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Sat on Cape Breton island, at the northwest end of Nova Scotia, Inverness is a calm and rural town with a population of a little over 1,000. If you’re looking for a calm retreat among the fjords, inlets and rolling hills of Nova Scotia, it’s a wonderful place to base yourself. The locals are friendly, the hotels are warm and accommodating, and the landscape is stunning and bleak in equal measure. Summers are fleeting and joyful, and winters are tough but beautiful, so perhaps the best time to visit is spring or autumn. Weather can be changeable, however, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.
Booking a hire car in Inverness is essential if you want to explore the area. There’s plenty to do and see here, but most of it is out in the wilds and public transport is rare.
Inverness is easily accessible from Margaree Airport. Book your rental car in advance and you’ll be in the town centre within 35 minutes. Other Nova Scotia towns aren’t too far either – Mabou is about 50 minutes away, while Baddeck is a little closer, at 30 minutes’ drive.
The main providers of hire cars in Inverness are Avis and Budget. Book your rental car through them and you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of vehicles, including minivans and SUVs – perfect for those rural roads.
Unsurprisingly, the big draws in these part are all based around nature. Nova Scotians love to hunt and fish, and tourists are able to get involved during season, but you’ll need to get a licence in order to hunt, and make sure to pay attention to bagging limits if you’re going fishing. There are plenty of websites that can supply you with more information, if you’d like to try it for yourself.
Many visitors come exclusively to drive the Cabot Trail. It’s regularly rated as one of the world’s most scenic drives, curving along cliff tops, circling past calm blue lakes and diving through landscapes that were carved from rock by prehistoric glaciers. Most people start in Baddeck, about 30 minutes away from Inverness, and you should allow about three days to take on its 185-mile length. (You can do it in less, but stopping to take in the scenery is part of the attraction.)
Part of the route passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s a vast expanse of forest, tundra and mountain, which offers some of the most dramatic landscapes of anywhere in Canada. There’s some great hiking here, as well as wheelchair-accessible trails (clearly marked on tourist maps), but for the full experience, bring a tent and stay the night. Just make sure you do it in summer, or even a thermal sleeping bag may prove inadequate.
Road conditions in Canada are generally excellent, and rural Nova Scotia experiences very little traffic. Make sure to watch out for wildlife on the roads though – Nova Scotia has plenty of deer and some elk, which may sometimes make their way towards traffic.
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