Halifax is a coastal Canadian city that belongs at the top of your weekend getaway list. There are plenty of things to do in Halifax on a girl’s weekend or travelling with your significant other.
I visited Halifax with one thing in mind: Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s Cove was fantastic, but there were so many more things to do in Halifax that I didn’t know about. Much to my surprise, this city also has a fantastic night life and restaurant scene. It’s also the perfect place for art and history lovers. Halifax was once the first docking place of new immigrants to Canada and it has a fascinating naval history and some beautiful art galleries.
I’ve compiled a guide to Halifax of the best restaurants, bars, cool activities and museums, and a few ideas for getting outside the city – plus, some helpful info on getting around.
What to Expect in Halifax
What is Halifax known for?
Halifax, like much of the Canadian East Coast, is known for lobster and a beautiful waterfront. Blueberries, apples, and a historically important port are also staples of Halifax. Many immigrants to Canada came through Halifax throughout the 1920’s to 1980’s.
When is the best time to visit Halifax?
The best time to visit Halifax is May through October. Enjoy the long days, nice weather, and an ocean breeze. Halifax is also beautiful (and cheaper) in the winter and you can still visit the museums but might find exploring the coast a bit more treacherous due to snowfall.
What food is Halifax known for?
Halifax is most known for it’s seafood, but quite honestly I think it should be known for a whole lot more. The food in Halifax was a pleasant surprise. If you love to eat, this is the city for you. Scroll down for my restaurant recommendations!
How to get around in Halifax?
Halifax is small and mostly walkable, and also has a great transit system (that goes pretty far outside the city if you feel like an adventure). Check the website for fares and route planning.
Getting to Halifax
Halifax can be reached by plane or by car if you’re driving through the maritimes. Porter Airlines has well-priced, non-stop direct flights to Halifax from major cities on the East Coast of Canada and the U.S.A. Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York City, and Chicago just to name a few! . Check out where they fly.
I had a great experience flying with Porter ( I flew in to Moncton, spent a few days in Prince Edward Island, and flew home from Halifax). Onboard they serve free snacks and drinks including wine and beer! Personal items are permitted at no extra cost. Flights from Ottawa to Halifax (prices may vary) with Porter Airlines run about $400 CAD round trip. Aventura Points can also be used towards Porter Airline flights if you book through CIBC rewards!
Disclosure: I received a media rate for my flight. It was a great flight and I will definitely fly Porter again!
Things to do in Halifax
Attractions and Museums in Halifax
If you love beer then no doubt you’ve heard of Alexander Keith, an immigrant from Scotland who founded a brewery in Halifax in 1820. Visit for history, beer samples, and lots of singing! Book your tour in advance.
The Citadel Historic Site
Overlooking Halifax is the Citadel Historic Site. This was one of my favourite things to do in Halifax because I love history! The Citadel was never attacked but it was an operating fortress for quite some time. Take a guided tour, see the sentry change, or visit for an evening gosh tour (8:30PM). General admission information.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Visiting this museum would rank among one of the top 5 things to do in Halifax if I had to choose – particularly if you go on one of the fantastic guided tours. Our guide told stories that made us laugh and cry. I was also impressed by the museum’s objective presentation of history – even when it isn’t flattering for Canada. The museum is located at Pier 21, a former ocean linear terminal and immigration shed until 1971. View hours and admission.
Take the Ferry to Dartmouth
Catch the ferry from the Halifax Ferry Terminal for just $2.50 and take the ferry to Dartmouth. Go for a walk on the other side to spot street art and enjoy a great view of the harbour. I recommend stopping at Two if By Sea café (view on map) for a coffee and fresh pastry – if you can get a scone, it will be one of the best scones you ever eat!
Board the HMCS Sackville
Climb on board Canada’s oldest warship on the harbour front. The HMCS Sackville if the last surviving Flower-class corvette and was used during World War II. It was crucial in the Battle of the Atlantic! Today it’s a museum ship that you can visit during your time in Halifax.
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Immerse yourself in Nova Scotia’s maritime history at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic located on the waterfront. This museum tells stories from maritime history including the Halifax Explosion of 1917 and even the Titanic. I was amazed by some of the artefacts included in this museum! View hours and admission. TIP: the museum is free after 5PM on Tuesday!
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia features an impressive collection of art from or focusing on Nova Scotia – including Maud Lewis’ house! The gallery has an interesting design to it where you actually have to go underground and cross over to get to other sections. It’s huge! If you’re feeling like it seems strangely small (like we were) then you just haven’t found the other half yet. Hours and admission.
Explore the Water
Seeing the harbour from the water is a whole different experience, and water sports are a must of the East Coast! Rent a single or double kayak to explore on your own, or embark on an guided adventure with a local tour operator like Kayak Halifax, Kattuk Expeditions, or East Coast Outfitters. TIP: St. Mary’s Boat Club offers free canoe rentals on the weekends for up to an hour!
Free Things to do in Halifax
The last two activities in the section above also have free options – this include canoeing and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic!
The Halifax Public Gardens
The public gardens are a Victorian style garden in central Halifax – perfect for a summer days! They were established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. The gardens range from the classic and colourful to massive desert-style succulent beds. Visiting the Halifax Public Gardens is one of the many great free things to do in Halifax! View on Map.
The Halifax Central Library
The was built in 2014 but it’s already gained huge popularity because of it’s beautiful architecture. The staircase inside is beautiful, and will take you up to the top floor where you can enjoy panoramic views and get a coffee at the café. View on Map.
Halifax Waterfront at Sunset
Take a stroll along the Halifax waterfront at sunset. During the day Halifax seems like a typical harbour but as the sun goes down and the lights along the boardwalk come on it’s pure magic! Make sure you find the CANADA sign and the HALIFAX sign at the Northern end of the board walk (hint: it’s near here) and the Drunken Lamposts at the Southern end.
Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market
Here’s something I didn’t know before visiting: Halifax is home to the oldest continuously operate farmer’s market in North America. Have lunch and treat yourself to some homemade baked goods. I ate the best cinnamon bun of all time at the market! The market only operates on Saturday mornings and you’ll find it down by the port. It’s free to enter but you will probably want to spend a little!
The Halifax Clock Tower
Make your way up the hill to Halifax’s most iconic landmark: the clock tower. From here you will have fantastic view of Halifax and the harbour below. It’s a great place to watch the sun go down! View on Map.
Point Pleasant Park
Explore Point Pleasant Park. It’s full of beautiful walking trails and important historical landmarks including the Naval Memorial and Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site, and others. View on Map.
Fairview Lawn Cemetery
The Fairview Lawn Cemetery is the burial place for many victims of the Titanic. It’s a somber, lovely place to go for a walk at the Northern end of Halifax. View on Map.
Restaurants and Bars in Halifax
Robie Street Station
Stubborn Goat – Waterfront
aFrite – Waterfront
Two if by the Sea – Dartmouth
Coffee Shop: a must-visit café – you’ll want to get here early to enjoy a fresh pastry! If there are any scones left when you arrive, try one. Check Instagram for their croissant of the week! Location.
The Old Apothecary Bakery
Coffee Shop: a super cute space with delicious treats and drinks and vintage decor. Location
Vandals Donuts – Downtown
The Middle Spoon + Noble Speakeasy – Downtown
Treat Yourself & Drinks: the most delicious desserts of all time and the fanciest cocktails ever. This place is a must for after-dinner drinks. If you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, get yourself in to the secret speakeasy underneath. P.S. if I ever go back to Halifax Middle Spoon is the first place I will go. Instagram / Location
East of Grafton – Downtown
Stilwell Beer Garden
Bar Kismet – Downtown
Antojo Tacos & Tequila – Downtown
Lot Six – Downtown
The Bicycle Thief – Waterfront
Halifax Ale House – Downtown
Drinks / Live Music: true to Halifax history, the building is from 1893 and the food is traditional tavern food. Come for drinks, dinner, and live music. There are specials most nights! Instagram / Location
Drinks / Live music: for lively evening fun head to Lower Deck. This multi-level bar has long benches on the first floor giving it a fun, big group feel while you listen to live music by local performers. Location
Wild Leek Food & Juice Bar
Vegan: a small and delicious restaurant and bakery. Great lunch and fresh baked goods! Instagram / Location