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What You Need To Know

Proud Halifax locals (known as Haligonians), many of whom have come from other parts of Nova Scotia, have a great quality of life: sea breezes keep the air clean; leafy, manicured parks and gardens nestle between heritage buildings; there’s a thriving arts, theater and culinary scene; and the numerous pubs, with their craft-brew culture and love for bands, quite simply, go off.
It’s not just a city for the young – Halifax’s longevity ensures something of appeal for everyone. Stroll the historic waterfront, check out a museum or two, catch some live music and enjoy the best of what Eastern Canada has to offer , you’ll find Haligonians to be more than happy to share their fabulous little city with visitors from around the world.

Area:5,490 km²
Population:390,095 (2011)

Currency

  • Canadian and American dollars are not at par. American currency is accepted in most establishments at variable exchange rates.
    Legal tender is the Canadian dollar, which divides into 100 cents. Bills come in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. The coins in use are of the following denominations: 5, 10 and 25 cents, as well as one and two dollars.
    On arrival, visitors should obtain Canadian currency at the official exchange rate in order to avoid problems.
  • Normal banking hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, with extended hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at some locations. Traveler’s cheques, ideally in Canadian funds, are the safest way to carry money and are accepted by banks and major commercial establishments.
  • Major credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted almost everywhere.
    With the advent of automated teller machines, visitors can do banking through network systems like “Plus”, “Circus”, “Interac”, etc. and enjoy excellent rates of exchange.

Weather

Halifax’s climate is less severe than might be expected.
This is a result of its location on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Winter temperatures are higher and summer temperatures are lower than those encountered in towns farther inland.
Halifax has an eastern-maritime climate, with a short, warm summer and a cold winter. Disturbed, changeable weather is common throughout the year.

Snow depths of greater than 1 cm are seen on about 85 days each year in Halifax.
Comparing Halifax with some other Canadian cities, snow depths of greater than 1 cm are seen on about:

10 days each year in Vancouver, 35 days in Penticton, 53 days each year in Windsor, 65 days in Toronto, 88 days in Calgary, 105 days each year in Fredericton, 109 days in Montreal, 120 days in Ottawa, and 132 days in Winnipeg.

Sunshine is somewhat less common in Halifax than in most Canadian cities owing to Nova Scotia’s notorious fogs. Halifax has over 100 days of mist or fog each year.
Summers in Halifax are pleasantly warm. The best summer weather is usually encountered in mid-summer and late summer when, compared with earlier in the season, fogs are rare.

Language

Both of Canada’s official languages – English and French – are spoken throughout Nova Scotia.

Health and security

  • Halifax is a very safe city overall. Areas to stay clear of include Gottingen (only at night…during day is not horrible at all and there is a major police detachment right there), Uniacke Square (off of Gottingen), and some streets slightly outside the city around Dutch Village has been experiencing more crime.
    Most of Halifax is really safe and friendly. Like any larger city, if you look for trouble, you’ll find it. Most hotels are in the downtown core and streets such as Grafton, Spring Garden and Quinpool all offer shops, restaurants and bars that are enjoyable. Halifax is also really friendly as alot of residents from the city are pretty great and those who move in are mostly from small Nova Scotian towns, and are often willing to help.
  • If your health insurance does not cover travel outside your home country, you’ll want to obtain Canadian travel health insurance before visiting. Make sure you review it to confirm what is and isn’t covered as there are many different packages for travel health insurance in Canada. Don’t forget to bring your health insurance card, as well as family contact information, with you when you visit.
    Canada has one of the best health care systems in the world, with its hospitals and medical centres funded by provincial health authorities. The cost of medical services in Canada for visitors varies across the country and depends on the complexity of each case. In most hospitals, a day of in-patient care will cost approximately $1,000-$2,000 a day.

    If you need emergency medical services in Canada, most hospitals operate 24-hour emergency rooms. You will also find walk-in clinics in many towns and cities, where visitors can receive non-emergency treatment. Similar to hospitals, the cost for care will vary across the country and on the complexity of your situation.

DON’T

  • The Tobacco Law forbids smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants.
  • Like any city, be careful especially at night. Halifax is not considered a dangerous city but it does have its share of criminal activities. Just use common sense and avoid walking alone at night, especially if you are female.

DO

  • Remember to carry your prescription medications in their original packaging, including their pharmacy labels. If you are carrying your medication in a weekly pill container or other non-pharmacy package, it’s a good idea to bring along a copy of your prescription or a letter from the prescribing doctor. Some people also choose to bring their glasses or contacts prescription, in case they need to be replaced.