Please sign in to post.

Where to stay along Cabot and Ceilidh Trails, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

My husband and I looking for hotels to stay in while driving counter clockwise around the Cabot Trail and the Ceilidh Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. We'll be coming from Halifax, and we'll return to Halifax after leaving Cape Breton.

We're not into hiking or camping, but we enjoy seeing beautiful views, swimming, being close to the water, listening to great music (Celtic music, specifically, on this trip), shopping, exploring, visiting historic sites and the occasional museum, and walking around picturesque towns.

The towns we're focusing on are Baddeck, Ingonish, Cheticamp, Inverness, and Mabou. We'll also visit the Louisburg Fortress in Louisburg, east of the Cabot Trail. Not that we need to stay in all of the towns listed, but which towns would you choose and why? How many days would you stay in each one?

Posted by
46 posts

Baddeck is an irresistibly cute resort town with an Alexander Graham Bell museum, so I'd say 1-2 nights there. Cheticamp is completely unique due to the Acadian history, so at least 2 nights there, with a day trip into the national park. Mabou is pretty much the heart of the Scottish part of the trail, with a great beach, so a night or two there as well.

If you can work in a night at the Normaway Inn in Margaree Valley when they have a concert in the barn, that is a very special experience, but you will find great music everywhere, particularly on the west side.

You can't go wrong, really. The whole island is beautiful, the people are friendly, and the music is legendary!

Posted by
316 posts

I love Cheticamp. Several restaurants to chose from and several places to stay. My favourite is the Outback Inn. Even if you aren’t into hiking, I do recommend the Skyline trail, which isn’t too far from Cheticamp along the Cabot Trail. L’Abri is my favourite restaurant.

Mabou is about an hour from Cheticamp. Don’t know about lodging there, other than the Glenora Distillery, which has an inn and great restaurant with music. It’s lovely. There is also the Red Shoe Pub with Celtic music.

Baddeck also has several places for lodging. The Telegraph Inn has the best restaurant imo. I like the lodging there also as well as at the Inverary Inn.

Ingonish does not have a ton of lodging or restaurants. There is the Keltic Lodge. It’s a bit rundown imo. It has a restaurant. The 20 Acres Wood B&B is phenomenal though. This year one of the main attractions, a waterfall that you park right close to is closed due to a landslide.

Keep in mind, these are very small towns and many things are seasonal. If you come in Autumn, lodging will be hard to come by. Book well in advance.

I’m from Halifax, so if you are looking for ideas, I’m happy to help.

Posted by
7072 posts

When I went to NS (many years ago), I spent a night in Baddeck and a night in Cheticamp. I stayed in a B&B in Baddeck and a small motel in Cheticamp, but since it was so long ago I can't really give recommendations for the places I stayed as they may no longer even be in business. But I do definitely recommend the two towns as good places to stay when driving the Cabot Trail.

Posted by
266 posts

We recently returned from a month long driving tour of New England & Nova Scotia including Cape Breton. In fall of 2017, we loved the area enough to return and explore further. After Halifax, we traveled hwy 7 on the South coast during heavy rain and over bad roads. Couldn't see much from hwy. Stayed in Antigonish (love that name!) at the St Francis Xavier University in student housing (our student housing wasn't nearly this nice). Next night in Inverness was at a very casual, do-it-yourself BnB. Nice beach for rock hunting but not much else. Would rather had an extra night in Cheticamp. 2 nights there in a great apartment (Seaside Shacks listed on VRBO). Good restaurants and Aucoin Bakery (a bit north of town). Day trips into Park: a couple of nice rocky beaches; Skyline Overlook; the Bog; MacIntosh Brook; the Lone Sheiling. Only the overlook is lengthy but worth it. In Cheticamp are a couple of stores & a museum of rug hooking - they were interesting even for a non-enthusiast. ATMs and more supplies here until North Sydney, etc. Pretty much only interesting scenery after Lone Sheiling until North/South Harbor area. Concur on 20 Acre Woods BnB at Ingonish - only 4 rooms but first class. South of Ingonish, the hwy required most of my attention until the turn off to the Englishtown Ferry. Take the rare cable ferry - not anything spectacular, just 1 of 4 left in Nova Scotia. From Englishtown, you can continue into North Sydney, Sydney and Louisburg. We didn't go past North Sydney, so don't know about roads or accommodations in that area. We stayed on hwy 5 south to Baddeck. Stayed 3 nights at another wonderful BnB - Auld Farm Inn. Fabulous hosts & a friendly dog. The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is worth a couple of hours. From there we traveled to Amherst, home of Deanne Fitzpatrick rug hooking studio. Town buildings are Victorian-style in excellent condition, making for attractive downtown & nearby homes. Can recommend the Portlander Jamaican Restaurant. Wife approved bird watching in area. We headed back to border thru New Brunswick. You would likely head to Truro then Halifax from New Glascow.

If you haven't already, I suggest a night or 2 in Wolfville with visit to the Acadian Memorial and area. Tattingstone Inn is really good. Naked Crepe Bistro top notch as are other town restaurants. If enough time, a visit to Halls Harbor on the Bay of Fundy with lobster is a good idea.

The roads, other than the really major and federal hwys are not as good as they should be (this is also true of some in Maine). The locals don't seem to mind the bumps & pot holes so travel "aggressively." We traveled in May and this was too early for many of the attractions, accommodations and restaurants to be open. No crowds anywhere except at Red's & Sprague's in Wiscassett, Maine. Still love it.

Posted by
7072 posts

In Cheticamp are a couple of stores & a museum of rug hooking - they were interesting even for a non-enthusiast.

You just reminded me that when I stayed in Cheticamp, I brought back a souvenir hand hooked coaster (like a miniature rug) and 27 years later it's still on my nightstand - use it every night for my water glass. There wasn't much of a museum there then, just a display area with samples and some ladies demonstrating the art as part of the community center.

Posted by
220 posts

I will second the recommendation for Normaway. I stayed there several years ago and loved it. The music was lots of fun. I loved that the musicians were multi-generational. Grandparents and grandkids playing together.

Posted by
27 posts

Thank you for taking the time to give me your thoughts and tips, everyone. I appreciate it! We've decided to stay in Halifax for a couple of days and then head to Iona to visit Highland Village.

We may spend the night there and drive to Louisburg the next morning to see the fortress before driving to Baddeck for a few days. If we don't stay in Iona, we'll drive Baddeck and then do a day trip to Louisburg.

After Baddeck, we're going to Ingonish to spend some time at the beach before continuing on to Cheticamp. We'll stay there for a couple of days before going to Mabou. We'll stop at the Red Shoe Pub and the Glenora Distillery while we're in the area.

Leaving Mabou, we'll head back to Halifax for our last few days.

I have a list of hotels in each town I'll contact for reservations in a month or so. I think it might be a bit early to actually make reservations.