Newfoundland and Labrador – it’s the province you never thought of visiting that’ll always be on your mind once you do. You might not have a clue about it now but trust us; after one visit, you’ll never forget it. We’re here to help you discover all the things that you didn’t know you never knew about the province.
The island of Newfoundland and the mainland of Labrador make up the province on Canada’s rugged Atlantic Coast. It spans a huge area, reaching up into Canada’s remote north, making it one of the wildest and least populated provinces in the country. There are tons of wildlife watching, hiking, biking and kayaking opportunities in the stunning countryside. Plus, the people are warm and friendly, the fishing villages are colourful, and the sea views are ever changing.
Read on to find 8 reasons why you should visit Newfoundland and Labrador:
1. It’s only 5 hours away
Yep, that’s right. Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city, St. John’s, is the closest airport to the UK and it only takes 5 hours to fly there. As such, it means Canada is much closer than you might have realised. Not only is St. John’s vibrant, colourful and historic with iconic ‘candy row’ houses, it also sits on the stunning Avalon Peninsula. The Avalon region boasts the accolade, The Seabird Capital of North America with over 35 million seabirds, including half a million Atlantic puffins. It’s a great starting point for a road trip of Eastern Newfoundland.
2. There are fjords to rival Norway
Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of incredible beauty spanning more than 1800 square kilometres. Walk over the red rocks of the earth’s mantle, thrust to the surface by tectonic plate collisions. Step foot on ancient sea beds and stroll across dramatic tablelands. But best of all are the deep, glacial fjords like Western Brook Pond. It’s like nothing you expected to see in Canada. The surrounding marshlands are rich with flora like orchids and pitcher plants. A boat tour through the fjords can take you close enough to feel the spray from some of North America’s highest waterfalls.
3. The Vikings made it here
Vikings one stood on the green grass of what today is the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. It is the only authenticated Norse site in North America and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient settlement provided proof of a landing which Norse sagas celebrated for centuries. More than 1,000 years ago, Vikings sailed across the Atlantic and successfully settled in what they called Vinland, leaving behind fascinating traces of ports, homes and agriculture. Try your hand at weaving or blacksmithing as costumed guides help bring the settlement to life.
4. There are mountains you’ve never heard of
The Torngat Mountains are some of the most spectacular anywhere and can give the Rockies a run for their money in terms of sheer majesty. But the chances are you’ve never heard of them. There might be a good reason for that as the Torngat Mountains are much less accessible than the Rockies. In fact, Torngat Mountains National Park is one of the last, untamed, unspoiled places left on Earth. The expansive wilderness region is home to polar bears, glaciers and caribou, where the Inuit peoples are guardians of all the riches of the wilds.
5. You can watch ocean giants
With such a huge ocean right on Newfoundland and Labrador’s doorstep, you might expect it to harbour a few giants of the sea. In fact, the province is one of the best places for whale watching. The world’s largest population of humpbacks visits every year to feed in the rich waters. Plus you can see another 21 species of whales and dolphins alongside them. Take a whale-watching boat trip to tick off minke, sperm, orca and blue whales off your list.
However, whales aren’t the only ocean giants on offer here. Iceberg Alley, from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of Newfoundland, is a great place to stand and watch 10,000 year old relics of the Ice Age float by. As huge icebergs detach from glaciers in Greenland, the current carries them right past towns like Battle Harbour and Twillingate.
6. You’ll discover an island way of life
To really get into the swing of how the islanders do it, get outdoors. Newfoundland is packed full of incredible hiking and walking trails, plus plenty of opportunities to take to the water. There are 29,000 kilometres of pristine coastline with beaches and sea stacks to explore. You’ll find abandoned, historic fishing villages as well as lively, working fishing communities filled with colour. In addition, there are plenty of outfitters where you can hire sea kayaks to explore those deserted coves.
7. See starry skies and Northern Lights
There are certain benefits which come with having a population density of only 1.4 people per square kilometre. A complete lack of light pollution in places all across the province is just one of them. The dark skies make for perfectly clear stargazing. To get those incredible views of the Milky Way, head to the Terra Nova Dark Sky Preserve on Eastern Newfoundland. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of the mystical Northern Lights, then Northern Labrador (think the Torngat Mountains) is one of the best places to do it.
8. Experience authentic encounters
The culture and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador runs deep. Coloured by Irish, English, French and Indigenous influences, the rich tales and traditions can be experienced all over the province. Authentic encounters and hands-on learning experiences let you sleep in a lighthouse keeper’s residence or build a boat in Winterton. You can catch a cod from a traditional fishing boat or take part in an archaeological dig near Ferryland. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences are all around you. All you need to do is dive in.
Interested in seeing Newfoundland and Labrador for yourself? Browse our holidays in Atlantic Canada for more ideas of what to see and do in the region. Plus, you can take a look at our suggested package here:
Image credits: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism