The first strip of North American land ever viewed by European eyes was the northeasternmost tip of the island of Newfoundland. Only remnants of the original L’Anse aux Meadows Viking colony established around the year 1000 exist today, but the providence of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be the location of many North American firsts.
St. John’s, the capital of Canada’s easternmost and youngest province, is also the continent’s oldest British-founded city, North America’s easternmost major city, and situated just a brief drive away from Cape Spear, North America’s easternmost strip of land. Guglielmo Marconi chose Signal Hill as the site of his historic transatlantic wireless transmission, the world’s first, in 1901. St. John’s is home to Water Street, North America’s oldest street, and George Street, the street with North America’s largest per capita number of places to drink.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s list of firsts and superlatives extends far beyond St. John’s. Both the continent’s oldest burial plot and Atlantic Canada’s tallest lighthouse are situated near the smaller Labrador community of L’Anse Amour, while western Newfoundland’s Marble Mountain is home to Atlantic Canada’s largest ski resort and Canada’s best quality slopes east of the Rocky Mountains. Eastern North America’s highest waterfall is just one among many of Gros Morne National Park’s breathtaking natural landmarks.
Newfoundland and Labrador may boast approximately 7,300 rooms within its 550 places to stay, but many of these are only open during the province’s warmest and busiest tourism months from May to September. Advance reservations are highly recommended for St. John’s hotels, especially since prices have increased alongside the provincial capital’s recently acquired oil wealth. Hunting lodges and cabins are the dominant accommodations in interior Newfoundland and Labrador, while quaint bed and breakfast inns line the island’s lengthy coastline.
The island of Newfoundland can only be reached by air or a lengthy ferry journey. St. John’s International Airport is the first stop for no fewer than 80 percent of the province’s air passengers, but Newfoundland and Labrador are also filled with several smaller airports passengers can use to travel between communities. Ferries are the most common way to get between the island of Newfoundland and Labrador on the mainland.
There has been no passenger rail service on the island of Newfoundland since 1988, and it takes roughly 10 hours to drive the 550 mile Trans-Canada Highway between Port Aux Basques and St. John’s, which takes even longer by bus. Visitors will undoubtedly want to extend their journey to meet the friendly locals along the way and uncover Canada’s hidden gems.
- Retrace the footsteps of North America’s first European residents at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
- Watch the sun rise and set before the rest of North America at Cape Spear, the continent’s easternmost tip
- Go salmon fishing along the Humber River
- Spot icebergs, whales, and seabirds off the shores of Twillingate, the world’s unofficial iceberg capital
- Soar down Atlantic Canada’s snowiest slopes at Marble Mountain
- Spend a night out on George Street, which has the biggest number of bars per capita in North America
- Kiss the cod, sample the screech, and become an honorary Newfoundlander at a lively local kitchen parties