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2 Days in Halifax: Perfect Itinerary for First Time Visitors

2 Days in Halifax: Perfect Itinerary for First Time Visitors

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Halifax, the charming capital city of Nova Scotia, has so much to offer for those looking for a memorable two-day getaway.

With its rich history, beautiful coastal landscapes, and lively atmosphere, this bustling waterfront city is a great choice for a weekend trip and the perfect destination for all types of travelers.

As I explored the city, I found that 2 days is the perfect amount of time to experience the best of what Halifax has to offer without feeling rushed.

Here are my personal recommendations on how to make the most out of your two days in Halifax. 

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

Day 1: Explore Downtown Halifax

Breakfast at Local Cafes

Start with a delicious breakfast at one of the local cafes. One of my favorite places to grab a morning bite is Steve-o-Reno’s, located at 1536 Brunswick St.

Their cozy atmosphere and mouthwatering menu selections set the perfect tone for the day ahead.

Harbour Hopper Tour

My #1 must-do activity when visiting Halifax is to take the Harbour Hopper Tour.

This amphibious vehicle tour provides you with unique insights into Halifax’s history while cruising both on land and water.

This was such a fun & high energy way to see the city, learn about the best spots to visit and get great views of the harbour. 

I recommend you take the Harbour Hopper tour as one of your first activities in Halifax. 

It’s a popular tour, so I recommend booking tickets in advance

Citadel Hill and Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

Next, I made my way to Citadel Hill, a prominent landmark in downtown Halifax.

Here, I explored the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, learning about the city’s military history.

The fort was an interesting place to visit with the chance to witness the traditional firing of the noon cannon and interact with historical interpreters dressed in period uniforms.

Inside tip: visit the Halifax Citadel just before noon so you can watch (& hear) a real cannon being fired!

Lunch at The Bicycle Thief

Feeling hungry after my Citadel Hill adventure, I headed to The Bicycle Thief for lunch.

This popular restaurant offers an extensive menu of North American and Italian cuisine.

Their delicious dishes, exceptional service, and waterfront location make it an ideal spot for a mid-day meal while exploring downtown Halifax.

The lobster rolls are fantastic.

Tip: the Bicycle Thief has one of the best patios in downtown Halifax, but the inside is also just as nice, and makes you feel like you’re on the Titanic. 

Day 1: Afternoon and Evening Activities

Waterfront Boardwalk and Harbourwalk

Strolling along the Waterfront Boardwalk and Harborwalk is an absolute must.

It’s a vibrant and picturesque destination, stretching along the city’s historic wharf for 4 kms.

With stunning views of the harbor, it offers a delightful stroll through charming shops, restaurants, and attractions, making it a must-visit spot to soak in the maritime atmosphere and enjoy the best of Halifax’s coastal charm.

Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour

Next on my itinerary was the famous Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour.

Established in 1820, this historic brewery immerses you in Halifax’s brewing heritage.

During the guided tour, you’ll learn about the brewing process, and have the opportunity to sample some delicious brews in Mr. Keith’s original underground tavern.

The interactive experience is well worth the visit, especially for beer enthusiasts like myself. 

Even if you’ve been on a brewery tour before (or if you’re not a beer drinker), this tour is 100% worth it. It’s full of history and also helps tell the story of Halifax!

If you’re planning to visit on a weekend, buy your tickets in advance! Book tickets here.

Pre-dinner Drinks along Argyle Street or the Waterfront

Amazing views from the second level patio at the Halifax Beer Garden

As the evening rolls in, I recommend exploring the vibrant Argyle Street in downtown Halifax.

With its lively atmosphere, it is home to numerous shops, boutiques, restaurants and many pubs. This is where all the action is!

If you prefer to be back on the waterfront, BG (aka Beer Garden) is the BEST place for drinks, or even dinner.

There are two levels of seating, with an extensive drink menu. The views and the vibes are the best here. 

Day 1: Nightlife and Dining Options

Popular Restaurants and Seafood Dishes

During your time in Halifax, you must try some fresh Atlantic lobster (or at least some type of seafood)! 

Halifax is a city full of amazing restaurants offering a variety of delicious seafood dishes. 

The Five Fishermen

One highly recommended place for dinner is The Five Fishermen.

A must stop destination for some swanky surf and turf situated a historic building right across from city hall with a gorgeous modern maritime themed décor.

The lobster dinner is flavorful and comes pre-cracked so you don’t have to do much work.

Fun fact: the building 5 Fisherman’s occupies used to be a morgue and saw some of Titanic’s passengers as it was the closest port to the site of the sinking.

Press Gang

If you’re ready for a night cap, or some oysters or small plates, the Press Gang has you covered with their awesome aesthetic in the basement of a historic mansion.

This was our favorite pub in town.

Make sure to ask your server about the history of the building and how it got its name. 

King of Donair

If you’re not a seafood lover, Make sure to also try a Halifax classic: donair.

King of Donair was allegedly the first to introduce Donairs in Canada in 1973.

When Anthony Bourdain traveled to Halifax, he touted the donair as the city’s most famous and signature dish. That’s good enough for me!

Live Music 

Apart from the food, Halifax has a lively music scene.

There are various live music venues scattered throughout the downtown.

Lower Deck was our go-to favorite. 

Sunset Wine and Cheese Sail

Image credit: J Farwell Sailing Tours

Another way to end your first night in Halifax is to book a sunset wine & cheese sailing experience on a yacht with a small group.

Enjoy a guided tasting of local Nova Scotia wines, paired with cheese boards as you take in the views along the harbour over the course of 2.5 hours. 

View info & book the wine & cheese sail here

Day 2 Options: Day Trips & Sightseeing

Depending on the rest of your schedule, on your second day in Halifax you can either take a day trip for some incredible sightseeing, or stay in the city!

You definitely will not run out of things to do during your two days in Halifax. 

Peggy’s Cove and Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove is a charming fishing village just 45 minutes away from Halifax.

The main attraction in this picturesque village is the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, standing tall on the rocky shoreline.

Alongside the camera friendly lighthouse, It’s a dreamy fusion of a classic East-Coast fishing village and a postcard-perfect destination.

While here, you can enjoy the scenery, go on a whale watching tour, visit some small local shops and grab lunch at Sou’Wester Restaurant. 

Tip: if you don’t have a vehicle, book a small group tour to Peggy’s Cove, which will also take you to a few noteworthy stops in Halifax that aren’t walking distance from downtown. 

Lunenburg and Mahone Bay

Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colorful buildings and stunning waterfront.

Explore the historic Old Town through the narrow streets lined with houses built in the 1750s!

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is very interesting or just along the waterfront with its beautiful views and grab a drink or some food at one of the patios with a harbour view.

If you’re lucky, the famous Canadian Bluenose racing schooner will be in town – definitely a must see if it is. 

A short 20-minute drive from Lunenburg is the equally charming Mahone Bay, famous for its three waterfront churches and quaint atmosphere.

Lobster beer!

With a similar colorful vibe of Lunenburg, you’ll enjoy browsing the local shops, galleries, and cafes.

Take a leisurely walk along the bay, soaking up the stunning coastal scenery.

Don’t miss Saltbox Brewery and try their lobster beer called Crustacean Elation!

Are you visiting Halifax on a cruise? This small group tour will take you to all 3 places: Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. 

Wine Tasting in Annapolis Valley

Another popular day trip from Halifax is to head to the beautiful Annapolis Valley to indulge in some wine and cheese tastings.

As a renowned wine region, the valley offers many options for wine tours and tastings featuring local varieties like L’Acadie Blanc and Tidal Bay. 

There are about 10 wineries that surround the town of Wolfville, which is about one hour from Halifax. 

We loved Benjamin Bridge, Mercator Vineyards, Grand-Pre Winery and Luckett Vineyards.

I had no idea Nova Scotia had such a beautiful and refined wine region – I can’t wait to go back. 

Tip: Don’t want to drive? Book this Annapolis Valley Wine Tour that takes you to 3 wineries and includes lunch at a winery.  

Day 2 Options: Historic Halifax Attractions

If you would prefer to stay in Halifax for your second day, there are several more attractions that are a must-do. 

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Canadian Museum of Immigration, image credit Tourism Nova Scotia

Learn about the fascinating history at the Pier 21 National Historic Site, the first point of entry for countless immigrants to Canada from 1928 to 1971.

Now transformed into the Canadian Museum of Immigration, it holds records of arrivals for those who emigrated to Canada between 1865 and 1935, offering a captivating journey through the nation’s immigration story.

Halifax Public Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens, image credit Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Acorn Art & Photography

If you need a break from history, stroll through the Halifax Public Gardens.

This Victorian-era urban park boasts beautiful landscapes, fountains, and statues.

Established in 1867, it is one of the oldest Victorian-style public gardens in North America

If you’re into outdoors, consider visiting Long Lake Provincial Park or St. Margaret’s Bay for amazing kayak experiences.

Long Lake Provincial Park

  • Offers great water activities like kayaking and canoeing
  • Beautiful hiking trails
  • Home to native plants and wildlife

Kayaking at St. Margaret’s Bay

  • Stunning water views
  • Various kayaking routes for all skill levels
  • Explore nearby islands and picturesque coves

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

To round off your historic Halifax experience, make your way to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

This captivating museum displays the maritime history of Nova Scotia and the Atlantic region through various exhibits, including the Titanic exhibit, the history of the Halifax Explosion and fascinating models of historic ships. 

Bonus: if you’re a Titanic fan, visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, only about 10 minutes from downtown. There are over 150 victims of the Titanic buried here if you would like to pay tribute. 

Tip: time your visit to finish up at the museum by 5 – 5:30pm, then you’re right back on the waterfront harbour to enjoy dinner or a sunset drink. 

Day 2: Dining Options

If you can’t get enough lobster, we loved our dinner at McKelvies.

Located in a historic firehall only a block away from the waterfront, McKelvies offers a more down to earth seafood dining experience and my favorite part, the quintessential lobster bib.

Prices were a little less expensive here too. 

If you’re not down for seafood, the OId Triangle Irish Ale House was fantastic.

It was surprisingly good pub food, with an Atlantic twist.

I recommend the shrimp and lobster crepes! There’s also great live music almost every night. 

Where to Stay in Halifax for 2 Days

To make the most of our short time in Halifax, we wanted to stay downtown to be close to everything and walk everywhere. 

We stayed at the Prince George Hotel and loved it.

It was centrally located, has a great outdoor patio, and only one block from many restaurants.

If you can get a room on one of the higher floors, you’ll have a great view of the city. 

It’s a 4-star hotel, and if you’re visiting Halifax for a special occasion, it’s worth staying here!

What is Halifax Best Known For?

Halifax, Nova Scotia is best known for its rich maritime history, showcased by its vibrant waterfront, picturesque harbor, and historical landmarks such as the Citadel Hill and the Halifax Explosion Memorial.

The city’s warm hospitality, delicious seafood, and lively entertainment scene also make it a captivating destination for travelers seeking a perfect blend of culture, heritage, and scenic beauty.