Guide to Exploring Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is the capital of the Canadian province Nova Scotia.  Its quaint and walkable downtown area, located on the waterfront, makes for a spectacular stop en route to or from the famed Cabot Trail.

Halifax is so lively and full of students, locals, and tourists alike.  I spent the day exploring while stopping over in neighboring Dartmouth. There is an awesome ferry that makes regular trips from Dartmouth to Halifax, offering great views and a calm, cheap ride. The night view is spectacular.

View of the Harbor from the Ferry.
View of the Harbor from the Ferry.

If you’re looking for good tea and some amazing dining (I mean, who isn’t?), you’ll really enjoy the bountiful options and likely find it hard to make a decision come meal time. There’s a lot packed into the charming small downtown area and apparently it’s pretty crowded when cruise ships come through.  I seemed to be ahead of the cruise ships my whole trip so I didn’t feel like the city was crowded at all.

Here are a few must-sees if you’re planning a visit:

Food & Drink

World Tea House

If you like tea, you will go bonkers in this place.  Unique organic fair-trade teas line the walls and the baristas (tea-ristas?) know everything about every single one of them.   I had the iced Chocolate Coconut tea and it was spectacular!

Wide Selection of Fair Trade Delicious Teas.
Wide Selection of Fair Trade Delicious Teas.

Chives Canadian Bistro

The dinner I had at Chives without a doubt makes my top 5 meals….ever!  The mushroom and goat cheese tart literally touch my life and everything they put in front of me was fresh, look amazing, and generally blew my mind.

Mushroom, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart from Chive Canadian Bistro. Superb!
Mushroom, Leek, and Goat Cheese Tart from Chive Canadian Bistro. Superb!


See & Do

Barrington Street
Barrington Street is a historic street home to some of the best local digs in the city. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it and more on Barrington.  Candy shops, trendy local shops, and lots of special interest shops will greet you and draw you in!

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 

The museum is one of the largest maritime museums in the world and houses an impressive cable ship collection, memorabilia from the Titanic, and wonderful views of the waterfront.  Nearly everyone knows about the Titanic and its ill-fated voyage, but most people are not aware than many of the rescue efforts launched from Nova Scotia.  Consequentially, many of the victims are buried in Nova Scotia cemeteries.

Shoes from one of the young victims of the Titanic
Shoes from one of the young victims of the Titanic

1675 Lower Water Street

Closed Mondays

Hours change based on season (generally 9-5) and the museum is open late on Tuesdays until 8:00PM.

Adults: $9.55 (May-Oct)/$5.15 (Nov.-April)

Youth: $5.15(May-Oct(/$3.10 (Nov.-April)

Old Burial Ground

I am one of those people who simply loves cemeteries. I try to add them to my itinerary whenever possible.  They just hold so much history!  The Old Burial Ground does not disappoint.  Founded in 1794, it was the first burial ground in Halifax and has over 12,000 people interred.  The stones are quite old but many of these are still in good enough condition to read.  I found some with wonderful eulogies and poetic farewells.  Definitely worth a stroll through.

Entry is free

Public Gardens

The Halifax Public Gardens cover about 16-acres in the heart of downtown.  Replete with fountains, statues, and a diverse collection of stunning florals, they complex is a great place for a leisurely stroll, a picnic lunch, or working on your photography skills.  Awkwardly, they also seem to have a few resident geese that are nearly the size of a small child.  The gardens have a strong Victorian influence and even feature an Ice Cream shop inside one of the ornate gazebos.

Massive Geese hanging out in their private little area.  They were HUGE!
Massive Geese hanging out in their private little area. They were HUGE!
I felt like I was intruding.
I felt like I was intruding.
Entrance to the gardens.
Entrance to the gardens.
Awesome passageway.
Awesome passageway.

Open daily 7AM-1/2 hour before sunset

Entry is free

Old Clock Tower

Watching over Halifax since 1801, the Old Clock tower is a treasured downtown landmark.  Standing in the shadows of the Citadel, the clock is wound twice a week and is powered by cables and weight drums.  The clock tower seems almost frozen in time and is worth climbing the stairs to get a closer look.

Old Clock Tower in Downtown.
Old Clock Tower in Downtown.

Khyber Arts Centre 

The Khyber Arts centre supports artists and musicians and gives them a place to exhibit their work, give lectures, perform, and host workshops. A bit of a hipster mashup but be sure to check the calendar of events to see if anything piques your interest.

5521 Cornwallis St.

Tues.-Sat. 12:00-5:00PM

I absolutely loved Halifax and fantasized about how awesome it would be to ‘summer’ on the harbor!  I will definitely be back…if only to eat at Chives again.

What are some of your favorite places in Downtown Halifax? 


13 thoughts on “Guide to Exploring Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia

  1. Wow, I need to get back to Canada while hitting North America this summer. This looks fabulous. Being from Detroit about the most I ever hit was Windsor lol.

  2. Omg this place looks so amazing! I would love to visit here some day and great pics also 🙂 The dinner you had at Chives Canadian Bistro looks SO good!

  3. I haven’t been to Canada in years but you’re showing me to go back. I think I would appreciate going more because I can better appreciate the history of it.

  4. I never thought that I would want to visit Nova Scotia its really beautiful. There are some cruises that visit from NYC I’m gonna most def have to check it out. I might even stay. =)

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