I made a quick trip to Halifax this past weekend. The capital city is one of my favourites on the eastern coast of North America, but I hadn’t been in awhile. Immediately I was reminded that I should visit more often: The architecture is dramatic; the setting is stunning and the culture is varied.
The small Stanfield International Airport is located about 40 minutes from the city centre. If you aren’t renting a car, you can take a cab or hotel shuttle downtown. Put $120 in the budget for airport transfers, including tips.
Do you need a car? Yes, if you want to explore the surrounding attractions like Peggy’s Cove and the Bay of Fundy. Downtown Halifax, however, is designed for walking. If you can’t climb hills, use the cabs or public transit. Downtown runs parallel to the harbour, with one way streets. Although the direction is clearly indicated, major streets are missing sign names. I travelled five blocks along Barrington without seeing one sign naming the street, although the cross streets were named. First time visitors to Halifax should purchase a map.
The city has developed a promenade along the waterfront that provides access to the casino, the Maritime Museum, shops, restaurants and views of the harbour. Regardless of the weather the Halifax waterfront promenade is a must. Some of the restaurants give patrons waterside views. While dining at the Marriott, we watched a huge a container ship steam up the inlet toward its berth, accompanied by two tug boats. The ferry between downtown Halifax and Dartmouth on the other shore kept us entertained as it went back and forth.
Halifax is still small enough to close restaurants on Sunday and museums on Monday. Check before settling on travel dates. You could find your choices limited. The city is known for its festivals and music clubs. Two more things to research before choosing your travel dates.
The Citadel is Halifax’s icon historic site. Built on top of the hill above the city, it is a constant reminder that the city was a military and naval base from its inception. Queen Victoria’s father was stationed in Halifax, before he was called home to produce an heir to the British throne.
The seafood in Halifax restaurants is fresh. Atlantic salmon and lobster are two local delicacies. Blueberries are also local. Nova Scotia wineries are beginning to mature. Try the whites. Most of the major hotel chains have properties in the city. I can recommend two boutique inns – The Waverly and Haliburton House. Both located within walking distance of the waterfront promenade, they are converted historic buildings decorated with charm.
Located downtown is Alexander Keith’s, a large Nova Scotia brewery with a proud history. The brewery offers tours, and samples. There are microbreweries at which you can sip and sample too.