I mentioned last week that Halifax had been voted fourth on the list of 2018’s top places on the rise. So, I thought N for Nova Scotia would be the perfect time to give you a guide to the province capital. Having spent the past six months just half an hour outside of the city I had plenty of opportunity to explore all it has to offer. It has beautiful nautical views, a rich history and super yummy food… so why wouldn’t you want to visit?
How to get there:
Halifax has an international airport just a 30-minute drive from the city centre. However, a taxi from the airport to downtown is going set you back at least $60 and you’ll want to be saving your pennies for activities.
So instead you can take the bus which is only $3.50 for adults and $2.75 for children. The #320 bus operates every 30 minutes during peak morning (6 am to 9 am) and afternoon (3 pm to 6 pm) times. The regular schedule departs every 60 minutes so hopefully not too much hanging around after a long flight. In addition, Halifax airport is not a massive airport, so it is less crowded and easier to navigate than others. I suggest grabbing a coffee and some Timbits from Tim Hortons while you wait.
Halifax does get some stormy weather during the winter months so do take time to consider when you want to visit. Skiing is available here but it’s not good as other areas in Canada. Spring is a wonderful time to visit if you don’t like the crowds but still be prepared for some cooler weather.
How to get around:
Halifax is best seen on foot, so pack some comfortable shoes. You can spend a day or two immersing yourself in Halifax history as you can easily walk to many of the cities museums such as the 18th Century Citadel, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic or Nova Scotia Art Gallery.
You can also catch the ferry on over to Dartmouth. The ferry service offers two routes the Alderney Ferry service crosses from Halifax to Alderney Landing in downtown Dartmouth and the Woodside Ferry service crosses from Halifax to Woodside. Another bonus is that you can transfer between bus and ferry services for even more exploring opportunities.
If you fancy a day out of the city then guided tours are available, alternatively you can rent a car for the day.
Where to stay:
Matt and I were housesitting during our time in Halifax so didn’t need to think about accommodation. However, when Matt’s parents came to visit we stayed in a great Air BNB not too far from Halifax’s North End. This place had become one of my favourite areas in Halifax, despite it having a bit of a reputation. In fact, I struggled to see why people gave it a bad name, but maybe I had tourist goggles on! This neighbourhood is ‘up-and-coming’ for sure with a great artsy vibe, funky breweries and amazing food options.
Another time we stayed over in Dartmouth, again in an Air BNB. We had lovely accommodation here and were within walking distance to downtown Dartmouth. However, there is more to see and do in Halifax so would recommend staying there for lodging.
Top Tip: Parking is a nightmare in Halifax so make sure your accommodation comes with free parking if you need it.
Things to do:
There is so much to experience in Halifax, even though I spent most of my time there during the winter season I was never left without anything to do. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Pier 21
The old ocean liner terminal turned into a museum offers a chance to learn all about Canadian immigration, the permanent exhibitions tell you all about the lives of those who came through the port in the hope of a better life. It is well worth a visit as it provides a unique insight into Canadian history.
- Halifax Seaport Farmers Market
Right next to Pier 21 is the farmers market. Here you can grab so lunch from a number of vendors, anything from Jamaican curries to traditional pastries are waiting for you. There are also many arts and craft stalls where you can talk to locals and pick up a unique souvenir.
- Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk
After the market you can head back along the seafront via the boardwalk. Along the way you’ll find statues and installations along the way by local artists. In addition, there are restaurants and bars open all year round offering up some great maritime lobster options. During the summer there are little huts with ice-creams, poutine and more for you to try.
- Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Here you can learn all about Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage. Go back in time and gaze upon treasure from great ships. They have a permanent Titanic exhibition which includes pieces from the ship itself. It’s also a great place to learn about an important part of Halifax history, the Halifax Explosion. In addition they have free admission on Tuesdays.
Check out 3 Titanic Things To Do in Halifax
- Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
There are some great folk artists that have come out of the Maritimes and many are on display in this huge gallery. The collection extends beyond to include contemporary photography, Aboriginal art from across Canada and sacred arts from centuries past. I was lucky enough to see the Maud Lewis collection, a great insight into a true Nova Scotian artist who captured the colour of the province perfectly.
- Halifax Central Library
Even if you don’t have time to sit down a read a book there is plenty to do here. They have events on throughout the year ranging from free films to quiz nights and music events so check the schedule before your visit. Furthermore, architecturally it’s interesting to visit, the building is quite unique. There is a viewing platform open during the summer and reading room with views for when the weather is poor. A great way to get views of the city for free!
- Halifax Public Gardens
Right in the heart of the downtown area are the Halifax Public Gardens. This Victorian-inspired space has been open since 1875 and is one of Halifax’s most beautiful spots. Huge iron gates open out into grass plots lined with flowers, trees and water features. For the first time ever (2017/2018) it was also open during winter. In the snow it is a stunning winter wonderland making you feel like you are in Narnia.
Day Trips from Halifax:
- Peggy’s Cove
I’ve written about this place a lot, but that’s because I love it. It is the quintessential maritime fishing village. Faded wooden huts surrounded by colourful lobster pots and buoys are perfect for the insta account. Not to mention the famous lighthouse. Get there at sunset for amazing photos. Even better see the village from a different perspective by doing the Polly’s Cove trail.
This place is super cute and perfect day trip material. Have a stroll up and down the high street stopping off at Annapolis Cider for a tasting paddle before heading to the Naked Crepe for lunch. Feeling more adventurous? Then head on out to Cape Split for a hike with amazing views.
- Lawrencetown Beach
Even in cold weather this place is beautiful. You can stroll through the beach up to the peninsula for panoramic sea views just half an hour outside of downtown. What’s more is that this spot is also great for surfing and is in fact on of the best places in North America to ride the waves.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site on the provinces South Shore is well worth the hours drive from downtown. Lined with colourful houses, historical churches, quirky little stores and plenty of opportunities to sample local lobster its great day trip. On the main street there is a sweet little antique store where you can pick up a unique souvenir or two.
Where to eat:
After all that adventure you’ll want to refuel with some lovely food and drink. There are plenty of options in Halifax. These are my favourite:
Hali Deli- for an amazing brunch this Jewish deli is the place to go, don’t forget to try their latke and always opt for the challah toast.
Relish- a maritime favourite, Relish offers a brilliant burger. I recommend going for the Halifax Explosion burger which is topped with pineapple and curried onions.
Vandal Doughnuts- for a quick bite or elevenses then head to Gus’s pub and grab a doughnut. Different flavours each day range from classic Homer Simpson to Earl Grey and Raspberry Crumble. They also do burgers that are apparently well worth a try.
Stillwell- Great place for drinks, you can get a tasting paddle of beers and ciders at a reasonable price for a downtown location. In addition many brews are from local craft breweries. They also serve small plates such as Korean fries in case you get peckish.
Darrell’s- a cute retro diner complete with booths. This place has something for everyone and is home to one of the best burgers in Halifax.
Johnny K’s- sample the Nova Scotia speciality of donair at this downtown location. The sauce is to die for!
Smoke’s Poutinerie- another chance to try a Canadian classic, this place has loads of options including pulled pork, perogy, jerk chicken and Philly cheese steak.
For more burgers options check out my guide here .
Thanks again for joining me on A-Z Travels, if you enjoyed this week then get it a like share or drop me a comment below. Next week will be O for Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. Happy Travels 😊