When people ask me what I like best about living in Halifax, I always answer with “the waterfront”. I grew up here; living next to the Atlantic Ocean was always a part of life.
The Halifax Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world and is home to several small islands (and over 50 shipwrecks). The world’s longest downtown boardwalk, the Halifax Harbourwalk, runs for over 4 km along the waterfront, and exploring this stretch of Halifax is a great way to spend your day.
The downtown waterfront area is one of the most popular areas to shop, eat, drink, and experience the East Coast’s legendary Maritime hospitality firsthand.
When it comes to exploring the Halifax waterfront, tourists on a budget don’t need to worry—you can spend an entire day by the harbour without breaking the bank. Lined along the water are many of Halifax’s top restaurants, shops, historic buildings, museums, and tourist attractions.
Stop at the Museums
Stop at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and discover Halifax’s marine history and relationship with the sea. The museum is home to the world’s largest collection of Titanic artifacts, and kids will love the interactive displays.
You can also learn about the tragic Halifax Explosion, the largest man made explosion before the atomic bomb. Admission is $8.75 for adults, $4.75 for youth, and free for children 6 and under.
There’s also Canada’s Immigration Museum, Pier 21, the historic point of entry for the 1.5 million immigrants who now live in Canada. It is estimated that one in every five Canadians has a direct connection to this historic pier.
Explore East Coast History and Traditions
Watch the centuries-old tradition of glass blowing performed live at Nova Scotian Crystal or visit Casino Nova Scotia, where you can try your luck at one of the 650 slot and table games.
Halifax’s Historic Properties are also located along the waterfront. Dating back to 1749 and the original settlement of Halifax, these buildings are Canada’s oldest surviving group of warehouses.
Many of the warehouses were built to support the activities of privateers; sea captains who attacked and robbed enemy ships for the British Crown. Restored in the 1970’s and now a National Historic Site, many buildings are open to the public and can be toured. Inside, you’ll find works by talented local artists, gourmet food, live music and unique gifts… and maybe some pirate treasure.
Cool off With Ice Cream or a Beer
Of course, there’s nothing like a cold ice cream on a hot day, and COWS is just the place. The Prince Edward Island owned company was named by Reader’s Digest as the “best ice cream in Canada”.
Still feeling parched? Grab a locally brewed beer and listen to live East Coast music at the Lower Deck Pub, one of the most popular bars in the city for tourists and locals.
Tour the Waterfront by Sea
Tired of walking? Take a tour of the waterfront by sea on the historic sailing schooner, the Tall Ship Silva. Tours run seven days a week, three times daily, including an hour long “lunch break” cruise from 12:00 to 1:00, where tourists are invited to bring their own picnic lunch onboard.
There’s also Theodore Tugboat, a fun-filled family cruise designed with children in mind and based on the popular kid’s television series.
Meet the Locals
Whether you visit one or all of the waterfront events and attractions, one thing is for certain: strolling along the waterfront is the best way to meet locals and really take in the local culture. The atmosphere of the waterfront is extraordinary and unique to this part of Halifax.