things to do in halifax citadel

Changing of the guard at The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. (Photos: Daniel Reyes)


5 Things You Have to Do in Halifax, Canada, According to a Canadian

I like to believe that the best way to embrace being Canadian is to get out and explore the country from coast to coast for yourself. The last time I was in Halifax was more than 10 years ago. So when I realized that my husband had never been, I was excited to explore the city with him for the first time. The Canadian East Coast, particularly Nova Scotia, embodies the friendliness and culture of Canada that the world has come to love.

I hope that you’ll come to appreciate one of my favorite Canadian cities a little more.

Daniel Reyes

From the views to the people, Halifax has so much to offer as a destination for travelers of all walks of life. The vibrancy of the city is palpable, and I always feel at home when I arrive.

I decided to create a list of five things you must experience for yourself when you visit the city in hopes that it can inspire you to celebrate Canada with friends and family in your own way.

Though it was hard to narrow down the list to just five experiences, in my opinion, these are some of the best the city has to offer. Whether it’s your first or your 50th time visiting Halifax, I hope that you’ll come to appreciate one of my favorite Canadian cities a little more.

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1. The Halifax Farmers’ Market

The Halifax Farmers’ Market is almost as old as Halifax itself; it was founded by Royal Proclamation in 1750, just one year after the city was founded. Since we love supporting local businesses, I wanted to see what this iconic market was all about.

With vendors from local and surrounding areas of the city, I was impressed to see the diversity of the space. Not only were people shopping for things from Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters to fresh produce from farmers and fisherman, we even found local honey and some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten!

The vendors and patrons have created a beautiful hub of food and culture. We saw families sitting down to enjoy the space, local musicians playing in the heart of the market and so much more. If I could make one recommendation, it would be to go early in the morning since the space gets busy as the day progresses.

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2. East Coast Lifestyle

“The DNA of East Coast Lifestyle is simple: It’s about being proud of where you’re from.” That’s the motto of East Coast Lifestyle, conveniently located down the street from the market. This playful clothing brand is a staple in the East Coast and has created waves in the Canadian fashion industry since it was first founded.

We picked up a few items that my husband loved, the perfect mementos of our trip out East. Another busy destination, there is no doubt that visiting a East Coast Lifestyle location during your visit to Halifax is a must for those of you looking to embrace the East Coast culture for yourselves. And with the Canadian pride in full force during Canada 150, it is a great way to show yours by supporting this local business!

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3. Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 was a must for my husband and I as a modern Canadian family. With our various histories, I wanted to understand the importance of Halifax in the immigration process to Canada over the past 150 years. Both my mother and husband are first-generation Canadians, so there is a sense of pride in understanding the process of our families arriving and starting their lives in this incredible country.

Not only is the museum a beautiful space to take photos of the waterfront, but there is so much to do when you visit! You can request to research your family’s history with a historian and visit the exhibits that showcase what the history of Canada is all about.

It made me feel even more proud to be Canadian and of the fact that our country was founded and built by families from around the world. Truly an inspiring space to spend an afternoon and find some inspiration of your own!

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4. Murphy’s The Cable Wharf Tours

Taking a trip to Halifax brings you right to the water’s edge on Canada’s East Coast, so it wouldn’t be a trip without taking a whale-watching tour. We opted to book an experience with the team at Murphy’s The Cable Wharf Tours.

Onto the water we went to see if we could spot some whales and marine life. Not only is the staff welcoming, but they are also incredibly knowledgeable in the history of Halifax. We learned so much and got to see the harborfront of Halifax from some of the most ideal spots on the water. A magical experience, indeed!

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5. The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site offers even more history if you are looking to embrace what it means to be Canadian. The best part is that for Canada 150, Parks Canada has made all Canadian National Parks free of charge. So it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the fort, its history and its stellar views of the surrounding city, as it’s one of the highest points in Halifax.

The fort played an important role in securing the East Coast of Canada in its youth. I know that my husband, who is a history buff, enjoyed the experience tremendously. If you can coordinate being there during a change of the guard, you’ll be in for a treat!

From the friendliness of its people to the food culture known for its tasty donairs — a meaty, open-faced sandwich on pita bread, for the uninitiated — Halifax offers a destination that feels both quaint and modern-metropolitan all at the same time. If you want a taste of the True North and to understand what it means to be a true Canadian, Halifax should be on your bucket list.

See How Daniel Spent a Day in Halifax. Watch the video.