A Local Insider's Guide to Halifax, Canada

Halifax might be a little city by the ocean, but it’s got a lot of heart. Local Insider Lola gives us a glimpse into its incredible food scene, maritime history, and a roundup of the city's most exciting festivals.

Visiting Halifax from spring right through late fall is lovely, and offers a myriad of experiences that cater to all tastes and interests.

Typical, touristy things to do like wandering the beautiful Victorian Halifax Public Gardens, learning about the history of Canadian immigration at Pier 21, and hiking Citadel Hill to explore the old fort are well worth doing.

But, here are some of the many other things to see while you’re here.

Where to Grab a Drink & Bite to Eat in Halifax

Love lobster? You’ll find it on the menu everywhere and incorporated into dishes at fancy restaurants and pubs (lobster poutine anyone?).

There are tons of great restaurants at every price point. Spanish-inspired tapas place The Highwayman was voted one of the best restaurants in Canada, Field Guide offers amazing small plates perfect for sharing, and grabbing a Halifax Donair at Johnny K’s is a cheap and tasty must when you’re here too.

Halifax is home to seven degree-granting institutions, which means that there’s a huge student population and, consequently, there's always plenty of evening revelry.

There are tons of bars here, but the Lower Deck is a must for first-time visitors – it’s got a huge patio on the water and live music with a Celtic twist most nights.

The Middle Spoon Bar and Desserterie has a speakeasy-style hidden bar downstairs, and you’ll need to find out the password for access. There are plenty more bars in the downtown core, many can be found along or around Argyle Street, so that’s a good place to start your evening.

Argyle Street is famous for its trendy bars and restaurants. Photo credit: iStock

Off-the-beaten-track Halifax

Looking for things to do most visitors have no idea about?

Walk up Agricola Street to explore Halifax’s once-sketchy North End to find sweet boutiques, cool restaurants like Lion and Bright, Good Robot Brewing and its awesome beer garden, the Chain-Yard Urban Cidery, or Gus’ Pub and Grill for a live show. 

Kayak out to historic McNabb's Island with Kayak Halifax to explore abandoned forts and ruins, and see deer, foxes, and other local wildlife along the way.

Get the public ferry across the harbor to super-cool Dartmouth for amazing views back over Halifax, and eat the best sandwich of your life at The Canteen or great coffee and big-as-your-face croissants at Two If By Sea Café.

Getting around Halifax is easy – it isn’t a big city so you can walk most places. The Halifax Transit buses will get you to most places you want to go, plus taxis are plentiful.

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Events & Festivals in Halifax

Throughout the summer, Halifax Waterfront is buzzing. There are many festivals in the city, including TD Jazz Festival, which brings huge artists to the city each July; Halifax Busker’s Fest, which brings 300 acts from the world over to the city each August; and The Halifax Pop Explosion music festival, which brings 200 bands to 20 venues in the city every October.

There are also many foodie events. Ribfest takes over the Waterfront on Canada Day weekend, then the massive Halifax Seaport Beerfest takes over in August before passing the baton to the Halifax Oyster Festival in September.

Halifax boardwalk. Photo credit: iStock
Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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