St. John's

We’ve compiled the best of the best in St. John's - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site

    At the easternmost point of land on the continent, songbirds begin chirping in the dim light of dawn, and whales in early summer feed directly...

    At the easternmost point of land on the continent, songbirds begin chirping in the dim light of dawn, and whales in early summer feed directly below the cliffs, providing an unforgettable start to the day. From April through July, you might see icebergs floating by. Cape Spear Lighthouse, Newfoundland's oldest such beacon, has been restored to its original form and furnishings. There is a visitor center and souvenir shop open in the summer. The historic gun batteries can be viewed up close from the walking trail whenever weather conditions allow. The cliffs surrounding the lighthouse are beautiful but dangerous. Rogue waves and slippery rocks have caused fatal accidents in recent years. It is important to heed the warnings and avoid getting close to the edge, as there are no barriers and no rangers on duty during the popular sunrise hour.

    Blackhead Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 5H2, Canada
    709-772–2191

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Site free; lighthouse from C$4, Gift shop and visitor center closed Nov.–May, closed Fri. and Sat. Sept. and Oct., May
  • 2. Maddox Cove and Petty Harbour

    Town/Village

    These neighboring fishing villages lie along the coast between Cape Spear and Route 10. Petty Harbour has become the best day trip for a family...

    These neighboring fishing villages lie along the coast between Cape Spear and Route 10. Petty Harbour has become the best day trip for a family near the city. It has something for every age and inclination all around one scenic harbor. The wharves and sturdy seaside sheds hearken back to a time not long ago when the fishery was paramount in the economy and lives of the residents. Throughout the summer, you can enjoy boating, zip-lining, a mini-aquarium, two great restaurants, and two of the prettiest segments of the East Coast Trail starting from either end of town. Island Rooms of Petty Harbour is dedicated to keeping the fishing and boating heritage of the town alive and will arrange walking, fishing, and traditional boating excursions (709/740–3474; www.islandrooms.org). North Atlantic Ziplines boasts the longest zip line in North America, with views over the hills and ocean and plenty of adrenaline (709/368–8681; www.zipthenorthatlantic.com). The Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium (June–October) has a touch tank and daily family programming (709/330–3474; www.miniaqua.org). When you get hungry, head to The Watershed Coffee Shop for a hot drink and a fresh bite with a harbor view (709/747–0500), or get the best seafood and moose sausages in the Greater St. John's area at Chafe's Landing (709/747–0802; www.chafeslanding.com).

    St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • 3. Signal Hill National Historic Site

    Signal Hill is emblematic of the island's military history, of early technological achievement, and ancient geology. En route to the top, the visitor center exhibits...

    Signal Hill is emblematic of the island's military history, of early technological achievement, and ancient geology. En route to the top, the visitor center exhibits the history of St. John's. Cabot Tower, at the peak of Signal Hill, was constructed in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of explorer John Cabot's landing in Newfoundland. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic-wire transmission near here, and today you can visit the Marconi exhibit on the top floor of Cabot Tower. The GEO Centre lets you to go literally inside Signal Hill and learn about the ancient rock. The drive to the tower along Signal Hill Road affords fine harbor, ocean, and city views, as does the tower itself. Walking trails take you to the base of the hill and closer to the ocean. In July and August every year, cadets in 19th-century-British uniforms perform military tattoos.

    Signal Hill Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 5M9, Canada
    709-772–5367

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Site and tower free; visitor center C$4; military tattoo performances C$10
    View Tours and Activities
  • 4. The Rooms

    An eye-catching feature of the cityscape, this lively space celebrating the arts and cultures of Newfoundland and Labrador has a design inspired by traditional "fishing...

    An eye-catching feature of the cityscape, this lively space celebrating the arts and cultures of Newfoundland and Labrador has a design inspired by traditional "fishing rooms," shacks by the waterside where fishing families would process their catch. Multimedia and hands-on exhibits explore the region's cultural heritage, archaeology, and ecology, while the art gallery presents contemporary and older works from the permanent art collection and mounts temporary and traveling art exhibitions. Displays at the Provincial Archives include historical photos and documents. The facility's observation deck has awe-inspiring views over St. John's, even in bad weather.

    9 Bonaventure Ave., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 5P9, Canada
    709-757–8090

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 5. Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

    Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, this fine example of Gothic Revival architecture was erected in the mid-1800s, with major additions in the 1880s, but...

    Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, this fine example of Gothic Revival architecture was erected in the mid-1800s, with major additions in the 1880s, but it had to be rebuilt after the 1892 fire. Free lunchtime organ recitals take place on Wednesday afternoon at 1:15. From mid-July through August, you can slip into the crypt for a cup of tea and homemade tea biscuits and cookies (C$8). Tea service, run by the women of the parish, operates from 2:30 to 4:30 pm on weekdays except Wednesday, when it starts at 2.

    16 Church Hill, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 3Z9, Canada
    709-726–5677

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 6. Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

    Consecrated in 1855 after 14 years of construction, this Romanesque-style Roman Catholic cathedral holds a commanding position above Military Road, overlooking the older section of...

    Consecrated in 1855 after 14 years of construction, this Romanesque-style Roman Catholic cathedral holds a commanding position above Military Road, overlooking the older section of the city and the harbor. The Irish sculptor John Hogan carved the sanctuary's centerpiece, Dead Christ, out of Carrara marble in the mid-19th century. Also note the many stained-glass windows, side altars, and statuary. A museum with vestments and religious objects is next door in the Episcopal Library of the Archbishop's Palace. Every December, the Basilica hosts Handel's Messiah performed by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Choir.

    200 Military Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 2E8, Canada
    709-754–2170
  • 7. Bowring Park

    An expansive Victorian park west of downtown, Bowring was modeled after the famous city parks of London. Dotting the grounds are ponds and rustic bridges;...

    An expansive Victorian park west of downtown, Bowring was modeled after the famous city parks of London. Dotting the grounds are ponds and rustic bridges; the statue of Peter Pan just inside the east gate was cast from the same mold as the one in Kensington Park in London. The wealthy Bowring family, which made its money in trade and shipping, donated the park in 1914. There is a swimming pool, a splash pad (both open July and August), a large playground, and walking trails.

    305 Waterford Bridge Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1E 1E7, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 8. Circular Road

    After the devastating fire of 1846, the business elite of St. John's moved to Circular Road. The street contains some very fine Victorian houses and...

    After the devastating fire of 1846, the business elite of St. John's moved to Circular Road. The street contains some very fine Victorian houses and shade trees.

    Circular Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • 9. Commissariat House

    The residence and office of the British garrison's supply officer in the 1830s has been restored to reflect that era. Interpreters sometimes dress in period...

    The residence and office of the British garrison's supply officer in the 1830s has been restored to reflect that era. Interpreters sometimes dress in period costume, and the videos and labels are engaging and informative. Guided tours and child-friendly activities are offered during the summer and fall. Visitors are welcome to use the green space on the grounds to enjoy a picnic.

    11 Kings Bridge Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 1S5, Canada
    709-729–6730

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$6 including access to Newman Wine Vaults, Closed Oct.–May
  • 10. Duckworth Street

    Once called the Upper Path, this has been the "second street" of St. John's for centuries, Water Street being the main street. Stretching from the...

    Once called the Upper Path, this has been the "second street" of St. John's for centuries, Water Street being the main street. Stretching from the bottom of Signal Hill in the east to near City Hall in the west, Duckworth Street has restaurants, bars, antiques and crafts shops, as well as lawyers' offices and a yoga studio. A few blocks east of City Hall, the Newfoundland Supreme Court is housed in a late-19th-century building with an eccentric appearance: each of its four turrets is in a different style. If you take the time to go through security and wander the halls, you will see a unique collection of artwork from the provincial artbank on the walls. Lanes and stairways between Duckworth Street and Water Street or George Street give access to some of the city's most popular pubs. 

    Duckworth St., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • 11. Government House

    The lieutenant governor—the Queen's representative in Newfoundland—lives at Government House, which was built in the 1830s. Myth has it that the 12-foot ditch surrounding the...

    The lieutenant governor—the Queen's representative in Newfoundland—lives at Government House, which was built in the 1830s. Myth has it that the 12-foot ditch surrounding the structure was intended to keep out snakes, though Newfoundland is one of the few regions in the world to have no snakes. The original governor, so the story goes, was expecting a warmer colony where serpents might be a problem. In fact, the moat was designed to allow more light into the basement rooms. House tours (free) can be arranged by appointment. The marvelous garden is open all year for you to explore on your own.

    50 Military Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 2C4, Canada
    709-729–2669-tour reservations

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 12. Gower Street United Church

    This 1896 church has a redbrick facade, green turrets, about 40 stained-glass windows, and a massive Casavant pipe organ. The church itself is on a...

    This 1896 church has a redbrick facade, green turrets, about 40 stained-glass windows, and a massive Casavant pipe organ. The church itself is on a sort of concrete island, the lone occupant of a small tract of land surrounded by four streets. The home of a community band and choirs for adults and youth, this acoustically pleasing venue hosts musical performances throughout the year. 

    99 Queen's Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 6M6, Canada
    709-753–7286

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 13. Harbourside Park

    This is the spot where Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland for Britain in 1583, much to the amusement of the French, Spanish, and Portuguese fishermen...

    This is the spot where Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland for Britain in 1583, much to the amusement of the French, Spanish, and Portuguese fishermen in port at the time. They thought him a fool, a judgment borne out a few days later when he ran his ship aground and drowned. The small park is a good vantage point to watch the boats come and go and a nice spot to stop for a rest. Kids love the bronze Newfoundland and Labrador dog statues you can sit on. With benches placed among the greenery in an amphitheater-style formation, this is a pleasant place to enjoy family-friendly concerts. Enjoy free lunchtime and afternoon performances by some of the best musicians in the city through July and August.

    Queens Cove, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 1A6, Canada

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 14. Johnson GEO CENTRE

    Built deep into the earth with only the entryway protruding aboveground, this geological shrine is literally embedded in Signal Hill, itself made up of 550-million-year-old...

    Built deep into the earth with only the entryway protruding aboveground, this geological shrine is literally embedded in Signal Hill, itself made up of 550-million-year-old rocks. (The province's oldest rocks date back 3.87 billion years.) There are exhibits on the solar system and how Earth took form. Step on an oil platform in the ExxonMobil Oil & Gas Gallery, and learn about how oil and gas are formed.

    175 Signal Hill Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1A 1B2, Canada
    866-868–7625

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $12, Closed Jan.–Apr.
  • 15. Memorial University Botanical Garden

    The gardens at this 110-acre natural area include rock gardens, a Newfoundland historic-plants bed, peat and woodland beds, an alpine house, a medicinal garden, a...

    The gardens at this 110-acre natural area include rock gardens, a Newfoundland historic-plants bed, peat and woodland beds, an alpine house, a medicinal garden, a native plant collection, a vegetable garden, a crevice garden, a shade garden, a dried-flower garden, and a compost demonstration garden. There are also five pleasant walking trails. You can see scores of rhododendron varieties here, as well as many kinds of butterflies and the rare hummingbird hawkmoth.

    306 Mt. Scio Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1B 4L6, Canada
    709-864–8590

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$9, Closed Dec.–Apr.
  • 16. Newman Wine Vaults

    This 200-year-old building with stone barrel vaults is where the renowned Newman's Port was aged. According to legend, a Newman and Company vessel loaded with...

    This 200-year-old building with stone barrel vaults is where the renowned Newman's Port was aged. According to legend, a Newman and Company vessel loaded with port wine was driven off course by pirates in 1679 and forced to winter in St. John's. Upon its return to London, the cargo was found to have improved in flavor, and after that the company continued to send port to be matured in these wine cellars. The vaults are now a historic site, with guides who interpret the province's long and unique association with port. A small taste of port comes with admission.

    436 Water St., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 6E7, Canada
    709-729–2627

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$6 includes admission to Commissariat House
  • 17. Quidi Vidi

    No one knows the origin of the name of this fishing village, one of the oldest parts of St. John's. The town is best explored...

    No one knows the origin of the name of this fishing village, one of the oldest parts of St. John's. The town is best explored on foot, as the roads are narrow and make driving difficult. The inlet, known as the Gut, is a traditional outport in the middle of a modern city, though a recent slew of new building permits means it is changing rapidly. It's also a good place to catch sea-run brown trout in the spring. Down on the waterfront is the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, an open arts-and-crafts studio where you can meet the artists and buy textiles, prints, handmade clothing, and more. It has parking and is a good place to start your walk around the village. The Inn of Olde, Quidi Vidi Brewery, and Mallard Cottage are great stops for food and shelter and, of course, beer and spirits to keep you warm as you explore.

    Quidi Vidi Village Road, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • 18. St. Thomas Anglican (Old Garrison) Church

    This wooden building, the oldest church in the city, is painted blue and trimmed in white in a style consistent with the "jellybean" houses in...

    This wooden building, the oldest church in the city, is painted blue and trimmed in white in a style consistent with the "jellybean" houses in the neighborhood. The primary section was built in 1836 and, while it escaped damage by the fire of 1846, it is believed to have shifted by six inches in a storm that took place that same year. This led to the further construction of wings to stabilize the original structure. English soldiers used to worship at this church during the early and mid-1800s.

    8 Military Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1C 2C4, Canada
    709-576–6632

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 19. The Battery

    This tiny fishing village perches precariously at the base of steep cliffs between Signal Hill and St. John's Harbour. Narrow lanes snake around the houses,...

    This tiny fishing village perches precariously at the base of steep cliffs between Signal Hill and St. John's Harbour. Narrow lanes snake around the houses, so it's a good place to get out of the car and walk. A public access to the North Head walking trail that winds around Signal Hill crosses the doorstep of a private home in the Battery!

    Battery Rd., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  • 20. The Suncor Energy Fluvarium

    A tributary of a nearby river was diverted here so visitors could see the life that inhabits it from underwater. See into the river through...

    A tributary of a nearby river was diverted here so visitors could see the life that inhabits it from underwater. See into the river through nine large windows at the only public facility of its kind in North America. In season you can observe spawning brown and brook trout in their natural habitat. There are also tanks housing other fish and amphibians and exhibits relating to the aquatic environment. Visitor capacity is decreased during feeding times, which take place at 3:30 or 4:00 pm daily. Grand Concourse Authority walking trails ring the pond just outside the Fluvarium.

    5 Nagle's Pl., St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1B 2Z2, Canada
    709-754–3474

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: C$8

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