St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital, is ideal for a short getaway. Just a two-hour flight from Montreal, this charming city is the perfect place to satisfy your craving for fresh air.
St. St. John's - Highlights
Iceberg, whale and bird watching
Every spring, icebergs break off the glaciers of Greenland and drift down to the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. The iceberg-watching season runs from mid-May to the end of June. Whales are in Newfoundland waters from mid-June to August.
Cruises depart from the port of Bay Bulls, about 30 minutes away from St. John’s . If you don’t have a car, a shuttle service is available for around $30. Boats cruise through the Witless Bay ecological reserve and on to Gull Island, where thousands of seabirds, including the adorable puffins, can be seen!
During my visit in July, I was also able to observe many humpback whales. The tour lasts 2 hours and costs $80 + tax per adult. You can book this kind of activity on Viator:
Signal Hill National Historic Site has played an important role in Newfoundland’s military history. Today, the hill offers a breathtaking view of the city, the port and a panoramic view of the ocean. Several hiking trails are available. Access to the site and parking are free.
I searched for this famous street for a long time, only to find that it doesn’t exist… In fact, Jellybean Row is a term for the style of colorful row houses found in St. John’s . All the streets in the city center are Jellybean Row! These pretty, candy-colored houses are mainly found along Gower, Bond and Colonial streets.
This neighborhood is on the other side of Signal Hill, near the lake of the same name. It’s a picturesque “village within a town” that has kept its fishing port soul. It can be reached by car or by a short hike from Signal Hill. In summer, a food court is set up with a number of breweries and food trucks.
To learn more about Newfoundland and Labrador’s heritage, a visit to this cultural center is a must. It’s a hybrid between a museum and a gallery. The collections include artifacts, archives, specimens and works of art. Admission is $12 + tax.
East Coast Trail
25 different hiking trails meet end-to-end to make up the 336-kilometre East Coast Trail. This trail runs along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula, passing cliffs, seabird colonies, fjords, archaeological sites and many other points of interest. The trails closest to St. John’s are Sugarloaf Path (8.8 km hike) and Deadmans Bay Path (10.5 km).
The Cape Spear lighthouse marks the easternmost point of North America. At the end of this cliff, we’re closer to Paris than to Vancouver! The area offers superb ocean views, and in season you can admire whales and icebergs. A section of the East Coast Trail (the Cape Spear Path) crosses this national historic site. Access to the site costs $8.50.
St. John's - Good addresses
Quidi Vidi Brewery
This former fish factory has been transformed into a microbrewery with an English pub atmosphere. Go there to sip a craft beer made with iceberg water and grab a bite to eat. Local musicians entertain from Thursday to Sunday.
Also located in the Quidi Vidi district, this restaurant is housed in one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America. The menu changes frequently and features local produce. Dishes can be enjoyed for brunch or dinner. This restaurant is very popular, so it’s advisable to book weeks in advance during the summer months.
Located on Water Street in the city center, this restaurant offers fresh, local cuisine. Their small menu includes dishes from the sea and land, as well as an impressive wine list. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner.
Terre Restaurant & Cafe
This upscale downtown restaurant serves local and modern cuisine. On the menu, lots of seafood prepared with refinement. They are also open for brunch, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is located in the Alt Hotel.
The Battery Cafe
This little café near Signal Hill is my favorite in St. John’s. All kinds of coffees are served, some rather original like a blueberry latte. Good breakfasts and sandwiches for lunch are also on the menu. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon there working remotely.
For those looking to party during their stay in St. John’s go to George Street. This small stretch of street is home to nothing but bars. Lively in the evenings and on weekends, it features Irish pubs, nightclubs and a karaoke bar.
St. St. John's - Planning your trip with points
Air Canada offers daily flights between Montreal and St. John’s . These are often expensive when booked in cash, despite the short distance involved. This is an opportunity to use Aeroplan points at a good value. Direct flights start at 15,000 Aeroplan points one-way.
Here are the best credit cards for easily earning Aeroplan points:
CIBC Aventura points are also an excellent option for an inexpensive flight. The YUL-YYT route falls into the short-haul category of the Aventura airfares table. For as little as 20,000 points plus tax, you’ll get a round-trip ticket.
You will have to pay the difference if the ticket’s market value is over $400. In the example below, the ticket sells for $473. So there’s an extra $73 to pay (the OVERMAX amount in the screenshot).
Ultra-low-cost carrier Lynx Air recently set up operations at Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau airport. Flights with Lynx Air start at $69 one-way, and promotions are frequent.
You can also use your CIBC Aventura Points to pay for some or all of the flights you book with Lynx Air. For example, if your flight costs $140, you’ll need just 11,200 Aventura points to cover the total!
Personally, this is what I did to reimburse my accommodation expenses, my flights with Lynx Air and my car rental. I used 44,000 Aventura points for a total credit of $550.
The Marriott Bonvoy group offers four different hotels in St. John’s under four distinct banners. Depending on the date, rates range from 16,000 to 34,000 points per night.
On theHilton Honors side, three of the program’s hotels are present in St. John’s. Rates are quite high, between 40,000 and 50,000 points per night.
St. St. John's - Practical information
When is the best time to visit St. John's ?
The best time to visit St. John’s is during summer, mainly from July to August. These are the months with the hottest and driest temperatures. These months are also ideal for whale watching.
How long does it take to visit St. John's ?
St. John’s can be visited in a single busy day, but 2 to 3 days is ideal.
What's the weather like in St. John's ?
St. John’s is Canada’s foggiest city. Expect rain too, but the weather can change very quickly during the day. Summer is comfortable, with average temperatures of 16°C. Winter is cool, with an average of 0°C and heavy snowfalls.
Can we visit St. John's without a car?
Although downtown St. John’s can be explored on foot, I recommend renting a car to take full advantage of out-of-town attractions like Cape Spear.
This summer, flights to St. John’s are particularly affordable with the arrival of Lynx Air in Montreal. Newfoundland and Labrador’s charming capital promises a relaxed atmosphere and superb coastal scenery.
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