Halifax is a fantastic city with a rich history and an energetic vibe. Make plans to check it out during any East Coast road trip, even if you can only spend 24 hours in Halifax. Halifax is definitely worth visiting thanks to its beautiful and walkable waterfront, fascinating museums, and fantastic food scene.
Here are some ideas for how to make the most of 24 hours in Halifax. You’ll be able to pack a lot into even a brief itinerary in this very walkable city. Fair warning, though: after a brief taste of Halifax, you’ll be counting the days until you can return for a longer stay!
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is (literally) central to a Halifax visit
If you only have time for one cultural attraction while spending 24 hours in Halifax, make it Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.
This fascinating hilltop fortress has been standing sentinel atop the city since the mid-1700s. If you visit today, you’ll see it as though you’ve stepped back in time to the 1850s. This includes interpreters costumed as the 78th Highlanders regiment and the British Royal Artillery who served here at that time. The daily firing of the noon gun is one of Halifax’s longest-standing traditions!
A new interactive exhibit opened in 2023 called Fortress Halifax. This walk-through feature uses eye-catching displays to explain the four versions of the fort that have stood atop Citadel Hill throughout the city’s history.
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is also one of the Nova Scotia locations that takes part in Parks Canada’s Xplorers program for kids. If your young explorers complete activity booklets on site, they’ll receive collectible medallions to take home. Rounding out the collection we’ve been working on for the past eight summers was our primary motivation for this road trip!
With 24 hours in Halifax, a city tour is a must
When it’s your first time visiting any city and you’ll be short on time, it’s worth investing in a city tour. This will give you a quick overview of what puts a city on the map.
In Halifax, our favourite city tour so far is the Harbour Hopper Tour. This is great fun for all ages but especially for kids. You’ll enjoy a bus tour through the city seeing key landmarks and hearing stories about the city’s history. Then, you’ll drive straight into Halifax Harbour, where your bus tour will become a boat tour!
The Harbour Hopper Tour runs from early May to early November. We highly suggest buying tickets in advance as this popular attraction sells out quickly.
Visit at least one museum during your 24 hours in Halifax
Halifax is home to several fascinating museums. Many of these delve into the city’s important position as a key Eastern Canadian port.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic tells stories from throughout the East Coast’s seafaring history. Its main attraction is a permanent exhibit displaying items recovered from the Titanic disaster, one of the world’s finest. You can also learn more about the tragic and historic Halifax Explosion that reshaped this city on December 6, 1917. Outside, the CSS Acadia—a Canadian research ship that’s more than a century old—is open for visitors to walk through during the summer months. And if you grew up watching Theodore Tugboat, the colourful model of the Big Harbour is sure to spark nostalgia!
You’ll need one to two hours to tour the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. With admission costing less than $10 per adult even during the peak summer months, it’s an affordable excursion not to be missed.
Other notable museums in Halifax include the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Museum of Natural History, and the Discovery Centre. Some may balk at the idea of calling a brewery a museum, but since brewing has taken place at Alexander Keith’s Brewery on Lower Water Street for more than 200 years, we think it counts, too!
We’ll add more information on these destinations once we’ve checked them out on future visits to Halifax.
When in Halifax, be prepared to eat
From casual to upscale, Halifax is packed with essential culinary experiences. The Halifax donair is one of the city’s classic dishes. It’s a handheld sandwich made with seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, onions, a signature sweet and garlicky sauce, wrapped in a steamed pita. (For our gluten-free friends: we have yet to find a gluten-free donair in Halifax, but when we do, we’ll report back!)
Halifax is a seaside city, so you’ll also find numerous takes on another Nova Scotia essential sandwich, the lobster roll. If you happen to need to eat gluten-free (or even if you don’t), head straight to The Bicycle Thief. When you order it gluten-free, their lobster roll comes on their house-made GF focaccia. It’s the best we’ve had since celiac diagnosis, hands down! Make a reservation for this popular spot if you can, especially if you want to sit on their scenic waterfront patio on a beautiful day.
You can also find plenty of local pubs to experience during 24 hours in Halifax. We’ve visited The Wooden Monkey several times and always enjoyed it.
Stroll through the shops along Spring Garden Road
The vibrant shopping district at Spring Garden Road is full of surprises. One minute you’ll be flipping through vinyls at Taz Records, and the next you’ll browse through local artisan creations at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia. Take a walk through the parks like Halifax Public Gardens, and explore the diverse eateries. There’s plenty to explore here, even if you only have 24 hours in Halifax!
Splurge during your 24 hours in Halifax with a stay at the Muir
If your stay will be brief, that’s the perfect time to splurge. And when you’re seeking some of the finest accommodations in Halifax, the Muir is the obvious choice. This stunning hotel houses spacious and luxuriously appointed rooms, a chic bar and restaurant, and even a complimentary car service. On request, we were delivered to dinner with friends in a chauffeured Range Rover. Now that’s luxury!
The Muir’s central location on the Halifax waterfront puts many of the city’s top attractions within easy reach, helping you make the most of your time in the city.