Sydney is a port town on the east coast of Cape Breton Island and a gateway to the rugged beauty of its highlands. Gorgeous scenery is only one of the draws. There is also a rich musical heritage and hundreds of years of history to uncover.
The Port of Sydney is the entry point for many visitors, but it’s more than a transport hub. Meander along the waterfront up to the huge fiddle and bow. The sculpture lays claim to being the largest fiddle in the world and is a tribute to the island's Celtic music tradition. Behind it is the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion where you can watch concerts. Other performance venues in Sydney include the Highland Arts Theatre, located in the former St. Andrews Church.
Sydney was founded shortly after the American Revolution and for history lovers there’s much to get excited about. Tour the 18th-century Cossit House, believed to be the oldest residence in Sydney. In Josh Heritage House, find a collection of Victorian artifacts. A 40-minute drive away is the Fortress of Louisbourg, a reconstruction of an 18th-century French fortress town.
Devote some time to discovering Sydney’s natural charms. Meet the animals at Two Rivers Wildlife Park and at Twin Lighthouse Farm. See puffins, seabirds, seals and eagles at Bird Island, then unwind on the sandy shores of Dominion Beach Provincial Park or Mira Gut Beach.
Nearby is Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Take your pick of 26 trails that encompass cliffs, forests, rivers and lakes. Kayak on the ocean and spot humpback and minke whales. Running through the park is part of the Cabot Trail, a 185-mile (297-kilometer) scenic highway.
When you are back in Sydney, relax with a round of golf at Alderdale Greens or Juniper Hollow Golf. On Saturdays, stock up on local produce at Cape Breton Farmers’ Market and picnic at Open Hearth Park.
To get to Sydney and its scenic, historic and cultural attractions, take the ferry from Newfoundland or fly into JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport. You can also arrive by car and bus from Halifax on mainland Nova Scotia.