North America > Canada > Atlantic Canada > Nova Scotia > Halifax Region > Halifax
- For other places with the same name, see Halifax (disambiguation).
Halifax 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.
Halifax is the provincial and regional hub of Nova Scotia. It is, however, a small city by North American standards (2016 pop. 425,900). 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 area around Halifax has been inhabited by native Mi'kmaq for millennia. Modern Halifax was founded on June 21, 1749 as a British military outpost. Easily defended and featuring the world's second largest natural harbour, Halifax proved its worth during the Seven Years' War against the French and later in the American Revolutionary War, and as the base grew in size and importance, a significant population of merchants and other civilians sprung up in its wake.
On December 6, 1917, the collision of a munitions ship loaded with 2,500 tons of explosives resulted in the Halifax Explosion, which killed over 2,000 people and levelled the northern half of the city.
The city was quickly rebuilt, and during World War II Halifax was busier than ever, with British supply convoys assembling to start their perilous journey across the Atlantic as German U-boats lurked offshore. After the war, over a million immigrants to Canada passed through Halifax.
The city of Halifax is on Halifax Peninsula, on the west side of the harbour, with Dartmouth to the east. The main landmark is the Halifax Citadel, on a high hill above the city, and it divides the city into three districts: the South End, representing the older, wealthier urban core south of the Citadel; the North End, the grittier northern suburbs destroyed by the Explosion; and the largely residential West End. The downtown core is sandwiched between the Citadel and the sea, making navigation a snap. Inhabitants of the city are known as Haligonians.
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Extreme cold or hot temperatures are rare, as Halifax is located next to the ocean. Also the Gulf Stream helps making the winters milder. Typical for an oceanic climate at these latitudes, there will be a lot of rain or snow throughout the year. Summer and early autumn are weather-wise the best seasons to visit the city. In the autumn months hurricanes affecting the North American east coast may occasionally move all the way up to Halifax.
- 1 Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre (Waterfront), 1655 Lower Water St (On boardwalk, at Sackville Landing), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 8:30AM-8PM daily.
- Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre (Airport), Halifax Stanfield International Airport (in the domestic arrivals area on the main level), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-9PM daily.
- 1 Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport (YHZ IATA) (located 35 km north of Halifax). It is the biggest airport in the maritime provinces, with direct flights from Toronto, Montreal, New York, Chicago, Ottawa, Calgary, Boston, Philadelphia, London, and limited service to a number of regional and holiday destinations. Direct connections to Europe are provided by Air Canada (London-Heathrow), Europe Airpost (Dublin: seasonal), Condor (Frankfurt/Main, May–October only), Canadian Affair and Icelandair (short stopover in Reykjavik).
- If you need a taxi to get to the airport; then you should be search for Halifax Airport Taxi online on any search engine or social media account. They refer to a Cab as a Taxi in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
MetroX Route 320 is the only public transit connection between the airport and city, and the most affordable option. It is an express bus service to downtown Halifax with only two intermediate stops in Fall River and Dartmouth (Bridge Terminal). The total journey time is 55 minutes and the fare is $3.50 one-way. It runs on 30-minute frequencies on-peak and 60 minutes off-peak, with the first departure from the airport at 5:45AM and the last 12:15AM.
Upon boarding you should ask the driver for a "transfer", so you can continue your trip on a connecting bus for no extra charge. A transfer is a small slip of paper that you can show the driver of the next bus as proof of payment. You can change buses in Dartmouth or Halifax, or call a cab from either bus stop.
The Bridge Terminal in Dartmouth is a convenient and comfortable place to change buses. It has an indoor waiting area with a concessions kiosk, public washroom, and transit information. From the Bridge Terminal, Route 1 goes straight to downtown Halifax and the Spring Garden Road area. It may be crowded during peak hours.
Route 320's final stop, in downtown Halifax, is located on Albemarle Street. It is within walking distance to certain hotels including the Delta Halifax, Delta Barrington, Prince George Hotel, Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites. Otherwise, Albemarle Street is somewhat out-of-the-way and you may want to call a cab to reach your final destination. If you are unencumbered by heavy luggage and wish to transfer to other buses you should walk down the hill to the bus stop in front of Duke Tower (for buses toward Quinpool Road) or to the Scotia Square Terminal on Barrington Street (for buses toward the south end, Spring Garden Road, and the universities).
Taxis and limousines charge a flat rate of $63 from the airport to Halifax city centre and may be pre-booked at no extra charge.
The 2 VIA Rail train station – located in the south end of Halifax at 1161 Hollis Street, directly next to the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel – is the terminus for train services to Montreal (via New Brunswick). The full trip to Montreal takes 22 hours. There are three per week (W F Su 6:45PM) for $150-285 (Moncton is $43-77, 4hr20min).
Halifax is connected to the rest of Canada by provincial highways 102 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. The drive from Halifax to the New Brunswick border takes about two hours, and there is a $4 toll at the Cobequid Pass. Going east on 104 takes you to Cape Breton or, alternatively, the ferry to Prince Edward Island.
For connections to other parts of Nova Scotia, provincial highways 101, 103 and 7 are the most direct options. Highway 101 connects Halifax to Yarmouth via the Annapolis Valley, Highway 103 connects Halifax to Yarmouth via the South Shore, and Highway 7 connects the Halifax Region with the Eastern Shore and Antigonish.
- 3 Maritime Bus, 1161 Hollis St, ☏ . Operates an inter-regional bus service between destinations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Maine, with connections to major cities in Quebec and Ontario. Stops made in Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford and Lower Sackville. Charlottetown (PEI) is 2/day with a switch at Amherst ($58.25+tax, 5hr30min). Moncton (NB) is 3/day ($49+tax, 4hr10min).
A ferry service also operates between Halifax and Dartmouth. It is a great boat ride, especially on clear summer days, considering the $2.50 charged.
Carnival Cruise Lines and other major cruise lines operate cruises to Halifax.
Halifax sprawls somewhat. Public transit is limited 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 time frame, a car rental will significantly open up the surrounding area.
There are 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), barring a no U-turn sign.
It's very important that you give buses the right of way, give them enough room to turn in intersections, and avoid passing them on one-lane streets like Barrington.
4 Halifax Transit. Halifax Transit (formerly called Metro Transit) is the public transit provider for the municipality, encompassing Halifax and surrounding areas. The fare gives you access to all buses and ferries, excluding the long-distance commuter buses marked MetroLink and MetroX. Transfer tickets are free, are valid for 90 minutes, and can be used at any bus stop or ferry terminal (i.e. return journeys are possible on one fare). The agency has teamed up with Google to provide an online trip planner through Google Maps, however all transit maps and schedules can be found on their website as well. Cash fares: adult or student $2.50, senior or child $1.75.
There are a number of taxi services in the city, although flagging a taxi 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 catching a cab back from downtown after last call may be difficult. If you need a taxi to get to the airport then your best luck would be search Halifax Airport Taxi on any search engine or social media account. They refer to a Cab as a Taxi in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- 1 The Halifax Citadel. An old fort on a hill overlooking the city and the harbour. 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. The museum is open only May-Oct, but the grounds are open all year around (for free in this case). The famous 'Noon-Gun' fires at noon every day of the year (except Christmas) as it has since the 1830s. Visitors are welcome to watch the firings at any point through the year. Adult $11.70, senior $10, youth $5.80. Fees are about one-third lower in May and mid-Sept to the end of October.
- 2 Pier 21 (Canadian Museum of Immigration), 1055 Marginal Rd, ☏ . May-Oct: 9:30AM-5:30PM daily; Nov: 9:30AM-5PM daily; Dec-Mar: Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM; Apr: M-Sa 10AM-5PM. Canada's equivalent of New York's Ellis Island, this historic waterfront building processed over a million immigrants. Now converted into a modern museum with extensive exhibits related to Canadian immigration. Typical visit 90 minutes including 30-minute film and 30-minute free guided tour. $10 adults, $8.75 seniors (60+), $7 students (w/ ID), $5.75 children (6-16), free for children under 5. Family rate $25 (two adults, three children, additional children $3 each).
- 3 The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, 1675 Lower Water Street (on the downtown waterfront), ☏ . The collection includes exhibits and artifacts related to the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the devastating 1917 Halifax explosion. The CSS Acadia, 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. Also, behind the museum is the HMCS Sackville, the last remaining Flower Class escort Corvettes from the convoys of World War II (also open for guided and non guided tours)
- 4 Old Burying Ground, Barrington St and Spring Garden Rd. The graveyard was in use from 1749 to 1843 and there are moderately informative plaques and signs throughout.
- 5 St. Paul's Anglican Church (Historic St. Paul's on the Grand Parade), 1749 Argyle St (across the street from the Old Burial Grounds), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. open to the public for self-directed visits from 9AM-4:30PM. St. Paul's is the oldest building in Halifax and the oldest existing Protestant place of worship in Canada. Founded by proclamation of King George II in 1749, the building was erected in the summer of 1750. On September 2, 1750 the Reverend William Tutty held the first service inside what was, according to Mr. Tutty, "not completely fitted up". The architectural plans were based on St. Peter's Church, Vere Street, London which was designed in 1722 by James Gibbs, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren. The resemblance between the two churches is remarkable despite the addition of St. Paul's vestibule and steeple, 1812, the side wings, 1868, and the chancel, 1872. The timbers of St. Paul's were cut in Saco, Maine and shipped to Halifax. Most of the materials including the bricks to line the walls were made locally. Over 2½ centuries later, the original wooden structure remains as sound as the day it was built. Charles Inglis, first overseas Bishop of the Church of England, arrived in 1787 making St. Paul's his cathedral. Until the construction of a garrison chapel in 1844, St. Paul's was also the first garrison church in Halifax. Free.
- 6 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1723 Hollis St, ☏ . Tu-W F Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-9PM, Su noon-5PM. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is 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 website for travelling exhibitions. $12 adults, $10 seniors 60+, $7 students, $5 youth 6-17, $25 families (2 adults and 3 youth), children 5 and under free. Free for everyone Th after 5PM.
- 7 Province House, 1726 Hollis St, ☏ . Jul-Aug: M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su and holidays 10AM-4PM; rest of year M-F 9AM-4PM. Home to Canada's oldest provincial legislature and of Britain's first overseas self-government. A fine example of Georgian architecture, the building was 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. Free.
- 8 Halifax Central Library, 5440 Spring Garden Rd at Queen St, ☏ . M-Th 9AM-9PM; F Sa 9AM-6PM; Su noon-6PM. After decades of planning, the new Central Library finally opened in December 2014. The striking architecture, said to resemble a stack of books, garnered international attention. The building is unique in Halifax for its bold modernity, standing in attractive contrast to the stately School of Architecture and Planning building next door. Visitors can enjoy a bite at the cafes housed within, peruse the local history section, and enjoy views of Citadel Hill and Halifax Harbour from the freely accessible rooftop patio. Free.
- 9 Discovery Centre, 1215 Lower Water St, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Halifax science centre covers several aspects of science in a playful way, thanks to its hands-on exhibitions. There are sections dedicated to space, flight, ocean, and energy. It is mainly conceived as a museum for children, but adults as well will find interesting things to do. Most of the exhibits are hands-on and use some sort of technological support. $12 Adults; $10 Children & Seniors.
- 10 Halifax Public Gardens, Spring Garden Rd and South Park St. A beautiful Victorian-era garden occupying a large city block. There are ponds, flowers, ducks, geese, and sometimes music in the gazebo. Free.
- 11 Point Pleasant Park (most southern point of the city's main peninsula, Bus 9). Dawn to dusk. 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 remains a popular place to walk dogs and stroll. The park contains some preserved historic military fortifications such the 18th-century Martello tower, and ruins of several other fortifications. Free.
- 12 York Redoubt. Parking and washrooms: June 25-Sep 4 (Labour Day): daily 8 AM-8PM. Pedestrians may continue to access the site throughout the remainder of the year when the fortification will be closed to vehicles. Parking is available outside the gate. A sprawling complex of forts from 1790s to 1940s. Plan to spend hours exploring tunnels, caves, cliffs, cannons, bunkers, trails, and views of the harbour. 1-hour bus ride from downtown. Free.
- 13 Halifax Common, Quinpool and Robie. A large public space open to everyone. In the summer, you can find residents and visitors playing sports, picnicking, and exercising. A permanent skating oval has been installed for public use.
- 1 Waterfront. A boardwalk with a great variety of historic buildings, shops, restaurants, and other entertainment. Theodore Tugboat, a World War II-era Corvette, and other ships line the harbour. During the summer months, there are many harbour boat tours that launch from here.
- Harbour Hopper. Guided tour of Halifax and harbour in an amphibious vehicle. Very informative and highlights major points of interest in the city in fun-filled hour.
- 2 Boat Tours, ☏ . Open seven days a week May-October. Murphy's the Cable Wharf is in the heart of the Halifax waterfront and offers a variety of boat tours including nature and whale watching, tall ship sailing, deep sea fishing, historical harbour tours and dinner cruises.
- 3 Canoe the Northwest Arm (St. Mary's Boat Club), 1641 Fairfield Road (off Jubilee), ☏ . Sa Su 11AM-7PM. 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. While swimming in parts of the harbour was briefly possible due to the installation of sewage treatment plants, they are down for repair and swimming is again not recommended unless a trip to hospital after is desired. Rent a canoe for $8/hour.
- 4 Watch ice hockey. The Halifax Mooseheads Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team plays from October to April at the Scotiabank Centre. Rough, highly-skilled games are combined with a near-NHL level of presentation. See Ice hockey in North America for context. Tickets are $8-15, and are available at the Metro Centre box office..
- 5 Halifax Hurricanes basketball. Halifax's National Basketball League of Canada team plays from November to March at the Scotiabank Centre. With many of the players coming from NBA teams, or from U Sports (Canadian university) or NCAA Division I (US college/university) teams, the Halifax Hurricanes will be Nova Scotia's only professional sports team until the 2019 launch of HFX Wanderers (below). Tickets are available at the Scotiabank Centre box office.
- 6 HFX Wanderers FC, Wanderers Grounds. Coming in 2019: professional soccer. HFX Wanderers will begin play as one of the founding members of the Canadian Premier League. The team will play in a new stadium being built at the Wanderers Grounds near downtown.
- 7 Alexander Keith's Brewery Tour, 1475 Hollis Street. Immersive tour of Alexander Keith's original brewery as it supposedly was in 1863, complete with tour guide actors in period garb singing songs, dancing jigs, relaying a bit of the history of the brewery and Keith himself, and promoting the crisp, refreshing taste of Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale. You do get the chance to sample two mugs of the stuff at the end. Tours on the hour and half-hour but limited opening hours outside summer, check the website for details. If you are an Air Miles collector, you can redeem your miles here for free tickets.
- 8 Dartmouth Ferry. The Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry dates back to 1752. For the same cost as bus fare, one can take the ferry back and forth between Dartmouth and Halifax. Make sure to get a transfer (valid for 90 minutes), so you can return on the same ticket. $2.50.
- Hiking Trails. Halifax has lots of the great outdoors. Scenic urban parks, protected areas, and coastline trails are all close to the city. Some are well known, others are off the beaten track, all are beautiful.
- 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.
- The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Happening every July, the Tattoo is the world's largest annual indoor show. Its unique combination of music, dance, drama, gymnastics, comedy, military displays, and competitions.
- Tall Ships Festival. Every few years, Halifax hosts up to 30 historic and unique (and usually massive) maritime sailing vessels from around the world. The next festival has not yet been scheduled.
- Culinary Tasting tour. Jun-Oct $30-60.
Halifax is home to three major universities. Students make up a significant proportion of the population in certain neighbourhoods.
- Spread over three campuses, Dalhousie University is the largest educational institution in Nova Scotia. With 15,000 undergraduates and a broad range of graduate and professional programs, Dalhousie is one of Canada's leading universities.
- Located in the south end of the city, Saint Mary's University 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, a smaller university with a focus on undergraduate studies, and professional programs including those in teaching and public relations.
Other educational institutions include:
- Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. A university offering programs and degrees related to the visual arts and design.
- 2 University of King's College, ☏ . The oldest chartered University in Canada, King's is small liberal arts university on the Halifax peninsula. Affiliated with Dalhousie University, King's is known for its journalism programs.
- Nova Scotia Community College. Has a number of campuses in the Halifax area.
- The head of the world-wide Buddhist Shambhala organization is in Halifax. The Halifax Shambala Centre offers courses in Buddhism, particularly methods related to the Shambhala tradition.
- Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. Provides performing arts education for children and adults.
- Atlantic School of Theology. An ecumenical Christian theological university.
The military is the largest employer in the region. The city is home to Maritime Forces Atlantic HQ 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 a 10- to 15-min travel time to the airport.
- 1 Barrington Street (between Cogswell and Morris). Barrington Street is an up-and-coming area in the heart of the Central Business District. Beautiful buildings mixed with the growing number of new stores make this definitely a nice place to 'hit up'.
- 2 Brewery Farmers' Market, 1496 Lower Water St. This was the site of the Halifax Farmers' Market prior to its relocation to the newly constructed Seaport building at Pier 20. However, some vendors have remained or have opened a second location here open Saturdays from 7AM-1PM.
- 3 Quinpool Road (between Connaught and Robie). Quinpool Road is lined with streets selling bicycles, tropical fish, dresses, movies, and more. The definite Main Street of Central Halifax.
- 4 Seaport Farmers' Market, 1209 Marginal Rd. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 7AM-4PM, Su 8AM-4PM. This is the new location of the oldest running farmers' market in North America. The market relocated to this building by the waterfront in 2011 and had brought most of the vendors, customers and energy with it. It runs year-round. Saturdays are by far the busiest with the most vendors, but the market is open every day of the week. Along with local produce, milk, bread, meat, and preserves, you'll find a diversity of local and ethnic prepared foods, plants, artwork, clothing, and all sorts of other interesting stuff that you may not expect for find at a Farmers' Market. Buskers play music both inside and out of the building.
- 5 Spring Garden Road (between Barrington and Robie). Definitely the city's main shopping district and is full of all kinds of unique stores and in buildings from all kinds of eras. Definitely very lively and a must see!
- 6 Black Market Boutique, 1545 Grafton St, ☏ . M-W 10AM-6PM, Th-Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A variety of interesting trinkets, accessories, textiles and items from around the world.
- 7 Bookmark, 5686 Spring Garden Rd, ☏ . M-F 9AM-10PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 11AM-6PM. The last independent general interest (new) bookstore on the peninsula. A huge selection in a small space; special orders are their specialty.
- 8 Canook Trading, 1669 Barrington St, ☏ . M-W 10AM-6PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-5PM. High-end clothing made and designed in Canada.
- 9 Dress in Time, 5670 Spring Garden Rd. Often referred to wrongly as Dressed in Time, located in the district of Spring Garden Road, sells quality vintage, quirky, and unique clothing at reasonable prices.
- 10 Fifty Hats, 1086 Queen Street. A humble and interesting collection of used items. (Hats are in particular abundance!)
- 11 Freak Lunchbox, 1729 Barrington St, ☏ . Su-Th 10AM-11PM, F-Sa 10AM-midnight (open at 9AM M-Sa during summer). A quirky and unique store with an array of candy (by weight), unique and hilarious trinkets.
- 12 Mary Jane's Smoke Shop, 1549 Grafton St, ☏ . M-W Sa 10AM-8PM, Th-F 10AM-9PM, Su noon-6PM. Small head shop on Grafton Street.
- 13 Rock Candy, 5189 Prince Street. An assortment of especially rock- and pop-related music items: shirts, pins, stickets, buttons, and more.
- 14 Strange Adventures, 5110 Prince St, ☏ . M-Tu Th-F 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-8PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM. Quirky store that sells comics, toys, board games, et al.
- 15 Sugah!, Lower Water Street. A unique chocolate store selling a variety of interesting treats.
- 16 Venus Envy, 1598 Barrington St. Specializes in books and other items pertaining to gender and sexuality.
Seafood is generally not much cheaper in the Maritimes than elsewhere and many restaurants in Halifax specialize in seafood dishes. The exception to seafood being the same price in Nova Scotia are 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 (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, as are hearty eats like fish and chips or seafood chowder. Lobster in a restaurant will be expensive, so your best cheap bets are to buy one at the store and cook one yourself, or attend any of the numerous lobster dinners that are hosted by churches and community groups throughout the warmer months. Buying lobster from the various fishermans markets or directly from the fisherman themselves (who will often sell street side out of a car) will get you the best deal.
A plethora of foods that are native to Nova Scotia are easy to find in Halifax: one is the Halifax donair, which is similar to but distinct from the Turkish doner kebab. It is prepared using thinly sliced beef meatloaf and a sweet condensed milk garlic sauce and garnished with diced tomatoes and white onions. Other specialties include hodge podge (a creamy soup of fresh baby vegetables; rarely found in restaurants); blueberry grunt (blueberry baked with a sweet dumpling topping); and deep fried pepperoni (a bar snack often dipped in honey mustard sauce). Restaurants in Halifax and indeed Atlantic Canada offer a donair pizza featuring all the Halifax donair ingredients served on a pizza crust. In addition, one can normally find donair meat used in such offerings as donair sausage; donair egg rolls (an egg roll casing stuffed with donair meat); donair pogos (donair meat on a stick, battered and deep-fried, similar to a corn dog); donair calzones/panzerottis; and in donair poutine (an Atlantic adaptation of the Quebec snack dish). It is customary for bar and pub-goers to flock to pizzerias once all the bars, clubs, and pubs close on Friday and Saturday nights for a bite of pizza, or especially donair.
Garlic fingers are an Atlantic Canadian dish similar to a pizza in shape and size and made with the same type of dough. Instead of the traditional tomato sauce and toppings, garlic fingers consist of pizza dough topped with garlic butter, parsley, and cheese, cooked until the cheese is melted. Bacon bits are sometimes added. They are typically eaten as a side dish with pizza and often dipped in donair or marinara sauce. They are presented in thin strips (or "fingers") as opposed to triangular slices.
Garlic fingers and the Halifax donair are relatively unknown outside the Maritimes, but can sometimes be found in restaurants in other provinces.
Many of the cheap eats in town are along Spring Garden Road. Also consider local pubs (see Drink), many of which serve up great food.
- 1 Trident Café, 1256 Hollis St, ☏ . Pick up any book to read in this bookshop café, then either purchase it or put it back. Beans are roasted in store twice a week.
- 2 Steve-O-Reno's, 1536 Brunswick St (Just off Spring Garden Road on Brunswick), ☏ . Open 'til 6PM every day. Specialty coffees, teas, cold drinks, and baked goods. Get there before 1PM and order an 'Egg-O-Reno' breakfast sandwich, among other prepared fare.
- 3 The Ardmore Tea Room, 6499 Quinpool Rd. 4AM-8PM. Virtually unchanged since 1956, and often voted the best diner in Halifax, and quite cheap. In addition to standard diner fare, they have a few Atlantic favourites such as "Newfoundland Steak" (a.k.a. fried baloney), and cod fish cakes with baked beans for breakfast.
- 4 Pizza Corner (intersection of Blowers Street & Grafton Street). 3 different pizza restaurants at corner of Blowers and Grafton. Good cheap pizza and donairs. However, this area can descend into anarchy when the bars let out, and the restaurants often lock their washrooms, even to customers. If you are looking for a more authentic pizza taste head up Gottingen or Agricola into Little Italy, where numerous "mum and pop" places abound.
- 5 Hala's Pizza and Donair, 117 Kearney Lake Rd (Wedgewood Plaza), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM. A charming and cosy pizza restaurant. Takes pride in its homemade dishes.
- 6 The Coastal Café, 2731 Robie St, ☏ . Chef/owner Mark Giffin prepares unbelievable breakfasts, lunches and baked goods with a complete selection of coffees, teas and other non-alcoholic beverages. North End Halifax
- 7 Comfy Corner Café, 1313 Hollis St. Great homestyle breakfast, very friendly staff, great atmosphere.
- 8 Kings Palace, 6140 Quinpool Rd. Chinese food.
- 9 Mexico Lindo, 3635 Dutch Village Rd. Authentic Mexican food.
- 10 [dead link] Shiraz, 1240 Hollis St, ☏ . 11AM-9PM daily. A tiny restaurant set up in an old taxi stand. Great authentic Iranian cuisine at an affordable price. Famous for their hot sauce, a must try with a samosa!
- 11 [dead link] Jincheng Chinese Cuisine, 1569 Dresden Row, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30AM-2PM and 4:30PM-9PM. "This one chef operation turns up the heat downtown with freshly-chopped, family-run, real Sichuan." - The Coast $11-20.
- Tasty Pizza 760 Main S. Low-end pizza place run by a very friendly Lebanese merchant, be sure to quiz him on history for a discount. Pizza is around ($14) for a medium pizza.
- 12 Ko-Doraku Sushi, ☏ . Down a little alley on the citadel end of Dresden Row. Best sushi in the city with a lovely atmosphere and proper inset Japanese tables. Get miso soup, salad, a maki roll and 5 nigiri for only $12 at lunch.
- 13 Fireside Kitchen, 3430 Prescott St, ☏ . Meals are reasonably priced, atmosphere is cosy and everything on the menu is worth eating. The cocktail menu is discounted on Martini Mondays.
- 14 Economy Shoe Shop, 1661-1663 Argyle St. Behind the bizarre name lies a stunningly decorated and sprawing complex incorporating everything from chandeliers to lush indoor gardens. Extensive menu. Go on jazz night (usually Monday) and eat nachos.
- 15 Elements, 1181 Hollis St, ☏ . Located within the Westin Nova Scotian hotel, Elements is the winner of a Wine Spectator 2010 Award of Excellence and features contemporary global cuisine. Elements offers many seasonal menus with fresh, local ingredients.
- 16 The Wooden Monkey, 1707 Grafton St, ☏ . Grafton St. 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.
- 17 Salty's, 1869 Upper Water St (Privateers Wharf), ☏ . Seafood restaurant on the waterfront. Casual patio dining downstairs, fancier setting upstairs. Can get very busy on summer evenings. Reservations recommended.
- 18 [dead link] Heartwood Bakery & Café, 6250 Quinpool Rd. Vegetarian, organic and extremely good. Lunch and dinner menu, soups, salads, entrees, desserts. M-Sa 10AM-8PM.
- 19 Coburg Café, 6085 Coburg Rd (near Dalhousie University). Students come here for group study or just to hang. Great hot chocolate and a $2 mammoth slice of carrot cake.
- 20 Chives Canadian Bistro, 1537 Barrington St, ☏ . 5PM-9:30PM daily. A high-concept restaurant with a daily menu. Serves only seasonal, local ingredients.
- 21 Da Maurizio's, 1496 Lower Water St, ☏ . A world-renowned Italian restaurant located on Lower Water St. inside the Brewery Market.
- 22 Five Fishermen, 1740 Argyle St, ☏ . Grill: M-F 11:30AM-9PM, Sa-Su 4PM-9PM; restaurant: 5PM-9PM daily. Lobster, scallops, and other seafood dishes.
- 23 The Stubborn Goat Gastropub, 1579 Grafton St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa-Su 10:30AM-2AM. Small plates and full meals. Try the deep-fried deviled eggs!
There are a large number of good cafes, pubs, and other eateries all throughout downtown. Of particular note are those on Granville St.
Liquor purchases for private consumption are regulated by the provincially owned liquor monopoly called the NSLC (Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation). Stores can be found in stand-alone locations, malls, and grocery stores. Selection is often surprisingly large, but be prepared to pay: a 12-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 10PM Monday to Saturday and 5PM on Sundays. Stores are closed for 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. Port of Wines and several other micro-breweries are also permitted to sell their products from their outlets.
Until a couple of decades ago, Halifax retained old British laws about the serving of alcoholic beverages. For example, if an establishment served hard liquor, it had to provide live entertainment; if it served draft beer, it also had to serve food. The heritage of those laws is a great deal of live entertainment and some very good deals on "pub food" which is priced low to get people in the door. Most "pub food" originates not far from the grill and deep fryer. Pubs that specialize in traditional-style music have "open mic" nights. Performers who attend will bring in their fiddles and bagpipes to jam---they are paid in drinks and food.
- 1 The Pint Public House, 1575 Argyle St, ☏ .
- 2 Bearly's House of Blues and Ribs, 1269 Barrington Street. A mellow and low-key pub. Great live music!
- 3 East of Grafton, 1580 Argyle St, ☏ . Tavern with pub fare, beer.
- 4 The Foggy Goggle, 2057 Gottingen St, ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa noon-2AM, Su noon-midnight. A relaxed establishment serving local and international beers. Bluegrass night every Wednesday, no cover.
- 5 Gus's Pub, 2605 Agricola St (North End). No-nonsense local pub with hockey on the TV and cheap beer, but they also host a remarkably eclectic selection of local live bands.
- 6 The Halifax Alehouse, 1717 Brunswick St, ☏ . A traditional and popular pub, usually with live music starting at midnight. Features staff in period costumes.
- 7 The Henry House (Formerly known as the Granite Brewery.), 1222 Barrington Street. Offers a wide range of local micro-brewery beer (originally Granite Ales, but now carries a much wider stock). Excellent food in an English pub-type atmosphere.
- 8 The Lower Deck, 1887 Upper Water St (in the waterfront Historic Properties). Has live music reliably, almost seven nights a week usually starting at 9PM. The style of music tends to be popular not traditional. Beautiful interior.
- 9 Maxwell's Plum English Pub, 1600 Grafton St, ☏ . "Pub food" priced food and sixty kinds of imported beer. Voted "Best Beer Selection" the last 4+ years.
- 10 The Old Triangle, 5136 Prince St. A set of three pubs connected by a split level staircase. There is live music in the lower level frequently, starting at 8PM The music style tends to be traditional Irish/Scottish ballad. The "open" night is often surprisingly good.
- 11 The Seahorse Tavern, 2037 Gottingen St, ☏ . Halifax's oldest extant tavern.
- 12 The Split Crow, 1855 Granville St, ☏ . Su-W 11AM-12:30AM, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM. Long-standing pub with late week and weekend entertainment and cheap food. "Power Hour" brings in the crowds for cheaps drinks (2 middies for $5).
- 13 Your Father's Moustache, 5686 Spring Garden Rd, ☏ . Su-W 10AM-midnight, Th-Sa 10AM-1AM. For a good atmosphere and decently priced food.
- 14 Dome/Cheers, Grafton St. Also known as the Dirty Dome. Two establishments linked together. Customers pay cover at the doors to one of the two bars and gain access to both. Cheers is a bar atmosphere which features live bands. The Dome is a standard nightclub with a large dance floor, famous for cheap drinks and infamous for brawls. Wednesdays are student nights, with cover waived if you show a student card.
- 15 Pacifico, 1505 Barrington St (entrance on Salter St at Granville St), ☏ . F-Sa 9PM-2AM. A relatively more up-scale establishment, catering to a diverse crowd.
- 16 Reflections Cabaret, 5184 Sackville St, ☏ . M Th-Sa 10PM-3:30AM. A busy club, catering especially to the LGBT community. Their busiest night, by far, is Saturday where the cover charge enters the double digits. Electronic, techno and house mix, depending on the night.
- 17 [dead link] Taboo, 1739 Grafton St, ☏ . F-Sa 11PM-3:30AM. This is Halifax's most upscale nightclub with a strict dress-code and expensive drink menu. However, if you're looking for a place that attracts a classier crowd than the Dome or the Palace then Taboo is a must see.
Craft breweries and distilleries
Many of the local craft producers have rooms or patios where you can enjoy their products on-site.
- Garrison Brewing, 1149 Marginal Road (across the street from the Seaport Farmers' Market), ☏ . Summer: Su–Th 10AM–7PM, F 10AM–8PM, Sa 8AM–8PM. Brewers of fine beers and makers of fine craft nonalcohol sodas.
- Halifax Distilling Co., 1668 Lower Water Street (across the road from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic), ☏ . Rum distilled on-premises, in white, gold, spiced, and black varieties (and a "cream" liqueur). The rum is available in bottles on-premises or at the NSLC, under the "J.D. Shore" label.
- 1 Halifax Backpacker's Hostel, 2193 Gottingen St, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Easily accessible by train or bus, this hostel offers rooms starting from $20. Free internet service and free towel rentals available. Located a bit from the "downtown" area. Its location is a bit sketchier, but more authentic. Cafe on the front makes great food. $20 dorms, $57.50 private rooms, $80 family rooms.
- 2 Halifax Heritage House Hostel (HI-Halifax), 1253 Barrington St, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Located in the heart of downtown Halifax, this hostel offers free Wi-Fi to its guests and has a kitchen. The hostel is easily accessed by bus, metro, or train. Dorms at $30 members, $35 non-members. Private rooms at $57-68.
- Dalhousie University Dorm Rooms, ☏ , toll-free: . Dorm and apartment-style accommodation From late May to late August. Limited availability (1 of 2 suites in Howe Hall) during the school year. Single and double accommodations available; doubles contain two single beds. Shared washroom facilities down the halls, free high-speed internet. Check-in is at whichever building you're staying at. Singles $48.50 nightly, $290 weekly; doubles $75 nightly, $448 weekly.
- 7 Mount Saint Vincent University Dorm Rooms, 166 Bedford Hwy, ☏ . Single and double rooms, apartment style accommodations. Available from May 1st to August. Rooms start at $41.
- 8 Coastal Inn, 98 Chain Lake Dr, ☏ , toll-free: . The hotel is comfortably located in the Bayers Lake Business Park. Rooms start from $100 and include breakfast and internet. The hotel also houses an exercise room and indoor pool.
- 9 The Garden South Park Inn, 1263 South Park St, ☏ , toll-free: . This inn is in the heart of downtown Halifax. It consists of 23 air conditioned rooms with private baths. Rooms start from $99 and vary with the season. The friendly staff can help you make reservations and suggest new places to visit.
- 10 Waverley Inn, 1266 Barrington St, ☏ , toll-free: . Unique 19th-century property downtown, filled with antiques. Rooms start from $109, and vary according to the season.
- 11 Four Points by Sheraton, 1496 Hollis St, ☏ . Local calls; high speed internet, both wired and wireless; bottled water; in-room umbrellas. Located in downtown Halifax within walking distance of all major attractions. $150+.
- 12 Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, 1919 Upper Water St, ☏ , toll-free: . Directly connected to Casino Nova Scotia by indoor skyway, the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel offers unique restaurants, the exquisite full-service Interlude Spa and spectacular views of the Halifax Harbour. $169+.
- 13 The Lord Nelson, 1515 South Park St, ☏ , toll-free: . Lovely views overlooking the Public Gardens just below the Citadel. $169+.
- 14 Prince George, 1725 Market St, ☏ , toll-free: . The Prince George Hotel offers guests 189 rooms. There is a restaurant on the premises. $200+.
- 15 The Westin Nova Scotian, 1181 Hollis St (immediately north of the VIA station), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. One of Canada's grand railway hotels, built by the Canadian National Railway. 310 nicely appointed rooms, many of which overlook the harbour. The Westin also has a shuttle that offers complimentary rides to downtown Halifax.
- 16 Cambridge Suites Hotels Halifax, 1583 Brunswick Street (across the southeast corner from the Halifax Citadel), ☏ , toll-free: . Comfortable, clean rooms with fridge and microwave. Continental-style breakfast is included in the room price, and served until 10AM. There is a small fitness centre (weights, hot tub, and sauna) on the top floor available for use by guests at no extra charge, with an excellent view of the harbour. Guest laundry facilities are available. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the harbour - but, because of the steep slope, not so easy a walk back. They have indoor parking at an additional charge. $200+.
Halifax is a generally safe city, but you should be aware when walking around certain areas of the city at night. The North End, including the Gottingen Street area, is relatively safe by international standards but has something of a rough reputation locally. In most cases, common sense should suffice.
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.
Rapidly changing weather means that black ice abounds in winter, and it's particularly nasty when combined with the city's hilly topography. Choose your steps and drive carefully.
McDonalds and Starbucks on Spring Garden road have free Wifi. The Dalhousie University Killam Library also has computers with internet access open to the public.
Scotia Square has Bell and Telus shops, where prepaid SIM cards can be purchased.
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. In its northwestern corner there are beautiful beaches, such as Queensland, Cleveland, Black Point and others, just before the town of Hubbards. Maybe the best known destination there is Peggys 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. Also the drive along the two-lane coastal Highway 3 is an attraction in itself, twisting and turning through the beautifully scenic landscape it's especially nice on summer days.
Charter flights leave from Halifax to Sable Island, 300 km off shore in the Atlantic Ocean.
You can also fly to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a group of islands south of Newfoundland and Labrador that still belongs to France.
|Routes through Halifax|
|Moncton ← Truro ←||W E||→ END|
|Truro ← Bedford ←||N S||→ END|
|Yarmouth ← Hubley ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Dartmouth → END|
|Truro ← Bedford ←||N S||→ END|
|Yarmouth ← Hubley ← Jct W ←||W E||→ END|