Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia: An Inside Look Into The City’s Unmissable Attractions

These exciting things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will help you plan the most incredible visit for a weekend or longer in Nova Scotia’s capital.

Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

When it comes to the coolest cities in Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia ranks among the top. Halifax may be the largest city in Atlantic Canada, but it still maintains a small-town feel. And along the friendly boardwalks and ample bars (the most per capita in Canada), the festive atmosphere runs all year round.

From surfing to pub-crawling, foodie scenes, and outdoor adventures, there are more things to do in Halifax than you can pack into a weekend. The capital of Nova Scotia is a lot more than a jumping-off point for the wonders of Nova Scotia, such as Peggy’s Cove and the Acadian Shores. This is a thrill-a-minute city that offers something for everyone.

Halifax is one of the friendliest cities in Canada. The Maritimes vibe is real here, and you’ll find warm, welcoming people throughout.

About Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fort Charlotte Lighthouse on Georges Island Halifax
For Charlotte Lighthouse on Georges Island – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Halifax is the capital of the Maritime province of Nova Scotia. This city of just under 500,000 residents sits on the eastern shores of central Nova Scotia, about mid-way between Cape Breton Island and the Acadian Shores.

The city sits on the traditional land s of the Miꞌkmaq peoples. The city was established by the protestant British, who invaded the region, breaking treaties with the Mi’kmaq and forcing the expulsion of the Catholic French and Acadian residents from their already-established colonies.

With its bustling seaports, the city is also the site of one of the greatest naval disasters in Canadian history. In “The Narrows” between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin, the SS Mont-Blanc collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS IMO.

The Mont-Blanc, which was carrying munitions for the First World War, exploded catastrophically, killing over 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 more. It was the largest artificial explosion on the planet before the development of nuclear weapons.

Halifax might have received its greater notoriety as the final destination of the SS Titanic, which sank, tragically into the waters of the North Atlantic, along with Leonardo DiCaprio, who definitely could have fit on that door with Rose.

It’s not all marine tragedy in Halifax, though. Modern-day Halifax is an economic powerhouse for Canada and the Atlantic Shores. The city is hip, urban, and full of flair. It’s also among the most family-friendly cities in the country. The city has a burgeoning food scene and is the birthplace of the “Donair.”

This unique take on the Gyro is a pita filled with spit-roasted beef, typically served with tomatoes and onions and slathered in a unique, sweet, and tangy sauce.

Things To Do In Halifax

There are loads of awesome things to do in Halifax that are sure to thrill all tastes. Here’s our top take on some of the can’t-miss attractions to fill your visit to the city.

Eat a Donair

Halifax Donair at Mezza Lebanese Cuisine
Halifax Donair at Mezza Lebanese Cuisine – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

If you’re anything like me, travelling makes you hungry. And the best way to chill the hanger and get introduced to the Halifax food scene is with a Donair.

Head to the famous “Pizza Corner” at Grafton and Blowers Streets, where a collection of late-night restaurants has merged, and enjoy this Halifax original King of Donair. You can even collect yourself an official King of Donair crown.

Take A Tour of the Alexander Keith’s Brewery

Woman serving beer at Alexander Keiths Brewery in Halifax
Beer is served at Alexander Keiths Brewery – Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia

Alexander Keith’s is a staple of the Canadian beer scene. And if you love beer (which we at We Explore Canada unashamedly do), this makes for one of the coolest things to do in Halifax.

You can enjoy some traditional east coast ale while learning about Alexander Keith’s fascinating history. This is one of the oldest breweries in North America. And if you love great beer and even better stories, it shouldn’t be missed.

You’ll be introduced to various shades of ale, music, and even a free Ceilidh. This Scottish folk music and storytelling is East Coast culture at its finest.

Stroll the Halifax Boardwalk

My absolute favourite place to spend time in Halifax is along the boardwalk. The vibrant atmosphere and constant bustle make this one of the best ways to have fun in the city.

Situated along the Halifax harbour, this is one of the oldest and most important places to visit in Halifax. It’s packed with food vendors, restaurants, shops, ice cream parlours, and some of the most important cultural stops in the city, including the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Bishop’s Landing, the Discovery Centre, and the Canadian Museum of Immigration.

During summer in Halifax, the four kilometres of the Halifax boardwalk is a frenzy of activity. There are loads of games, pop-up vendors, and fun experiences for all ages.

Stroll Through Your Past At The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Woman at the Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia

I’ll be honest, when I first visited the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, my expectations were not high. I hadn’t given much thought to my family’s history in the country. Well, that was an oversight that I won’t let happen again.

Pier 21 in the Halifax Harbour was the place where most new immigrants to Canada arrived between 1865 and 1935. If you can trace your family history in the country back more than a few decades, it’s likely that someone in your family first set foot on Canadian soil at Pier 21. One in five Canadians is related to someone who passed through here. Including me.

The museum traces the history of immigration to our country through photography, interactive displays, and storytelling. You can trace your family’s history through the Scotiabank Family History Centre records.

Follow the path of the Titanic at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Couple walks through the Halifax Maritime Museum
Halifax Maritime Museum – Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Acorn Art Photography

Taking a quick look at your surroundings while in Halifax will make it pretty clear that naval history is HUGELY important to those in the city. And if you want to get up to speed with just how deep that history goes, you’ll want to make a stop at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

This museum showcases the important marine heritage of the city. Among the many amazing exhibits including a permanent collection of Titanic Artifacts. For those looking to pay tribute, the graves of the victims of the Titanic are buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery and Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Climb Aboard the CSS Acadia

It’s hard not to notice the CSS Acadia while strolling the Halifax waterfront. This 20th-century warship is the only surviving ship to have served the Royal Canadian Navy during both world wars.

Strolling the ship’s decks, with its massive turrets and tiny crew quarters offers a humbling look into the lives of the Canadian Navy during some of their most intense battles. The Acadia was the Navy’s longest-serving vessel and is over 100 years old.

Take In The View from Citadel Hill

Soldier posing at the Halifax Citadel
Soldier posing at the Halifax Citadel – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Among all of the amazing places to visit in Halifax, Citadel Hill stands among the best. Climb the knoll to the entrance of the Halifax Citadel and step back in time into the lives of 19th-century soldiers.

Give yourself at least a few hours to explore the many sites and experiences of the Citadel. Make sure to stay for the changing of the guard and the firing of the canons, and watch the soldiers shoot authentic muskets.

You can also wander through the museums, galleries, live re-enactments, and more. There’s also a nice cafe on-site that serves up coffee, drinks, and snacks.

Wander the Tunnels of George’s Island

Walls of Fort Charlotte at Georges Island
Walls of Fort Charlotte at Georges Island – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Situated perfectly between Halifax and Dartmouth, George’s Islands is one of the coolest places to visit in Halifax.

Take the ferry from the Halifax harbour and wander the historic fort with underground tunnels, a lighthouse, and two-hundred years of history.

On the island, you’ll walk with characters in period gear through Fort Charlotte and learn all about life at this unique and important military fort. You can even order a Parks Canada Perfect Picnic online and enjoy a meal on the island looking out over the Halifax Harbour.

Things To Do Near Halifax

The best things to do in Halifax don’t stop at the city’s border. There are plenty of things to do near Halifax for those spending a bit more time in the city or looking for some short Halifax day trips.

Paddle along the shores of Fisherman’s Cove

Sunset at Fisherman's Wharf, Halifax
Sunset at Fisherman’s Wharf – Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Acorn Art & Photography

With its adorable buildings and quaint jetties, Fisherman’s Cove might just be the most photogenic of all the things to do near Halifax. Along the waterfront, you’ll find colourful shacks and scrumptious ice cream shops.

Wander among the stacks of lobster traps and fishing nets of this active Halifax fishing port. Walk a little further, and you’ll find McCormacks Beach, one of the province’s smallest provincial parks. The park features an extensive boardwalk that is wheelchair accessible and provides a beautiful view of Eastern Passage, McNabs, Lawlor and Devil’s islands, Eastern Passage and Halifax Harbour.

Catch the Sunset at Peggy’s Cove

Things to do near Halifax Peggys Cove
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Peggy’s Cove isn’t just the most famous lighthouse in Canada, it’s one of the country’s signature attractions. Perched upon dazzling rose-colored rocks above the dramatic and temperamental waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Peggy’s Cove is one of the best day trips from Halifax.

Peggy’s Cove is a 50-minute road trip from Halifax along the fast-moving RTE 333. You can make the journey quickly along the highway or take the scenic route along the Lighthouse Route through beautiful towns such as West Dover and Blind Bay.

Grab a Coffee in Dartmouth

Downtown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Downtown Dartmouth – Photo credit: Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Acorn Art & Photography

When you’re planning your Halifax itinerary, make sure to set some time aside to explore Dartmouth. This town, which has been dubbed the “Brooklyn of Halifax” due to its having shaken off a rough exterior to become a shining urban attraction, is well worth a visit.

Take the Halifax ferry or the scenic bridge across the water and explore the sites of Dartmouth, including Alderney Landing Market, where you can pick up loads of great baked goods, local fruits and vegetables, and artisan crafts.

Dartmouth has a wealth of phenomenal cafes and breweries as well. A personal favourite of mine is Two by the Sea on Ochterloney St.

Road Trip To Lunenburg

Downtown Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Downtown Lunenburg, Nova Scotia – Photo credit: Kevin Wagar

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is regularly rated as one of Canada’s most beautiful towns. This idyllic fishing village, just over an hour from Halifax, makes for one of the best road trips from Halifax.

Head down to the waterfront and visit the impressive Bluenose II schooner, an exact replica of the 17-year world-record racer that is commemorated on Canada’s ten-cent piece.

Lunenburg is lined with adorably colourful homes and businesses, a fantastic food scene, and several great craft breweries and distilleries.

Now It’s Time to Experience These Things To Do In Halifax For Yourself

There are more things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia, than meets the eye. From some of the province’s most stunning lighthouses to the scrumptious Halifax food scene and everything in between, you can find something for everyone in this beautiful region of Nova Scotia.

Many of these businesses and restaurants are anxious for visitors after a tough year. So let’s support local and make the most of your Halifax adventure.

Do you have a favourite attraction or restaurant in Canada? Head over to the We Explore Canada Facebook Community and join the conversation! You’ll find an amazing group of people passionate about travel in Canada who love to share their local secrets.

2 thoughts on “Things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia: An Inside Look Into The City’s Unmissable Attractions

    • Kevin Wagar says:

      They have a similar style of building, but the buildings along the Lunenburg waterfront are larger, and the pier doesn’t allow vehicles to park between them and the water in most places. You can see the same image on the Visit Nova Scotia website.

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