A day in Halifax

A day in Halifax


Our cruise ship, the Celebrity Summit, docks behind the AIDAluna at the Halifax Cruise Terminal in Nova Scotia at 8:00 am each morning. The capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia can look forward to 4.000 day visitors.

Halifax - cruise ship berth

Halifax - cruise ship berth


Useful information about Halifax

Halifax was founded by the English in 1749. The commune is east of Quebec and north of Boston, the largest city in the territory. More than 480.000 people currently live in the region of the "Halifax Regional Municipality". As an economic and cultural center, the city has an ice-free port and an international airport.

Halifax-Macdonald Bridge

Halifax-Macdonald Bridge


Diverse excursion options

Celebrity Cruises offers interesting day trips for the destination. Before we head out into the Halifax area or take part in overpriced city tours, we explore the historic district of Halifax on our first visit. The starting point of our tour is the terminal of the Halifax Seaport.

The Big Pink Sightseeing Buses


The Big Pink Sightseeing Buses


Halifax Seaport


Halifax Seaport 


The extraordinary, modern structure connects to the southern end of the Halifax Waterfront. The lavishly designed complex has not only facilities for cruise passengers, but also exhibition spaces for artists, dealers and a café. A museum, a university area and a "Farmers' Market" with local products add the finishing touches to the complex. In the terminal, guests who wish to do something on their own can obtain information about Nova Scotia and a walking tour map of Halifax and the city of Dartmouth across the way.

Taxis and limousines are available for those traveling with you who want to go on excursions to more distant destinations. Excursion buses of the "Gray Line" can be booked directly in the terminal.

Halifax - city backdrop

Halifax - city backdrop


Walking tour of Halifax

We recommend beginning the Halifax Walking Tour in reverse order from the itinerary. That seems more logical to us from the point of view of the process. After leaving the terminal, we head for the clearly visible "Westin Hotel". It's on Hollis Street. We turn right into it. As soon as the crossing Bishop Street is reached, we follow this road to the left.

Government House

On the corner of Bishop Street and the intersecting Barrington Street is the historic Government House, the official residence of the "Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia". He is the chief administrative officer and at the same time representative of the British Crown. The construction of the representative stone house began in 1800. It serves as a temporary residence for members of the English royal family when visiting Canada.

Government House

Government House


Cemetery of the Crimean War Victims

On the left side of Barrington Street is an old cemetery, the "Old Burying Ground". A stone arch commemorates the Crimean War, which lasted from 1853 to 1856. In the battle for the Russian-held port city of Sevastopol, the French, English, Turks and Sardinians fought in combined armies. Canadian troops were also deployed on the English side. The memorial commemorates their dead.

Cemetery of the Crimean War Victims


Cemetery of the Crimean War Victims


Cemetery of the Crimean War Victims


Cemetery of the Crimean War Victims 


St. Mary's Cathedral

After Government House and the cemetery, we turn left onto Spring Garden Street. The first goal of our tour has been reached. It's St. Mary's Basilica, the cathedral of the Catholic Church.

St. Mary's Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral - Nave
St. Mary's Cathedral - aisle
St. Mary's Cathedral - Organ gallery

Saint Mary's Cathedral Basilica has been the home of the Diocese of Halifax for almost 200 years. The construction of the main church began in 1833. The facade and the 58 meter high spire were designed with white granite. The church building is a mixture of Gothic and Georgian architecture. At the time of construction, local craftsmen did not have the skills to craft a church roof of this size in Halifax. Therefore, shipbuilders were hired to carry out the complex work at great heights. The construction work lasted for decades. The building in its current size was built in 1869. The Anglican church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square served as the building template. In 1950, Pope Pius XII. the cathedral the honorary title of basilica minor.

Spring Garden Road leads straight past the Provincial Court House and a library building towards the delightful Halifax Public Gardens. The best restaurants, bars and stylish shops in town are on the way.

Halifax Memorial Library


Halifax Memorial Library


Churchill statue in front of the Halifax Memorial Library


Churchill statue in front of the Halifax Memorial Library 


Halifax Public Gardens

The Public Gardens were laid out in a Victorian style beginning in 1866. The garden location offers a lot on almost seven hectares: The main features of the garden architecture are a Japanese garden, a pond, a fountain with allegorical figures, a typical British bandstand for Sunday concerts and a café. The Stadtgarten can be explored on winding paths. We leave the Public Gardens at the back on Sackville Street.

Portal of the Halifax Public Gardens


Portal of the Halifax Public Gardens


Bandstand in the Halifax Public Gardens


Bandstand in the Halifax Public Gardens 


We follow Sackville Street to the Halifax Citadel. There is another Royal Artillery site on our way. Cannons and other war equipment from various eras are exhibited on the site.

Royal Artillery - 12 pounder gun

Royal Artillery - 12 pounder gun


In our opinion, the most important destination of our city tour is the Halifax Citadel, which is enthroned on a hill above the city. It is one of Canada's most visited historical sites. The citadel symbolizes the important role Halifax played in the past as a naval base of the British Empire. Inside the fort, visitors learn about Canada's military heritage and its transformation from a colony to a nation. At the same time they enjoy panoramic views over Halifax.

Halifax Citadel - Central Building


Halifax Citadel - Central Building


Halifax Citadel - Casemates


Halifax Citadel - Casemates


At exactly 12:00 noon the "Noon Gun" is fired. This tradition can be traced back at least to 1856. The cannon is fired at noon every day except Christmas Day. To our regret, we unfortunately miss this moment and only have to be satisfied with a cloud of smoke after the bang. Other activities held in front of visitors include the hourly changing of the guard at the main gate and daily performances by the 78th Highlanders bagpipes and drummers. In the high season in July and August there are daily demonstrations in the handling of shotguns, muskets and cannons.

Halifax Citadel - the Noon Gun


Halifax Citadel - the Noon Gun


Halifax Citadel - sentry post


Halifax Citadel - sentry post 


The Citadel was built to protect Halifax's natural harbor from land attacks. After the city was founded in 1749, five wooden forts were first built. In 1815 it was decided to build a fortress of solid stone buildings. The year 1829 is officially noted as the start of construction of the citadel. The work was only completed in 1856. After its completion, British regiments were stationed in the citadel. They were exchanged after a service period of two to four years. In 1906 the fort was surrendered to Canadian troops. Since 1935, the citadel has been a "National Historic Site". Apart from that, the facility was still used by Canadian troops during World War II as a transit station for foreign missions.

Between the citadel and the lower city center stands the Clock Tower, built in 1803. The clock tower was built at the behest of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, and is considered one of the typical attractions of Halifax. The Duke of Kent represented the British Crown in Halifax for a number of years.

Halifax Citadel - the clock tower from 1803

Halifax Citadel - the clock tower from 1803


Grand parade

We follow Carmichael Street for a few blocks until we come straight to the historic Grand Parade. It was originally a military parade ground. In the center is a monument commemorating the city's 1.360 citizens who lost their lives during the First World War. An inscription was added later, which also commemorates the dead of World War II and the Korean War.

Grand Parade with City Hall

Grand Parade with City Hall


left hand, i. H. at the north end of Grande Parade, is City Hall. It was built between 1887 and 1890. It is one of the oldest and largest public buildings in Nova Scotia. Noteworthy is the seven-storey clock tower, which shows the dials of a clock in the north and south directions. On the northern dial, time has stopped at four minutes past nine. This point in time is reminiscent of the explosion of explosives on board a cargo ship in port. The blast in 1917 destroyed much of downtown Halifax.

St. Paul's Church

At the southern end of the square is the Evangelical Anglican St. Paul's Church. Built in 1750, the church is Canada's oldest Protestant church and the city's oldest building. In 1787 St. Paul's was made an Episcopal See. From 1787 to 1864 it was the first Anglican cathedral outside Great Britain.

St. Paul's Church


St. Paul's Church


St Paul's Church - Nave


St Paul's Church - Nave 


Halifax Harbor Walk

The next destination is the historic Canadian Bank of Commerce building. Once there, we head straight for the lower-lying waterfront of the Halifax Harbourwalk. We start at Historic Properties, Canada's oldest waterfront warehouses. They were built between 1800 and 1905. They have now been restored and are used for other purposes.

Halifax - Canadian Bank of Commerce


Halifax - Canadian Bank of Commerce


Halifax- Historic Properties


Halifax- Historic Properties 


The actual Halifax Harborwalk begins at Historic Properties. Food stalls, shops and ticket shops are lined up along the four-kilometre-long promenade. Harbourwalk is where the ferry to Dartmouth and sightseeing boats depart. At the end of the trail, in front of the Halifax Seaport, is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Its exhibitions focus on Canada's seafaring history and the history of the Canadian Navy. Finds from the RMS Titanic and the Halifax explosion were also included in the exhibition. In front of the museum there are historic naval ships that are open to the public.

View of the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk
Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk - Shop Gallery
Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk
Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk

It is not far from the museum to the cruise terminal. Along the way are Bishop's Landing, the Emigrant Monument and a statue honoring the famous shipowner Samuel Cunard.

The Emigrant Monument


The Emigrant Monument


Sir Samuel Cunard


Sir Samuel Cunard 


The terminal area includes Pier 21, which prosaic minds refer to as "Canada's Ellis Island". After the Second World War, more than one and a quarter million people sought a new home in Canada. Most immigrants chose Halifax as their port of destination. Migration was the foundation of Canada's post-war prosperity. A discarded railway carriage placed outside the building also commemorates the immigrants. Pier 21 is the last surviving Canadian immigration station and now serves as an immigrant museum.

Canadian Museum for ImmigrationCanadian Museum for Immigration


Conclusion of our city tour through Halifax

We have concluded our recommended walking tour of Halifax. During the tour we saw a lot of interesting things. There's even time to stop off at Garrison Brewing Company, across the street from the terminal, for a tasty dark Canadian beer.

Garrison Brewing Company

Garrison Brewing Company


On our travels on the East Coast of the USA and Canada, we regularly find that the places we visit offer tasty beers. We are already looking forward to seeing Halifax again this fall.

Update February 2023

My Shore Excursions Halifax


Activities & Excursions Halifax - GetYourguide