Presented by Destination Canada
Located on an unassuming peninsula on one of the easternmost points in Canada, you’ll find Halifax. The capital of Nova Scotia is well-known for its endless coastlines, fun-loving locals, and decadent seafood—and as such draws in hundreds of thousands of curious travelers each year looking to drink in the laid-back attitude and flavors of this colorful seaside city.
Although there’s plenty to do across Atlantic Canada, we suggest ticking Halifax off your list first. The coastal Canadian city offers the charisma and friendliness of a small town with the know-how and sophistication of a big city—making it an ideal destination for eating and drinking well while relaxing by the sea. Here are some of the best things to see and do while exploring the capital of Nova Scotia.
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Getting to Halifax
Downtown Halifax is about a half-hour drive from the Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ) which connects the coastal destination to 15 towns and cities within Canada and 25 international destinations. The high-speed CAT ferry is another great transit option for New Englanders; the drive-on commuter ferry connects Bar Harbor, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia—which is about a three-hour drive from Halifax.
What to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Halifax Waterfront is a densely packed hotspot where local Haligonians and tourists converge. The boardwalk is home to the main cruise ship terminal in the city and offers some of the city’s best shops, restaurants, and public art all in one condensed zone. Highlights include local art installations like the iconic blue wave designed by artist Donna Hiebert and the cheeky drunken lamp posts by artists Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg. Fine art fiends should also check out the neighboring Art Gallery of Nova Scotia—which is home to a number of beloved Nova Scotia artist Maud Lewis’ paintings and her former cottage and studio.
Head further down the boardwalk and you’ll find the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. The oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in North America, first opened to the public in 1750, provides the local community with everything from local produce and snacks to handmade crafts and organic beauty products. It also offers stunning views of Georges Island and makes an excellent spot to stop and people-watch.
While you’re on the waterfront you’ll also want to spend a little time out on the water by taking in the Halifax skyline via boat. There are dozens of options depending on your budget and time restraints: The Halifax–Alderney ferry (locally known as the Dartmouth ferry) runs every day of the year, and the 15-minute ride across the harbor is just $2. The indoor/outdoor commuter ferry provides some of the best views of the city, especially during sunset. The Harbor Hopper tour offers a more whimsical experience; a renovated amphibious Vietnam War-era vehicle ferries passengers throughout the city streets before plopping straight into the harbor and continuing the tour on the water. There are also plenty of higher-end boating and yachting experiences and rentals, with J Farwell Sailing Tours being one of the best.