24 Hours in St. John’s, Newfoundland
24 hours is nowhere near enough to cover everything the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer. But anything is better than nothing! Here’s how to spend 24 hours in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
That being said, 24 hours is enough to eat some really good food, see some picture perfect views, do a little hiking, see a little live music… do it all really – just fast.
St. John’s is the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. In recent years, it’s become a hot spot for serious chefs doing nifty things with local food, a hub of arts, theatre, and music, and a jumping off point for hiking around the East Coast Trail.
Weather-wise, July to September gives you the best chance of getting a bunch of sunny days in a row. We got lucky with a week in June this year that had the best weather I’ve ever seen on the island. The rest of the year is hit or miss, and November to March can be particularly dreary – cold, wet, windy, and icy. But! Traveling in the off season will still yield the great views and good food, with fewer tourists and more available rental cars. There’s really no bad time to visit.
The Highlight Package for 24 Hours in St. John’s
See in St. John’s:
The Rooms is the most prominent museum and gallery in the city. Built on one of the many hills in St John’s, the design of the building is worth a look – and you can enter and wander without paying if you’re traveling on a budget. You’ll learn some Newfoundland history, and usually there is at least one significant art exhibit showing, plus a film in one of the theatres. Stop for a coffee in the very scenic cafe and get a nice view of the Narrows from the large windows.
Walk or drive up Signal Hill to get a view of the whole city and check out Cabot Tower. If you can, head up at sunrise or sunset to get Instagram-worthy photos. Watch out for wee fox friends who like to hang out on the hill. If you have time, and are feeling ambitious, hike up the North Head Trail through the Battery neighbourhood up to the top of Signal Hill (Parks Canada calls this trail ‘strenuous’ – it’s a serious commitment).
Head out to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site for more views of the rocky shoreline. Keep an eye out for seabirds and other nautical creatures.
If you have time left over, try to get to Petty Harbour, home of Great Big Sea lead singer Alan Doyle. Or, stick closer to town and wander the trails at Bowering Park.
Eat in St. John’s:
The restaurant scene in St. John’s shifts frequently, and COVID has messed with the market a little. But there is never a shortage of good things to eat.
Try Bannerman Brewing Co. for coffee, beer, and an eclectic menu of small plates. I recommend the mushroom fried rice.
The Merchant Tavern on Water Street serves higher end fare, all freshly picked, fished, and foraged. Try anything with pasta, and sit out on the patio if you’re able.
Fish and chips with dressing (i.e. stuffing with savoury, like you’d get with turkey dinner) and gravy is the stuff dreams are made of. You can get fish and chips anywhere you go on the island. But the best (I think) is at the Duke of Duckworth, tucked down an alley off Duckworth Street.
Don’t forget to pick up an americano and an almond croissant at The Rocket on Water. Or, grab a gelato in a waffle cone at The Parlour Gelato + Coffee on Military Road before you head off on your next adventure!
Play in St. John’s:
If there’s something on, take in a show at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John’s. Often small theatre groups or members from the university music school will have performances. But professional theatre productions also take centre stage at LSPU. If you’ve only got a short time on the island, you’ll get a little taste of the arts and theatre scene here.
Feeling like an adventure? Zip lining over Petty Harbour should get your heart rate up. Having not personally wanted to fling myself over a harbour, I cannot speak to the thrill of this one! Book in advance so as not to be disappointed.
After supper, stop for live music at one of the many venues in town. Check out The Ship Inn, Green Sleeves, O’Reilly’s, or the Arts and Culture Centre for traditional (and less traditional) music.
Have more than 24 hours to spend in Newfoundland and Labrador? Check out this guide to Eastern Newfoundland.