10 things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is a beautiful town with a fascinating history. As such, it is home to an incredible assortment of enriching visitor attractions. And the scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean certainly don’t hurt.
Halifax is also small in comparison to other cities, so you’ll easily make your way around all these sights within a week-long holiday. It’s just a matter of deciding which one to start with.
1. Admire Titanic artefacts at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Nova Scotia is the closest landmass to the final resting place of the ill-fated Titanic. As such, many artefacts washed up on its shores and are now on display in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The Museum is home to a permanent Titanic exhibition, which includes wreck wood, mortuary bags (many of those who perished are buried in Halifax), and a pair of washed-up children’s shoes.
2. Discover the stories of over 1 million immigrants at Pier 21
Pier 21 is to Canada what Ellis Island is to the USA. It operated as an ocean liner terminal and immigration shed from 1928 to 1971, and is now the home of The Canadian Museum of Immigration.
At the museum, you can view the crates Dutch immigrants used to bring all their belongings across the Atlantic, play dress-up in period costumes, and take their Customs Challenge to see which of your items will be allowed or confiscated.
3. Stroll through the Halifax Public Gardens
The Halifax Public Gardens is the oldest Victorian Garden in North America. Officially opened in 1867, the Public Gardens has retained their original Victorian character, and organise horticultural and historical tours. During the summer the gardens are usually open between 7am to 1/2 an hour before sunset.
4. Experience the craftsmanship of hand-made crystals at NovaScotian Crystal
NovaScotian Crystal is Canada's (and one of the very few in the world) only maker of mouth-blown, hand-cut crystals. They employ the traditional tools and techniques of European crystal makers that were brought to Canadian shores by Irish immigrants.
NovaScotian Crystal ship internationally, but they have a physical shop along the Halifax Waterfront. You can also watch their craftsman work their magic in the Showroom.
5. Hike along secluded trails on McNabs Island
McNabs Island is over 22 km (14 mi) of hiking trails, a variety of forested and coastal settings, historic sites, and interpretive panels. It once played a major role in defending Halifax Harbour, and is home to the fascinating Fort McNab. It is also a hot spot for bird watching.
6. Eat local produce at Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market
Halifax is home to an incredible selection of farms, wineries, and local food manufacturers. One of the best ways to sample these delicacies is to visit the Seaport Farmers’ Market, where you can sample and purchase a wide variety of products from baked goods, hand-made soaps, fresh fish, independent jewellery, locally brewed alcohol, and local crafts.
7. Tour one of the oldest breweries in North America
Alexander Keith Brewery was founded in 1820 and tours are organised by guides dressed in period clothing. India Pale Ale is the most popular beer brewed at Alexander Keith’s Brewery, but you can also try other brews, like Red Amber Ale, Premium White and Original Cider. Tours of the brewery last around one hour, including tastings (if you are of legal drinking age). After the tour, you can shop in its on-site store.
8. Appreciate Atlantic Canada’s largest art collection at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia collects, preserves, and exhibits more than 17,000 artworks. It focuses on visual artists with strong ties to Nova Scotia (such as Maud Lewis) and the other Atlantic Provinces. Aside from their permanent collection, they also host temporary exhibitions that, in the past, have included Autism Arts, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, and Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure.
9. Become a soldier for a day at Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Halifax’s ocean-side location has made it a natural target for military invasion over the years – so obviously a good defence lookout was in order. Completed in 1856, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is officially called Fort George (named after Britain’s King George II) and is actually the fourth in a series of forts to sit atop what is now known as Citadel Hill.
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site gives visitors the opportunity to explore the history of the fortress. Tour the Halifax Citadel Army Museum, which showcases Canadian military history, starting with the First World War and its "Road to Vimy and Beyond" exhibit through to modern-day conflict. Or sign up for the three-hour Soldier for a Day program where you’ll get fitted for an authentic uniform, learn to drill, and fire a rifle (or, for those under 16, play the British Army’s field drum).
10. Wander along Halifax Waterfront boardwalk at sunset
To mark the end of your Halifax adventure we recommend taking a relaxing sunset stroll along the Waterfront. While many of the businesses and shops (some of which we’ve mentioned above) will be closed by this point, this the best place in the city to catch an Atlantic Canada sunset.