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Cape Breton Island

Rugged, wooded and genuinely wild, the northwestern region of Nova Scotia almost feels like a province apart. Famous for its circuitous coastal road, the 297km-long Cabot Trail, which dips and dives round the edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, it's a dream destination for road-trippers, and figures pretty high on everyone's must-see list – so expect traffic jams aplenty in summer. The best time to visit is in fall, when the area's roads are quieter and the forests light up with color.

Beyond the borders of the national park, Cape Breton has a rich Celtic and Acadian heritage, so you'll almost certainly hear live music wafting out from many pubs and bars, especially during the Celtic Colours festival in October. Also well worth visiting is the historic fort at Louisbourg, arguably the most evocative fort in all of Nova Scotia.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Cape Breton Island.