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Halifax (Nova Scotia)

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Halifax (Nova Scotia)

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Halifax [1] is the capital city of Nova Scotia and the largest city in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. The city's origins and rich maritime history derive from a strategic location and one of the world's great natural harbours. In the 19th and early 20th century, Halifax was the entry point for European immigration to Canada. Today, Halifax is a busy Atlantic seaport and the economic and cultural hub of Eastern Canada.

The old town clock situated at the base of Citadel Hill


Halifax is the provincial and regional hub of Nova Scotia. It is still, however, a smaller city by North American standards (2006 pop. 282,924). Rather than feeling relegated to 'second-fiddle' status, this dichotomy is celebrated by residents who take pride in their slower pace and warm hospitality.

The cities of Halifax and Dartmouth comprise the heart of the Halifax Regional Municipality, and are surrounded by a number of smaller bedroom communities. The majority of attractions of interest to visitors are located in downtown Halifax.

Get in

By plane

The Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport [2] is located about a half hour drive outside of Halifax. It is the biggest airport in the maritime provinces, with direct daily flights from Toronto, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, Calgary, and limited service to a number of regional and holiday destinations.

Direct connections to Europe are provided by Air Canada (London-Heathrow), Zoom and Thomas Cook Airlines (London-Gatwick), and Icelandair (Reykjavik).

To get into Halifax there is a shuttle bus that leaves every hour most hours of the day and stops at all the major hotels in Halifax and Dartmouth. $16 one-way, or $28 for a return ticket. Alternatively, there are taxis that charge a flat rate of $53 to get anywhere in Halifax/Dartmouth.

By train

VIA Rail [3] train station located in the south end of Halifax directly next to the Westin Nova Scotia Hotel has daily trains leaving for rail connections in Montreal and Toronto to the North East US.

By car

Halifax is connected to the rest of Canada by provincial highways 101, 102, 103, and 104. Highway 102 runs between Halifax and Truro, where it connects to Highway 104 (the Trans-Canada Highway). Going west on 104 takes one to the New Brunswick border, and then onto Maine, Quebec, or Prince Edward Island. It's about 2 hours from Halifax to the New Brunswick border; there is a $4.50 toll at the Cobequid pass. Going east on 104 takes one to Cape Breton.

A ferry service in Sydney connects Nova Scotia with Newfoundland. Highway 103 connects Halifax with the South Shore. During the summer, a high-speed ferry named The Cat connects Yarmouth (3 hours from Halifax) with Bar Harbor, Maine. Highway 101 connects Halifax with the Annapolis valley. A ferry service connects Digby (about 2.5 hours from Halifax) with Saint John, New Brunswick.

By bus

Regional buses operated by Acadian Lines [4] run from Bangor and throughout the Maritime Provinces to Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville.

By boat

A ferry service also operates between Halifax and Dartmouth. A great boat ride, especially on clear summer days, especially for the $2 charged.

Carnival Cruise Lines operates cruises to Halifax.

Get around

Halifax has a tendency to sprawl somewhat. Public transit is limitted and mostly impractical outside the downtown area. The downtown shopping and attractions will engage the average traveller for a day or two at most. Beyond this timeframe a car rental will significantly open up the surrounding area.

By car

There is no photo radar or red light cameras in Nova Scotia. If you are caught, it'll be by a live officer. At some lights, there is an “advanced green”, or flashing green light, which means that you can proceed left, straight, or right at your leisure. Green arrow lights are rare. Pedestrians are king. People will often cross a road in the middle of the block, and cars stop for them. U-turns are legal (de facto anywhere a left turn is allowed, de jure see [5]), barring a no U-turn sign.

By bus

HRM's Metro Transit [6] All public transport in the metro area costs a flat $2, with discounts for children and seniors. Transfer tickets are free, allow you further travel for 2 hours, and are good for both buses and the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry. All of the transit maps and schedules can be accessed by clicking on the aforementioned link.

By taxi

There are a number of taxi services in the city, although flagging one down may be difficult in certain areas. Calling and reserving cabs is rarely an issue. If you are bar or club bound for the evening, be aware that there can often be a derth of cabs available downtown at last call.


  • The Halifax Citadel, [7]. An old fort on a hill overlooking the city and the harbour. Presently, the citadel is a national historic site and home to a museum and a small ceremonial garrison. A must see, especially during Canada day (1 July) celebrations.
  • Pier 21, [8]. A historic waterfront building that now houses extensive exhibits related to Canadian immigration and hosts special events.
  • The Acadia exhibit at the Halifax waterfront.
    The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic [9] : located on the downtown waterfront. The collection includes exhibits and artifacts related to the sinking of the Titanic and the devastating 1917 Halifax explosion. The CSS Acadia [10], a hydrographic survey ship built in 1913, is an ongoing conservation project. The Acadia is moored a few meters from the museum building; tours are available during the summer.
  • Old Burial Grounds, Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road. The graveyard was in use from 1749 to 1843 and there are moderately informative plaques and signs throughout.
  • Right across the street from the Old Burial Grounds is St. Matthew’s Church, the oldest United Church in Canada. The building was opened in 1859, but the congregation dates back to 1749. St. Paul's Church [11], built in 1750, is the oldest Anglican church in Canada, located at 1749 Argyle St. (a.k.a. "The Grand Parade" square).
  • The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia [12], moderate in size, but does a fine job of highlighting the works of famous local artists such as Maud Lewis (folk) and Alex Colville (hyperrealist), in addition to Mik'maq (aboriginal) art. Check the Web site for travelling exhibitions.
  • Province House, 1726 Hollis St. Home to Canada's oldest provincial legislature and of Britain's first overseas self-government. A fine example of Georgian architecture, the building first opened in 1842. Visitors can learn about the history of the site and the current Legislative Assembly through guided tours, displays and an audio-visual presentation. Province House is open year-round.


  • Public Gardens, Spring Garden Road and South Park St. A beautiful Victorian-era garden occupying a large city block, open May to October. There are ponds, flowers, ducks, geese, and sometimes music in the gazebo. Entry is free.
  • Point Pleasant Park (most southern point of the city). Free. Open most days from sunrise to sunset. A large peaceful park that serves as a vantage point to see the mouth of the harbour and into the Atlantic ocean. Was once a dense woods has since been left with patches of devastation and clear-cut from Hurricane Juan in 2003. It still remains a popular place to walk dogs and stroll. The park contains some preserved historic military fortifications such the 18th century Martello tower, as well as the unpreserved ruins of several other fortification.


Theodore Tugboat
  • Waterfront, A great variety of restaurants, tours, and other entertainment. Theodore Tugboat, a WWII era Corvette, and other ships line the harbour.
  • Brewery Market, At the historic Keith's Brewery Building, 1496 Lower Water Street, Saturdays 7am-1pm, This is considered the oldest running Farmer's Market in North America. It is always very busy with people buying ethnic and local foods, plants, artwork, clothing and all sorts of other interesting stuff that you may or may not expect to find at a Farmer's Market. This market is held indoors so it is open year-round.
  • Harbour Hopper[13], Guided tour of Halifax and harbour in an amphibious vehicle. A bit gimmicky, but informative.
  • Canoe the Northwest Arm, Head down to the St. Mary's Boat Club, 1641 Fairfield Road (off Jubilee) 902 490-4688, on Saturdays and Sundays (11am-7pm) and rent a canoe for 8$/hour. Take a trip up the beautiful Northwest Arm to see the historic Dingle tower in Flemming Park, watch the numerous sailboats out for a weekend cruise or catch a regatta if you're lucky. Gawk at some of the mansions that line the water or for the ambitious, head all the way up to Point Pleasant Park, where the Northwest Arm meets Halifax Harbour.
  • The Halifax Mooseheads Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team plays from October to April at the Halifax Metro Centre. Rough, highly skilled games are combined with a near-NHL level of presentation. Tickets are $8-15, and are available at the Metro Centre box office.
  • Alexander Keith's Brewery Tour[14], Tour of Alexander Keith's Brewery. This will be more interesting if you are a regular drinker of the beer, but being a regular drinker of any beer won't hurt.
  • The Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library, 5381 Spring Garden Road. A convenient place to sit, relax, and watch kids duck into between the legs of the pensive Winston Churchill statue out front. As a sliver of scarce downtown greenspace, the front lawn of the building is well-used by Haligonians as a meeting spot, a reading spot, and most importantly as a place to eat french fries on lunch breaks.
  • For a Canadian city, Halifax has quite a bit of history. You can learn about it in an entertaining manner by taking a guided ghost walk [15] [16], or a sea dawg walk [17].


  • Busker Festival, Visit in August for the festival of street performers along the waterfront. It's a must see, with amazing acts, some grand and awe-inspiring, some quaint, others funny (both intentionally and unintentionally). A very lively time of year along the harbourfront, with music and stalls selling food and the standard run of touristy souvenirs.
  • Nova Scotia International Air Show, [18]. A yearly event, taking place in early September. This is a great chance to see the the aerobatic teams from a number of national air forces. The Canadian Snowbirds [19] perform every year. In past years, the show was held at the Shearwater airforce base, but in 2005 the venue was moved to the Halifax International airport.
  • The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, [20]. Happening every July, the Tattoo is the world's largest annual indoor show. Its unique combination of music, dance, drama, gymnastics, comedy, military displays, competitions and much more.


Halifax is home to 3 major universities. Students make up a significant proportion of the population of certain city neighbourhoods.

  • Spread over 3 campuses, Dalhousie University [21] is the largest educational institution in Nova Scotia. With 15,000 undergraduates and a broad range of graduate and professional programmes, Dalhousie counts itself as one of the leading universities in Canada.
  • Located in the south end of the city, Saint Mary's University [22] is somewhat smaller. St. Mary's is renowned for its business school, strong alumni support, and athletics.
  • Located just off the peninsula, along the Bedford highway is Mount Saint Vincent University [23], a smaller university with a focus on undergraduate studies, and professional programs including those in teaching and public relations.

Other educational institutions include:

  • The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design [24] is a university offering programs and degrees related to the visual arts and design.
  • The University of King's College [25] is a small liberal arts university on the Halifax peninsula, known for their journalism programs.
  • The Nova Scotia Community College [26] has a number of campuses in the Halifax area.
  • The head of the world-wide Buddhist Shambhala organization is located in Halifax. The Halifax Shambala Centre [27] offers courses in Buddhism, particularly methods related to the the Shambhala tradition.
  • The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts [28] provides performing arts education for children and adults.
  • The Atlantic School of Theology [29], an ecumenical Christian theological university.


The military is the largest employer in the region. The city is home to Maritime Forces Atlantic HQ and and the navy's East Coast fleet. Among the military installations around the city are Windsor Park, Stadacona and HMC Dockyard. It is hard to go anywhere without seeing a reference to the Navy. Many corporations have their regional headquarters in the city, some are located downtown like TD and the Royal Bank, while others are located in some of the major business parks in the region like Burnside Industrial Park or the Aerotech Park which is located next to the Airport. Both have direct access to the major provincial highways and while the Aerotech Park is next to the airport which influences the Aerospace theme, Burnside has ~10-15 min travel time to the Airport. Halifax is home to numerous universities, having one of the highest concentrations in Canada. Dalhousie University is a big university and is a major regional employer. The city, being the provincial capital, is home to thousands of provincial government employees.


  • The Farmers' Market, 1496 Lower Water Street, [30]. An often over-crowded bazaar for fresh food and craft items. Don't haggle. Buskers play music in the hallways between retail areas.



Many of the cheap eats in town are along Spring Garden road.

  • Trident Cafe, 1256 Hollis [31] pick up any book to read in this bookshop cafe, then either purchase it or put it back!
  • Steve-O-Reno's Just off of Spring Garden Road on Brunswick. Specialty coffees, teas, cold drinks, and baked goods.
  • Bash Toulany's Fine Foods, 5553 Duffus Street, [32]. Voted best Donairs in Halifax.
  • The Ardmore Tea Room, 6499 Quinpool. Virtually unchanged since 1956, and often voted the best diner in Halifax, and quite cheap. In addition to standard diner fair, they have a few Atlantic favorites such as "Newfoundland Steak" (a.k.a. fried baloney), and cod fish cakes with baked beans for breakfast. Open 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Pizza Corner 3 different pizza restaurants at corner of Blowers and Grafton. Good cheap pizza and donairs (Gyro-type wraps, often overflowing with meat and sauce). However, this area can descend into anarchy when the bars let out, and the restaurants often lock their bathrooms, even to customers.
  • Bud The Spud A favorite local chip (fry) wagon parked in front of the main library branch on Spring Garden during the spring and summer. Try them with the malt vinegar. After you've had your fill, donate the rest of your chips to the city's ever-hungry pigeon population.
  • Split Crow, 1855 Granville, [33]. Long-standing Pub with late week and weekend entertainment and cheap food. "Power Hour" brings in the crowds for cheaps drinks (3 middies for $5).
  • Your Father's Moustache, Spring Garden Road, [34]. Pub.
  • Thirsty Duck, 5472 Spring Garden Road [35].
  • Kings Palace, 6140 Quinpool Road. Chinese Food.
  • Mexico Lindo, 3635 Dutch Village Road. Authentic Mexican Food
  • Hala's Pizza and Donair, 117 Kearney Lake Rd. (Wedgewood Plaza), [36]. A charming and cozy pizza restaurant - takes pride in its homemade dishes.
  • The Henry House Traditional English meals and excellent micro-brewery beers. You can't go wrong with Bangers & Mash and a pint of Peculiar.
  • The Coastal Cafe, 2731 Robie Street [37] Chef/Owner Mark Giffin prepares unbelievable breakfasts, lunches and bake goods for you to enjoy with a complete selection of coffees, teas and other non-alcoholic beverages. North End Halifax
  • Comfy Corner Cafe, 1313 Hollis Street. Great homestyle breakfast, very friendly staff, great atmosphere.
  • Cousin's Snack Bar, 2389 Agricola Street. Homestyle breakfast; quirky old-style interior decoration including faux wood panelling, faded watercolor paintings and an old tv with rabbit-ears.


  • Satisfaction Feast, 1581 Grafton St., [38]. Excellent vegetarian restaurant with variety and taste. Plenty of vegan or vegan option items on the menu. Dinner salad and entree = 17$ CAD. Try the Neatloaf. M-Sa 11:30AM-9PM, W 11:30AM-4PM, Su Closed.
  • Fireside - Meals are reasonably priced, atmosphere is cosy and EVERYTHING on the menu is worth eating. The cocktail menu is discounted on Martini Mondays.
  • Il Mercato, 5650 Spring Garden Rd, [39]. Good Pasta. Have the lemon tart for dessert. M-Sa 11AM-11PM
  • Economy Shoe Shop, 1661-1663 Argyle St, [40]. Extensive menu. Go on Jazz night (usually Monday) and eat Nachos.
  • The Wooden Monkey, 1685 Argyle St, [41]. Veggie & Vegan friendly bistro featuring local, organic and macrobiotic food and drink. Kid's menu available. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM.
  • Salty's 1869 Upper Water St (Privateers Wharf), +1 902 423-6818, [42]. Seafood restaurant on the waterfront. Casual patio dining downstairs, fancier setting upstairs. Can get very busy on summer evenings. Reservations recommended.
  • Little Fish (downstairs from the Five Fisherman). Seafood and oyster bar.
  • The Hungry Chili, Blowers St. Outstanding homestyle Szechuan restaurant. Like no Szechuan you have had before.
  • Heartwood Bakery & Cafe, 6250 Quinpool Road, [43]. Vegetarian, organic and extremely good. Lunch and dinner buffet, soups, salads, entrees, desserts. Pay-by-weight system. M-Sa 10AM-8PM.
  • Coburg Cafe, 6085 Coburg Road, (near Dalhousie Univeristy). Students come here for group study or just to hang. Great hot chocolate and a $2 mammoth slice of carrot cake.


  • Château Briand fine European cuisine in the historic properties on Granville Street
  • Fid an authentic French restaurant located on Dresden Row above Spring Garden Rd. Closed Mondays.
  • Da Maurizio's an Italian restaurant located on Lower Water St. inside the Brewery Market.
  • Bish
  • Five Fisherman Lobster, scallops, and other seafood dishes. Mussel & salad bar included.
  • Onyx Closed Sunday.
  • Taj Mahal 5175 South Street, (902) 492-8251, Delicious Indian food, great atmosphere, Restaurant is across the street from Cornwallis Park and The Westin hotel.

Local Food

There isn't really such a thing as "Nova Scotia cuisine", but there are a few things that are worth seeking out. Seafood is generally *not* much cheaper in the Maritimes than elsewhere, because why sell cheap locally when you can export the stuff for lots? The exception to this rule is mussels. They are generally good quality, cheap and found on many appetizer menus. Another seafood worth having is scallops, as they are generally higher quality than the ones you get in many parts of North America (note that good scallops are the size of a golf ball or larger, and do not taste fishy). “Sea pie” is often a good deal when available. Lobster in a restaurant will be expensive (unless you consider McDonald's summer McLobster sandwich a genuine experience), so your best cheap bets are to buy one at the store and cook one yourself, or attend any of the numerous lobster dinner that are hosted by churches and community groups throughout the warmer months.


There are a large number of good cafes, pubs, and other eateries all throughout downtown. Of particular note are those on Granville St.

Granville St
  • The Lower Deck in the waterfront Historic Properties, or the Split Crow on Granville for a real Maritime experience.
  • Your Father's Moustache, Spring Garden Rd., for a good atmosphere and decently priced food.
  • Rogues Roost, Spring Garden Rd., is a warm microbrew pub where you can order a tasting tray with a sample of 6 of their award-winning brews. Live music some nights, they also have an open-mic night.
  • Dome/Cheers/Attic, Grafton St. Also known as the Liquor Dome. Three different establishments all linked together. Customers pay cover at the doors to either one of the three bars and gain access to all three. Cheers is a bar atmosphere which features live bands. The Attic is somewhat of a combination of a bar and nightclub featuring a large amount of sitting area and a few small dance floors. The Dome is a standard nightclub with a large dance floor. Sunday nights are very popular at the dome as liquor is available at one dollar per drink. Wednesday is student night, where any student presenting a student card does not pay cover and drinks are one dollar during power hour.
  • The Henry House, Barrington Street. Formerly known as the Granite Brewery. Contains a wide range of hand-pulled beers from local micro-breweries (originally Granite Ales, but now carries a much wider stock). Good selection of food in an English pub-type atmosphere. Three levels - first floor rooms for private hire, upper ground floor is a more formal dining area, lower ground floor is the bar/pub. [44]

Liquor can be purchased at NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) stores, in stand-alone locations, malls, and grocery stores. Selection is often surprisingly large, but be prepared to pay: a twelve-pack of beer can range from $17-20, and a pint of rum or vodka will set you back $12-14. All prices quoted include taxes and recycling deposits. Most stores close at 10 PM, as well as on Sundays and holidays. The exception has been the sole drive-through outlet near the in Dartmouth end of the MacDonald Bridge; it is frequently open holidays, but for drive-through service only.



  • Halifax Backpacker's Hostel, 2193 Gottingen Street, [45]. From $20
  • Hostelling International, 1253 Barrington Street, [46]. Good downtown location.
  • Dalhousie University Dorm Rooms, 6230 Coburg Road (Howe Hall); 5303 Morris Street (Gerard Hall); 5598 Fenwick Street (Fenwick Place), [47]. Dorm and apartment-style accommodation From late May-Aug. Limited availability (1 of 2 suites in Howe Hall) during the school year.
  • Mumford Bed & Breakfast 7015 Mumford Road. [48]. An English-style B&B with just two rooms. $85
  • Clifty Cove Motel, 8444 Peggy's Cove Rd., [49].


  • The Garden Inn 1263 South Park Street, +1 902 492 8577, Toll Free 1-877-414-8577, [50]. $100
  • Lakeview Inn & Suites Halifax, 98 Chain Lake Drive. $100
  • Halifax Marriott Harbourfront, 1919 Upper Water Street. Housed in the former Halifax Casino building. $170.
  • Waverley Inn, 1266 Barrington St. Unique 19th century property downtown - filled with antiques. [51]
  • The Westin Nova Scotian, 1181 Hollis Street. Nice rooms with a little bit of a walk to touristy areas.
  • Atlantic Corporate Suites, 5536 Sackville St., [52]. $75.


  • The Lord Nelson, 1515 South Park Street, [53]. Overlooking the Public Gardens just below the Citadel. $250 and up.
  • Prince George, 1725 Market Street, [54]. $200
  • Four Points by Sheraton, 1496 Hollis Street, [55]. $300 and up


Halifax Tourism

Stay safe

Crime has been increasing in the Halifax area, and some dangers are worth mentioning. Some instances of swarming - groups of people harassing, robbing or assaulting persons - have been reported. Be especially careful around the North End of the city, especially near Gottingen Street. Elsewhere, common sense should suffice, i.e. bring a friend

Also note that pedestrian crosswalks are highly respected by drivers in Halifax, and crossings can occur just about anywhere. This provides a double danger: For drivers to keep on the ball watching out for pedestrians; and for pedestrians to not be lulled into a false sense of security while crossing.


Direction 180, 2158 Gottingen Street. The main resource drug addiction treatment. They operate a needle exchange, but you may need to register.

Get out

  • St. Margaret's Bay is only half an hour away; a gorgeous bay, almost as big as the harbour itself, but without the cities. Instead, it is dotted with islands and small towns.
  • There are beautiful beaches, such as Queensland, Cleveland, Black Point and others, just before the town of Hubbards.
  • The drive along highway 3 (2 lane, coastal) is well worth the twists and turns, for it is beautifully scenic, especially on nice summer days.
  • Peggy's Cove: stunning bare granite rocks and cliffs with its historic and still-used lighthouse. While sunsets are gorgeous and peaceful on clear summer evenings; the best times to see Peggy's Cove are the stormier days, when the waves crashing against the cliffs send salt spray high into the air. Better to get out there early in the day to avoid tour buses.
  • If you have a car, there are plenty of historical towns within an couple of hour's drive of Halifax that are worth visiting, such as Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, and Wolfville.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!