The Canadian border is finally opening up again after more than a year of COVID-19 precautions, and we’re more than ready to hit the road and explore all those nooks and crannies that have been forbidden for so long.
Big cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are all opening their doors too—but a weekend in the East Coast of Canada is going to be less crowded and much more friendly and laid back than the typical hot spots to the North.
Thinking of planning a trip to the capital of Nova Scotia? You’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the absolute best establishments that Halifax has to offer—and trust us, it goes far beyond just the seafood and lighthouses that Nova Scotia is known for.
From a rowdy built-in-Ireland pub with live music and cold Guinness to a luxury heritage hotel built to host international playboys over a century ago, here’s everything you’ll need to let loose in the Canadian Maritimes.
The Bicycle Thief
The Bicycle Thief is tucked into the sophisticated Bishops Landing—and it’s where you’ll want to go for a hearty dose of Italian with East Coast flair. From fresh scallops, mussels, and tuna tartare to housemade mushroom gnocchi and steak sandwiches, the menu is small and highly curated but packs a serious punch.
The sumptuous indoor dining space will transport you back in time by way of brassy finishing and plush leather seating—but you’ll want to sit outside on the waterfront patio if you’re lucky enough to see a sunny day downtown. The European-inspired terrace is nestled just steps from the Halifax waterfront and is the best spot in town for spotting sailboats and yachts.
The Canteen on Portland
The Canteen on Portland is located just across the Halifax Harbour—but it’s well worth the trip across the water. Hop on the Metro Transit ferry (it’s faster than an Uber and a very scenic ride—especially at sunset) and make your way to downtown Dartmouth.
The light and airy eatery is owned and operated by former Top Chef Canada contestant Renée Lavallée and serves up some of the best locally grown and fished fare in the province. Expect fun takes on classic East Coast dishes—like the scallop and avocado burger or the snow crab and lobster roll—as well as an expertly curated wine list that consists of both Nova Scotian and international juice.
The Barrington Steakhouse
Looking for a private dining space to foster a more intimate meal? Book the Legacy Room at the Barrington Steakhouse. The plush private room is luxurious and discrete in its own right—but it also comes as a collaboration with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund; a portion of all proceeds goes toward Indigenous reconciliation and shining light on the history of residential schools in Canada.
In terms of sustenance, you’ll find extremely fresh and local oysters and other seafood as well as a variety of vegetarian options—but it’s the steak you’ll want to opt for. The Barrington Steakhouse uses local cuts of “Blue Dot Reserve Beef,” a top tier AAA grade beef that is both hand raised and handpicked right in Nova Scotia.
Halifax has one of the only legally defined wine appellations in Canada—Tidal Bay—and Obladee is going to be your best bet for sipping flights of the local juice. The tried-and-true wine bar has been in operation for over a decade and continues to serve up local and international wines with gusto.
The unassuming establishment is cozy and welcoming—even if you’re not all that well-versed in vino—and usually has a live jazz band or Celtic musician jamming out in the window.
Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub
Between its proximity to the sea and the number of Irish immigrants, Halifax can sometimes feel like the Canadian answer to Dublin—and that becomes even more obvious when you step into one of the city’s many Irish pubs.
Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub is going to be your best bet if you’re looking for a spot to stop for a decent pint of Guinness. The authentic Irish pub was actually built entirely in Ireland before being packed into a ship and sailing to Halifax to be reassembled.
The Lower Deck
The Lower Deck first opened its doors in 1974 and has become a go-to for locals and international visitors alike ever since—and for good reason.
The visually stunning pub is tucked into Halifax’s Historic Properties right on the waterfront and offers unobstructed views of the harbor and surrounding historic area. The pub is open for lunch, dinner, drinks, and usually turns into a late night dancing spot as the sun begins to set.
The Westin Nova Scotian
Built in 1928 by the Canadian National Railway, the Westin Nova Scotian is one of the only Grand Railway Hotels in Atlantic Canada. The storied property is still tucked right next to the Via Rail train station—making it a great option for anyone visiting the city by train.
Known as the “Grand Dame” of Halifax, this historic property has continued to be renovated over the years to offer a more modern and luxurious experience for guests—but continues to retain the old world charm that dignitaries and history buffs have come to expect.
The Prince George Hotel
The Prince George Hotel offers world-class Four Diamond service at a very affordable price point. The downtown property features 200 guest rooms and suites but feels more like a boutique hotel than a large-scale operation thanks to the personalized service and discrete decor.
After dropping your bags in your suite, be sure to head straight to the indoor heated pool and sauna. The striking lounge features a huge bay window that opens onto the downtown streets below.
Lord Nelson Hotel
Perched on the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street right across from the Halifax Public Gardens, the Lord Nelson Hotel dates back to 1927 when it was constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway to rival the Westin Nova Scotian.
Although these days it feels more like a historic property than a cutting edge example of modernity, the striking property was considered to be Halifax’s first “modern hotel” when it opened its doors and continues to serve as one of the best examples of hospitality in the city.