Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists

halifax city guide for cycle tourists

So here is our halifax city guide for cycle tourists! Some cyclists end here, some cyclists start here, some might just pass through. Either way, Halifax is the biggest city in the Maritimes, and definitely has a lot to offer. I’ve spent the past 6 months in Halifax, exploring the city and discovering a few things worthy of sharing with other visiting cycle tourists.

Who will find this Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists beneficial?

  • Anyone on a cycle tour that plans on passing through Halifax at some point.
  • Someone visiting Halifax on a budget

Some useful things to know about Halifax

  • Generally, I didn’t find the city to easy to cycle around. There are a few cycle paths, but these few and far between and usually end suddenly. I definitely recommend taking care when riding around the city.
  • Halifax is full of awesome craft breweries! Definitely worth checking a few out is you like beer – or check out this Self Guided Halifax brewery Tour.
  • This may only be something I found odd, but pedestrians tend to walk out in front of traffic without looking a lot. It is almost assumed that everywhere you cross the road is actually a pedestrian crossing. I didn’t notice this anywhere else in Canada, but I definitely noticed it in Halifax.
  • Despite the small size of the city, there is a lot of traffic during the peak hours. Try and avoid cycling during this time if possible.
good robot halifax
Checking out the craft brewery scene in Halifax

Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists

Accommodation

Warmshowers and Couchsurfing does exist in Halifax, though the communities are a bit smaller than some of the other Canadian cities.

Airbnb definitely offers some of the cheapest accommodation options. Otherwise, I like to use Bookings (take advantage of $25 of free credit). Hostelz is also a pretty good site to use, particularly if  you are looking for dorm room accommodation.

The North End of Halifax is considered to be a bit sketchy, but nothing compared to East Hastings in Vancouver, or the likes in similar cities. The dodgiest street is probably Gottingen Street.

If you’re looking to save a bit on accommodation then look to Dartmouth. It’s a quick ferry ride away from downtown Halifax, and (if the bridge construction is finished by the time you arrive) there is a bike lane over the Macdonald Bridge, which connects Halifax and Dartmouth.

The Public Gardens in Halifax during Autumn
The Public Gardens in Halifax during Autumn

Bike & Outdoor Stores 

We had good experiences at these bike stores:

CyclesmithSuper friendly bunch! A little pricey compared to a few other places in Halifax, but definitely guanetted to do a good job.

Long Alley BicyclesThis is a little place on Quinpool. Super helpful staff, and definitely one of the cheapest bike stores in Halifax.

Halifax CyclesThis store seemed to have a lot of touring gear. The owners are also cycle tourists, so they’re pretty good at catering to the needs of cycle tourists – and they sell some pretty awesome bicycle jewellery too. This bike store also helped a couple of my cyclist friends box up their bike for their flight.

Mountain Equipment Co (MEC): It is $5 for a lifetime membership and it is definitely worth it. You will love this store. They are dotted all over Canada (in the major cities, though more so in the West), have an AWESOME return policy and sell everything from bike stuff to camping gear to outdoors clothes. There is a small store located in downtown Halifax.

There is also a Patagonia Store, which is located in the stunning old brewery building of Alexander Keith. Definitely worth checking out as it is a really cool building.

If you head over to the Halifax Shopping Centre, make sure you take some out-of-town ID with you. This mall gives out a free $5 voucher to all out-of-town visitors. They have a pretty big Sport Chek store there – and you can check out where I worked over Winter; the Newfoundland Chocolate Company!

Tourist things to do

Maritime Museum

Every Tuesday 5pm – 8pm the museum offers free entry and free talks.

You’ll probably not be surprised to discover that Halifax has a huge maritime history. The museum has a really good exhibit on the Halifax Explosion and also the Titanic.

Citadel Hill

Free entry 30 minutes before closing

You can’t miss this place! Even if you don’t want to visit the Citadel, it’s still worth walking up to the viewpoint. If you happen to be walking passed the citadel at midday, then be warned. Every day at midday the canyon is fired.

Fairview Cemetery (titanic graves)

This is found on the outskirts of Halifax, towards Bedford. They are still easy to cycle or bus to. Or, if you are entering Halifax via highway 2, you can easily detour via the graves. We actually did this by accident when we arrived into Halifax. I found the graves really interesting – read the information board if you do visit!

Fisherman’s cove

You will either have to bus or cycle to this little fishing village. It’s very cute! This is also where you can catch the ferry (approx. $20) to McNab’s Island. There are lots of hiking trails on McNabs that are worth checking out.

Emera Oval (or the commons)

Free skating in winter and free roller blading in summer. A nice place to chill with a picnic and a good book on a sunny day. Another nice place to relax is the Public Gardens.

Seaport Markets

I love these markets! The best day to go is Saturday – this is the busiest day, but it’s also when they have the most stalls open. If you like wine, there are also plenty of wine stalls at the markets that offer tastings, along with local rum and vodka stalls. It’s also the oldest continuously running, commercial market in America.

Bluff Wilderness Trail

Probably the best hike I’ve done near Halifax. It’s beautiful, though if you’ve just come from the Rockies, then it probably won’t compare. It is easily accessibly by bike and bus. There is a really good bike trail that leads straight past the trailhead. The trailhead is about 15km from Halifax. Pleasant Point Park, near downtown Halifax and also Dingle Park, next to Purcell’s Cove are also really pretty parks with some shorter hiking trails.

The cycle trail to the Bluff Wilderness Trail (also the cycle trail towards Yarmouth and Digby)
The cycle trail to the Bluff Wilderness Trail (also the cycle trail towards Yarmouth and Digby)

Cheap Massage

While in Halifax I discovered the College of Massage & hydrotherapy student intern clinic. This clinic was offer hour massages for less than $30. I have to admit I was a little reluctant at first, but I was pleasantly surprised. My masseuse, Breanne was brilliant! She even sorted out some wrist issues that I had been having, and taught me how to correct the issue myself in future.

The free magazine you want to check out is The Coast. It’s released every Thursday, and lists all the different events in and around Halifax. It’s also available online, but I personally find the paper version easier to navigate.

Getting In & Out

Most people will ride into Halifax one of two ways down highway 2 via Bedford (and if you like the Titanic Graves), or via highway 7 and through Dartmouth. Both routes are busy and not really a whole lot of fun. If you do choose to go via Dartmouth then you will either have to take the ferry, or if the MacDonald Bridge is opened, you can cycle over that. The McKay Bridge does not allow cyclists and they are quite strict on that.

If you are headed to Yarmouth or Digby (via Kejimkujik) then there is a bike path that starts near the Rotary/ Armdale area of Halifax. The bike route is paved and well maintained until the Hubbards, from there you might want to get on one of the roads.

To/from the airport

I’ve used Driver Daves shuttle service to and from the airport. They are cheaper than the taxi and pick you up from your accommodation (unlike the other airport shuttles and public airport bus). So if you have a bike box it’s a bit more convenient. They charge $10 per bike box. Also, Uber doesn’t exist in Halifax… yet!

Dingle Park in Halifax in winter
Dingle Park in Halifax in winter

We enjoyed our time in Halifax! There are lots of good restaurants, breweries, markets and random events going on in this student city.

I hope you found this Halifax City Guide for Cycle Tourists useful. Do you know of any cycle friendly places in Halifax that I missed? Let us know in the comment section below.

If you plan on cycling through Vancouver at any point during your cycle trip, then check out our Vancouver City Guide for Cycle Tourists to help you make the most of your visit.

Safe trails!

Cycling Nova Scotia: Hello Halifax!

nova scotia sign, Cycling Nova Scotia: Halifax

Kelly’s write up about cycling Nova Scotia during our 7000km cycle tour across Canada in the Autumn of 2016. Michael’s write up will be available soon.

The storm

Cycling Nova Scotia and the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton was going to be a challenge, and instead of feeling like strong cyclists we were feeling a bit worn down.

The ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia was great! I’m always excited to be on a ferry and this one was no different. Once we made it to Nova Scotia, we headed towards Pictou, made a quick stop at the supermarket, and then headed down the cycle path to look for a camp spot. Our plan was to set up camp before the rain hit. What was left of hurricane Matthew was passing through Nova Scotia. People had told us to be prepared for lots of rain.

We discovered an awesome spot next to the river, set up camp early and started to cook dinner. The rain started as soon as we jumped in then tent, and it didn’t stop.

At some point during the night, we woke to discover water was leaking through the bottom and sides of the tent. We moved our important things and tried to get back to sleep. Neither of us got much sleep that night. Michael had already been having issues sleeping as his mattress had ‘exploded.’ The foam had come away and bloated out, making it a very uncomfortable to sleep on. He ended up just deflating it and sleeping on it like that.

halifax
We made it to Halifax – eventually!

Thanksgiving Day

When morning came it was still raining and it didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. We waited a little while to see whether the rain would ease off. It didn’t. Eventually, we made a run. Packed up our stuff and the tent quickly, and headed off into town to take shelter in the Tim Hortons. We arrived 10 minutes later looking like drowned rats. The locals even took pity on us. One lady mistaken Michael for a homeless person and offered to give him money for coffee.

When I checked the weather forecast the previous day, the rain was supposed to clear up in the afternoon. The rain however decided to stay, along with winds exceeding 160km per hour. There was no way we were cycling!

An hour later we were checked into a downtown B&B, warming up with some tea and a hot shower. We spent the rest of the day there, sheltering from the storm.

It was Thanksgiving, and the winds were getting stronger. Half the town lost power, trees were blown down everywhere and there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. We headed out to find somewhere to grab some dinner, and ended up eating a “vegetarian” Thanksgiving dinner at the local pub. It was yum!

Change in plans

The following day we heard that Cape Breton had been hit pretty hard by the storm. Most places had lost power, roads were washed out and things were closing early for the season. That along with our leaky tent and Michael’s exploded mattress would mean a rather uncomfortable 2 weeks cycling the Cabot trail. So we changed our plans for cycling Nova Scotia and Cape Breton! We decided to head to Halifax early.

cape breton canada
Cape Breton – we made it there, just not on the bikes!

Cycling Nova Scotia: the final leg to Halifax!

From Pictou we had less than 200km to make it to Halifax. We could easily do that in two days. So off we set. The following few days after the storm were lovely. If it weren’t for all the fallen trees, it would have been hard to believe the storm had even hit.

The following two days were great. The autumn colours were out, so the valley took on a beautiful red, orange and green colour. We couldn’t move into our apartment in Halifax until the end of the month, so hit up a couchsurfer to help us out. Jeff kindly offered to put us up until we could move into our place. Thanks Jeff, you’re a total legend!

We’ve spent the past week in Windsor Junction, about 30km from Halifax, and tomorrow we will move into our apartment in Halifax! Exciting times!

couchsurfing cape breton
Our awesome couchsurfer!

We made it coast to coast across Canada

7000km on a bike, from Vancouver to Halifax – we made it! The trip we talked about doing 3 years prior, was finally complete. To give you some perspective on the distance we covered – our last cycle trip from France to China was 8,500km. We cycled through 15 countries. This trip we cycled 7000km in one country. Canada is friggin’ huge!

We now have 5 months to save up some cash, survive a Canadian winter and prepare for the next leg of our world cycle trip: cycling across the USA to Mexico!

Cycling Nova Scotia turned out to be only a short stint of the entire coast to coast trip, however we will spend the first week of the next cycle leg cycling Nova Scotia, before hitting up the USA.

Thank you Canada!

Thank you to all the amazing people we met on our trip across Canada. It wouldn’t have been such a great experience without. It truly is the people you meet that make a trip memorable, so thank you for being apart of our cycle tour. If you happened to be in Halifax over winter, then please let us know!

[ctt template=”8″ link=”O0Z6a” via=”yes” ]It truly is the people you meet that make a trip memorable! @CycleTrekkers[/ctt]

I’m pretty nerdy and like to keep track of our stats – check them out here, if you’re interested!