Halifax is the unique capital of Nova Scotia and despite boasting the friendliness of a small town, it is an energetic and vibrant urban city in eastern Canada.
Add the fact that the city has more pubs and clubs per capita than almost any other city in Canada, and it is quite understandable why more and more people are heading on low cost flights to Canada to visit this Atlantic Ocean port.
Don’t just take our word for it though as Dave Brett, the UK’s leading solo adventure travel blogger who shares his ventures through his Travel Dave blog, says Halifax is a great starting point for you if you’re travelling around Nova Scotia.
“Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada, and Halifax makes for a great starting point for any visitor to the province. The flying time from the UK is the shortest compared to any other city in Canada so you have no excuse not to make the trip over.”
If you’re planning to stay for a couple of days in Halifax during your Canadian holiday check out the best things you can see and do in the area.
Our suggested itinerary
Morning – Go on a guided tour of the historic city
Afternoon – Stay on the cultural theme with a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Evening – Experience Halifax’s incredible cuisine
Morning – Visit the iconic Brewery Market
Afternoon – Take in Nova Scotia’s beautiful landscapes at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Evening – Walk along the Halifax Waterfront and get a view of the skyline from a taxi boat
Morning: Go on a guided tour of the historic city
The best way to introduce yourself to Halifax is on a guided tour of the city. One of the most popular tours is with Halifax Tour Guys.
Halifax Tour Guys offer a range of private guided tours that include the Historic City of Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, the Titanic Historical Site, Lunenburg, and various other Valley Wine Tasting and Oceanside Drive Tours of mainland Nova Scotia.
Tom Mills, who is the marketing manager at the tour company, explains why you should go on a tour with them.
“Halifax Tour Guys is the #1 Private Tour Company in Nova Scotia that offers private guided tours which reflect our local culture and history. We go the extra mile to make sure you experience all we have to offer.
“Visitors who travel to Nova Scotia by cruise ship, plane, and car can choose one of our suggested tours or customize to suit your own interests and time constraints. Whether a conventional tour, shore excursion, or individual tour, we adapt to suit your schedule.”
The Halifax Historic City tour is a four-hour trip that can be customised to take in the sights you’re burning to see. During the insightful tour you’ll be able to see Pier 21 where the immigration museum is, the Halifax Citadel Guards and the Halifax Public Gardens to name just a few highlights.
Dave Brett says that the citadel is a great place to start just for its great views.
“A trip to the citadel on the hill is always a good place to start to get a good overlook of the city and learn about the city’s history.”
Afternoon: Stay on the cultural theme with a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
The next stop on your itinerary should be the impressive Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Located in a National Historic Site that was the gateway to Canada for nearly one-million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. To really get insight into the lives of the immigrants who risked everything to come to Canada, explore the moving accounts and displays of beautiful artifacts like costumes and trunks packed with surprises in our two core exhibitions.
A spokesperson for the museum recommends some of the things you can do during your visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration, “Reserve a couple hours, and wear comfy shoes because it’s worth experiencing the whole Museum. Our temporary exhibition Refuge Canada depicts Canada’s place in the global refuge crisis. This powerful exhibition is on until November 11. Bookend your Museum experience by tracing your family’s history in our Scotia Bank Family History Centre, with access to historical immigration records from ports in Canada and the US.”
Evening: Experience Halifax’s incredible cuisine
Thanks to its location on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax specialises in seafood. The lobster here is legendary as some of the biggest and juiciest in the world. Mussels and clams also make star appearances in the city’s fresh dining scene.
Chef Darren R. Lewis, Operations Manager and Co-owner at Chives Canadian Bistro and 2 Doors Down tells us about what you can expect at both restaurants.
“Both restaurants have the same philosophy, fresh and local product, creating contemporary Canadian cuisine with international influences. We have come to be known as a go-to for a quality dining experience, whether you are looking for something on the dinner dining end of things or a more casual experience.
“Our menus change seasonally and within a season, depending on what is newly available at the market. Summer tends to see more grilled meats and seafood options at Chives, whereas 2 Doors down feature more of a gastropub/neighbourhood restaurant feel.
“2 Doors Down also has a relaxed bar area with many local craft beers on tap, wines by the glass and a very creative cocktail program. Many guests enjoy a drink before dinner at either restaurants or a nightcap thereafter.”
The city is famed for its food and Lindsay Nelson from Eat This Town gives us a little insight into why it is so renowned.
“Haligonians are very proud of what we grow and produce locally. Proximity to the coast and to Nova Scotia’s breadbasket (the Annapolis Valley) supplies us with an abundance of fresh, local foods. Local wine and craft beer round out every meal. Being the largest urban centre in Atlantic Canada, we attract great culinary talent, and we are somehow cosmopolitan while still having that small town feel. The lifestyle here is laid back. You’ll always see people out dining and making merry.”
She also recommends some other eateries you could try seafood and pizza in the city during your stay.
“For seafood: Take the ferry over to Evan’s Fresh Seafoods, a fisherman-owned counter serving up local specialties like fish ‘n chips and lobster poutine. Mappatura Bistro serves casual Italian fare with piles of excellent seafood, while Bar Kismet pushes the status quo with unique and trendy seafood dishes. You also won’t go wrong at Edna or Highwayman – destination restaurants in themselves! For a traditional lobster dinner, don’t waste your money at a fancy restaurant – drive out to The Shore Club in Hubbards. You won’t get any better than that!
“We love our pizza in Halifax, and there is nowhere more beloved than Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo Trattoria, specializing in New York Italian-style pizzas prepared with only the best ingredients.”
Morning: Visit the iconic Brewery Market
You can’t visit Halifax without trying its famous foods, crafts and beers now can you?
As we’ve mentioned there are more pubs and clubs per capita than any other city in Canada and for those of you who enjoy tasting the local tipple, you should head to the iconic Halifax Brewery Farmers Market.
Walk along the boardwalk, take in the shops and then visit this unique space for a fabulous morning.
Talking about the market, Alison Lynes, the Market Manager, adds, “The Halifax Brewery Market is an indoor and outdoor farmers’ market running year-round in the historic Alexander Keith Brewery Square. Our market was founded in 2010, but there has been a well-loved local foods market onsite since 1983. Every week we welcome more than 40 local vendors selling amazing foods, produce, crafts and beverages.”
The market has had some renovations done and this summer you’ll be able to enjoy a new exterior courtyard, kitchen space and atrium – filled with the best that Nova Scotia has to offer!
The market is open from 7am-1pm from April to December or 8am-1pm from January to March.
Afternoon: Take in Nova Scotia’s beautiful landscapes at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The exhibition, An Abecedary of Printmakers in Nova Scotia has us drifting away on east coast vibes. Visit us to see these amazing local prints. | #halifaxnoise #haligonia #halifax #downtownhalifax #art #novascotia #wearenovascotia #printmaking #narcityhalifax #discoverhalifax pic.twitter.com/0bHAxdS5d0
— Art Gallery of NS (@ArtGalleryNS) December 23, 2017
Cultural explorers should certainly head to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia as it is the province’s largest art museum.
The art gallery will allow you to experience Nova Scotia’s beautiful regional landscapes and scenes through photography work on paper and paintings while also seeing works from around the world.
Colin Stinson, the Marketing and Visitor Experience Director at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, says there are lots of must-see attractions at the gallery.
“The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia houses the largest public collection of works by the iconic Canadian folk artist, Maud Lewis. One of the best-known pieces in the collections is Maud Lewis’ Painted House, which the gallery has on permanent display in the Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery. This house is the actual structure that Maud Lewis shared with her husband Everett, and is considered her greatest masterpiece. The life of Maud Lewis was recently featured in the 2017 film Maudie which received rave reviews and increased visitation to the province and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
“In addition to the Scotiabank Maud Lewis Gallery guests should be sure to visit the exhibition ‘Shifting Ground’ which explores the intrinsic connections between the past and the present, nature and culture, time and space through the art of Indigenous Peoples.”
There are daily tours on offer at 2 pm and if you’re visiting the gallery on a Thursday you can get free entry from 5 pm to 9 pm as part of BMO Free Access Thursday Nights.
Evening: Walk along the Halifax Waterfront and get a view of the skyline from a taxi boat
To round off your two days in this historic port city, stroll along the Halifax waterfront and enjoy the eclectic shops, restaurants and the close-up views of impressive ships.
Talking about views, Dave Brett from Travel Dave says you should get a taxi boat to enjoy a view of the skyline as well as stop off at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.
“Enjoy a walk along the Halifax Waterfront and discover the wonderful local music scene at night time. Grab the local taxi boat to Dartmouth, which offers an affordable view of the skyline from the water.
“My favourite spot is located at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market which can be found at the end of the Waterfront walk.”
During your last night, Dave Brett says you should also look to try some of Halifax’s most iconic dishes such as donair and the lobster roll.
“Try a donair, the Canadian take on a donor kebab that was created in Halifax.
“A trip to Halifax wouldn’t be complete without trying one of the most popular dishes in the local area, the lobster roll. Seafood is incredible in Halifax due to its rich maritime history, so don’t miss out. Be sure to enjoy one of these tasty sandwiches with a wonderful craft beer from the local area for that ultimate Nova Scotia experience.”
Day trips you can enjoy from Halifax
After your two days in Halifax you can use the city as a starting point for some days trips. Below are two of the most popular places to explore.
While Nova Scotia is home to more than 160 lighthouses, there is none more photographed than Peggy’s Cove.
Built in 1915, the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse still watches over the ocean’s waves and working lobster boats.
The port town of Lunenburg is also a perfect day trip for those spending a few more days in Halifax and it is highly recommended by Dave Brett, who has visited Lunenburg before.
“Take a day trip to Lunenburg – a gorgeous community with a strong seafaring heritage, and cute and colourful houses that line the coast.”
The UNESCO World Heritage site has narrow streets and unique architecture that make it one of the world’s most spectacular and distinctive waterfronts.
Feeling inspired? Plan a visit to this great city during your next Canadian trip and take a look at our Nova Scotia holidays.