Exploring Halifax: Your Guide to Unmissable Experiences and Activities

Mariya MukhtarJanhavi Ramesh Kowligi
23 Min Read

Halifax is the cosmopolitan city and capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Due to its maritime history and latest urban developments, Halifax is becoming a popular tourist spot.

Halifax has a collection of national historic sites, eateries, breweries, museums, art galleries, parks, gardens, and shopping sites. Besides these, Halifax is known for its theatre art and often happening music shows.

This place will interest you more because it offers many fun activities like tidal bore rafting, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, road tripping, fishing, camping, and other perks often found on islands.

Having too many choices sounds fancy, right? But too many choices leave the mind in bewilderment only.

Your Ultimate Handbook to the Best Things to Do in Halifax

1) Georges Island

Georges Island is a newly opened national historic site in Nova Scotia, Halifax. The place is near the Halifax harbor, located in between the sea. It can be reached quickly through boats operated at the grey line by embassy tours.

There is a lighthouse, ruins of Fort Charlotte, plenty of blueberries, and black garter snakes, surrounded by bushes and beautiful wildflowers blooming outside the fort in a discarded land.

There are highlanders and tour guides to tell the history of the place while guiding you through the tunnel; the island has a dark history of imprisonment and execution and has played a vital role in both world wars.

Another advantage of visiting the island is enjoying the distant and gorgeous view of the Halifax waterfront and skyline; the little cut-out from the Halifax brings a different kind of tranquility.

The note is that the island is open for visitors in summer only.

2) Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk

Halifax’s main attraction is the district waterfront. Do not miss taking an interesting snap of yourself at the drunken lamppost tower.

The place is aligned with the ocean, working port, local artisans, and businesses; there are comfortable armchairs and benches to rest and enjoy the view of the ocean water and Georges Island from the harbor.

halifax waterfront boardwalk
By Jan Budomo on Unsplash

Halifax waterfront has seafood restaurants, museums, boutique shops, beer gardens, tour operators, and more. Thus giving you a variety of interesting things to do in Halifax.

This is going to be your food destination where you can enjoy eating Canadian official food, that’s Donair at Johnny’s K, snacks and pastries at Beavers Tails, Crobster rolls at The Canteen on the Portland, and a whole lot of seafood served on a model boat at Sea Smoke.

Preserved buildings and warehouses are on the eastern side of the harbor on Darkmouth. The special thing about them is the gorgeous street art on the walls of all the buildings at the trail, and this is going to be a cool spot for clicking pictures, making videos, or just enjoying the creativity.

The most important thing is that most of Halifax’s main attractions lie near waterfront areas like Georges Island, Halifax Citadel, the Canadian Museum of Immigration, the Seaport Farmers’ Market, and the Maritime Museum.

3) Halifax Citadel

Halifax Citadel has a star-shaped fort, and there are a total of four forts, but only the third fort was officially named Fort George. Also, there is a lighthouse standing tall outside of the fort.

Halifax Citadel is located on top of the city and harbor front, and there are plenty of interesting things to do in Halifax Citadel. Like spirit tasting, gunshots during the afternoon, a ghost tour, and a walk in the army museum.

Make sure to give one whole day to this national historic site.

The citadel can be explored like this: walk inside the building while the highlanders explain the important facts, details, and importance of the fort, and explore the army museum, which has artifacts about the soldiers, particularly from Halifax, who went to take part in the World War.

If you go to the other side for some spirit-tasting exercise, there are preserved wines in barrels, especially those of whisky, gin, genever, and rum paired with assorted cheese and crackers for tasting.

A ghost tour of the citadel is the most fun way of spending the evening. There will be a walk through the streets of the old Halifax during dark hours, and tales will be spun by the host about mysterious things like ghosts, pirates, and buried treasures from the city’s rich past.

4) Canadian Museum of Immigration

Canadian Museum of Immigration is an important national historic site and Canada’s last remaining ocean immigration shed on Pier 21.

The Canadian Museum of Immigration is a special place that has rescued families who have been forced to leave the country during the Second World War.

It has personally written notes by the immigrants, photos of the former immigrants with their family histories, and personal stories of some of the families who have experienced loss and rejection. But in a positive light, Canada emerged as a ray of hope for about 1.5 million immigrants.

There is a model of a train, suitcases carrying the belongings of the newcomers, and so many family stories.

5)Halifax Seaport Farmers Market

The farmers’ market was set up in many locations, but the seaport one is more famous. Some vendors decided to stay at the older spot, so they renamed their marketplace a ‘historic farmers market.’

It is the oldest operating market in North America, hosting so many vendors. The place mostly remains crowded, especially during weekends, because locals prefer to visit here on weekends.

Where the locals go: Halifax Seaport Farmers

Seaport Farmers Market looks like a fair and exhibition spot because it has everything you want, from handcrafted gifts, snack items, and smoothies to fresh organic vegetables and fruits.

It’s a good hangout place to watch the locals of Halifax, walk around and interact with the vendors, buy some local produce, taste the refreshing fruit smoothies, and gift yourself handcrafted materials.

6) Maritime Museum of Atlantic

Maritime museums preserve artifacts and documents related to ships and the Sailing Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

It is the most fascinating one because it has all the documents, personal stories of workers, inside stories, guest lists, and artifacts collected after the sinking of the Titanic.

Besides the Titanic history, the museum has photographs and details about the Halifax explosion, which happened due to the collision of a French ship carrying explosives with a Norwegian ship. It is believed to be one of the biggest human-made explosions in history.

The Maritime Museum of Atlantic has a steamship named CSS Acadia, which is believed to be the only existing ship that has served the Royal Canadian Navy during World War 1 and World War 2.

Maritime museum of Atlantic
Pixabay / photosforyou

HMCS Sackville later became a museum ship because it played a part in serving the Royal Canadian Navy. It later got used as a civilian research vessel, and it is also the only existing Flower class warship.

Everything about the maritime museum is interesting. Besides carrying the artifacts of famous historical events, it displays gorgeous ship models and small crafts. It is that national historic site of Canada not to miss.

7) Halifax Public Garden

If you want to connect with nature, then in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city of Halifax.

Opposite Victoria Park lies the Halifax Public Garden, reconstructed and made in Victorian garden style.

halifax public garden
By Ignacio Correia on Unsplash

The garden has a small crossover bridge with colorful flowers and flower pots like a royal bowl on all four sides. Fountains and statues with water oozing out, a bandstand in the middle, and a Griffin pond surrounded by ducks.

The garden was reconstructed because the hurricane brought much destruction. But some of the older existing trees survived, like the American elm, which is 200 years old.

There are benches at a medium distance to sit. Inhale the fresh air, listen to the birds chirping, enjoy the calm and tranquil atmosphere of the huge garden, and just relax. This place is also listed as a national historic site in Canada.

8) Kejimkujik National Park

To be fair to the list of interesting things to do in Halifax, let me introduce you to Kejimkujik National Park.

If you want to enjoy adventure sports and wildlife at the seaside, Kejimkujik National Park is the perfect national historic site to hit on your list of places.

It is a dark sky preserve and a protected coastal area in Port Joli. Activities here are many, like hiking, camping, biking, kayaking, and stargazing.

Some of the highlighted features of the park are white sand beaches, wildflowers, a lagoon system, coastal wildlife, and turquoise blue water.

Explore the Trails at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

Kejimkujik National Park is a protected area; inside boards are built for walking over the trail. Because plants are about 300 to 400 years old and hold medicinal and cultural significance, one such trail is Hemlocks and Hardwoods.

It’s a beautiful Acadian forest with many reptiles and amphibians. Red chairs are set inside the forest, found while walking through the trails. The chairs are placed to enjoy the most scenic views of the forest, lake, and waterfall.

The most recommended activity is canoeing because they provide a boat at the lakeside and let you explore the forest by water.

Rustic cabins and camping options are available for those who want to spend the night here because this national historic site is famous for stargazing.

8) Lunenberg Town

Lunenberg is an hour’s drive from Halifax. The town is historically important because the first Protestant settlement happened here. For this reason, UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1995.

It’s a very picturesque town full of colorful traditional buildings that have existed here since the 18th century. The very core of the town is considered a national historic site of Canada.

It’s a port town with a gorgeous harbor site, and fishing is the main occupation here. The waterfront is amazing, with the board taking you to the end. You can sit, dip your leg in the ocean, and watch red-colored buildings. And enjoy different boat rides as per your preference.

Attached to the waterfront, there is the Fisheries Museum of Atlantic. Artifacts, models, and documents tell you the various seafaring and fishing stories.

Take a walk through the town to watch the houses closely, or take a boat ride to view the colorful town from a distance. Do pay your visit to St. Anglican Church, the oldest existing Protestant Church painted wholly white with black stripes.

The whole town is shootable, and to get the amazing sunset view, walk through the golf course of the Lunenberg.

9) Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove town is not far from Halifax, and it is the most photographed location and the most popular tourist destination. So there is no reason not to visit this spot.

On the way to Peggy’s Cove on the East Coast, there is an interesting kayaking spot at Blue Rock Lakeside.

There is great scenery, serenity, ducks, and wildflowers. And when you drive here notice the large number of big rocks set on both sides of the road, this could be your perfect roadside picture spot.

Peggy’s Cove is a fishing town from ancient times, and its rustic look is probably why it was photographed. So, among all the interesting things to do in Halifax, visiting Peggy’s Cove is just because of the site’s online virality.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse
By Paulius Dragunas on Unsplash

The iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse has a red top and white base above the rock. Rocks surround the whole area, and that’s the whole beauty of it. Well, black rocks are something to beware of.

The rocky coastline and sunset view are something to capture. So try visiting the place in the evening when it is less crowded.

The other magical place is a hiking trail called Polly’s Cove, and the natural beauty here is just gorgeous. The popping, vibrant wildflowers, big rocky formations, and luscious green grass look awesome. From the top, the lakeside view is breathtaking.

You must have realized that there are plenty of things to do in Halifax. So do remember to fill your tummy because there are good restaurants that fall in between these spots. One such restaurant is Rhubarb Restaurant.

10) Downtown Halifax

Downtown is the main city’s center. It is a business spot flourishing with the latest restaurants, bakery shops, shopping malls, cinema halls, metro stations, and bus stations.

It is the most vibrant part of Halifax, where feet, cars, and buses never stop moving. Downtown is pretty much a mix of ancient and modern buildings.

Scotia Bank Center is the largest building, and the name of the complex announces itself loudly because the letters are boldly painted in red.

Due to being in the center of downtown, venues are often chosen for international conferences, the Atlantic Film Festival, the Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Halifax Pop Explosion, the Blues Festival, and buskers.

Halifax is a perfect spot for foodies, and the downtown area has a maximum number of restaurants. Do not forget to taste the official food of Canada, that’s donair at Johnny’s K. Sushi served in a model boat at Sea Smoke restaurant.

Popular pastries at Beavers Tails. Ice cream at Cow’s Cream. And wine and beer at Alexander Keith.

Other than the suggestions. Interesting things to do in Halifax on a random basis, especially downtown, are street dancing, live music, boat rides, and tasting international cuisines.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest in Atlantic Canada, which is focused on telling stories about Canadian art through the collection of contemporary and historical artworks of nearly 14000 plus artworks.

The most famous section of the artwork is the restored house of the Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis Gallery. The house in the Maud Lewis Gallery is colorful and lively, displaying scriptures of landscapes, birds, and flowers.

The artist and her artwork are considered culturally significant and historically relevant.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Design Competition - Architecture49 with DS+R and Hargreaves Jones

There are other folk arts from the permanent collection, beautiful ship models, paintings, miniature models, and photos in gold color frames with pasted information on the side.

There are sections in the gallery presenting historical prints, drawings, and much more. Some of them are:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s painting collection
  • Oxen Hauling Logs in Winter Model
  • Lloyd and Jean Shaw Gallery
  • Newman Daughters Gallery presenting autism art
  • Chesley Flower’s The George River Herd model
  • The Christopher Ondaatje Gallery presents James Hertle’s figure in a dancing position
  • Tom Forres Tall’s Island in Ice painting
  • Art of the Antiphonal, city of Halifax gallery in memory Elizabeth S. Nutt, John

12) Cape Brenton Highland National Park

Cape Brenton Highland is famous all over Canada for biking, hiking, and road trips because the trails are easy and longer.

The most appropriate place for staying will be Castle Rock Country Inn. Because some of the greatest views of the Cape Brenton highlands can be enjoyed while dining or relaxing.

Start your journey of hiking and exploring the area from Cape Brenton Highland National Park, which is the home of Cabot Trail. Each trail will keep surprising you by bringing wonderful natural beauty.

Jack Pine trail will take you inside the forest, and you will reach the point where there will be huge undefined rock formations. From there, a great ocean view can be enjoyed, and down from that point, there is a beach also.

Other such trails are Franey Trailhead, Aspy Trailhead, and skyline trailhead. Skyline Trailhead is the most popular of them all for hiking. You can find red chairs inside the forest, symbolizing the greatest viewpoint.

There is this one area where, on one side, the water is turquoise blue, and on the other side, dark blue. And the place is just perfect to visit during summer.

The area looks heavenly during the fall because the trees display natural colors like yellow, red, orange, pink, and green. The helicopter ride is the perfect activity, providing you with an Ariel view of the Cabot trail, and believe me, it won’t be regretted.

13) Harbor Hopper

If you are coming to Halifax for a shorter time but are firm with the decision to accomplish the task of doing interesting things in Halifax. Then, book a ride with the harbor hopper.

This will give you a quick city tour using roadways and waterways alongside a tour guide telling the stories and importance of the places passing by and about the city.

It’s an engaging, airy ride to the city and a fun way to explore Halifax. And don’t forget to listen to the stories about Halifax Citadel, Downtown Halifax, Public Garden, Georges Island, and Halifax Waterfront.

It is suggested to newcomers and travelers because of the tour guide and the city’s past stories and naval history. They suggest the city’s main attractions, popular restaurants, and Inn for staying. This is a nice way to quickly familiarize yourself with the new city.

The other good reason for taking a ride is the vehicle used for the harbor hopper is a renovated war vehicle. From the height of 10 feet, places look nice, and the harbor hopper ride is not very expensive. Some amazing waterfront views can be seen when the vehicle splashes in the water.


HALIFAX TRAVEL GUIDE | 25 Things TO DO in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Halifax is a culturally rich, historically relevant, and naturally beautiful city. The city has 200-plus restaurants, pubs, and bars. Halifax has plenty of highlands, beaches, parks, and gardens.

Thus, interesting things to do in Halifax are plenty, and the recent modern developments have made the city even more daunting, along with preserving the areas and things belonging to the past.

Last Updated on by Narayani Bhardwaj

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