycling or ride a motorcycle from one small, welcoming community to another. Immerse yourself in the local culture of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island at the Celtic Colours International Festival each autumn, step-dance at a Gaelic kitchen party (ceilidh), and hike when the island is ablaze with brilliant orange, red and gold leaves. Cape Breton's cultural mosaic and outdoor adventure opportunities are rich in every season.

Outdoor adventure

  • Step out of the car and power your way for seven days by sea kayak, cycle and on foot around an island named the most beautiful in Canada.
  • Hike the scenic Cabot Trail in autumn, when the island is ablaze in brilliant orange, red and gold leaves.
  • Go whale-watching in Pleasant Bay, and watch pilot, humpback, minke and fin whales playing in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Catch a fresh breeze in your sails on salty Bras d’Or Lake or catch your own supper with a lobster fisherman.

Road trips & Train travel

  • Rent your own Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle and cruise the back roads with quaint historic villages and breathtaking seascapes.
  • Along the Cabot Trail, catch magnificent views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
  • Explore Acadian heritage and cuisine on the Fleur-de-lis and Marconi trails at picturesque seaside villages and tuck into delicious regional fare like pâté à la viande (meat pie).
  • Visit Canada’s only distillery of single-malt whisky on the Ceilidh Trail.
  • On the Bras d’Or Lake Scenic Drive, watch the sun set over an inland saltwater sea.

Arts & Culture

  • Visit the historic Fortress of Louisbourg, a French town of the 1700s and North America’s largest historic reconstruction for an immersion in Cape Breton's storied past.
  • Delve into the past underground at the Miners’ Museum in Glace Bay.
  • In Baddeck, discover some of the secrets of the inventor of the telephone, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.
  • Visit the Red Shoe Pub, owned by the famous singing Rankin family to enjoy traditional Maritime music.
  • Tour the Marconi National Historic Site of Canada to learn how Guglielmo Marconi, the Wizard of Wirelessearn, sent the first messages across the Atlantic using electromagnetic waves instead of wires.

Events & Festivals

  • Immerse yourself in the local culture of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island at the Celtic Colours International Festival each autumn.
  • Thrill to the sounds of the fiddle and the bagpipes at an authentic ceilidh, a Gaelic kitchen party, with warm, welcoming Cape Bretoners.
  • Enjoy a classic Celtic Tearoom Ceilidh at the the Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts.

Weather

  • Spring temperatures range from 6°C in early April up to 20°C in mid-June. Summer's pleasant temperatures rarely get too hot, ranging from 18°C to 25°C - occasionally reaching 30°C. Autumn temperatures start mild in September going from 20°C to 6°C in early November. Winters are moderately cold with temperatures ranging from a low of -4°C to 10°C.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Quick facts

Area: 10,311 square kilometres
Largest City: Sydney
Total Population: 135,974
Official Languages: French & English
Provincial Motto: “Canada's Ocean Playground"

When to go
  • Come in summer to enjoy hiking in the Cape Breton Highlands, or fishing - either in fresh water lakes or in the ocean for a fascinating contrast of angling experiences.
  • Enjoy the stunning show of colours when the leaves blaze yellow, orange and red in the autumn.
  • In winter, strap on your snowshoes and hike some of the most beautiful countryside in Canada.
  • Plan your trip around festivals and events on the island.
Getting Here
Getting around
  • Buses and taxis are available.
  • Find general information on getting around Cape Breton Island or scenic drives to consider.
  • Find specific information on traveling the Cabot Trail.