Cape Breton Main


The hills are alive with the sound of music. And so are the concert halls, parks, and pubs, because traditional Celtic music is the very heartbeat of this scenic slice of Nova Scotia. Scottish and French immigrants settled this island of forested mountains and valleys, and their musical heritage can be heard in festivals throughout the summer. The fiddle rules here (a savvy traveler would listen to CDs from Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIssac to get in the proper spirit before arriving), and dances can last well into the night.

But save some energy for the daylight hours, because this island possesses some of the most beautiful scenery on Canada's Atlantic Coast. And to see it, hit the trails. The "trails" in this case are two classic driving routes that showcase the best of the island.

The Cabot Trail, one of the world's most scenic drives, takes to the highlands and follows the rocky shore of the East Coast. The route takes you through Cape Breton Highlands National Park (hiking trails galore) and offers a good chance of seeing moose and whales in the same afternoon. For a more historical and cultural itinerary, follow the Ceilidh Trail. If you know that a ceilidh is pronounced KAY-lee, you likely know it's Celtic for a musical happening. The Ceilidh Trail winds through farmlands and fishing villages, where museums tell the story of the island and its people - and where the sounds of a fiddle is never very far away.