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From Halifax to the Cabot Trail: A 3-day Nova Scotia road trip

A group of fiddlers play traditional Nova Scotian music

From Halifax to the Cabot Trail: A 3-day Nova Scotia road trip

Can't decide between Nova Scotia's city hot spots or country sights? Experience the best of both on this three-day road trip across one of Canada's founding provinces. Get your urban fix in the lively capital of HalifaxExternal Link Title before striking out for rural Cape Breton Island and the world-famous Cabot TrailExternal Link Title.

What does the drive look like?

  • Launch your trip with a full day of discovery and dining in Halifax, where maritime history meets modern amenities and attractions.
  • Make tracks by highway and causeway to central Cape Breton Island – you’ll soon see why it was voted Best Island in CanadaExternal Link Title in Travel & Leisure’s 2018 World’s Best Awards.
  • Spend a day exploring the Cabot Trail loop, sampling classic Cape Breton hospitality along the way. Your jaw will drop – for real – at the sight of this sweeping cliff-and-forest-cloaked coastline. Which is why you’ll be plotting your return trip on the drive back to Halifax.

Experience one of the world’s top road trips with this three-day itinerary as a guide. Tip: if you’ve got an additional day or three, seriously consider extending your stay.

A lobster dinner

Day 1: Halifax

Your starting point

Must-stops along the way

You won't need your car today. Instead, walk your way around this foot-friendly port city to find out why it was named a Top Destination on the RiseExternal Link Title in TripAdvisor's 2018 Travelers' Choice Awards.


Time your trip with the Savour Food & Wine FestivalExternal Link Title, Halifax Burger WeekExternal Link Title, or Halifax Oyster FestivalExternal Link Title. Or take your pick from a range of restaurants serving up fresh, local, and seasonal fare.

  • EdnaExternal Link Title: Short for Eat Drink Nourish Always, Edna ranked fourth in Curated MagazineExternal Link Title's 25 Best Places to Eat (2018). Come taste for yourself why locals regularly line up for dinners and brunch at this compact North End diner. Maybe it's the fresh oyster, cheese, and charcuterie board, or the N.S. lobster roll with dill cr?me fraiche?
  • The Brooklyn WarehouseExternal Link Title: Now in its 11th year, this cozy eatery in the city's West End continues to draw locals and tourists alike to its Nova-Scotia-forward dishes and drinks. Evolving chalkboard menus beckon with items like local grass-fed beef brisket and the PigFish Chowder (Nova Scotia scallops and confit pork belly), while the bar serves up local craft beers and bottles of wine with only a $15 markup. Cheers!
  • The Bicycle ThiefExternal Link Title: Come for the waterfront views, stay for the Italian-inspired fare at this lively waterfront room and patio. Watch ferries ply the harbor over plates of Atlantic halibut with spiked Orange Marmalata lacquer, fettuccine all'aragosta (Nova Scotia lobster), or fall-off-the-bone roasted beef short rib al Barolo.
  • DeeDee's Ice CreamExternal Link Title: Savor scoops of small-batch ice cream - made from local dairy milk and cream - at this much-loved family-run shop. Tempting flavors include Banana Cardamom, Mexican Chocolate, and Orange Star Anise. But you might want to put back a burrito (meat or veggie) or quesadilla first - also on the menu.

End your day

Rest those street-weary feet in a historic hotel, seaside B&B, or modern getaway. After all, the country is calling and you want to be fresh.

Two pairs of feet dangling off the dock into the water

Day 2: Baddeck

Total drive time: 3.5 hours

Must-stops along the way

Start your engine for today's northeast jaunt to BaddeckExternal Link Title in mid Cape Breton Island. Follow Highway 104 to the mile-long Canso CausewayExternal Link Title before hanging left onto Highway 105.


It's easy to live like a locavore here, where menus and markets brim with bounty from both land and sea.

  • The Freight ShedExternal Link Title: Dig into scallops, crab cakes, lobster rolls, peppercorn steak, and locally famous pancakes, all served up in a minimalist waterside room with wood rafter ceiling and dockside views.
  • The Bite HouseExternal Link Title: Sit down to carefully crafted seasonal plates at this airy 12-seat restaurant tucked inside a century-old farmhouse. Fetching rave reviewsExternal Link Title from the New York Times and more, chef Bryan Picard's monthly nine-course set menus vary with crab, halibut, Angus beef and lamb - plus vegetables, herbs, and flowers plucked fresh from the field. (Reservations for 2019 open January 5 at midnight.)
  • Big Spruce BrewingExternal Link Title: Pop in for a pint of Kitchen Party Pale Ale and leave with a growler of Ready Yer Knot Regatta Red Ale at this on-farm brewery just 8 miles west of Baddeck in Nyanza.

End your day

Check into a homey inn or cheery guest house - you're going to need a full night's sleep for tomorrow's Cabot Trail adventures.

Two hikers descend the stairs on the Cabot Trail

Day 3: Ch?ticamp

Total drive time: 3 hours

Called the beginning and the end of the 185-mile Cabot Trail loop, Baddeck is your perfect jumping-off point for this iconic Canadian drive. Named after Italian explorer John Cabot, who landed on these shores in 1497, the winding coastal route climbs from sea-swept beaches and sleepy fishing villages to forested slopes and cliff-tops.

Sure, you can get to Ch?ticamp in three hours straight, but you'll want to allow a full day for stops. Check your brakes - sharp curves and steep grades ahead - and fuel up. Then travel counter-clockwise (shown here) to catch outside-lane and sunset views, or clockwise to see the sights from a different angle. Either way, you're in for a treat.

Must-stops along the way


Succulent seafood abounds in these parts, but you'll find plenty of other specialties too - from Nova-Scotia-style pub grub to palate-pleasing ethnic fare.

End your day

With a ceilidh or two under your belt, and a four-hour drive back to Halifax tomorrow, it's time to say goodnight. Good thing that a comfy room is just steps away.

Start planning your next trip with Tourism Nova ScotiaExternal Link Title.