How to Spend One Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia [Itinerary + Tips]

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You Have One Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia? Here’s How You Might Do It!

If you’ve only got one day in Halifax, this is the post for you! Whether you’re just stopping through Halifax on a Canadian East Coast road trip or you’re on a cruise, there’s plenty to do, eat, see, and drink to fill your time!

24 hours in Halifax isn’t enough time to discover all the Canadian attractions this vibrant city offers. That said, you can check off quite a few things with the right planning. That’s where we come in!

We spent a few days in Halifax and we really loved the city. It was our first time in Halifax – but luckily, we had friends who live in the city happily show us around and play tour guide. We got the inside scoop on food, music, attractions, and much more!

So, this itinerary covers what to do in Halifax, Nova Scotia in one day – from breakfast options to evening activities!

Halifax, Nova Scotia Tours

Being the largest city on the Canadian East Coast, the historic city is a popular destination to explore. Luckily, there are many tour options to help you discover Halifax in all different ways!

From foodie tours to history tours and boat tours to explore the harbour, check out these Halifax tour options for yourself!

Breakfast at Steve-o-Reno’s

Navigation Address: 1536 Brunswick St, Halifax, NS B3J 2G2

To start off your Halifax one day itinerary, you’re going to need a decent breakfast. For this, we’d suggest Steve-o-Reno’s.

inside of cafe with wooden chairs and serving counter.
It’s very cozy inside Steve-o-Reno’s!

Located on Brunswick Street – just a very short walk from the Citadel – this is an excellent spot for a quick bite or a heartier breakfast. Steve-o-Reno’s was opened in 1996 and is a classic local establishment worth supporting. 

Inside, you’ll find a smaller cafe that’s brimming with life. You order up at the counter and you can choose to sit inside (if there’s room), out on their front patio in nice weather, or choose to take away whatever it is that you ordered. 

Our local friends go often so they gave us the scoop about what to get. Eric had their medium roast coffee and the Egg-o-Reno (a breakfast sandwich with scrambled egg, spinach, tomato, onion, cheese, and ham). Lisa had a chai tea latte and a blueberry spelt muffin. Everything was really good!

small breakfast sandwich on white plate with large coffee in mug beside on brown cafe table.
The Egg-o-Reno was excellent – as was the coffee and goodies!

They are also known for their baked goods. Apparently, they have awesome scones which change every day – you might see chocolate pistachio one day, then lemon cranberry or white chocolate cranberry the next!

Overall, we really liked Steve-o-Reno’s. It’s the kind of place that locals frequent… and it’s where out-of-towners stumble into either because their local connection took them or the reviews speak for themselves.

If you are looking for alternative breakfast/brunch spots, Bliss Caffeine Bar and Terra Cafe are slightly trendier places that are worth checking out.

Getting Around Halifax, Nova Scotia

While Halifax has a number of neighbourhoods/areas, as a day visitor, you’ll likely only explore Downtown Halifax and the streets closely surrounding it. 

The city centre is quite small, compact, and very walkable – but the terrain varies from flat down by the Harbour boardwalk to very hilly in places. The Citadel is at the highest point in the city for a reason!

Public transport is through Halifax Transit which operates buses and ferries (to Dartmouth, for example). You can also bike around the city with more and more biking infrastructure being implemented. The hills can make biking more challenging than in other cities, however.

Morning Activities: Explore Historic Halifax

Now that you’ve got some breakfast fuel and coffee in your body, it’s time to explore. There is so much to do and see in Halifax that you’ll never get it all done in one day. 

That said, with a bit of planning (and this Halifax one-day guide), you can explore the Downtown area and cover a ton of ground – literally!

So, to take on the morning in Halifax, we’d suggest staying inland a few blocks towards the Public Gardens and the Historic Citadel for some scenic and historic exploration. 

These are great Halifax attractions to check out to start off your walking route. Don’t worry, the lively waterfront and historic Halifax Harbour will get their time in the afternoon!

About Peggy’s Cove: If you absolutely must visit Peggy’s Cove or Lunenburg, you could also do that in the morning. With a car, you can easily travel there yourself. Otherwise, we’d suggest a half-day Peggy’s Cove tour that also showcases a bit of the city centre (like the Citadel).

Halifax Public Gardens

Navigation Address: Spring Garden Rd. &, Summer St, Halifax, NS B3J 3S9

large black iron gates with green trees behind in public gardens.
Enter through the big old iron gates!

For a quieter, tranquil start to the morning, head for the Halifax Public Gardens. Established in the 1870s (but with roots – pun intended – that go back to the 1830s), this beautiful area is a special place in Halifax.

The Public Gardens are an example of the best surviving Victorian-era gardens – and the history and attention to detail really show. Once you walk through the large iron gates, you’ll be transported into a world of natural beauty everywhere you look. 

green plants with flowers and small bridge in background in public garden.
The Public Gardens are beautiful at every turn.

There are lots of walking paths that snake through the gardens. You’ll stumble across different ponds, streams, bridges, statues, benches, and water features throughout.

In the gardens, you’ll also find a nice cafe – Uncommon Grounds. We had an oatcake (a local specialty) and coffee – both were very good. Apparently, the ice cream is good, too!

small white cafe building with green trees around and sky above.
Tours leave from inside Uncommon Grounds Cafe, too!

The Gardens are free to enter so it’s a great way to start the morning. Spend some time here but get a move on because the next stop – the Halifax Citadel – is worth exploring for a few hours!

Depending on which way you walk, you might want to check out these stops along the way:

  • The Robert Burns Statue at the top end of Victoria Park
  • Bliss Caffeine Bar for their pastries (if you need another one)
  • Spring Garden Road – like Toronto’s Queen Street where you’ll find shopping
  • The Old Town Clock – a historic photo spot with the hill towards Downtown and the Harbour behind

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

Navigation Address: 5425 Sackville St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3

british flag on white pole atop green grassy fort with blue sky above.
The British Flag flying as it would have!

It would be silly to spend 1 day in Halifax, Nova Scotia and not explore its (arguably) most famous attraction – the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site!

Founded back in 1749, the current Halifax Citadel atop Citadel Hill is actually the fourth fortification in a long line of fortification attempts.

The current star-shaped citadel was completed in 1853 and is a National Historic Site run by Parks Canada.

stone entrance to citadel with wooden bridge in front and red coat guard standing still.
The Halifax Citadel entrance – it’s so cool!

Buy your tickets at the booth facing Downtown (look for the Old Town Clock). Once inside, you’ll be thrust back into the mid-1800s. 

From the open-air courtyard, there are many exhibits which you can just wander into such as the old soldier barracks.

Other exhibits are more self-guided. You can learn about the history of the fort and Halifax, and explore the Army Museum which focuses on 20th-century history.

large black cannon on top of citadel wall with large building and open square in background.
Walk the upper Citadel battlements for the best views.

Our highlight was walking the upper ramparts where the cannons are. From up here, you get 360° city views so it’s worth going up!

Oh, and you cannot forget about the live-action demonstration of rifle shooting (with blanks, of course) or the famous 12 o’clock cannon which goes off every day at noon.

You can easily spend hours there getting caught up in history. We really liked how once inside you could just go wherever there was an open door. There’s also a cafe onsite if you need a refreshment.

Halifax is part of Kjipuktuk – Mi’kmaw for “Great Harbour” – on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” signed by the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Peoples and the British Crown in 1725.

Lunch at The BG (Halifax Beer Garden)

Navigation Address: 1599 Lower Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 1S2

people walking on waterfront boardwalk with other sitting at open air beer garden.
The BG is a popular spot at the waterfront!

Now that it’s lunch and you’ve spent a few hours at the Halifax Citadel, you’re probably going to need a break and a bite to eat for lunch. For this, we’d suggest grabbing something on the way down the hill towards the water from the Citadel or finding a place to sit if you want to rest your legs. 

If you want to head right for the waterfront (your afternoon stop on this one-day itinerary), then you might check out The BG – Halifax Beer Garden

Located right on the boardwalk, The BG is a popular spot for beer but also lots of different lunch foods like sausages, tacos, burgers, flatbreads, salads, and other shareables.

We usually give one or two lunch options but because there are so many places to eat that work for this particular walking route, we’ll name a few more options below!

Afternoon Activities: Explore the Halifax Waterfront

Navigation Location: 44°38’57.4″N 63°34’18.0″W

After lunch, it’s time to explore the feature of the city that makes it famous: the Halifax waterfront and harbour area! 

Running the length of Downtown but at the water’s edge, the long boardwalk snakes through buildings, around wooden piers, by food stalls and statues, and all the way down to the main Seaport commercial area and piers (at Pier 21, roughly).

large white building with nautical flags on the side and kids playing in front.
There are boats inside the Museum for those interested!

Of course, on the way there, you might be interested in other attractions like the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (which is all about boats, naval history, and more) and the HMCS Sackville (a World War II Corvette [ship] that you can explore by donation).

If you want good ice cream, COWS hilariously has three shops along the same Waterfront path that you can stop at! 

There is no shortage of things to explore, stuff to eat, and much more. We’d suggest just walking south towards the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 (the eventual stop for the afternoon).

Our Tip: To actually get out on the harbour, the famous Harbour Hopper tour shows off the city by land and sea! It’s a great activity if you’re visiting Halifax with kids.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Navigation Address: 1055 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 4P7

large red brick museum entrance with old train to the left and people walking in front.
There’s Lisa heading into the Pier 21 Museum!

Be sure to leave some time after lunch and after the Harbour walk, because this next afternoon stop is also worth investing some time into!

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is one of Canada’s most popular attractions because of its rich history that continues to shape the nation to this day.

The Pier itself – 21 – is another National Historic Site of Canada as it served as the “gateway to Canada” between 1928 to 1971. We even have a personal connection to the place – both sides of Eric’s family came through Pier 21.

Once inside, the museum is broken up into several different rooms and exhibitions like The Canadian Immigration Story Exhibition and The Pier 21 Story Exhibition.

Get your entry ticket for The Canadian Museum of Immigration here.

We recommend a free guided tour of the Pier 21 Story. We did it and found it really interesting to hear stories about people who came through Pier 21.

The main floor houses a gift shop and the Scotiabank Family History Centre where visitors can speak with an archivist to research family members who have come through Pier 21. It’s a pretty moving experience for visitors to retrace their family’s steps – speaking from personal experience.

Overall, the Museum is worth the stop if you’re interested in peoples’ stories and a piece of Canada’s backstory. You could easily spend a whole day there but a half-day would be just fine.

Late Afternoon Break

Depending on how long you spend down at the waterfront and/or at the Canadian Museum of immigration, you might want a bit of a break before dinner and the evening.

For this, we always like to give two options: Garrison Brewing Company or Gingerbread Haus for coffee and sweets!

Garrison Brewing Company

Navigation Address: 1149 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 4P7

colourful interior of lively brewery with people sitting and merchandise hanging in front.
Good beer, good company – good stuff!

If you’d like a beer at a local establishment, a stop at Garrison Brewing Company is a good option.

Located right across the street from the entrance to Pier 21, the brewery prides itself on an inclusive, fun atmosphere – and on making good beer.

Inside, they have a large tap room where you can grab a pint and have a seat. They also have a large outdoor patio area if the weather is nice. 

The brewery is dog-friendly and they are known for their grab-n-go fridges where you can stock up on their latest and greatest creations if you don’t want to stick around. 

We had Garrison beers throughout the trip – we really liked their classic Tallship Pale Ale and their Irish Red Ale. They also do a Spruce Beer which is like drinking Christmas in a bottle – it’s an experience for sure!

Gingerbread Haus

Navigation Address: 1138 Queen St, Halifax, NS B3H 1P8

baked pretzel hand in hand with bakery building in background.
The pretzel was good from Gingerbread Haus (says a German).

If you want more of a sweet stop, Gingerbread Haus is the place for you. Located a short walk from the Museum at Pier 21, this European-style bakery is known for its European-style baked goods like cookies, bread, and pastries. 

Our local friend loves the place for their cinnamon rolls. Naturally, with Lisa being from Germany, we had to check it out. We ended up with a German pretzel (which was actually fairly good).

They had some classic German cakes like Bee Sting Cake and Austrian cookies like Linzer cookies. It’s takeaway only but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re craving a sweet treat!

Optional (Sunset) Activity – Harbour Wine and Cheese Cruise

Navigation Address: 1655 Lower Water St, Halifax

boat sitting in harbour beside dock with blue sky and setting sun above.
Sunset is a beautiful time for a walk along the Halifax Waterfront.

Depending on how much time you spent at museums in the afternoon and how hungry you are before dinner, you might want to participate in a classic small-group wine and cheese cruise.

This one starts at 6:30 pm so you’d be on the water through dinner time but with some drinks and stuff to munch on you might consider eating before or committing to a late dinner on shore! Just another fun option you might want to squeeze in.

Read More: Our Canada Packing List – All Areas & Seasons!

Dinner at Waterfront Warehouse

Navigation Address: 1549 Lower Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 1S2

basket of fish and chips on table with beer glasses around.
The fish and chips at Waterfront Warehouse were excellent.

It’s dinner time in Halifax and there are so many places you can go to grab a nice dinner. Seafood is a classic go-to option (since you’re on the coast!) but there are restaurants that serve up all kinds of dishes. We liked our dinner at Waterfront Warehouse.

Located right down at the water off the waterfront walking path, Waterfront Warehouse was this big old converted warehouse with a massive outdoor patio in front and seating inside. 

They focus on seafood – so if you want seafood, this is the place to do it. Eric had the fish and chips and a Galaxy IPA from Propeller Brewing Company (a local Halifax brewery) while Lisa had the seafood chowder and a Nine Locks Dirty Blonde. Everything was really good! 

We sat outside on the front patio and it was fun to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the waterfront as the evening got dark. Depending on the night, it might be very busy so be sure to put your name down if you want a spot!

For more dinner options down on/near the waterfront, check out McKelvie’s Restaurant, Saltys, or Sea Smoke.

Evening Activities/Ideas

Well, it’s after dinner in Halifax and this one-day itinerary is coming to a close. If you’ve still got some energy left, you should definitely make the most of what Halifax has to offer. 

What you end up doing depends on a few factors like where you are staying and your interests. That said, the city isn’t huge so you’re never too far from night activities.

For this Halifax itinerary, we’re going to give you three potential options for things to do in Halifax at night. This way, you get to choose what works best for you!

The options are: Go for Drinks & Live Music, Join a Ghost Tour or Hop on a Midnight Cruise!

Drinks and Live Music

inside of dark lively bar with banner hanging from ceiling.
Live music at The Split Crow was super… lively!

There may be nothing more “East Coast” than going out to the pub or bar and enjoying a little bit of live music. Luckily, there are many places you can go to get a taste of Halifax’s musical nightlife. 

We went to both The Split Crow Pub and The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse – both located right in the heart of Downtown Halifax. The Old Triangle was more of a pub with Guinness and a bunch of local beers on tap. 

The Split Crow was more of a lively bar with an acoustic duo who was really good at playing what the crowd wanted!

full pint glass sitting on coaster on wooden pub table with glasses behind.
Quieter pints at Henry House are also a good idea!

If those places are full/busy, you can also check out Bearly’s or The Lower Deck for live music. 

If you just want drinks and no music, you can do that too. We really liked Henry House when we went for drinks in the basement pub and The Brown Hound Public House is also an option.

If you don’t care for beer, Obladee is a popular wine bar in the heart of Downtown!

Alternatively, head for Argyle Street where you’ll find lots of other pubs and bars – it’s the place for lively nightlife! You might also find evening live music at the Grand Parade – the square outside City Hall!

Moonlight Yacht Cruise

You might be looking for an excuse to get out on the water one last time before you leave. For this, you might consider a Moonlight Yacht Cruise!

Starting at 9:30 pm, this adult-only cruise is all about experiencing the evening under the dimming sky.

You can even get drinks as you sail which might make for the perfect evening activity if you want to combine evening drinks with a bit of scenery and being social!

Check out this Halifax Moonlight Yacht Cruise here.

The Halifax Ghost Walk

Navigation Address: The Old Town Clock, Brunswick Street, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3

Last, but certainly not least, if you’re looking for something a little spookier, you might want to try out The Halifax Ghost Walk.

Starting up on Citadel Hill at the Old Town Clock, this tour will take you around Halifax and uncover some of the creepiest, eeriest parts!

It should come as no surprise that a city as old as Halifax would have a ghost story or two.

Related Articles

For those planning a Canada trip and looking for more helpful guides, check out our other East Coast Tips:

And there you have it – our detailed guide on how to spend one day in Halifax, Nova Scotia! Following this post would definitely allow you to see the top sights in Halifax – but there’s so much else you could do. Feel free to pick and choose what interests you and you can’t go wrong!

As always, Happy Halifax Waddlin’,

– L&E

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