There are many great cities in the Maritimes but Halifax, at the heart of it all, is the hub. With a population of nearly 400,000, it is the largest city east of Montreal and is the commercial centre of the Atlantic region.
Here are some of the things that set this city apart:
1. A bustling waterfront
We are literally and figuratively centred on the large and active harbour. From the industrial shipbuilding section in the Bedford Basin to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and the cruise ship pavilion at the South End, there is always something happening along the water.
There are plenty of beautiful views, interesting businesses, and top-notch outdoor events (such as the annual Halifax Jazz Festival and the Halifax International Busker Festival) to explore along the boardwalk. You can also find stunning views from the ferry, the bridge to Dartmouth or from charter boats such as the Harbour Hopper and Tall Ship Silva.
2. A legendary brewery
A visit to Halifax isn’t complete without stopping by Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery on Lower Water St. Keith’s is synonymous with Nova Scotia and Halifax, and is still one of the strongest businesses in the region after close to 200 years!
» See it for yourself: Take a tour and learn the history, or just enjoy a pint in one of our many local pubs and breweries.
3. Celebrated restaurants
The restaurant scene has exploded in the past 5-10 years, with many talented local chefs and creatives opening increasingly varied and exciting places to dine. There is a place to suit every mood, palate and budget, and even the most upscale establishments still come with a side of famous Maritime hospitality.
4. Great shopping
One of my favourite things about Halifax is the many wonderful boutiques. These shops are run by incredibly creative and passionate people and carry countless unique and often locally made items.
Dartmouth Crossing and Bayers Lake both offer tons of options – especially since the addition of IKEA at Dartmouth Crossing! Mic Mac Mall and Halifax Shopping Centre, have been extensively renovated recently to add more high-end stores to their mix, bringing a high-fashion feel to our city by the sea.
Want to know more about shopping in Halifax? Check out these blogs:
5. Legendary entertainment, events, and festivals
Because Halifax is the largest city in the Atlantic region, we attract big-city events, including concerts and conferences. Some of the most popular acts in the world have performed here at least once (Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Tragically Hip) and Casino Nova Scotia and the Scotiabank Centre are attracting more popular performers each year.
6. An international airport
The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has been ranked best airport for overall passenger satisfaction in its class (under five million passengers) many times. It is a small airport compared to many larger cities in Canada, but sees a lot of traffic given its proximity to hubs in Europe, the Eastern United States and the Caribbean. The central location gives you the varied connections of a large airport, while the smaller size provides easy and positive navigation and customer service.
7. Renowned universities
Halifax is a centre for research and higher learning. With 4 major universities in the municipality (Dalhousie University/King’s College, Saint Mary’s University, Mount Saint Vincent University and NSCAD University), our community is full of highly educated, engaged individuals and the population swells by ten’s-of-thousands of students each September who are eager to live and learn here.
8. An award-winning library
Since its completion in December 2014, the Halifax Central Library has won many international design awards, including the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture. It has also landed itself on many international top-10 lists, including CNN’s “10 Eye-Popping New Buildings of 2014”.
The bright, open and modern space has become a community gathering place and a fixture in the Spring Garden Road streetscape. It attracted more than 1.9 million visitors in its 1st year alone!
Take some time to walk around, browse the collections, have a delicious snack in one of the Pavia cafes, or take in a lecture or concert in Paul O’Regan Hall.
What’s your favourite reason to visit Halifax? Share your thoughts with us!
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Published 2016, updated December 2021
Whether you’re a local looking for staycation ideas, visiting from further away, or planning a future adventure, get inspired to rediscover the heart & soul of Halifax with the latest local and traveller photos from the Halifax region.