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Cape Breton Island lies off the coast of Nova Scotia. Wonderfully scenic, this island is comprised of verdant forestland, pristine lakes, hills, valleys, mountains and a rocky shoreline. With so much to see, it’s not surprising that Cape Breton Island attracts many visitors looking for outdoor adventure, along with those looking for old cultural traditions.
37kms southeast of Sydney (the largest town on the island) is the Fortress of Louisbourg, a National Historical park. The fort’s stone walls enclose more than four dozen restored buildings, remnants of a once-busy fortress town set beneath a soaring church spire. The town dates back to the mid-18th century and makes for an intriguing visit.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park stretches all the way from the east to the west of the island. This gigantic park offers fabulous views of the coast, wooded valleys and mountains. Cabot Trail is a 300-km loop encompassing the area of the park; the drive around this trail is spectacular and should not be missed.
Some of the lakes on Cape Breton Island are so clean you wouldn’t mind drinking the water (although it’s not advisable). The Bras d'Or Lakes is a salt water lake system that runs through the island from East Bay to West Bay.
Scottish highlanders settled on Cape Breton in the late 18th century and brought with them a strong sense of cultural tradition. Today, the island is still imbued with these traditions, and local art and music reflects them. The Celtic Colours music festival, held in early October, features great local Celtic performances which are held all across Cape Breton Island.
To get to Cape Breton Island involves a 300-km drive from Halifax, before crossing the Canso Causeway. The quickest way to the island is Route 102 to Truro and Route 104 to the causeway. The main highway on the island is Route 105 (the Trans-Canada). VIA Rail operates a service to Atlantic Canada with stops in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, en route to Montréal, Québec. Halifax International Airport is the Atlantic Canadian destination for all flights.