November in Ottawa is gloomy and depressing. The cold of the fall season has really set in, but without the beauty that the snow in later months brings. With no holidays to break things up the month feels longer than any other. Naturally, I was looking for a way out. I couldn’t afford to take any time off work, so I looked into cities that were just a short flight away – New York, Boston, Quebec – finally settling on Halifax on the east coast of Canada.

It’s a shame that Canada’s east coast is often left undiscovered by travelers. With its sparse population it’s very easy to miss when big cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver seem so much more exciting. The impressive rocky coast, vibrant small towns, delicious food and endless harbours make this one of my favorite regions of Canada. November was the perfect time to go – off of peak season but still warm enough that a light jacket would suffice.

I arrived late on a Friday night. The highway was dark and quiet as I made the journey from the airport in my rental car. You won’t get a sense of the beauty of Halifax getting in late at night, so now is a perfect time to check out its famed pub and live music scene. While you’re at the pub be sure to try the local Propeller Brewery beers that are available on tap nearly everywhere. I loved the IPA.

Saturday morning is a great time to explore the market at Pier 21. Even if you don’t intend to purchase any of the locally made food, there are many opportunities for photographers to practice their street photography skills. I spent hours walking around the market followed by a walk along the harbour and toward the train yards, taking photos all along the way. Don’t forget to grab a coffee from one of Halifax’s many cafes – I really liked The Wired Monk.

A ship in the Halifax harbour

You should try to make your way to the old Halifax Citadel by noon, as that’s when they fire off the replica 18th-century cannon. The place seemed deserted when I was there, giving off a bit of an eerie vibe. The afternoon is a perfect time to take the ferry over to Dartmouth which boasts the best value views of the Halifax skyline from the water at only $2. Unfortunately for me it was far too foggy to get anything out of a ferry ride.

Firing off the canon at the citadel in Halifax

Test your sense of humour and imagination at an Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour. The “Pride of Nova Scotia”, which isn’t actually brewed in Nova Scotia anymore, has turned their original brewery site into a museum. Actors bring visitors back to the 1800s. The whole thing is extremely cheesy and over-the-top, so try not to take it too seriously. There are samples after all.

There are really two ends to the spectrum when it comes to Halifax food. The donair, a staple of the Halifax food scene, is often found in small hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have their biggest lineups at 2am. This middle-eastern style wrap is stuffed with veggies and beef or lamb meat and loaded with a sweet Halifax donair sauce. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the freshest lobster imaginable, straight from the shores of Nova Scotia. Eating a full lobster is just as much of a technique as it is a meal – not many foods have YouTube videos dedicated to teaching how to properly eat them. You need only walk down Lower Water Street to find more than enough lobster options. Bonus points to you if you give it a try at 2am coming home from the pub.

On my second full day in Halifax I got the hell out of Halifax. Rightfully so – the beautiful Nova Scotia coast cannot be passed up. Nearby tourist sites like the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove and the town of Lunenburg are popular for a reason, but everything about the coastal drive is a grand experience on its own. Stop in small towns and visit the friendly locals, snack on a seafood lunch, grab a coffee and take a photo walk of the many fishing boats and lobster traps that decorate the coast. Signs for the much more extensive Lighthouse Route darted the coast and would make for a great adventure for anyone who has more time for exploration.

The beautiful coast of Nova Scotia

I had rented a car for the exact purpose of driving the coast as it really is the best way to take in all that Nova Scotia has to offer. I wish I had more time there, both driving the countryside and exploring the city, but with a bit of research and planning I managed to make the most out of my 48 hours in this impressive province. I will definitely be back.

The foggy skyline of Halifax at night