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Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

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Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

I am in the planning stage of my trip. We are planning a Nova Scotia trip in late September, around the 21st to the 30th, 10 days, 9 nights. Going to fly into Halifax and spend the night. The next morning head for the lighthouse route making Lunenburg our base for three nights. Here is my question. What is the best way to make use of the rest of our time given we would like to do the following?

Spend our time on Cape Breton Island.

Whale Watch (Where is the best place?)

Hike (not too strenuous)

Listen to the local music (preferably in a pub)

Nature Photography.(Seascapes, landscapes and villages)

The Cabot Trail and the Ceilidh Trail seem to fit our interests. Do we have enough time to do both? What cities would you recommend that we stay in without changing every day?

We are renting a car so we have transportation. We will be driving from Lunenburg on 5th day.

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.



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1. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

Hi irene102655 ~

Is there some reason you want to spend 3 nights in Lunenburg? It is only about an hour's drive from Halifax so I wouldn't spend more than 1-2 nights there. But that's just me.

You have 9 nights which will give you a look at part of the province. We had 12 nights for NS and PEI several years ago and we would allow 14 just for NS another time.

My vote would be:

3 nights Halifax. There is so much of great interest to see and do in the city.

1 night Lunenburg - visit some attractions on the way down and other attractions on the way back.

Drive about 5 hours to:

4 nights Baddeck, with a visit to the Alexander Graham Bell museum, Uisage Ban Falls Park for a hike/walk, to Cheticamp as part of a full day drive around the Cabot Trail with a visit/hike/walk in Cape Breton Highlands NP and almost a full day at Louisbourg Fortress.

The 4th night in Baddeck because doing the ~5 hour drive back to Halifax after a day on either the Cabot Trail loop route or at Louisbourg would be a lot to take on.

1 night back in Halifax before you flight home.

Edited: 1:29 am, February 22, 2012
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2. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

Excellent idea in the post above...I would do it the same way. The hike for the falls is not strenuous at all with a few benches along the way to rest if need be. I walked this trail 4 times in the last 6 years. The Fortress of Louisbourg and the Bell Museum are very interesting. If you head to Louisbourg be sure to also go to Lighthouse Point at the beginning of town. Drive to the top of Havenside Drive right off the main street (only one in Louisbourg) and there is a rest stop with picnic tables on your way to stop for a picnic. Then drive further to the Lighthouse and there is an excellent walking trail there as well with stunning views. Do not go close to the water or the waves will take you in. Baddeck also has a little ferry to take you over to Kidston Landing for swimming, and a small walking trail. It costs only a change donation There are also many things to do and see in Halifax...Pier 21, Citadel Hill, Peggy's Cove, Public Gardens, and the boardwalk on a nice day.

Edited: 6:21 am, February 22, 2012
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3. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

kidston Landing is where you get on and Kidston Island is where you get off. Hopefully the Sailboat( the name escapes me right now) is there to do a tour on the Lakes..

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4. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

I can help out a little about the music since that will be one of my focuses when I go up there in late July. It has been suggested by the good local people here that I check the music listings on the following website: cbchoices.com. I have looked at it and it is constantly updated to include musical events in all parts of Cape Breton. So once you figure out where you are staying, you can work from there to find music closest to you. Some places like Baddeck seem to have it every night but I am only looking at Summer schedules, no idea about what September is like.

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5. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

Hi Irene,

Instead of 3 nights in Lunenburg, another option is to cross on Rte 12 (1 hr drive) to the Annapolis Valley & spend a night in the Wolfville area. It's a lovely time of year to visit the valley & a short drive to the Bay of Fundy to view the tides. Halls Harbour is a small fishing village where you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant overlooking the harbour.You can also view the tidal difference at the Wolfville waterfront park & the dykes starting there are a popular walking trail.



Then from Wolfville area continue on to Cape Breton.


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6. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

Music venues in September are less than in July and August . The locations for September would still be the Red Shoe in Mabou, but likely only on weekends .

Friday at the Normaway Barn. Saturday afternoon at the Doryman in Cheticamp . maybe at the Inverness Fire hall on a Thursday .

Sundays at the Judique music center .

I would take the cape breton leg of the trip first . cape breton is very rural and the roads you want are along the coast , there really is no one central point where you can stay and then branch out every day without repeating a lot of traveling. The cabot trail is a full circle, no short cuts . Hiking in the park is best . I'd stay 2- 3 days on that coast from Mabou north some where and maybe 1 day in Sydney based on what you want to do to .

Lunenburg , 2 days max.

7. Re: Need help with budgeting time on Cape Breton Island

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