Newfoundland in its entirety is impossible to experience in one trip, so it’s best to instead focus on one area and enjoy everything it has to offer.
Eastern Newfoundland’s rich history, culture and scenery have plenty to see and do in the span of a week or two, so pack your bags (and your jacket) and set off for the youngest and most colorful province in Canada!
Eastern Newfoundland Travel Guide
The Best Time to Visit Eastern Newfoundland
The simple answer? Summer. While it’s usually easy to reason that off-season might be fairly less expensive and attract less tourists, there’s really no better time to see this Canadian island than in the summer months from June to August.
Visiting in the summer gives you the chance to see the best that Newfoundland has to offer: lively festivals, wildlife watching of puffins and whales, colorful scenery and pastel wildflowers. The eastern coast is also known for a belt of massive icebergs known as Iceberg Alley, best viewed in May and June.
Standard US/Canadian airlines like Delta and Air Canada fly into St. John’s international airport on a regular basis; I’ve found Kayak’s comparison site to have the cheapest prices on round-trip airfare.
Since you can expect a relatively long flight (depending on where you’re departing from) and at least one or two layovers, take advantage of them! Toronto and Vancouver are the most common stops before heading to St. John’s — use this time to explore two of Canada’s largest and most diverse cities before setting off for Newfoundland! Oftentimes, longer layovers offer cheaper airfare as well.
Read more: How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight
Climate in Eastern Newfoundland
Average summer temperatures hover around a mild 60˚F (16˚C) but can reach the low 70’s, while winters are much colder at freezing or below freezing temperatures! The general weather changes drastically during any given day, week, or season, so “expect the unexpected” and be prepared for unexpected fog or showers!
While no weather is really predictable in Newfoundland, there is typically a bit of rainfall in fall and spring months with plenty of snow in winter. Summer months — from late June through August — are pleasant, but can be chilly in the evenings so always pack warm layers.
Read more: What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Canada
Where to Stay in Eastern Newfoundland
Oceanside cottages and colorful B&B’s are part of what make Newfoundland so quaint, making it nearly a sin to stay in a run-of-the-mill chain hotel. The Murray Premises Hotel in St. John is a beautiful place with lots of history, as is the Campbell House in Trinity, which offers ocean views. Farther north in Elliston is the cozy Bird Island B&B — a perfect place to end your trip before heading back down south to the lower end of the island.
How to Get Around
In Newfoundland, there are domestic flights and ferries available, but the best to way to get around — by far — is by renting a car. Distances between destinations may seem short on paper, but there’s more ground to be covered than you might expect! You’ll also want to allot time for stops along your drive for eating and visiting local attractions, so rental cars are really the only way to go.
Once arriving, take a taxi to the downtown car rental location rather than immediately renting one from the airport location; for a sample week in summer, the cost of a car from downtown costs CAD $300 in comparison to $584 for one from the airport!
Where to Eat in Eastern Newfoundland
In St. John’s, drop by Tavola for the best French and Italian cuisine on the coast or Duke of Duckworth for their famous fish and chips. Quality seafood is abundant along the coast, but Chafe’s Landing in Petty Harbour is a favorite spot of mine for amazing lobster rolls and seafood! Farther north in Trinity is Twine Loft — a highly praised oceanside restaurant with fresh vegetables and fish caught from local fishermen.
Other unique foods to try on the east coast? Fried touton, flipper pie (yes, seal flippers), fresh fish ‘n brewis, and a Newfoundland version of corned beef and cabbage called a Jiggs’ Dinner.
Things to Do in Eastern Newfoundland
- Snorkel with Humpback Whales. Ocean Quest in Petty Harbour is one of the few places in the world where you can snorkel with humpbacks!
- Puffins in Elliston. Newfoundland is home to these adorably cartoon-like birds; check out our photo journal — My Day With Puffins in Elliston, Newfoundland — of our day spent with puffins in the coastal town of Elliston.
- Visit Quidi Vidi Harbour. This St. John’s neighborhood is packed to the brim with things to do, from the well-known brewery to the battery overlooking the Quidi Vidi Harbour. Make sure to stop by Mallard Cottage for a meal!
- Check out the town of Trinity. I recommend staying at least 1 night here and suggest taking a kayak tour for a chance to see some of the amazing sea caves and wildlife near the bay.
- Cruise Witless Bay. The puffin and whale watching cruise at Witless Bay all but guarantees amazing sightings of icebergs (depending on the time of year), many species of birds, and the largest population of whales in the North Atlantic.
- Visit Cape Spear Lighthouse. The Cape Spear Lighthouse in St. John is the most easterly point in the continent and it’s the entry point to East Coast Trail. Not only is it the oldest standing lighthouse in Newfoundland and named a National Historic Site of Canada, but its aesthetic appeal makes for great photos!
- Hike Signal Hill in St. John’s. Another National Historic Site, Signal Hill offers six trails ranging in difficulty from the family-friendly, fully accessible Lookout Trail to the tough (but rewarding) 2.3 mile North Head Trail. Hiking at least one of these trails should be a must while in St. John’s!
Newfoundland Packing Essentials
Nature hikes and often rugged terrain will require athletic shoes (or comfortable tennis shoes at the bare minimum), as well as leggings/jogging pants and a hooded sweater. Daily apparel is very casual, so no need to bring your nicest clothes.
Regardless of the season, you’re bound to run into some sort of wet weather or humidity so keep camera protection on hand; rain sleeves, large Ziploc bags and silica packs can all prevent moisture from reaching your camera.
A rain coat, or water-resistant windbreaker is a must for travelers in Newfoundland at any time of year. Unless traveling in peak summer months, a thicker, warm jacket will be more suitable for the cold weather!
Black Fly Repellent
Black flies in Newfoundland are the equivalent of mosquitoes in the U.S. — pesky insects that leave painful, itchy bites. In summer when black flies are common, avoid wearing sweet smelling perfumes and douse yourself with bug repellent before heading outside.