Let me start by saying this: people in Halifax know how to have a good time. A visit to the historic waterfront capital of Halifax is punctuated by a lot of eating, drinking, and most of all, laughing.
Make the most of your time in Nova Scotia’s big city with our ‘must-do’ city guide.
Best explored on foot
Halifax is one of those cities where everything is within walking distance. Put on your walking shoes and take to the streets on foot to experience the city like a local.
First, stroll to the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk, one of the world’s longest downtown boardwalks. The three-kilometre stretch is home to lots of little shops and boutiques, and some of the best culinary and cultural experiences in Halifax. Visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Alexander Keith’s Brewery (we’ll explore these in more detail below). Take in the street performers, stop for something to eat, and soak up the sun as you explore the waterfront.
Street performing is a popular pastime in Halifax. Time your visit for the Halifax International Busker Festival, the largest outdoor festival in Canada. For six days every year, you can walk through the city streets alongside musicians, puppeteers, fire dancers, and pavement artists. You might bump into the next Cirque du Soleil superstar or a world-record holder as you sip your morning coffee.
Take a stroll through the Halifax Public Gardens, 16 acres of colourful trees, exotic floral displays, statues, and fountains, dating back to the mid-19th century.
When your walking shoes wear out, pay a visit to I Heart Bikes. Rent a bike or join them on a two-wheeled tour of Halifax with guides to share their knowledge about the city’s history and culture.
Wine and dine
Built up an appetite? Quality seafood is everywhere in the waterfront city of Halifax. Dive into fresh fish and chips while walking the boardwalk, or head into a fine dining restaurant for a more refined take on the catch of the day. You can also take a local tasting tour to experience a wider variety of eats.
The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market is foodie heaven. Established in 1750, it’s the longest continuously operating market in North America. Stroll from stall to stall, enjoying the ready-made meals that span African to Lebanese, Indian to Italian, and of course, local Canadian cuisine. Alternatively, select from fresh meats, seafood, and produce, and prepare your own meal fit for a king.
Head out on the town and sample the talents of the incredible chefs in Halifax’s top restaurants. The American-Italian cuisine at the Bicycle Thief scored a coveted “50 best restaurants in Canada” nomination in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine. A fresh spin on local ingredients earned both Morris East and 2 Doors Down a spot on the Food Network’s ‘You Gotta Eat Here!’ Head downtown and allow the tempting aromas to draw you in.
Halifax has one of the largest ratios of bars and clubs per capita in Canada – the mark of a city that knows how to have a good time! There are dozens of pubs with live music and a popular craft brewery scene, featuring breweries with fun names like Propeller, Garrison, and Granite.
Pay a visit to the iconic Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Built in 1820 by Mr. Keith himself, a legendary brewer and three-time Halifax mayor, the brewery is an essential stop for any beer lover. Take a tour, peek into the Keiths’ home, and learn how hops become this popular Canadian brew. Finish up at the Stag's Head Tavern — Mr. Keith's private Victorian tavern — and play bar games while sampling a flight of Alexander Keith’s beers.
Rich in history
Take the time to get to know Halifax’s rich history that has been preserved for locals and visitors to enjoy.
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada allows you to experience military life in the 19th century. Watch the changing of the sentry guard, listen for the Noon Gun or don a full battle uniform on the fields where clashes took place. As a ‘Soldier for a Day’ you’ll fire their rifles, eat their food, and live their life — if only for a few hours.
Nova Scotia’s military history is strongly related to its maritime history, found on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. You’ll find small crafts and sailboats, discover war convoys and cruise ships, explore Halifax’s link to the Titanic, and learn about the catastrophic 1917 Halifax Explosion that would shape the future of the city.
A final must-visit piece of Halifax’s history is the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. A million people passed through Pier 21 on their way in or out of Canada, and a fifth of Canadians have some family connection to this National Historic Site. Search ship rosters in the Immigration Database, view the photographs and see the hope and fear in the eyes of refugees and soldiers leaving for war, and learn how a nation of immigrants came to be.
For more information on Halifax, visit the Nova Scotia Tourism website.