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35 Best Things to Do in Halifax Nova Scotia: Travel Guide & Budget Tips

Tags: halifax

Note for 2020: Some Halifax attractions and things to do listed in this travel guide may be temporarily closed or restricted based on the global situation affecting travel this year. Follow local guidance and check directly with the establishments regarding closures and reopening dates. For the latest on the situation and info for travellers to Halifax, see the updates on NovaScotia.com.

The wide assortment of great things to do in Halifax helps to make Nova Scotia’s capital such a fun travel destination to visit in Canada! The friendly waterfront city has so much to offer visitors. Personally, Halifax remains one of our favorite destinations in the country.

So what makes Halifax so much fun?
its unique maritime culture,
the friendly Haligonians who live here,
the weekly festivals,
amazing summer weather,
the abundant park space,
a booming craft beer scene,
delicious local seafood,
the vibrant Waterfront,
adventurous day trips to pursue, and
so much more!

This maritime city is awesome and there are so many fun things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia! We’re here to reveal in this travel guide we’ve found to be the best things to do in Halifax.

As this site always likes to point out excellent value, we’ve gone on to provide all of our signature budget travel tips for Halifax too! With so many things to do in Halifax, don’t worry that a modest travel budget will be prohibitive to fully experience everything this lively city has to offer.

We’ve completed loads of on-the-ground travel research while spending the summer in Nova Scotia’s capital to uncover how to experience all the best things to do in Halifax, while on a budget. Ultimately we were delighted to discover that Halifax is actually a particularly budget-friendly place to travel to.

We almost couldn’t believe just how many free things to do in Halifax there are! Meanwhile, we also found that hotels in Halifax are way less expensive here in comparison to other popular Canadian destinations. Even flights to Halifax are cheap right now too!

Add to that many Halifax restaurant deals to take advantage of the region’s renowned seafood. And you can wash it all down with delicious pints of locally brewed craft beer, thanks in part to all the happy hours around town. Halifax may just be one of the most budget-friendly destinations in Canada!

Yet if you’re not careful, travel costs can easily accumulate. When searching for things to do in Halifax, you’ll find pricey harbor cruises for $100+. Traditional Halifax lobster suppers are similarly expensive. But in this Halifax travel guide, we reveal alternate ways to ply the Halifax harbor for just a few dollars and even all-you-can-eat lobster suppers for under $10!

In Halifax, you can further enjoy free canoe rentals, $2 beers, and even centrally located places to stay for less than $50 per night! Even most of Halifax’s best day trips are free if you have the means to get there. This detailed Halifax travel guide reveals all these money-saving tips (and more) to help you enjoy all the best things to do in Halifax on any budget!

So save your loonies and toonies while experiencing all the best things that Halifax, Nova Scotia, has to offer!

Halifax Nova Scotia Travel Guide + Budget Tips: Table of Contents

20 Best Things to Do in Halifax

6 Best Day Trips to Do from Halifax

4 Best Drinking Things to Do in Halifax + Budget Tips

5+ Best Local Foods to Try in Halifax + Cheap Eats

Where to Stay in Halifax for all Budgets

More Travel Tips for Halifax Nova Scotia

20 Best Things to Do in Halifax

Here’s a handy Halifax map that pinpoints all of our recommendations for the things to do in Halifax that are further detailed throughout this article. So feel free to come back to this map to get your bearings and connect the dots!

 Without further ado, below are the 20 best things to do in Halifax, with money-saving tips on how to do them all on a budget!

1) Stroll the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk 

Arguably the best thing to do in Halifax is simply roaming around the Halifax waterfront. It’s a must-do in Halifax!

This working port on the Halifax Harbour boasts one of the longest downtown boardwalks in the world! You could easily spend an entire afternoon aimlessly strolling amongst the timber-frame and stone warehouses lining the scenic seaside.

The walk is dotted with patio restaurants, former naval ships-turned-museums, eclectic galleries, colorful seafood shacks, and inviting outdoor beer gardens!

Found all along the waterfront are other attractions covered throughout the remainder of this travel guide of things to do in Halifax. Ambling on this picturesque thoroughfare, you’ll inevitably stumble across Halifax’s Farmers Market, the historic Alexander Keith’s Brewery, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (which are further detailed in this Halifax travel guide).

But don’t go to the Halifax waterfront just for its attractions. Soak in the atmosphere. You’ll hear the chatter of seagulls, the lapping of the water, the soft creaking of boats against the docks, and the laughter of children running by. The waterfront is such an alluring place that truly defines the city of Halifax.

If you were going to only do one thing in Halifax, let it be a visit to the Waterfront. It’s a must-do activity in Halifax and it’s free!

If You Go: Halifax Waterfront

Cost: Free
Where: Just start walking! The approximately 2-km waterfront stretches from the Canadian Museum of Immigration on the southern end (here) towards Casino Nova Scotia on the north end (here).
When: Day and night. The waterfront is often blue & beautiful by day, but it also lights up in the evening.

2) Climb Citadel Hill for History and Views

For sweeping views of Halifax and the harbour, be sure to head over to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

You’ll find much more atop this military fort than views. The Citadel also packs in loads of Halifax history. At the Halifax Citadel, you can explore the fort walls, learn about history at the onsite museum, and check out the fort’s many cannons.

Tip: Try to be at Citadel Hill at Noon for the daily demonstration when those cannons are fired!

Another regular occurrence to catch at the Citadel is the changing of the guards.

It happens every hour. Don’t miss it!

If You Go: Halifax Citadel

Cost: Summer rates: C$11.90 for adults, free for anyone under 18.
Where: Located here, the Citadel is about a 15-20 minute walk uphill from the Waterfront.
When: Daily, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. Open ’til 6:00 pm, July-August.
Official Website: Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

3) Shop at the Oldest Continuously Operated Farmers’ Market in North America

Halifax boasts two notable farmers’ markets that are worthy of exploring.

The original is known as the Historic Farmers’ Market. This farmers’ market was founded way back in 1750, which makes it the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in North America.

But you’ll have to be in Halifax on a Saturday morning to catch this historic farmers’ market in action because it’s only open once each week.

If You Go: Historic Farmers' Market

Cost: Free to browse
Where: It’s housed here, in the Halifax’s Brewery Square, in the same building as Alexander Keith’s Brewery.
When: Saturdays, 7:00 am – 1:00 pm

That centuries-old Halifax market has grown over the years. As such, many of the farmers’ market vendors have more recently relocated to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. This one is open every day of the week, although it’s particularly happening on weekends.

At these markets, you can find everything from locally farmed produce and meats to locally made crafts and fresh flowers. Personally, we enjoy shopping here for Canadian staples like local honey, maple syrup, and even local spirits! There are also some affordable lunch options to consider at the Seaport Farmers Market if you arrive hungry.

Whether you’re coming here to shop, eat, or simply browse, both of these farmers’ markets are a long-standing local tradition that makes for a fun thing to do in Halifax.

If You Go: Seaport Farmers' Market

Cost: Free to browse
Where: It’s located here, on the south end of the Waterfront, near the cruise port and Immigration Museum.
When: Weekdays, 10:00-5:00. Saturday, 7:00-3:00. Sunday, 9:00-3:00.
Official website: here.

4) Go Canoeing in Halifax

Canoeing is a national pastime in Canada and Halifax makes for a great place to get out onto the water for a paddle. The Halifax Harbour can make for a great place to do so. It gives canoers and kayakers a great vantage point of the waterfront and the city itself.

There are a few different opportunities to canoe or kayak along Halifax’s popular waterfront, and they’re priced accordingly. Expect to find kayak rentals along the waterfront for about C$40 or so.

But here’s a little Halifax budget tip to rent canoes for free! If you venture to the  peninsula to a skinny harbour known as the Northwest Arm, you’ll come to St. Mary’s Boat Club, which provides free canoe rentals during weekends!

It’s a pleasant paddle through the sailboat-filled harbour, along the rugged coastline, and residential areas. You can even paddle across the Northwest Arm to Sir Sanford Fleming Park and briefly dock your canoe. Then you can have a stroll along the park’s waterfront trails or climb to the top of Dingle Tower, which further offers free admission.

These free canoe rentals at St. Mary’s Boat Club are only available on Saturdays and Sundays, so be sure to plan this excursion for a weekend. Although this seemed to be enjoyed mostly by locals, you don’t need to be a Boat Club member or even a Halifax resident to use the canoes. All you need is some form of identification to snag a canoe for free and get out on the water!

Tip: It’s wise to arrive early because this is a very popular thing to in Halifax on nice summer days. Canoes do get rented-out completely and you may come to St Mary’s Boat Club to find a long queue of Haligonians waiting to paddle.

Clear days make for enjoyable conditions. But more important than sunny days, we recommend using canoes when the winds are calm. On windy days, people have been known to flip right into the harbor! You can check the wind forecast for Halifax here on WindGuru.com. Ideally, winds under 10 knots make for nice paddling conditions in Halifax.

If You Go: Free Canoe Rentals at St. Mary's Boat Club

Cost: Free, with identification
Where: Located here, it’s about 3.5 km (45-minute walk) across the peninsula to reach St. Mary’s from the Halifax waterfront.
When: Summer weekends, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, June 1 – September 30.
Official website: Halifax Recreation.

5) Visit the Halifax Maritime Museum

Halifax’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is the city’s most popular museum. It contains over 30,000 artifacts!

Perhaps most notable is the Titanic exhibit, which tells the story of Halifax’s grim role in the Titantic’s recovery efforts. You can see artifacts from the tragic sinking, from the alluring, like a wooden deck chair, to the morbid, such as a body bag.

Yet there is so much maritime curiosity to explore here, which goes far beyond that famously unsinkable ship. Those who are really interested in history could easily spend several hours perusing through what is Canada’s largest maritime museum.

How To Visit the Maritime Museum for Free

Budget tip to get in for free: It’s normally a C$10 adult ticket to get into Halifax Maritime Museum during the summer months. But for those who come Tuesday, after 5:00 pm, entry is free! On Tuesday evenings the museum has extended hours until 8:00 pm and offers free admission each week during this three-hour period. Plan accordingly to visit then and save!

If You Go: Halifax Maritime Museum

Cost: C$9.55, unless visited on Tuesdays 5:00-8:00, for free.
Where: Very centrally located on the Halifax Waterfront, here.
When: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Tuesdays, until 8:00 pm.
Official Website: Halifax Maritime Museum.

More Museums to Visit in Halifax

Tip: Visit museums on a rainy day. The Maritime Museum and Halifax’s other museums are good ideas for things to do in Halifax on a rainy day.

So here are a few other Halifax museum suggestions and some more ways to save!

More Budget-Friendly Museums in Halifax

For Art Lovers: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (C$12)
For Those Traveling with Kids: Discovery Centre (C$13.80)
For Those Exploring Their Canadian Heritage: Museum of Immigration (C$14.50)

Save Even More at Halifax Museums
Prices listed here are for adult entrance, but many visitors can receive rates.

Children, students, and seniors will usually receive further discounts at museums throughout Halifax.
Families should inquire about family admission rates that usually includes two adults and up to three children at a reduced price.
Discounts at the Maritime Museum are further offered to members of CAA, AAA, ISIC, and Canadian Armed Forces.
You’ll even receive a discount if you have are a member of any other museum, so bring your annual museum card from home.

 

6) Tour the Halifax Harbour by Boat

Halifax Harbour cruises are popular pursuits for visitors to the city. These harbour tours are a quintessential experience for visitors to Halifax to gain perspective of the port city while cruising in the storied Harbour.

Dinner cruises around the Halifax Harbour can be an indulgent splurge to consider and typically costs around C$100. On the lower end, Halifax Harbour tours tend to cost around C$30. And you can find plenty of options along the waterfront in between those ranges too.

But there’s also a way for travelers on a budget to tour the Halifax Harbour on the cheap!

Budget Tip: How To Create Your Own Halifax Harbour Cruise for C$2.50

For a more economical way to get out into the Halifax Harbour, simply take the public ferry from Halifax to Dartmouth. The fare is only C$2.50 each way and ferries depart about every 15 minutes. You can even ask for a free transfer to continue on, by bus, to other locations across the Harbour.

There are two ferry routes: the Halifax-Alderney Ferry and the Halifax Woodside Ferry. We’d suggest the Alderney Ferry, which brings passengers to the cross-harbour municipality of Dartmouth. It’s a quick and fun ferry trip across the harbor, that takes about 12 minutes each way. While crossing the harbour, you’ll have some of the best views of the Halifax Waterfront.

Tip: Upon boarding the ferry, grab a seat on the back of the top deck. Many people will pile into the front seats. But it’s the back seats that will offer fleeting views of Halifax city skyline.

Once the ferry makes it across the harbour, you can take the opportunity to explore Dartmouth. There’s a small waterfront here, a park, and a whole ‘nother town to discover with restaurants, cafes, bars, and more.

And that free transfer we mentioned earlier can be used for buses too. So consider catching the #60 bus onward to Fisherman’s Cove. (We’ll explain why next.)

Or take that same bus down to Woodside Regional Park, where you can catch a different ferry back to Halifax. Doing so creates a loop around the Halifax Harbour to give a slightly different vantage point upon the return from Woodside.

Whether by ferry (on the cheap) or a proper Harbour cruise, taking a boat trip into the Halifax Harbour is another “must” for things to do in Halifax.

If You Go: Halifax Harbour Ferry

Cost: C$2.50 adults, C$1.75 seniors & children
Where: The Halifax Ferry Terminal is located here, easily accessible on the northern fringes of the Waterfront.
When: Runs approximately every 15 minutes from 6:30 am – midnight.
Official website with timetables: here.

Also consider a Harbour Hopper Tour: For a proper tour of the Halifax Harbour that’s still economical, we can suggest the very popular and affordable Harbour Hopper tour. It’s a fun 1-hour Halifax tour on an amphibious vehicle that travels along Halifax’s streets and plunks right down into the Harbour that visits many of the city’s most famous sites along the way. This informative and comical narrated tour provides for a much more complete experience into the Harbour and Halifax itself, with budget-friendly prices. Check prices and availability here.

7) Wander Around a Nova Scotian Fishing Village: Fisherman’s Cove

Halifax has a maritime history built around fishing. So visiting a historic fishing village makes for a fun thing to do in Halifax. Nova Scotia’s fishing villages can be intriguing enclaves to explore with lots of photo opportunities abounding.

When visiting Halifax, the most popular day trip to see a fishing village is to Peggy’s Cove, where visitors will find the famed Peggy’s Cove lighthouse alongside a recreated fishing village. Yet it should be noted that a visit to Peggy’s Cove will either require an hours’ drive with your own transportation or you’ll need to join a day tour, which typically runs between $50-$100.

For a closer and more budget-friendly alternative to Peggy’s Cove, we can recommend venturing across the Halifax Harbour by ferry and then taking the bus to see “Fisherman’s Cove.”

There is no lighthouse here. But you will get to see a restored 200-year-old fishing village full of seafood shacks, artsy boutiques, and fishing boats lining the canal.

There’s also a free Heritage Centre to pop into and, of course, the fishing village itself is free. So Fisherman’s Cove makes for yet another one of the many great things to do in Halifax, on any budget.

If You Go: Fisherman's Cover

Cost: Free
Where: Located across the Halifax Harbour, here. Can be reached by ferry + bus #60.
When: Daily, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm. Sundays, Noon-5:00 pm.

8) Visit McNabs Island to Explore Halifax Off-the-Beaten-Path:

If you’re planning a visit to Fisherman’s Cove, don’t stop there. This is the perfect opportunity to visit McNabs Island. We find McNabs Island to be one of the most underrated things to do in Halifax. This half-day excursion is highly recommended to anyone who wants to get off the beaten path and inject a little adventure into their Halifax itinerary.

McNabs Island has a sordid history, as it’s been used as a military fort, an amusement park, and it even had its own soda factory operating there at one point. You can still find some of those bottles scattered throughout the island today.

McNabs Island has a well-maintained network of trails that zigzag across what is the largest island in the Halifax Harbour. Those trails will take you to old crumbling forts, scenic cliffs, secluded beaches, and the modern-day ruins of former homes that remain on the island today.

McNabs Island is a great place to explore that seemingly few people make the effort to venture out to. It’s easy to spend at least a few hours exploring the trails across this interesting island.

Getting to McNabs Island directly from Halifax can be a very pricey proposition since you’re required to charter a boat with a minimum group size. Instead, simply make your way to Fisherman’s Cove where Captain Mike Tilley will give you a lift in his skiff. It’s C$20 round-trip from Fisherman’s Cove to McNabs Island and back, which takes about 5 minutes each way.

“Captain Red Beard,” as he’s also known, is full of local knowledge about the island and even has some personal ties that he’ll share with you. Be sure to ask questions and get him to tell you some tales.

If You Go: McNabs Island with Captain Mike's Ferry

Cost: Entrance is free. Round-trip ferry from Fisherman’s Cove to McNabs Island: C$20
Where: The island is in the middle of the Halifax Harbour, here. Find Captain Mike’s dock here in Fisherman’s Cove.
When: Typically daylight hours. Consider calling Captain Mike in advance to confirm.
More Info: Friends of McNabs Island
Ferry Website: Captain Mike’s McNabs Island Ferry

9) Pay Your Respects to the Victims of the Titanic

This is one of the more somber things to do in Halifax. The Fairview Lawn Cemetery is notable because it has the grim distinction of being the final resting place of the most Titanic victims.

Survivors rescued from the infamous maritime tragedy were brought to New York City. But the White Star Line had an office in Halifax, which commissioned 3 ships with the task of recovering the victims from the icy waters.

Some were never found, while others were buried at sea. But a total of 209 bodies from the Titanic were hauled back to Halifax. The White Star Line paid for simple gravestones, many of which remain unnamed because the victims couldn’t be identified.

Today the Titanic section of the Fairview Lawn Cemetery shows a somber yet interesting reality to Halifax’s young history. Do note that it’s still an active cemetery that’s open to the public. So your respects is the only thing you’ll pay to visit.

A visit to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery is among one of the sadder things to do in Halifax, but it’s an interesting sight to experience Halifax’s role in this tragic event.

If You Go: Fairview Lawn Cemetery

Cost: Free
Where: Located here, it’s a bit of a hike from the Waterfront, about 5 km away. 
When: Weekdays 8:00 am – 4:00 pm.

10) Go Hiking around Point Pleasant Park

Although Halifax is Nova Scotia’s largest city, it still maintains some enormous park space that’s only a short stroll from downtown.

Point Pleasant Park boasts 25 miles of hiking trails along with awesome views of the Halifax Harbour. Point Pleasant is a great place to come get some fresh air, do some light trekking, or have a picnic by the sea on a sunny summer day.

One aspect that makes Point Pleasant Park



This post first appeared on Roaming Around The World - Travel Blog With Tales, please read the originial post: here

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