Best Things To Do in St. John’s Newfoundland

Researching the best things to do in St. John’s, Newfoundland?

Our comprehensive guide to the capital of “The Rock” includes the best attractions, must-see landmarks, luxury hotels and award-winning restaurants.

Canada’s most easterly province seems to be on everyones bucket list these days. The capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is postcard-perfect, rising on dramatic hillsides that overlook one of the world’s most picturesque natural harbours.

St. John’s is one of Canada’s tiniest capitals, so the top attractions in town are easily explored on foot. We suggest spending three nights to enjoy all the city has to offer. Discover all the best things to do during your visit by wagging your finger through our comprehensive list of the top attractions in St. John’s.

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Things To Do in St. John’s, Newfoundland

St. John’s, Newfoundland is the oldest city founded by Europeans in North America. It served as a base for fishing fleets from various countries as early as the 1500s. Today, it still offers visitors a distinct maritime port vibe.

Candice Walsh is a travel journalist based in St. John’s, originally from the small town of Bay d’Espoir. Candice has lived in the capital of Newfoundland for 13 years.

Walsh tells Dobbernationloves about the city’s tourism boom, “I think a few factors have contributed to the increase in tourism around St. John’s. People are looking for more off-the-beaten-path destinations where you’re not competing with thousands of other tourists for the same view, a la the Mona Lisa. Newfoundland is now more accessible than ever due to an increase in flights and the expansion of our airport. Our strong culture has started drawing people in. I’ve met so many people over the past two years who travelled to Newfoundland because they were so moved by the musical Come From Away.”

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Walsh adds, “Newfoundlanders are starting to see how special and valuable our home is, and so we’re shouting it to the world! All it takes is a few great chefs and amazing brewers, and suddenly we have a culinary and craft beer scene! We’ve got live music, a vibrant arts scene, and a colourful downtown core.”

Walsh continues, “One of the most special things about St. John’s is how easy it is to access big nature. We’re just a boat ride away from seeing icebergs and breaching whales, and we’re surrounded by over 300 kms of East Coast Trail. St. John’s is the access point for exploring the rest of the island, and so it’s natural to soak up in a few days here.”

For those looking to compile a list of the best things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland, Walsh offers her top picks. “I love The Rooms art museum and gallery. Other than its amazing exhibits, there are always cultural events taking place there, like seminars and film screenings. I love taking people to listen to live music, especially at Erin’s Pub or The Ship, or for Tuesday’s noon trad session at Rocket Bakery. So much of experiencing St. John’s culture though is meeting local people who want to take you around and show you a good time, so if you can connect with a townie, go for it,” says Walsh.

Travel writer Candice Walsh enjoys a stroll in her hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland.
Travel writer Candice Walsh enjoys a stroll in her hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

St. John’s, Newfoundland Tours

We suggest exploring St. John’s by booking a tour with a local operator. You can sit back and relax while a local guide showcases the regions unique history and wildlife.

  • Historic Tour of St. John’s: this 90 minute walking tour is led by a local expert and offers stops at George Street, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and plenty of local shops.
  • St. John’s Food and Wine Tour: this 3 hour guided tour offers visiting foodies an opportunity to taste their way through some of the city’s best restaurants.
  • Puffin and Whale Watching Cruise: this 90 minute Newfoundland cruise offers an opportunity to spot Iceberg Alley and wildlife such as seabirds and whales.
Exile Restaurant at the Jag Hotel in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Exile Restaurant at the Jag Hotel in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Best Hotels in St. John’s, Newfoundland

In the last decade tourism into Newfoundland has boomed. Most visitors start their adventure in St. John’s so finding a hotel within your budget is the first thing you’ll want to do. St. John’s offers a wide array of accommodation options, from friendly B&Bs to luxurious boutique hotels.

  • JAG Hotel 4 STARS: located perched over the harbour on George Street West, the JAG hotel is a boutique property with a Rock & Roll vibe. The property is a member of Steele Hotels, a Newfoundland hotel brand and offers guests sweet suites, with a bar and dining room at Exile Restaurant. Check Reviews
  • Delta Hotel St. John’s Conference Centre 4 STARS: one of St. John’s largest hotels is popular with business travellers and those looking to rack up their Marriott rewards. Located on New Gower Street, the Delta Hotel offers a variety of recently renovated rooms and The Pinnacle Restaurant. Check Reviews
  • Alt Hotel St. John’s 3 STARS: Quebec’s Le Germain luxury hotel brand also operates a more scaled down offering dubbed Alt Hotels. The design-tastic boutique hotel features Puffin adorned room interiors and the celebrated Terre Restaurant. Check Reviews
Things To Do in St. John's Newfoundland: Brunch at Mallard Cottage.
Things To Do in St. John’s Newfoundland: Brunch at Mallard Cottage.

Best Restaurants in St. John’s, Newfoundland

If you visited St. John’s over a decade ago the city mostly catered to humble palates, offering plenty of traditional home cooking featuring fresh seafood and wild game. While fish & chips are still a mainstay (The Duck of Duckworth), alongside a handful of historic Canadian Chinese restaurants (Magic Wok), the current culinary scene is thriving and regularly listed as one of the hottest destinations to dine in the country.

We spent three days dining at the best restaurant’s in St. John’s, visiting over 20 ice cream shops, cafes, breweries, bakeries, pubs and fine dining restaurants. Chat with local foodies and you’ll find even they are astonished at the quality and diversity of options available in their small city.

Chef Jeremy Charles hosted Anthony Bourdain during his time in Newfoundland. The award-winning chef is noted for elevating St. John’s restaurant scene, putting Newfoundland and Labrador on the Canadian culinary map thanks to Raymonds and The Merchant Tavern.

Looking for a romantic restaurant and unforgettable fine dining experience in St. John’s, Newfoundland? We suggest making reservations at Mallard Cottage, Adelaide Oyster House, Terre Restaurant, Chinched Bistro and Seto Kitchen.

If you’re keen on a light lunch or more affordable fare, enjoy feasting at Get Stuffed, Bad Bones Ramen, Toslow, The Grounds Cafe, Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf or Rocket Bakery.

Call yourself a craft beer fan? St. John’s boasts three craft breweries worth sipping suds through: Bannerman Brewing, Quidi Vidi Brewing Company and YellowBelly Brewery.

Whale and Iceberg Tours in St. John’s

If you’re visiting St. John’s during the warmer months of the year you’ll want to take advantage of the city’s unique proximity to wild Atlantic coastlines. The harbour offers nature lovers easy access to cruising by boat where you’ll encounter wild whales, pretty puffins and jaw-dropping iceberg on the drift.

Looking to whale watch during your visit to St. John’s? Humpback and Minke whales usually arrive after the middle of May and often stay through to the end of September. The peak of the season for sightings is typically mid-June to mid-August.

Looking to book an iceberg cruise during your visit to St. John’s? The icebergs glide through Iceberg Alley from Spring to early Summer. April and May are the months when icebergs are most plentiful, but they may be locked up in sea ice, so local experts suggest visiting late May and early June for the best viewing experience.

The best whale watching and iceberg tour in St. John’s is offered by Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours.

The best views of the harbour can be enjoyed after hiking to Signal Hill.
The best views of the harbour can be enjoyed after hiking to Signal Hill.

Signal Hill

230 Signal Hill Rd, 709-772-5367

Looking for the best views of St. John’s, Newfoundland? Hike to the top of Signal Hill National Historic Site to enjoy jaw-dropping panoramas over the capital’s iconic harbour.

Signal Hill was the site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th-century to WWII. It’s also where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.

Ranked as one of St. John’s best landmarks, Signal Hill reminds visitors of the town’s historic past and communications triumph, with access to scenic coastal trails that offer pretty views over the Atlantic.

Photographers love The Battery in St. John's.
Photographers love The Battery in St. John’s.

The Battery

Visiting photographers looking to snap photos of St. John’s multi-coloured houses should head straight to The Battery neighbourhood.

The Battery sits at the entrance to the harbour and is located on the slopes of Signal Hill. Steep roads lead to the tightly packed enclave, but the march is worth the effort as you have plenty of photo opportunities to capture the essence of this special slice of St. John’s.

The Battery is home to Chain Rock, a land outcropping to which a large chain and anti-submarine boom were attached connecting to Fort Amherst in order to prevent the entry of German U-boats during WWII. Chain Rock is one of two rocks located on opposite sides of the Narrows, the entrance to St. John’s harbour.

Be sure to also visit Anderson House, located at 42 Powers Court in The Battery as it is thought to be the oldest surviving structure in the city of St. John’s. Other must-see attractions in The Battery include a clutch art galleries and gift shops.

Visit the Ocean Science Centre in Logy Bay.
Visit the Ocean Science Centre in Logy Bay.

Ocean Science Centre

Marine Lab Rd, 709-864-2459

Located a short drive from downtown St. John’s, the Ocean Science Centre is Memorial University of Newfoundland’s cold ocean research facility. Located perched over Logy Bay, the Ocean Science Centre houses labs where research is conducted on the North Atlantic fisheries, aquaculture, oceanography, ecology, behaviour and physiology.

Visitors can enjoy the Ocean Science Centre’s year-round resident harp seal facility from an outdoor viewing platform. Each summer visitors of all ages are invited plunge their hands into the touch tank and Seal Facility where student interpreters discuss recent research. It’s a great way to learn about the variety of native sea creatures in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Before your visit take a peak at the Shuttle Bus Schedule, which operates Monday to Friday between Signal Hill Campus and St. John’s Campus. Admission is free and the facility is open from 10am-5pm daily, rain or shine from June to September.

Visit the Johnson Geo Centre to learn about Newfoundland's unique geology.
Visit the Johnson Geo Centre to learn about Newfoundland’s unique geology.

Johnson Geo Centre

175 Signal Hill Rd, 709-737-7880

Located halfway between downtown St. John’s and Signal Hill, the Johnson Geo Centre is a science museum dedicated to exploring Newfoundland’s unique geology.

The majority of the Johnson Geo Centre is located underground, in an excavated glacial formation that allows visitors to get up close and personal with the exposed rock of the hill.

Through interactive exhibits and guided tours, guests discover the fascinating history of planet Earth and the extreme forces of nature that helped shape the land. Johnson Geo Centre looks at geology through a unique Newfoundland lens, offering permanent exhibits that explore off shore drilling in the oil and gas industry as well as the tragic story behind the sinking of the Titanic.

The Rooms is the best art gallery and museum in Newfoundland.
The Rooms is the best art gallery and museum in Newfoundland.

The Rooms

9 Bonaventure Ave, 709-757-8090

The Rooms is St. John’s best art gallery and museum. The world-class cultural institution opened in 2005 and is ranked as one of the top things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland for art lovers and history buffs.

The museum’s name, as well as its architecture, is a reference to the simple gable-roofed sheds, often called “fishing rooms,” that were common at the waterline in Newfoundland’s remote fishing villages. The buildings eye-popping architecture was constructed on a hill overlooking the harbour, at a historic address that was once occupied by Fort Townshend. The building can be seen from almost any vantage point in St. John’s, now an iconic landmark along the city’s skyline.

The Rooms is Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest public cultural institution and home to the most extensive collection of artifacts, art and archival records. The creative curators at The Rooms draw upon its collections to bring Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique stories to life.

Highlights from The Rooms impressive collection include 7,000 works of art, dioramas of the animal and plant life of the tundra and bog, mounted bird displays, a deep dive on the aboriginal people who lived on the land and the history of the region’s Irish fishermen.

Enjoy the Tuesday trad session at Rocket Bakery.
Enjoy the Tuesday trad session at Rocket Bakery.

Trad Session at Rocket Bakery

272 Water St, 709-738-2011

Rocket Bakery is located in a historic building in St. John’s, built in 1892 after the great fire.  It previously housed a hardware store called Neyles Soper. The folks that own the building won a Southcott Award for restoration and it’s one of the few buildings in downtown St. John’s where you really get a sense of the city’s history.

Chef Darryl Hammond is born, raised and trained in Newfoundland. He’s keen to offer the best quality food made with a Newfoundland twist. Chef Hammond enjoys using everything from Screech Rum in Rocket Bakery’s BBQ & Screech Rum Pulled Pork Turnovers to local 5 Brothers Cheese in the cafes sandwiches and salt cod from Petty Harbour in the restaurant’s signature fish cakes.

Rocket Bakery is one of the best restaurants in St. John’s Newfoundland to enjoy an authentic trad session. The dinning room gets packed every Tuesday at lunchtime when Rocket Bakery hosts a lively kitchen party. A group of local musicians play traditional Newfoundland tunes around a large wooden table. We suggest arriving before noon to grab a seat while sipping on a frothy latte and devouring Rocket Bakery’s famous cinnamon bun.

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is the city's most famous cathedral.
The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is the city’s most famous cathedral.

Basilica of St. John the Baptist

200 Military Rd, 709-754-2170

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is the metropolitan cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church of St. John’s Newfoundland and the mother church and symbol of Roman Catholicism in the province.

When the completed church opened its doors in 1855 it was the largest building project in Newfoundland history. At the time, it was the largest church building in North America and remains the second largest in Canada. It is one of the few buildings in St. John’s to survive the Great Fire of 1892.

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is unusual among North America’s 19th century public buildings in that it was constructed using limestone and granite imported from Galway and Dublin, Ireland, as well as 400,000 bricks from Hamburg and local sandstone quarried from St. John’s and Kelly’s Island in Conception Bay.

St. John’s iconic cathedral contains 28 stained glass windows, which adorn the upper walls. The Altar of Sacrifice, which stands at the front of the Sanctuary, enshrines one of the most revered and valuable pieces in the Basilica, The Dead Christ, sculpted in Carrara marble by Irish sculptor John Hogan in 1854.

On a sunny day enjoy a stroll though Bannerman Park.
On a sunny day enjoy a stroll though Bannerman Park.

Bannerman Park

Military Rd, 709-576-2309

Looking for the perfect place in St. John’s to enjoy a sun-soaked picnic? Bannerman Park is the city’s most popular outdoor public space, designed in the Victorian-style. Officially opened in 1891, St. John’s popular urban park was named after Sir Alexander Bannerman, Governor of the Colony of Newfoundland between 1857 and 1864.

Today, Bannerman Park is surrounded by historic buildings and Victorian Bed & Breakfasts. Inside the park you’ll find a public swimming pool, playground, baseball diamond and many grassy areas. In 2015 a revitalized park was unveiled, which now includes an outdoor skating loop and spectacular new entrance.

Bannerman Park hosts the majority of St. John’s festivals and sporting events, including the popular Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.

Photograph the rainbow-coloured houses on Jellybean Row.
Photograph the rainbow-coloured houses on Jellybean Row.

Jellybean Row

St. John’s is perhaps best known for its vibrant coloured row houses that help give Newfoundland’s capital city its charming character. The city’s rainbow coloured Jellybean Row is the best place to photograph St. John’s famous multi-coloured homes.

Local historians believe the practice of painting homes in bright colours harks back to a time when distinguishing the exterior of a building with contrasting colours made them more visible to fishermen in foggy weather.

The trend of painting brightly coloured facades in St. John’s exploded in the 1970s as a way to inject new life into the declining downtown. Today, Jellybean Row is a point of pride for locals, who celebrate their row houses as a symbol of the city via painted mailboxes, t-shirts and gifts.

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Pay homage to a Canadian hero at the Terry Fox Memorial.
Pay homage to a Canadian hero at the Terry Fox Memorial.

Terry Fox Memorial

On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox dipped his artificial foot in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to begin his journey across Canada in his noble crusade to support cancer research.

The Canadian hero’s Marathon of Hope, a 5,373-kilometre run, or nearly a marathon per day for 143 days, on one leg, is still considered a benchmark for those looking to achieve outstanding feats of athleticism.

There are several elements incorporated into the Terry Fox Mile 0 Site that work together to pay tribute to Terry’s legacy, spirit and determination. Access the statue when walking to The Battery from downtown St. John’s and you’ll find a bronze sculpture of Terry dipping his foot in the water at the site where he launched his historic marathon in 1980.

"A Time Statue" in the heart of St. John's bar district on George Street.
“A Time Statue” in the heart of St. John’s bar district on George Street.

George Street Bars

A visit to George Street is one of the best things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland for those looking to enjoy a celebratory bar hopping bacchanal. The city’s famous bar street is located downtown and features two blocks of bars, pubs and restaurants. It’s considered the city’s entertainment district, a hub for live music fans to watch local bands jam.

George Street runs parallel to and between Water and New Gower Streets, and is only open to vehicular traffic in the morning for restaurant and bar deliveries. From noon until the wee hours of the morning, pedestrians can stroll down the street with ease.

The George Street bars in St. John’s have inspired a plethora of songs and stories, acting as a stage for the likes of Ron Hynes to Great Big Sea and Blue Rodeo. It offers a wide variety of entertainment options ranging from petite watering holes to rowdy bars and spacious outdoor patios. The variety of music is also diverse: jazz, hip-hop, rock, reggae, blues, alt-country and karaoke, all compete for visiting music fans niche tastes.

So when is the best time of year to visit George Street? Mardi Gras is held in October, when everyone else is celebrating Oktoberfest. The biggest bash though is the George Street Festival, which runs the six days leading up to the first Wednesday in August. Known to locals as Regatta Day, it’s a civic holiday featuring a series of rowing races on Quidi Vidi Lake. The Buskers Festival and Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival also entertain throngs of tourists in the busy summer months.

Things To Do in St. John's Newfoundland: Get Screeched-in at Christians Bar.
Things To Do in St. John’s Newfoundland: Get Screeched-in at Christians Bar.

Christians Bar

If you only have time to grab one drink on George Street it should be at Christians Bar. Established in 1979, it’s the oldest bar on George Street.

Looking for one of the weirdest things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland? Christian’s Bar is the most famous place in all of Newfoundland to get Screeched-in, a nightly ritual of fish kissing and rum shooting. In order to become an “honorary Newfoundlander,” tourists are asked to quickly down a shot of local Screech rum before puckering up to a frozen cod fish.

So how did a spirit produced in the Caribbean become a local favourite in Newfoundland and Labrador? Screech was originally a Demerara rum, a type of rum made in Guyana, that was imported to Newfoundland as part of the triangular trade that sent salted codfish to the British West Indies to help feed the slaves in the Caribbean.

Rum has always been popular in Newfoundland. In the early 19th century, when the small British Dominion had only 20,000 inhabitants, import statistics estimate that 371,000 gallons of rum and spirits were imported from the British West Indies, and an additional 443,000 gallons from other sources. Today, Screech is a Jamaican rum, bottled in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is amber brown in colour, 40 per cent alcohol by volume, with a spicy nose of brown sugar and vanilla.

Sample the province’s penchant for rum and fish kissing at Christinas Bar’s daily screech in ceremony, which takes place at 5pm and 11:15pm.

Things To Do in St. John's Newfoundland: Pamper yourself with a massage at Monastery Spa.
Things To Do in St. John’s Newfoundland: Pamper yourself with a massage at Monastery Spa.

Monastery Spa

23 George St, 709-753-9100

Looking for one of the most romantic things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland? Couples looking to enjoy a slice of rest and relaxation should book a therapy at Monastery Spa.

Located in a heritage building, the Holy Cross Monastery had its cornerstone laid in September, 1931. Seventy years later, in February, 2001, Monastery Spa took over the residence building of the Holy Cross Monastery.

Today, Monastery Spa offers its guests an urban oasis specializing in Ayurveda with therapists using sweet smelling creams and oils from Aveda. St. John’s best spa offers a selection of packages and individual therapies including massage, facials, laser hair removal, pedicures, manicures and electrolysis .

Go shopping for "made in Newfoundland" beauty products at Tval Skincare.
Go shopping for “made in Newfoundland” beauty products at Tval Skincare.

Tval Skincare

151 Water St, 709-579-7627

Tval is a specialty skincare shop in downtown St. John’s that produces locally made Newfoundland soaps, lotions and mineral makeups. It’s one of the best shops downtown to purchase gifts that offer a sweet smelling reminder of your visit to The Rock.

Swedish creator Anna Hellqvist and co-owner and director Bobby Bailey launched Tval Skincare in 2003. The duo’s Newfoundland-inspired beauty shop boasts a full line of fruity and floral skincare products, from hydrating lotions to exfoliating scrubs and bath bombs.

So how did a Swedish soap lover end up with a storefront in downtown St. John’s? Hellqvist is married to native Newfoundlander Jason Bailey. Their marriage led to Tval’s recruitment of Jason’s brother Bobby Bailey, a former MAC make-up artist in Toronto, who now runs the business in St. John’s.

Popular products at Tval Skincare that utilize familiar Newfoundland scents include Blueberry Juniper Bar Soap, local Wild Berry Cake Soap and Pure Naturals Sea Buckthorn Berry Soap.

Get a shave and fade at Fogtown Barber in downtown St. John's.
Get a shave and fade at Fogtown Barber in downtown St. John’s.

Fogtown Barber

134 Water St, 709-237-8696

Traveling with dapper gents and looking to research the best things for men to do in St. John’s Newfoundland? If you’re hair needs cutting and beard needs a trimming book an appointment at local fave, Fogtown Barber.

The best barbershop in St. John’s opened in 2011, offering local men a modern take on the grooming experience. While many gents visit their local barber before going on vacation to ensure they looks slick in every holiday selfie, we suggest treating yourself to a fade and shave at Fogtown Barber to enjoy a truly unique Newfoundland experience.

Skip inside Fogtown Barber on Water Street and you’ll find an eye-popping interior featuring vintage chairs and black and white checkerboard floors. Every stretch of the space is covered in Newfoundland memorabilia, from vintage signs, to old school maps of The Rock and a hunters antler trophy.

Enjoy a morning at Fogtown Barber and you’ll find yourself surrounded by friendly locals who are bound to offer priceless insider tips when you ask, “what are the best things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland?”

Enjoy a sweet snack at Newfoundland Chocolate Company.
Enjoy a sweet snack at Newfoundland Chocolate Company.

Newfoundland Chocolate Company

166 Duckworth Street, 709-579-0099

Located in the heart of Newfoundland’s capital, the city’s best chocolate shop was a dream for husband and wife team Brent and Christina.

What started off as the couples passion project flourished into the provinces most celebrated chocolatier. In May of 2008 the first box of Newfoundland Chocolate Company Chocolates was sold at a local craft show. Soon after, Belbin’s Grocery in historic Quidi Vidi became the first store to carry the chocolates and others quickly followed. 

The flagship store can be found on Duckworth Street, so skip inside to sample a selection of truffles, bars and ice cream cones. Newfoundland Chocolate Company is one of the best shops in St. John’s for those looking to purchase gifs for friends and family back home. Many of the products are named after or decorated in Newfoundland landmarks or giggle-worthy sayings.

The National Warm Memorial in St. John's, Newfoundland.
The National Warm Memorial in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

National War Memorial

Located in the heart of downtown St. John’s, the National War Memorial is the most elaborate of all the post World War I monuments in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was first erected at King’s Bench on Water Street where, in 1583, Sir Humphrey Gibert claimed The Rock for England.

The inspiring series of statues was unveiled on Memorial Day in July, 1924 by Field Marshall Douglas Haig. The term “National” refers to the monument being built by the Dominion of Newfoundland as a nation, before it became part of Canada.

The five figures of the National War Memorial in St. John’s were designed by two English sculptors, Ferdinand Victor Blundstone and Gilbert Bayes, and cast in bronze. At the top of the central pedestal a woman stands holding a sword and torch, symbolizing Newfoundland’s willingness to serve and the spirit of loyalty to the Empire.

Hike the East Coast Trail to Signal Hill.
Hike the East Coast Trail to Signal Hill.

East Coast Trail

A hike along the East Coast Trail is a must for those looking for active things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland. Started in 1994, the East Coast Trail is a long-distance footpath that stretches over 30km. It’s made up of 26 wilderness paths that intersect more than 30 communities.

Maintained by the East Coast Trail Association and located on public lands, the trail traces the east coast of Newfoundland along the Atlantic Ocean. The scenic trail passes through many small coastal towns within the bays of the Avalon Peninsula. Hikers can explore trail sections running from Portugal Cove to Cape St. Francis, through St. John’s and continue south as far as Cappahayden.

Major attractions on the East Coast Trail include the Spout, a natural water spout created by wave action along rock coastline, barachois formations, natural sea arch, and a 50 metre suspension bridge near the abandoned community of La Manche. The trail also passes through Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America.

Hiking the East Coast Trail is a must for nature lovers looking for the best things to do in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Depending on the season you’ll have a chance to enjoy views of drifting icebergs, birds, marine and plant life as well as eight historic lighthouses.

Hike the East Coast Trail for a few hours or try and accomplish the route in a single rigorous day. There are also several designated camping sites along the trail for hikers who wish to sleep under the stars.

Enjoy beautiful ocean views over Middle Cove.
Enjoy beautiful ocean views over Middle Cove.

Middle Cove

Middle Cove is a natural pebble beach with a scenic lookout that can be accessed by car on a short drive north of St. John’s.

In 1610, the London and Bristol Company was granted land in the area, which was used for fishing in the 17th and 18th centuries. The early settlers of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove were immigrants predominantly from the Irish counties of Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, and Cork. These early settlers were attracted to the area by the easy access to the excellent fishing grounds that lay just offshore and by the good farmland throughout the region.

Today, Middle Cove Beach is a very popular destination for both locals and visitors to St. John’s. It’s best known as a beautiful beach for children to play and its annual capelin run. During the warmer summer months, visit Middle Cove after dark and you’ll find locals huddling around campfires, which blaze as the waves crash along the shore.

Fun Fact: for decades the St. John’s Hindu community has gathered at Middle Cove for an annual celebration that includes a summer polar bear dip with a clay idol of Ganesha.

Shop for locally made crafts at Quidi Vidi Village Plantation.
Shop for locally made crafts at Quidi Vidi Village Plantation.

Quidi Vidi Village Plantation

10 Maple View Rd, 709-570-2038

Quidi Vidi Village Plantation sits perched over a picturesque wharf in an iconic St. John’s fishing community. The yellow and brown painted building is a craft enterprise incubator for emerging Newfoundland artists.

Quidi Vidi Village Plantation was built to reflect the fishing stages and fish plants of the 1600’s. The art collective welcomes visitors to watch, interact and support local makers and craftspeople as they produce unique handmade items.

Looking for the best place to go shopping for unique gifts in St. John’s? Quidi Vidi Village Plantation sells quirky Newfoundland keepsakes such as decorated porcelain, children’s wear, hand dyed fabrics and embroidery, quality leather goods and wooden spoons and bowls.

Newfoundland and Labrador's largest craft brewery is Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest craft brewery is Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company

35 Barrows Rd, 709-738-4040

Located a stones throw from Quidi Vidi Village Plantation is one of St. John’s best craft breweries.

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company is Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest craft brewery, founded in 1996 by David Rees and David Fong. The popular brewery offers a bottle shop, production facility and tasting room offering craft beer fans a jaw-dropping view over Quidi Vidi Village.

Quidi Vidi Brewing’s Tap Room is open every day of the week starting at noon. Hop up at the bar and you’ll find 16 taps featuring the craft beer brands core line up, small batch system and guest taps from other Newfoundland breweries.

The brewery is home to 10 award-winning ales and lagers, including their signature Iceberg Beer, a North American style lager brewed from water collected from local icebergs.

Go shopping for seal flipper pie at St. John's iconic Belbins Grocery.
Go shopping for seal flipper pie at St. John’s iconic Belbins Grocery.

Belbins Grocery

 85 Quidi Vidi Rd, 709-576-7640

Belbins Grocery first opened its doors in St. John’s in 1943. The city’s most famous grocery store was run by Robert George Belbin and his sons who opened up the shop in the front room of their family home.

Through the 60s, when the store expanded to include a butchery, to the 80s when a new generation of sons took over, Belbins Grocery has been a cornerstone of the local culinary community.

One might not expect to find a local grocery store on a list of things to do in St. John’s, Newfoundland. But, Belbins Grocery offers a unique experience for visitors who are keen to explore the shops unique Newfoundland dishes and products. Skip down the aisles of Belbins Grocery and you’ll find Cod au Gratin, Seal Flipper Pie, Salt Fish Bits, Cured Pork Scrunchions, and bottles of marinated deer and seal meat.

Lester Farm Market is the best place in St. John's to buy fresh local produce and baked goods.
Lester Farm Market is the best place in St. John’s to buy fresh local produce and baked goods.

Lester’s Farm Market

173 Brookfield Rd, 709-747-3276

Lester’s Farm Market began as a kitchen table on the side of the road and built up to its bustling Brookfield Road operation. From that side-of-the-road table in 1994, Lester’s eventually expanded to its current full-size store, where locals gather to buy everything from locally grown root vegetables to fresh baked goods and ice cream.

The sixth generation St. John’s family farm is unique in Newfoundland as The Rock is largely inhospitable to large agricultural operations. If you’re a visiting foodie looking to sample local Newfoundland food products, Lester’s Farm Market, just outside of downtown St. John’s is an excellent option.

Visit Lester’s Farm and you’ll find a stocked market, garden centre, bakery, food truck and petting barn. Ranked as one of the best things to do in St. John’s Newfoundland for families, Lester’s tiny petting zoo features friendly ponies, calf, goats, chickens, rabbits and pigs.

Things To Do in St. John's Newfoundland: Hike to the historic Cape Spear Lighthouse.
Things To Do in St. John’s Newfoundland: Hike to the historic Cape Spear Lighthouse.

Cape Spear Lighthouse

Blackhead Road, 709-772-2191

Originally constructed in 1836, Cape Spear Lighthouse is one of the most visited attractions in St. John’s Newfoundland. Rising up from the centre of the square lightkeeper’s residence, it was an important beacon for safe passage by sailors until 1955, when a new lighthouse was build nearby.

The history of Cape Spear Lighthouse puts a spotlight on the Cantwell family. For over 150 years, generations of this famous family of lightkeepers resided at Cape Spear and worked tirelessly to maintain a light for mariners. Step inside the restored lighthouse and you can discover the unique lifestyle of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper.

Enjoy a hike around the Cape Spear Lighthouse and you’ll also have the opportunity to encounter remnants of the World War II coastal defence battery. Visitors can walk in the footsteps of Canadian and American soldiers who guarded St. John’s from lurking German U-boats.

The Cape Spear Lighthouse is uniquely located on Canada’s most easternmost point of land, a popular photo opportunity for day trippers. The special spot overlooks the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, where mammoth icebergs float by, Humpback whales breach and pods of porpoises play.

History buffs love visiting the quaint Blackhead One Room School.
History buffs love visiting the quaint Blackhead One Room School.

Blackhead One Room School

Located between downtown St. John’s and Cape Spear, the Blackhead One Room School is a beautifully restored school and church originally constructed in 1879.

The museum’s friendly guide offers visitors a tour of the school bell that the teacher would ring to call students to class and a choir of vintage wooden desks. A wealth of family history is stored in the genealogy exhibit, which includes a self-guided tour.

Blackhead One Room School operates seasonally from July to August 10am to 5pm, Thursday to Monday. Tours available upon request year round.

Review Our Travel Checklist When Planning Your Next Adventure! 

Find the best flights on Skyscanner

Never travel without insurance! We suggest World Nomads comprehensive coverage as it includes over 250 adventure activities such as scuba diving, bungee jumping and surfing.

If you’re planning a road trip make sure to compare the best local car rental options.

Looking to book a tour or VIP experience on holiday? Book the best local tours on Viator.

Be sure to check your travel destinations electrical plug requirements in advance. If you travel often be sure to purchase a multi-region adaptor.

Whether you’re marching through a city or exploring a rugged rural landscape, it’s important to ensure you’re traveling with comfortable footwear. We suggest these comfortable walking shoes for urban adventures or these waterproof hiking boots when embarking on a hike holiday.

Capture your holiday on a quality camera. We suggest the pocket-sized Canon Powershot G7 or professional SLR we shoot with Canon EOS 6D.

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