Combining the Celtic culture of Ireland and Scotland with Canadian hospitality and friendliness, Nova Scotia is a unique place. And its capital Halifax is possibly the best place to experience this fascinating hybrid culture for yourself. If you find yourself on a Halifax Airport layover, you may have the perfect opportunity to explore this ruggedly beautiful peninsula for yourself.
Halifax Airport lies around 20 miles or 30 km outside the city. Though this is an international airport, it’s not busy enough to support infrastructure such as rapid trains. Therefore, the only way to reach the city is by bus, taxi, or car. Bus number 320 runs from the airport to the city, taking around 50 minutes to make the journey, so you’ll need to plan accordingly, especially on a short stopover.
To maximize your time while you wait for your connection, drop off your heavy bags at a Halifax luggage storage. Traveling light will make it much easier to enjoy everything the capital of Nova Scotia has to offer.
6 hour layover in Halifax
Given the distance from the airport to the city, a six-hour Halifax layover doesn’t give you a ton of time to enjoy the city. You’ll want to leave at least an hour each way to get from and to the airport, plus your time spent clearing customs. At the same time, Halifax Airport is fairly small and doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to killing time, so heading into the city becomes all the more tempting.
Bus 320 stops in Scotia Square, and since this is one of the city’s main shopping and entertainment districts, it’s the perfect place for a quick stop. Almost from the moment you step off the bus, you’ll be surrounded by a wealth of restaurants and interesting stores, and you can easily spend an hour or two soaking up the vibe. Instead of trying to do too much, keep things simple by getting a bite to eat or a drink in the square and enjoying the atmosphere.
- Take bus 320 from the airport to Scotia Square.
- Get something to eat or drink and enjoy the lively atmosphere of one of Halifax’s premier shopping districts.
8 hour layover in Halifax
With eight hours to spend in the city, you can afford to branch out a little bit. From Scotia Square, it’s only a short walk to one of the city’s most important historic monuments. Halifax Citadel National Historic Site is a 18th-century star fort built to protect the harbor from naval attack. The fortress is far older than the country of Canada and dates back to when Halifax was an outpost of the British Empire. The on-site museum will explain more about the history of this location, and you can easily spend a couple of hours learning about the past and enjoying the stunning views of the harbor from here.
- Walk from Scotia Square to Halifax Citadel.
- Learn about the history of the fort and the city it serves.
- Enjoy stunning ocean views and stretch your legs before your flight.
10 hour layover in Halifax
The longer you have to spend on your Halifax layover, the more you’ll get to see. With 10 hours to kill, you can add another attraction to your itinerary. Right next to the Halifax Citadel, you’ll find the city’s Public Gardens. This remarkable public garden dates back to 1836, and its well-tended lawns and flower beds have been the pride of the city for well over a century. It’s the ideal place to get some peace and quiet and recharge your batteries for your next flight. It’s also a great place to spot wildlife and enjoy a glimpse of nature in the heart of the city.
- Take a short walk from Halifax Citadel to the Public Gardens.
- Enjoy the plants and animals that call the Gardens home.
- There are often musical performances and other exhibitions in the Gardens for visitors to enjoy.
12 hour layover in Halifax
After the Public Gardens, head down to Halifax’s famous waterfront to check out the Museum of Canadian Immigration at Pier 21. A kind of Canadian Ellis Island, Pier 21 was where Canada received thousands of immigrants from Europe and around the world. This history of immigration has made Nova Scotia and Canada what it is today, and the lives and stories of these immigrants are celebrated at this fascinating museum. You’ll want to spend at least a couple of hours here, or maybe longer if you decide to trace your own family history at the on-site genealogy research center.
- Head to Halifax waterfront and visit the Museum of Canadian Immigration at Pier 21.
- Learn the stories of immigrants to Canada and research your own family history.
24 hour layover in Halifax
With an overnight layover in Halifax, you can see much more of the city. Dropping your bags off at a Halifax luggage storage will really allow you to make the most of your time. And with an overnight stay, you’ll be able to enjoy the city’s nightlife as well as its daytime attractions.
Halifax’s heritage of immigration from Ireland and Scotland has left it with a unique culture, and there’s no better way to experience this than by experiencing some live music at the city’s famous pubs. Venues such as The Carleton, The Auction House, and the Old Triangle let you enjoy Celtic and other musical styles with a pint or meal. Friendly locals will make sure you’re welcomed as you experience this fascinating Atlantic culture.
The next day, check out the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The presence of the sea has shaped the history of Halifax, including its naval and fishing heritage, and understanding maritime history is key to understanding the city. A few hours at this museum will give you a good grounding in the city’s past and help you understand more about it before you head back to the airport to get your next flight.
- Enjoy Canadian Maritime culture by listening to live Celtic music at one of Halifax’s many pubs.
- Visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to learn more about how the sea has shaped the history of the city.