Reasons to Visit
Why visit St. John's? The reasons are endless but to peak your interest we have some highlights below. For detailed information on the many local attractions, please refer to Attractions in the Things to Do section of the website.
Oldest City in North America
For more than 500 years, St. John’s has been visited by European explorers, adventurers, soldiers and pirates. St. John’s, the provincial capital, is the economic and cultural centre of Newfoundland and Labrador. Discovered by John Cabot in 1497 and later claimed as the first permanent settlement in North America for the British Empire by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, St. John’s has a rich and colourful history.
Downtown is the heart of St. John’s. Museums, galleries, historical sites, parks, restaurants, pubs and specialty shops can be found along the narrow, winding streets and laneways of one of the oldest mercantile districts in North America. You’ll be charmed by the brightly coloured row houses known locally as Jelly Bean Row,perched on the hills overlooking the harbour.
Besides humpback and minke whales, one can see fin, sperm, blue, pothead, sei and right whales in the coastal waters surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador. A variety of whales, marine life and icebergs in season, can be seen from vantage points within the City and from tour boats operating out of St. John’s harbour. Just a short drive outside the City, a marine bird sanctuary comes alive with seabirds and other marine life during the summer months.
World Class Urban and Coastal Trails
The Grand Concourse, an integrated network of urban walking trails, connects national and provincial historic sites, parks, cultural and interpretation centres, magnificent Victorian architecture, and scenic ponds and water systems. The 540km East Coast Trail, accessible from St. John’s, provides hikers with a special blend of wilderness adventure, outstanding natural beauty, wildlife, history and cultural contact.
The Rooms at Fort Townsend
The Rooms is a state-of-the-art multi-million dollar cultural centre that preserves and protects the province’s heritage, history and culture. The Rooms houses the Newfoundland Museum, the Provincial Archives and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Signal Hill National Historic Site
Signal Hill overlooks the historic port city, witness to a bygone era. As early as 1704 signal flags were flown from this site to inform merchants of approaching ships, whether hostile or friendly.
Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site
Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America where you can see the sun rise before anyone else and be the first on the continent to ring in the New Year.
A City of Firsts
In December 1901, Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission in an old hospital building on Signal Hill. In 1919, Alcock and Brown left St. John’s and successfully completed the first trans-Atlantic flight landing in Clifden, Ireland some 16 hours later.
Arts and Culture
We’re renowned for poetry, humour, song, art and craftmanship. Visit distinctive galleries, bookstores and music stores or take in one of our internationally acclaimed festivals of film, literature, music or pageants.