The easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador may not be often discussed, but it’s a place that offers a little of everything when it comes to scenery, including towering mountains and dense forest, sparkling lakes and streams, fjords, wild coastlines with picturesque beaches, unique islands, and abundant wildlife. Plus, the people are some of the friendliest on Earth and some of the most creative, with lots of art and music to enjoy.
Table of Contents
- What are the best places to visit in Newfoundland?
- L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and Norstead Viking Village
What are the best places to visit in Newfoundland?
Newfoundland’s absolute must-see destinations are:
- St. John’s
- The Irish Loop
- Fogo Island
- Gros Morne National Park
- St. Anthony
- L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and Norstead Viking Village
Discover this spectacular land and the best it has to offer by including these must-visit destinations in Newfoundland, Canada, on your itinerary.
You’ll want to spend at least a couple of days in St. John’s, if only to enjoy an overnight to sample the live music on George Street. It’s famously home to more pubs and bars per square foot than any other in the entire continent.
There are plenty of other things to do – strolling the downtown streets is enjoyable with colorful row houses adding a cheery feel to even the dreariest of days. You’ll find lots of galleries, museums, historical sites, and fun shops to explore and nearby on Signal Hill, one of the best views of the city and coastal waters where humpback, blue, sperm, fin, sei, and right whales can be spotted.
The Irish Loop
One thing that stands out when it comes to this province, especially in the Irish Loop area, is that it offers the feel of “Old Ireland.” Often referred to as the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland, the people who live here have an accent that will make you think they just arrived from the country.
The reality is that many have Irish ancestors who came to Newfoundland in the 18th and 19th centuries, and they never lost that beautiful Irish lilt.
The Loop is a gorgeous loop drive along a section of the Avalon Peninsula with landscapes that happen to be similar to Ireland too, complete with lush green hills and rugged cliffs that tower above the Atlantic. There are many stops to enjoy like the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, popular for bird watching, including thousands of puffins that nest along the cliffs during the summer.
It’s also a top destination for summer whale watching with O’Brien’s Boat Tours. In Ferryland, watch working archaeologists as they uncover the foundations of homes and a cobblestone street where the Colony of Avalon was founded in 1621.
UNESCO-listed Mistaken Point is geologically significant as one of the world’s best-preserved fossil sites with some of the largest and oldest fossils, some of which date back 576 million years.
A town made for a postcard if there ever was one, Trinity is one of the prettiest towns in Canada, if not the world.
At first glance, you might think it was built for a film set, and while it has been used as a filming site, it’s very real. The streets are lined with brightly painted saltbox homes and other historic buildings from the 18th-century which now house art galleries and museums.
Along the shore in the spring, a myriad of glistening glaciers float by, some of which land in the secluded coves. Come summer, this is one of the best places to embark on a whale-watching tour with Sea of Whales Adventures which brings great odds of being surrounded by humpbacks and possible spotting orca whales too.
Elliston, formerly known as Bird Island Cove, is home to a rocky outcrop known as “Puffin Island.” It’s one of the best places to view puffins up close in North America from May through September. Take a short stroll along a narrow path and you’ll see thousands of the colorful auks on land and whizzing through the air.
Twillingate bills itself the “Iceberg Capital of the World,” and there’s not much to dispute that, with countless bergs typically arriving here every spring.
But there’s more to Twillingate than that, including Long Point Lighthouse, one of the most photographed landmarks on the northern coast. Standing above the sea, it provides a fantastic lookout point for a panoramic vista of the Atlantic as well as being a great spot to watch for icebergs, whales, and sea birds. Don’t miss a visit to Auk Island Winery, known for its unique wines made from berries that grow in the province.
Tours and tastings are available, along with an ice cream shop that churns out delicious and unusual homemade options, including wine ice cream.
Accessible via ferry from Farewell, Fogo Island is a destination that feels as if it was lost in time. There are 11 unique communities, including the traditional Irish village of Tilting where the locals have thick Irish lilts.
It’s a joy to walk around the old wooden docks with red-painted fishing rooms. There’s even a beach with soft, white sands and clear turquoise water that looks as if it was stolen from the Caribbean.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the herd of about 350 caribou that live on the island and walk the Brimstone Head trail from the town of Fogo. It climbs to the top of Brimstone Head which is said to be one of the “four corners of the Flat Earth,” providing a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
Gros Morne National Park
Located on the west coast, Gros Morne may be one of Canada’s less visited, but it’s one of the most spectacular national parks in North America. Set within the Long Range Mountains, it’s a hiker’s paradise complete with freshwater fjords, but it’s also home to sandy and rocky beaches, lighthouses, and charming seaside villages.
Thousands of moose inhabit its borders too, which means you’ll want to pay close attention to the road and roadsides as you drive and keep an eye out for the animals while on the trails.
The Western Brook Pond boat tour is one of the top things to do, with the two-hour trip cruising through massive billion-year-old cliffs laced with waterfalls that spill into the park’s largest lake.
A small town on the Great Northern Peninsula that serves as a hub for the region, St. Anthony is another top spot for icebergs in the spring and often through early summer.
It’s worth visiting for the drive alone which opportunities to watch for moose while enjoying magnificent scenery throughout. Once here, visit Fishing Point Park to climb the nearly 500 steps to the top of Fishing Point Head, one of the best places to watch for the area’s icebergs and whales during the summer.
The Grenfell House Museum is a must-visit for learning more about the area’s history, set in the home of Dr. Grenfell which dates back to 1910.
L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and Norstead Viking Village
Also located on the Great Northern Peninsula, about 25 miles north of St. Anthony, is the site of North America’s only authenticated Viking settlement. Discovered in 1960, visitors can tour a re-creation of the turf-walled longhouses among the eight different structures that were all built in Norse-style.
Meet up with the inhabitants, knowledgeable locals costumed as “real” Vikings and they’ll answer questions about life there more than a thousand years ago. An outstanding museum is on-site, plus you’ll be walking on the same grounds that 11th-century explorer Leif Ericson likely stepped as well.
Just a 5-minute drive away is the Viking Village of Norstead, a re-creation of a Viking port of trade where you can throw an ax, watch yarn spun into beautiful crafts, and sit in a chieftain’s chair with a sword and drinking horn.