Best Places to Visit in Halifax
Despite the recent skyscrapers, star-shaped hilltop castles still dominate Halifax. The city is not only the capital of Nova Scotia but also the commercial center of Canada’s maritime region. Halifax is an important research center with at least six universities and colleges.
Its beautiful natural harbor cuts deeply into the Atlantic coastline with marinas, marinas, parks and industries along its entire length. The port and maritime history still shape the life of the city, and you’ll find many of Halifax’s activities somehow maritime-related, from a lively entertainment scene filled with sea music to museums and attractions. The sea has a close relationship.
During both world wars, Halifax was a rallying point for convoys – a strategy to get ships across the Atlantic more safely and protect themselves from German U-boats. Arriving to join such a convoy in 1917, the French supply ship “Mont Blanc” collided with the Belgian “Imo”, causing the world’s biggest explosion before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was dropped in 1945. The entire northern tip of Halifax was razed, 1,400 killed and nearly 9,000 injured. As far as Truro, 100 kilometers away, the windows were broken.
Halifax has more sea and shipping connections: as the main entry point for immigrants from Europe and the closest port to the Titanic disaster. You’ll find reminders of both as you tour the city, but you’ll find that its humming present is just as fun as exploring its past. Find the best places to visit with this list of the top attractions and activities in Halifax.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Halifax and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Halifax
Here are the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Halifax:
1. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site was established in 1856 and is located in the heart of the city. It has never seen a battle, but it is a fine example of a 19th century English fort. In the summer, interpreters dressed in red British uniforms interact with visitors and show what life was like here for the 78th Highlanders and 3rd Royal Artillery Brigade and their families.
Kids love Citadel Adventures, where they can try drums, perform maneuvers and spy on enemies. After dark, the tour recounts some of the castle’s ghost lore.
A path crosses the slope leading to the castle and the stops offer stunning views of the city, the harbor, Dartmouth, Little George Island and the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge. The Old Town Clock, which has become the symbol of Halifax, also sits on the hillside. Prince Edward first commissioned it in 1803. With four dials and bells, it is a timeless monument to the punctuality of the strictly disciplined staff.
Address: 5425 Sackville Avenue, Halifax
Official website: www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index
2. Port of Halifax
Much of downtown Halifax has a boardwalk where historic boats, small sailboats, tugs and ferries come and go. The “Historic Heritage” district has been transformed into an attractive pedestrian area with 19th-century stone warehouses and former wharf buildings, now bright shops, artists’ studios and restaurants with terraces overlooking the harbor.
The streets were closed to normal traffic. The plaza between the two warehouses has been roofed to make it an equally attractive mall. During the day, there are boat tours, shops and restaurants serving fresh seafood, while on summer nights the port turns into a romantic stroll with open-air cafes and live sea music in the air.
3. Pier 21 National Historic Site
From 1928 to 1971, when it served as an immigration lodge, Pier 21 saw more than a million immigrants enter Canada. The exhibits at the Interpretation Center explore the migrant experience, from leaving the home country to integrating into a new country.
Interactive exhibits allow people of all ages to learn the personal stories of immigrants worldwide as they leave their homes to start a new life in Canada. Kids can dress in period costumes and imagine crossing the Atlantic in a replica cabin on a carriage that takes immigrants to their new homes in the West. The windows have great views of the George Island Lighthouse.
Just a short walk from the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, there is plenty of local food. It is open daily and has a rooftop picnic area.
Address: 1055 Edge Road, Halifax
Official website: http://www.pier21.ca/
4. Peggy’s Cove
Peggy’s Cove is a delightful cove on the rugged Atlantic coast, 43 kilometers southwest of Halifax. Colorful houses perched on granite rocks, with narrow entrances, washed by rough seas. Even on calm sunny days, the waters here are dangerous and vulnerable to rough waves. So watch out for signs and stay away from wet rocks.
High above the village, Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse completes the scenic lighthouse, one of Nova Scotia’s iconic landmarks and arguably the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. Due to its popularity, you can expect to see sights filled with tourists; try to visit in the afternoon or afternoon, when the inevitable tour bus has already left. While Peggy’s Cove is known for its must-sees, it’s a small, bustling fishing village.
Peggy’s Sound became famous when a Swissair plane crashed into the sea in September 1998, killing 229 people. Commemoration marks the event.
5. Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Offering views of Halifax Harbor and bringing the ocean in, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has a collection of small boats, model boats, photographs and treasures of maritime history. One of the most popular exhibits is the Titanic disaster and the character of Halifax being brought to port as a survivor.
Exhibits are dedicated to marine life and historic ships, small-boat shipbuilding, world war convoys, sea travel in the steam age, and historical events such as the monumental Halifax bombing that devastated the city in 1917. The museum isn’t all static exhibits, there are many hands-on events, art shows, and performances.
Address: 1675 Water Street, Halifax
Official website: http://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/
6. CSS Acadia and HMCS Sackville
The Canadian scientific vessel CSS Acadia, built in 1913 for the Canadian Hydrographic Service and docked at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, was the first vessel specifically designed to survey northern Canadian waters. But his career extends far beyond studying the frozen waters of Hudson Bay.
Arcadia, a security ship in Halifax harbor, was damaged in the 1917 Halifax bombing and is today the only ship to have survived the disaster. Redeployed as a battleship in 1939, Arcadia served as a patrol and training ship throughout the war and is the only surviving ship to serve with the Royal Canadian Navy between the World Wars.
HMCS Sackville is not part of the museum, but moored outside and appealing to anyone interested in a ship or naval history, it is the last remaining Flower Class frigate in the world. Restored to its wartime configuration as the Canadian Naval Memorial, Sackville is both a museum and a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic.
This is one of many escort escorts built in Canada and the United Kingdom during WWII and is Canada’s oldest warship. Halifax is a convenient location as it is an important meeting point for the convoy.
7. Harbor Cruise
It would be a shame not to visit Halifax or not, as many people see it for the first time, approaching from the sea and the castle walls rising above the historic quay. There are several ways to enjoy this water feature. You can take a tour of the harbor with the tug Theodore, or sail with a sail to help lift the 40-metre Silva.
The Halifax-Dartmouth ferry is the oldest saltwater ferry in North America and the second oldest in the world after the Mersey ferry in Liverpool, England. The only road between Halifax and the town of Dartmouth is still the fastest on the other side of the harbor.
In Dartmouth, you can visit the Quaker House, the only surviving home of the Quaker whalers who settled in Dartmouth in 1785, and the Seagull Aviation Museum, filled with beautifully restored old planes, flying Souvenirs and flight simulators to test your driving skills.
If you prefer a guided harbor tour, you can help raise the sails and even take the helm on a long Silva cruise in a 130-foot sailboat. Or sit back and enjoy the experience and learn about Halifax’s maritime history as you cross the Harbor Bridge, Fort George, McNab Island and Point Pleasant Park.
For a unique way to see the sights, consider the Halifax Harbor Hopper Tour, which takes you in an amphibious Vietnam War vehicle that takes you by land and sea to popular attractions.
8. Point Pleasant Park
One of the best places to visit in Halifax is Point Pleasant Park, at the southernmost tip of the city’s peninsula. This scenic area boasts towering trees, winding walkways, and stunning views of Halifax Harbor and the Northwest Arm. The vehicle is closed.
There are many historical artifacts and wartime ruins in the park. The Prince of Wales Tower is a circular stone tower built in 1796 by Prince Edward, based on the “Martello Tower”, the first of its kind in North America.
The basic idea was to combine the soldiers’ quarters, warehouses and gun racks into a single self-defense unit surrounded by thick stone walls and accessible only by retractable stairs to the first floor.
Address: 5718 Point Pleasant Drive, Halifax
Official website: http://www.pointpleasantpark.ca/en/home/default.aspx
9. Nova Scotia Art Gallery
Located in downtown Halifax, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest art museum in the Atlantic provinces. The museum has a permanent collection of more than 13,000 works of visual art from the sea and around the world.
The entire exhibition focuses on the work of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis, and part of the gallery’s collection includes her cottage-sized home decorated with vibrant paintings. The gallery also hosts excellent temporary exhibitions that explore a variety of topics, such as the artist’s greeting cards or the work of new voices in the state’s art.
Address: 1723 Hollis Street, Halifax
Official website: http://www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca
10. McNabs and Lawler Island Provincial Park
McNabs and Lawler Island Provincial Park is located at the entrance to Halifax Harbor. Ferries take visitors to this scenic area for bird watching, hiking or learning about history. While Lawler Island is closed to the public, McNab Island has 400 acres of woodland as well as Fort McNab, a National Historic Site.
Other heritage buildings include a summer home, Moggs Beach Lighthouse, and a long-closed teahouse that is undergoing restoration to become a hub for outdoor education and community events on the island.
Official website: https://mcnabsisland.ca/