I have to admit, I’m a pretty terrible Canadian. To be clear, I absolutely love my country and am SO PROUD and thankful to be Canadian. But I say that because until recently, I really hadn’t explored much of my own backyard. I mean, I’d travelled all across my home province of Ontario, and to Quebec. But considering I’ve been to over 15 US states, and countless countries in three different continents, my Canadian travel experience was downright embarrassing.
That is until 2018, when my sister got married in Nova Scotia and moved to Alberta. I was finally being “forced” to see two more Canadian provinces.
We spent six days total over a long weekend in Halifax and surrounding areas.
However, much of this time was devoted to the wedding. Even still, I had plenty of time to explore – and let me tell you, I fell in love with the east coast of Canada.
In Nova Scotia, life moves at a different pace. The people are easily the most friendly people I have encountered in all of my world travels. Not to mention, the province is just down right BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, I can’t wait to go back.
Have a convinced you that you should be visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia yet?
YAY. Great. Now here’s everything you need to know to get the most of your long weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Things to Do in Halifax
There is so much to do along the Halifax waterfront, especially during the summertime. The city is just so alive. There are people walking in the sunshine, musicians busking Celtic tunes in the streets, and patios everywhere.
Normally, waterfront restaurants in cities like this are super touristy, overpriced, and unauthentic; however, Halifax is truly the exception. Even the locals congregate on the many waterfront patios in the summer, drink beer, and soak up the sun.
And if patios aren’t your thing, you can grab an ice cream and sit in one of the many Adirondack chairs along the water and just take in the views. You’ll probably see a really long lineup for ice cream at Cows, and I promise it’s worth the wait.
If you’re interested in tours, there are boat tours departing along the boardwalk. You can learn all about what Halifax once was, because the city really does have so much history. I personally didn’t do a tour, but I have heard from people who have that it is a really cool and educational experience.
Halifax Public Gardens
The Halifax Public Gardens are beautiful! And when in full bloom during the summer months, it is definitely worth exploring. Bring a picnic blanket and have lunch in the gardens.
Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour
Do you love beer? Why not do a tour of one of Canada’s most popular breweries. We personally didn’t have time to do this tour, we intended to and simply ran out of time, but I have heard from so many people that the Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour is a super fun experience. If you love beer, you can’t miss this.
Halifax Day Trips
My sister got married in her husband’s hometown of Lunenburg last summer, so I had the privilege of spending a few days in this picture perfect little town. If you have time while in Nova Scotia, I highly recommend you spend a night or two in Lunenburg. My sister was married at the Boscowen Inn, which is a charming little bed and breakfast, perfectly situated in the heart of Lunenburg. I couldn’t recommend staying here more.
If you’re in Lunenburg, there are a long list of incredible restaurants [if you like seafood, you’ll have some of the best in this town]. I would recommend Grand Banker, The South Shore Fish Shack, and Salt Shaker Deli, which all offer amazing waterfront views. We also loved Kate’s Sweet Indulgence for breakfast and coffee.
If you’re headed to Lunenburg from Halifax, I would strongly suggest taking the lighthouse route. This route takes a bit longer, but it includes so many stops including the popular Peggy’s Cove and the beautiful Mahone Bay.
A true Canadian landmark, Peggy’s Cove looks like a postcard. And the town surrounding it is equally as picturesque. spend some time taking in the views, and then indulge in a lobster dinner at one of the local restaurants for a quintessential eastern Canada experience.
Local Hike: Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail
After my sisters wedding in Lunenburg and the crazy Canada Day we had in Halifax, I was craving some fresh air. We drove about 30 minutes to Duncan’s Cove Hiking Trail for just that. The head of the trail is located on private property, so be mindful of the locals. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the other cars parked along the side of the street. There is very little parking, so you may have to just pull over on the side of the street to park.
The hike is easy, mostly flat with some elevated elements, and is definitely suitable for beginners and children. The true gem of this hike is the ocean views. Bring snacks, or lunch, and take a break along the hike to eat and breathe in the fresh ocean air.
We loved that this hike was mostly unexplored, there weren’t a lot of people, and was a quick driving distance from Halifax.
Where to Eat in Halifax
So much of what I loved so much about Halifax was their food and drink culture. The restaurants were fantastic.
Coffee in Halifax
The Old Apothecary: If you’re looking for coffee and a quick breakfast pastry, this is your place. There is a cool seating area upstairs and the coffee was great. I highly recommend the Vietnamese coffee.
Black Sheep Halifax: this place had some incredible reviews, and for good reason. The brunch was unique, well thought out, and just overall exceptional. If you’re looking for a truly Canadian experience, try the breakfast poutine!
Lot Six: This place was so good, we went there twice – for both lunch and dinner. Our first night in Halifax, we had dinner here. The food lived up to its hype and its cocktails were fantastic. We especially enjoyed the oyster appetizer [a must-have while in Nova Scotia], and even went back the next day for oyster happy hour at their bar. With six oysters for $12 or twelve for $20, this is the perfect place to indulge in this delicacy.
If you’re looking for a quick pub meal, there are tons of pubs along Argyle Street. We had lunch at Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub while we took in some World Cup action, and it is a solid choice for drinks and pub food.
Where to Drink in Halifax
It is no secret that Haligonians like to have a good time. So it’s no surprise that there are bars everywhere in Halifax. Here’s a few places to look.
The Lower Deck: A Halifax staple along the waterfront, you have to visit this place if you’re in the city. If you’re there over the weekend, Sunday night is the most popular night to go because popular local band Signal Hill plays every Sunday night. In the summer months, they have a huge party every Sunday night on the outdoor stage, and it is something you absolutely do not want to miss [we were there for Canada Day and it was a highlight of our trip]. Check out the schedule for other weekday performances, they have a variety of bands performing.
Argyle Street: There are tons of bars along this street if you’re looking for a local party.
Halifax Boardwalk: Along the Halifax Boardwalk there are tons of restaurants and bars serving patio drinks. Stop by at any of these for a guaranteed good time.
Where to Stay in Halifax
We chose to stay in the most perfect AirBnb just north of the downtown core of Halifax. It was affordable, clean, and super trendy. Click here for the listing.
And if you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my referral code to get $45 CAD off your first booking when you sign up: click here.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, I would try to choose a hotel as close to the waterfront as possible, as this is likely where you’ll spend most of your time in the city.
Getting Around Halifax
By Foot: If you’re planning to spend the entire weekend in the Halifax city centre, you can absolutely get around by foot. The city isn’t very big, and is very accessible. We spent our two full days in Halifax walking everywhere.
By Car: If you’re planning on visiting the surrounding areas of Halifax, you’ll need to rent a car. We drove to and from Lunenburg by car, as well as to our hike, and all the roads were well-paved and easy to navigate. In fact, when driving through rural areas, we rarely saw other drivers on the road.
Uber/Lyft/Taxi: Halifax does not currently have Uber or Lyft, however I have heard that they are reconsidering the option of offering these services in the city soon, so take a look when you’re planning your trip. We did use a taxi once while in the city, which was quick and reasonably priced.
Are you feeling ready to book that flight to Halifax yet?
What makes this city, and Nova Scotia in general, so special is something I could never articulate with words. It’s wrapped up in the spirit of the locals, the easygoing vibes of the city, and it’s deep-rooted history. The city is just so cool. If you visit, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. And then you’ll want to visit again – and again, and again.
If you have any questions about, or recommendations for, spending a long weekend in Halifax or Nova Scotia, drop them in the comments below or shoot me an email.