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Planning a Newfoundland road trip? I grew up in Newfoundland and have driven across the province more times than I can even count! In this guide, I’m sharing everything you need to know about planning a road trip to Newfoundland.
If chasing icebergs, hiking coastal trails, and watching whales breach sounds up your alley, then you will love visiting Newfoundland.
Located on the easternmost tip of North America, Newfoundland isn’t the most accessible destination to reach in Canada, but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding.
While planning your Newfoundland itinerary, it’s important to remember that Newfoundland and Labrador is a BIG province.
Even though I grew up here and spent the better part of summer 2020 exploring the island, there are still places I haven’t seen. Not to mention Labrador!
Although we are one province, Newfoundland and Labrador are quite different. Going to Labrador is a whole adventure on its own (which I hope to write about someday).
If you want to travel around Newfoundland properly, it will take you at least three weeks. Unfortunately, most people don’t have that much time, so you’ll have to pick and choose where to go.
This travel guide highlights all the best places to visit in Newfoundland so that you can plan a fantastic road trip itinerary.
Book your car rental in Newfoundland ahead
If you aren’t taking your own vehicle for the road trip, make sure to rent a car in advance, as car rentals can get booked up early in the summertime (especially in Newfoundland).
All the airports have car rental agencies inside them, so this is the easiest option if you’re flying into one of the provinces from the mainland or abroad.
To find the best prices on car rentals, search Discover Cars. They will search all the main car rental agencies (Enterprise, Hertz, etc). so you can easily compare rental prices.
Bucket List Newfoundland Experiences
Go whale-watching! This is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Newfoundland.
Over 22 species of whales live in the ocean surrounding the island, including an abundance of humpbacks that migrate here every summer. It’s one of the best places to go whale-watching in the world!
The best time to see them is during July and August when the Capelin are rolling onto shore.
Chase icebergs. Every spring, hundreds of icebergs make their way from Greenland, often getting stuck in the bays around Newfoundland.
The best time to see icebergs is in the spring from April-June (although sometimes they can last until July). Boat tours can take you up close, although icebergs can also be enjoyed from shore.
Go hiking along the coast. With over 29,000 km of coastlines to explore, Newfoundland is a paradise for hiking trails.
You can find trails throughout the province, but some of my favorites are the East Coast Trail in St. John’s, the Discovery Trail in Bonavista, and the hiking trails in Gros Morne, one of two national parks in Newfoundland.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Newfoundland and Labrador is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites (pretty impressive, considering there are only 20 in Canada).
These include Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve on the Irish Loop, L’anse Aux Meadows on the Northern Peninsula, Gros Morne National Park, and Red Bay in Labrador. They are all spectacular and deserve a spot on your Newfoundland vacation itinerary!
Enjoy the fantastic seafood. Maybe I’m biased, but I truly believe we have the best seafood in the world
Enjoy freshly caught cod, lobster, shrimp, and so much more. We also have some pretty talented chefs and notable restaurants here. In fact, three of Canada’s top 100 restaurants are in Newfoundland!
How to Get to Newfoundland
Planning a road trip to Newfoundland isn’t as easy as the rest of Canada because it’s an island only accessible by ferry or airplane. Most people don’t realize just how far away it is from the mainland!
Travel to Newfoundland by Ferry
There is also a longer ferry (16 hours+), which goes to Argentia on the East Coast. You can tour Newfoundland by car via these ferries or go on as a walk-on passenger.
Travel to Newfoundland by Plane
Newfoundland doesn’t have the best international connections. If you’re coming internationally, you’ll likely have to connect via Toronto or Montreal. From Toronto, it’s a 3-4 hour plane ride depending on the wind.
The fact that Newfoundland is out of the way often deters people from coming here, which is a shame. It’s a unique province unlike anywhere else in the country. There’s a reason everyone who comes here falls in love!
The best way to enjoy Newfoundland is by car. It makes an excellent addition to an East Coast Canada road trip if you want to see some of the other maritime provinces like Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
If you’re short on time, the best option is to fly into St. John’s (east coast) or Deer Lake (west coast) and hire a rental car from there.
If you aren’t taking your vehicle for the road trip, there are multiple car rental agencies in Newfoundland to rent from. If you’re flying in, you can pick up a rental car at the St. John’s International Airport or the Deer Lake Lake airport.
Getting Around Newfoundland
Back in the day, there was a train that went across Newfoundland that went along the coast. It’s such a shame that it doesn’t exist anymore.
Having a car is pretty essential for traveling around Newfoundland. There is a DRL bus that goes across the island, but it doesn’t go down the peninsulas where all the best places are.
Best Places to Road Trip Newfoundland
The magic of Newfoundland lies in the peninsulas.
There’s one highway that goes across the province (TCH 1), and driving across Newfoundland without detouring off the highway might not leave you with the best impression.
Sure, there are some scenic parts of the drive, but the best places to go in Newfoundland are by the ocean off the highway.
While planning your Newfoundland vacation, here are some suggestions for the best places to visit on your trip across the island. Note that this is by no means an inclusive list!
Newfoundland is full of unique small towns to see, and you could spend years exploring them all.
Newfoundland road trip map
The Avalon Peninsula is where over half of the population lives, and it’s jam-packed with fun activities.
St. John’s and surrounding area
St. John’s is the capital city of Newfoundland and where I grew up. It’s a charming city with lots to see and do.
If you’re flying into Newfoundland, you’ll most likely be landing here. It makes a great place to start or end your Newfoundland travel itinerary.
Spend a couple of days wandering around the colorful streets of downtown, enjoying the nightlife and dining at Canada’s best restaurants.
RECOMMENDED ST. JOHN’S HOTEL
One of the most beautiful places to stay in downtown St. John’s is Blue on Water. This 4-star accommodation features beautiful interior designs and is steps away from top attractions.
If you’re a come from away (aka not from Newfoundland), do a screech-in ceremony downtown on George Street to become an honorary Newfoundlander. It’s a fun time!
Even though it’s a city, it’s not hard to find nature while in St. John’s. The entire city is surrounded by a network of trails known as the East Coast Trail, a beautiful coastal 326 hiking trail broken into 26 paths that stretch across the Avalon Peninsula’s shores.
There are also many other hiking trails in and around St. John’s. Definitely check out Signal Hill National Historic Sites for the city’s best views.
From there is a trail you can take that goes through the Battery all the way to Quidi Vidi, a charming fishing village. Afterward, take a drive to Cape Spear lighthouse, the most easterly point in all of North America!
There are many smaller communities surrounding St. John’s, which make great day trips. If you’re a diver, one fun thing to do is join a dive with Ocean Quest Adventures around Bell Island, where you can dive with shipwrecks.
Discover more things to do in St Johns Newfoundland
The Irish Loop is a beautiful section of the Avalon Peninsula that you can drive as a day trip from St. John’s, or spend a couple of nights exploring.
It’s home to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, one of Newfoundland’s best places to see puffins and whales.
RECOMMENDED WHALE-WATCHING TOUR
Departing from Bay Bulls, this whale and puffin cruise will take you to marvel at marine wildlife through the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.
The reserve is home to over 2.5 million seabirds and one of the largest populations of whales in the North Atlantic!
It’s also home to the UNESCO world heritage site Mistaken Point, where you can see 650 million-year-old fossils.
Argentia/Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve
Following along the Trans Canada Highway 1, there are two more peninsulas you can explore on the Avalon Peninsula.
One is the turn-off for Argentia, where the ferry departs for Nova Scotia (this is the longer ferry). At the tip of the peninsula is Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, a paradise for bird watchers.
Bay de Verde Peninsula
On the other side of the Avalon Peninsula is the Bay de Verde peninsula, home to Newfoundland’s most famous town: Dildo. Yes, you read that right!
Made famous by Jimmy Kimmel, Dildo is quite a cute place to stay with some great restaurants and even a brewery. It’s a great addition to your Newfoundland driving itinerary.
RECOMMENDED DILDO HOTEL
Why not stay overnight in Dildo? The Dildo boathouse inn is a great choice, with stunning sea views from the rooms to soak in the spectacular sunsets.
Continue down this peninsula, and you’ll come across more charming small towns. At the tip is Grate’s Cove – I haven’t had a chance to explore it, yet but have heard great things.
Brigus and Cupids are two other small towns along this peninsula worth visiting. If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss the Brigus blueberry festival – it’s always a good time.
I haven’t had a chance to explore this peninsula yet, but I really want to because at the bottom you can take a ferry that goes to France! Yes, you can even visit Europe while road-tripping through Newfoundland.
St. Pierre et Miquelon is a small island owned by France, which you can visit by heading down the Burin Peninsula and catching a ferry. This has been on my bucket list for so long!
The Bonavista Peninsula is one of the most beautiful parts of Newfoundland. Full of adorable small towns, gorgeous hiking trails, epic whale watching, puffin spotting, and iceberg-chasing opportunities.
The two best towns to stay here are Trinity and Bonavista, about 40 minutes apart.
RECOMMENDED TRINITY HOTEL
The Eriksen Premises is one of Trinity’s historic homes and a great place to spend the night. Antique wood décor is featured in all individually decorated rooms, and it’s next to restaurants and shops.
Be sure to stop in Port Rexton in between the two towns and hike the Skerwink Trail, one of the most famous hiking trails here. Afterward, enjoy a cold brew at the Port Rexton Brewery.
Discover more things to do in Trinity
I never knew how amazing Central Newfoundland was until I visited for a week during the summer of 2020.
For a long time, I just thought of it as a place to stop along the highway on your way across the province. But Central Newfoundland has so much to offer than that. Don’t miss this part of the province on your Newfoundland trip!
Terra Nova National Park
Terra Nova National Park is one of two national parks in Newfoundland! You’ll drive right through it on your road trip in Newfoundland if you’re taking the TCH-1 across the province, but it’s worth detouring here if you love the outdoors. Terra Nova is an excellent place for camping as well as hiking.
The Eastport Peninsula, also known as the road to the beaches (route 310), is a great side trip while on a road trip through Newfoundland.
It takes you down to one of the cutest communities and picturesque beaches in Newfoundland. Yes, we have white-sand beaches here! There’s also a great hiking trail network here called the Damnable trail.
Hare Bay – Route 320/330
On the other side of Bonavista Bay is Hare Bay, one of the best places to go whale watching in Newfoundland.
We did a four-hour excursion with Hare Bay Adventures, and it was incredible to see so much marine life. The whales were jumping everywhere, and there were thousands of birds overhead.
Nearby is the town of Dover, where you can see the Dover Fault site. This is where the North American and European continents collided 150 million years ago! They have an interpretation site set up, and there’s also a small plane wreck you can see.
Keep driving on route 320/330, and you’ll reach Lumsden, which I’ve been told also has wonderful beaches.
Gander isn’t the most naturally appealing place in Newfoundland, but it does have some interesting places to visit for those interested in history.
Gander played an important role in WWII, as well as on September 11th. Made famous by the play Come From Away! There’s also an international airport here.
Twillingate and Fogo Island
Twillingate and Fogo Islands are quickly becoming two of the most popular places to visit in Newfoundland.
Twillingate is a magical town known for its epic iceberg-watching opportunities, hiking trails, and gorgeous coastline.
RECOMMENDED TWILLINGATE HOTEL
With its seaside charm, Twillingate is the perfect place to spend a night or two on your road trip. I recommend the Salt Box Co., so you can experience what it’s like to stay in a traditional saltbox house.
Fogo Island has seen a boom in tourism thanks to the Fogo Island Inn, attracting celebrities and artists worldwide.
Be sure to hike Brimstone head to visit one of the four corners of the flat earth, and join Al’s walking tour here to take you around the historic town of Tilting. Afterward, Stop in Bang Belly for lunch for a delicious lunch.
RECOMMENDED FOGO HOTEL
We all wish we could stay at the Fogo Inn, but it’s not in most people’s budget. Instead, stay at one of The Old Salt Box Co. locations and enjoy sunsets over the ocean from your room.
There are also the Change Islands, where the boat will stop on the way to Fogo Island. Although not nearly as popular, I’ve heard great things about these islands. There’s a Newfoundland Pony sanctuary there!
Grand Falls is another place right off the highway that most people use as a place to sleep, as it’s about halfway across the province. However, it does have some fun activities to offer. For example, it’s home to the Exploits River, where you can go river-rafting!
Fortune Harbour & Bay of Exploits
This is one of my favorite places in Central Newfoundland. The Bay of Exploits is hands down the best place for sea kayaking in Newfoundland.
Fortune Harbour is just a small community nearby but makes an excellent base to stay in if you are joining a day kayaking tour with Adventures Newfoundland.
Another great stop in Central Newfoundland right off the highway is King’s Point, near Springdale.
It’s not only a great place to go whale watching but also for hiking. It’s home to the Alexander Murray Hiking Trail, a gorgeous three-hour hike that brings you to one of the best viewpoints in Central.
Western Newfoundland is incredible. It’s got a completely different landscape than the rest of the province, with gorgeous mountain ranges.
Following the TCH-1 from King’s Point, it’s about an hour and a half until you reach the town of Deer Lake.
There are hotels here if you need a place to spend the night, but it’s also the turn-off for Highway 430, which takes you to Gros Morne National Park and the Viking Trail. There’s also an airport in Deer Lake, so you can fly here from St. John’s if you’re short on time.
Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park is a must while road-tripping around Newfoundland. Just driving in Newfoundland through the national park is an activity in itself; the landscapes are stunning.
RECOMMENDED GROS MORNE HOTEL
Rocky Harbour is the most convenient place to stay in the park if you aren’t camping. I recommend Bambury’s Hillside Chalets, cute saltbox homes with a 9.5+ rating.
Be sure to check out the tablelands trails, where you can see what the inside of the earth’s mantle looks like. Gros Morne National Park was named a UNESCO world heritage site for its outstanding geological significance.
Gros Morne is full of stunning hiking trails, but one of the best to go on is Gros Morne Mountain.
This 800m ascent is no easy feat but takes you to one of the best views in the park overlooking the long-range mountains and surrounding ponds.
Another must-do activity in Gros Morne is a boat ride down Western Brook Pond through the fjords. I felt like I had been transported to Norway; it was breathtaking.
Great Northern Peninsula – Viking Trail
Route 430, known as the Viking trail, is one of the best road trips in Newfoundland.
It starts after turning off for Gros Morne from Deer Lake, taking you right through the park. However, it’s worth it to keep driving around Newfoundland to St. Anthony on the Northern tip.
There you can find L’anse Aux Meadows. This UNESCO world heritage site is one of the only Viking settlements outside Greenland.
At L’anse aux Medows, you can see a reconstructed Viking village and learn about this fascinating part of history in the Parks Canada interpretation center.
Most people stay in St. Anthony for a night or two here since it takes about four hours to drive from Deer Lake. St. Anthony is also one of the best places to see icebergs and whales in Newfoundland!
RECOMMENDED ST. ANTHONY HOTEL
Grenfell Heritage Hotel & Suites is a historic hotel in St. Anthony, centrally located in town. It offers fully equipped kitchens in the apartment rooms – we stayed here for a week and loved it!
Corner Brook and Humber Valley
Corner Brook is the second-largest city in Newfoundland, although only about 30,000 people live here. Nevertheless, it’s a great base to stay in if you’re exploring the west coast with many hotels to choose from.
RECOMMENDED CORNER BROOK HOTEL
If you’re staying overnight in Corner Brook, stay at the Hew & Draw hotel. This family-owned and operated, pet-friendly boutique hotel is thoughtfully curated with Newfoundland-inspired custom furnishings. Plus, they have a hot tub on the rooftop! It’s one of the best hotels in Newfoundland.
Corner Brook is home to Marble Mountain, one of the best places for winter sports in Newfoundland. In the summer, it’s got gorgeous hiking trails, especially around the Humber Valley area.
Codroy Valley is a hidden gem in Newfoundland. You’ll see the mountains in the distance driving towards Port Aux Basques, but it’s worth spending some time here. Sheltered by the long-range mountains, the weather is lovely here – and so is the hiking.
Port Aux Basques
Port Aux Basque is where you take the ferry to Nova Scotia. I haven’t spent much time here outside of that, but there are some places to stay overnight.
Another place that’s high on my Newfoundland list to check out is Burgeo, on the other side of the west part of the island. I’ve heard fantastic things about this area, although it’s more off-the-beaten-path.
Newfoundland Road Trip Itineraries
You could spend an entire summer exploring the best Newfoundland road trips and still not see it all (trust me, I’ve tried); I realize most people have limited vacation time.
If you only have a few days, I recommend sticking to one side of the island (East, Central, or West). Otherwise, you will spend all your time traveling. It takes about 12 hours to drive the province from East to West!
3 Week Newfoundland Itinerary
With three weeks, you could go on a fantastic road trip around Newfoundland, hitting many of the best places in Newfoundland:
- Day 1-3: Explore St. John’s, optional day trip around Irish Loop
- Day 3: Drive to Trinity (3 hours), optional stop in Dildo on way
- Day 4: Explore Bonavista Peninsula
- Day 5: Drive to Terra Nova National Park (1 hour), spend the night
- Day 6: Drive to Eastport Peninsula (1 hour), spend the night
- Day 7: Drive to Hare Bay (1 hour), spend the night
- Day 8: Drive to Twillingate (2 hours), optional stop in Gander
- Day 9: Explore Twillingate, take the ferry to Fogo Island that day
- Day 10: Explore Fogo Island
- Day 11: Take the ferry back from Fogo, drive to Fortune Harbour (3 1/2 hours)
- Day 12: Explore the Bay of Exploits
- Day 13: Drive to King’s Point (2 hours), optional stop in Grand-Falls Windsor
- Day 14: Drive to Gros Morne National Park (2 hours)
- Day 15-16: Explore Gros Morne National Park
- Day 17: Drive to St. Anthony (3-4 hours)
- Day 18: Explore St. Anthony/L’anse Aux Meadows
- Day 19: Drive back to Deer Lake or Corner Brook (4-5 hours)
- Day 20: Explore Corner Brook
- Day 21: Fly or take ferry back home
As you can see, even with three weeks, it’s tight to hit all the places I’ve mentioned in this post. Depending on how much time you have, you really need to pick and choose which areas you want to see the most here!
If you’re short on time, you can also fly between some cities in Newfoundland, such as St. John’s and Deer Lake. Although I do think touring Newfoundland by car is the best way to see the province.
2 week Newfoundland Itinerary (14 days)
With two weeks in Newfoundland, you can still see a lot of the province. I would still stick to two regions (east, central, or west) and make the most of your time there, spending a week in each.
Just combine two of the one week itineraries I’ve suggested above to make a 14 day Newfoundland itinerary.
Newfoundland itinerary 7 days (one week in Newfoundland)
With 7 days in Newfoundland, it’s best to dive deep into one region of the province otherwise, you’ll spend most of your time driving. Some people fly into St. John’s, spend a few days exploring the city, then head over to Gros Morne National Park for their remaining few days.
A week in St. John’s would give you plenty of time to explore the surrounding towns as day trips, as well as visit the Bonavista Peninsula.
Alternatively, you could spend the week exploring Central Newfoundland. We covered Eastport, Hare Bay, Twillingate, Fogo Island, Grand Falls, and the Bay of Exploits in one week. It was magical.
If you want to explore the Viking Trail, it’s best to fly into Deer Lake and stick to the island’s west coast. Spend the week in Corner Brook and drive along the Viking Trail towards St. Anthony, stopping in Gros Morne National Park along the way.
Best Time to Visit Newfoundland
The best time to Visit Newfoundland is during the summer months (July an August), as this is when you’ll get the nicest weather for hiking, and the whales are most plentiful.
However, if you want to see icebergs, springtime from May to June is the best time to visit, although sometimes they can last until July.
Fall is also a beautiful time in Newfoundland, and pleasant weather can last well until October. However, many tour operators will start shutting down in September, so this is something to consider.
If you love winter, Newfoundland can also be lovely for skiing and winter hiking. However, the weather is very unpredictable; so you’ll have to factor in travel delays to your plans.
Renting a car in Newfoundland
Car rentals are somewhat limited in Newfoundland, so I recommend booking ahead of your trip, as they often sell out in the busy summer season when most people are Newfoundland touring.
To find the best prices on car rentals, search Discover Cars. They will search all the main car rental agencies (Enterprise, Hertz, etc.). so you can easily compare rental prices and find the best deal!
My favorite rental agency in Newfoundland is Enterprise, as they were fantastic to deal with when I had a car accident. The manager even came after working hours to help me sort everything out!
Don’t forget travel insurance!
Before heading out on any road trip, it’s essential to protect yourself with travel and medical insurance. You never know what can happen while you’re out on an adventure, and the last thing you want is expensive medical bills ruining your trip (because no, healthcare in Canada is not free for everyone).
RECOMMENDED TRAVEL INSURANCE
Don’t forget to protect your trip with HeyMondo travel insurance. Get peace of mind with:
- 24/7 worldwide assistance (including covid)
- Extended Stays
- Cover for non-refundable expenses
- Heymondo assistance app
Newfoundland Tours | Trips to Newfoundland
A Newfoundland self-drive tour is the best way to explore Newfoundland. Unfortunately, there aren’t many guided trip options that tour the entire province, but here are some individual tours you can book while on a Newfoundland driving tour.
There are some bus tours that will take you around Newfoundland, but these are pretty expensive and generally geared toward an older crowd.
Lastly, there are some cruise ships that come to Newfoundland and small ship expeditions.
FAQ: Newfoundland road trip
How long does it take to drive around Newfoundland?
It takes 12 hours to drive from St. John’s on the east coast to Port Aux Basques on the west coast. However, this is all along the main highway. If you’re detouring off the peninsulas (which you should), it’s going to take you much longer to drive around Newfoundland. This post has all the info you need.
How much time to visit Newfoundland?
Newfoundland is a big province and you could spend months exploring all the quaint towns and scenic drives in Newfoundland. To make the most of your time, you’ll want at least a week.
How big is Newfoundland?
Newfoundland covers an area of over 400,000 km², so it’s a big province and takes a long time to drive through. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a Newfoundland roadtrip itinerary.
Can you drive to Newfoundland?
Yes, but you have to put your car on a ferry from Nova Scotia, as Newfoundland is an island with no bridge there.
Have any questions about visiting Newfoundland or planning a road trip here? I know this was a lot of information, but there are just so many beautiful places to visit in Newfoundland.
Even if you only see one part of the province, you’ll still have an amazing time. Between the outdoor adventures and kind hospitality, Newfoundland is easily one of Canada’s most unique places to visit!
Visiting other parts of Canada? Don’t miss these posts!
- Where to Stay in Halifax
- Where to stay on the Cabot Trail
- The best things to do in Ontario in winter
- Top Toronto fall activities
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