Discover Halifax: The City By the Sea
a Roguetrippers 48-hour itinerary
We have visited Halifax many times over the years, and each time we are there it is different from the last. Our interests have changed, the city has changed, our purposes for being there are different as well. One thing that hasn’t changed is our love for this beautiful and historic Canadian city. We are constantly finding something new and interesting to experience and discover whenever we visit Halifax.
Halifax is the kind of city that you can easily spend a week’s vacation exploring and discover great things to do. However, if you are short on time, you can still make the most of your short visit to Nova Scotia’s Capital city. So, if you are on a Nova Scotia road trip, have a long weekend to spend here, or perhaps want to maximize a flight layover, these tips will help you discover Halifax in 48 hours, and experience the best of the city
Like most cities on the water, Halifax has a large concentration of attractions on or near her waterfront area. Some of the attractions we will reference are actually very close to the waterfront. If you focus your time on the waterfront area, you are sure to have a very busy couple of days.
First-time visitors to Halifax will want to stop off at the Nova Scotia Tourism booth – located beside the giant wave sculpture. The staff will happily help you find your way around the city. They can point you to the most popular tourist attractions around Halifax, and help guide you to attractions that will be of interest to you. Pick up some maps, brochures, and discount coupons while you are there so you can discover other Halifax attractions.
Take a walk along the 4km long waterfront boardwalk for a great experience all on its own. You will enjoy the view of the harbour, Dartmouth on the other side, George’s Island (and lighthouse), and the many sculptures along the way. You can do some great shopping for souvenirs and gifts at the many shops along the boardwalk. There are several outdoor vendors, stores, and many great eateries to enjoy some delicious food. Murphy’s Company Store is a great place for you to pick up your Nova Scotia souvenirs, and don’t forget to pick up some rum cake at Rum Runners. You won’t miss it – the aroma will draw you in.
Pro-Tip: The Halifax waterfront has an amazing Busker festival in the summer that you will want to check out.
While on the Halifax waterfront, you may wish to take one of the many Harbour boat cruises available to you. I strongly suggest you do – you will not be disappointed. There are whale watching and sea bird cruises, tall ships, and others to choose from. The kids (and kids at heart) will love to take a ride on Theodore the Tugboat. This adorable boat has become an iconic symbol of Halifax – we make sure to take photos every time we are there.
Pro-tip: there are many different cruise options with various schedules. Research the schedules for whale watching, etc. to ensure you can fit them into your 48-hour itinerary.
Ferry Ride to Dartmouth
Dartmouth is Halifax’s sister city just across the Harbour. There is a ferry that connects the two, which is popular with locals and tourists alike. The ferry docks are right along the Halifax harbour. The ride is short and allows you to experience a bit of the beautiful city of Dartmouth and check out the Halifax skyline.
Pro-tip: there are some amazing restaurants in Downtown Dartmouth, as well that you may wish to try.
If you love going to a farmer’s market, The Halifax Seaport farmer’s market is held every Saturday, and you will not want to miss this. Located at the Southern end of the Waterfront, this indoor market has hundreds of stores, vendors, and eateries to explore. It is the oldest, continuously operating farmers’ market in North America. It hosts over 250 vendors selling produce, gourmet foods, plants, and handicrafts. Be sure to enjoy a sweet treat at the patisserie.
There are 3 very cool museums and attractions along the waterfront that you will definitely want to fit into your Halifax visit.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic tells a nautical history of Halifax. There are many interesting, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking exhibits for you to immerse yourself into Nova Scotia’s rich maritime history.
The Discovery Centre is a fun place for the kids to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math through interactive exhibits.
The Pier 21 Immigration Museum is Canada’s last standing immigration terminal. Here you will learn about the history of immigration to Canada through the years.
You can read more about our experiences at Pier 21 here.
Alexander Keith’s Brewery
Located across the street from the Halifax Waterfront is Canada’s oldest, and longest-standing brewery. You may be familiar with Alexander Keith’s beer from your favourite pub, but do you know the history? Visit this gorgeous historic building and take a tour of the famous brewery. There is a store inside where you can purchase gifts, souvenirs, and all of your Alexander Keith’s beer and merchandise.
The Citadel is, for sure, one of the most famous attractions in all of Halifax. High on a hill, you are treated to some beautiful views of the harbour. Take a trip back in time as you explore the history of the Citadel and its role in protecting the city of Halifax for hundreds of years.
Pro-Tip: This is also a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch and enjoy spectacular views of the city.
Halifax has a thriving downtown core. You will want to take some time and explore the many shops, bars, amazing restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and galleries there are to enjoy. Argyle Street is known for its many restaurants and pubs with outdoor patios which you can enjoy in the warmer months. Barrington Street has many great stores to do some shopping, and fantastic restaurants to discover in Halifax as well. Don’t forget to visit the Grande Parade park and the Halifax City Hall located between Argyle, Barrington, Prince, and Duke Streets.
Parks and Rec
If you are looking for a place to get away and enjoy a little escape from the city and relax in nature, Halifax has several parks and green spaces for you to enjoy. The two biggest and best parks are the Halifax Common and The Halifax public gardens. Both are located very close to the Citadel. You can stroll, bike, or jog through Halifax Common and enjoy the splash pad, the sports fields, skate park and more. In the Halifax Public Gardens, you can experience and enjoy the hundreds of species of plants in the 16 acres of this urban park.
If you love your craft beer as much as we do, Halifax has what you need. There are several amazing craft breweries located around Halifax. Raise a glass at some of our favourite breweries: Garrison Brewing, Propeller Brewing Co., Tidehouse Brewing Co., and Good Robot Brewing Co. There is also a great distillery you will want to discover when you visit Halifax. The Halifax Distilling company produces high quality, copper distilled rum in small batches.
Satisfy your Sweet Tooth
We love our sweets, and we are always looking for great bakeries, fancy ice cream shops, and delectable desserts when we travel. In Halifax, some of the best places to get a sweet treat are: Cows Ice Cream on the waterfront, Fortune Donuts and Vandal Donuts on Gottingen St, The Old Apothecary café on Barrington, and don’t forget Freak Lunchbox for all of your candy cravings.
I recently heard of Taiyaki 52 Café – which is a dessert café serving Japanese inspired waffles shaped like fish that comes with a variety of fillings of your choice. We will have to try the next time we are there.
Halifax’s connection to the Titanic:
Halifax played a huge role in the rescue and recovery from the Titanic disaster. If you are interested in The Titanic history, there are two attractions you definitely will want to see:
- The Titanic Gravesite is where many ill-fated passengers of the White Star lines voyage are buried. This is located in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery on the north end of town. It can be a bit of a hike to get to if you are walking. There are many simple granite block gravestones that mark their spots. Some families have placed larger, more elaborate gravestones on their loved one’s plots. See if you find Jack Dawson.
- The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (mentioned earlier) is located on the Halifax waterfront. Here, you will see a permanent Titanic exhibit that contains many artefacts from the Titanic. The exhibit tells the tale of the Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax.
With so much to see, experience, and discover, Halifax makes for a fantastic vacation destination. So, whether you have only a couple of days to spend here or a little longer, you can pack it full of great vacation memories. While this list only scratches the surface of what Halifax has to offer, it will give you a great springboard for your own trip to discover Halifax.
If you are spending more time in Halifax, and looking for some fun ways to spend the days – outside of Halifax, we have some great Day Trips you can take from Halifax HERE. (coming soon)
Pick up your copy of the Doers & Dreamers Guide and start planning your Nova Scotia vacation.
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