You may have noticed in reading Solo Traveler that Tracey likes to travel in style and I like to stretch my dollar as far as I can. In this post you'll get both our perspectives. Here we offer solo travelers tips on luxury Halifax as well as Halifax on a budget.
Haligonians (yes that's what people who live in Halifax are called) hold within themselves what I can only call an eastern joy along with an urban sensibility.
Water has been proven to make one happy. With a four-kilometre long harborfront boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, never mind 13,000 km of shoreline for the province as a whole, Haligonians tend to be a happy people.
And you can feel that happiness. Along with the salt of the sea, it's in the air.
We understand that travel to Halifax is not yet possible for most people, us included. But we are eager for the Atlantic Bubble to open up, to complete our vaccinations, and to continue exploring and rediscovering Nova Scotia. You can keep abreast of travel guidance and restrictions here.
So whether you want to explore luxury Halifax or enjoy the city on a budget, read on for our tips. And know, you don't have to choose one travel style or the other. I'm a big fan of saving in one way so that I can splurge in another.
Janice's Take: Halifax on a Budget
Nova Scotia literally means New Scotland. You'll see that heritage in many of the festivals it holds and at the Halifax Citadel where the military wear kilts. So, why not take to Halifax with the thrifty attitude of a Scot? Here are a few ideas for you.
- Boardwalk people watching is free. Any visit to Halifax starts with a walk along the waterfront boardwalk. Day or night, it's hopping. You can spend as much or as little money as you want. Yes, there will be a lot of tourists on the boardwalk but you can also watch and, possibly, meet the locals as well.
- Take a tour of the harbor. While there are many tours that you can take of the harbor giving you a history of the city, if you just want to get out on the water, take the ferry to Dartmouth for a mere $2.75. If you grab a transfer and return within 90 minutes, the round trip is free and you will have had a beautiful look at the city. The top deck is best for picture taking.
- Visit Africville. Africville was the epicenter of the Nova Scotian black community until the 1960s, when it was displaced for industrial development. The site is now home to the Africville Museum housed in a replica of the community’s church. The museum walks visitors through a history of the area for just $3.50.
- Immigration Museum One thing I do recommend while you're at the waterfront is the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Admission is $14.50, so quite affordable. Pier 21 is a National Historic Site. It was the gateway to Canada for one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971. In fact, Simon's mother (Simon is my husband and the guy that brings you all the great trips on our Deals page) arrived at that port as a war bride. You can read about her story here.
- See live music for the price of a beer. Halifax is known for its craft beer scene. Well, what's a beer without some music? Search “live music free Halifax” and you'll find plenty of options. If there's one that's called a Cèilidh, definitely go as you'll find traditional Scottish and Irish music. Finding the music scene is one thing I like to do in many cities as it means that you really rub shoulders with locals.
- Bike the city. You can't beat a full day of entertainment for $45, especially in a city as bike-friendly as Halifax. There are some great trails to try. The Beechville Lakeside Timberlea (BLT) Rail to Trail is particularly recommended. I love rail trails. Renting a bike from I Heart Bikes is $45 for 24 hours or $99 for three days.
- Rent a free canoe. A 20-minute bike ride from the waterfront is St. Mary’s Boat Club where, on weekends between June 1 and September 30, you can take a canoe out for an hour free of charge.
- Don't miss the festivals. Under normal circumstances the city has many, many festivals. Just about one every week. Plan your trip around the one that looks best to you.
Those are a few ideas for you. What would I do in Halifax on a budget for two days?
- Day 1 – Waterfront, ferry ride, the Immigration Museum
- Day 2 – Rent a bike, ride a trail, definitely make it to Africville, possibly canoe.
Tracey's Take: Luxury Halifax
I don't know if “luxury” is the term I would use, but I do tend to prefer a “comfortable” style of travel! I also have a strong interest in exploring the local arts, food, and drink in a destination and there is certainly lots to discover in Nova Scotia. Here are a few experiences I am looking forward to on my next visit to Halifax.
- Taste with a Pommelier. Chain Yard Cider is the first and only urban cidery in Halifax. Not only that, but they are home to the first designated Pommelier in Atlantic Canada (only the second in all of Canada). In conjunction with Taste Halifax Food Tours and Unchained Kitchen, you can enjoy an expert-led tasting of 5 ciders with local food pairings for $49.
- Sail around the harbor. It's lovely to be near the water and even better to be on it. For about $40 you can take a cruise on the Tall Ship Silva to get a different view of Halifax and hear stories about its history and important landmarks. Help the crew hoist the sails or sit back and enjoy the fresh air and a beverage. Don't forget your sunscreen! If you want to combine your cruise with live music, dinner, or wine tasting, Ambassatours offers a variety of options.
- Have a 5-star experience. While it's not open yet, Halifax will soon have a new 5-star hotel on the waterfront. Set to launch in July 2021, the Muir will have a speakeasy, a waterfront patio, and almost every room will have a water view along with local original art. Now, it's pretty rare that I am ever able to stay in a 5-star hotel, since I don't have a 5-star budget, but I do love taking a break from sightseeing with a drink or afternoon tea in a fancy hotel bar. It's owned by Marriott, so maybe save your points for this one!
- Visit Sable Island with a photographer. This would definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Picture Perfect Tours will fly you to Sable Island, home to expansive sand dunes, wild horses, and the world’s largest grey seal colony. Your small group (max 6) will have the entire island to yourselves for the day, along with the services of a professional photographer both to offer instruction and guidance and to take photos, 100 of which will be given to you after your tour. The cost is $2195 per person, but if that's out of reach, you can drive yourself to one of their other photo tour locations, like Peggy's Cove, for less than $100.
- Explore local products at a farmers' market. The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market has been in its current location on the waterfront since 2010, but the Halifax Farmers’ Market was originally created by Royal Proclamation in June of 1750, making it the longest continuously operating market in North America. See, smell, and taste the foods of Nova Scotia, meet the farmers and producers, put together a picnic for yourself and take a few delicacies home with you. The cost here is strictly based on how much you can eat or carry.
- Visit Maud's House. In addition to almost 19,000 items in their permanent collection, various exhibitions, and a variety of events and programs, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada's largest art museum is home to the Maud Lewis Gallery. Along with a large collection of her paintings, her entire house has been fully restored and is on permanent display here. Admission is just $12, but there is nothing more luxurious than taking your sweet time surrounded by art.
- Take a food tour. Having joined them once before, I can recommend the Eat Halifax tour with Taste Halifax Food & Beer Tours. They're really well paced, the guides are fun and knowledgeable, and you get to try a LOT of food and drink. Next time, I would sign up for their Halifax Foodie Adventure to discover a few more local delicacies, including a private, behind-the-scenes charcuterie and spirit tasting inside the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site for about $149.
What would my ideal 2-day luxury Halifax itinerary include?
- Day 1: Enjoy a harbor tour from the Tall Ship Silva, have lunch and shop the farmers' market, explore Halifax on foot and end the day with a cider tasting.
- Day 2: Commune with wild horses and work on my photography skills on Sable Island! Or, alternatively, check out the Maud Lewis Gallery and explore other exhibits at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, take a Halifax food tour, then join a group for the Peggy's Cove sunset photo tour.
This post was sponsored by Tourism Nova Scotia. All travel dreaming and recommendations are based on our own travel experiences.