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Useful information for excursions in Sydney (Cape Breton)
In the following paragraphs, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in Sydney (Cape Breton).
The most beautiful sights in Sydney (Cape Breton)
Sydney, not to be confused with the Australian metropolis, is a city in the Canadian sea province of Nova Scotia. In contrast to Australia’s megacity, Sydney, with its 30,000 inhabitants, is a rather tranquil place with a beautiful natural backdrop and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. After the steel factory and coal mine in Sydney were closed down, important employers of this region disappeared, which is why the government now focuses more on energy, environment and also tourism. 50-60 passenger ships, which bring many tourists a year ashore via the newly built pier, support this development. The formerly independent city is located on Cape Breton Island, which is considered a real insider tip. Three quarters of the island inhabitants live in the region of Sydney and most of them speak English.
The island of Cape Breton is located in eastern Canada and in the northeast of the province of Nova Scotia. The island has a lot to offer, especially scenically, but also culturally and is considered to be particularly worth seeing. It is connected to the mainland by a ferry dam and offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities – kayaking, hiking, cycling, motorcycling, golf. The Cabot Trail, which runs right through the middle of the national park, is particularly suitable for these activities. A paradise for active tourists who enjoy exploring nature.
Below are some inspirations for shore excursions in and around Sydney.
Sydney – the city that welcomes you on Cape Breton. A small town that invites you to walks on its promenade, the “Waterfront“. It leaves from the cruise terminal and accommodates some small works of art as well as a small restaurant.
This is also where the statue is located, which thanks to its size welcomes incoming cruise ships – the largest violin in the world. The “Giant Fiddle” was designed and constructed by Cyril Hearn. It rises a full 59 ft (18 metres) into the air and is also known as the “Big Fiddle of the Ceilidh”. “Ceilidh” is a Celtic word and means “visit”. If you visit the Big Fiddle, you will notice that it even plays music for its viewers.
A piece of history is offered by Sydney’s next highlight, the Cossit House Museum, which was built more than 200 years ago and is therefore one of the oldest houses in the city. From 1787 to 1815 it was the home of the first Anglican minister of Sydney, Ranna Cossit, and his family. This family consisted of his wife and their 13 children. The house of the big family had many small rooms and is very spacious and comfortable for the standards of that time.
The former home invites you to take a tour, where you can experience first hand what the daily life of the Cossit family was like. The trained and friendly staff wear clothes from the 18th century and make this museum visit even more authentic. In addition to the interior of the house, you will also have the opportunity to explore the garden and learn, among other things, about the role religion played in the early days of the new colony.
Cape Breton stands for a beautiful coast and spectacular mountain landscapes. One of the most important highlights is therefore its highway: the Cabot Trail. 186.4 miles (300 kilometres) along the picturesque north coast, through the Cape Breton Highland National Park and past the Margaree River – nowhere will you get a better impression of the island than on the Cabot Trail. Here the diversity of the landscape and wildlife becomes apparent. See salmon in the rivers, bald eagles circling in the sky and whales from spring to autumn. The Cabot Trail combines the most exciting components of the island and shows you its identity in full.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
In the north of the island the Cape Breton Highland National Park stretches along the ocean and the adjacent mountains. It was Canada’s first national park in the Atlantic provinces. One way to explore the natural beauty of the park is by taking the Cabot Trail, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore the national park beyond the highway. Not only does the park offer spectacular views of the vastness of nature, but it also boasts waterfalls, canyons and a diverse animal kingdom. Off the Cabot Trail, you might even be lucky enough to spot moose, coyotes, bald eagles or black bears, which this national park calls its inhabitants. For sporty tourists, the national park offers numerous activities such as hiking, canoeing, trekking, golfing or swimming, for example on Ingonish Beach, which has long white sandy beaches.
Fortress of Louisbourg
The cultural highlight of Cape Breton Island, which lies just outside Sydney, is the reconstructed French fortress city of Louisbourg. It already dates back to the 18th century and served several battles of Canadian soldiers. It was also one of the most expensive European fortresses in North America. Due to strategic mistakes, however, it was unprotected against land attacks, as the focus was only on defence against naval forces.
Today the fortress, built between 1720 and 1740, is a true living museum. Restored in the 1960s, it now serves to immerse its visitors in history. Thanks to its disguised staff, cultivated gardens, workshops, kitchens and a small inn, it is easy to go back in time. The marching band at noon and the firing of a cannon are also highlights of a visit to Louisbourg.
The Cape Breton Island lets you merge with nature – a multi-faceted animal world meets spectacular natural scenery. Among them are the giants of the sea: whales. In the summer months there is a good chance of spotting some of the large marine animals. In July and August, pilot whales and fin whales visit the coast of the island in eastern Canada. Starting points for whale watching tours are Bay St. Lawrence, Ingonish and Pleasant Bay. It takes a bit of luck to spot whales on tours, but even though the sea giants may not show up, you will be able to see animals such as sea turtles and seals.
Alexander Graham Bell Museum
In the heart of the island lies the small village of Baddeck on the beautiful lake “Bras d’Or Lakes”. Here Alexander Graham Bell, born in Scotland, spent the last 37 years of his life. He moved to Canada as a young man and was an important audiologist and inventor. Bell became famous above all through the invention of the telephone. He was also responsible for groundbreaking discoveries in areas such as medicine, hearing and speech, genetics and electronics. The Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck shows his life and work. It is located on a 10 hectare estate. Most artifacts and documents from the time of Graham Bell’s experimental work are kept here. The architecture of the museum is very impressive and completes the informative stay.
Map of Sydney Cruise Port (Cape Breton)
Sydney Harbour is located on the Cabot Strait, the strait between Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island. It is located in the north-east of the island’s coast and extends for 10 miles (16 kilometres). The cruise terminal “Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion” is very modern and welcomes its guests not only with a bagpipe player but also with the gigantic statue of a violin, the “Big Fiddle“. One of the two piers of the harbour is the “Main Dock“, which is 902 ft (275 metres) long and has capacity for ships of up to 1,184 ft (361 metres) in length. Larger ships often tender in the harbour. Furthermore, a new pier was built, which did not open until 2020 and has a length of 591 ft (180 metres). The “New Pier” is therefore rather intended for smaller ships.
The port terminal is located not far from Sydney city centre, which is a 5 minute walk away. This can therefore be explored in a relaxed manner on your own. Taxis and rental cars are available at the port for excursions, for example along the Cabot Trail.
Things to know before your trip to Sydney (Cape Breton)
Cruise lines and routes
Routes in North America are served by various cruise lines, especially from May to October. Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Oceania Cruises as well as MSC Cruises call at the Canadian island.
Entry and visa
On your cruise to Cape Breton you do not need a visa, but a passport that is valid at least as long as your cruise lasts. A temporary passport is also sufficient. However, if you enter Canada by plane, an electronic entry permit (eTA) is required, which you can apply for online and receive within a few days. An identity card or even a temporary identity card is not sufficient for travel to Canada.
To be on the safe side, we generally recommend that you obtain information about all valid entry requirements directly from your cruise line and from the Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
Taxi and public transport
Sydney is a small city whose sightseeings are manageable and can be explored on foot. Many cruise guests want to discover the vast nature of Cape Breton Island during this stop. For such excursions on one’s own initiative, taxis are available in the harbour. These will take you along the Cabot Trail, for example. The taxi drivers can give you recommendations for places of interest and explain the background of the region. Such taxi rides lasting several hours cost around 57 pounds for a couple.
If you do not want to go on a guided tour, there is also the possibility of renting a car. Occasionally these are also available at the pier. There is also a rental car station that is located a little outside the harbour area. If you take a taxi there, you can ask the taxi driver on the way for some tips for your day’s excursion.
In Sydney, Canada, payment is made in Canadian dollars (CAD). 1 pound currently corresponds to around 1.75 CAD. Since Sydney is a small city, it is worthwhile to exchange a few pounds into Canadian dollars in the UK. If you want to exchange money locally, you can do this in banks or exchange offices. Hotels or restaurants, however, are not recommended, as they usually charge much higher fees for the exchange. In addition, there is the option to pay by credit card.
Due to the long and cold winters in Canada and a lot of snowfall, the months from May to October are more suitable to travel the country. During this peak travel season, most cruise ships also call at Cape Breton. The climate of Nova Scotia and especially Cape Breton is strongly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Therefore, the Cape Breton Island has summer temperatures of 20-28 °C in some places, which drop to 12-14 °C at night. On the coasts, however, temperatures are lower due to the wind. Rain falls quite frequently, but rarely continuously. In July and August the sun shines for about half of the day. It is well known that it gets very cold in winter in the northern country – on Cape Breton, however, temperatures only drop to around 15 °C below zero.
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Video: Impressions of Sydney (Cape Breton)
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