Four Days in Halifax: Maritime Flair, Reinvented

By Andrew Seale April 17, 2018

If all Halifax evokes is the crack of lobster claws and an endless blanket of Atlantic fog, maybe it's time for a (re)visit.

Once regarded as the last bastion of Canada's maritime hospitality, the city is now reinventing itself. The skyline, dotted with cranes, has become home to an effervescent startup scene—the city's magnetism keeping entrepreneurial young people around to rewrite their city's economy.

Today, Halifax is decidedly more hip with the trademark maritime hospitality that first drew travelers to its shoreline.

Day one: Arrival

You'll land at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, 30 minutes from Halifax's downtown core. Between May and October there's the option of a direct shuttle, or you can navigate the transit system via the 320 bus.

While you'll be spending some time in Dartmouth across the bridge from Halifax (which shares a Brooklyn-esque relationship), you'll likely want to choose a spot to stay in Halifax proper. Narcity pulled together a nice list of some of the city's hidden gems on Airbnb, the best way to stay in Halifax.

Once you're settled, make your way over to Highwayman for some dinner and drinks, or the wooded comforts of Little Oak Bar. Settle in to the cocktail-forward Bar Kismet, for your first evening's nightcap.

Day two: North End and Dartmouth

Halifax's rapidly gentrifying North End has become a hip destination over the past few years.

Start off with a coffee at Lion & Bright or Seven Bays Cafe (which is set inside of a bouldering gym). If you're feeling peckish, grab a bite at Envie, which serves up sustainable and inventive vegan fare.

Once you're nourished, head across the harbour to Dartmouth's Kings Wharf via a 12-minute ferry ride and peruse Portland Street. Round off your day in Dartmouth at the Canteen with some chef-inspired seasonal fare or the cool Canadiana at The Watch That Ends the Night.

Day three: Surf and sand

You'll want to get an early start for day three and, if you don't have wheels, consider renting a car. The first stop is Lawrence town Beach, one of the East Coast's most well-known breaks. If you feel so inclined, rent some gear from the surf truck at the south end of the beach on the hill.

After your fill of the waves, you've got two options: You can head west across Nova Scotia to the string of vineyards just outside of Wolfville, or you can return south past Halifax and hug the coast until you get to Peggy's Cove, the infamous fishing village. If you choose the former, head to Benjamin Bridge winery and opt for the Nova 7; if you select destination two on the cove, stop at any one of the local establishments for a lunch of freshly caught lobster.

Since it's your last night, once you're back in Halifax, treat yourself to a dinner at one of the city's top restaurants Edna, or Field Guide.

Day four: Donair day

It's imperative you save sampling the East Coast specialty of donair for the last day. The truth is, these unassuming shawarma-esque creations – shaved meat wrapped in pita bread and drizzled in an only Halifax-does-it-right sauce made of canned milk, garlic, vinegar and sugar – are addictive.

Saving this experience for the last day is the only way to stop yourself from eating one for every meal. Don't get tricked into a pizza version or any other offshoot of the snack – it has to be a proper donair. Getting one from the undisputed King of Donair puts you a half-hour walk from the city core (plenty of time to burn off those calories) or a short cab ride to the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

There's something symbolic about ending your time in Halifax among the fortifications of Citadel Hill, where the city began and still, every hour, the old guard gets replaced.

Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CIBC or their partners.

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