Have you seen Come From Away on Broadway? Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada, we didn’t know much about it until we watched the show in NY.
Though Newfoundland is filled with awe-inspiring landscapes, icebergs, and puffins, what truly makes them stand apart from any other place we visited is the people. Everyone was so friendly, warm, and welcoming, and even the visitors we encountered would not stop talking about the hospitality here. It was next level.
A big thank you to Legendary Coasts of Eastern Newfoundland for hosting our trip. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Last Updated: January 20, 2020
25 Unforgettable Things to Do in Newfoundland
During our visit, we only got a chance to explore the Legendary Coasts of Eastern Newfoundland. There aren’t many places I want to revisit, but after a taste of Newfoundland, we know we have to go back.
Gros Morne National Park is known for beautiful fjords, towering mountains, sprawling beaches, forests, and cliffs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and really deserves a guide of its own, but we’ll wait until we get a chance to visit ourselves. A few highlights you shouldn’t miss are:
- The Tablelands – a moon-like landscape with lots of hikes and views
- Western Brook Pond – take a cruise to see the cliffs from the water
- Lobster Cove Lighthouse – great whale watching and sunset spot
This historic site is just South of St. John’s and has plenty of trails to explore and beautiful panoramic viewpoints. If you follow the trails down to the coast, you’ll also find the Easternmost Point of North America.
This was the first stop we made after arriving in St. John’s. It was the perfect way to get a literal overview of the city. Signal Hill was once the site of the city’s oceanfront military defenses, but now there are hiking trails and a panoramic view of the city. You can also do a guided tour.
Pro Tip: If you climb Cabot Tower, you can get an even higher view.
4. Quidi Vidi Village, St Johns
This picturesque town lies along Quidi Vidi Lake. Walk the narrow streets or grab a drink at the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. There are even trails that take you up on the hills to get a top down view.
Pro Tip: Parking is very limited. We kept trying to find a ‘closer’ parking spot and wasted time driving around. Pull in to any spot you see and you can easily walk around the area.
5. Get Screeched-in on George St, St John's
Newfoundland has a ceremony for come from aways (any non-Newfoundlanders) known as the “screech-in”. It usually involves a shot of screech (the local rum), a short recitation, and kissing a cod. George Street is full of bars and pubs where you can get screeched-in but be sure to check their schedules. Some require reservations and others don’t. Many bars only do them a certain time of day or week.
Local Tip: We thought we could just drop in on one spontaneously, but that wasn’t the case. Since we were limited on time, we didn’t get a chance to get screeched-in. Try Trapper John’s or Christian’s Bar. If you miss it in St John’s, you can find plenty of places to get screeched, but it might require some planning ahead.
Since we’re not huge museum people, we mainly wanted to visit for the views from the top of the building. The views did not disappoint, but we also ended up spending a couple of hours checking out all the exhibits. The Rooms art gallery and museum gives you more natural and cultural history of the area, and it has a few fun interactive areas too.
7. Jellybean Row, St Johns
The brightly colored homes in St John’s are better known as Jellybean Row. We initially thought it was just a specific set of houses, but it actually covers multiple streets, so you can wander around to find the area you love most.
Pro Tip: Take a photography tour with Moe from Far East Photography Tours since he knows all the best spots. After visiting Jellybean Row, he also took us to other scenic spots only a local photographer would know.
8. Town of Dildo
Yes, Dildo. That’s the name of the town. It recently received a lot of attention after Jimmy Kimmel became an honorary mayor. He put up ‘hollywood-style’ Dildo sign on the hills that people stop by to take photos of. You can also stop by the popular Dildo Brewing & Museum, go whale watching or rent a dory boat to get a view from the water.
Pro Tip: The Dildo Boathouse Inn was the perfect home base in Dildo. Dennis and Paula make you feel like home and the rooms are beautiful. It was our favorite place to stay during our trip.
This was hands down the best whale watching trip we’ve been on. We were over whale watching, but this trip made us understand why people go whale watching again.
Since we visited on the late end of whale watching season, we were initially reluctant to go. Plus, we’ve been on plenty of boat trips where it’s primarily waiting around for hours for an anti-climactic spotting of a whale fin.
These guys from Sea of Whales Adventure know what they’re doing. With 7 different launching points on the Bonavista Peninsula, they are able to launch closest to where whales have been last active. During our trip, we hung out with 2 curious humpback whales, saw a whale breach for the first time, and witnessed a crazy blue fin tuna feeding frenzy.
Whether you want to do just a small portion of it or try to conquer the entire 336 km trail, the East Coast Trail is a great way to see Newfoundland. The developed trail comprises of 25 wilderness paths and interacts with over 30 communities.
Their website has a great feature where you can narrow down which paths you want to explore based on difficulty. Some of the highlights you can find on the trail are:
- The Spout (wave-driven geyser)
- 50-meter suspension bridge at La Manche
- Abandoned coastal settlements
- 30 historic communities
- Colony of Avalon archaeological dig at Ferryland
- 8 historic lighthouses
- 3 Ecological Reserves
This small town in northeastern Newfoundland that was made famous by the Broadway musical Come From Away. The story revolves around the planes that were rerouted here during 9/11 and how the community stepped up to welcome people from all over the world. Even for the most jaded New Yorker, it made you believe in humanity again.
Also, can you believe Gander International Airport also used to be the world’s busiest airport? Before the age of jets, planes would have to refuel here.
The North Atlantic Aviation Museum is also a popular stop to check out how Newfoundland contributed to WWII.
12. Skerwink Trail, Port Rexton
I know East Coast Trail is famous, but this was our favorite day hike during our trip. The 4.7 km loop takes you to beautiful viewpoints of rugged coast, panoramic views, and a chance to see whales. Maybe it was the whales, but the hike was epic!
13. Iceberg Alley
Newfoundland is one of the best places in the world to see icebergs. Every spring, icebergs of all shapes, sizes, and colors float by and bring in visitors to see them.
Iceberg Alley runs from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of Newfoundland (basically the entire coast is a prime spot for icebergs). Here are a few popular spots you can access by road:
- St. Lewis
- Battle Harbour
- Red Bay
- Point Amour
- St. Anthony
- La Scie
- Fogo Island
- Change Islands
- St John’s
- Bay Bulls
Pro Tip: IcebergFinder.com is the go-to resource to track icebergs each season.
14. Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, Bonavista
Bonavista Lighthouse is a candy cane colored lighthouse and was definitely worth the detour. It’s also one of two easy-to-see puffin colonies. All you have to do is head towards the back of the lighthouse and you’ll see them on a giant rock to the right just off the coast. There are also a bunch of trails following the coast around the lighthouse.
Photo Tip: These puffins are much farther though, so bring your longest telephoto lens (this is the one we use).
We loved exploring the town of Bonavista! You can check out the shops, enjoy a beach boil-up, or rent bikes and go for a picnic. Some highlights from our trip:
- Beach Boil Up with Bonavista Adventure Tours
- Picnic Lunch with Bonavista Bicycle Picnics and Cafe
- Newfoundland Mockbeggar Plantation
- Ryan Premises National Historic Site
- East Coast Glow to pick up souvenirs for friends. Their soaps are made from foraged ingredients and iceberg water.
If you’re in Bonavista, stop by the Dungeon Provincial Par to check out a large collapsed sea cave with a natural archway. Also, be sure to explore the surrounding area. We almost missed amazing photo ops just a few minutes away from the sea cave.
Photo Tip: We went when they had the worst light (high noon), which made the Dungeon extremely challenging to shoot.
This is Canada’s easternmost national park. Camp by the sea in Southwest Arm, play on the sandy beaches of Sandy Pond, or kayak as you look for wildlife and icebergs.
The Visitor Centre is a great place to start to get all the info you need.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the only authenticated Norse site in North America. There’s proof that Leif Erickson and other Norse explorers settled here. Learn more about the history and get a glimpse of how they lived.
Be sure to explore Norstead, a recreated Viking port of trade. You can learn to throw an axe, spin yard, or even take a pottery class. They also have a ship that you can explore.
This is the newest UNESCO World Heritage Site and was designated because it’s one of the most significant fossil sites in the world. There are fossils of the oldest, large complex multicellular life-forms found anywhere on Earth, known as Ediacara biota. They can be found in other parts of the world, but the sheer number and variety found at Mistaken Point is significant.
20. Elliston Puffin Site and Root Cellars
Elliston has the closest land views of puffins in North America. We arrived just before sunrise and had the whole place to ourselves along with thousands of puffins. There are also Root Cellars that you can explore on the way to the viewing site.
Pro Tip: Sunrise is the best time to go to avoid crowds and we’re told that if you stay still enough, puffins sometimes land near you (we didn’t have any luck with it).
21. Klondike Trail to Spillar's Cove, Elliston
Head over to the Klondike Trail to see the beautiful landscape of Spillars Cove. It’s roughly 1.3m each way and there is a large chimney type rock structure jutting out of the ocean.
Pro Tip: We didn’t know where the trail started and ended up driving most of the trail until we felt like the car couldn’t handle it any more. Turns out you don’t really have to hike if you don’t want.
This used to be a major whale port where the Basques made whale oil. It was actually the first large-scale whale oil production in the world. Today, you can explore the old whaling town and UNESCO World Heritage Site as you learn more about its history. Be sure to stop by the interpretation centre to see the type of boats they used to harpoon the giant beasts.
This ecological reserve is home to the most accessible seabird colony in North America so it is popular amongst birders. You’ll find thousands of gulls, razorbills, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, and cormorants. Beyond the birds, there are trails to explore along the dramatic coastline.
Explore the town of Corner Brook and see the statue of the famous British explorer, Captain James Cook. The historic site also gives you a great view of the city and the Blomidon Mountains. While you’re in town, you can also check out the Stream Trail Network, Corner Brook Caves, and the Corner Brook Museum & Archives.
25. Fogo Island
Head to Fogo Island to explore the largest offshore island of Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of the homes, stages, and stores have been unchanged for decades and Fogo has become a haven for artists from around the world. Check out the Great Auk Sculpture, Fogo Island, Tilting, and Brimstone Head Park.
More Things to Do in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Album Rock, Raleigh, Ship Cove
- Abandoned Moravian Mission of Hebron
- Arches Provincial Park, Portland Creek
- Battle Harbour – salt fish capital of Labrador and has centuries of history preserved
- Bell Island Community Mine Museum, Bell Island + also on Bell Island – Point Riche Lighthouse and Sacred Heart Grotto
- Beothuk Interpretation Centre Provincial Historic Site, Stoneville
- Blow Me Down Provincial Park, York Harbour
- Burin Peninsula
- Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve, Raleigh
- Cape Norman Lighthouse
- Cape Race Lighthouse
- Castle Hill National historic Site, Jerseyside
- Change Islands
- Channel Head Lighthouse, Channel-Port aux Basques
- Churchill Falls Generating Station
- Dildo Run Provincial Park
- Earhart Airfield, Harbour Grace – where Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across Atlantic
- Ferryland Lighthouse, Ferryland
- Greenspond Island, New-Wes-Valley
- Humber Valley
- J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park, Cape Ray
- Lockston Path Provincial Park, Port Rexton
- Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre, Conception Bay
- Marble Mountain
- Mount Caubvick – skiing
- Museum of the Flat Earth, Seldom
- Port au Choix National Historic Site and Point Riche Lighthouse. Also here: Museum of Whales and Things
- Quirpon Island
- Rising Tide Theatre, Trinity Bight
- Rose Blanche Lighthouse
- Salmonier Nature Park, Holyrood
- Sandbanks Provincial Park, Burgeo
- S.S. Kyle, Harbour Grace
- Torngat Mountains National Park, Northern Coast
- Trinity Loop, Charleston – abandoned amusement park
- Walled Landscape of Grates Cove, Grates Cove
Essential Tips for Visiting Newfoundland
- Newfoundland & Labrador has its own time zone (90 minutes head of Eastern time).
- No one lives in Labrador. 94% of the province lives on Newfoundland, and 40% of those people are in St. John’s.
- Bring a travel adapter to make sure you keep all your devices charged.
- Dress in layers so you can adjust to the weather.
- A weatherproof backpack is great to keep all our gear protected in case it rains. This one is our favorite camera + laptop backpack for travel.
- Saint Pierre and Miquelon is just off the coast of Newfoundland and is still under French control.
- Packable raincoats. We love our Arc’teryx ones.
- If you’re looking to shoot wildlife, bring a long lens like this one 100-400mm. For general travel photos, we love the mid-range zoom lens (this is the one we travel with most).
Any other places or things to do in Newfoundland that we’re missing?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.