Here is the route of the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west:
The ferry from Newfoundland lands at North Sydney on Cape Breton Island, and the Trans-Canada Highway (#105) proceeds along the shoreline of several bays, crossing to the mainland over the causeway at the Strait of Canso. To the east of the ferry crossing is historic Fort Louisbourg, which the French used to defend the mouth of the St Lawrence from the British for over a century. To the northwest of the Trans-Canada is Cape Breton Highlands National Park, with scenic vistas over the Gulf of St Lawrence. You can easily spend a day on the Cabot Trail, which hugs the coast around most of Cape Breton Island.
Nova Scotia Road Map Itineraries along the Trans-Canada:
The highway (now #104) passes by many small towns on St. George's Bay, including Havre Boucher, Tracadie, and Antigonish, and then dips southwest to Truro. It then meanders in a northwesterly direction to Amherst, before crossing the border into New Brunswick. To the south is the Minas Basin, which opens into the Bay of Fundy, known for its extreme tides of over 14 metres. To the north is the Northumberland Strait which looks out to Prince Edward Island and the scenic towns of Pictou, Pugwash, and Northport.
The distance from Sydney to Amherst is 252 miles (405 KM), but a non-stop tour of the Cabot Trail will add a day to your visit. The Trans-Canada does not pass through Halifax, which is Nova Scotia's largest city and the provincial capital, but it's only 63 miles southwest of Truro on route 102, and worth visiting.