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Explore Newfoundland & Labrador: Wild, windswept and beautiful on Canada’s east coast

Destination Canada is opening up our horizons by rail, road and boat from coast to coast to coast for jaw-dropping views, meeting welcoming locals and experiencing awe-inspiring encounters around every corner of Canada. Next stop: Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s go!

Destination Canada is opening up our horizons by rail, road and boat from coast to coast to coast for jaw-dropping views, meeting welcoming locals and experiencing awe-inspiring encounters around every corner of Canada. Next stop: Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s go!

Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is wild and windswept – full of natural beauty, Irish heritage, historic lighthouses and epic wildlife-viewing opportunities. From breakaway glaciers drifting down Iceberg Alley to cute-as-a-button puffins, this is a one-of-a-kind Canadian province, to be sure.

Experience Newfoundland and Labrador’s natural and historic sights on The Irish Loop route, a full-day road trip around the southern end of Avalon Peninsula or extend your sightseeing with an overnight stay in one of the many stunning stops along the way.

Fast and fun facts

  • How to get there: Air Canada and Qantas fly direct from Australia to Vancouver with domestic flights available to St John’s, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • When to go: Newfoundland and Labrador is at its best from June to October. Visit in May and June for prime iceberg viewing.
  • Where is it? Located on Canada’s Atlantic Coast, Newfoundland and Labrador is North America’s most easterly point.
  • Did you know? It’s closer to Ireland than Calgary or Vancouver and has its own time zone.
  • Yum fact: You’ll find the delightful-sounding bakeapples or cloudberries – a berry-delicious fruit – growing wild here.
  • Musical fact: The welcoming town of Gander is the subject of acclaimed musical, Come From Away, where 38 planes were forced to land during the September 11 attacks. The musical returns to Gander this month.
  • Whale of a fact: The province is home to 22 whale species, including the world’s largest migrating population of humpbacks.
  • Did you know? Newfoundland and Labrador has some of Canada’s funniest township names such as Dildo, Blow Me Down, Witless Bay and Goobies.

Advisors! Read on to find out how to win a spot on one of two famil trips to Canada and get among it all firsthand.

Discover why this quirky province inspires such passion and pride among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Local content creator and travel influencer Cora Lee Rennie explains why there’s no place quite like Newfoundland and Labrador.

St John’s

The colourful houses of St John’s ‘Jellybean Row’ are a must-see. Image: Barrett & MacKay Photo

Start and end your road trip in the provincial capital, St John’s. It may be North America’s oldest city, but St John’s is chock-full of small-town charm and big-city amenities. Wander down to the harbour, checking out the British and Irish heritage influence on narrow streets carved by horse and carriage with colourful houses on steep hills and hidden laneways.

Visit Quidi Vidi, a neighbourhood that reflects its previous life as a fishing outpost. If that’s hooked you to try the local cuisine, St John’s has many culinary hotspots to savour, including award-winning restaurants focusing on locally foraged, fished and sourced fare.

Later, settle into a local pub for traditional tunes, Newfoundland Screech rum and even a scuff (dance). George Street is the city’s nightlife hub and stages the five-day George Street Festival of musical entertainment annually.

St John’s to Witless Bay (35km)

Cape Spear Lighthouse. Image: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Setting off from St John’s the next morning, make a pit stop at North America’s most eastern point – Cape Spear Lighthouse. The province’s oldest lighthouse is a beacon, overlooking the Atlantic where whales breach and glacial giants float by.

Whales breaching. Image: Finn Beals

Driving south along Route 10, stop to board a tour boat to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve – four protected islands, teeming with birdlife from puffins to petrels. Don’t forget to watch the water – this is where massive icebergs, humpbacks and minke whales glide by, too.

Witless Bay to Ferryland (41km)

Picnic at Ferryland Lighthouse.

Jump back in the car and continue to Ferryland. The iconic, red 19th-century Ferryland Lighthouse makes the perfect picnic spot – book a Lighthouse picnic basket with chutney-glazed ham and brie sandwiches on freshly baked bread with homemade lemonade.

Walk off your lunch along the East Coast Trail’s network of 26 hiking and walking paths for epic coastal views or check out the Colony of Avalon – a well-preserved English colonial site with stone- and timber-framed houses and classic cobblestone streets tucked into the cliffs.

Ferryland to Cape Race and Mistaken Point (75km)

Woodland caribou near Cape Race. Image: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Head now to one of the province’s most southerly spots, Cape Race, on a treacherous stretch of coast that swept many Irish sailors to their salty doom. The lighthouse, in place since 1856, and nearby wireless station transmitted the Titanic’s distress signal in 1912.

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve. Image: Dru Kennedy

Just 10 minutes’ drive south, venture back even further to prehistoric times. Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve has some of the world’s oldest fossils, dating back 580 million years, that you can only view on a pre-booked guided tour.

Cape Race and Mistaken Point to Cape of St Mary’s Ecological Reserve (208km)

Seabirds galore at Cape of St Mary’s Ecological Reserve. Image: Barrett & MacKay Photo

Add an extra three-hour drive from The Irish Loop to wind around the peninsula to Cape of St Mary’s Ecological Reserve, North America’s most accessible seabird colony where gulls, razorbills, gannets and cormorants perch, dive and edge along impossibly sheer cliffs.

Cape of St Mary’s Ecological Reserve to Placentia (64km)

Swapping swooping birds for sweeping views, head north on Route 100 to Placentia, the former French capital where the Castle Hill National Historic Site features remains of French and English fortifications from the 17th and 18th centuries and epic vistas across the bay.

Placentia to Conception Bay South (112km)

Fossil’s found. Image: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Heading back east, veer off The Irish Loop to visit Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre in Conception Bay South. Wind back 650 million years to see ancient glaciers, volcanoes, trilobite fossils and an extinct marine crustacean that put the area on the map.

The loop is complete! Conception Bay South to St John’s (26km)

The tower atop Signal Hill. Image: Jason Hill

Circling back to St John’s, explore more provincial history. Check out Signal Hill, featuring the wind-whipped stone tower that was part of world-changing events; and The Rooms, a gallery and museum built on an 18th-century military fort that showcase the life and times of the province and tundra environment.

More Newfoundland & Labrador highlights not to be missed

Picture opportunities galore! Gros Morne National Park. Image: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
  • Twillingate: This colourful fishing town known as the iceberg capital of the world, is the best place to indulge in fresh seafood in the province. Visit here for whale watching, kayaking and ‘berg encounters of the gigantic kind.
  • Gros Morne National Park: The jaw-dropping beauty of this 485 year-old environment has to be seen to be believed, with imposing mountains of flat rock that are actually the exposed crust of the earth. This is the site that helped geologists prove their theory on tectonic plates. A hikers dream, they’ll love the green river valleys, forests and meandering trails, all waiting to be explored.
  • L’Anse aux Meadows Historical Site: Step back in time with the help of costumed guides, see the 1,000-year-old artifacts, and live like a Viking for a day in a truly appropriate setting, surrounded by cliffs, coastline, and bogs. Offering the very first evidence of a European presence in North America, dating back to the 11th century.

Psst. Travel advisors, sign up for the Canada Specialist Program and WIN!

Puffin you glad to see this little guy? Image: Barrett & MacKay Photo

Travel advisors registered in the Canada Specialist Program (CSP) will go in the draw for two upcoming Canada famils in September and October 2023.

Join CSP to learn more about the diverse landscapes and experiences, gain access to exclusive content and valuable tools to help you promote and sell Canada plus network with other agents via the closed Facebook group.

Click here to sign up by the end of July 2023 to be in the running to win a spot on a Canada famil.

Head here for extra info and inspo about Newfoundland and Labrador.

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