Winter in Newfoundland is when all the tourist head home, the snow falls continuously, boats get pulled onto the shore for hibernation, and when locals layer up for the long cold months ahead. The days are getting shorter and the earth becomes covered in white, fluffy snow. When you are travelling to Newfoundland in Winter you will get to experience Newfoundland it is purest form with no tourists around, the snow creating scenes of a winter wonderland and the sheer beauty of the province this is a trip you will never forget.
Gone are the green grass and boat tours – instead the temperature begins to drop below freezing and Newfoundland is transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland. This is the season that sees the least amount of tourist activity on the Rock, which makes it ideal for a peaceful trip if you enjoy the winter.
Here are our tips for travelling to Newfoundland in Winter!
What to Expect when travelling to Newfoundland in Winter
The only consistent thing in Newfoundland is the inconsistency of the weather! If you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes! You can expect everything from beautiful blue skies to white-out blizzards in winter, but don’t let that scare or deter you from heading East this winter.
You will likely meet with few tourists, leaving the provincial and national parks virtually empty for you to explore on your own. Some of the smaller museums and other attractions will likely be closed, but there is enough to do in Newfoundland during this season that you won’t even notice!
Weather + Packing when travelling to Newfoundland in Winter
Even though the weather can be unpredictable, you can still expect it to be cold. You can expect average temperatures of ⁰C, but with the winter humidity from the sea, it might feel much colder! A warm waterproof winter jacket is ideal when the snow turns to rain and you stay warm and dry. Lots of layers –sweaters, long underwear, warm socks, hat and mitts – are a must, no matter the forecast!
Make sure to pack a warm, waterproof pair of winter boots (a pair of Sorels are perfect), as most of the island is rugged, wet, and snow covered. Come prepared for the cold, snow, and rain and you will be not be caught in a bad situation.
Since the weather can change at any minute during winter, it is highly advised to bring along some additional provisions in case you get stuck. A warm blanket, non-perishable foods (such a granola bars and bottles of water), and a flashlight are all important to have with you on outings. You likely won’t need it, but better to be on the safe side!
St. John’s, Newfoundland, has a wide variety of hotels to stay in from cozy B&Bs to high-end hotels. In the winter you won’t likely need to book your reservations months in advance, but it’s always good to call ahead and get a reservation.
As you head north on the island, hotels can sometimes be hard to find depending on where you are going. Major cities like Gander, Deer Lake, or Corner Brook will have a handful of hotels, but you will not find luxury hotels here. The average hotel rooms we found ranged from $90-$140 per night depending on where we were, but you can look through Airbnb for inexpensive homestay options, or to get more of the local feel.
If budget isn’t a problem, then check out some of our favourite places to stay in Newfoundland, including The Murray Premise (St. John’s) and Marblewood Village Resort (Corner Brook).
What’s Open / What’s Closed when travelling to Newfoundland in Winter
Winters in Newfoundland don’t see high levels of tourism, which means that a variety of tour companies and attractions are closed or on limited hours for the off-season.
There are only two National Parks in Newfoundland, but they are major attractions on the island! Both Gros Morne National Park and Terra Nova National Park are considered closed for the winter, but in reality that is only half true. You can still drive through the park, and use the stunning hiking trails. However, all visitor centres, facilities, and campgrounds are closed for the winter season and re-open in early to mid-May.
National Historic Sites – including Signal Hill and Cape Spear to name two of these jewels – are also open in a limited capacity, with no visitor services or facilities available during the winter months.
Newfoundland boasts some of the best winter activities in the East Coast of Canada. With an average of 16 feet of snowfall a year, Newfoundland is the perfect place to try out skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing.
Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding – Whether you are a beginner skier or an avid one, Marble Mountain is the place for you: with a 1,700 foot vertical drop, 37 runs that range from novice to expert, and a peak is higher than any other ski resort in Atlantic Canada.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing – Looking for a different kind of adventure? There are a large variety of both groomed and backcountry skiing and snowshoeing trails that can be found across the province. Notably, Gros Morne National Park, Terra Nova National Park, Notre Dame Provincial Park, and Butter Pot Provincial Park all have a full network of groomed trails.
Snowmobiling – With over 5,000 km of trails and an abundance of backcountry and mountain riding, the snowmobiling in Newfoundland rivals the Rocky Mountains. Newfoundland has often been referred to as the Snowmobiling Capital of Canada, and its easy to understand why! From beautiful ocean vistas, to the ancient mountains, and glacier-carved fjords, there is nothing like the variety of these trails anywhere else. You can rent snowmobiles and plan your own trip, or can take a tour with a seasoned professional. Either way, this is a must do experience while on the island in winter.
Tips For Your Trip
You will likely need to rent a car to go on any form of a road trip during your time in Newfoundland. When travelling to Newfoundland in winter make sure to pick up a larger sized rental car with either winter tires or four wheel drive. Both of these are recommended as the winter weather throughout the province can be unpredictable.
Watch out for wildlife – especially Moose! With over 125,000 moose on the island and most highways crossing through their habitat it is likely you will see one cross the road or off to the side of the one. The province has done an excellent job of putting signage up where moose crossings are likely to warn drivers of possible crossings. Keep your eyes peeled, especially at dusk or dawn.
Lastly, if you intend to be going on any road trips, be sure to bring a GPS or map. We would highly recommend downloading an offline version of the map (or buy a map), as cell reception can be poor or non-existent in some areas of the province.