In July 2015, we flew into St. John’s, Newfoundland to attend a friend’s wedding. We had some free time to see the city and surrounding area and wanted to make the most of it. Who knew when we’d be back in Newfoundland?
Before your trip, check the forecast as the weather can be pretty volatile on The Rock. When we were there in late July, it was rainy and windy with highs of only around 5C. While the locals assured us that this was highly unusual for July (we suspect they were lying), you won’t go wrong by packing a fleece and rain jacket!
If you only have one day, you’ll be fine on foot to explore the city. If you have 2 days (or more), we recommend renting a car to explore outside of the city – public transit is pretty limited.
Additional pictures are available in our Newfoundland gallery (Click Here).
Here are some of our tops tips on how to spend 2 days in St. John’s.
From downtown St. John’s you can walk (if you want the exercise like we did) or taxi/drive up to the top of Signal Hill to Cabot Tower (where the first transatlantic wireless signal was received in 1901) to take in the awesome views of the city. It can get pretty blustery up there, so dress warmly! Before we walked up the hill, we stopped at the Terry Fox memorial – this spot is where Terry started his Marathon of Hope run back in 1980.
After walking back down Signal Hill, we set off towards the cute little fishing village of Quidi Vidi. After taking some pictures of the nice scenery, we went to the fantastic restaurant, Mallard Cottage, for a well-deserved lunch. We highly recommend this place. After lunch, we walked to the Quidi Vidi Brewery where we joined the next tasting group – this was a great experience. Aside from Trevor getting to taste several of the company’s beers, the employee running the tour provided lots of fun stories and anecdotes about Newfoundland. Note if you don’t drink beer (like Christine), they’ll let you sit in on the tasting without charging you. It took us about 25 minutes to walk back to our hotel downtown but it was great walk along Quidi Vidi Lake trail.
Cape Spear National Historic Site is the most easterly point in North America. The views are spectacular here on a clear day. There are well-maintained walking paths that you can take to get to the most easterly point, to Fort Cape Spear (used in WWII), and to see the Cape Spear Lighthouse (you can pay to go inside the lighthouse if you want).
You’ll need a car to do this because Cape Spear is located 20 minutes outside of St. John’s.
If you’re looking for night life, this street is where it’s at in St. John’s! In two short blocks, you’ll find a ton of bars, pubs, and restaurants. This place gets pretty packed late at night (after 11pm) and the party goes on strong until the wee hours. Don’t fret if you’re like us and not big partiers – if you go to the pubs/bars before 9pm, there is no cover charge and many of the places have live east coast music! If you want to get screeched-in, head to Christian’s bar for the 5pm or 11:15pm screech-in “ceremonies”.
Few things are cooler than icebergfinder.com. Basically, it’s a map of Newfoundland and Labrador that highlights where the latest sightings of icebergs are! We were there in late July when there are normally no icebergs that far south, but the crappy, cool weather that year changed all of that. On our second day, we rented a car and drove the Baccalieu Trail, which had some nice coastal scenery along the Avalon peninsula.
We stopped in at a little fishing village, Brigus, for lunch before heading north up the peninsula to where an iceberg supposedly was located. Even though the iceberg tracker told us it was there, we were still stunned at the sight of an iceberg right off the coast around Kingston! It was July and we were only a short 1.5 hour drive from St. John’s! We pulled over to the side of the highway to take some pics before making the drive back to St. John’s. Note – if you visit earlier in the season, there will be more icebergs which you can visit yourself by car or through many offered guided tours.
While Christine was busy with bridesmaid duties, Trevor headed off to visit the Newman Wine Vaults. Located downtown, this building contains two massive brick and stone vaulted wine cellars, once used by the English mercantile firm of Newman and Company to age port wine. For the admission cost of $6, Trevor walked around for about 20 minutes and got rewarded with a glass of port.
If you’re visiting St. Johns on a weekend in high season, you’ll need dinner reservations if you want to go anywhere decent in the downtown area. Trust us – you don’t want to be stuck on a Saturday night with nowhere to go. St. Johns has A LOT of great restaurants, making it hard to choose where to go. Given Trevor’s fondness for beer, we made reservations at Yellowbelly downtown, where he was able to enjoy a flight of their finest with his dinner. This place is located right at the corner of George Street too, which is convenient for grabbing after-dinner drinks.
Stroll down Water Street and Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s where you’ll come across several restaurants, trendy coffee shops, clothing stores, and souvenir shops. We had fun checking out some of the unique Newfoundland souvenirs in the shops. I got an amazing t-shirt for my Dad at one of them.