Halifax has a fascinating history with the British and French fighting bloody battles over it, and the Acadians stuck in the middle.
The First Nation in the area is the Mi'kmaq. Their land was devasted during the Halifax Explosion when a ship transporting ammunition exploded during the First World War. Years of piracy and the sinking of the Titanic also left their mark on the city.
Today, Halifax is a university town and the economic center of Canada's four eastern provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador.
There is lots to discover in the summer here that you cannot see between November and May. So come and explore the small but multifaceted city of Halifax!
One of the National Historic Sites of Canada, Halifax Citadel Hill offers excellent views of the city. The British started building it in 1749 when Halifax was founded, but with changing ownership, what you now see is its fourth version.
In the summer, more facilities open up to visitors, and you can join a tour of the creepy fortress. You can even fire one of their historic rifles!
If you start your day here, you will naturally pass many other places mentioned on this things to do in Halifax list as you make your way to the harbour.
Across the street from the Halifax Citadel, you will find the Natural History Museum. This is one of the great things to do in Halifax with kids.
In the summer, they run daily events and staff dress as animals to explain the world of insects and much more.
Of course, there are also educational exhibits for adults!
On your walk from the Citadel down to the waterfront, pass by the Halifax Public Gardens. This is one of my favorite spots in the city. It's an excellent spot for (Instagram) photos, but also just to relax and get away from the buzz.
The Victorian-style garden with its duck pond, gingerbread pavilion and ancestral trees reminds me of English gardens. This is not a coincidence and is where socialites went for their strolls during Victorian times.
Look out for two miniature boats in the pond. One of them looks remarkably similar to the Titanic. This is a hint of the intertwined story Halifax has with the once considered unsinkable ship. But more on that later.
Between 1928 to 1971, Halifax was Canada's most important port for immigration. More than one million people who immigrated to Canada came here. The stories of why they made the journey to Canada are portrayed very movingly.
The museum is located right at Pier 21.
To get a feeling for what the sailors' town of Halifax was like in the 19th century, take a tour of Alexander Keith's Brewery. Dressed-up characters will tell you tales and drink local brews with you. Check out their website for tour times, and make sure you don't end up drunk like a sailor!
Once you have made it down to the Halifax waterfront, there is so much more to explore. If you turn right, you'll soon find the Seaport Farmer's Market.
This market was founded in 1750 and has moved around the city a few times. Over 250 stands sell local produce at this quaint market.
When the supposedly unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg over 100 years ago, it wasn't too far away from Nova Scotia. Three ships from Halifax were sent out to help with the rescue efforts.
The Fairview Lawn Cemetary is one of the Halifax cemeteries where victims of this tragedy are buried.
Remember Leonardo DiCaprio's character in the Titanic movie? Well, the real person it is based on is buried here.
St. Paul's Church was built at the same time as the Citadel, and is the oldest standing building in Halifax. You can visit it anytime, but they also offer tours in case you'd like to learn more.
It is located downtown at the corner of Prince Street and Argyle Street. I'll get to Argyle street a little later in this post.
There are many different operators offering boat tours of the Halifax harbour. Take your pick and see the city from the waterside. Some of these companies also provide whale watching tours.
I am not going to recommend any particular company because it depends on what you want from a tour. Some boats stick out more than others, though.
There are sightseeing tours during the day and party tours in the evenings.
Ah, the boardwalk... A great way to enjoy sunny summer afternoons in Halifax with ice cream in hand, or just by chilling on a bench. It's quite a popular thing to do in Halifax, so don't expect to be alone!
Also, many of the primary tourist attractions in the city are located just off of the boardwalk. During the high season, the boardwalk is extended by a floating part. Beware if you suffer from motion sickness!
Pictures on a gate along the way tells the story of the Halifax Explosion - a site that commemorates the people who boarded ships here, several of whom never returned from war. You can learn about the sea life along this boardwalk and the first telegraph lines below the Atlantic Ocean as well.
On beautiful days, artists come out and sell their jewellery and paintings along the Halifax Boardwalk. Sometimes, you will even find painters still painting, inspired by the view of the water.
Closer to downtown, a colorful assembly of wooden huts is where you can find all sorts of food. If you haven't tried the Canadian staple of Beavertails yet, now is the time! But make sure you're hungry as it's a rather filling desert.
At the end of the boardwalk, you reach the Historic Properties. This is a great place to buy souvenirs and sit down for a snack and drink with a view of the water.
There are several local art and crafts stores inside, along with a barbershop, coffee shop and some cute shops selling knick-knacks. It's also one of the surprisingly few places in Halifax where I found postcards.
Despite being the economic center of the four eastern provinces of Canada, the restaurant scene in Halifax is not fancy.
Instead, you will find many fantastic local pubs where you can taste the catch of the day, talk to the locals and listen to Celtic music. If you haven't noticed the Scottish roots by now, the music is where it becomes obvious.
Every day of the week should have live music somewhere. Just within a few blocks of the pier, you will see dozens of pubs. I recommend you start with Argyle Street and go from there.
In front of the Halifax Visitor Center near the pier, you will notice a giant sculpture of a wave. This is the perfect Instagram spot in Halifax, especially if you manage to climb up on top of it!
What is the perfect strategy? I don't know, but you won't be the only one trying, so find out by visiting this spot and making some new friends!
If you have more than a few days to spend in Nova Scotia and would like to explore the province more, consider taking a day trip outside of Halifax!
A scenic drive along the shore northeast of Halifax will take you to Historic Sherbrooke Village. The village takes you back 150 years in time with staff dressed in period clothes showing you old-timey professions, from pottery to a blacksmith.
About a two-hour drive away from Halifax, you reach Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia - another place for an exciting day trip from Halifax! Check out my self-guided walking tour of Annapolis Royal for exploring this coastal town.
And if you enjoy historic small towns, make sure to stop in Lunenburg on your way back. Its old town is a Unesco World Heritage Site, though on its own is not quite enough to fill a full day.
You can also go for a hike as there are several hiking trails in Nova Scotia suitable for all experience levels. AllTrails is an excellent app to find out about hiking trails, including their length and difficulty level. My favorite hike in Nova Scotia is the Skyline trail, but it's a bit of a drive from Halifax.
The Skyline Trail is located in Cape Breton National Park, and I would recommend this trail even for inexperienced hikers. As pretty as the sunset is from the turning point of the path, I suggest you do it during the day as I have seen moose here several times.
Halifax is the beating heart of Nova Scotia and the neighboring provinces. There are plenty of things to do in Halifax, especially in the summer months when the city opens up to travelers and shows its full glory.
I hope my tips above were helpful, and you have a fantastic time exploring Halifax and its surroundings. If you have any comments or questions, please don't be afraid to ask!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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