Newfoundland is the smaller, more southern, milder, and far more populous of the two regions making up the Canadian Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador. A gorgeous island, Newfoundland will be greatly attractive to the outdoor enthusiast and the small town, early North American culture lover. National parks, a diverse array of lighthouses and one of North America’s most important early settlements are just a few of the many attractions Newfoundland offers to North Atlantic travelers.
L’Anse aux Meadows, on the northern tip of Newfoundland, is a Norse settlement, and unlike anything else in North America. As the only widely accepted evidence of Atlantic pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact, L’Anse aux Meadows has been a destination for scholars of Scandinavian history and literature, and North Atlantic travelers, for decades. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an intriguing look at a one-of-a-kind North American settlement.
Other towns and cities in Newfoundland, while not as old or unique, offer other unique glimpses of early North Atlantic settlement. Bonavista, Placentia and Ferryland are all locations worthy of any North American history buff’s attention, and St. John’s, the province’s largest city, is also the oldest English-founded city in North America.
Much more than a historical landmark, the island of Newfoundland is a beautiful nature destination. The island maintains many provincial parks and two Canadian national parks. Terra Nova National Park on Newfoundland’s northeastern coast is a showcase of rugged terrain formed by the rocky marriage of land and sea. Gros Morne National Park, on the western coast of the island, earned the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its geological importance and attractive scenery. More than just those two parks, though, the island offers many great locations for hiking and camping. Fishermen will find equally plentiful opportunities for great catches, and sea kayakers, well, they’ve got more than enough options to keep them occupied for days or weeks. Sea kayakers in Newfoundland can also find great views of some classic North Atlantic landmarks.
Like the Maritime Provinces (and North Atlantic States), Newfoundland’s coast is speckled with lighthouses. Newfoundland lighthouses range from classically designed to candy striped and date back as far as 1813. Hundreds of the beacons dot the rugged and gentle Newfoundland shores and some are open to explore as museums.
Newfoundland is not as much a winter destination as its northern provincial counterpart, Labrador, however the Marble Mountain Ski Resort is considered some of the best skiing east of the Rockies, and has a greater average yearly snowfall than Québec’s legendary Mont Tremblant.
The Newfoundland climate is generally mild. Winter temperatures are cold, but not harsh. Unlike Labrador, the Newfoundland winter temperature generally hovers around 30° F. Summer temperatures are equally mild. Occasionally the summers get hot, but usually find highs somewhere between 60° and 65° F.
There are two small international airports in St. John’s and Gander that make air travel into Newfoundland fairly easy. No bridges access Newfoundland, so driving to the island requires a ferry ride. Luckily, ferries depart from Nova Scotia, Quebec and Labrador. Another option, and one of the most popular ways to see Newfoundland, is a North Atlantic cruise.