Last updated: April 20th, 2020
Best Things To Do in Newfoundland
Easily one of our favourite provinces to explore, Newfoundland is an incredible place to add to your Canadian bucket list. We’ve visited Newfoundland many times and from May 15th to May 27th, 2017, Newfoundland became the first part of our 150-day Canada road trip travel series. We experienced icebergs, kitchen parties, history, and gorgeous landscapes. We also experienced a mix of sun, wind, rain, fog, and cloudy weather. This is all part of visiting Canada’s most Easterly province during the month of May. However, this is when icebergs begin to make their way down the Atlantic and one of the few places in the world where you can see them in all their glory.
Newfoundland is such an incredible place to explore and it is quite unique compared to the rest of Canada. We were blown away with the hospitality of the locals and by their eagerness to help us experience their great province in various ways. From the moment we touched down in St. John’s, people helped organize parties, tours, and activities all across the province, and some even took us out for dinner.
Newfoundland really is a special place. Whether you’re looking for icebergs, wildlife, incredible scenery, stunning hikes, delicious food, or a joyful atmosphere, Newfoundland is the place to be.
When planning a trip to Newfoundland, it’s always helpful to know what are the best things to do. We have a number of articles about Newfoundland on this site but this one is dedicated to showcasing some of the best things to do in the entire province, most of which have been experienced by us. We hope this becomes a great travel guide for your next trip to Newfoundland.
We hope you enjoy the article and we hope we inspire you to visit this wonderful province.
Getting to Newfoundland
If you’re a visitor looking for different ways of getting to Newfoundland, here’s some practical advice on how to get here.
Getting to Newfoundland by Car (and Ferry)
If you’re planning to drive to Newfoundland, you must know that it’s an island. The only way to arrive via car is to take a ferry from Nova Scotia, which takes around 6 hours. The ferries are huge ships that take thousands of people and hundreds of cars, but depending on the ocean, it can be rough enough to get seasick.
Getting to Newfoundland by Plane
If you’re not on a Canada road trip, you’ll likely be flying to Newfoundland. For most tourists, you’ll likely be flying into St. john’s International Airport (YYT), Deer Lake Regional Airport (YDF), or Gander International Airport (YQX). Most often, it will be St. John’s International Airport, which is on the far east of the province. Gander is basically in the middle and Deer Lake would be on the west. However, Deer Lake is a regional airport, which means you would be flying from another destination in Canada first. Halifax, Toronto, and Montreal are possible connections.
Getting Around Newfoundland
Newfoundland is big and not very populated. There are lots of small communities, hundreds of kilometres apart. Therefore, public transportation is not really available. There are some buses that go from certain cities to other cities and you’ll find public buses in St. John’s and in Corner Brook. Other than that, you would have to either rent a car, rideshare or hitchhike.
Fun Fact: Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada’s confederation. This happened in 1949. Up until then, it was part of England.
Weather in Newfoundland (Best Time to Visit)
Although people live in Newfoundland all year-round, the tourism season is really only from April/May until early November. Most tourism operators shut down in the winter months, and even in early spring or late fall, some places will be shut down.
For the best weather, late June until the end of September would be the best time to visit. However, if you’re dream is to see icebergs, your best chances will typically be May and June. If you want to try your hand at cod-jigging (a type of fishing ), you’ll want to make sure you time your visit with the fishing season.
The busiest time to visit would be mid-June until the end of August. This is the peak tourism season, the best weather, the best festivals, and part of the fishing season as well.
In terms of weather, Newfoundland is not a warm destination for the most part. In July and August (and parts of June and September), you might see a daily high of 25 degrees Celcius, which is quite nice. But the weather on the coast, especially out towards the eastern part of the province can have varying degrees of cloud, fog, and wind, sometimes in the same day. You’ll want to pack a jacket and some warmer clothing for any time of year, but especially if you come to see icebergs. During the spring, the weather can drop to as low as zero degrees.
Okay. Now let’s talk about the fun part.
Things To Do in St. John’s
Not only is St. John’s the oldest English-founded city in North America, but It’s also the capital of Newfoundland. Here you’ll find Canada’s oldest street, lots of live music venues, an array of delicious restaurants, beautiful historical sites, and a very busy harbour. It’s a beautiful city and will most likely be the city you’ll fly into when visiting from abroad. There are so many things to do in St. John’s and although you may not get a chance to do them all, here’s a variety of things to choose from during your time in the windiest, cloudiest, and foggiest city in Canada.
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours
Located right in St. John’s harbour, this is a great tour for those wanting to experience the thrill of leaving the famous harbour, visiting Cape Spear (Canada’s most Easterly point), and viewing icebergs and/or whales, depending on the season. They also operate iceberg tours in Twillingate, which is the iceberg capital of the world. After seeing the harbour from shore and from the top of Signal Hill, it was really cool to experience St. John’s harbour from a boat. They also got us really close to some icebergs!
Learn more at www.icebergquest.com.
O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours
If you’re after cute little puffins, this is the tour for you. Leaving from Bay Bulls (about a 30-minute drive from St. John’s) you’ll get to see icebergs and/or whales (depending on the season) and millions of puffins around the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, which is home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America. For those without a car, O’Brien’s offers a pick-up service in St. John’s as well. This is one of our favourite things to do in the province, simply because we love Puffins!
Learn more at www.obriensboattours.com.
Boyle Waking Tour
If you want a colourful and informative historical tour, you likely won’t find a better one than Boyle’s Historical Walking Tours. His enthusiasm really adds a lot to the tour and he’ll walk you to and through some of the most important historical sites in the oldest city in North America.
Learn more at www.boyletours.com.
Cod Sounds Culinary Excursion
If you’re looking for a truly unique food experience, there’s no better than a Cod Sounds Culinary Excursion. During our first visit to Cod Sounds back in 2017, the weather wasn’t cooperating for the full experience, so Lori, the founder, invited us to her house for a very wild cook-up. However, we visited her again in 2019 and this time, we went foraging for food on the beach, helped her prepare some meals, and ate a wild picnic right in front of the ocean. Everything was prepared using “ancient” techniques and with locally foraged food, including seaweed, plants, and flowers. We also ate crab, lobster, scallops, and much, much more. Everything was tasty and it was so interesting to learn about the art of foraging. This is one experience we highly recommend.
Learn more at www.codsounds.ca.
Getting Screeched-in at Christian’s Bar
Ask anyone in St, John’s where you should get Screeched-in and they’ll tell you Christians. This quaint little pub is home to the best screech-in performance in the city! I don’t want to give away too much but if you want more of a performance to add to the experience, this is the place to do it. There are two shows done by two different people. The event takes place nightly at 5 PM and 11 PM. This is an iconic tradition and one of the top things to do in Newfoundland.
Located on George Street.
O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub
We must have visited this place at least five times during our short time in St. John’s. It’s a great place for live music (especially Thursdays and Friday’s from our experience) and also home to a very tasty Newfoundland Chowder. We also had rabbit pie, which was awesome. Plus, did you know that Newfoundland is one of the few places in Canada where you can order wild meat on the menu? So, if you want to try rabbit, this is your chance. More than anything though, it’s a great place to dance to Newfoundland music in the middle of George Street.
For more, visit our article: Things to Do in St. john’s
Things To Do in Trinity Newfoundland
Okay, next up, let’s talk about Trinity since it’s only 2-hours away from St. John’s as you head west. Trinity is one of the prettiest old towns in Newfoundland. It’s one of those towns you see on a postcard and know you have to visit one day. The town even has an active blacksmith as well as numerous historical buildings, quaint accommodation, and the oldest cemetery in all of Canada. If you want to see small-town Newfoundland, definitely go to Trinity.
If you’re looking to get out on a boat and look for some big marine life, this is your chance. Dolphins, porpoises, seals, bluefin tuna, basking sharks, and majestic whales such as humpbacks, fin, sperm, and minke are just some of the incredible creatures you might see on their thrilling three-hour whale watching tour. But that’s not all, you may also see eagles, puffins, gannets, and more!
Learn more at www.trinityecotours.com.
Artisan Inn and Twine Loft Restaurant
I truly can’t imagine a better place to stay not only in Trinity but in the entire province. This place is gorgeous and is the perfect way to step back in time. At Artisan Inn, you get your own house! Ours, which was built in the 1800s, felt like a dollhouse with its cute little rooms and antique furniture. This is the type of accommodation that actually adds to the experience. They also serve gourmet food in the evening at Twine Loft Restaurant as well as a delicious breakfast in the morning.
Learn more at www.trinityvacations.com.
Bonavista Social Club
This popular and new restaurant is located in the small community of Upper Amherst Cove on the Bonavista Peninsula. Since visiting Bonavista itself should be high on your list, you might as well stop here to fill your tummy. Here you’ll find delicious food made with local ingredients as well as the only commercial wood-fired bread oven in all of Newfoundland. We had fresh pasta, lamb, wood-fired pizza, a moose burger, and their delicious partridgeberry bread pudding.
Learn more at www.bonavistasocialclub.com.
Port Rexton Brewery
This new brewery, located just minutes from Trinity, is all the rage in Newfoundland. So many people recommended it to us that we had to stop by. We’re thankful we did. We had a tour followed by a tasting of their four popular beers. I love how each brew is so different that even the alcohol levels change. It’s really like a high-quality homebrew. I’m not usually a fan of dark beers but their porter was very delicious.
Learn more at www.portrextonbrewing.com.
Driving Newfoundland’s Discovery Trail
If you’re already spending time in the Trinity area, DO NOT miss the chance to drive the Discovery Trail to Bonavista. This area, and especially the Cape Bonavista area around the lighthouse, is home to some of the most spectacular views in the province. Located up on a cliff, the views from the lighthouse, as well as the waves hitting the rocky shores, is truly outstanding. You’ll also find old houses, pebble beaches, and lots of picturesque fishing boats. You may even see whales, icebergs, or seabirds. Actually, you will 100% see seabirds!
There’s also an incredible area called the Dungeon, where cliffs drop down into a humungous sinkhole with two seaward channels, all created from ocean erosion. For more geological fun in the area, download the Bonavista! Geological Tour app (iPhone and Android) for a driving tour that highlights the geology of the region.
This is also home to where John Cabot discovered North America in 1497, hence the name of the drive. Not only is it historically significant and home to stunning views, it’s also home to the full-size replica of the Matthew Legacy, the ship that John Cabot arrived in. If you time your trip properly you may get to see it and step inside this “historic” vessel.
Things To Do in Twillingate, Newfoundland
Known as the iceberg capital of the world, this is the place to come if you want to see icebergs. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with our visit and the ice, wind, and rain didn’t allow us to go out on the big boats. However, we did get to go out on a smaller boat, which allowed us to stand on some of the pack-ice, which was lining the harbour. In addition, our lovely guesthouse threw us a kitchen party, which brought out the real Newfoundland vibe and introduced us to some local musicians. The town itself is quaint and beautiful and I certainly hope to visit it again one day.
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours
If you want to see icebergs, this is the tour to go with. Due to the weather, we couldn’t go with them in Twillingate but we did do an iceberg tour with them from St. John’s and it was excellent. We will definitely be back one day to try them out in the iceberg capital of the world!
Learn more at www.icebergquest.com.
This is a new harbour-view seafood restaurant in Twillingate. Our hosts recommended that we try the Cod au Gratin and it did not disappoint. Who would have thought that cod and cheese could go together so well but it was incredibly delicious! We finished up with chocolate cake and ice cream. If you want seafood, this is the place to go!
Located at 128 Main Street.
All Season’s Bed & Breakfast
I’m so happy we found this lovely bed & breakfast, which is run by Mark and Ruby. Each room has its own ensuite and the gourmet breakfast is delicious! Mark and Ruby are such lovely hosts and the kitchen party they organized for us was so much fun. It’s one of the highlights of our two weeks in Newfoundland! The Bed & Breakfast has great views of the harbour as well and they are very knowledgeable about Twillingate. We only stayed for two nights and we can’t wait to return.
Learn more at www.allseasonsbb.com.
Things To Do in Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in all of Canada and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to being a rare example of the process of the continental drift. The park is filled with landlocked fjords, exposed mantle, cliffs, waterfalls, coastline, and tons of wildlife, including moose, bald eagles, whales, and caribou. If I had to pick one place in all of Newfoundland to explore, this would be it.
Hiking in Gros Morne National Park
If I could only pick one thing to do in Gros Morne National Park, it would be hiking. There are so many beautiful trails here and they are much less crowded than most other national parks across Canada. Some of our favourites include the Summit Hike to the top of Gros Morne, Green Gardens, and the Tablelands.
Blackawton Boat Tours
Located in Woody Point near Trout River, this is your chance to get out on Bonne Bay and see some whales! Not only did we see various whales breach the water, but we also saw bald eagles and seals. Taking a boat tour is one of the top things to do in Newfoundland. Bonne Bay is gorgeous and if you want to see wildlife and get out on the water, this is the tour for you.
Learn more at www.blackawtonboattours.com.
Western Brook Pond Boat Tour
If you’re looking to get up close and personal with the most famous postcard image of Gros Morne National Park, this is the tour for you. There’s only one company that operates the tour and they take you right inside the fjord, giving you an opportunity to see beautiful scenery and waterfalls.
Wild Gros Morne Trout River Boat Tour
During our last visit to Newfoundland in 2019, we jumped on a new boat tour with Wild Gros Morne. This happens on Little Trout River Pond near the beautiful village of Trout River. They take you up the pond (it’s actually more like a lake) and to the backside of the Tablelands. This tour is done in a Zodiac and offers incredible views and insight into the 500-million-year history of the area.
Wow, this place serves up delicious seafood right next to the beach. There’s something special about eating fresh fish with views of the ocean. A bucket of mussels, fresh cod, and a cold pint of Iceberg beer? Sign me up! If you’re not staying in Trout River (note: you should be), It’s worth driving all the way just to eat here. Excellent.
Learn more at www.grosmorne.com/listing/seaside-deli-dairy-bar/
Sheppard’s Bed & Breakfast
Located in Trout River (a must-see town just outside of the park), this is the place to be! Situated on their own big parcel of land on top of a mountain overlooking Trout River, you’ll find beautiful accommodation with incredible 360-degree views of the area. Doris and Tom even sang us a song when we arrived. When in Newfoundland, bed & breakfasts are the best place to sleep and this is one that should be high on your list!
Learn more at www.sheppardsbandb.com.
Other Things to Do in Newfoundland
Four Seasons Boat Tours (Cox’s Cove)
If you’re over by the Corner Brook area of Newfoundland, take the time to drive down to Cox’s Cove. It’s one of the most beautiful areas in the whole province and is also home to Four Seasons Tours. Darren Park, the owner of Four Seasons, can take you out into the bay in a traditional Newfoundland Dory to photograph bald eagles up close, go fishing, watch the sunrise or sunset in the Bay of Islands, and cook-up some fresh seafood at his cabin. In the winter, he can even take you snowmobiling around the mountains. We jumped in the dory with Darren in 2019 and it was an incredible day!
Driving Newfoundland’s Viking Trail
If you have the time and want to head up to Newfoundland’s most Northern region, then you’ll want to take the Viking Trail, which starts around Gros Morne National Park. This epic 526-km trail starts in Deer Lake (just outside of Gros Morne) and goes all the way up to St. Anthony’s and one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites on Earth – L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. The drive itself only takes 5 hours or so, but you’ll want to have at least one full day to enjoy the scenery along the way. I would also spend 2-3 nights or more in the region (not including Gros Morne National Park) to fully enjoy the area, go on some boat tours, visit the historical sites, enjoy the towns, and just have a great time. In the spring, this is also one of the best places in the province to see icebergs. In fact, it’s home to the Iceberg Festival!
For more, read our article about Newfoundland’s Viking Trail.
Take the Ferry to St. Pierre and Miquelon
Another incredibly unique thing about Newfoundland is that you can jump on a ferry and be in France in less than 1.5 hours. That’s right, two little islands off the southern coast of Newfoundland – St. Pierre and Miquelon – are the only part of New France that still remain under French control. It really is just like visiting France, except in laid back fishing village style. Unless you’re Canadian, you do need a passport to enter and it will totally feel like you’ve left Canada. Breakfast will be baguettes and croissants, most stores are closed for lunch, and everyone will be speaking French.
Whether you want to experience a French fishing village in St. Pierre or get more into nature in Miquelon, these are two fascinating ways to “extend” your Newfoundland vacation.
For more, please read our article: St. Pierre and Miquelon
What To Do in Newfoundland
As you can see, we crammed a lot of incredible experiences into our short two weeks and yet, we only scratched the surface of this amazing province. This list above gives you a quick taste of what we experienced during our trip to Newfoundland and some of the top things to do in the province. However, there’s much more than that and if you have a car, we recommend reading more Newfoundland articles below.
For more things to do in Newfoundland, check out these articles below:
- Things to Do in St John’s
- Hiking in Gros Morne National Park
- Driving the Viking Trail
- Newfoundland’s Iceberg Festival
- St. Pierre and Miquelon
- Hiking Newfoundland (Five Great Trails)
In addition to all the great things to do in Newfoundland, we also teamed up with Matts’s dad to write a book about growing up in the remote fishing village of Deer Harbour, Newfoundland. Learn more about that book on Deer Harbour here.
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