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Useful information for excursions in Halifax
In the following paragraphs, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in Halifax.
The most beautiful sights in Halifax
Visit Halifax for beautiful coastlines and pure culture: The port city is also the capital of the province of Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. Nova Scotia, thanks to its excellent location as a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, has some dreamlike corners to offer. Along the coast you can discover, for example, numerous traditional fishing villages, dreamy bays, beautiful beaches and picturesque rocky coasts. In Peggy’s Cove you will find the probably most beautiful lighthouse of Canada.
Halifax is Canada’s largest city on the Atlantic Ocean. Officially, Halifax is part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, which includes Bedford, Dartmouth, Sackville, Cole Harbour and other regions in addition to Halifax. The city, with one of the largest natural harbours in the world, is located on a headland and is often referred to as the “Gateway to Nova Scotia“. Although a good 400,000 inhabitants live in the port city, it shines with the charm of a romantic port city and attracts tourists from all over the world. Due to the favourable location of Halifax directly by the sea, the British built a huge fortification on a hill behind the harbour as early as 1749. Still today, the star-shaped citadel is well preserved and offers, by the way, a great view to the harbour. Furthermore, the city is characterised by contrasts: You will find modern glass buildings as well as small, historic houses in bright colours. In summer, numerous festivals create the right atmosphere. Numerous cultural and musical events are on the programme in summer, street artists provide entertainment and colourful boats cavort in the harbour.
When it comes to culture and history, the city is second to none; the city has an extensive maritime heritage. Historically, Halifax is closely linked to the sinking of the Titanic. In and around Halifax, the victims of the sinking are buried in several cemeteries and some exhibitions tell the tragic story up close. Especially the lively harbour area is very popular with tourists. Here you will find narrow alleys and old walls, which today house hip cafés, bars, restaurants and small shops. The “Farmers Market” is also located directly at the harbour, where you can buy many local products such as wine, organic vegetables or fresh seafood.
Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk
The harbour promenade at the harbour of Halifax is in any case worth a walk. On the 1.86 miles (3 kilometres) long harbour promenade you will find public works of art, historical monuments and unique harbour views. You can stroll along the promenade, sit on a bench on the waterfront or browse through the souvenir shops. The numerous restaurants on the edge of the promenade will take care of your hunger in between. You will also find the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic here. There you will find many interesting facts about the history of seafaring and exhibited ship models as well as many pictures and finds of the Titanic. A visit is worthwhile in any case.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 served as a passenger terminal for transatlantic liner ships from 1928 to 1971 and was also the gateway to Canada for over a million immigrants and refugees. It was subsequently used as a warehouse until it became a museum in 1999. There you can discover many photographs and information about the immigration of people in a very vivid way. Furthermore, the museum is located right next to the current pier for cruise ships.
Those who are in Halifax should in any case also visit the Farmers Market. The indoor market is open the whole week. On weekends there is a lot to discover, such as fresh bakery, sausage and fish products, pictures, knitwear or homemade beers. There is also free W-LAN in the building.
Halifax Public Gardens
Through elegant wrought-iron gates you enter the Halifax city park. The Victorian-style Halifax Public Garden is located in the heart of the city and covers an area of 269,097.8 square foot (25,000 square metres) filled with trees, statues, fountains, fountains, ornate bridges, ponds and of course colourful flowers. Everything is lovingly arranged and very well maintained, which is why the garden is also great for photography and is often used as a picturesque backdrop for wedding and prom photos. Free concerts are often played in the beautifully decorated music pavilion. In one of the duck ponds even a small miniature Titanic floats.
The star-shaped citadel on the citadel hill was built by the English in 1749 when they founded the city of Halifax. Today you can see the last and fourth version of the citadel, which was built in 1856. The fortifications built on it are called Fort George. Although the citadel was never attacked, it was used by the Canadians as an important military base during the 1st and 2nd World War. During the peak season, the citadel is brought back to life a little by staff dressed in historical costumes. In addition, activities such as changing of guards and rifle and cannon fire demonstrations take place regularly in the citadel. Traditionally, rifle shots are fired every day at 12:00 noon. From the hill of the citadel you can enjoy an excellent view of the city and the harbour.
At the foot of Citadel Hill is also the Georgian-style clock tower of Halifax built in 1803, the current landmark of the city was built by Edward August, the Earl of Kent and Strathearn, to ensure greater punctuality for the occupying forces of the time.
Fairview Lawn Cemetery
Those who are visiting Halifax should in any case visit the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. The tragic story of the Titanic 1912 is probably known by everyone. Due to its favourable location, Halifax served as a base for the salvage work of that time. At Fairview Lawn Cemetery you can visit the graves of more than 100 victims of the Titanic disaster and learn about the role Halifax played in the salvage of the victims of the Titanic. The memorial is appropriately designed in the shape of a ship’s hull and is a moving reminder of the tragic accident. The cemetery is located on a hillside in the north of Halifax.
The small port city of Lunenburg is located about 56 miles (90 kilometres) southwest of Halifax and is the oldest German settlement in Canada. It was founded in 1753 by North German immigrants. The town impresses above all with its colourful, idyllic wooden houses and old captain’s villas in the town centre and is worth a visit for this alone. The school building, the Lunenburg Academy, which was built in 1894, is located on a hill to the west of the city centre and is widely visible as a landmark of the city. The Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Anglican St. John’s Anglican Church and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church are also beautiful to look at. Due to its striking wooden architecture, the city has been a UNESCO cultural heritage site since 1995. Lunenburg also has a long fishing and shipbuilding tradition and is famous as the home port of the ships “Bluenose” and “Bluenose II”.
Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful highlights the Canadian province on the Atlantic Ocean has to offer. A detour to the small fishing village of Peggy’s Cove with its idyllic harbour is definitely worthwhile. The small town is located about 28 miles (45 kilometres) from Halifax on the east coast of St. Margaret’s Bay and is one of the main attractions for tourists in the region. The pretty houses of the fishermen and the small bays where the fishing boats find a safe harbour even in stormy weather look like painted. Especially the lighthouse Peggy’s Point, which is 49 ft (15 metres) high and built on a rock, with its classic red and white painting, is considered the most famous and most photographed lighthouse in Canada. The rugged rocky landscape around the probably most famous lighthouse on the south coast invites you to walk and climb.
Map of the cruise port in Halifax
The port of Halifax is located in the east of the city in a natural bay of the Atlantic Ocean and at the southern end of the Halifax Waterfront. At the port are piers 20 to 23, where cruise ships can dock. Pavilion 20 is home to the Farmer’s Market, while Pier 21 is home to the Canadian Museum of Immigration, the NSCAD University Port Loggia Gallery and a number of shops. The most modern and frequent cruise ship berths are Pier 20 and 22, where cruise passengers can enter the terminal building directly via covered gangways. Pier 23 is mainly used by Cunard.
Generally, there are many cafés and shops with souvenirs all over the harbour. The modern Cruise Terminal in Pavilion 22 also offers a tourist information desk, free W-LAN and numerous amenities such as shopping. Outside the building you will find numerous bike rental shops, two bus stops and taxi stands. You can also reach the city on foot. This means you are right in the middle of the action and can start with a walk along the harbour promenade.
A special highlight is also the welcoming of the passengers at the port. As soon as you leave the ship, a traditional welcome by the bagpipers of the 78th Highlander usually awaits you. They have already won Halifax an award for the best welcome at the harbour and put you in the right mood for the Scottish city.
If all berths are occupied, ships can alternatively call at the industrial port around Pier 31.
Things to know before your trip to Halifax
Cruise lines and routes
The port of Halifax is a popular port of call for cruises in the Atlantic Ocean. Cruise lines such as MSC, Celebrity Cruises, P&O, Seabourn or Silver Sea regularly call at Halifax.
Entry and visa
On your cruise to Halifax you do not need a visa, but a passport that is valid at least as long as your cruise lasts. A temporary passport is also sufficient. However, if you enter Canada by plane, an electronic entry permit (eTA) is required, which you can apply for online and receive within a few days. An identity card or even a temporary identity card is not sufficient for travel to Canada.
To be on the safe side, we generally recommend that you obtain information about all valid entry requirements directly from your cruise line and from the Federal Foreign Office in good time before your cruise.
In Halifax, Canada, payment is made in Canadian dollars (CAD). Since Halifax is a small city, it is worthwhile to exchange a few pounds into Canadian dollars in the UK. If you want to exchange money locally, you can do this in banks or exchange offices. Hotels or restaurants, however, are not recommended, as they usually charge much higher fees for the exchange. In addition, there is the option to pay by credit card.
Taxi and public transport
If you want to explore Halifax on your own, we recommend that you rent a car. Usually some are available at the port exit, but it is advisable to book a rental car in advance. Alternatively, you can take a taxi that is also waiting at the port exit.
From the port you can also travel by public transport. However, the bus lines are by far not so busy. Directly at the port exit there are several bus lines that take you to different corners of the city. For example, line 7 will take you from north to south to explore Halifax. If you walk north from the harbour along the harbour promenade, you can also take the ferry to either Dartmouth or Imperoyal on the other side.
If you want to start on foot, that is also no problem. You can stroll directly from the harbour along the long harbour promenade or you can walk to the city centre, which is located right next to the harbour. Also the Point Pleasant Park, the Halifax Public Gardens or Citadel Hill are not far away.
The best time to travel to Halifax is during the summer months. June, July, August and September have an average temperature of 18 to 22 degrees and it is a dry season. In addition, the sun shines about 7 hours a day.
The main season for cruise ships is from April to October.
Website port operator and tourism organisation
Impressions from Halifax (Nova Scotia)
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