NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

St. John’s might be the most unique city in Canada, partly due to its tiny, weather-beaten homes that clutch the side of a dark, rocky cliff in The Battery district, which overlooks the harbour. You’ll find a series of hand-painted signs encouraging you to enjoy the walk and point out directions towards Signal Hill via the North Head trail, which actually begins on the front deck of someone’s house. Be sure to check out the lively pubs on George Street downtown, and then get in the car and go for a road trip. Start with the fishing village of Quidi Vidi, less than 10 minutes from the city’s core.

Newfoundland is famous for its interesting, and sometimes cheeky, place names. Just a short drive from St. John’s are small, oceanfront villages with names like Heart’s Delight, Heart’s Content and Heart’s Desire. And then there’s Dildo, which is a popular spot for social media photos. Just outside Port Rexton, the Skerwink Trail is an outstanding hiking area that takes you past towering, craggy rocks that rise straight up out of the ocean. Twillingate is a great spot for iceberg watching in spring and summer. Check out the marvellous views from nearby Long Point Lighthouse.

Punts in Joe Batt's Arm, Fogo Island, Central

Punts in Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island, Central. Photo courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism / © Barrett & MacKay Photo

Further north is Fogo Island, home to the truly remarkable Fogo Island Inn and also home to quiet fishing villages such as Tilting and Joe Batt’s Arm. Stop in Gander to learn more about the airport and the story behind the hit musical “Come From Away,” which chronicles how people from around the world were grounded in Gander after 9/11, and how locals took them in until they could fly home. Gros Morne National Park offers incredible hiking and a wonderful boat ride on what’s basically an inland fjord. Bonne Bay is a wonderful spot in western Newfoundland for sea kayaking or canoeing. If you have time, take the ferry over to Labrador to explore an untamed Canadian wilderness.

WHAT TO DO

Iceberg Spotting

Kayaker with iceberg off Quirpon Island, Western

Kayaker with iceberg off Quirpon Island, Western. Photo courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

In late spring and summer, Newfoundland sees massive, 12,000 year-old icebergs drifting down from Greenland. Twillingate and St. John’s both offer great iceberg tours. Summer also means whale watching season.

Go downtown

George Street in St. John’s is populated with great bars offering live music, often rollicking Irish tunes that make every day feel like St. Patricks’ Day.

Take in a festival

The Writers at Woody Point is a wonderful event that features some of Canada’s best writers and journalists, as well as brilliant musicians such as Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo. The CBC’s Shelagh Rogers is one of the hosts, slated for mid-August this year.

WHERE TO EAT

In St. John’s, The Merchant Tavern is a lovely spot with lots of wood and iron and a sleek, urban feel. The emphasis is on fresh, wild, local and sustainable cuisine.

Mallard Cottage is a wonderful restaurant in Quidi Vidi, a postcard-perfect fishing village that’s just minutes from downtown St. John’s.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mallard Cottage (@mallardcottage)

The Fogo Island Inn serves up exquisite meals, including sustainable, line-caught cod, local vegetables and Fogo Island berries. They operate with regenerative practices and a zero-waste mission.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Fogo Island Inn (@fogoislandinn)

WHERE TO STAY

Exterior View of Fogo Island Inn. Photo by Fogo Island Inn.

The Fogo Island Inn is consistently voted one of the best hotels in North America. You’ll find locally made blankets and other materials in the rooms. Be sure to have the hotel set up a tour of the area with a local guide.

In St. John’s, the Alt Hotel is part of the Germain Hotel group, which means stylish, European-feeling rooms. Ask for a room with a view of the harbour.

In Western Newfoundland, Humber Valley Resort has lovely, spacious rooms alongside their highly-rated golf course. It’s about 20 minutes from Deer Lake, which has frequent air service to major Eastern Canadian cities.

NOVA SCOTIA

Halifax Waterfront

Halifax Waterfront. Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia / Patrick Rojo

Halifax is one of the great cities of Canada, complete with a wonderful waterfront, great restaurants and warm, welcoming locals. A walk along the harbour wall takes you past beautiful boats and shops, not to mention lively pubs. The North End is an increasingly trendy area of town, while Dartmouth also features great restaurants and boutique shopping. Closer to Halifax, take a drive along the quiet Eastern Shore, where you can kayak in beautiful bays, check out funky folk art, and explore small villages such as Ecum Secum. Just outside Halifax, Lawrencetown Beach often has very good surfing.

Historic Lunenburg is a UNESCO heritage site that is home to dozens of wildly colourful buildings. It’s also the home of Canada’s most famous ship, the Bluenose. Take a drive out to tiny Blue Rocks for a glimpse of a quintessential Nova Scotia fishing village. Further south and west, you’ll find tons of beautiful coastline with brilliant white and red lighthouses.

Located on the Bay of Fundy, home to the highest tides in the world, the town of Digby is famous for its scallops. Port Royal was Canada’s first permanent European settlement, founded by the French in 1605.

Dining on the Ocean Floor

Dining on the Ocean Floor, Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley. Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: @daveyandsky

Carry on to the beautiful, quiet Annapolis Valley, where you’ll find the town of Wolfville, which is famous for its wines. Just a couple kilometers down the road is the Grand Pre National Historic Site, which traces the sad story of French-speaking Acadians and their expulsion from Canada by the British.

Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail is rightly praised as one of the great drives on the planet. The road surges and rises and falls along towering cliffs and takes you past empty beaches and lovely coastal towns like Mabou and Ingonish. The town of Baddeck is home to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, where you’ll find a fascinating museum.

WHAT TO DO

Take a History Lesson

Many Canadian immigrants made their first Canadian landfall in Halifax. Check out the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to learn some of their stories.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @pier21_quai21

Play a Round

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cabot Cape Breton (@cabotlinks)


Some of the world’s best golf can be found on Cape Breton. Cabot Links got it all started a decade or so ago with an insanely beautiful course on the ocean. Its newer cousin, Cabot Cliffs, has been voted one of the best golf courses in the world.

Take a Sip

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Benjamin Bridge (@benjaminbridge)


The wineries in and around Wolfville are making very good wine these days. Benjamin Bridge has won awards around the world for its sparkling wine.

WHERE TO EAT

In Halifax’s North End, Agricola Street Brasserie has exposed wood ceilings in what feels like an old warehouse. When we were there they had fabulous scallops sprinkled with a bit of smoked seaweed and toasted sesame seeds.


The Press Gang Restaurant and Oyster Bar is a Halifax classic that serves fantastic seafood in a building that dates back more than 250 years.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Press Gang (@thepressganghfx)

In Wolfville, Juniper Food + Wine is a small restaurant and wine bar run by the husband and wife who operated Hopgood’s Foodliner in Toronto a few years ago.

WHERE TO STAY

The Muir is a posh new addition to the Halifax waterfront, with stunning design from Toronto’s Studio Munge and an emphasis on local art. It’s a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel.


On Cape Breton, the Cabot golf courses offer sleek and stylish lodge rooms and golf villas overlooking the links and the Atlantic Ocean.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Cabot Cape Breton (@cabotlinks)


On the north coast, Fox Harb’r Resort offers luxurious stays and a beautiful golf course. The resort was founded by legendary Canadian businessman Ron Joyce, of Tim Hortons fame.

Writer Jim Byers

Jim Byers spent 30-plus years at the Toronto Star, serving as Travel Editor, City Hall Bureau Chief, Blue Jays correspondent and Olympics editor, where he led the Star's coverage at six Olympic Games. He now specializes in travel writing in Canada and around the world. He is a regular contributor to Bold Traveller, Zoomer Magazine, The Dallas News & Houston Chronicle.

The BOLDTraveller Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to receive exclusive offers,
promos, and the latest and greatest on all things travel

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

Sign Up for Our
Newsletter

Subscribe to get notified about product launches, special offers and company news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest