Capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in the Maritimes, Halifax is jam-packed with pubs, restaurants, galleries and museums. Metro Halifax stretches many miles beyond the city proper – we’ve primarily focused on the city center, plus the small village of Peggy’s Cove, which lies 43 km (26 miles) southwest of Downtown Halifax but still falls within Halifax Regional Municipality.
Most top attractions in Halifax are in the center, with a smattering of sights in the surrounding neighborhoods and across Halifax Harbour in Dartmouth. While it’s relatively easy to explore Downtown on foot, taxis and Uber cars are easily available in Halifax: Casino Taxi (www.casinotaxi.ca) and Yellow Cab (yellowcabhalifax.ca) are reliable options. Halifax Transit (www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit) runs buses throughout Metro Halifax, with fares a flat C$2.75. The same company operates ferries that zip between the Halifax waterfront and Dartmouth at Alderney Landing (same fare; 10 minutes).
• I Heart Bikes (iheartbikeshfx.com) rents a variety of bicycles (and e-bikes) on the waterfront (officially 1507 Lower Water St), usually summer only.
The Best Places to Stay in Halifax
Best Luxury Hotels in Halifax
The Sutton Place Hotel Halifax • Prince George Hotel • Delta Hotels by Marriott • Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel
Best Boutique Hotels in Halifax
Brewery Park • The Halliburton
Best 3-Star/4-Star Hotels in Halifax
Courtyard by Marriott Halifax Downtown • Hollis Halifax • Residence Inn by Marriott Halifax Downtown
Best Cheap Hotels in Halifax
Halifax Backpackers Hostel • Dalhousie University Summer Accommodations • HI-Halifax, Heritage House
Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers: Downtown Halifax
First time visitors will appreciate the convenience of Downtown Halifax. Though hotel rooms (and hotel parking) can be expensive here, Downtown contains all the city’s major attractions, from the Citadel and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, to the Maritime Museum, Farmers’ Market and harbor cruises along the waterfront. The city’s premier restaurants are also here, and along with some of the best nightlife and indie stores.
Most Romantic Neighborhood: Peggy’s Cove
Some 45 minutes southwest of Downtown Halifax (but still technically within the municipality), Peggy’s Cove offers a completely different experience. This small, picture-perfect fishing village with its iconic lighthouse is a popular day-trip in the summer, but once the crowds have gone it’s left to a handful of locals, seabirds and the crashing waves. Stay at romantic B&Bs (like Peggy’s Cove), and enjoy the world’s best lobster roll on the benches outside Tom’s Lobster Shack (tomslobstershack.company.site).
Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Downtown Halifax
Stay in Downtown to be within walking distance of the best bars and clubs. Argyle Street in the heart of Downtown is the city’s nightlife hub, with bars such as the Bitter End (bitterend.ca), gastropub East of Grafton Tavern (www.rcr.ca/restaurants/east-of-grafton-tavern), live performance venue Neptune Theatre (www.neptunetheatre.com), and local favorite Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub (www.ordernellys.com). Local booze makers Tidehouse Brewing Company (2-5187 Salter St), and Halifax Distilling Co (halifaxdistillingco.ca) have tasting rooms Downtown, while the Old Triangle (oldtriangle.com) hosts live bands nightly. Other hotspots for live music include Bearly’s House of Blues (bearlys.ca), and the Carleton (thecarleton.ca). The city has a fairly low-key club scene, with Pacifico (www.pacifico.ca) one of the better spots.
Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Downtown Halifax
Though the North End, West End and Dartmouth have burgeoning culinary scenes, Downtown is again the safe bet when it comes to the best and most diverse restaurants. At the top end there’s Bicycle Thief (bicyclethief.ca), Gio (www.giohalifax.com), and Stories Fine Dining (storiesdining.com), while Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar (www.thepressgang.ca) offers more historic ambience. Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market contains a huge range of food stalls, while Talay Thai (www.talaythaihalifax.ca), Adda Indian Eatery (www.addaindianeatery.com), and Ristorante a Mano (for Italian; www.ristoranteamano.ca) are just a few of the many restaurants serving food from all over the globe.
Best Neighborhood for Shopping: West End
West End wins this category primarily because of Halifax Shopping Centre, Nova Scotia’s largest mall – the surrounding streets are also crammed with superstores. Smaller, independent stores line Quinpool Road, everything from SoccerStop (sshfx.ca) and Courtside Sneakers (www.courtsidesneakers.com), to Nautilus Hobbies (nautilushobbies.ca) and Asian supermarkets. There are few hotel options here (there are plenty of apartment rentals however), but it’s not far from Downtown. Downtown itself features a cluster of indie stores. Our favorites include Biscuit General Store (www.biscuitgeneralstore.com), Black Market Boutique (www.blackmarkethalifax.ca), and Sweet Pea Boutique (Sweet Pea Boutique).
Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: North End
Historic North End is a great neighborhood – its narrow street have tons of character, some of the best places to stay (Brewery Park for boutique and Halifax Backpackers Hostel for budget), and hip places to eat and drink, hard to match elsewhere. There’s cider at Chain Yard Urban Cidery (www.chainyardcider.com), seafood and cocktails at Bar Kismet (barkismet.com), and delicious vegan food at enVie (www.enviehalifax.com) to name a few.
1 Downtown Halifax and the Waterfront
Downtown Halifax tumbles down to the harbour waterfront, a blend of office towers, stores, galleries and narrow, historic streets. It’s the commercial heart of the city and the entire Canadian Maritimes region, as well as its main nightlife hub. Most of the city’s showcase attractions are also here, beginning with the fortifications of Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax), high above the town. Beyond the leafy Grand Parade is the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (which includes the work of Nova Scotian artist Maud Lewis; www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca), and streets of theatres and restaurants, ending at traffic-free Harbourwalk. Here on the waterfront lies the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca), WWII-era HMCS Sackville (www.hmcssackville.ca), the Discovery Centre (hediscoverycentre.ca), a family-friendly science museum, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market (halifaxfarmersmarket.com), and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 (pier21.ca), Canada’s Ellis Island.
The Best Hotels in Downtown Halifax
Cambridge Suites Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 902 420 0555
Courtyard By Marriott Halifax Downtown • Hotel phone: +1 902 428 1900
The Halliburton • Hotel phone: +1 902 420 0658
Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 902 421 1700
Hollis Halifax • Hotel phone: +1 902 429 7233
The Novel Stay • Hotel phone: +1 902 422 8500
Prince George Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 800 565 1567
Sutton Place Hotel Halifax • Hotel phone: +1 902 932 7548
2 South End
The South End district lies just to the south of Downtown, running towards the harbor at Point Pleasant Park (a popular spot for cycling and jogging). Despite the proximity to the city center, it’s a primarily quiet residential neighborhood enlivened on its western side by the city’s premier universities: Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie, both set in landscaped campus grounds and surrounded by low-key cafés and bars. The summer accommodations at Dalhousie – repurposed student dorms – are some the best bargains in the city.
The Best Hotels in South End
At Robie’s End B&B • Hotel phone: +1 902 425 2380 [currently closed, COVID]
Dalhousie University Summer Accommodations (May–Aug; stay.dal.ca) • Hotel phone: +1 902 494 8840
Garden South Park Inn • Hotel phone: +1 902 492 8577
HI-Halifax, Heritage House • Hotel phone: +1 902 422 3863
3 North End
North End is one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, lining the waterfront north of Downtown. Fort Needham Memorial Park contains the main monument commemorating the Halifax Explosion of 1917, when a cargo ship of explosives accidently blew up killing around 2,000 people and devastating the North End.
Today it’s a vibrant district, home to the Hydrostone Market, crammed with boutique shops and restaurants, as well as live music venues, and colorful local bars, plus the city’s best budget and boutique accommodation options.
The Best Hotels in North End
Brewery Park • Hotel phone: +1 866 890 4920
Chebucto Inn • Hotel phone: +1 902 453 4330
Halifax Backpackers Hostel • Hotel phone: +1 902 431 3170
4 West End
Just 10 minutes drive west of Downtown Halifax, the West End is known for its no-frills culinary gems like King Of Donair (www.kingofdonair.ca) and Phil’s Seafood (philsseafood.ca) along Quinpool Road, and its giant shopping malls. Halifax Shopping Centre (www.halifaxshoppingcentre.com) is here, spanning both sides of Mumford Road, and there’s a flourishing retail district along Dutch Village Road. Though West End lacks mainstream attractions, Fairview Lawn Cemetery in the northern section of the district contains a poignant section dedicated to victims of the Titanic disaster – the cruise liner sank off Nova Scotia in 1912, and some 121 passengers were buried here.
The Best Hotels in West End
Best Western Plus Chocolate Lake Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 902 477 5611
Marigold Bed & Breakfast • Hotel phone: +1 902 423 4798 [closed currently due to COVID]
The Pebble • Hotel phone: +1 902 423 3369
Facing Downtown Halifax on the eastern side of the harbor, Dartmouth is a vibrant community featuring cozy cafes, top-notch restaurants, indie shops and a handful of historic properties to explore. Staying here offers a more intimate experience than the city center, with easy access to some of the most highly-rated bars and eateries in Nova Scotia (including Canteen on Portland; www.thecanteen.ca). In terms of sights, there’s historic Evergreen House and Quaker House (www.dartmouthheritagemuseum.ns.ca), plus the grassy expanse of Dartmouth Commons with fine views across the harbor. The 10-minute boat ride to get here offers the best views of Downtown Halifax itself. Hotels in Dartmouth tend to be newer and a little better value than in central Halifax.
The Best Hotels in Dartmouth
Best Western Plus Dartmouth Hotel & Suites• Hotel phone: +1 902 463 2000
Courtyard by Marriott Halifax Dartmouth • Hotel phone: +1 902 406 3000
Delta Hotels By Marriott Dartmouth • Hotel phone: +1 902 468 8888
DoubleTree by Hilton Halifax Dartmouth • Hotel phone +1 902 463 1100
Hearthstone Inn Boutique Hotel Dartmouth/Halifax • Hotel phone: +1 902 469 5850
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Halifax – Dartmouth• Hotel phone: +1 902 431 1122
Residence Inn by Marriott Halifax Dartmouth• Hotel phone: +1 902 406 4000
6 Peggy’s Cove
One of the most picturesque fishing villages in the Maritimes, Peggy’s Cove lies 45km from Downtown Halifax on Nova Scotia’s wild South Shore. Founded in 1811, with a tiny resident population today, the village of pretty clapboard houses and wooden fishing piers sees a steady stream of visitors in the summer, but staying here can be a magical experience once the day-trippers leave. Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, built in 1914, dominates the headland, while a smattering of restaurants, William deGarthe’s Fishermen’s Monument and a handful of gift shops make up the rest of the village’s attractions. It’s really the stunning ocean location, rocky shoreline and twisting, narrow streets that provide much of the romantic allure. There are two cozy B&Bs in the village itself, and several other enticing waterfront properties a short drive away in Indian Harbour.
The Best Hotels in and around Peggy’s Cove
The Breakwater Inn • Hotel phone: +1 902 821 2307
Peggy’s Cove B&B • Hotel phone: +1 902 823 2265
Clifty Cove Motel (Indian Harbour) • Hotel phone: +1 902 823 3178
Lighthouse Lane Cottages (Indian Harbour) • Hotel phone: +1 902 483 0717
Oceanstone Seaside Resort (Indian Harbour) • Hotel phone: +1 866 823 2160