Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, has been a very popular Canadian destination in recent years, and is sure to charm and captivate! Nestled on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, this destination harmoniously combines history, culture, gastronomy and the great outdoors. Bonus: incomparable maritime charm!
In this guide, you’ll find my top 5 experiences and activities for a weekend or extended stay in Halifax. Plus, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a novice, my top tips for places to eat at and stay at are sure to help you plan your getaway. Last but not least, a few tips on how to use rewards points round off the package.
Halifax - Things to do
1. Discover the amazing military history of the Nova Scotian city
Overlooking the city center, this 19th-century fortress offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Of course, it’s a steep climb, but it’s well worth it! Don’t miss the ceremonial firing of the cannon every day at midday, stroll through the inner courtyard and walk on (and in!) the ramparts. This inexpensive tour is an excellent and surprising introduction to Halifax’s history.
2. Take the pulse of the coastline by strolling along the boardwalk
One of Halifax’s must-see charms is its famous Waterfront Boardwalk. This 4-kilometre-long trail offers walkers a variety of views of the city’s harbour and Georges Island. Its main attraction is undoubtedly its lively street artists and its many boutiques and terraces. Note that several facilities, such as hammocks and Adirondack chairs, are arranged along the course, inviting visitors to relax. Finally, you can also have fun spotting three iconic works on the promenade: the Drunken Lamppoststhe twisted lampposts that refer to the city’s nightlife. Wave fun for young and old; and The Emigrant celebrating the arrival of new “Canadians” in Nova Scotia.
3. Enjoy the great outdoors in the heart of the city!
Whether you’re visiting in spring, summer or autumn, Halifax offers plenty of opportunities for strolling in and around its heart! Point Pleasant Park, accessible on foot or by bike, allows you to stroll along the seafront, the beach and forest trails. As for the Halifax Public Gardensare magnificently well-maintained and provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The sublime landscaping features a wide variety of flowers, the central pond is teeming with ducks, and the atmosphere is perfect for picnics!
4. Discover the life and works of the artist Maudie
Nova Scotia’s leading centre for art and culture, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia houses an impressive collection of permanent works and temporary exhibitions. As for me, a visit to Halifax is incomplete without appreciating the special collection of works by Maud Lewis, or Maudie. Her colorful, childlike works made this Canadian artist, who suffered from an illness at an early age, famous for her paintings of the living conditions of Nova Scotians in the last century. A true icon, her house is even on display in the museum! A fascinating visit!
5. Stroll along the rocks at Peggy's Cove
Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or a lover of ocean walks, this is the place for you! Despite the flood of tourists who arrive at Peggy’s Cove every day, the area is vast enough to make the most of this enchanting place. To what does the place owe its renown? The picturesque character of its iconic lighthouse on a rocky promontory facing the ocean. The view is breathtaking! Take a stroll further afield to see the colorful cottages and fishermen’s huts, and enjoy a delicious lobster roll at the Foggy Rock Cafe.
So, guided by my interests and passions, these 5 experiences are just a tiny fraction of what Halifax has to offer. Here are a few more suggestions: the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; the Historic Halifax Market, where you can sample local flavors; the Scotiabank Centre or the Neptune Theatre, for international and local performances respectively.
Halifax - Dining
The best places to eat and drink include :
The Bicycle Thief (Waterfront): If you love seafood and Italian cuisine, this is the place for you! With fresh ingredients, a well-stocked wine list, impeccable service and a magnificent view of the harbor, this restaurant has everything you need for an excellent evening.
Drift (Waterfront): An upscale restaurant showcasing the flavors of Nova Scotia’s terroir, Drift has it all. Recently opened, the chef is already proving his worth on the Canadian and North American culinary scene.
Lot Six (Downtown): Fine dining in the heart of downtown. Lot Six focuses on dishes prepared with local, seasonal ingredients: a real treat! What’s more, the cocktails are particularly delicious.
Cows (Waterfront): If you make a brief stop on your stroll along the Waterfront Boardwalk, stop at Cows for a great ice cream cone!
Since I love espresso in the late afternoon, here are a few good places to try: Uncommon Grounds (in the heart of a charming residential neighborhood), Grounded Coffee Bar (on the waterfront), Ampersand Cafe (on the terrace of the Public Library).
Where to stay with points?
Delta Hotels Darmouth: if you have a car, the option of sleeping in Darmouth could save you some money. On the opposite side of the river from Halifax, this up-and-coming borough can be a good option for discovering more of Halifax, off the beaten track.
Muir, Autograph Collection: a luxury hotel in the heart of the action, yet offering unrivalled tranquillity and hospitality. From the service, to the quality of the furnishings, to the restaurant, which never ceases to set itself apart… this establishment is a must! In fact, I wrote a full review of the Muir Hotel following my stay.
Westin Nova Scotian: located at the western end of the boardwalk, this hotel is set back from the city center, yet within easy reach both on foot and by car. Honestly, the rooms could use a little love, but several rooms offer beautiful views of George Island and the service is fine. If you have a free night certificate (available with the Marriott BonvoyMD American ExpressMD* Card and the Marriott BonvoyMD Business American ExpressMD* Card), this is a great option.
As a Marriott enthusiast and regular member for several years now, I couldn’t recommend anything better than staying at one of Halifax’s many addresses.
Halifax - How to get there with points
The easiest way to reach Halifax from Montreal is to fly direct with Air Canada, Porter or Flair. As the flight takes around 2 hours, a direct flight is the best option! In fact, with the Aeroplan program (which I prefer), I was able to fly to Halifax for about 20,000 points.
Some credit cards, such as the TDMD AeroplanMD Visa Infinite* Card, allow you to obtain more than this amount only with the welcome bonus; your plane ticket would then be paid for. What’s more, if you take out a credit card that entitles you to a companion pass, it could be used for the person accompanying you. That said, flights to Halifax are quite affordable, if not very easy to obtain thanks to points.
Nova Scotia’s capital is a great destination for a long weekend, whether you’re a couple, solo, with friends or family! From the citadel to the lively waterfront, and including excellent places to eat and stay, Halifax is sure to win you over!
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