The ferries are an important part of the local transportation to and from Dartmouth. Buy your tickets from the man at the entrance gate (exact change). There are tickets for ferry use only or connecting tickets, so you can take the bus at the other end to go further.
See the slideshow I made.
We drove to Halifax from Cape Breton but a car is not a handy thing in the city. It is best to leave it where you are staying and preferably take the ferry into town. The ferries run from Davenport and are frequent and cheap (CAN$ 1.75). There are also scenic boat trips of the Harbor and one popular one was aboard this cute little tugboat!
The oldest ferry in Canada, this is now a passenger ferry that crosses Halifax Harbour from 6 a.m. to midnight. It used to carry vehicles but when the MacDonald bridge opened in 1955 it soon became a foot passenger ferry. Fares are the same as the bus fares (see other tip) as it's all the same transportation network. You can use your monthly pass, a ticket or a transfer to get on the ferry or get a transfer from the commissionaire in the terminal to transfer to a bus when you get off. You get a great view of the Halifax skyline. On the Dartmouth side is Alderney Gate, a complex that has a community theatre, library (with a few free internet access terminals), outdoor event venue and market. You can get busses from here to MicMacMall and Penhorn Mall where there are many shops and department stores. There is also a ferry to Woodside but that only runs during morning and afternoon rush hour and there isn't much to see out there really. Woodside is handy for getting to the Dartmouth General Hospital (take the 60 Bridge bus which will stop at the ferry terminal)
2010 prices are $2.25 per adult per ride. You cannot stay on the ferry and return, you must disembark and pay for the ride back again. See the Public Transportation tip for full costs.
The Halifax ferry terminal is located at the foot of George Street, right at (not surprisingly) the harbor. There is a ferry that departs every 15 or 30 minutes from each side of the harbour (the city of Darmouth is on the other side). The schedule is generally every 15 minutes weekdays and half-hourly on Saturdays and holidays.
There are other private charters and cruises that depart from just around the ferry terminal area in Halifax, including boat tours out to Peggy's Cove, and whale-watching cruises. For more information on the various options, I'd suggest resorting to google - we didn't do a cruise in Halifax so I can't offer any suggestions.
For more information on the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry service and on Halifax regional transportation in general, check out the HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) website.
We drove and enjoyed it, but Nova Scotia isn't all that easily of an accessible place to reach by vehicle from the US. Therefore, if time is an issue or you don't enjoy driving all that much, you can hop on the ferry in Bar Harbor, ME and take a 3 hour ride to Yarmouth, NS. It's possible to put your vehicle on the ferry and the drive to Halifax from there. It will definitely save you a lot of time and shorten the distance.
We drove everywhere while there. Here is a link for Halifax Metro Transit.
You can't really see it well in this photo but there is a ferry on the far left.
Be sure to view the Halifax Travelogue for more photos. .
From Boston we drove up to Portland, ME. There we took an overnight ferry, the Scotia Prince, to Yarmouth, NS. The ferry is more like a cruise ship, complete with a casino, duty-free shops and other amenities. For entertainment there's a karaoke session and singing and dancing in the ship's lounge.
My hotel was in Dartmouth and the train station was in Halifax. So I choose the ferry to get back and forth. From the ferry you could get a good view of the harbor and the skylines of both Halifax and Dartmouth. You could also get a good view of George's Island (pictured). It was very reasonable ($1.65 one way) and ran every 15 minutes.