Halifax Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Halifax

Halifax is a city of arts where many budding artists make their mark; hence the number of art galleries. Also the city is noted for its rich and eventful history, manifested in numerous historic sights. Some of the local landmarks reflect the city's culture, others - its political scene. Follow this City Orientation tour and get yourself acquainted with the most notable attractions of Halifax.
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Halifax Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Halifax Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Halifax (See other walking tours in Halifax)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Town Clock
  • Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
  • Army Museum
  • City Hall
  • St. Paul's Church
  • Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
  • Barrington Street
  • Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
  • Discovery Centre
  • Halifax Farmers' Market
  • Government House of Nova Scotia
  • Saint Matthew's United Church
  • Spring Garden
  • Saint Mary's Basilica
  • Halifax Central Library
  • Public Gardens
Town Clock

1) Town Clock (must see)

The Town Clock, also sometimes called the Old Town Clock or Citadel Clock Tower, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the historic urban core of Nova Scotia's Halifax Regional Municipality. The idea of a clock for the British Army and Royal Navy garrison at Halifax is credited to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who arranged for a turret clock to be manufactured before his return to England in 1800.

It is said that Prince Edward, then commander-in-chief of all military forces in British North America, wished to resolve the tardiness of the local garrison.

The clock tower is a three-tiered (three storey), irregular octagon tower built atop a one storey white clapboard building of classic Palladian proportions. It was erected on the east slope of Citadel Hillfacing Barrack (now Brunswick) Street. The clock face is 4-sided displaying Roman numerals. As with most clocks the "4" is shown as IIII for aesthetic symmetry and not as IV. Its bell strikes hourly and quarterly and the durability of the mechanism (which dates to the original installation) is attributed to its slow movement. The Town Clock began keeping time for the garrison on October 20, 1803.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site

2) Halifax Citadel National Historic Site (must see)

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is the fortified summit of Citadel Hill, a National Historic Site of Canada in Halifax. The hill was first fortified in 1749, the year the town of Halifax was founded. Those fortifications on the hill were successively rebuilt to defend the town from various enemies. A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied the summit of Citadel Hill. Construction and levelling resulted in the summit of the hill being dropped by ten to twelve metres. Whilst never attacked, the Citadel was long the keystone to the defence of the strategically important Halifax Harbour and its Royal Navy Dockyard.

The grounds of the Halifax Citadel are open year round, and from spring to fall has a living history program featuring animators. There are guided and self-guided tours available as well as audio-visual presentations and exhibits which serve to communicate the Citadel's role in shaping Halifax's and North America's history. One of the most enduring and recognized symbols of the Halifax Citadel's role in shaping Halifax is the year-round daily ceremonial firing of the noon gun.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Army Museum

3) Army Museum (must see)

The Army Museum, located in an enormous granite citadel built in 1856, was opened to the public in 1953. Its extensive collection includes nearly 70,000 items related to Nova Scotia’s military history, including weapons, uniforms, medals and other awards. This museum also has a gift shop offering great souvenirs.
City Hall

4) City Hall

Halifax City Hall is the seat of municipal government in Halifax Regional Municipality. Since municipal amalgamation on 1 April 1996, Halifax City Hall has hosted the regular meetings of the Halifax Regional Council, as well as various municipal offices. It was designed by Edward Elliot and constructed for the City of Halifax between 1887 and 1890; it is one of the oldest and largest public buildings in Nova Scotia and is a designated National Historic Site of Canada.

Designed in an eclectic, monumental style, the building is of cream and red sandstone, laid in the freestone technique. It also features granite construction on the ground floor and in the tower. The seven-storey tower has clock faces on the north and south sides. The northern face is fixed at four minutes past nine to commemorate the Halifax Explosion of 1917.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Paul's Church

5) St. Paul's Church (must see)

St. Paul's Church is an evangelical Anglican church, that takes its name from Paul of Tarsus, the apostle famous for his conversion while travelling to Damascus. Founded in 1749 (the same year as the Halifax colony), it is the oldest still-standing Anglican church in Canada. The building was begun in 1750 (making it the oldest surviving structure in the city of Halifax) and is based on the ground plan of the Gibbs' Marybone Chapel of St. Peter's, Vere Street in London, with later additions such as a larger tower.

Reverend William Tutty (1715-1754) opened St Paul's Church on September 2, 1750. With the creation of the Diocese of Nova Scotia in 1787, St. Paul's was given the Bishop's seat, making it the first Anglican cathedral outside of Great Britain. It served as the cathedral from 1787-1864. Saint Paul's has a royal pew, and many royal guests have visited, including the father of Queen Victoria, the Duke of Kent, and Princesses Michael, Margaret, Alexandra, and Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince William Henry in 1786 (later King William IV), Edward in 1860 (later King Edward VII), and Prince Edward in 1987.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

6) Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (must see)

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia was founded in 1908 as the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts. In 1988 the gallery moved to the historic Dominion Building, built in 1865, designed by architects David Stirling and William Hay. The gallery expanded in 1998 to include several floors of the Provincial Building located just to the south of Dominion Building.

The two structures are separated by Ondaatje Court, a public space that besides being used for temporary exhibitions, contains several large permanent sculptures. Underneath the courtyard is a large underground exhibition room which connects the two buildings. The gallery has over 14000 works of art in its varied collection, ranging from Nova Scotian folk art to Inuit stone carvings.

One of the most popular attractions in the gallery is the restored former home of rural folk artist Maud Lewis. The home was moved from its original location near Digby, Nova Scotia, dismantled, restored, and reassembled in the South Gallery of the AGNS. Most of the home, including the doors, part of the windows, and the wallpaper, was painted for decoration by the artist herself. Many of Maud's paintings reside in the same room as her home. A gift shop, art store, and cafe are located off the main lobby.

Operation hours: Saturday to Wednesday : 10 am - 5 pm; Thursday, Friday: 10 am - 9 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Barrington Street

7) Barrington Street

Barrington Street is a major street in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, running from the MacKay bridge in the North End approximately seven kilometres south, through Downtown Halifax to Inglis Street in the South End. Barrington Street is centrally located within the original Halifax street grid laid out in the 18th century. It remains one of the main streets of the city, home to numerous shops, office buildings, as well as Halifax City Hall, that makes this definitely a nice place to 'hit up'.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

8) Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (must see)

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts including 70 small craft and a steamship: the CSS Acadia, a 180 foot steam-powered hydrographic survey ship launched in 1913. The Museum was founded in 1948. It was first known as the Maritime Museum of Canada and located at HMC Dockyard, the naval base on Halifax Harbour. Several naval officers served as volunteer chairs of the Museum until 1959 when Niels Jannasch was hired as the Museum's founding director, serving until 1985.

The museum moved through several locations over the next three decades before its current building was constructed in 1981 as part of a waterfront redevelopment program. Today the Museum is part of the Nova Scotia Museum system. In addition to all the artifacts, museum also has a collection of 30,000 photographs, as well as a large collection of charts and rare books. A reference library, open to the public, is named after the Museum's founding director, the Niels Jannasch Library.

The museum has Canada's largest collection of ship portraits including the oldest ship portrait in Canada, as well as a large collection of ship models including the original production models of the television show Theodore Tugboat.

Operation hours: Monday to Sunday: 9.30 am - 5:30 pm; Tuesday: 9.30 am - 8 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Discovery Centre

9) Discovery Centre (must see)

The Discovery Centre has been a popular attraction for all ages since it was opened to the public in 1990. This unique interactive museum offers about eighty activities, including creating a roller coaster, exploring shadows and illusions, making soap bubbles and many other exhibits. It also features fun educational movies such as The Human Body and Creatures of the Deep, as well as a great gift shop.
Halifax Farmers' Market

10) Halifax Farmers' Market (must see)

The Halifax Farmers' Market is the oldest continuously operating farmer's market in North America having been founded in 1750. Over the years the market has been held in many locations around Halifax, Nova Scotia, including Keith's Brewery Building on 1496 Lower Water Street.
In 2010 the majority of the cooperative members of the market moved to a new LEED certified building which is part of the Halifax Seaport and took on the name 'Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market'. A small number of vendors chose to remain in the old location and rebranded themselves as the 'Historic Farmers Market'. The new Seaport Farmers Market building was designed by local architecture firm Lydon Lynch. It is LEED Gold certified. Located in a converted warehouse, the building incorporates energy and water saving measures as well as a green roof that is open as a publicly-accessible rooftop garden.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Government House of Nova Scotia

11) Government House of Nova Scotia

Government House of Nova Scotia is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, as well as that in Halifax of the Canadian monarch. Unlike other provincial Government Houses in Canada, this gives Nova Scotia's royal residence a prominent urban setting, though it is still surrounded by gardens.

Government House's overall style is one of Georgian with hints of Adam, elements of the main and rear facades having been taken from a book of house plans published in 1795 by George Richardson, a former employee of Robert and James Adam. Many of the materials, however, were acquired locally; the stone came from Antigonish, Bedford Basin, Cape Breton, Lockeport, Lunenburg, and Pictou, brick from Dartmouth, and pine from the Annapolis Valley, Cornwallis, and Tatamagouche. Imported materials came from New Brunswick, Newfoundland, England, and Scotland; notably, the marble fireplace mantles were made in London. These adorned an interior arranged for both entertaining and state business, including a drawing room, dining room, and ballroom for formal entertaining, as well a suite for the Governor, his family, and servants. At the time, Nova Scotia had no equal in design and decoration.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint Matthew's United Church

12) Saint Matthew's United Church (must see)

St. Matthew's United Church was founded at the same time as the original colony in 1749 as a home for the various groups of Protestants who did not follow the Church of England. It originally met Sunday afternoons in St. Paul's Church, the Church of England building completed in 1750. The church got its own home in 1754 when a church was constructed at Hollis and Prince Streets. This building was destroyed by fire in 1857, and a new church was built at the current location at 1479 Barrington Street.

The church was originally an amalgam of various dissenting Protestant groups with it mostly being a mix of Scottish Presbyterians and Puritan Congregationalists from the American colonies. Over the course of the 19th century the number of Presbyterians gradually increased and they came to dominate the church.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Spring Garden

13) Spring Garden (must see)

Spring Garden, along with Barrington Street (which it adjoins) is a major commercial and cultural district in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It acquired its name from the fresh water spring that flows directly beneath it. It comprises Spring Garden Road, South Park Street, and a number of smaller side streets. The area is considered to be one of the trendiest areas in Halifax and is one of the busiest shopping districts east of Montreal. Spring Garden Road is home to a number of pubs, coffee shops and boutiques, making it busy both day and night. On Spring Garden one can also find the Main Branch of Halifax Public Libraries, the Halifax Provincial Court, the school of architecture and the Sexton Campus of Dalhousie University (the former Technical University of Nova Scotia), the Halifax Public Gardens, and St. Mary's Basilica. The area is also in proximity to the Citadel and the Scotiabank Centre, and several major hotels are located nearby.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint Mary's Basilica

14) Saint Mary's Basilica (must see)

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica is a Catholic cathedral located in downtown Halifax. The facade and spire are entirely of local granite, and its architectural design is said to have been inspired by Saint Martin in the Fields in London. Construction began in 1820 and it was finally consecrated on October 19, 1899. It was made a basilica in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. The basilica also boasts the tallest granite spire in North America. Saint Mary's is the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Halifax. It is the largest Catholic church in the Archdiocese.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Halifax Central Library

15) Halifax Central Library

The Halifax Central Library is a public library in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on the corner of Spring Garden Road and Queen Street. It serves as the flagship library of the Halifax Public Libraries, replacing the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library. A new central library was discussed by library administrators for several decades and approved by the regional council in 2008. Construction began later that year on a prominent downtown site that had been a parking lot for half a century.
The new library opened in December 2014 and has become a highly popular gathering place. In addition to a book collection significantly larger than that of the former library, the new building houses a wide range of amenities including cafés, an auditorium, and community rooms. The library won a Lieutenant Governor’s Design Award in Architecture for 2014 and a Governor General's Medal in Architecture in 2016.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Public Gardens

16) Public Gardens (must see)

The Halifax Public Gardens are Victorian era public gardens formally established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. The gardens were designated as a national historic site in 1984. The Public Gardens encompass 16 acres and are bounded by Spring Garden Road, South Park Street, Summer Street and Sackville Street. They are open annually from approximately May 1 until November 1. The landscaping style is Victorian formal and provides a popular setting for wedding and prom photos.

In addition to statues and extensive flower beds, there are three fountains, two stone bridges, three ponds (one large and two small), and a small concession building (located in the original Horticultural Hall). The gardens also feature a bandstand that is used for free public concerts on Sunday afternoons during the summer. There are celebrations in the gardens every year on Canada day (July 1st) and Natal Day (the first Monday in August). In the past, many people enjoyed feeding the ducks who make the gardens their home, although it is now prohibited.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Halifax, Canada

Create Your Own Walk in Halifax

Create Your Own Walk in Halifax

Creating your own self-guided walk in Halifax is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Top Religious Buildings

Top Religious Buildings

Halifax contains a variety of religious buildings, including Brunswick Street United Church and Saint George's Church, as well as old Gothic ones such as Saint Mary's Basilica and Saint Patrick's Church. Besides their beautiful architecture, each one has a unique history all its own.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Halifax Art Galleries Tour

Halifax Art Galleries Tour

Halifax is an art-oriented city where many budding artists make their mark, which is why its streets are full of galleries. Whether you prefer classic paintings or modern sculptures, realistic photographs or abstract drawings, Halifax has a gallery to suit your taste.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Best Pubs and Lounges in Halifax

Best Pubs and Lounges in Halifax

Halifax is a busy city that has an active nightlife scene. With plenty of pubs and lounges to enjoy a cocktail or local beer, live music performances can also be found. Take the following tour to discover the best places in Halifax to enjoy your evening and receive great service.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Halifax Museum Tour

Halifax Museum Tour

Because Halifax has a rich history its museums have much to offer visitors. You will be surprised to find out many new facts about ordinary things at the Discovery Centre, learn about the city's history in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the Army Museum and the Costume Studies Musueum, admire nature in the Museum of Natural History and Thomas McCulloch Museum and discover Canadian...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 Km or 2.9 Miles
Halifax Historical Buildings

Halifax Historical Buildings

Halifax, a city with a rich and fascinating history, contains a lot of historic architecture. Some landmarks reflect its culture, while others its political past, like the House of Assembly. Other sites speak of its development in education, such as Dalhousie University and the University of King's College.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles