Wondering how to spend 3 days in Halifax? Here’s an itinerary that covers the main attractions and highlights, as well as exploring a bit of the surrounding area.

Halifax is a vibrant city on the east coast of Canada, that offers a blend of rich history, lively culture, and stunning scenery. With its diverse food scene, picturesque waterfront, and unique landmarks, it is a destination worth exploring. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s museums and historic sites or taking a stroll along the picturesque waterfront, Halifax is a destination that is sure to delight. 

halifax skyline as seen from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Here’s how to spend 3 days in Halifax, ensuring you make the most of your time in the city and discover the best that the city and surrounding area has to offer. 

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How to Spend 3 Days in Halifax

Day 1: Explore Halifax 

With miles of waterfront and lots of historical sites, there’s plenty to see and do in Halifax. You could easily spend all three days in Halifax exploring the city and its many attractions, but we’ll start the first day off with a few that shouldn’t be missed.  

Start by visiting the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. This star-shaped fort is perched on a large hill overlooking the town and had an important role in Halifax’s history. Step back in time and learn what life was like for the soldiers and their families who lived in the fort in the 1800s.  

aerial view of Halifax citadel, a star shaped fortress on the top of a large hill in Halifax Nova Scotia

Guided tours are offered in both English and French from May to October, but the grounds and battlements are open year-round.

And don’t be alarmed when you hear the cannon, or “Noon Gun”, which fires each day at noon. Even if you’re not at the Citadel at noon, you’re sure to be able to hear it wherever you are in downtown Halifax. 

Next, head to the Halifax Public Gardens, which can be found on the southwest side of the Citadel. Opened to the public in 1875, this beautiful park in the heart of the city features Victorian landscaping, colourful flower beds, a duck pond and a pretty gazebo. The gardens are lovely to visit any time of the year but are especially beautiful in the summer months.

white gazebo with brown roof amidst garden beds full of flowers at Halifax Public Gardens

If you’re visiting Halifax in the winter, the Public Gardens are best to see in the evenings when the light displays are illuminated throughout the gardens.  

Then, head to the Halifax Waterfront, which is a busy area with many shops, restaurants and attractions. In fact, it’s one of the most-visited destinations in all of Nova Scotia. 

colourful wooden chairs on the wooden boardwalk in Halifax Nova Scotia

Take a stroll along the 4km boardwalk, which is one of the world’s longest urban boardwalks and offers great views of the harbour. 

Explore the Historic Properties, where you’ll find beautifully resorted warehouses and buildings from the 1700s. Take a photo in front of the Halifax postcard, relax in one of the colourful chairs lining the boardwalk and then grab a snack at one of the kiosks in the Salt Yard.

Stop by the Maritime Museum of Atlantic, which features an extensive collection of artifacts from the Titanic, and HMCS Sackville, a World War II corvette that’s now part of the museum. 

the entrance to the maritime museum of the Atlantic is on the boardwalk in halifax Nova Scotia

Halifax’s iconic wave is just outside the museum, where you’ll see kids of all ages climbing up and sliding down the wave, and a great submarine-shaped playground for kids, which is one of the best playgrounds in Halifax.

Continue along the boardwalk where you’ll see interesting art installations, including the infamous drunken lampposts and then relax in a hammock overlooking the harbour.

Try some ice cream at Sugah Confectionary, or head back to the Salt Yard for some of the world’s best ice cream at COWS Halifax

Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia (Lora Pope)

While you’re on the waterfront, be sure to take a Harbour Hopper tour! It’s a fun way to see the city, both on land and from the water.

After a day of sightseeing, head to one of Halifax’s great restaurants for a delicious dinner. There are plenty of options along the waterfront, including the Bicycle Thief near Bishop’s Landing, Pickford & Sons near Historic Properties and Salty’s, which serves up some fantastic seafood.

For other great dining suggestions in the downtown area, see the section under Day 3. 

Day 2: Pier 21 and Dartmouth

One of the top attractions in Halifax is a visit to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, which is located at the end of Halifax’s waterfront boardwalk.

Once an immigration facility and now a National Historic Site and Museum, Pier 21 is an important building that welcomed over one million new Canadians between 1928 and 1971.

In fact, it’s said that one in five Canadians can trace their roots through this historic building.

Browse the exhibits and interactive displays or search for family members who arrived in Canada and trace your own family immigration story. 

Buy your tickets to Pier 21 ahead of time

Then head across Halifax’s harbour, which is one of the world’s largest and deepest natural harbours, to explore the neighbouring city of Dartmouth

There are two bridges which cross the harbour (toll fees of $1.25 apply each way), or take the ferry, which leaves from the terminal on the boardwalk every 15-30 minutes, all year round. The views from the bridge are great, but the ferry is a fun way to get out on the water and see Halifax’s skyline. 

blue, yellow and white ferry heading across the harbour to Dartmouth Nova Scotia

And while you can take the ferry over and then hop right back on for the return trip, we suggest you stay and explore the other side of the harbour. There are plenty of things to do in Dartmouth, and it’s a completely different atmosphere than downtown Halifax.

Stroll up Portland Street and browse the unique local shops or grab a bite to eat at one of the cafes and eateries in the downtown area.

Continue to Sullivan’s Pond, where you can see the geese and ducks that call the pond home and then watch world-class paddlers practicing on Lake Banook.

Choose from one of the many places to eat and drink in Dartmouth, or head back to Halifax for dinner. 

If you have a car, just a few minutes’ drive from Dartmouth you’ll find some great beaches. Lawrencetown Beach, which is known to be one of the best places to surf on the East Coast of Canada, offers surf lessons in the summer, or nearby Rainbow Haven Beach, which is our personal favourite, is great for families with calmer water, large stretches of sand and lifeguards in the summer. 

gentle waves on Rainbow Haven Beach in Halifax Nova Scotia

Other Things to Do in Halifax 

  • Get outdoors and explore Point Pleasant Park
  • Explore the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia with collections of local art, including the work of folk artist, Maud Lewis
  • Tour Alexander Keith’s, one of the oldest breweries in Canada 
  • Walk Up Spring Garden Road, one of the most popular streets in Halifax, which is great for shopping and there are also plenty of spots to eat and drink
  • Visit the Halifax Central Library with its unique award-winning architecture
  • Stop by the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market on Saturdays or Sundays, where you’ll find everything from fresh produce to handmade jewelry. 
  • Take the kids to the Discovery Center, a fun science center right on the waterfront
  • Check out a full list of things to do (with kids) in Halifax here.

Day 3: Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay

While there’s plenty more to do and see in the city, if you only have 3 days in Halifax, you need to get out and see some of the surrounding area as well!

Lighthouses, picturesque fishing villages and iconic east coast scenery abound within an easy drive from Halifax. 

There are many possible day trips from Halifax, but one of the most popular is the iconic lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.

Just under an hour’s drive from Halifax, Peggy’s Cove is a small fishing village with one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. There’s a new accessible viewing deck, which makes it easy for all to see this iconic Nova Scotia landmark.

white lighthouse with red lantern room is perched atop rocks in Halifax Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Cove is a working fishing village, so be sure to wander through the quaint village or grab a bite to eat at the popular Sou’wester Restaurant.

Here’s more information on visiting Peggy’s Cove, including how to get there, what to see and do and tours available from Halifax.

Then continue along the South Shore to Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the prettiest towns in Nova Scotia.

Built in the 1700s, Lunenburg is a charming town with colourful historical buildings, a gorgeous waterfront and interesting local shops to browse through.

Take your time strolling through the town, grab a bite to eat at the Salt Shaker Deli or try some local spirits at Ironworks Distillery.

red buildings sit behind a long pier in Lunenburg Nova Scotia - a must-see when spending 3 days in Halifax

Lunenburg is also home to the Bluenose II, the famous Canadian racing schooner that is now featured on the Canadian dime. If she’s in port, you can tour the ship or take a cruise on the water. 

Before heading back to Halifax, venture to Mahone Bay, just minutes from Lunenburg. Mahone Bay is another pretty town on the South Shore, known for its three churches and charming downtown area. 

There is no public transportation to the South Shore but if you don’t have a car, it’s still possible to visit Peggy’s Cove on a guided tour. This guided tour offers round-trip transportation to Peggy’s Cove

Alternate Halifax Itineraries

4 days in Halifax: Begin with the 3 day Halifax itinerary listed above, and on your final day, head out to explore the beaches of the Eastern Shore, or talk a walk through Point Pleasant Park and then visit some of the other attractions in downtown Halifax that are suggested above.  

5 days in Halifax: Follow the above itinerary for 3 days in Halifax, and then spend a day visiting the beaches of the Eastern Shore and another day visiting the Annapolis Valley

2 days in Halifax: If you only have two days in Halifax, spend the first day exploring downtown Halifax. Visit the Citadel and walk through Public Gardens on your way down to stroll along the boardwalk. Grab a bite to eat, then visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, before continuing to stroll the length of the boardwalk. Head to one of the waterfront restaurants for dinner. On your second day, head to Peggy’s Cove in the morning, then return to Halifax and visit Pier 21. After, catch the ferry to Dartmouth for dinner on the other side of the harbour.

Where to Eat & Drink in Halifax

Halifax is full of fantastic places to eat and drink.

In fact, it’s said that Halifax has the most bars per capita of any city in Canada.

From microbreweries like Garrison, Propeller and Two Crows, to traditional pubs, such as The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, the Split Crow and Orso’s, there are many options for places to grab a beverage or a snack.

And during the summer and fall, patios can be found all along the waterfront and throughout the downtown area. 

patios on the boardwalk in Halifax Nova Scotia
Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: @daveyandsky

Halifax is also known for its vibrant food scene, with many different options for places to eat in the downtown area. Whether you’re looking for quick meals or upscale dining, there are plenty of dining options in the city. 

Some great recommendations are the Lower Deck or Pickford & Black in the Historic Properties, the Bicycle Thief on the Waterfront Boardwalk, or Stubborn Goat on Grafton St. For some delicious seafood, there’s Salty’s on the waterfront, or Five Fishermen and 2 Doors Down in downtown Halifax. 

And if you’re looking for a quick snack, be sure to try a donair – Halifax’s official snack. You’ll find donairs at most pizza shops or the King of Donair is a good spot. 

Where to Stay in Halifax 

There are plenty of accommodation options in Halifax. Downtown Halifax is an ideal choice if you’re looking to stay in a central location within walking distance from the major attractions. There is a range of accommodations, from upscale hotels to boutique guesthouses and even university accommodations in the summer months. 

Where to Stay in Downtown Halifax

The Sutton Place Hotel: This 5-star is located in a fantastic location in the heart of Halifax. The Halifax Citadel is one block from the Sutton Place Hotel, and the waterfront is only a few blocks in the other direction. All of Halifax’s main attractions are within easy walking distance. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with great views of the city, and parking is available on-site. There is a restaurant on-site, or choose from any one of the great restaurants surrounding the hotel. 

Westin Nova Scotian: Conveniently located next to the train station, the Westin Nova Scotian is only steps from the waterfront and Pier 21. This 4-star hotel boasts an indoor pool and state-of-the-art fitness centre, as well as an onsite restaurant and some rooms feature a harbour view.

Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites: The Lord Nelson is a historic hotel, located in downtown Halifax directly across from the Public Gardens. Rooms are comfortable and the hotel features a business center and fitness center, as well as a restaurant on-site. There are plenty of great restaurants in the surrounding area, and the hotel is within walking distance of Halifax’s main sights.

Marriott Harbourfront Hotel: As the name suggests, the Marriott Harbourfront is located right on the waterfront. It’s a great location, within easy walking distance from the waterfront and the Casino can be accessed without going outside. The hotel features an indoor pool and hot tub, as well as a fitness center and on-site parking. There’s also a restaurant and Starbucks coffee shop on site. 

Where to Stay Outside of Downtown Halifax

Other areas to stay include Dartmouth, Bedford and the Bayers Lake area of Halifax. If you are driving, these are great options, as prices are often less expensive than staying in the downtown area, and parking is included in the room rate. 

Hampton Inn & Suites – Dartmouth: Conveniently located off Highway 118 in the outlets at Dartmouth Crossing, Hampton Inn & Suites is our recommendation in Dartmouth. We’ve stayed here quite a few times and enjoyed the indoor pool and large waterslide. It’s a great spot as it’s only a few minutes’ drive to downtown Dartmouth, where you can catch the ferry to Halifax, or hop on the highway and drive across the bridge to Halifax. One of the entrances to Shubie Park is a quick walk across the highway and it’s only 25 minutes from Lawrencetown Beach or 15 minutes to Rainbow Haven Beach. 

Coastal Inn – Bayers Lake: On the opposite side of the harbour, Coastal Inn Bayers Lake is also in a good location for visiting Halifax or the South Shore. The hotel features an indoor pool and hot tub, with complimentary breakfast and board games to borrow from the lobby. We stayed here the first few times we visited Halifax and it’s an easy 35-minute drive to Peggy’s Cove or 15 minutes to the Halifax Citadel and downtown Halifax.

Getting Around Halifax 

Getting around Halifax is relatively easy and convenient, thanks to its well-connected transportation system. 

The Halifax Transit system has a network of bus routes which provide access to most neighbourhoods and attractions, including those across the harbour in Dartmouth. There’s also a ferry, which runs year-round and connects Halifax to downtown Dartmouth or the Woodside terminal. 

In the downtown area, the compact layout makes it easy to walk around, although there are quite a few hills! Many popular attractions, such as Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Public Gardens, museums and waterfront boardwalk, are within walking distance of each other. 

However, if you are looking to venture outside of the city, it’s best to rent a car, as public transportation is quite limited. 

FAQ: 3 Days in Halifax

How many days do I need in Halifax?

While two days in Halifax will let you see the highlights and main attractions, there are plenty of things to do in and around Halifax and you could easily spend 4-5 days exploring the best that the city has to offer.

Is it worth visiting Halifax?

Absolutely! I mean, I’m a bit biased, as we now call this area home, but Halifax is definitely worth visiting. The city has a rich history, delicious seafood and great pubs, great coastal views and plenty of opportunities to get out into nature, and of course, really friendly locals. 

Is Halifax a walkable city?

As we mentioned above, the downtown area of Halifax is very compact, making it a very walkable city, although be aware there are many hills. 

What is there to do around Halifax?

While there is plenty to do in Halifax, the city also makes a great base for day trips to nearby areas, such as Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and the South Shore or the Annapolis Valley. Here are some great day trips from Halifax

Final Thoughts: 3 Days in Halifax

Three days in Halifax will allow you to see the best that the city has to offer as well as to explore a bit of the surrounding area. Whether you’re interested in history, food or the outdoors,  you’re sure to make unforgettable memories on your Halifax trip. 

pin for this post - a local’s guide for how to spend 3 days in the city


DRIVING TO HALIFAX: Here’s some info on the drive from Toronto to Halifax, including things to do along the way and suggested places to stop.

HALIFAX: There’s plenty to do in the city year-round, including these fun things to do in Halifax with kids, as well as things to do in Halifax in the winter. Across the harbour, there are also plenty of things to do in Dartmouth and some great places to eat and drink in Dartmouth.

CABOT TRAIL: This Cabot Trail itinerary for 2 days is a great way to see this beautiful area of Nova Scotia and hiking the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton is one of the top hikes in Nova Scotia.

NOVA SCOTIA: And to explore more of the province, here are 5 places you must see in Nova Scotia. If you’re visiting in the fall, here are some fun things to do in Nova Scotia in the fall and the best places to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia.

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