The Best Things to See and Do in Newfoundland

They say you will never run out of things to see and do in Newfoundland, whether you plan your trip from start to finish or just show up and go with the flow. If you are a lover of the outdoors, plan on plenty of wildlife and bird watching opportunities, along with endless hiking trails and sea kayaking opportunities. Explore the bustling city of St. John’s, kiss the cod and take in some live East Coast music. Here are our top 8 things to see and do in Newfoundland.

8. Go Whale Watching

It is one of the most spectacular whale watching places in the world, featuring 22 species of whales including the minke, sperm, blue, orca and the world’s largest population of humpbacks. Between May and September is the best time of year to see these magnificent beasts breach the surface and play along the shores. Although there are plenty of spots on land where you can look out onto the water and see these mammals, the best way to see them is to get out on the water yourself. Sea Kayaking is by far the most exciting way to see these gentle giants as you paddle your way through the open ocean. If you prefer to stay a little further away and perhaps a little higher up while you view the whales, there are plenty of tour boat operators that will take you out on the waters.

Whale Watching Newfoundland

7. Iceberg Viewing

When it comes to viewing towering icebergs, Newfoundland is one of the best places in the world to do so. When the sun is shining these 10,000-year-old glacial giants can be seen from many points along the northern and eastern coasts. They range in shape, size and color, providing visitors with an awe-inspiring experience. The best time to view the icebergs is during the spring and early summer, in particular late May and early June. Iceberg Alley is the area to head to, a stretch of water from the coast of Labrador to the northeast coast of Newfoundland and some of the most popular places to view them form shore, or by boat are St. Lewis, Battle Harbour and Red Bay. Although we suggest hopping on a tour boat where you can get up close and personal with the icebergs, even if you view them from land, they will always be magnificent.

David P. Lewis / Shutterstock.com
David P. Lewis / Shutterstock.com

6. Visit Cape Spear

The Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site is located just 11 kilometers south of St. John’s and is hailed as the most easterly point in North America. It also happens to be one of the best places to watch the sunrise, spot whales, seabirds and icebergs. It is home to Newfoundland’s oldest lighthouse which dates back to 1835 and was in operation until 1955. The site is home to an informative visitor’s center along with concrete bunkers and gun barrels that date back to the Second World War. Along with wildlife viewing, visitors can go on an interpretive walk throughout these concrete bunkers and learn more about this little-known outpost where Canada and American soldiers stood guard from 1941-1945.

Cape Spear Newfoundland

5. Hike, Hike, Hike

Newfoundland is loaded with hiking trails, over 200 to be exact and offers 29,000 km of pristine coastline, historic footpaths and unspoiled wilderness to explore. Serious hikers will want to hike the East Coast Trail that runs 265 km via a series of 24 connected paths. Expect fjords, cliffs, headlands and sea stacks for the views. The 5.3 km Skerwink Trail on the Bonavista Peninsula offers a less strenuous trek and offers more scenery per linear foot than any other trail in Newfoundland. Make sure to hike this trail in a clockwise direction to get the most out of the views. The Alexander Murray Trail in King’s Point is an 8 km round-trip hike that is considered one of the best kept secrets in Newfoundland. It includes a whopping 2,200 stairs and an elevation gain of 1100 feet, and visitors will be treated to a spectacular summit view, where on a sunny day you can even spot icebergs.

Philip Mowbray / Shutterstock.com
Philip Mowbray / Shutterstock.com

4. Visit Gros Morne National Park

This World Heritage Site is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. If you only have time for one hike in this park, make sure you hike to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain. It is here where you will be rewarded with amazing views of Ten Mile Brook Pond, the Long Range Mountains and Bonne Bay. It’s at least a 4-hour hike and you climb over 2,265 ft. but the chance to stand on the second highest peak in Newfoundland is well worth it. Wildlife viewing is also plentiful in this park with moose being the most notable animal, along with caribou, black bears, red fox and beavers. Camp, cycle, hike, picnic, kayak, swim; the opportunities for activities are endless in this park. In the winter the park is popular with skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers

Gros Morne National Park

3. Visit Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

If you have come to Newfoundland to bird watch, this is the place to head to. Thousands of gulls, razorbills, common murres, black-legged kittiwakes, northern gannets, and double-crested and great cormorants nest here. In the winter 20,000 scoters, oldsquaw, harlequin, dovekies and thick-billed murres hunker down here. It is the most accessible seabird rookery in North America and the site overflows with perching, diving and scrambling birds from edge to edge, providing a spectacle of color and sound. An interpretation site teaches visitors about the lives of seabirds as you watch them soar from a giant viewing window. During the summer an annual concert series takes place with traditional music, dancing, food and drinks. With the site open all year round, and the visitors center open from May to October, it is certainly worth stopping here to see the birds in action.

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

2. Explore St. John’s

The capital of Newfoundland occupies a wonderful site on one of the finest natural harbors in the world. The city is the oldest “European” town in North America and the harbor has been used by various countries as a base for fishing vessels since about 1500. Today the colorful houses paint a picture perfect setting for those wanting to explore the city. It is here where you can join in on the haunted hike and discover the deepest darkest corners of the city. The city is where you will find The Rooms, a collection of museums and art galleries that tell the history and local culture. Make sure to visit George Street, the pedestrian only street that features restaurants and bars, offering live East Coast music. The Basilica of St John the Baptist is found here, Newfoundland’s architecturally most important building.

St. John’s Newfoundland

1. Kiss the Cod

It is a tradition that began here in this province and continues to be a long standing tradition that amuses visitors from all over the world. The tradition involves a codfish as well as a type of Newfoundland rum known as screech. The tradition is often referred to as a “Screech-In” and is used to welcome newcomers to the island. Visitors should not miss out on this tradition and should head to a pub on George Street in St. John’s to participate. It must be a Newfoundlander who performs this ceremony and nowadays Cod is hard to find, so any fish will do. Once you kiss the fish, you must repeat a saying (it varies depending on where you go) and down the full shot of screech, and thus you have officially been screeched-in.

Photo by: Newfoundland by Motorcycle
Photo by: Newfoundland by Motorcycle

The Best Urban Parks in Canada

Canada is known for some of its incredible National Parks but often what gets overlooked in this great nation are the incredible urban parks that have popped up from coast to coast. What makes one urban park better than another? Great access to activities, varied landscapes, incredible scenery and plenty of things to see and do, are what sets these eight urban parks above the rest. From the famous Stanley Park in Vancouver to the largest urban park in Canada to lesser known parks in the east coast; here are the best urban parks in Canada.

8. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

This park is considered to be one of Winnipeg’s crown jewels and offers over 113 hectares of woodland and plains along the River’s south side. Attractions here include the park zoo whose star attraction is the Polar Bears and the comprehensive exhibit that they are housed in. Known to be one of the most comprehensive zoological exhibits of its kind in the world, visitors have the chance to watch the playful bears in a stimulating environments inspired by their natural habitat. The park boasts more than just the zoo though, including gardens, playgrounds, restaurants, nature trails, a steam train and more. The park conservatory boasts over 8,000 flowers, trees and plants while the Gallery Museum features local artists and a permanent Winnie the Pooh artifact collection.

Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg

7. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Located on Victoria’s southern shores, Beacon Hill Park is an oasis of both landscaped and natural beauty, offering spectacular views during every season. The outer rim of the park is where nature lovers flock to, to Oceanside bluffs where paragliders and kite enthusiasts often can be seen. The inner park is where visitors will find most of the activities though. Wander through the manicured gardens and over bridged streams while music drifts out of the Cameron Bandshell. Or take the kids the the miniature golfing or petting zoo. Wildlife is abundant throughout the park with over a hundred species of birds, river otters, painted turtles and more. This park also happens to have the important status of being the western terminus, the Mile “0” of the 8,000km Trans-Canada highway and so happens to be a very popular tourist photo opp.

Mile 0

6. Pippy Park, St. John’s Newfoundland

At the northern boundary of St. John’s lays one of Canada’s greatest urban parks, Pippy Park, abundant in scenery and breathtaking views. The 27-hole golf course features some of the spectacular views of both the oldest city in North America and miles of rugged coastline, chances are you might even see an iceberg or whale while walking this course. If visitors want to spend more than just a day exploring this awesome park, the campground offers 216 sites on private treed lots that are steps away from playgrounds and the Botanical Gardens. There is a plethora of scenic trails that allow visitors to explore a variety of landscapes including wetlands, rivers, parklands and more. The rare Leopard march orchid can also be spotted here in the Botanical Gardens and offers visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it up close and in person.

whale

5. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary

It is the largest urban park in all of Canada, and just so happens to be one of the best, located in the southern part of Calgary and over three times the size of Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. Fish Creek flows the entire length of the park and joins the Bow River at the east side, offering visitors a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors here will be privy to 200 bird species, deer, owls, beavers and coyotes which all call this park home. One of the most popular features of the park is Sikome Lake, a man-made lake where thousands of people flock to each summer to swim. A variety of unpaved walking, hiking and bicycle trails are also prevalent throughout Fish Creek Park. Two restaurants are located here, one which offers fine-dining and the other a bakery and café and an Artisan Garden is located in the east end. There are a ton of things to see and do here and if you happen to be a resident of Calgary, consider yourself lucky that you get to enjoy this park anytime at your leisure.

deer

4. Rockwood Park, St. John New Brunswick

This park offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in an unspoiled setting where unusual topography and geography are prevalent. The billion years of history here can be seen in unique rock formations, caves and waterfalls and this park often refers to itself as an all-season natural amusement park. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity for hiking, fishing. Boating, climbing, camping, golfing and mountain biking while those looking for something a little more low key can visit the Cherry Brook Zoo, located in the north section of the park. Other awesome amenities include beaches, gardens, stables, campgrounds and picnic sites, along with 890 hectares of forest and the beautiful Lily Lake.

rockwood park NB

3. High Park, Toronto

It is Toronto’s largest public park and in recent years the city has invested a lot of time, energy and money into making it one of the greatest urban parks in Canada. High Park is home to a greenhouse, zoo, restaurants, off-leash dog park and more. The signature Sakura cheery blossom trees in Hillside Gardens are the star attraction during April and May when they are in full bloom. Grenadier Pond is the place to head for fishing off the south rim while visitors who want to swim or skate can head to the designated pool and rink. From wandering through the nature trails to playing on one of many playgrounds to taking in a sport at one of the great facilities, there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.

high park

2. Mt. Royal Park, Montreal

It is the best urban park in all of Montreal and so happens to be one of the best in all of Canada, laying in the midst of Montreal island and including 200 hectares and the highest spot in the city. The park is home to over 180 species of birds and 20 mammals and enough hiking and biking paths to keep any active visitor busy. In the winter time enjoy the 20km of cross country trails, horse drawn carriage rides and an awesome tubing and tobogganing run. Other features of this impressive park include Beaver Lake, a sculpture garden, Smith House – an interpretative center, and two belvederes. Designed by famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park, visitors can assure that there is no shortage of spectacular views of the city below and varied landscapes to explore.

mt royal

1. Stanley Park, Vancouver

It is known for being one the best parks around the world, and recently held the title of “best park in the world” by Trip Advisor, therefore no trip to Vancouver should be complete without visiting Stanley Park. This lush green space covers over 400 hectares of parkland and west coast rainforest. Things to do at this park include visiting the indoor/outdoor aquarium, walking the 8.8km stretch of seawall and discovering the Brockton Point’s First Nations totem poles. The park is also absolutely loaded with gardens, beaches, landmarks, sculptures and lookout points, along with a golf course and a Lost Lagoon. Whether you spend an hour, a day or three days exploring this park, one thing is for sure – it is easy to understand why this is truly the best urban park in Canada.

totem

 

9 Lesser-Known Canadian Cities Worth Visiting

The second largest country in the world, Canada is a marvel of outstanding natural beauty and lively, gleaming cosmopolitan cities. The major cities are fantastic tourist destinations, and they are justifiably beloved by visitors. Nevertheless, there are some excellent yet lesser-known Canadian cities that are well worth visiting. Each of them is uniquely rewarding for the visitor and, just as importantly, visitors will avoid the crush of the crowd.

The following little-known cities or towns are must-visits for tourists for want to experience the true essence of Canada:

1. Nelson: British Columbia

Nestled within the Selkirk Mountains, Nelson is beautiful and full of charm. The city boasts unique and historic architecture, and the chic cafes make it perfect for days of leisure. The city is also famous as an artists’ enclave. In the opinion of John Villani, an art critic, there is no better art town in Canada. The Heritage Walking Tour is particularly popular. In addition, the surrounding cities and villages within driving distance of Nelson are worth a road trip. Of particular note is the beautiful village of Salmo, BC (a 50 kilometre drive from Nelson). Salmo plays host to Shambhala, an annual electronic music festival that attracts over 10,000 visitors every summer.
Nelson British Columbia

2. Churchill: Northern Manitoba

Situated along the Hudson Bay, the city of Churchill may be small but it puts on a spectacular natural show for visitors: Between late-November and late-March, tourists can be delighted and amazed by the Northern Lights. Churchill is also an ideal destination for seeing polar bears and whales: Polar bears can be seen throughout the year, and Beluga whales can be seen during the summer months.
Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

3. Kaslo: British Columbia

This friendly town that sits prettily on the lake is wrapped in the embrace of the mountains. Visitors can pay a visit to the SS Moyle. Built in 1867, the boat holds the distinction of being the oldest North American paddle steamer. It is now a museum, but it continues to fascinate. Kaslo is also renowned for the jazz festival that it hosts every summer.
Kaslo British Columbia, Canada

4. Whitehorse: The Yukon

Whitehorse is the capital of The Yukon and it is a bustling and attractive city. There are lovely hotels and pleasant restaurants and cafes in the town, and visitors will be absorbed by the various exhibits in McBride Museum. Whitehorse is an excellent base from which to explore the Klondike and to take trips to Alaska.
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

5. Dawson: The Yukon

Dawson City came to prominence during the gold strikes of the late 1800s, and the city now appears as if it is preserved in amber. Much work has been put into its preservation and visitors will feel as if they have been transported back to the American Wild West. The first port of call in Dawson has got to be its excellent Visitor Reception Centre. Tourists will fall under the charm of the heritage buildings.
Dawson City Yukon Canada

6. Fredericton: New Brunswick

The capital of New Brunswick, Fredericton is known for its stately elm trees. The city has an endearing and cozy feel, yet it is home to a number of world-class institutions. There is plenty to keep visitors occupied: The museums, historical sites and riverside trails are well-loved, and the restaurants offer international cuisine. In addition, Fredericton plays host to many world-famous festivals.
Fredericton Museum, New Brunswick, Canada

7. Halifax: Nova Scotia

Halifax is famous for its harbors, which are regarded as some of the finest in the world. Visitors should not miss the Citadel on the town’s hilltop. The four-sided Town Clock has a fascinating history: The father of Britain’s Queen Victoria commissioned the clock to keep sailors and soldiers from being late for their duties.
Clock Tower Halifax Nova Scotia Canada

8. Charlottetown: Prince Edward Island

This town is full of charm. It is elegant, dignified and classy. Charlottetown is home to Province House, which is considered a national shrine because of its historical significance. The Confederation Centre of the Arts is replete with history.
Charlottetown PEI

9. St. John’s: Newfoundland

St. John’s is famous for many reasons: It has a spectacular natural harbor, the cathedrals are impressive, and its Signal Hill Historic Park brings local history alive. Cape Spear Point affords magnificent views of the surrounding areas.
Signal Hill St. Johns Newfoundland Canada

Top 10 Cities to See in Canada

Canada is a beautiful country full of picturesque natural settings from the sea, magnificent mountains, and charming lakes. Along with the loveliness of nature, Canada also boasts many of the world’s most gorgeous cities:

1. Toronto, Ontario

One of the most eclectic cities in all of Canada, Toronto is full of both the bohemian and the trendy. The city has many beautiful valleys full of gardens and parks and a lively waterfront with a view of the many quaint archipelagos dotting the lake. The city also boasts many impressive structures including the Flatiron Building, the Ontario Legislature, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum.

CN Tower Toronto

2. Halifax, Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotia is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in all of Canada. Halifax is not only known for its truly impressive number of bars, pubs, live music venues, and restaurants but also for it perfect gardens and beaches. Along with the natural beauty of Nova Scotia, Halifax also offers numerous attractions including the boutiques of Granville Mall and the military re-enactments at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.

Halifax Nova Scotia

3. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

This beautiful area, full of leafy trees, is located in the gorgeous South Saskatchewan River Valley. Saskatoon is particularly picturesque in the fall when the seasons change and the leaves turn orange. The city is full of parks and gardens, a lovely oasis of trees amid an otherwise treeless prairie landscape.

Saskatoon Saskatchewan

4. Victoria, BC

The retirement capital of Canada, the city lures in retirees for a reason – its beauty. Located near the mountains surrounding the Juan de Fuca Strait, the majesty of its surroundings is wonderfully paired with the mild climate to make the spot a must-see destination for any tourist who enjoys gardens and parks. Famous sites include the Fairmont Empress hotel and the B.C. Legislature.

Victoria, BC

5. Montreal, Quebec

Surrounded by the St. Lawrence River, Montreal offers countless attractions including quaint Old Montreal as well as Mont Royal, the peak for which the city was named. Tourists will be held captive by the glorious vistas of both mountain and beach.

Montreal Quebec

6. Kelowna, BC

For those looking for a Canadian version of California, Kelowna is the the spot. Known for its beaches and its vineyards, the city also has ski slopes not far away. Essentially, everything that one would want to do is within a stone’s throw making it perfect for any tourist.

Kelowna BC

7. Ottawa, Ontario

Certainly the backdrop for some of Canada’s most impressive monuments, Ottawa boasts numerous attractions including the Museum of Civilization, Parliament Hill, the War Museum, and the National Gallery. The famous Byward market is full of clubs and shops and across the river in Gatineau lies Gatineau Park as well as the popular Casino du Lac-Leamy.

Ottawa, Ontario

8. St. John’s, Newfoundland 

Located about as far east in Canada as it is possible to get, St. John’s has a dramatic scenery consisting of several ponds and lakes as well as a breathtaking natural harbor. Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of St. John’s is the number of bars the city boasts. In fact, George Street has the largest concentration of bars per square foot in all of North America. St. John’s is also known for it’s many well known structures including the Battery neighborhood of brightly colored homes, Cabot Tower, as well as Newfoundland Museum, Art Gallery, and Provincial Archives.

St. John's Newfoundland

9. Quebec City, Quebec

Largely a tourist town, Quebec City is a chip off the old French block. Full of European flair, the city is famous for the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel, the Citadelle, and the National Assembly. Founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608, Quebec City is perfect for any tourist who wants to see a piece of history or perhaps go cycling, attend a rock concert, or simply stroll through the beautiful streets and gardens.

Quebec City, Quebec

10. Vancouver, BC

Vancouver, perhaps one of the most visited cities in all of Canada, is renowned throughout the world as being one of the best cities both to live in as well as visit. The city has both the ocean as well as snow capped peaks making it the perfect destination for anyone who enjoys a day at the slopes as much as a day at the beach.

Vancouver, BC