We had an exceptional stay on the island of Newfoundland, and I thought it would be helpful to share our itinerary and highlights with you! Entirely located in the east of Canada, this little-known destination has a lot to offer.
First, know that we travelled in the Fall when the tourist season was over and visitor centers were closed, so everything had to be planned!
We had a limited time of 12 days to visit the island, and we would have taken several more days if it had been possible because the destination really offers endless possibilities. We had planned to go hiking throughout most of our stay (thanks to www.alltrails.com).
At this time of year, the rain and wind are definitely there, and the icebergs, whales and puffins are gone, but the beautiful scenery is still there!
Getting to Newfoundland
It is possible to find direct Air Canada flights to Newfoundland from Montreal to St. John’s. You can fly to St. John’s from $500 roundtrip with or without a stopover in Toronto, or use your Aeroplan points. It will cost you 10-15,000 Aeroplan points in economy class.
Another option is to use your AIR MILES miles to pay for your round-trip flight, available for as little as 1,500 AIR MILES miles and broadly available with the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*.
Newfoundland Travel Itinerary
We used the official Newfoundland and Labrador website exploretnl.ca to create our itinerary. We decided to follow one of the suggested routes and adapt it to our schedule and interests.
1. St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador (2 nights)
We chose this type of accommodation because of its flexibility, in times of pandemic and the possibility of cooking. Again, to save money, you will need to use travel points that can be accumulated through different rewards programs:
Read thefollowing article to learn how to save money on your Airbnb rental.
We went to a restaurant in St. John’s for our first meal and it was quite deserted. This was clearly not the time to follow the famous tradition and get screeched in! (The screech-in ceremony is for foreigners and is meant to make you a true Newfoundlander: it includes alcohol and the act of kissing a fish!)
Best places to visit in St. John's
- Cape Spear, the easternmost point of Canada
- Signal Hill, for a panoramic view of the city and a nice walk along the sea
- Hiking the East Coast Trail
- Fort Amherst Historic Site
- Terry Fox Memorial
- The fishing village Quidi Vidi
- The Battery
- Discover the colourful downtown, its Jelly Bean Row, its steep streets, and the harbour view.
We hiked Signal Hill in the morning and Cape Spear in the second day’s afternoon. We wanted to continue to Fort Amherst, but the site was closed.
2. Irish loop (day 3)
On the third day, we took the day to explore the Irish loop. Route 10 south to the Avalon Peninsula is a pleasant day trip.
First of all, Witless Bay and its ecological reserve are a good point for a sea trip. The puffins have not been there for a long time, but in summer, you can spend some time there and take a cruise to explore the colonies.
Further afield, La Manche Provincial Park offers a 45-minute walk to a suspension bridge and natural pools ideal for a dip.
Further south, the Ferryland Lighthouse stands in a postcard setting, where you can enjoy divine picnics (reservations required). It is possible to buy a basket of food for lunch in a rural environment.
If you are fascinated by geology, plan to stop at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve (guided tour only), otherwise, head to St. Vincent Beach.
3. The Bonavista Peninsula (day 4 and 5)
The Bonavista Peninsula is a must for anyone who wants to experience the atmosphere of Newfoundland’s fishing communities. Ideally, plan two days on site to have time to live this experience. You will find:
- the reproduction of John Cabot’s ship, the Matthew,
- Ryan Premises National Historic Site and
- Cape Bonavista lighthouse.
You must also visit Trinity and its architectural heritage, hike along the coastline dotted with unusual rock formations and visit the village of Elliston, the root cellar capital of the world.
The “root cellar” are the old vegetable cellars that were separated from the house and dug underground. There are more than a hundred in Elliston that are still in good condition and can be visited. In addition to this trip in time,you can take funny pictures, as you have the impression to be in a village of hobbits.
Finally, for the sporty, the Skerwink Trail, one of the most famous hikes in Canada, is 5.3 km long (moderate to difficult level) and is ideal for puffin and iceberg watching in summer.
Not far from there, there is also the village of English Harbour, a cute fishing village.
4. Terra Nova Park (day 5 and 6)
To Terra Nova, Tickle Cove Sea Arch and King's Cove Lighthouse Trail
These are two short stops that are easy to combine because of their proximity. The first, Tickle Cove Sea Arch, is a natural arch formed in the rocks at the seaside. A 400-metre path leads to the lookout. You will find clear directions to the site and for parking.
18 km from Tickle Cove is the trailhead for the King’s Cove Lighthouse Trail.
Two loops are offered, one of 1.7 km or 3.5 km. The walk allows us to admire the coastal landscapes, the lighthouse and the strata of multicoloured rocks.
Terra Nova National Park offers stunning scenery. Here, the land and the sea delicately intertwine to create a sublime territory, conducive to camping, relaxation, kayaking and hiking.
Designated a Dark Sky Preserve in 2018, the park is an ideal place to look up the stars, as native peoples once did. The rain and the mist marked our passage in this national park, so unfortunately, we could not observe these magnificent starry skies.
5. The island of Fogo (day 7)
We decided to get up early and go straight to the ferry to Fogo Island. All the information can be found on this site.
Upon arrival, we headed to the Fogo Island Inn, a spectacular and original 5-star hotel built to energize Fogo Island.
Then it was time for a welcome break: charming villages, Instagramable panoramas, varied artistic life, all under a fresh air, filled with sea spray. At the far end, Tilting is a charming village of Irish origin with an architectural heritage worth seeing. You can also go in search of artists’ secret mini-homes.
As for us, we did two hikes recommended by the All trails application and we had to withstand high winds! It was a memorable experience.
6. Twillingate (Day 8)
You can go on sea tours and admire the whales in the summer. We were out of season, so it wasn’t possible. We had a nice hike along the coves and went to see the lighthouse of Long Point.
7. Gros Morne National Park (days 9 to 12)
Our favourite of the trip!
- Tablelands and Green Garden, two accessible hikes with little elevation gain. Tablelands is impressive with its big yellow rocks, and you would think you were on another planet! If you feel like it, you can continue on the off-trail section (see all Trails) and climb to the top of the plateau for an impressive view.
- Bottle Cove (1h50 from Gros Morne reception)
- Steady Brook Falls – 15 minute walk from Cornerbrook
- Baker Falls Hike
- The West Brook Pond area to view the fjords from a boat.
- The ascent of Mount Gros Morne by the James Callaghan Trail leads you to the summit at 806 m altitude. It is the second highest peak in the province after Mount Lewis (814 m). The climb is steep, but the reward at the end is worth the effort with a breathtaking view (16 km between 6-8h). It is preferable to go in dry weather because it becomes very slippery with the rain.
To end the day on a high note, watch the sun set at Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, just minutes from Rocky Harbour.
8. The Alexander Murray Walk
We saved the last day for the 7-hour drive from Gros Morne to St. John’s. We made the Alexander Murray trail to cut the road on the way. 8.5 km. and not in the books. Stair climbs of more than 1,000 steps for a breathtaking view, and a short side trip that leads us to impressive waterfalls.