St. John’s, Newfoundland, may fool you into thinking you’re in Europe with its rugged coastlines, ancient history, and unique dialect.
Walking around the foggy port city of St. John’s, you might be tempted to let the distinct Irish accent fool you into thinking you’re in Europe, instead of the capital city established in Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador province in 1497. The oldest and most easterly city in North America, St. John’s is situated just four hours from New York and an almost equal four and half hours from London, England. The quirky and charming city is famous for its vibrantly colored “Jelly Bean” row houses that line the steep slopes and alleyways.
The city of St. John’s offers the best of both city and country pursuits, with access to outdoor activities and plenty of old world charm. It serves as the perfect base for ziplining in Petty Harbour, hiking the East Coast Trail, and kayaking to look for birds, whales, and icebergs, but it also doesn’t disappoint on nightlife and cultural options.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a rich tradition of fairy folklore originating from the Scottish, Irish, and English settlers who lived in the area in the 1600s. On most Saturdays, you can join a Fairy Door Tour in the 3,400-acre Pippy Park.
In the downtown area, visit museums, galleries, and one of the oldest mercantile districts in North America. A good place to start is The Rooms at Fort Townsend, a cultural center that pays homage to the province’s culture, history, and heritage. It’s home to the Newfoundland Museum, the Provincial Archives, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. Just past The Rooms are the twin clock towers of the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, which are easily identifiable in the city’s skyline.
The port city overlooks a working harbor, and it’s easy to imagine a time when the waters were dotted with schooners. Above the city is Signal Hill, where flags were flown in the 1700s to signal the local merchants that ships were approaching. Today, you can get a taste of fishing life in the village of Quidi Vidi, minutes from downtown St. John’s. The site of the annual Royal St. John’s Regatta, the village celebrates its 200th year in 2018. The regatta is also known as “The Largest Garden Party in the World” because of the accompanying social event on the shore to celebrate North America’s oldest organized sporting event.
Known for poetry, humor, and music, the city hosts a number of festivals and events. When it comes to nightlife, George Street should be your first stop. Bars and lounges line the street for several blocks, and it’s closed to vehicular traffic most of the time, making it ideal for a pub crawl. George Street is also the site of one of Canada’s best summer music festivals. Access George Street Live to check out the schedule and plan your visit. There’s no shortage of places to listen to music, ranging from blues and hip-hop to alternative country and reggae. The Ship Pub is one of the city’s most popular live music venues.
Have you seen the sights in St. John’s? Share your favorite experiences with us on our Facebook page.