How To Spend 4 Days In St John’s Newfoundland

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Much To Do On 4 Days In St John’s Newfoundland

We found so much to do on 4 days in St John’s in Newfoundland on our road trip to Eastern Canada. Our hotel was located close to the main harbour and we wandered from there and explored the sights in the city. It was great to head high to Signal Hill for a view out over the city.

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We were excited to finally see the colourful houses of St. John’s. They were sometimes referred to as the Jelly Bean houses. So many of the houses and buildings we found were artfully decorated and colourful. This was matched only by the street art we found.

We had fun day trips from St. John’s. A short drive took us to the most easterly point in Canada at Cape Spear. A late afternoon excursion gave us puffins and whales. And on a long day trip we explored Trinity and Bonavista.

We didn’t see it all. But we had a busy 4 days in St John’s.

Wander Around Town

There was much to see when we wandered around St. John’s. It was a harbour city and we found waterfront views. High above the town overlooking the harbour we saw Signal Hill.

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The Trans-Canada Highway started in St. John’s Newfoundland. We visited City Hall and checked out the Mile Zero marker. As we travelled across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver, we found many other markers for this highway. And hit the other end in Victoria, British Columbia.

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The Ecclesiastical District National Historic Site showed us a number of interesting churches for different religions within a concentrated area This area was recognized for the influence of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist/United and Presbyterian denominations in St. John’s and Newfoundland. They worked together and established spiritual, philanthropic, charitable and educational institutions during the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Check Out The Colourful Houses On Jelly Bean Row

When we reached St. John’s we looked for the colourful Jelly Bean Row. We learned that there was not one street that was Jelly Bean Row but this term referred to the entire downtown hillside. It was said that the colourful houses were originally used the help fishermen find their way in the fog. But in the late 1970s the colourful houses took off as a way to brighten the city.

We got our first view of the Jelly Bean houses from a distance when we were high on Signal Hill.

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When we walked many streets of the streets in St. John’s we found colourful houses side by side. Some were more muted colours. And others reflected the bright colours of jelly beans.

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Jelly Bean Houses - 4 Days In St John's Newfoundland.jpg

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No visit for 4 days in St. John’s was complete without seeing dozens of colourful houses. They sure reminded us of the colourful houses we found in the Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town, South Africa.

On 4 Days In St John’s Don’t Miss The Street Art

St. John’s was a colourful city with its brightly painted houses. But the brightly painted houses also showed up in the street art we found. People decorated their houses with colourful chairs. And even the mailboxes showed off the colourful houses.

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Street Art Jelly Bean Houses.jpg

As we wandered in the city, we often found colourful murals and interesting statues. The street art in St. John’s reflected Newfoundland life, fanciful design and the music of the east coast.

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We kept our eyes peeled on our 4 days in St John’s. There was always another piece of art to find.

Visit The Most Easterly Point In Canada At Cape Spear

One day we drove just out of St. John’s to Cape Spear. As we approached, we saw the lighthouse high on the hill. This was the most easterly point in Canada.

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We parked and climbed up to the lighthouse. From there we got a view out to sea and back down to the visitor’s centre.

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When we walked back down we saw the lower rocky point below the Heritage Lighthouse. And far out at see we got our first view of whales at sea. This teaser sure made us excited for the tour we booked for whales and puffins from Bay Bulls.

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A visit to Cape Spear was an iconic thing to do on 4 days in St. John’s.

Head Up On Signal Hill

For a panoramic viewpoint in St. John’s we headed up on the Signal Hill National Historic Site. We bypassed the visitor’s centre and went right to the top. The batteries protected the mouth of the St. John’s harbour from the 17th century to the Second World War. This was also the site where Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901.

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We went along the walkway and got a great view down over St. John’s as the sun set behind the clouds. Down below at the harbour entrance we saw the lighthouse on the point with the light turning.

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Signal Hill Cabot Tower - 4 Days In St John's Newfoundland.jpg

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There were many different hiking paths on Signal Hill. We visited close to sunset so we did not hike around. But on a clear day it was a great spot for a hike with a view.

No visit for 4 days in St. John’s was complete without the views from the top of Signal Hill.

Find Puffins And Whales On 4 Days In St John’s

On this road trip to Eastern Canada, we did our first whale watching excursion at Tadoussac in Quebec. It was an ok whale watching experience but nowhere close to the amazing trip we had whale watching in Campbell River. But we knew that there were lots of whales off the shores of Newfoundland.

Our initial plan was to go whale watching on our day trip to Trinity and Bonavista. But we got such an amazing treat when we found another option from Bay Bulls.

We booked a last minute whale and puffin watching excursion with with O’Briens Whale & Bird Tours and Gatherall’s Boat Tours. The excursion at 5pm got us clear skies and a less crowded boat. And whales that kept us entertained through our entire trip. We sat and the whales came to us. At one time there were maybe 5 around the boat at one time. They rolled, splashed us with spray when they spouted and wagged their tails when they dived.

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Whale and Puffin Excursion.jpg

Whale and Puffin Excursion - 4 Days In St John's Newfoundland.jpg

But whales were not the only delight on this trip. We circled Gull Island and saw the birds that covered this island. Higher on the rock we saw puffins. And smiled at their clumsy attempts to fly. Larger common murres and petrols swarmed the lower levels and chased the puffins when they flew.

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A puffin and whale watching excursion was a perfect thing to plan on 4 days in St John’s Newfoundland.

Do A Day Trip To Trinity And Bonavista

Several people suggested that we needed to visit Trinity and Bonavista on our visit to Newfoundland. When the weather forecast turned good, we headed out for a long day trip to Trinity and Bonavista.

Our first stop in Trinity gave us a good look at this charming small town on the bay. We loved the colourful houses we found. And stopped for a coffee with a view.

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Trinity and Bonavista Day Trip.jpg

The next stop was in the town of Bonavista. We wandered around and got views of the harbour.

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From there we drove out to the lighthouse on the Point Bonavista. We climbed the rocks and enjoyed the amazing views out to sea from this spot.

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Trinity and Bonavista Day Trip.jpg

On 4 days in St John’s, a road trip to Trinity and Bonavista was a long day trip. But we were glad we did not miss this trip. On a return visit we would definitely plan a few days and explore this area more.

Enjoy A Great Stay In The City

On our road trip around Eastern Canada, we stayed in a wide variety of accommodations. And even spent one night in a cabin on the ferry. When we stayed in the bigger cities, we took advantage of our elite hotel status with Marriott Bonvoy.

In St. John’s we booked a King room at the Delta St. John’s. Our elite upgrade got us a massive suite with a harbour view. And a big soaking tub for the days we walked a lot! We had the room to spread out that many of the local hotels did not offer.

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Our elite status got us free breakfast. So that saved us some food costs. And ensured we had at least one hot meal each day.

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The Marriott hotels in the Atlantic provinces offered a great special package when we travelled. The package included self parking and a $25 gas card for each night of stay. With expensive gas in Newfoundland, this helped with some of the travel costs of a road trip.

The gym and pool were open by reservation. Great to add in some exercise. If we did not get it as we toured around.

Tasty Stops Around St John’s

On our road trip to Eastern Canada, we were always on the lookout for fresh seafood. When we found the Fish Exchange in downtown St. John’s, it met all our seafood needs. I could not pass on the lobster and shrimp. And David finally got to try Halibut cheeks!

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When we wandered along the main street in St. Johns, we found many outdoor patios. And on our wanders, we found a great authentic pizza spot at Piatto Pizza.

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And if we wanted a quick snack, we went to the Jag In The Box food truck across from our hotel. We figured the large plate of brussel sprouts were a heathy addition to the burger and fries!

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We sure found many tasty stops during our 4 days in St John’s.

A Great Stop For 4 Days In St John’s Newfoundland

We had a busy 4 days in St John’s in Newfoundland on our road trip to Eastern Canada. There was a lot to see and do in the city. But day trips provided fun sights and entertainment.

Our stay was not all busy days either. We found that St John’s was generally cloudy for the early part of the day and then cleared in the afternoon. So we were a bit lazy in the morning and headed out later in the day. It was something we did not factor into our road trip planning!

Have you enjoyed 4 days in St. John’s? What should we plan to do if we return?

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80 Comments

  1. Jelly Bean houses! I love this colorful idea, as well as the street art in St. John’s. We have family in the Canadian Maritimes (mainly Nova Scotia) we visit from time to time, but have never traveled beyond to Newfoundland. I would love to see this beautiful, rugged island. It always makes me think of a book I enjoyed, “Shipping News,” set in Newfoundland. And, I always thought Welfleet MA was the first Marconi transmission – my mistake! Thanks for the history clarification, and travel inspiration. St. John’s is definitely on my bucket list.

    • We were so glad we finally made it to Newfoundland. St John’s was a great spot to visit for the sights and for the day trips. We learned some Canadian history too!

  2. I don’t know which is my favorite. At first I thought it was the seafood. Then I was captivated by the colorful buildings and the murals. But then I loved the whales and the puffins.

  3. This looks like a fantastic 4 days in St. John’s, Linda. I love how colorful the city is with those jelly bean houses and all the street art. I especially like how some of the street art features the jelly bean houses. The views from Signal Hill look fantastic.

  4. I really liked how you spent your days in St. John’s. Jag in the box seems a cool food truck to enjoy food from. Delta St. John’s is also an amazing accommodation. The Ecclesiastical District National Historic Site and the street arts are something I would surely check out when I visit there.

  5. I have wanted to visit Atlantic Canada for a while, and I hope to make it happen in autumn maybe. St John looks so picturesque, with all that street art and colourful buildings. I would spend hours just walking around and take photos. I would love to go on a whale spotting tour, but see puffins as well, I think they are so cute and I’ve never seen one in real life yet.

  6. This place looks charming. We have friends from St. John but we really haven’t had the chance to visit. We’d love to check out the street art. Looks really nice. What a delight to see the whales and penguins too. Thank you for sharing about your wonderful trip.

    • I hope you do get to visit your friend and enjoy some of the delightful spots we visited in St John’s. And we know there is much for a return visit.

  7. It looks like you’ve had an amazing time discovering the best of Newfoundland. I love the jelly bean houses almost as much as I love the name! Love the your sea tour included whales and puffins.

  8. This looks like such a fun trip! When I heard the title, I always think of Newfoundland dogs. I grew up with these lovely dogs. My family would love seeing the homes on Jelly Bean Row, and all the wildlife! Point Bonavista looks gorgeous too. Thanks for such lovely suggestions, and now I am craving that pizza.

  9. Canada is such a mistery to me! Coming from Europe, I have never visited, but every time I read about I am impressed by the variety the country offers. So much nature, culture, animals! Newfoundland is definitely on my wish list!

    • Canada has such a great variety of things to see. And Newfoundland was a treat for us Canadians to finally discover and spend some time. It was a lovely first look.

  10. So many great things to do! I love the name of the jelly bean houses, I was hoping they were like gingerbread houses that you can actually eat. Love that you can see the whales so easily, I would spend an entire day just watching them.

  11. You visited many of my favorite places in and around St. John’s Newfoundland. I’ve been up there about a half dozen times to SeaKayak in the beautiful areas. I’ve seen the whales in bulls bay and the millions of puffins there too. The only thing you didn’t mention that I would recommend is the Rooms in St. Johns. It’s an amazing museum.

    • Thanks for the suggestion to visit the Rooms in St John’s. We definitely want to go back and are already making a list of things for our next visit.

  12. I love the way you spent your 4 days in St. John’s. Such a colorful city to spend a few days. Those jelly bean houses look sweet and love the presence of street art. I love eating from unconventional eateries and Jag in the box seems a cool way to enjoy some food. Your accommodation Delta St. John’s is also so nice. Overall loved the feel of your trip.

  13. Who would have expected Newfoundland to be this charming?! I haven’t even made it to Canada yet, and you are putting more spots on my list 😉 I love all those bright colors – they just scream positivity. Also, they remind me my recent trip to Burano. However, in St. John, this is combined with these beautiful coast sceneries that I know from my backyard here in northern Germany. I love the tropics – mainly for the temperature, obviously – but those northern shores have their very own rough charm. Beautiful and inspiring post 🙂

    • I hope you do get Canada scheduled for a long stay in the future. And Newfoundland is a charming spot to add to what will be a very long list. We were sure glad we finally made it there and used St John’s as a base for 4 days.

  14. I absolutely love the colourful houses! It looks so adorable. Looks like there are so many things to do at Newfoundland. We are big fans of lighthouses so I’m excited to see that there are so many. We will definitely look into visiting Newfoundland someday. And seeing whales would just crown the whole trip!

    • It would be hard to pick our favourite thing from our stay in St John’s. We were charmed by the city and entranced with the natural beauty we found.

  15. So much of street art and so colorful too. I definitely would love to walk around and capture that. Ecclesiastical District National Historic Site intrigued me – I would be most interested in discovering the various types of churches, understand the difference and use the knowledge in my later travel. Whale watching is always fun and to add to that Puffins…definitely a good combo

  16. Your trip to St John’s Newfoundland is filled with amazing stops. The colorful houses in Jelly bean row is a visual treat and also mailboxes featuring colorful houses and the murals display the city’s rich artistic roots. Watching the whales flipping and splashing water is an unusual sight. And the Puffins standing on the cliffs look so amusing and much similar to penguins. Your stay at Delta St John’s was a luxurious one with such yummy sea food .
    I would love to visit St. John’s Newfoundland.

    • I do hope you get to visit Newfoundland one day. As a Canadian, we were glad we finally visited this corner of the country. So much charm, colour and outdoor beauty.

  17. Whales and puffins, I’m in! I had planned to visit the Maritimes including St. John’s last year, but with Covid their borders were closed. Thanks for the detailed itinerary. I hope to explore that part of Canada one day soon

    • I hope you do get the Maritimes back on your travel planning board. When things opened up in Canada, we planned road trips when we were not travelling internationally. So we enjoyed a long trip and were so glad we got to Newfoundland for our first time.

  18. Newfoundland looks like a great place to visit. I love the vibrant colours of the houses and the street art and then of course the whale watching and puffins – a truly magical place for a trip.

  19. Canada always appeals to me and St Johns in Newfoundland looks as interesting. There just seems to be plenty to do for all types of travelers, from nature, to architecture and history and delightful food. So much colour in everything too.

  20. Linda, this is a wonderful article and just the push I need to start planning a visit to St. John’s. My great-great-grandfather was keeper of the lighthouse in Cape Spear!

    • How cool that your grandfather had such an interesting history with the Cape Spear lighthouse. Newfoundland has been on our list for a long time so we were glad we finally did a first visit. But it won’t be the last.

  21. Good to know it is easy to spend 4 days easily in St.John’s NewFoundLand. Colorful houses all over the entire downtown hillside? Wow! Colorful houses with a mailboxes & chairs that are colorful? Absolute awesomeness!!!! As someone who loves street-art, I’d love to spend sometime hunting for some. Obviously, the most Easterly point of Canada is here. I’ve always wondered about Newfoundland, just because of its name!

    • We could easily have spent more than 4 days in St John’s. But it was a great spot to wander and see the sights on easy day trips. Hope you get to visit one day.

  22. Wow, I’d love to see the whales and puffins, and that beautiful Point Bonavista lighthouse! Saving this for when we go see family in the St. johns area one day.

  23. I love how colorful it is! And I know that you always add some food – that’s my favorite part haha!

  24. I feel like I know so little about Newfoundland! The colorful houses and the history of that is really fun and interesting to me. I’d love to check this out sometime

  25. Love the idea of Jelly Bean Row. The street art is magnificent. Cool that it relates to local history and culture.

    Cape Spear is fascinating, always felt drawn to explore the whatevermost of any country.

    Halibut cheeks? Definitely on my list.

  26. great info! Newfoundland has been on our list for awhile…I really hope to get there soon, now that we can go to Canada again! I love your colorful photos. I’m definitely hanging on to this one to refer to in my planning.

  27. Loved this article, and those colorful houses look amazing. Such a great article full of great pictures and info.

  28. What a beautifully painted little town – I loved your pictures of the colorful buildings! I would love to spot some puffins and whales in my lifetime – saving your post in hopes of visiting here soon 🙂

  29. Jelly Bean Row! How fun is that name? It reminds me a bit of Curacao with all of the colorful buildings. Newfoundland looks like a wonderful place to spend a few days, Id love to see the wildlife there as well.

  30. We set off to do the Trans-Canada Highway in our RV a few years ago. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the RV and had to head down into the US at Niagara so we never made it to Newfoundland. Reading your post, I realise how much we missed! St John’s is so colourful and the wildlife opportunities are fabulous. We still intend to visit this area, but alas it will not be in the RV which we have just sold. Might be looking up your accommodation suggestion, which looks wonderful!

  31. St. John’s looks so pretty! Every time I read about Eastern Canada I want to visit more and more. I love that the colorful houses are almost a cultural motif of the city that can be seen all over. The view from Signal Hill looks amazing, and I think it’s really interesting that the Trans-Canada Highway’s Mile Zero is here on Newfoundland despite being an island. I love off-the-beaten-path places like St. John’s and I’ll definitely be marking it on my travel wish list!

  32. So many awesome things to see at St.John’s. I would love to see more puffins and some whales an also all the colourful street art besides the other things! Thanks for sharing!

  33. I love the Jelly Bean houses! Not only the fact that they are so brightly colored, but the adirondack chairs and mailboxes are colorful too. And I would definitely take the puffin tour–that’s long been on my to do list.

    • The colours in St John’s were amazing. Great on the grey foggy days! We loved the first sight of puffins but we are now trying to find a place we can see them closer up. A great first trip to Newfoundland for sure.

  34. Newfoundland is one of the few provinces I’ve yet to discover. I would love to stroll and gaze upon those colourful row houses and also seek out the public art. How amazing it would be to photograph. Great recommendation for the pizza spot, that would get my vote too!

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