Ambling along the contours of coastal cliffs, a troupe of cheerfully painted houses in Newfoundland’s capital peer into the harbour below. Interspersed in between are enduring icons of heritage, such as Signal Hill, and quaint fishing pockets of idyll like Quidi Vidi, that sit nestled amid jagged bluffs. From historic lighthouses that safeguard the continent’s easternmost frontier, to enchanting nature trails that end with views beyond the Avalon headland, St. John’s promises exciting avenues of awe and adventure at every turn.
By the numbers
Population: 108,860 (City); 205,955 (Metropolitan)
Elevation: 0-192 meters / 0-630 feet
Time Zone: GMT-3:30 (GMT-2:30 Daylight Saving Time); Newfoundland Standard Time (NST)
Average Annual Precipitation: 153.42 centimetres / 60.40 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 335 centimetres / 131.89 inches
Average January Temperature: -4.5°C / 23.9°F
Average July Temperature: 15.8°C / 60.4°F
Did you know?
St. John’s sees an average of 126 days of fog annually.
St. John’s is not only the Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest city but is also home to nearly 40 percent of the province’s total population.
St. John’s is located on the island of Newfoundland, and is a part of the Avalon Peninsula, making it North America’s easternmost city.
While the city first took root around Water Street in downtown St John’s, over the years, the humble port town has bloomed outwards and transformed into a sprawling city. While most of the city’s attractions are found not far away from downtown, the further reaches of St. John’s offer bountiful options for outdoors enthusiasts.
Georgestown and Rabbittown
This residential neighbourhood is one of the city’s oldest, its streets lined with a mix of new and old homes. The neighbourhood encompasses the RE/MAX Centre, the Green Belt Tennis Club, St. John’s Farmers’ Market, and a part of the campus of the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Directly to the east of downtown is the historic neighbourhood of Fort Townshend. The neighbourhood is the historic site of an 18th-century fort that formed an integral part of the network of defense set up by the British to protect the port from invasion. The fort was abandoned in 1871, and the only marker that remains is a plaque at the corner of Bonaventure Avenue and Harvey Road. The scenic hilltop is today renown as the site of the Rooms and the majestic Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Nearby, the Holy Heart Theatre and the O’Hehir Arena are popular entertainment venues.
This scenic neighbourhood lies to the northeast of downtown and encompasses the eponymous urban park and the campus of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. The park itself is home to attractions like the Pippy Park Golf Course, the MUN Botanical Gardens, and the Suncor Energy Fluvarium.
Deriving its name from the Quidi Vidi Lake and Quidi Vidi Harbor, this picturesque neighbourhood boasts a quaint charm that harkens to its days as a fishing village. The Quidi Vidi Battery, the Quidi Vidi Brewery, Mallard Cottage, and the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation are the neighbourhood’s top attractions. Explore the Quidi Vidi Lake Trail for breathtaking views of the harbour and the charming village.
The Bally Haly Country Club, an 18-hole, par 70 course is the neighbourhood’s crowning glory. East End, located to the north of Quidi Vidi, is just minutes away from St. John’s International Airport, and is a residential neighbourhood characterized by tranquil parks and golf courses.
This humble neighbourhood is known for its scenic locale, thriving community center, and as the gateway to the iconic Cape Spear Lighthouse and the East Coast Trail. Visit the Shea Heights Lookout for a spectacular view of the city and its colourful homes.
This neighbourhood lies at the heart of it all and is the historic core of the city. Centred around the historic Water Street, downtown St. John’s is a heady mix of trendy restaurants, lively bars, quaint boutiques, and popular entertainment venues, all within walking distance of the picturesque harbour. Downtown’s iconic Jellybean Row Houses are a remarkable sight that captures the colourful and quirky character of Newfoundland. These candy-coloured facades line the streets of downtown creating a visual feast that is no less enticing than its delicious namesake.
Here, you can dine at top-notch restaurants like Oliver’s, Raymonds, and the Rocket Bakery, and celebrate the night at George Street’s many bars. From live music at O’Reilly’s and dance parties at Konfusion, George Street is where the soul of the city’s nightlife resides. Specialty shops like the Freak Lunchbox and the Jellybean Row Shop complement popular entertainment venues like the Mile One Centre in downtown.
Dining and drinking
The city’s most coveted culinary gems are centred around Downtown and Central St. John’s with a few exceptions not far beyond.
Rooted in tradition, and inspired by global flavours, St. John’s boasts a culinary offer that is as eclectic and colourful as its iconic Jellybean Row. For a long time, the city’s culinary map was limited to cod, game, and root vegetables that could survive the long winters. However, in more recent years, the city has embraced a more global outlook, transforming traditional ingredients into contemporary masterpieces infused with creative flavours.
A local favorite that you won’t find in downtown, is the Quidi Vidi’s Mallard Cottage. Set inside a historic home the restaurant presents an ever-changing menu of Newfoundland cuisine, prepared using wild game, local produce, and seafood. The restaurant offers diners a rare chance to savour local cuisine in a setting that is infused with the charm of a traditional Newfoundland fishing village. Just a short drive away is the Quidi Vidi Brewery where you can sample their legendary Iceberg Beer, prepared using water harvested from the icebergs that float off the coast of the island.
You can also enjoy the formal and elegant ambiance of the Oppidan restaurant at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, where you can dine alongside enchanting views of the city’s harbour. For casual meals, the Classic Cafe East is a good choice. You can also sample some offbeat dishes here, like Cod Tongue.
Any listing of St. John’s top restaurants is incomplete without a mention of the award-winning Raymonds. Set inside a historic, waterfront building in downtown St. John’s, the restaurant presents a menu of elegant dishes that fuse traditional ingredients with contemporary flair. For a light lunch of soups and salads, fresh pastries stuffed with berries, and an exceptional cup of coffee, try the Fixed Cafe, or head to the Rocket Bakery for a delicious meal packed with fresh flavour. The Adelaide Oyster House is a top choice for seafood, with the Gypsy Tea Room coming in at a close second. While Chinched Bistro serves contemporary Bistro fare, Bacalao serves up local traditional cuisine. From a set menu at the Reluctant Chef and Vietnamese at the Saigon Bistro, to vegetarian food at Sprout and local brews at the YellowBelly Brewpub, downtown St. John’s is a haven for those with an adventurous palate.
The city also boasts a vibrant bar scene that is centred around the bustling George Street. From the traditional Irish appeal of O’Reilly’s and cocktails at the Martini Bar to Screech rum shots with the natives at Christian’s Bar, George Street is myriad experiences in one.
Delve into the colourful history of St. John’s at the Rooms and Signal Hill, explore meandering trails, and experience life in a fishing village at the quaint Quidi Vidi. Most of St. John’s attractions are scattered across the city but form smaller clusters that make it easy to visit several attractions in a single day.
Cape Spear Lighthouse
A visit to St. John’s is simply incomplete without a stop by the iconic Cape Spear Lighthouse. Perched at the easternmost point of North America, this guiding light was built in 1836 and is a stellar example of historic lighthouse architecture. The lighthouse was manned by successive generations of the Cantwell family for 150 years; discover the story behind life at Cape Spear with a tour of the lightkeeper’s home. Nearby, remnants of a World War II battery tell the tale of the site’s role in the defense of the easternmost reaches of North America by the Canadian and American forces. As you stand here surrounded by the sound of the crashing waves, the scent of the sea, and a view of the icebergs in the distance, be amazed, enthralled and uplifted.
Railway Coastal Museum
From Cape Spear, you can either make your way down the East Coast Trail or head back down Blackhead Road to the city sprawl of St. John’s. Stop at Shea Heights Lookout for panoramic views of the city, then make your way to the corner of Pitts Memorial Drive and Water Street where you will find the Railway Coastal Museum. Hidden behind the facade of the historic Newfoundland Railway Terminal are a host of intriguing exhibits that detail the role of the railways in the development of the eastern coast of Newfoundland. As you venture further down Water Street you will come across the historic Newman Wine Vaults. Tour the brick and stone vaults to uncover the story behind how the English came to age their Port in Newfoundland. Cap off the day with an elaborate meal at the St. John’s Fish Exchange Kitchen.
Signal Hill and the Johnson Geo Centre
With uninterrupted views over the coast, Signal Hill is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The historic hilltop was the site of the legendary Battle of Signal Hill that marks the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1762. Over the years, the hill has played an important role as a military stronghold, and signalling point for communication between incoming ships and the people onshore. In 1897, the iconic Cabot Tower was built to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, and to mark the 400 year anniversary of John Cabot’s arrival. The tower served as a mast for flag signals and was home to a Marconi Wireless Station. In 1901, Signal Hill went down in history as the site where Guglielmo Marconi received the first ever transatlantic wireless transmission. Today, visitors are welcome to tour this historic site and explore intriguing exhibits at the Visitor Centre. In the summer months, stop by to witness the Signal Hill Tattoo – a reenactment of the military drills of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot.
After you’ve had your fill of the spectacular view of the harbour from the summit of Signal Hill, hike along the North Head Trail for a scenic tour of the coast. Next, visit the Johnson Geo Centre nearby for an insight into the geological forces that shaped the land. The center’s main attraction is an excavated site where various rock formations have been uncovered. Round off your day with a flavourful meal at International Flavours, or head further towards downtown to Portobello’s for steak and seafood with panoramic views of the harbour.
This charming fishing village lies sprawled along the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake and Quidi Vidi Harbor, in what is perhaps one of Newfoundland’s most scenic locales. Replete with quaint cottages and winding streets, a tour of this neighbourhood is like taking a step back in time. Begin your tour with a visit to the Quidi Vidi Barracks. Originally built in 1762 by the French, the barracks were later rebuilt by the British and came to prominence during the War of 1812. The barracks have been restored and are manned by guides dressed in military uniforms to welcome visitors.
Your next stop is the historic Mallard Cottage. Renown as one of North America’s oldest wooden buildings, the cottage was built in the 18th Century and has been restored to its former glory. Choose from an ever-changing menu of dishes prepared using seasonal produce at the Mallard Cottage, and bask in the quaint allure of this historic home.
Admire the spellbinding view of the village from here before heading down Barrows Road to the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company – Newfoundland’s largest microbrewery. This renowned brewery is the home of the coveted Iceberg Beer, prepared using water harvested from the icebergs that float off the coast of Newfoundland. Take a guided tour of the brewery and, and stay for a tasting of all of Quidi Vidi’s exceptional brews.
After, visit the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation to meet with local artisans and shop for unique handmade wares. End your day with a stroll along the Quidi Vidi Lake Trail, or hike along Sugarloaf Path.
This sprawling urban park is the largest of its kind in Canada and is treasured by the people of St. John’s. From the rolling greens of the park, admire a spellbinding view over the city and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, as you stroll along Long Pond Walk. By the lake, you will find the Suncor Energy Fluvarium. The exhibits at this educational center shed light on the role of the river and watershed in shaping the ecosystem and illustrate the many species of fish that are native to the region. After a tour of the Fluvarium, head east along Mt Scio Road to the MUN Botanical Garden. The garden presents a stunning array of flora, surrounded by boreal forests riddled with nature trails. Keep an eye out for the swallowtail and gossamer butterflies that flit between the flowers, and watch out for moose as you tour the trails. For lunch, enjoy a light, simple meal at the Pantry Cafe. After lunch, enjoy a round of golf at the Pippy Park Golf Course, or tour the Memorial University campus instead. After, head to the Guv’nor Inn to sample British Pub Fare, or try Bitters instead.
The Rooms and the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
The twin towers of the historic Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and the contemporary facade of the Rooms stand in stark contrast to each other atop a hill overlooking downtown; both the crown jewels of St. John’s colourful skyline. Together they are a fitting homage to St. John’s where the past and present are celebrated with equal fervour. The magnificent Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was completed in 1855 and is the second largest church building in Canada. The majestic church was built upon Lombard Romanesque design with interiors richly endowed with grand works of art and intricate design details. The Altar of Sacrifice features the Irish sculptor Hogan’s magnificent rendition of “The Dead Christ” in Carrara marble, while 19th-century stained glass adorns 28 of the cathedral’s windows.
Tour the Basilica Museum at the Basilica Residence to view religious artwork, historic artifacts, and period furnishings. Next, head across the street to the Rooms and tour the Art Gallery, Provincial Archives and Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. Once you’ve had your fill of St. John’s history and culture, head downhill to downtown for a taste of the city’s contemporary offer.
Jellybean Row Houses
On your way to downtown, walk past the colourful Jellybean Row Houses that so beautifully capture Newfoundland’s vibrant culture near Kimberly Row. Dine at popular restaurants like Oliver’s, the Reluctant Chef, and the Gypsy Tea Room, or head to the Masonic Temple for dinner and a show. Stroll down Water Street, past quaint boutiques, art galleries, and bars, to the National War Memorial and the Terry Fox Memorial. Then head to George Street and treat yourself to a nightcap at O’Reilly’s.
Dee Jay Charters (+1 709 753 8687 / http://www.deejaycharters.ca/)
Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours (+1 709 722 1888 / http://icebergquest.com/)
O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours (+1 709 753 4850 / http://www.obriensboattours.com/)
Bird⋅The⋅Rock (+1 709 690 2491 / https://birdtherock.com/)
O’Brien’s Whale and Bird Tours (+1 709 753 4850 / http://www.obriensboattours.com/)
Cod Sounds (+1 709 749 4946 / https://www.codsounds.ca/)
So-Full Food Tours (+1 709 771 7910 / https://sofullfoodtours.ca/)
Legend Tours (+1 709 753 1497 / http://www.legendtours.ca/)
McCarthy’s Party (+1 709 579 4480 / http://www.mccarthysparty.com/)
Wildland Tours (+1 709 722 3123 / http://wildlands.com/)
City & Outport Adventures (+1 709 754 8687)
Outdoors and Adventure Tours
Specialty Fishing Tours (+1 709 739 7910 / +1 709 685 5457)
The Outfitters Adventure (+1 709 685 5457 / http://www.theoutfitters.nf.ca/)
St. John’s is a city that celebrates its past amidst a vibrant contemporary offer. Spend your days exploring the city’s museums and galleries, shopping at specialty stores, and exploring the outdoors. The denizens of St. John’s love their sports and you’ll find facilities for every imaginable sport right here. From baseball and soccer fields to skating rinks, tennis courts and multi-sport arenas, the city promises sporting enthusiasts a plethora of options.
George Street lies at the heart of the city’s booming nightlife, with over 20 bars, restaurants, and live music venues to choose from. Stop by Christian’s Bar to kiss a fish – a local tradition that is an initiation rite of sorts for visitors, tourists, and new residents. You will need to throw back a shot of the local Screech rum before locking lips with a cod to earn the native Newfoundlanders’ respect. If you need help washing away the fishy taste, the bar offers a selection of premium drafts, spirits, and cocktails, best enjoyed with popcorn and sports on the telly. For a rollicking good time, O’Reilly’s is your best bet, with live music and traditional Irish charm, or head to the Fat Cat for a bluesy night. Or, put your vocal cords to the test at Karaoke Kops, and dance the night away at Konfusion. If you’re in the mood for something different, head to the historic Masonic Temple for a dinner show with the Spirit of Newfoundland.
The citizens of St John’s love drinks and good music, and while you’re here, you will have the fortune of experiencing both, more often than not, under the very same roof. Let the live music at legends like Bridie Molloy’s and Shamrock City Pub sweep you up in their merriment. The Ship Pub on Duckworth Street is worth swinging by, while the Duke of Duckworth is famous for both its live entertainment and its ghostly residents. Other iconic live music pubs in the city include the Green Sleeves Pub and O’Reilly’s.
Museums and Galleries
Shaped by an eventful past and diverse cultures, St. John’s proud history is put on display at its many museums. Overlooking the city from its lofty perch atop a hill, the Rooms have come to be a quintessential part of the city’s skyline. The cultural center encompasses the Art Gallery, Provincial Archives, and Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador. Let this be the first stop on your journey into St. John’s colourful past. To understand how the forces of nature have shaped the city’s stunning landscape, visit the Johnson Geo Centre on Signal Hill. The center is largely located underground, centred around an excavated site exposing varied rock formations. At the heart of historic downtown, on Water Street, is the Railway Coastal Museum. Housed within the historic Newfoundland Railway Terminal, the museum chronicles the history of the coastal railway and its role in the development of the region. Specialty museums like the Newman Wine Vaults and the James J. O’Mara Pharmacy Museum cover some of the city’s more colourful historic periods, together creating a vivid illustration of the city’s rich heritage.
The city’s historic charm is complemented by a thriving arts scene. Step into the magical world of the visual arts at galleries like the Peter Lewis Gallery. Tucked away inside a heritage home, the gallery showcases fine art in its myriad forms. Nearby, the Leyton Gallery of Fine Art and the Hancock Gallery are other fine options. At St. Michael’s Printshop, browse an extensive collection of art prints featuring the work of numerous renowned artists and take home limited-edition prints.
Nestled along the scenic coast of Newfoundland, St. John’s is the perfect place from which to base your exploration of the region’s breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Within city limits, hikers can enjoy a trip along the Quidi Vidi Lake Trail. The scenic trail hugs the shore of the eponymous lake, encircling its entire length. Rennie’s River Trail and the North Head Trail are other popular options nearby. Just 10 minutes away is the fishing village of Petty Harbour where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city as you zip along the North Atlantic Ziplines, or head to Conception Bay South for scuba diving.
Embark upon an unforgettable journey across the East Coast Trail, past soaring cliffs, deep fjords, and the untouched wilderness that abuts the Atlantic Ocean. You can also kayak along the shore of the Avalon Peninsula, or take to the seas for whale watching and iceberg tours off the coast of St. John’s. All this and so much more awaits the adventurer at St. John’s.
St. John’s sports a wondrous performing arts offer that features everything from small-scale, original productions by local groups, to grand events that showcase national and international artists. The Arts and Culture Centre boasts a cultural program that spans the full gamut of the performing arts, while the historic Masonic Temple is the home of the musical theatre group – Spirit of Newfoundland. The LSPU Hall, at the Resource Centre for the Arts, is perhaps one of the city’s most iconic venues for the performing Arts. The intimate venue hosts sold-out performances by renowned performers from near and far, enriching the cultural world of St. John’s with a varied program. The Holy Heart Theatre attracts a following of its own, as do concerts at the Memorial University School of Music and Mile One Centre. For live music in a more casual setting, the Ship Pub and the Fifth Ticket Piano Bar are two of the city’s best live music venues.
At St. John’s, spend the day browsing through downtown’s quaint specialty shops or head to the mall for a shopping spree at leading retail brand stores. St. John’s has something to suit every taste with a quirky melange of shops to choose from. Shop for unique gifts at the Newfoundland Weavery, or stock up on local artwork at the Heritage Shop. For those with a sweet tooth, the Freak Lunchbox is as wondrous as Willy Wonka’s factory, while Whink is the top choice for handmade jewels. As the winter chill sets in, explore the shops within the closed confines of the fabulous Avalon Mall and the Village Shopping Centre. For farm-fresh veggies, fruits, flowers and baked goodies, the weekly farmers’ market at Newtown Road is the place to be. The market is the highlight of the city’s shopping scene every Saturday, from the first Saturday of June to the third Saturday of December.
Mile One Centre is the city’s premier sports arena, and home to the St. John’s IceCaps. The arena has hosted several unforgettable hockey championships over the years, alongside concerts featuring top international artists. The city also boasts three fabulous golf courses for golfers of every caliber. The Bally Haly is home to the city’s most beloved course, featuring 18 holes laid out in a Scottish-style design. Glendenning Golf offers an 18-hole, par 70 course, while Pippy Park features two courses – an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole course.
St. John’s has enjoyed a long and eventful history by virtue of its fortuitous location by the fishing grounds of the Atlantic Ocean. There are several differing opinions about the origins of the settlement’s name. Some believe that the name was given by the explorer John Cabot. Cabot is oft touted as the first European to sail into the harbour in 1497 on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. An alternate theory was put forth by the Basque who claim that the settlement was named after a fishing town on the Bay of Pasaia.
The port was frequented by the Basque, Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch during the first half of the 16th Century, each drawn to the harbour by the promise of waters teeming with fish. During this time, Water Street developed as a link between the warehouses, wharves, and shops that served the booming fisheries. By the latter half of the 16th Century the English had taken control of the port, however, a permanent settlement was not established until 1630.
A Slew of Battles
Primarily used as a hub for commercial trade, the town’s population grew at a slow and steady pace through the course of the 17th and 18th Centuries. During this time, St. John’s was also the site of several battles and skirmishes as each European empire sought to wrest control of the port from the others, laying to waste the town’s fortifications, warehouses and homes each time. Following the decisive defeat of the French at the Battle of Signal Hill in 1762, the English once more took control of the port.
A Thriving Fish Industry
In the years that followed, St. John’s grew into a thriving hub for commercial fisheries, and also served as a naval base during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The town’s fisheries flourished through the course of the Napoleonic Wars as the demand for salt fish grew and prices spiked. During this time, St John’s saw an influx of immigrants, especially the Irish. At the end of the war, the city’s economic boom came to an end only to be revived by the onset of the First World War. During the Second World War, the city served as a base for the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the American Army Air Force.
The town continued to grow slowly through the 19th Century, despite being ravaged by three fires. In 1888, the town was incorporated and elected its first council that same year. The city boomed as the political and commercial capital of Newfoundland and was finally granted the status of a city in 1921. Today, the city remains a thriving commercial and financial center and is the capital of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Getting there and getting around
St. John’s International Airport (YYT)
+1 709 758 8500
From the Airport
Taxi: The airport is exclusively served by City Wide Taxi. Taxis are available directly outside the Arrivals Area, with a taxi dispatcher on hand for assistance. Fixed rates apply for transportation to hotels and B&Bs within St. John’s city limits. Taxis to all flat rate destinations also incur an additional charge of CAD3 per additional person. For all other destinations, a surcharge of CAD5 applies in addition to the standard metered fare.
City Wide Taxi (+1 709 722 7777 / http://www.citywidetaxi.ca/)
Rental Cars: On-site rental car agencies are available at the airport, however, it is recommended that you contact the agency of your choice in advance to ensure availability.
Avis (+1 709 722 6620 / http://locations.avis.com/ca/nf/saint-johns/yyt.html)
Budget (+1 709 747 1234 / https://www.budget.com/en/locations/ca/nb/saint-john/ys8)
Enterprise (+1 709 738 3900 / https://www.enterprise.com/en/car-rental/locations/canada/nl/st-johns-airport-yyt-c950.html)
Hertz (+1 709 726 0795 / https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/location/canada/newfoundland/st.johns/YYTT02)
National (+1 709 722 4307 / https://www.nationalcar.com/en_US/location-details/ca/yytt01-st-johns-intl-arpt.html)
Thrifty (+1 709 722 6000 / https://www.thrifty.com/local_sites_index/LocalPages/St-Johns-Car-Rental.aspx?PickUpLocationCode=YT2)
Paratransit: People traveling with mobility aids are requested to call ahead and book accessible transport at least 24 hours in advance, especially if they are traveling with particularly large aids.
GoBus Accessible Transit (+1 709 368 1620)
Wheelway Transportation Limited (+1 709 753 0605)
+1 709 722 9400
Metrobus Route 14 operates hourly services from the airport to popular destinations across town. The bus stops are located outside the Arrivals Area and near the Holiday Inn Express Hotel at World Parkway. All Metrobus buses that service this route are accessible. A one-way trip costs a standard fare of CAD2.50.
St. John’s is easy to drive to once you have arrived on the island of Newfoundland. To get to the island, you will either need to fly or catch a ferry from North Sydney, NS. From the ferry terminal, drive east along the Trans-Canada Highway to get to St. John’s. The city is 905 kilometres (562.3 miles) away from the ferry terminal at Port-Aux-Basques, and 131 kilometres (89.4 miles) away from the terminal at Argentia. The ferry to Argentia is only operational from mid-June through September. The ferry ride to Port-Aux-Basques can take up to 6 hours, while the ferry ride to Argentia can take anywhere between 14 to 17 hours. The city is accessible by road from the city of Corner Brook, and all major towns in Newfoundland via the Trans-Canada Highway.
DRL Coachlines (+1 709 263 2171 / http://www.drl-lr.com/) operates bus services from Port-Aux-Basques to St. John’s, while New Hook Bus Lines (+1 709 682 4877) offers transportation from Argentia to St. John’s. Both cities can be reached via ferry from North Sydney, NS.
Despite the city’s disorganized layout, St. John’s is fairly driver friendly. Visitors are advised to keep a map handy at all times to avoid getting lost, however. Downtown is particularly difficult to navigate with its one-way streets and traffic jams. Beyond downtown, there is parking aplenty, and traffic jams are rare. Rental car agencies are available both at the airport and around town, but be sure to call ahead to make a booking, especially during peak tourist season.
St. John’s Metrobus operates an extensive network of bus routes across the city, with connections to the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl. A one-way journey costs only CAD2.50, irrespective of the distance covered, making this an affordable and convenient way to get around St. John’s. The drivers are generally amiable and happy to help with directions.
The city is served by a number of local cab companies, and drivers are usually happy to help you hunt down the best attractions, restaurants, and shops. Call ahead to book a ride.
City Wide Taxi (+1 709 722 7777 / http://www.citywidetaxi.ca/)
Newfoundland Cabs (+1 709 744 4444 / https://www.newfoundcabs.com/)
Jiffy Cabs (+1 709 722 2222 / http://www.jiffycab.com/)
North West Taxi (+1 709 364 1451)
Although biking around the city may seem a tempting alternative to walking, you’re likely to find the city’s steep hills a challenge. Rent a bicycle only if you’re accustomed to navigating drastic changes in elevation.
While the city is vast, Downtown is best explored on foot. Enjoy window shopping as you stroll along Water Street, and stop in for a drink at the many cafes that line the street. If you would like to venture further, you’ll need to catch a bus or drive instead.