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Top things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Heading out to Halifax soon? Here’s all you need to know for a trip to Canada’s favourite East Coast city in this visitor’s guide to Halifax.

We asked local travel blogger Jenn Neilson, who runs Will Save For Travel, about why she loves to call Halifax home. Read on for her tips on what to do for a weekend in Halifax, including some hidden gems just a short drive away.

What to do in downtown Halifax

From the picturesque Peggy’s Cove, the Halifax waterfront boardwalk, day trip opportunities in winter and summer, not to mention a world-class seafood scene, Halifax is waiting for you. Jenn shared some of her recommendations on what to see and do in Halifax, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local.

“There are so many things to do but I’ll share my two favourites. The first thing you need to do in Halifax is to grab an ice cream and walk the boardwalk. Our boardwalk in downtown Halifax is one of the world’s longest and has many spots to stop and grab a drink or something to eat. It’s one of my favourite places in the summer in Halifax.”

Discover Canada’s top summer destinations

muskoka chairs by the boardwalk on a sunny day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. the boardwalk is one of the most popular things to do in Halifax
A visitor’s guide to Halifax, Nova Scotia

What else can you recommend in Halifax for history and culture buffs?

“My second favourite place is the Halifax Citadel, which is a National Historic Site. I love stepping back in time and seeing how people lived and worked in the 1800s. It’s a great way to learn a lot about our little city!”

For more history, head to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The highlights here are all of the Titanic artifacts and stories of the sinking. As the iconic tragedy happened about 1000 km from Halifax, the city became the Titanic’s historical centre, and there are even three cemeteries in Halifax where the Titanic victims have been laid to rest. Less than five km away is the popular Fairview Lawn Cemetery with the gravestones of 121 of the victims, including one labelled J. Dawson. If you’re interested in knowing more, you can check out Halifax Titanic Historical Tours.

Another noteworthy museum in Halifax is the Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Being a seaside city, Halifax was the port of call for many boats holding refugees from Europe a few hundred years ago. This museum tells the story of immigration to the Confederate land; it’s kind of like the Ellis Island of Canada!

What brought you to Halifax?

While Jenn wasn’t born in Halifax, we asked how she came to be a Haligonian.

“I grew up in a small town in Nova Scotia and then moved to the “big city” of Halifax for my post-secondary education. My favourite things about Halifax are being close to the ocean for beach days, having so many restaurants to choose from, and the fact that our city isn’t too big.”

With beaches, all the historic sights, and a welcoming vibe, it’s no surprise that Halifax is a Canadian destination that should be on everyone’s radar.

“Halifax is such a great city to visit, it’s not as busy as Toronto or Calgary, but it still has plenty to do, plus the proximity to the ocean makes it a great vacation spot, since you can get a city and a beach vacation all in one!”

Travel foodie tip: Don’t leave Halifax without trying a donair, a city staple!

woman at the beach in Lawrencetown near Halifax
Top things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia: Hit the beach

Popular Halifax day trips

Speaking of a beach vacation, you’ll find that Halifax offers plenty of perfect day trips and nature escapes to nearby beaches along the coast. Jenn shared some of her top picks with us.

“If you’re looking for a weekend trip I highly recommend Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, about an hour south. Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and my favourite town to wander around, peeking in shops and grabbing a bite to eat along the way! It’s also close to one of our prettiest beaches: Risser’s Beach.”

Another day trip is Sugar Moon Farm, which is a top day trip from Halifax during the maple season in March. For more information, Jenn has a blog post about that.

Read all about Lunenburg and other underrated getaways in Canada

boats on the dock in Nova Scotia

Where to stay in Halifax: Top hotels

Here are just some highlights for where to stay in Halifax for every budget.

  • The ALT Hotel Halifax Airport: Is one of the top hotels near Halifax Stanfield Airport and rates well overall for price, quality, cleanliness, and location. For more places to stay near the Halifax International Airport, see our list here.
  • Halliburton Hotel: History lives on at the Halliburton Hotel in Halifax. Restored from three historic townhouses, this mid-range, beautiful boutique hotel is just steps from the water and a top choice for a romantic getaway in Halifax.
  • Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake: Get a little outside of the downtown area and you’re in the perfect family-friendly recluse at the Comfort Hotel Bayer’s Lake. Rated the Canadian Hotel of the Year in 2015 by Choice Hotels, the hotel is located right by Bayer’s Lake, a popular nature escape just 10 minutes away from downtown Halifax. If you’re up for an adventure, you can explore the Bayer’s Lake Mystery Walls.

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