halifax harbour with a colorful blue sky

Is Halifax, Nova Scotia Worth Visiting in 2024?

Yes, Halifax is worth visiting! Last summer, I spent a weekend in the city, after hearing about its beautiful architecture, nightlife, and museums. So I had to experience it for myself!

One of the highlights that captured my heart was an evening stroll along the Halifax Waterfront. The lively atmosphere, with bustling restaurants, a picturesque marina, and captivating lights, created a mesmerizing scene that encapsulated the city’s charm.

As an immigrant to Canada, a visit to The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 was a poignant and essential stop. The museum masterfully narrated the rich history and personal stories of individuals embarking on their immigration journeys to Canada over the past four centuries, adding a profound layer to my understanding of the country’s diverse tapestry.

While I didn’t partake in any events, I caught wind of Halifax’s proud reputation for its vibrant nightlife, musical scene, and multicultural festivals. In 2024, mark your calendar for the Halifax Pride Festival, the Atlantic International Film Festival, and the Halifax Busker Fest.

These are just a couple of the things that I think make Halifax worth visiting. Want to learn more? Dive into this comprehensive guide, which unveils the best activities, insider tips, and more, ensuring your visit to this maritime marvel is nothing short of extraordinary.

a sign on the highway directing two lanes towards halifax, nova scotia

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5 Best Things To See & Do In & Around Halifax

#1 Walk along The Halifax Waterfront

As a part of a historic port city, the Halifax Waterfront has always played an important role. Once an industrial and gritty spot, it’s now known among locals and tourists for its vibrant, bustling, and inviting culture!

The Halifax Waterfront stretches over 4 kilometers (2.5 miles), which makes it one of the longest urban boardwalks in the world! It starts at Pier 21 at the Halifax Seaport and ends at the Casino Nova Scotia.

the boardwalk that wraps around the halifax harbour on a partly cloud day

If you find yourself at this spot on a Saturday or Sunday, check out The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. then grab some lunch at one of the restaurants, food trucks, or cafés. Many have an outside patio with amazing views during the spring and summer months!

The Halifax Waterfront is also famous for its playgrounds, public art, hammocks, and harbor boat tours. Consider exploring the downtown area via a segway tour.

The Waterfront is also home to the Halifax Ferry Terminal. Two ferries depart every 15 to 30 minutes to the Alderney Landing in downtown Dartmouth and Woodside every day. The trip takes about 15 minutes and is perfect for taking photos of the Halifax Skyline!

#2 Visit The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

1055 Marginal Road, Halifax, NS B3H 4P7
As an immigrant to Canada, visiting The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 was at the top of my list! Pier 21 was a major entry point for newcomers to Canada, who arrived via vessel during the 20th century. The museum opened in 1999 and is a National Historic Site.

a black and white photo of a family immigrating to canada that's on display at the Canadian Immigration Story Exhibit in halifax

The Canadian Immigration Story Exhibit (inside the Canadian Museum)

One of the permanent exhibits is The Canadian Immigration Story, which displays the history and influence of immigration to Canada over the past 400 years.

Some reasons newcomers moved here were famines, wars, or better job opportunities. While many were thrilled to be welcomed by the Canadian authorities with open arms, others experienced injustice, prejudice, and racism. This exhibit also talks about challenges immigrants had to deal with in their new home, such as cultural differences, a new language, climate, and unfamiliar foods.

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 also offers some fun activities for families. If you’re an immigrant, try and “map out your roots” on the large world map! Moreover, visitors can prove their knowledge about Canada in the Canadian Citizenship Test!

a colorful world map on an orange background that shows the patterns of immigration to canada

The Pier 21 Story Exhibit

The Pier 21 Story is the other permanent exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Here, visitors learn what it was like to travel across the Atlantic by vessel and then deal with customs and immigration upon arrival. Almost one million immigrants landed here from 1928 to 1971.

This exhibit displays a transatlantic vessel’s tourist cabin and dining room, passengers’ luggage for their journey, and much more!

A tourist cabin where passengers stayed during their transatlantic journey thats on display at the Canadian Immigration Story Exhibit in halifax

After becoming landed immigrants, the long journey was not over for many newcomers. Instead, they had to take a train to their final destination in Canada.

You can walk through a colonist train car, which was a steal for newcomers (C$ 7 for a whole family to cross Canada). But these cars were not luxurious, so passengers had to bring their own bedding and food.

Most European immigrants got into Canada in the years after the end of World War II. At that time, Pier 21 was Canada’s busiest ocean port of entry.

My favorite part of the Canadian Museum of Immigration was the stories of the people who moved to Canada, including their names. I think this makes them a lot more relatable!

Ariella’s luggage, who moved from Naples, Italy to Canada with her family in July 1955 thats on display at the  Canadian Immigration Story Exhibit in halifax

#3 Tour The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

1675 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS B3J 1S3
Only a short walk away, you’ll find The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic! It is Canada’s largest and oldest maritime museum and is a perfect spot to learn about Halifax’s maritime history.

The museum’s permanent exhibits include the Navy Gallery which displays the history of the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as sailboats and steamships that took passengers across the Atlantic.

Sailboats displayed at The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in halifax

Don’t miss the CSS Acadia exhibit about a steam vessel used from 1913 until 1969. It was the only Navy ship that survived both World Wars and the historic Halifax Harbour Explosion in 1917!

Then, visit the museum’s most popular exhibit: The Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax exhibit. It talks about the creation of the famous ocean liner and the role Halifax played after it sank on April 15, 1912. Only 705 out of the 2,200 people on board survived this horrible disaster.

While the survivors were taken to New York, the dead bodies were brought to Halifax Harbor because it was the nearest major port to the sinking spot. I was fascinated by the records of the wire transcript text after the Titanic hit the iceberg.

sign detailing how halifax was involved in the titanic tragedy

This exhibit also displays tons of original artifacts of the Titanic. Examples are leather shoes worn by a 19-month-old child, historic photographs, gloves that belonged to the millionaire Charles Hays, and the Titanic’s Certificate of Registry.

#4 Join a Tour of the Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery

1496 Lower Water Street, #312, Halifax, NS B3J 1R9
Want to escape the crowds and have a truly local experience? Then head to the Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery! It’s one of the most famous beer brands of the Maritimes, and the brewery was founded by Alexander Keith in 1820. This makes it one of the oldest working breweries in North America.

During a guided tour (1 hour), visitors learn about the history of Alexander Keith’s and get an exclusive look behind the scenes of beer making. The tour finishes at Stag’s Head – a historic pub that used to be the aging cavern of the brewery. Be sure to try a sample of the locally inspired small batch and limited-edition beers while enjoying live music by local musicians! By the way, Alexander Keith’s is vegan-friendly!

#5 Visit Peggy’s Cove

178 Peggy’s Point Road, Peggy’s Cove, NS B3Z 3S2
The iconic Peggy’s Cove is Nova Scotia’s most popular tourist attraction, with more than 600,000 visitors per year! Peggy’s Cove is famous for the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse and its rugged but stunning granite rock coastline.

The village was founded in 1811, and according to legend, Peggy’s Cove was named after a young shipwreck survivor called Peggy of the Cove. Glaciers and the ocean created Peggy’s Cove more than 20,000 years ago.

Peggy’s Cove is open all year and is a great sunrise or sunset spot! Although it was a foggy day when I visited, it was still an awesome experience. I loved watching the powerful waves hitting the granite rocks and climbing all over them! There’s no admission fee to visit Peggy’s Cove.

the white light house at peggys cove in the distance on a rocky cliff near halifax

Peggy’s Cove also has a Visitor Centre that’s open daily from May to October from 9 AM – 5 PM. Also, there’s an accessible viewing deck for wheelchair users or people with limited mobility.

I recommend booking a sunset tour with See Sight Tours Canada, our guide, Nilah, was very knowledgeable and had lots of unique stories to share about Peggy’s Cove and the Halifax area!

Since Peggy’s Cove is on the coast, it can be dangerous and unpredictable. There are no gates by the rocks, and visitors must not step on the wet rocks, as they are very slippery!

Lastly, visitors can eat, drink, and hunt for souvenirs at the Sou’Wester Gift Shop & Restaurant next to Peggy’s Cove. Unfortunately, the restaurant only has a few veggie options, and the prices are quite high. So, it may be better to bring your own food and enjoy it while sitting on the rocks and watching the ocean!

Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Although Halifax, same as the rest of the Maritimes, is famous for lobster and other seafood dishes, there’s a growing vegan scene! As per Happy Cow, Halifax has four vegan restaurants and lots of vegan-friendly places to eat.

Trattoria Vesso 

1299 Hollis St, Halifax, NS B3J 1T7
For an authentic Italian meal, head to this gem in downtown Halifax. Their menu features pizza, pasta dishes, salads, Bruschetta, and more! I had the Veganela Pizza, and it was to die for!

a small round vegan pizza on a black plate at trattoria vesso in halifax

Heartwood by the Sea Take Out 

1751 Lower Water St, kiosk #4, Halifax, NS B3L 1A3
Located on the Halifax Harbor Walk, Heartwood offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes. The vegan Heartwood Bowl (steamed greens, roasted veggies, tofu, and toasted sunflower seeds with coconut curry sauce on rice) was delicious!

How Many Days Should I Spend in Halifax, Nova Scotia?

Spending a weekend in Halifax was perfect to get a first impression of the city and what it offers! I got to experience museums, eat yummy vegan food, walk along the waterfront, and take a half-day trip to Peggy’s Cove, and didn’t feel rushed!

When is The Best Time to Visit Halifax?

Most people visit Halifax during the summer and early fall (June to early October) thanks to the warm weather and many outdoor festivals. But it’s often humid, and the prices are higher.

For less crowds and lower prices, visit Halifax in the spring (March to May) and October to November. The hurricane season runs from early June to late November every year.

halifax harbour lit up at night with boats on the water

The slow season is from December to February, but icy winds, rain, and snow are very common. So, pack some warm layers and enjoy a few indoor events! Examples are visiting a hockey game of the Halifax Mooseheads or The Music of Queen by Symphony Nova Scotia in late January 2024.

Is Halifax A Walkable City?

Yes, Halifax is a walkable city, especially if you’re staying in one area. One of the coolest things to do downtown is walk along the Waterfront and stop at a café or restaurant for a break! This way, you can soak up all the fun, such as listening to buskers, and if you’re lucky, there may be a festival, too!

But if you’re short on time and want to check out other neighborhoods of the city, it’s best to take the local bus. You can find more details on the Halifax Transit website.

Halifax Wrap-Up

So, is Halifax, Nova Scotia Worth Visiting in 2024? Absolutely! Whether you’re into (maritime) history, such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic or the Canadian Museum of Immigration, tasty vegan food or beer, pretty ocean views, or culture and festivals, you’ll find it in Halifax!

Spending time in New Brunswick as well? Then check out these posts:

The Best 16 Things to Do in Fredericton, New Brunswick
How To Spend Three Days on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick

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