Discover the best onshore attractions in Newfoundland that will make your sailing adventure an unforgettable experience, from historic sites to natural wonders and cultural hotspots.
The Best Onshore Attractions in Newfoundland
Newfoundland, the easternmost province of Canada, is a treasure trove of natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture. As you sail along its rugged coastline, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking landscapes, charming fishing villages, and warm hospitality of the locals. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best onshore attractions that Newfoundland has to offer, making your sailing adventure even more memorable and fulfilling.
Table of Contents
- Gros Morne National Park
- St. John’s
- L’Anse aux Meadows
- Fogo Island
- Cape Spear
- Bonavista Peninsula
- Signal Hill
- The Rooms
- Quidi Vidi Village
Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Newfoundland. The park’s diverse landscape, ranging from towering cliffs and fjords to lush forests and barren plateaus, offers a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family. Hiking enthusiasts can choose from over 100 km of trails, including the challenging Gros Morne Mountain Trail, which rewards hikers with stunning views of the surrounding area.
For a more leisurely experience, take a boat tour of the Western Brook Pond, a landlocked fjord surrounded by towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Don’t miss the Tablelands, a unique geological feature where the Earth’s mantle is exposed, creating a striking contrast between the barren rocks and the surrounding greenery.
The vibrant capital city of St. John’s is a perfect blend of modern amenities and historic charm. As you stroll through the colorful streets, you’ll be captivated by the city’s rich history, which dates back over 500 years. Visit the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture, and the historic Cabot Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city and harbor.
For a taste of Newfoundland’s culinary scene, head to Water Street, the oldest street in North America, where you’ll find a variety of restaurants serving up local delicacies like fish and chips, toutons, and Jiggs dinner. Don’t forget to stop by one of the city’s many pubs for a pint of local craft beer and some traditional live music.
L’Anse aux Meadows
Step back in time at L’Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only known Viking settlement in North America. This fascinating archaeological site, located at the northern tip of Newfoundland, offers a glimpse into the lives of the Norse explorers who settled here over 1,000 years ago. Explore the reconstructed sod buildings, complete with artifacts and exhibits, and learn about the Viking way of life through guided tours and interpretive programs.
While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the nearby Norstead Viking Village, a living history museum that offers hands-on experiences like blacksmithing, weaving, and even rowing a Viking ship.
Twillingate, known as the “Iceberg Capital of the World,” is a picturesque fishing village located on the northeastern coast of Newfoundland. From May to July, visitors can witness the awe-inspiring sight of massive icebergs drifting along the coast, a result of the annual spring thaw in Greenland. Take a boat tour to get up close and personal with these frozen giants, or simply enjoy the view from one of the many coastal hiking trails.
In addition to icebergs, Twillingate is also a prime location for whale watching. Keep an eye out for humpback, minke, and fin whales, as well as dolphins and porpoises, as they feed in the nutrient-rich waters off the coast.
Fogo Island, located off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland, is a remote and enchanting destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and contemporary art. The island’s rugged coastline, dotted with traditional fishing stages and colorful houses, provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities like hiking, birdwatching, and beachcombing.
Fogo Island is also home to a thriving arts scene, thanks to the Fogo Island Arts residency program and the striking Fogo Island Inn, which houses a contemporary art gallery. Be sure to visit the island’s various artist studios, where you can meet local artisans and purchase unique, handmade souvenirs.
Cape Spear, located just south of St. John’s, is the easternmost point in North America and a must-visit destination for any sailor exploring Newfoundland. The historic Cape Spear Lighthouse, built in 1836, offers a glimpse into the lives of the lighthouse keepers and their families, as well as stunning views of the surrounding coastline.
For a more adventurous experience, hike the East Coast Trail, which winds along the rugged cliffs and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for whales, seabirds, and even icebergs as you explore this scenic trail.
The Bonavista Peninsula, located on the eastern coast of Newfoundland, is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The town of Bonavista, the peninsula’s namesake, is the site where John Cabot first landed in the New World in 1497. Visit the historic Ryan Premises, a restored 19th-century fishing merchant’s property, to learn about the region’s rich fishing heritage.
Nature lovers will be captivated by the rugged beauty of the Skerwink Trail, a 5.3 km coastal hike that offers stunning views of sea stacks, arches, and caves. Don’t miss the chance to visit the nearby Elliston, the “Root Cellar Capital of the World,” where you can explore over 130 traditional root cellars used for storing vegetables during the winter months.
Signal Hill, located in St. John’s, is a historic site that offers panoramic views of the city and harbor. The iconic Cabot Tower, built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s voyage, is a must-visit attraction. Learn about the history of Signal Hill, including its role in the first transatlantic wireless communication in 1901, through interactive exhibits and guided tours.
For a more active experience, hike the Signal Hill North Head Trail, a challenging 1.7 km trail that winds along the cliffs and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
The Rooms, located in St. John’s, is Newfoundland’s largest cultural space, housing the provincial archives, art gallery, and museum. This striking, modern building offers a wealth of exhibits and programs that showcase the province’s rich history, culture, and art. Explore the permanent collection of over 7,000 works of art, including pieces by renowned Newfoundland artists like Christopher Pratt and Mary Pratt.
Don’t miss the museum’s “Connections” exhibit, which tells the story of Newfoundland and Labrador through artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays. Be sure to visit the museum’s top floor, which offers stunning views of the city and harbor.
Quidi Vidi Village
Quidi Vidi Village, located just outside of St. John’s, is a charming, historic fishing village that offers a glimpse into Newfoundland’s past. Stroll along the picturesque harbor, lined with colorful fishing stages and boats, and visit the Quidi Vidi Plantation, a contemporary artist studio and gallery housed in a restored fishing premises.
For a taste of local culture, stop by the Quidi Vidi Brewery, which offers tours and tastings of their award-winning craft beers. Don’t forget to try their famous Iceberg Beer, made with water harvested from 20,000-year-old icebergs.
As you explore the breathtaking landscapes and rich history of Newfoundland, you’ll be captivated by the province’s unique charm and warm hospitality. Whether you’re hiking along rugged cliffs, delving into the past at a Viking settlement, or simply enjoying a pint of local beer in a cozy pub, Newfoundland’s onshore attractions are sure to make your sailing adventure an unforgettable experience.