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19 Free Things to Do in Halifax

Are you on a tight budget but still want to make the most of your trip to Halifax? There are plenty of free things to do in Halifax that will make your trip memorable without breaking the bank. From historic landmarks to outdoor activities, there's something for everyone in Halifax.

Aerial view of Halifax city, star-shaped citadel and the ocean

At Canadian Train Vacations our travel experts put together personalized trip itineraries. In this guide, we cover the best free activities and experiences in Halifax that you won't want to miss. You'll also find information about hours of operation (when that applies) and how to get the most out of your visit.

Whether you've been before or are visiting for the first time, you'll find something new on our list. Let's see what Halifax has to offer.

1. Halifax Waterfront

This beautiful walkway is 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) long and goes along the city's historic harbor. It's one of the most popular free things to do in the city, with around 3 million visitors every year. In the summer, street performers and other events bring the waterfront to life.

Be sure to visit the Tall Ships Quay from May to October. We also recommend a guided walking tour to learn about the harbor's history. There are admission fees for some of the museums, like the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. The museums offer free admission on certain days.

Halifax Waterfront is a must-see when you're in the city.
Hours of operation: open 24 hours/day

Pink sunset over a restaurant patio on the Halifax waterfront boardwalk

2. HMCS Sackville

Docked in Halifax's Naval Dockyard from November to mid-June each year, the HMCS Sackville is Canada's oldest warship.  From late June to October, the ship is moved to Sackville Landing (near the Maritime Museum). It is a corvette (an escort ship) from the Flower class and was used in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War II. It is now a museum and a memorial to the sailors who served on it and the more than 4,000 Canadians who died in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the ship and learn about how the sailors lived, what tools they used, and what they did every day. As part of the tour, there is also a video and audio show about the Battle of the Atlantic.

Admission is by donation.
Hours of operation: 10 am – 4:45 pm; 7 days per week.

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3. Halifax Oval

The Emera Oval is the largest outdoor icerink in Eastern Canada. It offers public skating and hockey, skating lessons, hockey camps, and more. Visitors can also take a tour of the Oval and learn about the history of the facility and the sports that are played there.

In the summer months, the Oval is home to the Halifax Regional Municipality's Active Living and Culture department's free fitness classes and sports programs. The Oval is also a popular spot for running, cycling, and rollerblading. With a variety of activities and programs offered, Halifax Oval is a great destination for visitors looking to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors.

Hours of operation: weather dependent — check its website for daily public skate times

People ice skating on a large outdoor rink in winter

4. Seaport Farmers' Market

This weekend market is one of the most popular and oldest in the city. Located on the waterfront, it sees over 1.5 million visitors every year. The market has a wide range of fresh produce, meats, seafood, baked goods, crafts, and other local and regional goods. Live music, cooking demonstrations, and other cultural events are also available to visitors. The market is open all year and is a great way to try some of the best food in Halifax.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday - Closed
Saturday - 8 am to 2 pm
Sunday - 10 am to 2 pm

Flat lay shot of a tote bag with fresh produce on a blue table

5. Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame works to keep and share the rich sports history of the province. It recognizes the achievements of athletes, teams, coaches, and builders from Nova Scotia. The hall has displays, artifacts, and exhibits that show the history and accomplishments of Nova Scotia's sports heroes. Visitors can find out about the history of sports in Nova Scotia, what the inductees have done, and how they have affected the community. There are also special events and exhibits at the Hall of Fame all through the year. The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame is an excellent place for people who want to learn more about the province's sports history.

The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame is next to the Scotiabank Centre.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 10:30 am to 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: noon to 3 pm

#1 Travel tip: See Maud Lewis' artwork

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Don’t miss the Maud Lewis exhibition! Lewis was a folk artist who transformed her house into a colourful work of art, and this is on display inside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

6. The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

The gallery is the oldest and biggest art museum in Atlantic Canada. It has more than 19,000 pieces of art in its collection. The permanent collection has works by artists from Nova Scotia, Canada, and other countries from the 16th century to the present day. Contemporary art from both new and well-known artists is also shown in temporary exhibitions at the gallery. Visitors can take a tour of the gallery and learn about the art and the artists who made it. The gallery also has events, lectures, and educational programs, as well as a gift shop. The gallery has free admission on Thursday nights between 5pm and 9pm. 

Hours of operation:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm

A couple and their dog looking at a black sculpture outside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

7. Citadel Hill

This star-shaped fort on the hill over Halifax has been a symbol of the city for more than 200 years. In the early 1800s, the British army built the fort to protect the city from possible attacks.

It's been a Canadian National Historic Site since 1952. It's worth visiting the site just to walk around the outside of the fort. There is an admission cost to enter, but youth under 17 are free. Visitors can go on tours of the fort and learn about its history and how it affected the growth of the city.

The tour includes the barracks, the parade square, the powder magazine, and the officers' quarters. Visitors can also see a lot of the city from the top of the hill. Citadel Hill also has an information center and a gift shop.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday: 9 am to 5 pm

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site in the shape of a star on a green hill above the city

8. Naval Museum of Halifax 

The museum's goal is to keep the history of the Royal Canadian Navy and show how important it was to the country's growth. The museum has displays, artifacts, and interactive displays that show the Navy's history from its beginnings to the present day. Visitors can find out about the Navy's ships, submarines, and planes, as well as the sailors who worked on them. There are also educational programs, talks, and events at the museum. Please note that donations are required for admission to the museum.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

9. Province House

The House of Assembly is the Canadian province of Nova Scotia's legislative body. It meets in Province House, which is a National Historic Site. Visitors can take a tour of the historic building and learn about the history of the legislature, the role of the assembly, and the people who have been members. On the tour, you will see the legislative chamber, the office of the speaker, and the legislative library. From the public gallery, visitors can also watch how the assembly works.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

#2 Travel tip: Garden events

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Maximize your visit to the Halifax Public Gardens by joining one of their free horticultural and historical tours or morning bird walks. In the summer, there are concerts in the gardens.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

10. Halifax Public Gardens

The gardens are a beautiful Victorian garden in the middle of downtown Halifax. They are one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in the city. There are many different kinds of plants, flowers, and trees in the gardens. There is also a duck pond, a bandstand, and a greenhouse from the Victorian era. Visitors can walk through the gardens and enjoy the quiet atmosphere and colorful flowers. There is a cafe inside the Horitcultural Hall, a Victorian building. Throughout the year, the gardens host many special events and exhibits. They have a beautiful setting and a wide range of plants and flowers.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday: 8 am to 1/2 hour before sunset

Victorian Style Gazebo in the Halifax Public Gardens

11. St. Paul’s Anglican Church

One of Halifax's oldest buildings is St. Paul's Anglican Church. Built in the 1800s, it is a masterpiece of architecture. The church is known for its beautiful Gothic Revival architecture, stained glass windows, and intricate woodwork. Visitors can take a tour of the church and learn about its history and how it helped the city grow.

On the tour, you will see the nave, the chancel, the transept, and the tower. Visitors can also go to the Sunday service and hear beautiful music played on the organ.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 12 noon
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: 10 am to 2 pm

People sitting on a picnic bench in a public park outside a white church

12. Point Pleasant Park

Point Pleasant Park is a must-see for anyone who loves nature. The park is a beautiful public park on the southern tip of the Halifax Peninsula. It is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in the city. There are many different kinds of plants, flowers, and trees in the park, as well as a duck pond, a playground, and several walking paths. Visitors can take a walk through the park and enjoy views of the woodland and the Atlantic Ocean. The park has 39 kilometres of easy trails.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday: 5 am to midnight

Two people walking along a snowy trail in Point Pleasant Park

13. Halifax Central Library

The Halifax Central Library is a great example of modern architecture and is one of the most popular places to visit in the city. There are many different kinds of books, magazines, newspapers, and other materials in the library, as well as many educational and cultural programs and events. Visitors can take a tour of the library and find out about its history and how it helped the city grow. The library also has a rooftop terrace, a gift shop, and a café.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Thursday: 9 am to 9 pm
Friday and Saturday: 9 am to 6 pm
Sunday: 12 noon to 6 pm

Bikes and people outside the Halifax Central Library at twilight

14. Sir Sandford Fleming Park

The 95-acre park is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in the city. There are several pathways, small beaches, wooded areas, and freshwater ponds. The Dingle Tower is the park's landmark.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday: 8 am to 10 pm

Ducks on the water as the sun sets behind the trees in Sir Sandford Fleming Park

15. Fairview Lawn Cemetery

History buffs will want to check out Fairview Lawn Cemetary. Many of the people who died during the sinking of the RMS Titanic are buried here. Some guided tours stop here, or you can do a self-guided tour, and learn some of the stories of the Titanic victims. 

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday: 8 am to 4 pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

16. Fort Needham Memorial Park

Fort Needham Memorial Park is a hilltop park in Halifax's Hydrostone district. Visitors can see the Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower and listen to the hourly bell strikes. The park has picnic tables, walking trails, and a children's playground. Since the park is located at one of the highest points in the area, visitors are treated to sweeping views of the city.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Sunday: 5am to 10pm

17. Cole Harbour Heritage Farm

Cole Harbour Heritage Farm is a must-see if you want to learn about Halifax's rural past. Visitors to this living history farm can see what life was like in a 19th-century farming town and learn about the area's history and culture. There are many historic buildings on the farm, such as a farmhouse, a barn, and a blacksmith shop. There are also cows, pigs, and chickens.

During some events, visitors can do things like churn butter, plant a garden, or try their hand at blacksmithing. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful countryside and explore the property's nature trails. The farm is only open during certain times of the year. Throughout the year, there are guided tours and special events.

Cole Harbour Heritage Farm is a 25-minute drive from Halifax. Admission is by donation.

Hours of operation:
Monday and Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Sunday : 10 am - 4 pm (May 15th to October 15th)

18. Shearwater Aviation Museum

Located at the Shearwater Airbase, this museum holds a large collection of aircraft, artifacts, and other items from the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Armed Forces. The permanent collection has planes, engines, photos, and other things that show the history of military aviation in Canada. Visitors can also watch the restoration work being done and learn about the planes on display. Admission is free but the museum accepts donations.

Hours of operation:
Monday to Friday :10 am to 5 pm
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

19. Scott Manor House Museum

At Scott Manor House Museum, you can take a step back in time and see how people lived in the 18th century. The museum is in a Georgian-style house built around 1770, which makes it one of the oldest houses still standing in Halifax. Admission is free, but donations are recommended.

Hours of operation:
Monday: 1 pm to 4 pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday: Closed

Aerial view of a two level manor house surrounded by trees in fall

Frequently Asked Questions

What is free in Halifax?

Visitors can enjoy free attractions such as the Halifax Public Gardens, the Halifax Waterfront, and Point Pleasant Park.

What museums are free in Halifax?

The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, Shearwater Aviation Museum, and the Naval Museum of Halifax are free to visit.

How do I spend a day in Halifax Nova Scotia?

Visitors can explore the Halifax Waterfront, Citadel Hill and the Halifax Public Gardens, and pick up local treats at the Seaport Farmers' Market.

Where can I hang out in Halifax?

Popular hangout spots in Halifax include the Halifax Waterfront, Point Pleasant Park, and the Seaport Farmers' Market.

What is Halifax most known for?

Halifax is known for its historical charm, sense of community, fresh seafood, and beautiful natural landscapes. It has the world's second-largest natural harbor and is the busy center of Atlantic Canada.

About the author: Katherine is Product Manager with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for almost 20 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in Calgary and one of her favourite Canadian destination is the... Read more

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