Driving Directions


View Getting to Northern Cape Breton in a larger map

Getting here is half the fun. The drive through the Cape Breton Highlands Nationals Park is famous around the world – the stuff of legend for automobile enthusiasts, bicyclists and motorcyclists. And a perennial favorite for car ads on TV.

All drive times assume you’re driving the speed limit. Count on some extra time for scenic stops, moose-crossings, meals, etc. Drive carefully and watch out for moose, especially in the park and especially at night.

Driving via the east (Ingonish) side of the island

  • Google directions from Halifax to Cape North via Ingonish
  • Follow signs for Ingonish/Cape North
  • Estimated driving times to Cape North from
    • Halifax: 6 hours
    • Sydney: 3 hours
    • Canso Causeway: 3 hours
    • Baddeck: 2.5 hours
  • From Cape North, you can:
    • subtract 20 minutes for Neil’s Harbour
    • add 15 minutes for Bay St Lawrence
    • add 45 minutes for Meat Cove
  • You have a choice of taking the Englishtown Ferry or the St Ann’s scenic route. Kids love the ferry. Tired drivers love the ferry. People that get squeezy stomachs on long winding roads love the ferry. Both routes have their charms. St Anns has a great restaurant (Chanterelle). St Anns usually takes a lot longer, unless there’s a lot of cars waiting for the ferry.
  • Best places to eat along the way:
    • sandwiches and salads at the Herring Choker on the highway just south of Baddeck
    • fine dining at the Chanterelle in St Anns
  • Fill up the tank at the Canso Causeway if you’re driving at night. During the day you can find gas in Whycogomah, Baddeck, Ingonish, Neil’s Harbour and Cape North.

Driving via the west (Cheticamp) side of the island

  • Google directions from Halifax to Cape North via Cheticamp
  • Follow signs for Cape North
  • Estimated driving times to Cape North from
    • Halifax: 6 hours
    • Canso Causeway: 3 hours
    • Cheticamp: 1.5 hours
  • From Cape North, you can:
    • add 20 minutes for Neil’s Harbour
    • add 15 minutes for Bay St Lawrence
    • add 45 minutes for Meat Cove
  • Make the drive in the early morning to improve the chance of seeing moose on North Mountain
  • If the weather is clear, take the western side and enjoy the view. If its raining, low clouds, or foggy, take the Ingonish side and save Cheticamp for the return trip.
  • If you’re driving at night, gas up the Canso Causeway or Whycogomah. But really, you should do this drive
    during the day to enjoy the spectacular view. During the day you’ll find gas in Margaree, Cheticamp, Pleasant Bay and Cape North.

Arriving by air and renting a car from Halifax or Sydney

  • The flight from Halifax to Sydney is often expensive. Families and larger groups should consider renting a car in Halifax and driving from there. Save your money for lobster and crab.
  • If you’re driving directly to Cape Breton from the Halifax Airport, you can reduce the estimated driving times by 25 minutes.
  • In the summer, Air Canada operates direct flights from Toronto and Montreal to Sydney. WestJet offers a Toronto-Sydney flight in the summer as well.

Cycling

  • If you really want to tell your friends that you biked the entire Cabot Trail, you should plan to spend at
    least a day or two in Cape North. Treat yourself to a whale tour or just a rest.
  • A better plan is often to drive to Northern Cape Breton and see the best of the Trail in cycling daytrips. Ask anyone who’s biked the Trail and they’ll tell you that the memorable parts are north of Cheticamp and Ingonish.

Sailboats

  • Visiting vessels can dock at Bay St Lawrence, Dingwall, Neil’s Harbour for a small fee.

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  • Local services for visitors

    Bank machines can be found at the Central Co-op in Bay St Lawrence and the Neil's Harbour Co-op. Both are open from 9am to 8 pm Monday through Saturday, and Sundays from noon to 5pm.

    Groceries are available in Neil's Harbour, Cape North and Bay St Lawrence.

    The Co-ops in Bay St Lawrence and Neil's Harbour carry beer, wine and other alcohol.

    Fresh, uncooked, unfrozen seafood can be purchased at the docks in Bay St Lawrence, Dingwall and Neil's Harbour. Call ahead for landing times and seasonal availability. Catches will vary with the weather and season. Fresh mussels are available across from the Fire Hall in Cape North. Fresh oysters can be purchased at Hideaway Oyster Market in South Harbour.

    Neil's Harbour is home to the local hospital, health clinic, ambulance and pharmacy. Trained emergency first responders live throughout the region. 911 is the emergency number, and both ambulance and first responders are quick to arrive on the scene.

    Church services are open to all in Bay St Lawrence (Protestant), St Margaret's Village (Roman Catholic), Aspy Bay (United), Dingwall (Roman Catholic), New Haven (Roman Catholic), Neil's Harbour (Anglican).

    The Bay St Lawrence Community Center has a public laundromat, library, fitness center and children's activities.

    Gas and car repair services can be found in Neil's Harbour and Cape North.

    Ask your host to recommended a baby-sitter.

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