Some of North America’s oldest European settlements and its least settled land coexist in this Canadian province that is part island and part mainland.
The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador splits between the historic Atlantic island of Newfoundland and the mainland tundra of Labrador. Many travelers spend their time in Newfoundland, which features oceanfront lighthouses, colorful seaside communities and some of North America’s oldest colonial history. Trek into the Labrador tundra, where ancient whaling villages and rugged landscapes await.
Learn about history extending back a millennium on Newfoundland. The southeastern Avalon Peninsula features two historic highlights. Cupids is Canada’s oldest English settlement, having been founded by John Guy in 1610. See the ancient cairn towering over its bay and the ruins of Guy’s plantation. Nearby St. John’s, the provincial capital, is one of North America’s oldest English cities. Explore its lively cityscape, famous for brightly colored townhouses and gaze over the town from the historic Cabot Tower on Signal Hill.
Travel to the island’s northern tip to find the site of the first European landing on the North American continent. Leif Erikson disembarked at L’Anse aux Meadows over 1,000 years ago. Tour today’s active dig site in the area and explore recreated Viking buildings.
One of the most unique parts of Newfoundland and Labrador’s natural landscape is its location along Iceberg Alley, which extends down from Greenland along the Atlantic Ocean. Visit in May and June to see massive ice formations floating off province’s eastern coast. See evidence of the glaciers that once covered Newfoundland’s northern region in Gros Morne National Park, where you can take a boat through a gaping fjord.
Labrador is mostly undeveloped, so the best way to explore this part of the province is to take a cruise ship up the coast. Stop off at Red Bay, an old Basque whaling village, or go mountaineering on the dramatic peaks of Torngat National Park, where polar bears roam.
Reach Newfoundland and Labrador via the international airport at St. John’s. From there, get around Newfoundland by car and explore Labrador on a boat or helicopter tour.