Newfoundland and Labrador is a province that's known for its people and culture. The area is a hub for creativity and is a place where Canadians and foreigners alike flock to. It's a place where art comes alive, pubs abound, and there's no shortage of gorgeous scenery.
Perhaps that's why nearly 1.5 million visitors pass through the province each year. They come to see the many sights and sounds in this incredible eastern province.
If you're planning your trip to Newfoundland and Labrador, you'll want to know about the best things to see and do. Let's take a look at five of the top tourist destinations in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dichotomy of Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is a mosaic of environmental ecosystems. In this area, you'll find three main ecozones:
- Northern Boreal
- Southern Boreal
- Middle Boreal
The Northern Boreal zone is made up of rocky and mountainous areas. You'll find the Long Range Mountains and the Strait of Belle Island, both of which are populated by balsam fir forests.
In the Southern Boreal zone, you'll find several unique ecoregions. These include the Maritime Barrens, the South Avalon-Burin Oceanic Barrens, Southwestern Newfoundland, and the Avalon Forest.
The southern area is dominated by black spruce, balsam fir, lichen, and moss that grow in bogs. You'll also find rolling lowlands and rocky uplands in this ecozone.
In the Middle Boreal zone, you'll find the forested sections of the Northern Peninsula's lowlands. You'll also find Central Newfoundland and Northeastern Newfoundland, which are characterized by large Black spruce forests.
All three zones have a relatively cool climate. Fog is fairly prevalent around the area and there's quite a bit of precipitation in the ecozones, too.
One of the interesting things about Newfoundland and Labrador is its history. This province is the newest of Canada's provinces and joined the country in 1949. The province changed its name to what it currently is in 2001.
Despite its recent role in modern Canadian history, this area has been around for years. It was first discovered around 1000 CE by explorers from Greenland.
Interestingly enough, however, the Norse visitors didn't settle in the area. They had many conflicts with indigenous peoples living in the area and quickly moved on to other parts of the world.
In 1497, the area was rediscovered by John Cabot. The area steadily developed a profitable fishing and whaling industry, dominated primarily by French and English settlers.
The area remained relatively prosperous until 1869 when it voted to remain independent from Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador continued a steady fishing economy until it collapsed in the 1930s.
During World War II, the economy picked back up again and confidence in the country was restored. However, in the 1990s the fishing industry suddenly collapsed.
Today, the province focuses heavily on the oil industry which has helped revitalize the area. Fishing has also improved and helped to restore the industry.
Getting Around Newfoundland and Labrador
Despite its rather remote location, getting around Newfoundland and Labrador is relatively easy. No matter where you're visiting from, you'll have no problem exploring everything there is to see and do in the area.
If you're planning a visit, it helps to know a bit of general information about the location and transportation in the province. Let's take a look at what you need to be aware of.
Newfoundland and Labrador are located in the easternmost part of Canada and are closer to Europe than any other part of the North American continent. The province consists of a mainland section, Labrador, and an island section, Newfoundland.
The Strait of Belle separates the mainland and island parts of the province. Thanks to the proximity of the North Atlantic Ocean, both parts of the province have a relatively cool and moderate climate.
There are tons of different types of transportation in Newfoundland and Labrador. For one, there are five major airports in the province, three of which are international and two of which are regional.
In addition, the province has extensive highway systems that extend all across the province. The Trans-Canada Highway reaches Newfoundland as well, making it possible to get from mainland Canada out to the more distant part of the province.
Another type of transportation in the province is water taxis. Marine Atlantic runs most of the car ferry services around the province, with roughly 15 different ferry routes in operation.
For those who like to travel by train, they can use rail travel to get from Labrador to Quebec. However, Newfoundland has no train lines running through it.
1. Gros Morne National Park
One must-see spot in Newfoundland and Labrador is Gros Morne National Park. There's no end of things to do in the park, including:
- Tours and park ranger programs
- Ski touring
- Ice skating
- Hangout at the beach
- Spend time at the playground
- Visiting the museum
- Animal watching
- Mountain climbing
- Boat tours
- Bird watching
- Mountain biking
- Cross country skiing
- Ice climbing
- Dog walking
- Kite surfing
Aside from these activities, you'll love the chance to get out on the water in motorized boats or kayaks and canoes. You can even take boat tours to get a better feel for the area!
Plus, you can wind down in the evening with live music and theatrical performances at the theatre. It's a great way to finish a long day at the National Park.
Finally, don't forget to hit the hiking trails. The park has 20 different trails, including 6 moderate, 2 moderate-difficult, 2 difficult, and 10 easy trails.
Gros Morne National Park Camping
There are five different serviced campgrounds in Gros Morne National Park where you can either park an RV or set up a tent. You can also rent a rustic cabin or an oTENTik, a cross between a cabin and a canvas tent.
If primitive-style camping is more your thing, you can do that too! There are several back-country campsites located along hiking trails where you can set up camp for the evening.
2. Signal Hill
If you love history then you'll want to check out Signal Hill. This National Historic Site overlooks the city of St. John and is a unique historic site.
The site played a role in North America's Seven Years War, which started in 1762. At this site, the French surrendered the city of St. John to the British, and Signal Hill was used as a lookout to help troops on the sea communicate with those onshore.
Later, Signal hill was manned during both the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. The battery barracks and the citadel itself played a major role in the outcome of these battles.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Signal Hill became a place for flag mast signalling as well as a Marconi wireless station. Then, in World War II, US troops used it as a battery site.
Today, you can hike around the historic site in about 90 minutes. You'll get a chance to check out the restored battery building, watch a military reenactment performance, or learn more about the history at the Visitor Centre. You can also take a self-guided tour of the site.
A visit to Signal Hill costs just $8.50 for adults, $7 for seniors, or $7 for commercial group members. Kids under age 17 can visit the site for free.
3. The Rooms
The Rooms is a public cultural space where you can check out all kinds of unique experiences, including art, history, and cultural exhibitions. The current exhibits include:
- An exhibit about life in Labrador schools
- Art by Lauren Hodder
- A historic exhibit about the Trail of the Caribou
- A historic exhibit about setters in Labrador
- An artistic photography exhibit
- An exhibit of veteran stories
- Display cabinets of historic artifacts such as postcards, coins, and stamps
- Historic photos from the whaling and fishing industries
- An exhibit about the Haootia Quadriformis
- A teacup collection
- A history of the fishing industry
- Prehistoric and indigenous artifacts
- Display of classic Rodneys
Aside from wandering through these displays, you can head to the gift shop. You'll be able to find Canadian-made and local products that range from books and puzzles to jams and sweets!
Or, you can swing by the café for a bite to eat. Enjoy harbour views as you munch on tasty meals or order a classic Afternoon Tea for a unique experience.
A visit to The Rooms costs $10 for adults, $6.50 for students and seniors, and $5 for kids ages 6-17. Kids under age 6 can enter the museum for free.
Labrador Interpretation Centre
Aside from the main exhibits at The Rooms, you can check out the Labrador Interpretation Centre. This centre is dedicated to the lives and history of the Innu, Innuit, NunatuKavut Inuit, and Settlers who lived in the area years ago.
There's also an exhibition that combines art, voices, and artifacts from the many cultures of Labrador. The exhibit is in English, Innu-aimun, and Inuktitut.
Provincial Seamen’s Museum
The Provincial Seamen's Museum looks at how the sea has shaped life in Newfoundland and Labrador over the centuries. It holds common seamen's items dating from the present day back to the 1800s.
You'll learn about the fisheries, ships, and merchant operations in the area as well as how the sea ties into life on land. Plus, you'll have the opportunity to explore life-size replicas of common items and boats in maritime usage.
Mary March Provincial Museum
The Mary March Provincial Museum looks at the history of Central Newfoundland. It looks at indigenous cultures as well as the rise of the industrial area.
During a visit to the museum, you'll be able to check out tons of artifacts from the earliest Palaeoeskimo and Beothuk peoples. And, you'll have the chance to look at artifacts from the later Mi'kmaq people and European settlers.
4. Cape Spear
Cape Spear is famous for its historic lighthouse dating back to the 19th-century. It's a place where you'll learn about the history of light-keeping and what life was like operating the structure back in the day.
You can also participate in several other fun activities, including:
- Animal watching
- Bird watching
- A historic museum and battery
- Dog walking
- Guided walking tours
- An interpretive trail
There are two moderate trails that you can enjoy while visiting Cape Spear. Check out the shorter, scenic climb or try a 4-6 hour hike that takes you along the coast.
Cape Spear Lighthouse
One sight you won't want to miss while visiting Cape Spear is the lighthouse. The lighthouse is open seasonally from May to October and is a great place to take a tour and learn more about what it was like to work as a lighthouse keeper.
There are special programs that sometimes take place in the lighthouse. These include historical afternoon teas where you can truly step back in time for the afternoon!
5. Terra Nova National Park
Terra Nova National Park is another fantastic park to visit in the area. You can enjoy tons of different activities, including:
- Backcountry or front-country camping
- A beach
- An interpretive trail
- Tours and park ranger programs
- Boat tours
One of the most popular of these activities is hiking. There are over 80km of hiking trails in Terra Nova National Park, making it a great place to get outdoors and explore.
Out of the 12 hiking trails, seven of them are moderate and four of them are easy. There is only one difficult hiking trail. However, some of the moderate trails do have difficult sections to be aware of.
If you want to stay overnight at this park, that's an option too. Stay in one of the oTENTiks, a cross between a cabin and a canvas tent, or sleep under the stars in a backcountry campsite. You can also opt for sites with electricity and RV hookups.
Pack Your Bags and Head to Newfoundland and Labrador Today!
With these amazing tourist destinations in Newfoundland and Labrador, it's no wonder it's such a popular place to visit. There's an abundance of things to see and do and unique experiences to participate in.
Before you pack your bags and head out to this amazing province, make sure to take out a travel insurance policy. Get in touch with Insurdinary and we'll get you a free quote today.