Halifax is the capital city of Nova Scotia and one of the larger maritime cities (though it is not nearly as big as Toronto or Vancouver). It is known equally for its Scottish culture and heritage, many festivals and special events. Historically, it was the place where immigrants would land when arriving in Canada in search of a new and better life. The city’s mix of modern amenities and big city attractions and historic Scottish charm give it a unique appeal.
Anyone who wants to be in a big, but not too big, city will find themselves at home in Halifax. Additionally, people who love Scottish music and culture will especially love this vibrant court, finally, those interested in Canadian or Maritime history will find Halifax a great place to visit
Things to do in Halifax
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
This highly acclaimed museum is a must-stop for people interested in ships and maritime history. The museum has hundreds of handmade models of the ships that came and went from Halifax harbour, and exhibits on related topics that are important to Halifax’s history. Also of note is the exhibit of the history of the Titanic. As part of the tours, you can walk around inside a current or historic ship, to see how it works and what it would be like to live inside.
Halifax Harbour Tours
Many different companies offer tours of Halifax Harbour. Some cruises are a fun and lively ‘pirate themed’ excursion while others are more straightforward sightseeing trips. The best ones offer explanations about the sites you pass, such as the historic Pier 21. A trip to Halifax isn’t complete without seeing the waterfront that was so important throughout Halifax’s history and development. If you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of a whale.
Halifax Discovery Centre
If you have young children who love engaging with science, then a trip to the discovery center is a must. This excellent facility, newly relocated to the waterfront, is an educational and hands-on science centre. The permanent exhibit features ever-popular galleries such as the bubble room and Crank it up. Additional temporary exhibits feature even more exciting subjects for children and adults to explore. Live science shows and educational science films round up the types of activities available in the centre. After your trip, bring home a souvenir with educational value for the gift show.
Halifax Buskers Festival
Every August, world class street artists gather at the Harbour to display their skill. The variety is truly spectacular, and you’ll want to stay for the entire weekend. From statues to contortionists to sword swallowers and jugglers, there are entertainers for the young and grown on a three-day festival. Best of all, there is no charge, since the event is on the public area around the harbour.
Oak Island Walking Tour
Oak Island is surrounded by urban legends about hoards of buried treasure or mythic associations such as the Island of Avalon (from Arthurian Legend). While no treasure has ever been uncovered, the island attracts hundreds of tourists and treasure hunters. Scenically, Oak Island is worth the two hour walking tour to explore.The mystery tour includes knowledgeable local guides who take you to the most intriguing sights plus the Oak Island Museum. The perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Canadian Museum of Immigration
Canada has always even a nation of immigrants, and the Museum of Immigration celebrates our multicultural heritage. The museum is perfectly situated on Historic Pier 21, the landing place for shiploads of immigrants between 1928 and 1971. Take a guided tour and learn to appreciate the challenges and success of our immigrant heritage.
Ferry to Dartmouth
If you have the time, why not take the ferry ride to nearby Dartmouth? In this fair-sized Halifax town you’ll find even more interesting attractions and activities. Travellers say if you have the chance, this side-trip is a must. So take the opportunity to see more of Nova Scotia’s scenic and friendly towns. The ferry is inexpensive and the fastest way to get to the town of Dartmouth.
Reviewers claim this is a must-do in Halifax. The plays and performances never cease to entertain, the restaurant has excellent fare and the nearby shoppers are unique and interesting. Even better, the theatre is small enough that all the seats offer a good view of the stage. The shows constantly change, so check online to see what is on during your time in Halifax.
Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo
This military display takes places over one week each year. It features bagpipes, military parades and similar shows. The Tattoo also has educational workshops on traditional Nova Scotia/highland dancing and the military history of the area. Anyone interested in the Scottish heritage or the military will love this exhibit of skill and discipline.
Glen Arbour Golf Course
Glen Arbour is one of the most beautiful courses in Canada and the course used by the PGA and LPGA on their professional Canadian circuit. As a professional course, it is challenging but well worth the difficulty and cost to experience this pristine and stunning course.
Getting to and around
Halifax has its own international airport, which is the main hub for international and national visitors. It is located within the main city itself and half an hour from the downtown core. Buses and shuttle services offer transportation to and from the airport. Taxis are also available and Yellow Cab is the recommended provider by the City. Car rental is also available. Ferries connect Halifax with Yarmouth, Digby, Caribou and North Sydney. If you are coming from the USA, the best way to get to Halifax is to take the ferry from Portland, Maine to Yarmouth; from there you can catch the ferry to Halifax. Ferries to smaller maritime towns also run at select times, check their schedule online for details. Maritime Bus is the provider that serves the east coast. Halifax is one of their stops. Rail does not connect directly to Halifax, but you can take the VIA service to Montreal, then catch an overnight coach to Halifax.
Getting around Halifax is simple. There are trails in and around the city that makes Halifax a walkable and cyclable city. These are both great ways to experience Halifax. Bicycles can be rented from I Heart Bikes. Public Transportation is efficient and cost effective. It can take you wherever you need to go. Car rentals are certainly a possibility and available from the airport and offices around the city. Taxis are always at your service, and the company most recommended is Yellow Taxi. This can become expensive if used exclusively, however. So you are best to use other methods where possible.
Pick the time right!
Tourists visit Halifax in Summer
Summer is high tourist season, and when concerts and festivals occur. The weather is best in summer too, as there is no risk of blizzards and the weather is warm and temperate. However, if you wish to avoid the crowds and high prices of tourist season late spring or early fall are decent times. Winter is impractical because of heavy and frequent snowfalls and cold weather.
- Maritime people are friendly and personable. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from anyone.
- The East Coast can be rainy, even in summer, so be sure to pack accordingly.