Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in  St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Updated on Apr 30, 2024 | Canada Visa Online

St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland, is perched above hills overlooking one of the world's most beautiful natural bays. The location is breathtaking, and unlike many cities, it closely encircles its harbor, allowing ships to arrive and depart right in the middle of its commercial and residential district.

St. John's, the earliest city created by Europeans in North America, was the base for fishing vessels from several nations as early as the 1500s, and it still has the unmistakable atmosphere of a port today. Several the best things to do in and around eastern Newfoundland will bring you closer to the nature and even wildlife that makes the region so fascinating: the seabirds and other species live off its coasts, as well as its tremendously beautiful shoreline. 

Most of its tourist attractions are closely related to its long and interesting past. For the vibrantly colored row homes in St. John, listen for the term "Jellybean Row." It could apply to any of the many clusters of painted wooden houses that line the hillside and isn't necessarily limited to one specific street. If you want to view these city landmarks, spend some time strolling the streets above Water Street.

We have created the perfect list of the top attractions in St. John's, Newfoundland, so you can find all the greatest things to do during your stay in the stunning city!

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Where Is St. John's, Newfoundland?

The city of St. John's is situated on Newfoundland's easternmost point. It was the last Canadian city before the Atlantic Ocean. A lot of flights, including those travelling to Ireland, make a stop here before crossing the Atlantic to ensure everything is in order. 

Basically, there are three options to travel to St. John's, Newfoundland. You can travel there via boat, car, or aeroplane. If you're coming by car from elsewhere in Newfoundland, you'll need to take a 6-hour boat to get to NFLD's westernmost point. The distance to St. John's, which lies on the other half of the island, is around 6 - 8 hours by car from there.

The Historic Site of Signal Hill National & Cabot Tower

The best location to visit in St. John's is Signal Hill National Historic Site, which has a variety of attractions, not the least of which is the panoramic view of the city, harbor, and ocean from its vantage point. In the visitor center, you may read up on the significance of Signal Hill and the harbor as well as see the remnants of Queen's Battery, which dates to the 1700s.

The hilltop Cabot Tower was constructed in 1898 to mark the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's journey. The first transatlantic wireless broadcast and Guglielmo Marconi are also included in the interior exhibits. Marconi received the first transmission from England in this location in 1901. In the summer, the tower's side is used to fire the customary Noonday Gun every day.

Also in the summer, the Signal Hill Tattoo honors the last battle of the Seven Years' War, fought here in 1762, by reenacting military drills from the 1800s with marching bands, cannons, and musket fire. This is often performed four days a week and is one of the city's most popular attractions for families.

Whitehorse, which is home to 25,000 people, or more than half of Yukon's entire population, has developed recently into a significant hub for the arts and culture. With this list of the top tourist attractions in Whitehorse, you can discover the greatest things to do in this small but intriguing city. Learn more at Tourist Guide to Whitehorse, Canada.

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, is marked by Newfoundland's oldest still-operating lighthouse, which is perched on impressive cliffs not far from St. John's. Rising out of the middle of the keeper's house, which has been reconstructed to depict the lifestyle of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper, the 1836 lighthouse is a representation of the distinctive design of that era. The Cantwell family lived in this house for 150 years while working to keep up the light that allowed ships to pass the cape safely.

Additionally, you may see the wreckage of Fort Cape Spear, a coastal defense battery that protected St. John's and its harbor from German U-boats during World War II. Along with its historical significance, Cape Spear is a well-liked location for whale watching, iceberg hiking, and iceberg sightings.

The Rooms

The Rooms is an integrated experience that brings together the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Archives, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador on a ridge overlooking the city. The cutting-edge museum offers visitors a varied range of activities, including the chance to meet a real Newfoundland dog, taste traditional dishes, learn to play an instrument, experience a new art form, and discover how Newfoundland and Labrador were instrumental in the creation of aviation.

The entire family can always find plenty of things to see and do here. Views of the entire port are available from the observation deck.

Quidi Vidi

Quidi Vidi

The quaint small fishing town on the north side of Signal Hill has grown into a haven for regional artists and crafters, who warmly welcome guests to their studios and workshops. In addition to meeting the artists, who are happy to talk and show their work and answer questions, this is a great place to buy high-quality presents and mementoes.

The reconstructed Quidi Vidi Battery, which dates to the French occupation of St. John's, has a view of the inlet. The battery was upgraded and operated as a garrison after the British took back control in 1780 until they withdrew from Newfoundland in 1870. The fort has what may be the oldest residence still standing in British Canada, dating back to 1740. The annual St. John's Regatta, the oldest athletic event in North America, is held in Quidi Vidi Lake, which is connected to the inlet by a small channel.

Maritime Music on George Street

Traditional maritime music, which has significant Scottish and Irish influences and is dominated by the songs and ballads of sailors and fisherman, has its origins in Newfoundland. Maritime music is difficult to categorize; although its sounds and rhythms vary, it is a distinctive and enticing style that carries a strong feeling of its seafaring heritage. Maritime music frequently includes fiddle, guitar, and frequently piano. The two-block stretch of George Street, a small but bustling entertainment area in St. John's, is where you may hear it. Even at the George Street Festival in early August, when the best Newfoundland bands assemble for five days and nights of music, you won't solely hear that type of music here.

More music is played on George Street in October as it celebrates Mardi Gras (Newfoundlanders like to enjoy doing things differently). However, the welcoming restaurants and terraces on George Street provide music and merriment all year round. There are no "closing hours" here; the street is closed to traffic in the late afternoon and into the night.

Hike the East Coast Trail

One of the most breathtaking hikes in Canada is the East Coast Trail, a 300-kilometer stretch of constructed pathways that follow Newfoundland's east coast. The built area extends south to Cappahayden from Cape St. Francis, north of St. John's. For shorter excursions, several different sites provide access to certain stretches of the path.

Hikers can find fjords, sea stacks, seabird colonies, lighthouses, deserted coastal communities, whales, icebergs, puffins, archaeological sites (one not far from St. John's), and the world's southernmost caribou herd along the trail's towering cliffs and headlands. You may access The Spout, a natural sea geyser, along a portion of the trail that runs north from Bay Bulls to Shoal Bay.

The Harbor and Water Street

The Harbor and Water Street

The oldest and the most important street in North America is Water Street, which served as a route for early settlers and explorers. It continues to be the gathering spot for sailors from all over the world and is adjacent to where transatlantic cruise ships dock. St. John's commercial center.

The Murray Premises, a mercantile structure that was used as offices and a warehouse for commerce and fishing, is one of the 19th-century structures that are still standing in the historic district today. It was constructed in 1846 and was one of the few structures to escape the 1892 fire. Today, the National Historic Site is home to stores and a hotel. Harborside Park, which is located along Water Street, features benches and ship views in addition to sporadic summer performances and statues of the province's two mascot dogs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Retrievers.

The Railway Coastal Museum, which features exhibits on the province's land and maritime transportation, is located on Water Street as well.

Many of the activities to do in Halifax, from its wild entertainment scene, laced with maritime music, to its museums and tourist attractions, relate in some way to its strong association with the sea. The port and the city's maritime history still have an impact on Halifax's daily life. Learn more at Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Halifax, Canada.

Johnson GEO Centre

The Johnson GEO Center leads visitors beneath Signal Hill and through the 550-million-year-old rock bed as part of its design to incorporate the surrounding terrain into its exhibit space. More than a dozen interactive displays give an overview of Newfoundland life as well as the geologic and cultural history of the planet.

One of these, the Amazing Earth Theatre, transports viewers through time and space to a time when the Earth was a molten mass using a variety of visual effects. Other exhibitions cover the Titanic, the Solar System, the future of space exploration, and a section just for younger visitors. There are numerous activities available at this institution for kids of all ages.

Basilica of St. John the Baptist

One of the most significant structures in Newfoundland's built environment is the Roman Catholic basilica. The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, which was constructed between 1842 and 1892, is shaped like a Latin cross and has twin towers that are 46 meters tall. 

Its exquisite intricate gold leaf ceiling and a few superb statues are its most remarkable artistic elements. Portuguese sailors who were fortunate enough to survive being shipwrecked on the Banks gave the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in one of the transepts as a gift. Now a national historic site, the basilica.

Puffin and Whale Watching

The largest puffin and kittiwake colonies in North America can be found on Newfoundland's east coast, where more than 90% of the continent's Atlantic puffins breed. Over two million seabirds congregate here to breed, nest, and feed their young capelin, the tiny, herring-like fish that are abundant from mid-June until mid-July.

In June and July, you can probably see whales even from the shore since they follow the capelin and other small fish on their annual migrations into Witless Bay and the waters off Newfoundland's coast. Any boat excursion turns into a whale watch, but some companies specialize in discovering all 20 species of whales, which breach and spout anywhere the water is deep enough for them to do so. Several businesses in Witless Bay and Bay Bulls provide puffin and whale-watching cruises.

North of St. John's on the Marine Drive, in the community of Flat Rock, is an excellent site to enjoy whale- and iceberg-watching from the coast.

The Winnipeg Jets, the city's NHL franchise, are well-known internationally, but the city is also well-known nationally for its exceptional arts and culture scene. A very lively cultural life is enjoyed by the locals, also referred to as "Peggers," with everything from play and ballet to concerts and opera on offer. READ MORE:
Learn more at Tourists Guide to Manitoba, Canada.

Memorial University Botanical Garden and Pippy Park

Memorial University Botanical Garden and Pippy Park

The Memorial University (MUN) Botanical Garden contains themed gardens and pathways through several habitats, including a bog, a marsh, and various types of forest, in the sizable Pippy Park on the outskirts of the city. Along with display beds of produced annuals, perennials, and herbs, the flower gardens have significant collections of native wildflowers and plants. Rhododendrons put up a beautiful show throughout June and the beginning of July.

The Fluvarium, an underwater viewing station that provides a close-up view of the fish, insects, and plants that live beneath the water, is in Pippy Park as well, on the edge of Long Pond. Following the river that flows between Quidi Vidi Lake and Long Pond in Pippy Park, Rennie's River Trail connects the two.

Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The Anglican cathedral on Church Hill, which is the oldest Anglican church in Canada and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a National Historic Site and is located not far south of the Catholic basilica. The 1847 cathedral was designed by architect George Gilbert Scott, and it is one of the best examples of unadulterated neo-Gothic architecture in North America. Its interior is tastefully furnished as well.

The cathedral wasn't completely reconstructed until 1905 after suffering significant damage in two significant fires in the 19th century. The Crypt Tearoom offers beverages and freshly baked sweets in the afternoons during the summer.

Explore Bell Island

Bell Island, which previously housed the largest undersea ore mine in the history of the world, is reachable through a brief ferry journey from Portugal Cove, a little community a few kilometers north of St. John's. The island is distinctive due to its sandstone mass in an area primarily composed of granite and shale.

Constant water action on the relatively fragile sandstone has formed the island's amazing 100-foot cliffs, sea stacks, and caves. You may walk trails to the lighthouse, beaches, and for views of the cliffs as well as visit the mines museum to learn more about the history of the island. Birds build their nests on the rocks above sea caves at Grebe's Nest, on the northern tip of the islands.

In nearly the middle of the province, Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is located along both sides of the North Saskatchewan River. It is assumed that the city has a long-standing rivalry with Calgary, which is located just over two hours south and says Edmonton is a dull government town. Learn more at Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Edmonton, Canada.

Salmonier Nature Park

There are countless miles of undeveloped parklands nearby St. John's where moose, caribou, and other wild creatures and birds can graze freely. However, the chances for tourists to see these wild beasts are uncommon.

Salmonier Nature Park, 45 minutes from St. John's, is home to moose, caribou, lynx, foxes, otters, mink, beavers, snowy owls, and other wildlife. You may see these animals while walking a two-mile loop through the park on boardwalks that traverse marshes. Each species is ensured to be in its own native habitat by carefully designing enclosures.

The park has developed into a hub for wildlife rehabilitation, research, and environmental monitoring. It was first created for wildlife education.

Best Time to Travel To St. John's:

If you visit St. John's, Newfoundland, you probably want to know when the weather is most pleasant. The most popular season to visit is unquestionably the summer. However, this is also the busiest travel period. 

It can also be a good idea to travel to Newfoundland in the spring and fall. It could also be influenced by what you hope to see. The greatest weather is undoubtedly in the summer, but icebergs can only be seen in the spring. You'll have a higher chance of sighting whales once the icebergs are gone and the weather warms up. Fall foliage can be viewed in Newfoundland around September, however the west coast is a more well-known location for this. 

August is the warmest month of the year, so there are plenty of activities to choose from in Newfoundland. Whale watching, hiking, fishing, camping, and attending well-known festivals like the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival and the St. John's Busker's Festival are all options. The winters in Newfoundland are very harsh. It may be chilly, rainy, and snowy. Even if there is beauty in the winter, this would be the least crowded season to travel. It would be too chilly to walk anywhere, and you wouldn't be able to board a boat. But there are several locations where you can go ice fishing and snowmobiling.

If you want to visit Newfoundland during the winter months when most tourism enterprises are closed, be sure to reserve and confirm your accommodations, excursions, and other needs.

Our preferred period? From July through September, we adore Newfoundland. But June is also a nice month since you might see some icebergs.

Toronto, the largest city in Canada and the capital of the province of Ontario, is an exciting destination for tourists. Every neighborhood has something special to offer, and the vast Lake Ontario is picturesque and full of things to do. Learn more at Tourist Guide to Must Visit Places in Toronto.

Travelling Through St. John's:

There are numerous ways to get around St. John's after you arrive.

  • Driving: If you have a car, getting about is not too difficult. I would simply advise you to exercise caution when driving up slopes. San Francisco and St. John's are similar. There are many steep hills in the city. It's not too awful in the summer, but if you visit during a snowstorm or a downpour, it could be hazardous for individuals without much experience. The rest of the time, you should be alright.
  • Public transportation is available in St. John's, where a Metrobus covers most of the city. You will need precise change for the $2.50 price. If you want to use it frequently, you might want to think about getting an M-Card or several ride passes. These are available at several places, including Avalon Mall and St. John's City Hall. Free WiFi is available on all low-floor Metrobuses. You should inquire about the GoBus Accessible Transit if you have a disability.
  • Taxi: You may get taxi services almost anywhere in Canadian cities, including the airport. Taxis use meters and the base fare is $3.75. Even some cab firms provide trips. You'll need to discuss the price with the driver and/or firm.
  • Walking: When you stay in the city, you'd be astonished at how many things are close by. It will be quite the exercise because of all the hills, but it's undoubtedly one of the best ways to see St. John's. Whether you have a car or not, you should stroll around places like downtown, Harbour Drive, Water Street, and Duckworth Street. Additionally, you may explore the city's famously colorful row houses without worrying about parking, which might be scarce. It wouldn't take long to walk to several other well-known locations, such as Quidi Vidi, which is only 5 minutes away by car.

Where to Stay in St. John's for Sightseeing: 
High-End Accommodations

  • At the intersection of Water and Prescott streets, the chic Alt Hotel St. John's offers harbor views and a buzzing atmosphere. The harbor can be seen from several of the chic, modern rooms, and all have simple touch screens that can manage anything, including the blackout shades. All rooms include coffee makers, and the showers have rain heads.
  • The Murray Premises Hotel is housed in one of the city's oldest structures and is a designated historic property. All of its individually decorated rooms feature modern luxury facilities like electric fireplaces, huge Jacuzzi tubs, bathrobes, and towel warmers. Restaurants and businesses are also located in this waterfront structure that formerly housed shipping offices and warehouses. Free luxury continental breakfasts are provided for guests.

Mid-Range Accommodations

  • Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland is a four-star hotel with bay views in an ageing structure next to Signal Hill. It has an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.
  • The Courtyard by Marriott St. John's Newfoundland offers complimentary valet parking, which is a significant benefit in St. John's because parking can be difficult to come by. The hotel also has a bay view. There are family-sized rooms available, and each one has a coffee machine and a refrigerator.

Budget hotels

  • The recently refurbished DoubleTree by Hilton St. John's Harbourview features a wonderful location, free underground parking, a friendly staff, an on-site seafood restaurant, and a fitness center.
  • All the guest rooms of the Ramada by Wyndham St. John's, which are spacious and equipped with mini-refrigerators, microwaves, and work desks, have undergone recent renovations to bring them up to date. Nearby is the sizable indoor Avalon shopping center.

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