St Johns Newfoundland St Johns Newfoundland

12 Amazing Places To Visit In St Johns Newfoundland

St. Johns, the Newfoundland, is a fantastic and colourful city steeped in history. It appears to be receiving more attention these days. It’s a fantastic vacation spot in Atlantic Canada, especially in the summer.

Saint John’s is the oldest and one of the largest cities and has a colourful past, having fought in the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. 

Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, received the first transatlantic wireless transmission in St. John’s. Its history and culture have helped to make it a popular tourist destination

In Donnchadh Ruadh Mac Connemara (1715-1810) and among Newfoundland Irish speakers’ poetry, St. John’s was referred to as Baile Sheáin (Johnstown).

1 Geographical Area of St. Johns Newfoundland and Labrador

St. Johns is on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula in southeast Newfoundland. It is on the Atlantic Ocean coast, near the city of St. John’s. 

This city in North America is the farthest east besides Greenland and is 475 kilometres (295 miles) closer to London, England, than Edmonton, Alberta. St. John’s is closer to all of Ireland than the city of Miami, which is also on the east coast of North America. After Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John’s city is the biggest in the province’s capital and the second in the Atlantic Provinces.

The city’s downtown spreads to the north, south, east, and west. The city’s central business district is to the west and north of St. John’s Harbour. 

Even though the city is bigger than Montreal at 446.04 km2 (172.22 sq mi), most of its land, except for Greenland, is still undeveloped forests.

Coniferous trees like balsam fir, white spruce, and black spruce make up most native plants. The white birch is the biggest tree that loses its leaves every year. The sycamore and the Norway maple are the two types of trees that have been brought in the most. Blue spruce, common horse chestnut, European beech, and little leaf linden are some other non-native plants that have been planted.

The downtown area of St. John’s is called “Jelly Bean Row” because many homes are painted brightly. This is because the city is high up and has a confusing network of steep residential streets, which makes it look like San Francisco. 

The city council has established strict heritage laws, such as building height limits in the downtown street area.

In addition to St. John’s, there are 12 other cities and towns in the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Some of these are Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove, Torbay, Paradise, and Portugal Cove-St. 

Philip’s, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, Pouch Cove, Flatrock, Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, and Bauline.

1.1 Capital City

Before Newfoundland was Canada’s tenth province, in 1949, both the Colony of Newfoundland and the Dominion of Newfoundland had their capitals at St John’s. The provincial legislature is in the city because it is Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital.

1.2 Early History of the St Johns Newfoundland

At the beginning of the 1500s, fishermen used St. Johns to set up camps for the summer. Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian explorer, wrote in Latin on his original map from 1545 that St. 

John got its name because he and his father, the Venetian explorer John Cabot, were the first Europeans to sail into John’s harbour on June 24, 1494, the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. But there is some disagreement about where Cabot tower landed.

John Cabot’s trips from the Azores to St. John’s happened at the beginning of the 1600s. By 1540, ships from France, Spain, and Portugal were crossing the Atlantic every year to fish off the coast of the Avalon Peninsula. 

In the Basque Country, most people think that Basque fishermen gave the name St. Johns because St. John’s bay looks a lot like the Bay of Pasaia, where one of the fishing towns is also called St. 

John (in Spanish, San Juan, and Basque, Donibane). John Cabot’s trip was over on August 6, when Cabot arrived back in Bristol. Pedro Reinel was the first person to write “So Joo” on an area map in 1519. John Rut, an English sailor, went to St. Johns in 1527 and saw Norman, Breton, and Portuguese ships in the harbour. 

On August 3, 1527, Rut wrote a letter to King Henry about his trip to North America. This was the first known letter from North America. 

St. Jehan is on Nicolas Desliens’ map of the world from 1541, and San Joham is on Joo Freire’s map from 1546.  On August 5, 1583, an English Sea Dog named Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the land as England’s first overseas colony under Queen Elizabeth I’s Royal Charter.

But there was no permanent population, and Gilbert was lost at sea on his way back, so there was no chance of colonization right away.

St. Johns became a permanent settlement around the year 1630. Before this, the West Country fishing industry asked the English government to clarify that they couldn’t build permanent colonies along the English-controlled coast.

1.3 Modern History

In April 1800, rumours spread that up to 400 men had taken a secret pledge from the Society of United Irishmen and fought against the British Army. This was the start of the United Irish Uprising.

Newfoundland went through many big changes in the 18th century, including a rise in population, the creation of a government, the building of churches, stronger trade ties with North America, and the growth of the seal, salmon, and Grand Banks fisheries.

 The number of people living in St. John grew steadily. It was mostly a fishing station, but it was also a fortress, a government centre, and a commercial hub. 

St. Johns was a naval base during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  Not long after the Great Fire of 1892, St. Johns was destroyed. The fire burned down a big part of the city. On December 12, 1901, Guglielmo Marconi got the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic Ocean. 

It came from his wireless station in Poldhu, Cornwall, and it was sent to St. Johns. In June 1919, Alcock and Brown made the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping. They took off from Lester’s Field in St. Johns and landed in a swamp near Clifden, Connemara, Ireland.

 The journey was replicated in July 2005 by American aviator and adventurer Steve Fossett in a replica Vickers Vimy aircraft, with St. Johns International Airport replacing Lester’s Field (now an urban and residential part of the city) (now an urban residential part of the city).

During World War II, ships from the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy fought against submarines from the harbour. 

In December 1942, 99 military civilians died in the Knights of Columbus Hostel fire. The U.S. Army Air Force set up Fort Pepperrell as part of the “Lend-Lease” Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The facility had many US-manned coast defence guns and a Canadian-manned battery of two Lend-Lease 10-inch M1888 guns at Fort Cape Spear. In 1960, the base was given to Canada. It is now known as CFS St. John’s.

From 1993 to 2007, Statistics Canada’s Juristat reports show that, on average, two people were killed in the metropolitan area each year. The rate in 1993 was 2.27. (four homicides). 

This is much lower than the Canadian average and one of the lowest in the country.

1.4 Economy

The ocean and the fact that St. John’s is the provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador are both important to its economy. 

The civil service, which is run by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, has been very important to the growth of the city’s workforce and the stability of its economy. 

It has helped the retail, service, and commercial sectors grow and stay strong. With the end of the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1990s, the ocean is now more important for the oil and gas beneath it than for what swims in or crosses it.

The city is one of 19 World Energy Cities and the centre of the oil and gas industry in Eastern CanadaSt. Johns is home to the headquarters of ExxonMobil Canada. Chevron, Husky Energy, Suncor Energy, and Statoil all have large regional operations in the city. 

Three major oil developments are off the city’s coast: Hibernia, Terra Nova, and White Rose. Hebron, founded in 1981 and started producing oil in 2017, is thought to have more than 700 million barrels of oil that can be used.

2. Travel Destinations in St Johns Newfoundland

2.1 Maritime Music at the George Street

On George Street in St Johns, Canada, there are more bars per square foot than anywhere else. Most of the city’s nightlife is on George Street, a side street with live music above the western end of Water Street in the downtown area.

Many bands started on George Street, where there was live music almost every night of the week. Many events, like the Mardi Gras Festival in October and the George Street Festival in August, happen yearly.

Traditional Maritime music comes from Newfoundland. It has strong Scottish and Irish influences and a lot of songs and ballads from sailors and fishermen. 

Maritime music is hard to describe because it usually has a fiddle, guitar, and piano.  Even though its sounds and rhythms are different, its unique and catchy style has a strong sense of roots in the sea. The best place to hear it is on George Street, which is only two blocks long but has a lot going on.

George street
Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash; Copyright 2021

2.2 The Harbor and Water Street

Water Thoroughfare, which began as a path for early explorers and settlers, is the oldest primary street in North America.

 As the commercial core of St Johns, it is still the meeting spot for sailors from all over the world and near where transatlantic cruise ships dock.

The historic district still has 19th-century buildings, including the Murray Premises, a mercantile building once an office and a warehouse for trade and fishing. 

Built-in 1846 as one of the few buildings to survive the fire of 1892, it’s a National Historic Site and now houses shops and a hotel.

Harbourside Park on Water Street has benches and views of ships, occasional summer performances, and statues of the province’s two signature dogs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Retriever.

Also, there is the Railway Coastal Museum on Water Street in the historic Newfoundland Railway station, with exhibits on the province’s land and sea transportation.

2.3 Signal Hill and the Cabot Tower

There is another National Historic Site. A hill that has a view of St. John’s is called Signal Hill. It is one of the popular travel destinations, as 97% of all visitors to St. 

John visited Signal Hill – a popular tourist and local destination. Cabot Tower is a Signal Hill tower in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The tower’s construction began in 1898 to remember the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message at a position near the tower; the letter “S” in Morse Code was sent from Poldhu, Cornwall, United Kingdom. 

Cabot Tower is currently the base of the Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada, with walking trails and an interpretation centre.

The Signal Hill Tattoo, which features the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot from around 1795, and the North Head Trail, which provides an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby shore, are two of its most well-liked attractions.

2.4 Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

The oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland stands atop magnificent cliffs immediately southeast of St. John’s, marking Cape Spear as the most easterly point in North America. 

The 1836 lighthouse is a one-of-a-kind design from the time, rising from the centre of the keeper’s house, which has been reconstructed to depict the life of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper. 

For 150 years, the same family lived there, as generation after generation of Cantwells struggled to keep the light that guided ships safely across the cape.

Explore the ruins of Fort Cape Spear, a World War II coastal defence station that protected St. John’s and its harbour from German U-boats. A

Along with its historical significance, Cape Spear is a popular destination for whale watching and hiking along the picturesque shoreline.

Cape Spear

Photo by Pei Yu on Unsplash; Copyright 2022

2.5 The Rooms

The Rooms, located on a ridge overlooking the city, integrate the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Archives, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador into a single integrated experience.

The innovative museum, filled with interactive programmes and exhibits, provides visitors with different experiences. 

You will meet a real Newfoundland dog, sample favourite Newfoundland foods, hear traditional music and learn to play an instrument, try a new art form, and learn how Newfoundland and Labrador played an important role in the development of air travel.

There is always much to see and do here for the entire family, which adds to the famous travel destinations.

2.6 Quidi Vidi

Local artists and craftspeople love the charming seaside village on the north slope of Signal Hill. This great place to meet artists and buy unique gifts and souvenirs. The artists are also happy to talk about their work.

The rebuilt Quidi Vidi Battery, built when the French were in charge of St. John’s, looks out over the bay.

 After getting back control of Newfoundland in 1780, the British fixed up the battery and used it as a fort until they left in 1870. The fort is home to what might be the oldest house in British Colonial Building Canada.

 It was built in 1740. A short waterway connects the entrance to Quidi Vidi Lake, where St. John’s Regatta’s oldest sports event in North America is held annually.

Quidi Vidi
Photo by Gurpreet Singh on Unsplash; Copyright 2021

2.7 The East Coast Trail

The East Coast Trail is one of Canada’s most stunning treks, with approximately 300 kilometres of established paths running along Newfoundland’s East Coast. 

The developed area starts north of St. John’s at Cape St. Francis and goes south to Cappahayden.

Along the trail’s towering cliffs and headlands, hikers can see fjords, sea stacks, seabird colonies, lighthouses, abandoned coastal villages, whales, icebergs, puffins, archaeological digs (one not far from St. John’s), and the world’s southernmost herd of caribou. 

The Spout, a natural sea geyser, can be reached from a part of the trail that goes from Bay Bulls north to Shoal Bay.

2.8 Museums

Luben Boykov made statues of Newfoundland and Labrador dogs in Harbourside Park in 2002.  The Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador, built between 1892 and 1893 and is now in a building on Duckworth Street, was listed as a heritage property by the City of St. John’s.

The Newfoundland and Labrador train station on Water Street is 104 years old. It is home to, among other things, the Coastal Museum, which is a museum about transportation. 

In 2005, the museum, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador all moved into The Rooms. The Rooms is a Newfoundland and Labrador cultural centre. It is in the city.

The Johnson Geo Centre is a place on Signal Hill where people can learn about the Earth’s history. 

The centre aims to teach people about the Earth’s history by focusing on Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique and complicated geological history. 

In the heart of St. John’s, the East Rider Motorcycle Museum has two floors of bikes, artifacts, and biker culture. It also shows over 110 years of Newfoundland’s motorcycle history (above East Rider Motorcycle Gear Shop).

2.9 Urban Park

Urban parks are great travel destinations. Pippy Park is one of Canada’s largest urban parks, with 1,400 ha (3,400 acres). 

The park has two golf courses, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest serviced campground, walking and skiing paths, and wildlife habitat. The Fluvarium, an environmental teaching centre, is also in Pippy Park.

Bowring Park is one of St. John’s most scenic parks. Waterford Bridge Road has a sculpted duck pond and a Peter Pan statue. The park has a public pool, playground, baseball pitch, and extensive grassland spaces. It is near downtown and is Victorian-style. Sir Alexander Bannerman, who donated the park’s land, opened it in 1891. 

Bannerman Park hosts the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival and Peace-a-chord. The park hosts the annual Tely 10 Mile Road Race.

Urban park
Photo by Pei Yu on Unsplash; Copyright 2021

2.10 Anglican Cathedral of St. John’s the Baptist

The Anglican cathedral on Church Hill is a National Historic Site and the oldest Anglican Church in Canada, dedicated to St. John the Baptist. 

George Gilbert Scott designed the 1847 cathedral, ranking among North America’s finest examples of pure neo-Gothic architecture. It also has fine interior furnishings.

2.11 Bell Island

A short ferry ride from Portugal Cove village, a few kilometres north of St. John’s, takes you to Bell Island, once home to the world’s largest undersea ore mine. 

Bell island is unique for its geology — a mass of sandstone in a region mainly formed of granite and shale. The spectacularly carved 100-foot cliffs, sea stacks, and caves of the island result from constant sea action on the relatively soft sandstone. 

You may learn about the island’s history by visiting the mines museum and hiking routes to the lighthouse, beaches, and cliff vistas.

2.12 Murray Premises

This Premise in downtown St Johns is a National Historic Site. The buildings were formerly used as a fishery, including drying and packing operations and warehouses for fish, barrels, and other products. 

The oldest structure is the one facing Beck’s Cove. It was erected after the 1846 fire and operated as a business and a dwelling for a period. 

In 1979, the premises were refurbished and currently house office suites, restaurants, retail stores, and a boutique hotel.

3 St Johns Newfoundland: Facts You need to Know

3.1 Cuisine

Wild game meat, salted meats, tinned cream, root vegetables, mustard pickles, hard bread, and cost-efficient bologna are included in Newfoundland cuisine.

3.2 Mile One Centre

It is a multipurpose indoor arena for the (NBLC) National Basketball League of Canada. St John’s Edge and Newfoundland Growlers play there.

3.3 Transit

In Newfoundland, Metrobus Transit is in charge of public transportation. Metrobus has 19 routes and 53 buses, and 3,014,073 people use it annually. 

Some of the places to go in St. Johns and Mount Pearl are the Avalon Mall, the Village Shopping Centre, Academy Canada, Shea Heights, the College of the North Atlantic, the Marine Institute, Memorial University, the Confederation Building, Downtown, Stavanger Drive Business Park, Kelsey Drive, Goulds, Kilbride, the city’s four hospitals, and other important places.

Isn’t it a perfect place to visit in summer? Do let us know in the comments.

Last Updated on by Sanjana


  • shivaniarora2809

    Shivani's goal is to become a Chartered Accountant. She also wrote freelance articles and thus she got a great interest in the same. Shivani wrote articles on Canadian food, history, travel and destinations.

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