If you’re looking for a quick and easy getaway, you’ve got to check out Halifax! The flights won’t break the bank, and the trip is short enough that you can make the most of a long weekend. And let me tell you, this city has got it all! Travel within Canada often gets a bad rap for being expensive and boring, but Halifax is definitely an exception. I went for my cousin’s wedding and had an amazing time celebrating with the fam, but we also just as much fun exploring the city and surrounding areas! Delicious eats, beautiful parks, cool architecture, and some really neat little day trips. So, here are my recommendations for the perfect long weekend in Halifax!
Getting to Halifax is a breeze, especially if you’re coming from Ontario, Quebec, or other parts of Eastern Canada. Flights are frequent and reasonably priced, so you can easily find a flight that fits your schedule and budget. And if you’re from Kitchener/Waterloo, like me, you’ll love that you can fly out of the KW airport instead of having to drive all the way into Toronto. Flair Airlines usually has great pricing for flights to Halifax, so be sure to check them out – they’re definitely a budget airline though, so take this with a grain of salt! Air Canada and other larger airlines also typically have some great deals. When you land, you can either take a taxi, shuttle bus, or public transportation to get to your accommodations. We rented a car because we had to get to the wedding, and we would recommend it regardless so you can have the freedom to explore the surrounding areas like Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg at your own pace. Alternatively, you can rent a car for just one day of the trip – details on that in the “Sample Itinerary” section!
We stayed at an AirBnb that was close to the wedding venue. It was a cute cottage right on the water, with great views and beach access. It was also dog-friendly, which is critical for us as Toby was joining for this trip. I would totally recommend visiting, but it’s just not really in a convenient location if you are not attending a wedding at a very specific church! Lol
Halifax is truly one of my favourite cities that I have visited. It’s got a nice blend of historic buildings and modern architecture, a well-planned and pedestrian-friendly waterfront boardwalk, and seemingly endless restaurants and cafes.
Here are the top things to do:
- Explore the Halifax Waterfront, where you can stroll along the boardwalk, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and enjoy seafood at one of the many restaurants.
- Take a stroll through the North End of the city, which is known for its colorful Victorian houses, trendy cafes, and hipster vibe.
- Check out the Halifax Public Gardens, a Victorian-style garden filled with flowers, trees, and sculptures.
- Go on a craft beer tour of the city, visiting local breweries like Garrison Brewing, Propeller Brewing, and Good Robot Brewing.
- Check out the Halifax Central Library, stunning building with a cute coffee shop and regular free performances and demonstrations – plus panoramic city views from the rooftop!
- Visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which features Canadian and international art, including a collection of works by Nova Scotia artists.
- Head to Point Pleasant Park, a large park with walking trails, beaches, and stunning views of the Halifax Harbour.
- Visit the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, which is the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in North America, and offers a wide variety of local produce, crafts, and food. *Only open Saturdays and Sundays!
- Visit the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, which is a 19th-century fort with exhibits and guided tours that provide insight into the city’s military past.
- Catch a performance at the Neptune Theatre, a renowned theatre company that stages a variety of plays, musicals, and other productions.
- Get on the Water – either hop on the ferry, get a boat tour, or try kayaking around Halifax harbour and its islands.
Admittedly, we did not visit the Art Gallery, the Citadel, go to the Neptune Theatre, or get on the water (too cold in September for that!) – but I wanted to leave them on the list as they are popular items and might be better suited to some of your interests!
We did however thoroughly enjoying walking the Waterfront boardwalk, popping into shops and cafes, roaming the Public Gardens, visiting the library, and exploring the parks.
The sheer amount of restaurants where I said “Omg I want to eat there!” was astronomical. Halifax is a city I would LOVE to come and live in for a 3-6 month period. Bringing my work with me of course, keeping my days busy, but just spending every morning at a different coffee shop, and every evening at a different waterfront restaurant. The dream!!
Peggy’s Cove is like THE thing that comes to mind when you think of Halifax. It’s definitely super touristy and cliche, but still so worth it. We wanted to make sure we got our visit in, so we went there right away. It’s about an hour’s drive from the city, but even the drive itself is stunning (and we stopped halfway for a lobster roll, cause… why not!). Once we arrived, we spent some time exploring the fishing village – checking out all the colourful houses, fishing boats, and the rocky shoreline.
Then we hiked over to the lighthouse to grab some pics and take in the scenery. It’s a very photogenic spot! We were able to time it so we were there for golden hour, and watching the sun drop over the ocean was so magical. The only thing is, it can get pretty windy and cold, so definitely bring some layers if you go. But trust me, it’s worth braving the chill for those incredible views. Even though it’s totally touristy and everyone goes there, in my opinion Peggy’s Cove is still a Halifax must-do!
One of our other little trips out of the city was to visit Lunenburg. This charming town located just south of Halifax is renowned for its colourful buildings, cobblestone streets, and rich maritime history. The Bluenose II, a famous schooner, is a must-see attraction (Tyler LOVES ships, so he was stoked about this… but it’s a really neat stop even if you’re “meh” on boats!).
The town also has an array of delightful cafes and coffee shops – we stopped at No. 9 Coffee Bar, which has a lovely back garden where you can sit and enjoy your treats. I had one of the yummiest muffins of my life back there! We decided to do our long runs from here, since Lunenburg’s waterfront road is just stunning. It is however also windy and HILLY; but still made for some great views! Overall, we had an incredible time exploring this idyllic town, and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
What to Eat
When heading to the east coast, it’s essentially obligatory to get some seafood. All I could think about for the whole plane ride was getting my hands on a lobster roll. If you take only one of my recommendations, make it be this one: get a lobster roll with BUTTER. I still think about the warm, buttery soaked bread and the shockingly large chunks of tender lobster quite regularly. I’ll also share some of my favourite other stops that we made, to round out the menu! However, I don’t have tooooo many personal recos since we did eat a few meals in our cottage, and at the wedding. Sorry 🙂
Dave’s Lobster – 8/10 – This spot is down by the boardwalk at the waterfront, making it a great first stop since it’s in a lovely area with good views. Not a cheap meal, but very delicious.
Shaw’s Landing – 9/10 – On the way to Peggy’s Cove, this roadside restaurant is well worth pulling over for. Great views and unreal food. We got one mayo roll and one butter roll, to try both… my advice is to just go with the butter!!
No. 9 Coffee Bar – 10/10 – Cute back garden patio, delicious baked goods, and allegedly great coffee (according to Tyler and my parents).
Underground Snax – 9/10 – One of those cool shops where you can get the most random imported snacks… I absolutely love browsing these kinds of stores. They had a big range of selections and the staff was super cool!
Rousseau Chocolatier – 9/10 – Just a nice chocolate shop, perfect for hitting my choc cravings while walking around the city.
Ampersand Cafe – Can’t give a rating cause I didn’t actually eat here, but I wish I did! The food looked good, and the location (rooftop of the library, with great views of the city) was unreal.
Of note: you should probably also try a donair if you’ve never had one before – a spicy, gyro-style wrap, filled with onions and tomatoes, topped in a sweet sauce. It’s actually the official food of Halifax!
Here’s a quick video of our last day in town, showing off some of the spots:
Day 1: Arrive & Explore the Waterfront
- Once you arrive, head straight down to the waterfront. I’d recommend walking the length of the boardwalk (check out the sculptures, and take a swing in the hammocks!), poking into shops, and looking for a restaurant for dinner on the water!
- Depending on when you arrive (and the weather), this would also be a good day to get out on the water on a boat or kayak tour.
- Hit up a brewery or distillery for some post-dinner fun!
Day 2: Day Trip to Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove
- Pick up your rental car (if you haven’t already) – today is for exploring the surrounding areas!
- If you’re like me and need food first thing in the morning, I’d pop in to a coffee shop in Halifax for a quick bite before heading out.
- If not, go straight to Lunenberg – it’s just over an hour’s drive and there are quite a number of cute coffee shops there as well!
- Spend some time walking the waterfront, visiting some of the stores, and make sure to get aboard the Bluenose II for a little slice of Canada’s history.
- Even if you’re not a runner, I’d still recommend getting out along the harbourfront trail for a stroll.
- Lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the harbour.
- Head over to Peggy’s Cove next! My tip is to not head straight to the lighthouse first thing. Park a little further away, and spend some time walking down to the lighthouse. That way you can take in more of the charm of the historic fishing town.
- Spend time clambering along the rocks – but be careful, they can be SLICK.
- Check out the gift shops and grab a snack from the restaurant.
- Stay to watch sunset if you can – it’s truly magical.
Day 3: Central Halifax & Departue
- Start with another coffee shop for breakast; there are simply too many good ones to not go whenever possible.
- Stroll through the Public Gardens
- Stop by the library – I know, it sounds kind of boring… but trust me, it’s not! It was awarded Governor General’s Medal for its outstanding new civic building design, plus it has fantastic views from the rooftop. If you’re lucky, there may even be a free concert or performance when you’re there.
- Swing by Underground Snax to pick up some goodies!
- If you’re up for some more shopping, get over to North End for some funky shops and colourful buildings.
- Depending on time, this is a good day to add in visiting the Citadel, the Farmers’ Market, and the park.
- Pack up and get ready to head home!
Note: if you have more than 3 days, there are SO MANY other amazing things to do in Nova Scotia. In a weekend, I wouldn’t even try to see more than what I’ve recommended above. But if you’ve got more time, reach a little further! Look into some road trips, potentially spending a night outside the city. Personally, one of my dreams is to bike the Cabot Trail! Maybe one day 🙂