Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Halifax, Canada

Updated on Apr 09, 2023 | Canada Visa Online

By: Canada eTA

Many of the activities to do in Halifax, from its wild entertainment scene, laced with maritime music, to its museums and tourist attractions, relate in some way to its strong association with the sea. The port and the city's maritime history still have an impact on Halifax's daily life.

Halifax is still dominated by a star-shaped citadel placed on a hill despite the more modern buildings. The Canadian Maritime provinces' administrative, commercial, and scientific hubs are in this metropolis, which also houses no fewer than six colleges and universities. Additionally, it acts as Nova Scotia's capital.

The entire length of its stunning natural port, which is deeply dug into the Atlantic coastline, is lined by docks, piers, parks, and businesses

Halifax served as a gathering place for convoys during both World Wars, allowing ships to cross the Atlantic for greater safety and to defend themselves from German U-boat attacks. The largest explosion in history occurred in 1917 when the Belgian "Imo" and the French munitions ship "Mont-Blanc," which had come to join one of these convoys, collided. This occurred before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. With 1,400 fatalities and 9,000 injuries, Halifax's whole northern section was entirely destroyed. Windows were shattered up to Truro, which is around 100 kilometers away.

As the port next to the Titanic disaster and a significant entry point for immigrants coming from Europe, Halifax has more marine and shipping ties. As you explore the city, you'll see remnants of both, but its vibrant present is just as much fun to discover as its historic past. You can find the best places to visit with the aid of our list of the top tourist attractions and activities in Halifax.

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Halifax

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Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

The 1856-constructed Halifax Citadel National Historic Site towers over the city's core. This 19th-century British fort is a great illustration, even if it was never actually involved in a battle. In the summer, interpreters engage with tourists while dressed in red British costumes to depict what life was like for the 78th Highlanders, the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery, and their families while they were stationed here.

Children can dress in period clothing, act out a transatlantic voyage in a replica ship's cabin, and ride a railway that carried immigrants to their new homes in the west. After hours, tours discuss a few of the numerous ghost tales connected to the Citadel.

A path ascending the slope leads from the stronghold to the harbor, the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, Little Georges Island, Dartmouth, and the city. On the hillside is located the Old Town Clock, which has come to represent Halifax. It was initially ordered by Prince Edward in 1803. It includes four clockfaces, and chimes, and is a surviving tribute to a strict disciplinarian's timeliness.

Halifax Harbourfront

Halifax Harbourfront

The boardwalk that runs the length of a significant chunk of Halifax's downtown waterfront is where vintage boats, miniature sailboats, tugboats, and ferries come and go. The "Historic Properties" neighborhood has undergone improvements to become a picturesque pedestrian precinct of 19th-century stone warehouses and former port facilities that are now utilized as cheerful stores, artist studios, as well as restaurants that have terraces overseeing the harbor.

On the streets, normal traffic is not permitted. The square between two warehouses has been covered, resulting in an equally attractive mall. A romantic place to stroll on a summer evening is the port, where there are outdoor cafes and lively maritime music playing. Throughout the day, there are restaurants serving fresh seafood, boats to view, and shops to explore.

Pier 21 National Historic Site

Pier 21 National Historic Site

Pier 21 saw more than a million immigrants enter Canada between 1928 and 1971 when it operated as the immigration shed. The interpretive center's exhibits focus on the immigrant experience, from leaving one's country of origin to integrating into a new one.

All ages are interested in the personal accounts of immigrants from all over the world as they left their homes and came to start new lives in Canada thanks to interactive exhibits. Children can dress up in historical attire, pretend to cross the Atlantic in a ship's cabin model, and ride on a train that brought immigrants to their new homes in the west. The windows provide fantastic views of the lighthouse on Georges Island. Fresh local food is available at the neighboring Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market. There is a picnic area on the roof that is available every day.

Peggy's Cove

On the wild Atlantic coast, 43 kilometres southwest of Halifax, is a stunning little bay known as Peggy's Cove. Granite boulders surround a small bay that has colorful dwellings along its edge and is bordered by a raging ocean. Even on a gorgeous day with low wind, the waters surrounding here are dangerous and prone to rogue waves. So pay attention to the cautions and stay away from the wet pebbles.

The magnificent ensemble is completed by Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, one of Canada's most photographed lighthouses and one of Nova Scotia's most well-known landmarks. Due to the area's popularity, you may expect it to be crowded with tourists; try visiting early in the morning or late in the day after the inevitable tour buses have already left. Despite being known as a must-see location, Peggy's Cove is a lively little fishing village.

229 people were killed when a Swissair plane crashed into the water close to Peggy's Cove in September 1998.

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Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

With its collection of miniature boats, model ships, pictures, and nautical artifacts, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic provides visitors with an inside view of Halifax Harbor. The Titanic disaster and Halifax's role as the port where the survivors were taken are two of its most well-liked displays.

Sea life and historical vessels, small craft boatbuilding, World War II Convoys, the Days of Sail to the Age of Steam, as well as historic occurrences like the enormous Halifax Explosion in 1917 that destroyed the city, are all the subjects of exhibits. The museum offers a variety of interactive experiences, art programs, and performances in addition to its static displays.

CSS Acadia and HMCS Sackville

CSS Acadia and HMCS Sackville

The first ship created particularly to survey Canada's northern waterways was the Canadian Scientific Ship CSS Acadia, which is currently berthed at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. It was built for the Canadian hydrographic service in 1913. Her career, however, went far beyond studying the Hudson Bay's ice-covered seas.

The only ship that is still floating today that was damaged in the 1917 Halifax Explosion while serving as a guard ship in Halifax Harbor is Acadia. The only surviving ship to have served in both world wars for the Royal Canadian Navy is Acadia, which was recommissioned as a warship in 1939 and served as a patrol ship and training ship throughout the conflict.

The HMCS Sackville, the last surviving Flower Class corvette in the world, is not a component of the museum but is berthed nearby and interesting to anyone interested in ships or naval history. The Sackville, a Canadian Naval Memorial that has been restored to its pre-war state, serves as both a museum and a memorial to those who perished in the Battle of the Atlantic.

This is Canada's oldest fighting warship and one of many convoy escort vessels constructed in Canada and the UK during World War II. Halifax is a suitable choice because it served as a key assembly site for the convoys.

Halifax Public Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens

The seven-hectare park where the Halifax Public Gardens are located first welcomed visitors in 1867. The gardens, which feature an elegant bandstand, fountains, statues, and formal flower beds, are a good illustration of Victorian gardening.

The garden ponds serve as a haven for ducks and other wildlife. In addition to Sunday afternoon performances in the bandstand from mid-June to mid-September, the garden offers free weekly tours that highlight its history and plant life. The entry is marked by large iron gates on Spring Garden Road.

Province House

The seat of Nova Scotia's Parliament, which has existed since 1758, is in Province House, a Georgian sandstone structure that was finished in 1819. The "Red Chamber," where the Council previously convened, as well as the parliament building and the library - which boasts two great staircases - were all included in the guided tour.

Here, Joseph Howe defended himself against the accusation of slander in 1835. It is thought that his acquittal marked the start of a free press in Nova Scotia. Later, he entered politics and spearheaded the opposition to confederation, but he eventually joined the dominion administration in Ottawa.

Harbor Cruise

Harbor Cruise

It would be a shame to visit Halifax and miss seeing it as so many people first saw it—approaching from the sea, the ramparts of the Citadel towering over the old harbour. This water vista can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. On the tugboat Theodore, you may enjoy a harbour tour; on the 40-meter Tall Ship Silva, you can sail through it while you help lift the sails.

The Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry, the second-oldest ferry in the world after the Mersey Ferry in Liverpool, England, is the oldest saltwater ferry in North America. It is still the quickest way to go from Halifax to the town of Dartmouth, which is located on the other side of the bay.

While in Dartmouth, you should check out Quaker House, the sole remaining residence of the Quaker whalers who settled there in 1785, as well as the Shearwater Museum of Aviation, which houses a collection of exquisitely restored vintage planes, aviation artifacts, and a flight simulator where you can practice your flying abilities.

On a 130-foot schooner that is part of a Tall Ship Silva Sailing Cruise, you may help hoist the sails and even take a turn at the helm if you'd rather have a guided tour of the harbor. Or simply relax while learning about Halifax's maritime past as you sail past the Harbour Bridge, Fort George, McNab's Island, and Point Pleasant Park.

The Halifax Harbour Hopper Tour, which transports you around the key landmarks on land and water in an amphibious Vietnam War vehicle, is a unique way to explore the city's sights.

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Point Pleasant Park

Point Pleasant Park

Point Pleasant Park, located on the southernmost point of the city peninsula, is among the most beautiful spots to stroll in Halifax. Tall trees, winding trails, and stunning vistas of Halifax Harbour and the North West Arm are all aspects of this natural environment. Vehicle access is prohibited.

Numerous wartime artifacts and historical relics can be found inside the park. Prince Edward constructed the Prince of Wales Tower, a circular stone tower, in 1796. It was the first "Martello Tower" of its kind in North America.

The primary concept was to construct a fortified unit with gun mountings, a storehouse, and living quarters for the soldiers within extremely thick stone walls, with the only entrance being a retractable ladder to the first floor.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

The largest art museum in the Atlantic provinces is the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, located in the heart of Halifax. The museum houses a permanent collection of more than 13,000 works of visual art from the Maritimes and other parts of the world.

Maud Lewis, a folk artist from Nova Scotia, is the subject of a substantial exhibition, and the museum has a collection of her colorfully painted shed-sized home. The gallery also hosts fantastic temporary exhibitions that cover a variety of subjects, such as the artwork of the newest artists in the province or artists' greeting cards.

McNabs and Lawlor Island Provincial Park

McNabs and Lawlor Island Provincial Park

The McNabs and Lawlor Island Provincial Park is situated at Halifax Harbour's entrance. Visitors arrive at this natural region via ferry boat where they may go hiking, bird watching, or learn a little history. Lawlor Island is not accessible to the general public, but McNab Island has Fort McNab, a national historic site, and 400 acres of a woodland area.

Summer houses, the lighthouse at Maugers Beach, and a long-abandoned teahouse that is currently being repaired to serve as the island's hub for outdoor education and community activities are all examples of heritage structures.

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Halifax Public Gardens

The Halifax Public Gardens are a peaceful haven in the middle of the city and a perfect place to unwind, people-watch, and have a treat from the on-site cafe, Uncommon Grounds. It is one of the oldest Victorian gardens in North America and has been open to the public since Canada's confederation in 1867. Weddings and photo shoot commonly use its impeccably maintained lawns and gardens as a backdrop. The walks in this area are lined with flowers and plants from all climates. Expect to encounter a wide variety of plants, including cacti in the desert, tall trees, and fragrant roses.

Discovery Centre

discovery centre

One of Halifax's top family-friendly attractions is the interactive science museum, which offers four levels of engaging, hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages. Check out the Innovation Lab for some experimentation, the Dome Theatre for live performances, and the Featured Exhibit Gallery for frequently changing installations and events. Live science demonstrations and the Ocean Gallery, where youngsters can learn more about the ocean and have the opportunity to interact with local sea life, are two more favorites. The Halifax waterfront is only a short stroll from the Discovery Center.

Emera Oval

The new ice skating rink at the Halifax Commons, which was initially constructed for the Canada Games in 2011, won the hearts of Haligonians, who decided to make it permanent. You can enjoy skating while listening to music in the winter and then warm up with a hot chocolate and a famous Beaver Tail. Rent a bike or use roller skates to visit the rink during the summer. All seasons are open at the Oval. You should check online before going because there are specified periods during the day and evening when public skating is given for free.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

The first structure in Halifax was St. Paul's Church, which was established in 1749. Although it is still a place of worship on Sundays, outsiders are more likely to go there to see the Face in the Window, a ghostly silhouette left by the Halifax Explosion in 1917. According to legend, one of the church's deacons' profile was permanently engraved onto one of the windows as a result of the explosion's extreme light and heat. The church also houses an outstanding archive, and anyone interested in history who wants to schedule an appointment is welcome.

Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market

The Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market is the oldest continually operating market in North America and is open seven days a week. The market is especially active on Saturdays when all of the stalls are open and a large number of tourists and residents attend. Stock up on coffee, snacks, and mementos, then relax on the rooftop balcony to take in the harbor view. Norbert's Good Food comes highly recommended if you're seeking for a great place to eat breakfast. The Halifax Brewery Farmers' Market, located in the famed Brewery Square, is another well-known market in Halifax.

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Neptune Theatre

Neptune Theatre

The largest professional theatre in Atlantic Canada, Neptune Theatre has been operating since 1915. The theatre, which has two stages, presents a range of plays and musicals, including works by Canadian and local playwrights. The season lasts from the middle of September until the end of May, however, it frequently extends well into July. Cats, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, and Mary Poppins are some of the previous productions. The theatre frequently offers a "pay what you can" program in order to make performances more accessible to the community. Ticket costs vary.

Halifax Central Library

A library might seem like a weird draw, but after you see the structure, you'll understand why it made the list. The spectacular five-level glass skyscraper, which was unveiled in 2014, is the second project in Canada by Schmidt Hammer Lassen, who also built the new Highlands Branch Library in Edmonton. It symbolizes the diversity and modern living in the Halifax region. There are two cafes, a rooftop patio, and frequent free activities held in the downtown library.

Halifax lodging options for sightseeing

The area directly downtown, close to Halifax's beautiful port and a historical quarter, is the greatest spot to stay. The Maritime Museum, Province House, and Pier 21 National Historic Site are just a few of the important sights that are close by and are easily accessible on foot. The renowned Citadel Hill sits directly behind. The following hotels have excellent reviews and are in wonderful areas:

Luxury lodging:

  • The upscale Prince George Hotel is located downtown, just one block from the Citadel Hill stairs, and it offers first-rate service and luxurious suites, some of which have harbor views. The Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel is the only hotel located immediately on Halifax's waterfront. This hotel is located right on the harbor promenade and offers accommodations with breathtaking views of the water.
  • The lovely Westin Nova Scotian, originally constructed in the 1930s, is nearby the train station and close to the water.

Midrange lodging:

  • Suites at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Halifax-Downtown have full kitchens, separate sitting areas, nice views, and free breakfast.
  • One block from the waterfront, The Hollis Halifax, a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, offers spacious suites and an expansive indoor pool.
  • The Halliburton is a great option for a boutique hotel. Three historic townhouses that have been transformed into 29 lovely rooms, some with fireplaces, make up the hotel.

Cheap hotels:

  • Near the outskirts of the city are the most affordable options. The Coastal Inn, with its spacious, light rooms and a decent selection of eateries around, is located about 10 minutes from the center of town in the Bayer's Lake region.
  • The Comfort Inn is also just a short drive from the city center. This hotel boasts an indoor pool and a lovely view of Bedford Basin. The hotel's back offers access to a hiking path that travels through Hemlock Ravine Park.

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