The capital of Nova Scotia is any historian's dream: This harbor town has been a British stronghold and a pirate haven. The city was also the starting point for more than a million immigrants' new lives and the final resting place for hundreds who died at sea as the "unsinkable" Titanic drowned in the icy Atlantic. And with so many of Halifax's top attractions devoted to the preservation of its rich history, you might think that this city is stuck in the past. But you'd be wrong.
Halifax has emerged as the commercial capital of Canada's Maritime Provinces thanks to its natural harbor. This status has helped Halifax come into its own as a cultural hub as well. For visitors, that means an abundance of festivals, art galleries and live performances. This is also a great place to kick off an outdoorsy getaway -- Halifax is home to several notable public parks and is an easy drive from some small-yet-notable ski areas. And did we mention the seafood? Salmon and lobster are staple ingredients in Nova Scotian cuisine and can be savored alongside stunning views of the harbor at many downtown restaurants. So whether you're looking to sample the past or the present, Halifax provides an ideal backdrop.
The best time to visit Halifax is May through October. Summer and fall experience pleasant weather and usher in numerous festivals. However, these months also attract lots of tourists, so be prepared for steep hotel rates. If you're looking to avoid the crowds and the high prices, visit between November and February. Sure, you'll encounter icy winds (easily braved with warm layers), but you'll be granted access to Nova Scotia's ski slopes. March and April also see fewer visitors and lower prices, but the springtime rain can make sightseeing a muddy pursuit.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
Brave the winter Chilly sea breezes drive away tourists, so you can expect to see room rates plummet from November to February. Plus, you can spend your savings on lift tickets at one of Nova Scotia's ski areas.
Rent your wheels downtown If you're planning to rent a car, wait until you get into town. Rental fees at the airport are significantly higher than those found in Halifax proper.
Meet FRED During the summer and early fall, visitors can rely on FRED (Free Rides Everywhere Downtown) to get around. This big green bus offers complimentary service to almost all of the downtown's major attractions.
The best ways to get around Halifax are on foot or by bus. Despite its hilly terrain, central Halifax is extremely compact and walkable, but you'll need stamina and sturdy walking shoes. You can also rely on Metro Transit, which operates buses throughout the city and ferries to nearby Dartmouth, and the bright-green FRED bus network offers free transportation around the downtown area. However, if you're planning on venturing outside the city, you will need a car. You'll find major rental agencies both in town and at the Stanfield International Airport (YHZ), located about 20 miles north of central Halifax.See details for Getting Around
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A passport is required for citizens of the United States to travel to Canada and to re-enter the country. You must produce a passport, passport card or NEXUS card (which allows expedited border crossings for both private and commercial travelers through Canadian and U.S. border controls). For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website .
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