The capital of Newfoundland, St. John’s, is positioned on a hilltop overlooking one of the most stunning natural bays in the whole world. The location is breathtaking, and unlike many cities, it closely encircles its harbour, allowing ships to arrive and depart right in the middle of its commercial and residential district.
As early as the 1500s, the first European settlement in North America served as the home port for numerous international fishing ships in St. John’s. Even now, it still exudes the distinctive feel of a port.
Many of the top things to do in St. John’s and other parts of eastern Newfoundland will put you in touch with the local wildlife and natural beauty, including the region’s breathtakingly dramatic shoreline and various birds, and marine species that live there. Many places to visit for travelers are connected to its lengthy and fascinating past.
Pay attention to the moniker “Jellybean Row,” which refers to the brightly coloured row residences in St. John.
It doesn’t directly equate around one particular block but to any of the numerous groups of decorated wooden buildings that border the hillside. Take some time wandering the streets above Water Street to see these local monuments.
With this list of the top things to do in St. John’s, you can learn about all the top things to do in St. John’s during your visit there.
1. Cabot Tower and The Signal Hill National Historic Site
The magnificent panorama of the city is just one of the many highlights at the Signal Hill National Historic Site, which also includes harbour, and ocean from its vantage point. You may learn more about Signal Hill’s and the harbor’s significance and explore the remains of Queen’s Battery, built in the 1700s, in the visitor center.
The Signal Hill National Historic Site exploration is one of the top things to do in St. Johns’.
In 1898, to commemorate John Cabot’s expedition’s 400th anniversary, the Cabot Tower was built atop a peak.
The indoor displays feature Guglielmo Marconi and the first transatlantic wireless transmission. In this site in 1901, Marconi received the first transmission from England.
In the summer, the tower’s side is used to fire the customary Noonday Gun every day.
The Signal Hill Tattoo, which takes place in the summer as well, recreates military manoeuvres from the 1800s with marching bands, cannons, and musket fire in remembrance of the Seven Years’ War’s last combat, which took place here in 1762. This is frequently presented four days a week and is one of the city’s most well-liked family attractions.
2. Salmonier Nature Park
There are countless miles of undeveloped parklands nearby St. John’s where moose, caribou, and other wild creatures and birds can graze freely. However, the chances for tourists to see these wild critters are uncommon.
Of all the things to do in St. Johns, visiting Salmonier Nature Park is one of the most popular.
Wildlife may be seen in Salmonier Nature Park, which is 45 minutes from St. John’s, including moose, caribou, lynx, foxes, otters, mink, beavers, and snowy owls.
You may see these animals while walking a two-mile loop through the park on boardwalks that traverse marshes. Each species is ensured to be in its native habitat by carefully designing enclosures.
The park has developed into a hub for wildlife rehabilitation, research, and environmental monitoring. It was first created for wildlife education.
3. Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site
The oldest still-operating lighthouse in Newfoundland, Cape Spear, which is located not far from St. John’s, marks North America’s furthest eastern tip. The 1836 lighthouse is a depiction of the characteristic design of that time, rising out of the center of the keeper’s home, which has been restored to show the way of life of a lighthouse keeper in the 19th century
One of the top things to do in St. John’s is to visit the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site, which is only one of many things to do in St. John’s.
The remains of Fort Cape Spear, a coastal defence station that guarded St. John’s and its port against German U-boats during World War II, may also be visible.
In addition to its ancient importance, Cape Spear is a popular spot for iceberg trekking, whale viewing, and iceberg spotting.
4. Explore Bell Island and go on Boat Tours
4.1. Bell Island
Bell Island, which previously housed the largest undersea ore mine in the history of the world, is reachable through a brief ferry journey from Portugal Cove, a little community a few kilometres north of St. John’s. The island is distinctive due to its sandstone mass in an area primarily composed of granite and shale.
Bell Island exploration is one of the top things to do in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Constant water action on the relatively fragile sandstone has formed the island’s amazing 100-foot cliffs, sea stacks, and caves. You may walk trails to the lighthouse and beaches and for views of the cliffs, as well as visit the mines museum to learn more about the history of the island.
Birds build their nests on the rocks above sea caves at Grebe’s Nest, on the northern tip of the islands.
4.2. Boat Tours
There are 29,000 kilometres of natural coastline encircling Newfoundland and Labrador, which is long enough to circle the entire country of Canada four times. Casting out and going on a boat cruise to appreciate the waves, untamed beauty, and plenty of fresh air are the best ways to do so.
You’ll come across natural wonders as you explore sea caves, inlets, coves, bays, and fjords. Get a peek at a humpback whale breaching or playing around in the water.
Along the coastline, orca, minke, and fin whales can all be seen searching for food. Whales are observed to surface just a few meters from tour boats. They are curious and kind animals. To make your trip to St. John’s memorable, include going on a boat tour on your list of things to do in St. John’s.
5. The Rooms
On a ridge above the city, The Rooms, a seamless journey, unites the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Archives, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Tourists can participate in a variety of events at the state-of-the-art museum, such as getting to know a genuine Newfoundland dog, tasting authentic cuisine, learning an instrument, discovering a new artistic expression, and learning how Newfoundland and Labrador contributed to the development of air transport.
6. Anglican Cathedral and Basilica of St. John the Baptist
6.1. Anglican Cathedral of St. John
Not far south of the Catholic basilica is the Anglican cathedral on Church Hill, the oldest Anglican church in Canada and devoted to St. John the Baptist. It is a National Historic Site.
Among all the things to do in St. Johns, visiting the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Basilica of St. John the Baptist is one of the nicest things to do in St. John’s.
Architect George Gilbert Scott designed the 1847 cathedral, and it is considered to be one of the best examples of unadulterated neo-Gothic architecture in North America. Its interior is tastefully furnished as well.
The cathedral wasn’t completely reconstructed until 1905 after suffering significant damage in two significant fires in the 19th century. The Crypt Tearoom offers beverages and freshly baked sweets in the afternoons during the summer.
6.2. Basilica of St. John
The Roman Catholic basilica is one of the most significant structures in Newfoundland’s built environment. The Basilica of St. John the Baptist, which was constructed between 1842 and 1892, is shaped like a Latin cross and has twin towers that are 46 meters tall.
Its exquisite, intricate gold leaf ceiling and a few superb statues are its most remarkable artistic elements. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima in one of the transepts was a gift from Portuguese sailors who were lucky enough to survive being shipwrecked on the Banks. The basilica is now a national historic property.
7. Quidi Vidi
The modest fishing community on Signal Hill’s north side has developed into a refuge for local artisans, who cordially invite visitors to their studios and workshops.
In addition to meeting the artists, who are happy to talk and show their work and answer questions, this is a great place to buy high-quality presents and mementos.
Among all the things to do in St. John’s, fishing in Quidi Vidi is one of the best things to do in St. John’s.
The entrance may be seen from the rebuilt Quidi Vidi Battery, which was built during the French occupation of St. John’s.
After the British regained possession in 1780, the battery was renovated and used as a fortification till they left Newfoundland in 1870. The mansion at the castle, which dated to 1740, could be the earliest one that is still standing in British Canada.
The Quidi Vidi Lake, which is linked to the entrance by a narrow channel, is where the yearly St. John’s Regatta, the earliest sporting occasion in North America, takes place.
8. Johnson GEO Centre
In order to incorporate the local topography into its exhibit area, the Johnson GEO Center takes visitors into the 550-million-year-old rock bed beneath Signal Hill and across the surrounding landscape.
More than a dozen interactive displays give an overview of Newfoundland life as well as the geologic and cultural history of the planet.
One of them, the Amazing Earth Theatre, uses a range of visual effects to transport spectators through time and space to a time when the Earth was molten.
Other exhibitions cover the Titanic, the Solar System, the future of space exploration, and a section just for younger visitors. There are numerous activities available at this institution for kids of all ages.
9. Maritime Music on George Street
The songs and ballads of sailors and fishermen make up the majority of coastal folk music, which has considerable Scottish and Irish influences and roots in Newfoundland.
Although its sounds and rhythms vary, nautical music is a unique and alluring genre that evokes deep feelings about its sailing past.
The two-block George Street in St. John’s, which is a small but bustling entertainment area, is where you can hear it. This isn’t the only type of music you can hear here, though, especially during the George Street Festival in early August, when the best Newfoundland bands come together for five days and nights of live music.
As George Street commemorates Mardi Gras in October, additional music plays there.
On the other hand, George Street’s hospitable eateries and patios offer entertainment throughout the year.
10. Visit the Harbor and Water Street, and Petty Harbour
10.1. The Harbor and Water Street
Water Thoroughfare, a path used by original inhabitants and travelers, is the earliest significant road in North America. It remains to be the gathering spot for mariners globally because it is near where transatlantic cruise ships land.. The business district of St. John.
One of several 19th-century buildings that is still largely intact in the historic neighbourhood is the Murray Premises, a merchant building for use as offices and a warehouse for trade and fishery. It was built in 1846 and was among the few buildings to survive the 1892 fire. A hotel and shops can be located inside the National Historic Site nowadays.
Along with chairs and boat sights, Harbourside Park on Water Street also has infrequent summertime shows and monuments of the Newfoundland and Labrador Retrievers, the region’s two emblem dogs.
The Railway Coastal Museum, which features exhibits on the province’s land and maritime transportation, is also located on Water Street.
10.2. Petty Harbour
The top day trip for a family nearby the city is now Petty Harbour. Around one picturesque port, there is something for every age and interest.
Of all the things to do in St. John’s, one of the top things to do in St. John’s is to visit the Petty Harbour.
The wharves and robust beach sheds serve as reminders of a bygone era when the local economy and way of life were heavily dependent on the fisheries.
Boating, zip-lining, a little aquarium, two fantastic restaurants, and two of the most picturesque stretches of the East Coast Trail are all available throughout the summer at either end of the town.
Island Rooms of Petty Harbour is committed to preserving the town’s fishing and boating history and offers tours that include strolling, fishing, and traditional boating.
11. Hike the East Coast Trail
One of the most breathtaking hikes in Canada is the East Coast Trail, a 300-kilometer stretch of constructed pathways that follows Newfoundland’s east coast. The built area extends south to Cappahayden from Cape St. Francis, north of St. John’s. For shorter excursions, several different sites provide access to certain stretches of the path.
Along the trail’s towering cliffs and headlands, hikers may see fjords, sea stacks, seabird colonies, lighthouses, desolate coastal settlements, whales, icebergs, puffins, ancient sites (one not far from St. John’s), and the world’s southernmost caribou herd. You may access The Spout, a natural sea geyser, along a portion of the trail that runs north from Bay Bulls to Shoal Bay.
12. Memorial University Botanical Garden and Pippy Park
In the enormous Pippy Park on the outskirts of the city, the Memorial University (MUN) Botanical Garden has themed gardens and walkways through diverse environments, including a bog, a marsh, and several types of woodland.
The flower gardens also have sizable collections of indigenous wildflowers and plants and showcase beds of grown annuals, perennials, and herbs.
Rhododendrons put up a beautiful show throughout June and the beginning of July.
Along the side of Long Pond in Pippy Park lies the Fluvarium, an underwater viewing platform that offers a close-up view of the creatures that inhabit the water, including fish, insects, and plants. Following the river that flows between Quidi Vidi Lake and Long Pond in Pippy Park, Rennie’s River Trail connects the two.
13. Puffin and Whale Watching
The eastern seaboard of Newfoundland is home to the greatest puffin and kittiwake colonies in North America, where over 90% of the continent’s Atlantic puffins breed. Here, more than two million seabirds flock to breed, hatch, and serve the capelin, a small, herring-like fish that is plentiful from mid-June to mid-July, to their offspring.
Since whales follow capelin and other tiny fish on their yearly migrations into Witless Bay and the waters off Newfoundland’s coast, you may possibly spot whales even from the shore in June and July.
Any ferry ride becomes a whale watch, although some businesses specialise in finding all 20 species of whales. Whales break and erupt wherever the water is shallow sufficient to allow them to do so.
Whale and puffin-watching cruises are offered by a number of enterprises in Witless Bay and Bay Bulls.
North of St. John’s on the Marine Drive, in the community of Flat Rock, is an excellent site to enjoy whale and iceberg-watching from the coast.
Iceberg Alley, a section of the ocean that extends to Greenland, contains the charming town of Twillingate. Depending on the time of year, this region is among the greatest in the nation for spotting icebergs. It is one of the most amazing things to do in St. John’s.
The majority of the inhabitants of this community continue to depend on the sea for their livelihood, and little has changed about their way of life over the years.
The pastel homes in this picture-perfect hamlet are set on cliffs and rocky outcrops. Hills surrounding the village are covered in a profusion of blueberries and partridge berries in September.
15. Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park spans 1,805 square kilometers of a hauntingly beautiful natural area. Camping, hiking, kayaking, and animal viewing are all excellent activities to do in a park.
Windswept beaches, flowing fjords, and enormous mountains are scattered throughout. The park is split into a northern and a southern section by Bonne Bay.
The southern area of the park is home to The Tablelands, a unique section of exposed mantle rock that earned the park the UNESCO World Heritage classification.
A network of difficult paths leading through dwarf forests and up to Gros Morne Mountain, the second-highest peak in Newfoundland, may be found in the park’s northern section.
We truly hope you have enjoyed reading about the interesting, entertaining, and unique places and things to do in St. John’s.
Fantastic tourist sites and a wealth of historical knowledge may be found at St. John’s. St. John offers a wide range of wonderful possibilities, including parks, mountains, museums, and other attractions. As soon as you can, schedule your transportation to St. John’s.