Halifax - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Halifax


Halifax is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia and also serves as the centre of commerce for the whole of Atlantic Canada. It is sited opposite its twin city of Dartmouth, across the Bedford Basin, on the second-largest natural harbour in the world (the largest is Sydney, Australia), and has long been an important maritime centre. Halifax Harbour extends for 10 miles (16km) and is home to North America's oldest yacht club, Northwest Arm. Two toll bridges span the harbour and a passenger ferry connects Halifax and Dartmouth.

Halifax was founded in 1749 by the British in an effort to strengthen their presence in the North Atlantic, and the city retains its British military air. Many historic stone and wood buildings have been preserved, particularly in its restored waterfront area that has become a major tourist attraction, offering shopping, nightlife, entertainment and restaurants.

Halifax is the cultural hub of Nova Scotia and for the Atlantic provinces as a whole. It has a number of art galleries, museums, theatres, and other entertainment facilities, and is home to the Nova Scotia Symphony, and many cultural festivals like the Nova Scotia International Tattoo, Shakespeare By the Sea, The Halifax International Busker Festival, Greekfest, and the Atlantic Film Festival. Visitors can find out more about the city's culture from its free alternative arts weekly magazine, The Coast. The city also offers a range of activity sites like beaches, parks, and walking trails, and some 'living history' experiences like the firing of the noon day gun at the Halifax Citadel and the working locks of the Shubenacadie Canal.

Information & Facts


It's position on the coast ensures that Halifax experiences less extremes in its climate compared to inland Nova Scotia. Spring arrives in April, marred by rain and fog, but as summer moves in conditions warm up and balmy ocean breezes blow the damp away. Autumn is a beautiful season, the days warm, nights cool, and the foliage taking on spectacular hues. Winters are cold and wet, with both rain and snow.

Getting Around

Central Halifax can be covered on foot, but those who want to explore further afield (and there is plenty to see!) are advised to hire a car. Metro Transit does provide a bus service in the city and to surrounding areas and runs passenger ferries from the terminal at Lower Water Street to Dartmouth. Free transfers are available from the ferry to the buses. Cabs can be hailed in the downtown area, and there are taxi ranks at the main hotels and shopping centres.

The official languages are English and French (predominantly in Quebec).

The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is divided into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known as loonies (due to the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on the coin), and two-dollar coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux de change will change money and travellers cheques, as will some hotels, but the rate will not be as good. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are plentiful. US Dollars are largely accepted, though due to fraud, larger notes might not be and change is usually given in Canadian dollars.

Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west to GMT -3.5 in the east.

One of Halifax's military history heritage sites, the citadel was built between 1828 and 1856 and is regarded as a fine example of a bastioned fort of the 'smooth bore' era. It is built in a star-shaped design and features vaulted rooms, a dry defensive ditch, a musketry gallery and offers an inspiring view of Halifax and its harbour from the ramparts. Visitors can watch an audio-visual presentation about the defences of Halifax, and visit the soldiers' library, barrack rooms, powder magazine and garrison cell. The site also has exhibits about communications and the engineering and construction of the citadel. Guides at the site wear the uniform of soldiers of the Royal Artillery and the 78th Highlanders of 1869 and conduct tours in English and French. Parking costs C$3.15 per car.

This museum has one of Canada's finest collections of both ship models and ship portraits, the world's largest collection of wooden artefacts from the Titanic, some rare and beautiful examples of unique Nova Scotian boatbuilding traditions in its small craft collection, and a collection of about 24,000 marine photographs, some dating from the 19th century. The collections span days of sail, shipwreck treasures, naval World War II convoys, the age of steam and the opportunity to explore the 1913-built ship, CSS Acadia, at the dockside. The Museum also has a large collection of genealogical resources, including journals, diaries, ship's logs, shipping registers and a library containing more than 5,000 books relating to shipping.

This site in Clam Harbour Road, Lake Charlotte is community owned and operated and features 13 rescued and restored buildings that illustrate rural village life in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. The buildings include a general store, a one-room schoolhouse, church, homestead, barn, icehouse, workshop, goldmining complex, boatshop, fisherman's store, garage and cookhouse. Local people demonstrate traditional skills like rug hooking for visitors, and the cookhouse offers typical 1940s cookhouse meals.

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