Nova Scotia was the last place we went on our eastern Canada road trip, and Halifax was a little out of our way but it was definitely worth the visit! We were there for two days, and while we spent most of the time in Halifax itself, we also checked out some smaller towns outside the city. The smaller towns were actually my favorite (you’ll see why in this post!), so if you have the time, I would recommend taking the time to explore them. So if you just have two days, these were my favorite things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
Tour the Halifax Citadel
The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is right in downtown Halifax, so it’s an easy thing to do when you’re exploring the city! It also sits on a hill, so you can get some cool views of the city and harbor. The site of the citadel dates back to the 1700s when the British military built a defensive fort, and the city started growing from there. Because it was in such a great defensive spot, it didn’t see any action with enemies attacking.
The citadel is a “living history” museum with military interpreters doing drills throughout the day. They wear the same military uniforms, including the 78th Highlanders who wear kilts! And yes, they will pose for photos if you ask them 🙂
There are lots of rooms you can explore that are set up like they would be in the 1800s or with different museum exhibits, so there’s a lot you can see. And bonus- dogs are allowed! They’re not able to go inside the rooms, but our dog loved exploring the citadel walls and checking out the cannons.
Walk along the harbor
The harbor area is beautiful! If there is one thing you do in Halifax, I would recommend exploring this area. It’s right downtown so you can walk around and see the beautiful historic buildings before heading to the waterfront. The waterfront was such a cool area with lots of seating areas, vendors, and even some outdoor games to play with. Plus, the views were amazing!
There are also lots of restaurants in the area if you’re looking for somewhere to eat. We were actually in Halifax for Matt’s birthday, so we got dinner at Black Sheep and cake at Piece of Cake, and I highly recommend both!
Like I mentioned, half of one day we were in Halifax, we did some exploring in some of the small towns outside the city. The first stop was Lunenberg, and it was such a cute town on the water! It was a little over an hour from Halifax, and it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site so it’s really worth visiting.
Lunenburg dates back to 1753, and it’s “the best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America,” according to UNESCO. So it’s very old and historic, and visiting Lunenburg might be my top recommendation on things to do when you’re in Halifax!
I absolutely loved the colorful, historic buildings and the views of the water. It was surprisingly pretty empty while we were there, but I shopkeeper I chatted with said it gets packed on weekends so I would recommend going on a weekday if you can.
There are lots of shops and restaurants you can check out, and it’s a small area so you can cover downtown in under an hour. We walked around everywhere and hung out by the water, and then we drove to the other side of the water to get some views of the colorful downtown area.
I know this sounds crazy, but while you’re at this small, seaside town, I recommend getting barbecue! Now hear me out, we have some great barbecue restaurants near us in Philly and we’ve had amazing barbecue in Texas. But Smoke Pitt BBQ was the one recommendation our Airbnb host had for us during our stay in Halifax, so we had to give it a try (and we already knew we would be having seafood for dinner anyway).
This was some of the best barbecue I’ve had, so I would definitely recommend it! They have a nice outdoor seating area, too, so it was an easy place to eat lunch with our dog.
Visit Peggy’s Cove
Peggy’s Cove is a little under an hour from Halifax, and it has one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada (I can see why it is!). The main attraction there is the lighthouse, so there’s not as much to do there compared with Lunenburg and it was MUCH busier. We were there on a weekday and we still had to lap around the parking lot a few times before we finally got a spot. But I think it’s worth the visit!
We probably spent a little under an hour just taking in the views and walking around on the rocks (I was 7 months pregnant at the time and we had our dog, and it wasn’t too hard climbing around on these rocks). The views are just incredible, and watching the waves crash against the rocks was mesmerizing!
If you don’t have much time, I would probably choose Lunenberg over Peggy’s Cove because there’s more to see and do and it was much less crowded. But you can easily do both in one day if you want to! I would probably start at Peggy’s Cove to get there earlier and beat the crowds, especially if you go during the summer.
One thing that I looked into doing in Halifax but it just didn’t work out with our time there was taking a boat trip. There are tours to go whale watching and tours of the harbor during the day and at sunset, so there are lots of different options if you’re interested in seeing the area by boat!
And one last bonus tip- try a donair when you’re in Halifax (donair is how they spell doner there). They have their own unique donair that they’re famous for, so they’re different from other doner kebabs you may have had.
So which of these things to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia is at the top of your list? 🙂 We really enjoyed our time in Halifax, so next time we’ll be sure to spend more time there!