Province/Territory: Newfoundland and Labrador

A lively hub of culture perched on the edge of nature

  • 1497, the year St. John’s was founded
  • 125 kilometres of urban walking trails along the Grand Concourse
  • 01 transatlantic wireless message of many to come was received in 1901

Climb steep streets with names like Hill ‘o Chips lined in colourful shoulder-to-shoulder clapboard houses in North America’s oldest city overlooking a harbour fresh with the scent of the ocean. Shop in unique boutiques within the narrow avenues of old town that hold secrets of pirates, explorers and soldiers. Pop into quirky galleries vibrant with creativity or visit the provincial museum, art gallery and archives under one impressive roof at The Rooms.

Watch icebergs drift past and whales breach from atop Signal Hill or on a seaside day-hike on the East Coast Trail that meanders past seabird colonies and through charming fishing outposts. Live like a local in your own house and eco-explore with Cape Race Adventures. Tap your toes to lively tunes in a Celtic pub on George Street sipping a cold pint or Newfoundland’s famous rum. Try a traditional Jiggs Dinner or go upmarket with local nouvelle cuisine fresh from the sea. Be sure to get to know the locals, a colourful mix of Anglo, Irish, French and Aboriginal heritage. Strain at first to catch the ring of their lilting local brogue and centuries-old sayings, but soon enough you’ll learn that the common ground here is the universal language of laughter.

Urban adventures

  • Prowl George Street, the epi-centre of St. John’s nightlife with the most pubs per square foot in North America.
  • Sample bakeapple (cloudberry) pie, cod tongues and cheeks, salt cod, Jiggs Dinner, “toutons” – crispy pork lard – and other traditional local dishes.
  • Stroll atop Signal Hill the most easterly point of North America where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal.

Arts & Culture

  • Embed yourself into Newfoundland neighbourhoods, live like a local in a classic St. John’s house-with-a-view and take a self-guided eco-culture experience.
  • Walk the site of the final battle of the Seven Years’ War in North America.
  • Dance a jig to a clan of fiery fiddlers performing in a Celtic pub or at a kitchen party.

Nature & Wildlife

  • Hike a stretch of the 336-mile East Coast Trail, and spot puffins, icebergs, archeological sites and a natural, wave-driven geyser called The Spout.
  • Slip into a wetsuit and snorkel with humpback whales.
  • Grab a rod and go fly fishing for brown trout in one of the city’s three rivers.

Events & Festivals

  • Between Boxing Day and Epiphany, costumed “mummers” go door to door, singing and playing instruments, looking for grog and Christmas cake.
  • The 11 day St. John’s Time every summer includes a Folk, Busker’s and George Street Festival, as well as the renowned Royal St. John’s Regatta, North America’s oldest continuing sporting event and an official civic holiday.

On the water

  • Go whale watching along the Southern Shore in a sea kayak.
  • Watch North America's largest population of humpback whales breach their massive 40 ton bodies clear out of the water.
  • See the "frozen behemoths" of Iceberg Alley, mountains of glacial ice, floating by; then finish the cruise with a shot of vodka made from pristine iceberg water.

Weather

  • St. John's enjoys the third mildest winter in Canada with comfortable cool-to-warm summers.
  • The average summer temperature in July and August is 16°C, while the average winter temperature – November to March - hovers around 0°C.
  • In spring, during the peak iceberg and whale-watching season, the average temperatures in St. John’s hover between 2°C - 6°C.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada’s Canadian Climate Normals Website.
Quick facts

Area: 446.04 sq km (172.22 sq mi)
Population: 106,172 (city); 196,966 (metro)
Capital City: St. John’s
Official Languages: English
Provincial Motto: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”
 

When to go
  • Spring in April and May is prime iceberg and whale-viewing season. Dress warmly in layers and be prepared for a rain shower or two.
  • Summer, from June through August, is t-shirt and shorts-warm, but keep a sweater handy near the cool coast when you’re hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing taking in a festival or whale-watching by boat.
  • September through October is leaf-peeping time with fall colours in full swing. It’s a good time for golf and hiking, but bring layers to keep warm.
  • November through March is the cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling season.
Getting Here
  • There are two parts to the province: Newfoundland is an island, and Labrador is connected to mainland Canada, bordering the province of Quebec. St. John’s is on the easternmost tip of Newfoundland.
  • There is one International Airport in St. John's (YYT).
  • Newfoundland can also be reached from Nova Scotia by car and passenger ferry in summer.
Getting around
  • Find general information on getting around St. John’s.
  • Find information about public transit in St. John’s on Metrolink.
  • If you plan on cycling in St. John's, be sure to wear a helmet.
  • The Grand Concourse is a 125 kilometre urban trail system linking rivers, lakes and ponds, parks and green spaces.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador highway information is available on the government roads website which also includes an important moose advisory.