St. John’s may be a small city, but you’ll want to spend at least 48 hours here to get the full experience. Whether you’re here for the hiking trails or the dining opportunities, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by what North America’s oldest city has to offer. Here’s an itinerary to start.
9AM THE BAGEL CAFE
246 DUCKWORTH ST. ST. JOHN'S, NL A1C 1G8
The Bagel Café on Water Street might be the most notorious breakfast stop in town. You’ll find your typical breakfast fare here, including incredible baked beans and poached eggs. The venue’s seating area is quiet and very private, so it’s a great place to pause before taking on a busy day.
10AM HIKING SIGNAL HILL
Hiking Signal Hill must be on your to-do list, and doing it at 10 AM will allow you to beat the crowds. Start from the Battery -- a village filled with vibrant houses overlooking The Narrows -- and work your way up. You’ll get incredible views of the ocean, and if it’s the right time of year, you’ll be lucky enough to spot icebergs and breaching whales (typically late spring and early summer).
Once you reach the top, explore Cabot Tower. It was built in 1898 to commemorate both Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland. Now, it’s one of the province’s best-known icons. This hike can be rather strenuous, but there is a road that will take you directly to the top of the Hill if you’d prefer an easier option.
1PM LUNCH AT BACALAO NOUVELLE
Time for lunch! Swing by this local hotspot to try authentic Newfoundland cuisine in a charming turn of the century home. With a name that means "salt cod" in Mediterranean, this is one staple ingredient you'll find throughout the menu.
3PM EXPLORE THE CITY
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring downtown St. John’s, along Water Street and Duckworth Street. You’ll find the city’s best boutiques and specialty shops here. Stop by Brittania Teas and Gifts, or sample some chocolate at The Newfoundland Chocolate Co. Pick up some local souvenirs for the folks at home at The Heritage Shop.
If you have time, head over to the Railway Coastal Museum, located inside a 107-year-old train station, for a fascinating history lesson on Newfoundland’s railway past.
6PM RAYMOND'S RESTAURANT
Dine at Raymond’s Restaurant, where you’ll indulge on some of the best seafood and game meats in the world paired with the restaurant’s extensive wine collection. It's fairly formal so be prepared to dress to the 9s.
8PM THE DUKE OF DUCKWORTH
Grab a pint of Storm Irish Red at The Duke of Duckworth, one of the coziest and friendliest pubs in downtown St. John’s. The locals love this place, and it regularly makes an appearance in the Canadian hit TV show Republic of Doyle.
9AM BREAKFAST AT CAFE EAST
73 DUCKWORTH ST. ST. JOHNS, NL A1C 5H7
It’s another early start! This time grab breakfast at The Classic Café East, where you’ll try a little local delicacy known as the “touton.” It’s basically fried bread dough covered in molasses, but it’s a Newfoundland favourite.
10AM CAPE SPEAR COAST
No trip to St. John’s is ever complete without a scenic drive to the easternmost tip of North America – Cape Spear National Historic Site. Literally on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the lighthouse against its surrounding rugged landscape makes for fantastic photo opportunities. You can also walk through some abandoned WWII bunkers here. Come in late spring or early summer for whale and iceberg viewings.
12PM THE ROOMS ART GALLERY AND MUSEUM
Explore The Rooms Art Gallery and Museum. You’ll want to devote a few hours to perusing the local art, and for reading up on the fascinating documentation and imagery captured from when Newfoundland was still being explored. Once you’re done, grab a cup of coffee from the museum’s café, overlooking The Narrows. It’s one of the best views in the city, by far.
4PM NEWMAN WINE VAULTS
Head to Newman Wine Vaults for a unique historical wine experience. As the story goes, in 1679, a Portuguese Newman’s ship bound for England veered off course thanks to a storm and hijinks from pirates. The captain sought shelter in St. John’s, and remained there until spring. Having stored the cargo in a cave, he discovered that the wine actually tasted better, and decided to continue aging it there, up until about 1996 (when European Union regulations forced the process back to Portugal). You can purchase the wine here, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for a taste.
6PM THE YELLOWBELLY
Time for a meal and some beer sampling at The Yellowbelly, the only brewpub in St. John’s. Even if you’re not a beer fan, the pizzas here are fantastic and the venue makes for a lot of fun – cozy, classy, and fun! Try the pulled rabbit pizza, for something different.
7PM O'REILLY'S PUB
Ready to wind down from a whirlwind two-night trip? You can’t leave the city without listening to some live, traditional Newfoundland music (or “trad,” as it’s called here). While you have several options, some of the best music can be found at O’Reilly’s Pub or Kelly’s Pub, both located on George Street. George Street itself is worth checking out, even if you’re not much of a night owl.
WHERE TO STAY: RYAN MANSION
21 RENNIES MILL RD. ST. JOHN'S, NL A1C 3P8
Ryan Mansion is located in the heritage district in downtown St. John's. This five star Inn has private suites, incredible spa packages and an interesting Titanic connection.