The Getaway
The Ultimate Halifax Travel Guide: Discover the Best of Nova Scotia's Capital City

Nestled along the picturesque Atlantic coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia is a charming city that offers a perfect blend of history, nature, and modern amenities. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, this comprehensive Halifax travel guide will help you navigate the city's top attractions, best accommodations, and must-try experiences. From exploring the historic Citadel Hill to indulging in fresh seafood at the waterfront, Halifax has something for every type of traveler. Get ready to immerse yourself in the friendly Maritime culture and discover why Halifax is a must-visit destination in Eastern Canada.

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01 How many days should I stay in Halifax?

An aerial view of Citadel Hill National Park dominating the core of downtown Halifax. shaunl / Getty Images

To fully experience the best of Halifax, I recommend staying for at least 3-4 days. This will give you enough time to explore the city's top attractions, such as the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the picturesque Halifax Public Gardens.

Within a few days, you can also venture out to nearby attractions like the iconic Peggy's Cove lighthouse, just a 75-minute drive from Halifax along the scenic Nova Scotia Lighthouse Route. For a charming weekend getaway, consider visiting the colorful harbor town of Lunenburg, known for its fresh seafood and maritime history.

To make the most of your visit, plan your trip during the summer months of June to August when the weather is at its best, with average temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius (high 60s Fahrenheit). Take advantage of the long summer days to stroll along the Halifax waterfront boardwalk, one of the longest in the world at 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). End your evenings with a sunset wine and cheese sailing experience on the harbor for a truly memorable stay in Halifax.

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02 What is the best time of year to visit Halifax?

The Halifax Public Gardens are Victorian era public gardens formally established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. sphraner / Getty Images

The best time to visit Halifax is during the summer months of June to August. During this peak tourist season, the weather is at its finest, with average temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius (high 60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit).

July and August offer the warmest and sunniest conditions, perfect for exploring Halifax's outdoor attractions like the historic Citadel Hill and the picturesque Public Gardens. The pleasant weather also allows for enjoyable strolls along the city's expansive waterfront boardwalk, one of the longest in the world at 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).

Summer is also the ideal time to embark on day trips to nearby coastal gems like Peggy's Cove, famous for its iconic lighthouse, or the charming UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg. Visitors can take advantage of the extended daylight hours to soak in the stunning scenery.

Keep in mind that as the peak season, summer tends to draw larger crowds and higher accommodation rates. To avoid the biggest influx of tourists, consider visiting in early June or late August. Regardless of when you go, be sure to pack layers as evenings can still get chilly due to Halifax's coastal location.

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03 What are the best ways to get to Halifax?

There are several convenient ways to get to Halifax, depending on your location and preferences:
By Air: Halifax Stanfield International Airport serves as the main gateway to the city, with direct flights from 34 cities in 10 countries. Many major Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa have frequent flights to Halifax. You can also find direct flights from several U.S. cities, such as Boston and New York.

By Car: If you're driving from within Nova Scotia or neighboring provinces, Halifax is easily accessible via major highways. From Yarmouth, it's a scenic 3.5-hour drive along the Lighthouse Route, passing through charming towns like Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. Remember to keep some Canadian $1 coins handy for tolls when entering and exiting Halifax.

By Bus: Maritime Bus connects most towns in Nova Scotia, making it a convenient option if you don't have a car. For example, a trip from Lunenburg to Halifax takes about 2 hours and costs around 26 CAD.

By Ferry: Once in Halifax, you can take advantage of the city's ferry services. The Alderney Ferry connects downtown Halifax to Dartmouth, while the Woodside Ferry crosses from Halifax to Woodside. A one-way fare is just 2.75 CAD, and the ferries are integrated with the bus system, allowing you to use transfers between the two.

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04 Which airport should I fly into to get to Halifax?

overview of plane in flight

The main airport serving Halifax is Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ). It is the only airport in the Halifax region and is located about 35 minutes (36 km) from downtown Halifax in Enfield, Nova Scotia.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport is a modern, medium-sized airport with a single terminal building designed to handle both domestic and international flights. The terminal has two levels - the Departures level on the main floor with shops and restaurants, and the Arrivals level below with baggage claim, car rentals, and ground transportation.

As the 8th busiest airport in Canada, Halifax Stanfield serves over 4 million passengers annually, with around 200 daily flights to over 40 destinations worldwide. Major airlines operating here include Air Canada, WestJet, and Porter Airlines.

To get to downtown Halifax from the airport, options include taxis waiting outside the arrivals area, rental cars bookable in advance or on arrival, and public transportation. The airport is well-connected, making it a convenient entry point for travelers visiting Halifax and the surrounding Maritime region.

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05 Where should I stay in Halifax?

View of Dartmouth Shaolong Dong / Getty Images

When choosing where to stay in Halifax, consider these top options for various budgets and preferences:
Downtown Halifax: For a central location close to major attractions, stay in the heart of downtown. The Sutton Place Hotel Halifax on Grafton Street offers rooms with beautiful ocean views, just steps from the Halifax Citadel and Maritime Museum. Rates are on the higher end but worth it for the prime location and amenities.

South End: This historic neighborhood is a great choice for its proximity to the waterfront boardwalk, Halifax Seaport Farmers Market, and cruise ship terminal. The Westin Nova Scotian opened in 1930, provides a classic stay with modern comforts. Garden South Park Inn and other boutique properties offer budget-friendly options in the area.

Dartmouth: Just across the harbor from downtown Halifax, Dartmouth is ideal for travelers seeking more affordable accommodations. Downtown Dartmouth has several budget-friendly stays close to the waterfront, perfect for families looking to explore the outdoors. The ferry system provides easy access to Halifax city center.

North End: For a trendy, up-and-coming area, consider staying in the vibrant North End. The Hydrostone Market area features unique shops and restaurants. Vacation rentals and smaller inns provide a more local experience.

Lunenburg: For a charming weekend getaway, stay in the colorful harbor town of Lunenburg, about an hour from Halifax. Enjoy fresh seafood, beautiful scenery, and a laid-back maritime atmosphere.
No matter where you choose to stay, book early for the best rates and availability, especially during peak summer months. With a range of options from luxury hotels to budget-friendly inns, Halifax has an accommodation to suit every traveler's needs.

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06 What is the best way to get around in Halifax?

The best ways to get around Halifax are:
Public Transit: Halifax Transit offers an extensive network of buses and ferries, making it a convenient and affordable option. A single fare is just $2.75 CAD and allows transfers between buses and ferries for up to 90 minutes. Monthly passes are also available. The two main ferry routes connect downtown Halifax to Alderney Landing in Dartmouth and Woodside, with large park-and-ride lots at both terminals.

Walking: Many of Halifax's top attractions, like the waterfront boardwalk, Citadel Hill, and the Public Gardens, are within walking distance of each other in the compact downtown core. Popular walking trails include Point Pleasant Park and the Halifax Urban Greenway. Just be prepared for some hills in this port city.

Biking: Halifax has been expanding its network of bike lanes in recent years, making cycling an increasingly popular way to explore the city. Visitors can rent bikes from shops like I Heart Bikes on the waterfront or use the bike-share program. A self-guided bike tour is a great way to see downtown highlights like the Halifax Common and Spring Garden Road.

Taxis: Taxis are readily available in downtown Halifax and at the airport. They're a convenient option for reaching destinations not well-served by public transit, but fares can add up quickly.

Car Rental: If you plan to take day trips outside the city to places like Peggy's Cove or Lunenburg, renting a car may be your best bet. Several major car rental agencies have locations downtown and at the airport.
With a mix of public transit, walking, biking, and taxis or car rentals for longer distances, visitors can easily navigate Halifax and enjoy all this vibrant coastal city has to offer.

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07 How to book tickets for major Halifax attractions?

View of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street on the seaport waterfront in Halifax, Nova Scotia EQRoy / Shuttesrtock

Many of Halifax's top attractions allow you to book tickets online in advance. This is recommended, especially during peak summer months, to ensure availability and sometimes get better prices.

For the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, you can purchase tickets on the Parks Canada website. Booking ahead gives you a small discount and lets you skip the line. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia also sell advance tickets on their websites.

If you plan to visit multiple museums and historic sites, consider getting a Halifax Museums Pass. This gives you access to several top attractions like the Maritime Museum, Pier 21, and the Army Museum at a discounted price. You can buy it online through Discover Halifax.

For guided experiences like walking tours and boat cruises, booking ahead is advised. Websites like Viator offer a variety of Halifax tours you can reserve in advance, such as a half-day historical tour visiting major sites or a sunset wine and cheese sailing excursion on the harbor.

Some attractions may have timed entry slots to manage capacity, so having a pre-booked ticket ensures you can visit at your preferred time. Even free sites like the Halifax Public Gardens sometimes require reserving a time slot during busy periods.

Peggy's Cove lighthouse, a popular day trip from Halifax, does not require tickets. But for the best experience, go early or late in the day to avoid the biggest crowds.

By planning ahead and booking online, you can often save money and time while securing your spot at Halifax's must-see attractions.

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08 Are there any tourist passes for Halifax attractions?

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA - JULY 16, 2018: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Rob Crandall/Shutterstock

Yes, there are a few tourist pass options available for Halifax attractions:
The Halifax Experience Pass is an all-access pass that includes admission to some of the city's top attractions, museums, and tours, plus discounts at local restaurants. It's available in 1, 2 or 3-day options.

The Nova Scotia Museum Pass allows you to visit any of the 28 Nova Scotia Museum sites, including several in Halifax, like the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Museum of Natural History, for one price. It's valid for an entire year.
New Canadian citizens can take advantage of the Canoo app in their first year. It provides free access to many Halifax attractions like the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, and Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

Before purchasing a pass, calculate the regular admission costs of the specific sites you plan to visit. Tourist passes offer savings if you intend to see multiple attractions, but may not be worth it if you're only interested in one or two. Also, consider the time you have available, as some passes have a limited number of days.

For maximum savings, look for combination deals that bundle popular experiences together, like a historical city tour with a harbor cruise. With some research and planning, a well-chosen Halifax tourist pass can help you save money while conveniently accessing the city's top sights.

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09 How far is it from Montreal to Halifax?

Old town Montreal at famous Cobbled streets at twilight in Canada

The distance between Montreal and Halifax is approximately 1350 kilometers (840 miles) when taking the most direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway. This scenic drive takes you through the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, offering stunning views of the Canadian countryside along the way.

If you prefer to fly, there are multiple flights from Montreal to Halifax per day, with a flight time of around 1.5 hours. Direct flights are offered by Air Canada, Porter, and WestJet airlines. Prices can vary, but you can often find one-way tickets starting from around $75.

For those who enjoy train travel, VIA Rail operates a route between Montreal and Halifax. The journey takes about 28 hours and 29 minutes, with one connection per day. Train fares range from approximately $134 to $322, depending on the class of service and how far in advance you book.

When planning your trip, consider the time of year and your preferred mode of transportation. The summer months from June to August are ideal for a road trip while flying is the quickest option year-round. Keep in mind that delays are always a possibility, so build some flexibility into your itinerary. With some advance planning, you can choose the best way to experience the journey between these two vibrant Canadian cities.

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10 How far is Peggy's Cove from Halifax?

Aerial drone view of Peggy's Cove lighthouse and the newly completed accessible observation deck & walkways. shaunl / Getty Images

Peggy's Cove is located approximately 44 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of downtown Halifax. The scenic drive along the coastal highway takes about 45 minutes, making it an easy and popular day trip from the city.

To get to Peggy's Cove from Halifax, take Highway 333, also known as the Peggy's Cove Road. Along the way, you'll pass through picturesque fishing villages and enjoy stunning views of St. Margaret's Bay. Keep an eye out for the colorful houses dotting the rugged coastline.

For those without a car, guided tours are available from Halifax, typically lasting around 3-4 hours round trip. These tours often combine a visit to Peggy's Cove with other nearby attractions like the Swissair Flight 111 Memorial or the charming town of Lunenburg.

When planning your day trip, aim to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the biggest crowds, especially during peak summer months. Take time to explore the village, snap photos of the iconic lighthouse, and soak in the breathtaking coastal scenery. Just be sure to heed warnings and stay off the slippery black rocks, as the ocean conditions can be dangerous.

Whether you choose to drive yourself or join a guided tour, a day trip to Peggy's Cove from Halifax is a must-do experience, offering a glimpse into the rugged beauty and maritime heritage of Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast.

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