Initially, I had quite low expectations of Halifax. No idea why – figured it would be a gritty more industrial town. What a surprise! It is vibrant, it is foodie, it is Instagram friendly and there are loads and loads of fun things to do in Halifax Nova Scotia!
1. Things to do in Halifax Nova Scotia – Learn about the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion
The Maritime Museum of The Atlantic was the most interesting thing I did during my time in Halifax. I am not normally a big museum person but this one was fascinating. Its Titanic exhibition is fantastic and includes things like a deck chair.
I had never heard of the Halifax Explosion before visiting Halifax. It is a rather shocking story but so interesting. I highly recommend spending some time at this fascinating – and quite photogenic! – museum.
2. What to do in Halifax – Walk the waterfront
The Halifax waterfront runs for 10 blocks from pier 21 at Halifax seaport to casino nova scotia. There are loads of things to do and see along the Waterfront. Great restaurants, sculptures, hammocks, bike and segway hire, lots of shops and lots of photo opportunities!
If you’re planning a trip to lovely Nova Scotia check out my Nova Scotia Itinerary – 6 Days.
3. Fun Things to do in Halifax – Hire a Segway or Bike to explore the waterfront and more
As the Halifax boardwalk is one of the longest downtown boardwalks in the world I think you could both walk AND take another form of transport to explore its full distance! Take a tour of Halifax City on a Segway or explore Halifax on a Segway at your own pace.
Check out I Heart Bicycles on the Waterfront for bike hire.
4. What to do in Halifax Nova Scotia – Get on a Kayak
Another great way to see Halifax from the water is to hire a kayak. Kayak Halifax offers Halifax Harbour trips and trips to the nearby islands. For something really special they offer a Glamping and Culinary adventure on Georges Island which includes a private tour, gourmet meal, local wine and a sunset bonfire with a great view.
5. Things to do in Halifax Nova Scotia – Go to Halifax Farmers Market
I love visiting Farmers Markets! There are usually opportunities to try lots of delicious and interesting things and they do tend to be very photogenic. Importantly, they are brilliant when travelling to get a real local view of the area you are visiting. Most Farmers Markets have a requirement that any stall holders must have businesses within a certain number of kilometres of the market itself. This guarantees a genuinely local experience and the fabulous Halifax Farmers Market was no exception.
I enjoyed it so much I wrote an entire post on the Halifax Farmers Market
6. Places to visit in Halifax – Take the Harbour Hopper
I am a big fan of a partially submerged tour! Particularly those duck related ones where they ask everyone to quack. Everyone needs a good quack every now and then! The amphibious tour in Halifax Nova Scotia is called the Harbour Hopper and is Atlantic Canada’s number one tour. It is well worth doing and good value for money.
I also wrote an entire post on this as well – Check out the Harbour Hopper Halifax.
7. Top Things to do in Halifax – Go to the Library
The Halifax Central Library has received many accolades since opening in 2014. The building is high tech and sustainable and it is a fantastic space. I found it great for photographs and exploring. Also, one of the best coffees I had in Halifax was at the Pavia cafe on the top floor. There are some nice views from up there as well.
8. Best Things to do in Halifax – Check out the Gardens
Somewhat surprisingly the number one activity in Halifax on Trip Advisor is the Halifax Public Gardens! These lovely gardens are easily accessible in the downtown area. These lovely Victoria Inspired Gardens have been open to the public since 1875.
9. Drink some Tidal Bay
Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia. This white wine must be made from 100% Nova Scotia grapes. It is a fresh and crisp white wine. Wineries are left to develop their own blends within guidelines. This means there are some interesting variations across the appellation and increases the chances of finding one that works for you! I found this a very drinkable white wine!
A great way to enjoy Tidal bay is at Wines on the Water Wednesdays. This cruise has a 5-course sampling menu with local wines as you sail the Halifax harbour aboard the Tall Ship Silva. The cruises run on Wednesdays from 7-9pm during the summer.
10. Eat as much seafood as possible
The seafood in Halifax – and Nova Scotia in general – is absolutely outstanding!!! The Five Fishermen and The Bicycle Thief are great Halifax classics for amazing seafood meals. For a classic Nova Scotia lobster dinner head to The Press Gang. Bar Kismet is known for sophisticated cocktails and a seafood-forward menu.
11. Head up Citadel Hill
The Halifax Citadel is one of the most visited national historic sites in Canada. The fort is easily explored on your own and good for photos. And don’t miss the Old Town Clock on the way – one of Halifax’s most recognisable sights.
12. Hang out in the North End
The North End is the “trendy” (I do hate that word!) area of Halifax. This is where you will find the cool coffee shops, small brands and cute boutiques. There are also some very cute and colourful houses in this area. It is a great place to eat and shop and stroll around.
The North End is, well, literally north of the downtown area! A good street to start with Agricola and walk away from the downtown area.
13. Visit Hydrostone Market
Completed in 1929, this area rose from the ashes of the Halifax Explosion and is an English-style garden suburb. It is a small area filled with cute boutiques and great places to eat. The area is bordered by Novalea Drive, Young Street, Isleville street and Duffus Street. Young Street is a great place to start exploring.
Just to clarify, this isn’t an actual market or marketplace (which I assumed huge traveller that I am!!) it is the name for a series of streets.
14. Have ice cream and a burrito at Dee Dee’s.
It is an unusual combination but it works! I just went with the ice cream when I visited and it was fantastic – creamy and so delicious with a wide array of flavours. And Dee Dee offers vegan options. Dee Dee’s also has a kiosk at Pegg’s Cove during the summer.
15. Drink some Rum
Rum is a big deal in Nova Scotia. At first, that seemed strange to me as it is a drink I associate with warmer climates. But then of course rum is also associated with sailors so it makes a lot of sense that it is a big deal in Nova Scotia!
The Halifax Distilling Company is on the waterfront and offers tours, rum tastings, has a restaurant – really it has it all happening for rum! The other place for rum is Ironworks Distillery. They are based in Lunenburg (definitely do the tour if you head to Lunenburg) but operate at Halifax Farmers Market on Saturdays complete with tastings!
16. Visit what was the Titanic morgue
The bodies of the victims of the Titanic were brought to Halifax. The wealthier victims went to Jon Snow’s funeral home on Argyll Street. This building is now the home of the fantastic Five Fishermen restaurant. It is said that this building is haunted by the dead who have passed through it and that ghosts are often heard or seen.
I was told during my visit that they were most common in the bathrooms but alas I just had some amazing seafood and local wine and no ghost sitings!
17. Lie in a Hammock
These orange hammocks are on the Halifax Waterfront. They are a nice place to rest but best of all they are very photogenic!
18. Visit Dartmouth
Just a 15-minute ferry ride from Halifax Harbour is Dartmouth. It has a small walkable downtown with local cafes, restaurants, bars, galleries and a lovely boardwalk. The main street is called Portland Street and there are lots of local businesses on it.
Dartmouth has lots of interesting places to eat – The Canteen, Battery Park, Il Trullo, the Wooden Monkey. Evan’s Fresh Seafood and U Pick Fish Seafood Shack for fish and chips. And don’t miss The Watch that Ends the Night – brilliant name inspired by the 1958 novel. They offer a range of well-sized tasting/sharing plates.
19. Take advantage of the Instagram opportunity on the Halifax Waterfront.
The waterfront itself is very Instagram friendly -, particularly in the right light. The Drunken Lampposts demand to be photographed. These are three bend light posts that were installed as a pop-up but were so popular they became a permanent fixture. The red bicycle sculpture outside The Bicycle Thief restaurant is another good photo opportunity, as are the hammocks I mentioned above.
20. Buy some Pewter Earrings
Amos Pewter employs Artisans to make a range of Pewter products that are just lovely. I bought some pewter earrings when I visited and have worn them loads. They have a big store on the waterfront, one at Peggy’s Cove and if I remember correctly some stuff at Halifax airport.
21. Cycle the Rum Runners Trail
The Rum Runners Trail from Halifax to Lunenburg is a 119 km multi-use path and includes lovely Mahone Bay. Cycle part or all of it – there are many access points. This is a great way to really experience Nova Scotia – and justify more seafood and Tidal Bay wine!
22. Day trip to Lunenburg
This gorgeous little town is only 4 square km or 48 blocks and has only 2,263 permanent residents. Old Town of Lunenburg was named a UNESCO site in 1995. It is Instagram heaven with colourful houses lining the streets, a picturesque harbour, great food and super cute street signs.Book a Day Trip from Halifax to Lunenburg Here
23. Day trip to Wolfville
One of the centres of the Canadian wine industry is the lovely Annapolis Valley and the town of Wolfville Nova Scotia. This beautiful area contains wineries, cider houses, breweries, dairies and all sorts of delicious producers.
Book a Wolfville day trip that focuses on Sparkling Wine and Cider here.Book here for a Wolfville Wine Tasting Day Trip from Halifax
24. Day trip to Peggys Cove
Peggy’s Cove is the home of Peggy’s Point Lighthouse – often referred to as the most famous lighthouse in all of Canada – and Canada has a lot of lighthouses! Peggy’s Point Lighthouse has been sending out its beacon since 1868.
It is obviously a very popular tourist spot. What surprised me was that given how popular it is the town of Peggy’s Cove and the lighthouse itself are still extremely beautiful – and not in a Venice style grown-up story book way.Book your day trip from Halifax to Peggys Cove Here
25. Take a Taste tour
As you may have picked up by now Halifax is a great foodie city! To get a broad feel of that scene check out Taste Halifax Food Tour. They offer an eating tour with 6-7 stops and a Happy Hour tour. Head out of Halifax on the Half Day Annapolis Valley food tour. Or stay in Halifax with the popular Open Kitchen Food Tour is run by Local Tasting Tours.
Restaurants Downtown Halifax
I enjoyed amazing meals at two Halifax classics. First up was Five Fishermen. The building in which this restaurant lives was used as a mortuary during the time of the Titanic. It is where the bodies from the disaster ended up. Rumour has it that there are ghosts in the bathrooms. Unfortunately, I did not see any! Fortunately, I had an amazing meal here!
I chose a seafood platter as I am rather Atlantic seafood obsessed and it was amazing! It is a lovely, atmospheric restaurant with a nice bar. The service was friendly and fantastic. The dessert was great. Really everything was fantastic about the Five Fishermen!
The Bicycle Thief is on the waterfront and another local classic. I enjoyed a fantastic seafood pasta here. It is a little more old fashioned of an interior compared to the Five Fishermen but it does have outdoor dining! And fabulous food.
For Spanish tapas/pintxos check out The Highwayman on Barrington Street. No reservations and a moody atmosphere make it perfect for pre-dinner drinks or a whole dinner of tapas!
For a classic Nova Scotia lobster dinner head to The Press Gang. If you’re after Mexican look no farther than Antojo Tacos and Tequilas. If you’re after some red meat, head to the Barrington Steakhouse and Bar.
Places to Eat in Halifax – The North End
One of Halifax’s top restaurants, The Kitchen Table is also the only place in Halifax offering a daily eight-course tasting menu. Bar Kismet is known for sophisticated cocktails and a seafood-forward menu. For Japanese head to Kitsune Food Co – it only has 4 seats so you may need to make it takeaway but locals swear by its takeaway.
EDNA (Eat Drink Nourish Always) has received rave reviews since opening in 2013. Delicious food and a no reservations policy means it is important to arrive early to avoid a major queue. Little Oak Bar is a sleek wine bar with a chalkboard menu with tasty small plates.
The Brooklyn Warehouse brought hipster dining to Halifax ten years ago and continues to offer a fantastic local focussed menu that changes with the seasons. Best of all they have a wine program that guarantees no more than a $15 mark up on bottles!
For amazing food as well as stunning interior design head to Agricola Street Brasserie. As much as done in house as possible including the bread. The current focus is on hand-made pasta and of course Atlantic seafood. For classic fish and chips try Willman’s.
Halifax Boutique Hotels
Halifax is a little light on the ground when it comes to the full-on boutique hotel movement. But that’s ok as my gosh it is a town with a lot to offer in terms of food, wine, views and things to do. And there are quite a few very nice hotels with good thread counts available!
I stayed at the Delta Halifax (thanks for sponsoring my stay guys!). I had a lovely stay. The staff are super friendly and the location is great. And the food!!! I must confess I was a little snobby going in when it came to the food and boy did I get it wrong! I had a fantastic seafood dinner there (and thanks to George for the introduction to Digby scallops!) and they have a great local wine list. The breakfast is also sensational – a choice of a la carte or a fantastic buffet breakfast menu.
If you want another option then you will be looking at B and Bs – here are a few that sounded decent:
The Haliburton Hotel is known as one of Halifax’s most romantic places to stay. It also has a lovely restaurant called Stories with seating on hidden patio.
How to get to Halifax and how to get around
Halifax is an international airport and the main airport for Atlantic Canada. It contains pre-clearance for US customs which is super helpful.
You won’t need a car within Halifax itself as most of the key things to do are within walking distance. However, if you want to go beyond Halifax (which you totally should as there are loads of fab day trips) either look at a tour (see below) or hire a car.
Don’t forget to get take out travel insurance before you go – here are some great deals on travel insurance.
If you click through on some of the links in this post and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure you knew.
Thanks very much to Visit Nova Scotia for helping me to plan and sponsoring my trip to fabulous Nova Scotia.