From rugged coastlines to war memorials, Halifax is filled with amazing sights you can only find in the east coast. While a weekend isn’t nearly long enough to experience all Halifax has to offer, you can still see plenty of cool spots during your short trip. Here’s how to spend the perfect weekend in Halifax, one of the friendliest cities in Canada.
Saturday: explore downtown Halifax
Downtown Halifax is quite small compared to other Canadian cities, but the city is packed with historical buildings and beautiful architecture. A lot of the sites are within walking distance of each other, so you can ditch the rental car or ride a bike instead.
Start your day off at the Halifax Public Gardens, a 16-acre public garden dating to the Victorian era. With wrought-iron gates and ornate fountains, you’ll feel you’ve transported through time. Take a free horticultural or historical tour of the garden, or just wander around it on your own.
A short 11-minute walk away is the Halifax Town Clock, a Palladian-style clock more than 200 years old, with the original clockworks still in use. Head up to the Citadel Hill National Historic Site, where you can wander inside the walls of the citadel for a small admission fee. Four fortifications have been built here since 1749 to protect Halifax, and it’s incredible standing in a place so full of history.
You might be hungry at this point, so head over to the Halifax Waterfront for some seafood and sea views. Grab a takeout lobster roll at Goldwater Seafoods and enjoy it along the boardwalk, or sit down at one of Halifax’s best restaurants, The Bicycle Thief.
The Halifax Waterfront features the longest boardwalk in the world, at 2.5 miles, and it’s an entire stretch of restaurants, museums and more. Stop into the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market to shop local products, explore the HMCS Sackville and stretch your legs in a hammock by the water (if you can manage to find an empty one).
If you’re a history buff, you’ll be glad to hear that Halifax has plenty of historical buildings to explore. Stop by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, which was once an immigration terminal. Take a quick walk over to St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest existing Anglican church in Canada and the oldest building in Nova Scotia. Then, stop by Province House, Canada’s oldest legislative building.
There are plenty of great dinner spots around Halifax, especially if you’re into seafood. Although Halifax is right by the Atlantic Ocean, expect to pay high prices for fresh seafood. Head to Wasabi House for sushi (they give additional free rolls with every order) or Shuck for fresh east coast oysters.
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Sunday: wander outside of the city
A visit to Halifax isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse. Built in 1914, this lighthouse is still being used today to guide ships. You can walk along the rocks near the lighthouse but be wary of the crashing waves and stay off if the rocks are dark.
Fewer than 10 minutes’ drive away is Rhubarb Restaurant at the Oceanstone Seaside Resort, a great lunch spot in Peggy’s Cove, away from the tourist crowds. They’ve also got Sunday brunch if you come on a weekend. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, stop by Dee Dee’s for homemade ice cream.
After you’re all filled up, take the hour drive to the adorable town of Chester. Once a destination for pirates and Prohibition-era smugglers, it’s now a popular stop on the way to Lunenberg. While you're here, hike along the various trails, kayak around the islands and cycle along the coast.
Mahone Bay is just a 21-minute drive away from Chester. It’s most well-known for the Three Churches standing side-by-side, which make for great photos. More than 1,000 ships have been built here since the mid-1700s, and shipbuilding was the primary business in Mahone Bay until the 1970’s. You can learn all about it at the Mahone Bay Settlers’ Museum.
Drive 13 minutes over to Lunenberg, which might be one of the cutest towns in all of Canada. With its picturesque harbor and brightly colored homes, it’s a photographer’s dream. It’s also a Unesco World Heritage Site, so it still retains the look of 18th century British colonial settlements.
While you’re in Lunenberg, take a tour of the Ironworks Distillery, a micro-distillery named after the old blacksmith shop it’s now housed in. It creates artisanal spirits made with fruits, like blueberry liqueur and sweet apple brandy.
If it’s open for the season, end your day with dinner at the South Shore Fish Shack. It offers fantastic fish and chips as well as other seafood dishes, which go great with the local craft beers on tap.
Halifax is beautiful all year-round, but you’ll definitely find more things to do during the summertime. It’s a great city to do a weekend trip, especially if you’re into history and great seafood.