Halifax is Nova Scotia’s diverse and colorful capital on the Atlantic coast. But I like to call it “Hipster Halifax” for its young and trendy vibe, sprinkled with old Celtic and maritime charm!
There are many things to do in Halifax – both in and around the city and downtown. But the highlight of our trip to Halifax was by far its hip downtown scene, where we spent most of our time.
Halifax deserves its place on your bucket list. As you’ll see, this city has so many fun finds!
Top Things To Do in Downtown Halifax
If you only have one or two days in Halifax, here are my personal favorite top sights and activities to do and see.
You don’t need a big budget or lots of time to visit each of these places in Halifax.
1. Visit the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market on Weekends
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Spending a weekend trip in Halifax? Then don’t miss out on the Seaport Farmer’s Market.
With locally-sourced organic produce, cheese and meats, beauty products, and artisanal treasures, it’s easy to see why the market attracts all sorts of travelers (especially hipsters).
The Seaport Farmer’s Market is more than just a market though. You can easily spend your morning on the eco-friendly roof-top overlooking Saint George’s Island and the iconic lighthouse there.
There are lots of stalls set up on two floors inside the market, in addition to Halifax’s very first fresh farm-to-table restaurant: Norbert’s Good Food. Beware: The line gets extremely long on weekends and you’ll be lucky to grab a table without waiting.
Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market also boasts a scenic pathway to the Halifax Waterfront and also to Pier 21 which houses the Canadian Museum of Immigration.
So whether it’s to stock up on fresh produce, get scenic views of St. George’s Island, pick up some sunflowers, or to try your first Nova Scotian lobster roll sandwich, the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market is the place to go.
Fun Fact: The Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market is actually the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in North America!
2. Stroll Down the Historic Halifax Waterfront and Boardwalk
Speaking of Pier 21, you should start your scenic boardwalk stroll from here to get the full effect of this very long stretch of the natural boardwalk which spans this historic port city.
The boardwalk becomes a lively hub of activity from dawn to dusk. Especially after dark, local musicians and dancers entertain the folks enjoying a hearty meal from cozy, waterfront restaurants lining the harbor.
Make sure to explore every inch of Halifax’s Waterfront! There are many events you don’t want to miss here. (Like the Mac ‘N Cheese Festival we passed by during our evening stroll).
Keep walking the length of the boardwalk until you reach Privateer’s Wharf. If you’re lucky, the pub will be lively with folk and Celtic music or there will be musicians outdoors in the fairy-lit courtyard among the galleries and shops!
3. Halifax Central Library (and Cozy Up with a Book!)
The Halifax Central Library is truly a must-see thing to do in Halifax (whether or not you are a bookworm!).
Once you visit its unique nooks and corners and climb the zig-zagged stairs, you will quickly take note of its architectural design and use of space. It’s no wonder the library was ranked as one of the top 10 most beautiful libraries in the world and was awarded the Governor General’s Medal of Architectural Merit.
Entrance is free, so it’s a great place to work on your laptop for free – unless you rent a book or buy a snack or coffee at one of the integrated coffee shops on the ground and top floor.
The library also boasts a wonderful rooftop view of Downtown Halifax which doubles as the perfect place to catch a saturated sunset.
Because of its architectural design, the library is becoming one of the top Instagram locations in Halifax!
4. Tour the Star-Shaped Halifax Citadel – Classed a National Historic Site
If you’re exploring Downtown Halifax, chances are you won’t miss the curious hilltop monument that overlooks the historic harbor.
The Halifax Citadel is an iconic, must-do activity in Halifax. Because of its fame and rigor for being Halifax’s stronghold and chosen fort to protect the city since 1749, it remains one of the top sights to see in the downtown Halifax area.
Though you can’t see it at eye-level, the Halifax Citadel is shaped like a star on top of the hill. The star-shape is reminiscent of 19th-century British military infrastructure.
The fort kept intruders at bay – quite literally – protecting the city of Halifax from every angle.
More than its star-shape, the Halifax Citadel is most recognized by the Old Town Clock which still keeps time today for urban Halifax and Haligolians – even though its two hundred years old!
5. Get Lost Along the Winding Trails at Point Pleasant Park
To reach Point Pleasant Park you’ll have to hike or drive from Pier 21 toward the southern tip of the peninsula.
Keep traveling beyond the shipyard. Soon you’ll come upon the popular Point Pleasant Park.
It’s here, amid this 75-hectare forested park, that you can get lost on the winding trails, chat up some cute red squirrels, discover crumbling artillery batteries and the historic Prince of Wales Tower, or kick-back and relax on a nearby bench and watch the sailboats go by.
The trails and woods offer scenic views of the harbor opening up to the Atlantic.
Escaping the hustle and bustle of downtown Halifax and retreating to Point Pleasant Park was one of the highlights of our travels in and around Halifax.
Final Thoughts: Discovering Downtown Halifax
Halifax is a diverse city with many things to do. (Way beyond just these top 5 things to do in downtown Halifax as I mention here). So make sure to take your time in Halifax. I could’ve easily spent weeks here!
I personally loved the diversity of the people, the rainbow-painted crosswalks, and the cultural clash of Korean BBQ restaurants, Scottish and Irish pubs, and the lively historic port harbor with downtown’s urban center.
Halifax, overall, invigorates the senses! I hope this travel guide to Halifax helped plan your trip! Drop me your comments below or share this article with a friend!