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Breton or the South?

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Austin, TX
posts: 16
reviews: 19
Breton or the South?

I'm probably only going to visit Nova Scotia once in this life (too many places left I want to see!), and after reading quite a bit of advice here and elsewhere, I'm left with one question. I'm flying into Halifax from Texas in May, I've only got a week, and this is probably the only visit I'll ever make. So, should I go south to the lighthouse trail or north to Cape Breton? Which visit is more a "bucket list" sort of experience?

posts: 691
1. Re: Breton or the South?

I would say Cape Breton it's the jewel in the Crown and Alexander Graham Bell summed it up

“I have travelled around the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes, the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.”

It is also on National Geographics top 20 of 2013 to visit so??


As you are flying in to Halifax you could rent car at airport and head to CB, 2 or 3 nights would be good for Cabot Trail unless you are really interested in reenactments I would skip LouIsbourg as they will not be fully open. Focus on Baddeck, the Highlands, Cheticamp. Margaree, Mabou areas.

You then would have time to take trip to Wolfville/ Grand Pre and over to Lunenburg and then Halifax and home.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 58
2. Re: Breton or the South?

I'd second Lulu on Cape Breton although I don't know that you necessarily have to choose entirely between the two given that you have a week to play with. Assuming days 1 & 7 are travel days to and from Texas, day 2 as rest and recovery in Baddeck, days 3&4 on the Cabot Trail is easily doable (Baddeck-Cheticamp & Cheticamp-Ingonish). Ingonish to Halifax is a lovely drive on day 5 and Halifax to Lunenburg by way of Peggy's Cove and Mahone Bay is an easy day trip for day 6.

Tusket, Canada
posts: 10
3. Re: Breton or the South?

I wouldn't give up on doing the southwest loop. Though I'm from the Bon Temps Tourism Society in the Acadian community of Argyle, so I'm biased. There's a huge diversity of cultures & attractions, as well as stunning outdoor scenery and adventure. http://www.novascotiabackyard.com/


posts: 225
reviews: 8
4. Re: Breton or the South?

Cape Breton and the South Shore are both on the top of my list of recommended places to visit in Atlantic Canada (have vacationed in each 5 times). But "bucket list" - I'd definitely say Cape Breton without hesitation. Spectacular scenery - drive the Cabot Trail, especially through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Also could explore a bit of the Ceilidh Trail which, in places, is a bit more of an off-the-beaten-path experience if you take side roads through the hills and to the water's edge (not that anywhere in Cape Breton has anything approaching the kinds of crowds that are common in many other North American National Parks and tourist destinations). You can also experience some of the famous local Fiddle music - both Celtic and Acadian (the original 'Cajuns).

But as suggested you could do a bit of both. Maybe 4 nights Cape Breton which is enough to experience the highlights and a little more, then 3 nights somewhere about mid point of the South Shore/Lighthouse Route which will give you lots of day-trip options.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 9,972
reviews: 522
5. Re: Breton or the South?

I have not seen Cape Breton, but other than Lunenburg and Digby, I found the south shore and beyond pretty dead....cape Breton is definitely on my top to do list in Canada....

Truro, Canada
posts: 464
reviews: 18
6. Re: Breton or the South?

Depending on whether you are coming to Nova Scotia early in May or later in the month, our weather can play a part in your choice of locations to visit. It is not unheard of to have snowfall on Mother's Day in Cape Breton creating slippery driving conditions. Every year is a different year!

Generally from the Victoria Day week-end (May 18th -20th in 2013) the weather improves greatly but there are definitely warmer temps in southern NS at that time of year.

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
posts: 6,050
reviews: 81
7. Re: Breton or the South?

Cape Breton.

Advocate Harbour...
posts: 1,457
reviews: 11
8. Re: Breton or the South?

As you may not make it back to Nova Scotia again you might want to consider a place that is special on this earth - where the largest tides on the planet meet the highest sea cliffs of mainland Nova Scotia around Cape Chignecto/Cape d'Or. Primarily a outdoor lovers destination, it is special if you do love nature, incredible scenery and off the beaten path destinations. Check out www.bayoffundytourism.com for a look at what the area has to offer. See why one of Nova Scotias top adventure writers says "While tourists may round the Cabot Trail, sun on PEI's beaches or marvel at the Hopewell flowerpots, no signs point the way here -- to the most spectacular region of all" (Read the entire article at www.coastaladventures.com/CapChig.html ) As noted above, each year is different, but May can still be a tough month to travel in CB, which is why lots of the campgrounds and accommodations will still be closed - the mainland of NS would be the best bet in May.

Edited: 5:21 pm, March 14, 2013
Halifax, Canada
posts: 15
reviews: 53
9. Re: Breton or the South?

The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton will take a couple of days, and there are some great beaches up that way. I'd do a bit of both. Halifax itself is a great little city, and the trip down to Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, and Peggys Cove, will take you a day or two. It all depends on your interests. You really need a couple or three weeks to do Nova Scotia right. We really have it all here and most people have never taken it in -- including many who live here.

Austin, TX
posts: 16
reviews: 19
10. Re: Breton or the South?

Thanks for all the input. I wish I had more time there! After much thought & given the enthusiastic votes for Breton, I think what I've decided to do is go west instead of south, and visit Brier Island to try whale watching, then up to Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail and back to Halifax. I regret not being able to do the lighthouse trail, but as in all things in life, choices must be made! Thanks, again.