After spending many hours driving through beautiful snow covered Newfoundland, one thought kept popping into our heads: “Why are there so few visitors to Newfoundland in the winter?” While the Rocky Mountains are distinctly Canadian, and see hundreds of thousands of visitors a year – including in the winter months – the ever-changing landscape of Newfoundland, from its rugged coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains, certainly gives the Rockies a run for their money! For us, the Rocky Mountains was one of the first places in Canada outside of our home province that we fell in love with. Yet, while driving across Newfoundland’s Trans Canada Highways and the small town backroads, we were enchanted by the province’s beauty and charm.
Newfoundland has become one of our favourite Canadian provinces – and we bet it will be one of yours too.
The kind-hearted people, the culture, and history of each city and town, the dining and drinking traditions, and the dramatic landscapes have guaranteed Newfoundland a place in our hearts – whatever the season.
If we had to choose one work to describe Newfoundland in winter, we would choose breathtaking.
Under a fresh blanket of snow, Newfoundland is transformed into a winter wonderland. The dark Atlantic Ocean water’s contrast against the stark white of the snow-covered coast line, as winter in the national parks, provincial parks, and tourist sites reflect a quiet and calmness that is felt across the island.
For all of these reasons and so many more, winter in Newfoundland is something incredibly special. If you are thinking about visiting Newfoundland anytime in the next few months, here are a few reasons you’re sure to fall in love with it!
When anyone talks about Newfoundland, one of the first things that comes to mind is the friendly and welcoming people you will find across the island. Warm and genuine, the people here are known for their craftsmanship, unique accents, and incredible sense of humour. Macleans magazine claimed the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to be #3 in their top 10 most friendly people in the world!
Whether you are lost, have a question, or just looking to chat, Newfoundlanders are happy to talk. We had so many great encounters with people in each town that we often would find ourselves running behind schedule because we couldn’t stop talking! Some of the best tips for photography were given by locals in each of the towns, including where to find a group of whales!
One of the most interesting things about the people of Newfoundland is the way they speak. Did you know there are more varieties of English spoken in Newfoundland and Labrador than anywhere else in the world? Accents are flavoured by Newfoundlanders’ ancestors from Western England and Southern Ireland dating back more than 400 years. In addition to English, there is also French and Aboriginal influences that have helped to create the colourful language spoken by locals. Beyond the accents, you might also encounter some of the hundreds of Newfoundlander words and phrases you will find nowhere else in the world. You might want to pick up a copy of the dictionary of Newfoundland english!
The Food & Drink
Stepping into an authentic Newfoundland pub is an enchanting feeling! Once inside you’re struck not only by the history, but also the smells of beers and great pub food that will leaving you wanting more. If you are a lover of seafood, then look no further for some of the best and freshest seafood you will ever have. Our favourite meal was the wild Atlantic salmon caught straight off the coast. Regardless of where your trip may take you while you are exploring Newfoundland, plan on stopping for a plate of fish and chips. If fine-dining is more to your taste, St. John’s has a wide variety of options from international flavours to fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Our favourite place for a great bite to eat and drink is Yellow Belly Brewery in St. John’s.
Have a sweet tooth? Then make sure to stop in at one of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company’s shops. This is by far some of our favourite chocolate anywhere! With a wide variety of flavours that showcase iconic scenes of Newfoundland and Labrador, the founders’ vision was to bring Newfoundland and Labrador to the world by making the best, most delicious, artistically-crafted chocolates around – and they have succeeded!
Newfoundlanders are widely known for their pubs and great beers. Quidi Vidi Brewing Company, the most popular micro-brewery in the province, harvests water from icebergs floating offshore to create incredible beers. For something a bit stronger than beer you can also find Iceberg Vodka, Rum and Gin which are each bottled in the province, and are also made from water from these 10,000 year old icebergs. Regardless of where you go, make sure you come on an empty stomach as there is so many great food and drink options you will want to try them all.
Postcard Worthy Spots at Every Turn in Newfoundland In Winter
Driving from St. John’s to northern Newfoundland allowed us to explore a large amount of the island. Even during the long stretches in the car we were repeatedly left breathless, taking in the beauties at many of the twists and turns in the roads. As we left St. John’s and the surrounding area and headed north, it felt like we were transported back to a much simpler time, to smaller communities scattered with fishing nets, lobster traps, and boats.
Our favourite moments were when we had left the main roads, and were out of sight of any major stores and tall buildings, left to take in in the small towns and the vast, rugged landscapes. During the summer these areas are buzzing with both locals and tourists alike, whereas you will likely not run into any tourists during the winter months, and will instead get a chance to experience the true Newfoundland.
The Wildlife that comes alive in Newfoundland in Winter
Coming from Southern Ontario, we are used to seeing raccoons and squirrels on a daily basis, but a moose or deer sighting is not as common. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the opportunities to see nature are never-ending. It seems that every day on our trip we saw a different type of wildlife: from moose to a majestic pod of whales. With 3 National Parks, 18 Wilderness and Ecological Reserves, and 13 Provincial Parks, there is no shortage of areas where you can see wildlife in its natural habitat.
The Tourist Attractions are Empty!
Throughout our entire travels in Newfoundland outside of St. John’s, and on our multiple hikes through Gros Morne National Park we never ran into another visitor to the island. The feeling of being completely alone in some of the most beautiful places in Newfoundland just adds to the draw of the island during this season.
Have you fallen in love with this special island so much you want to become a Newfoundlander? Then you are in luck! You can become an honorary Newfoundlander through the initiation ritual known as being ‘Screeched In’. To get screeched in you have to recite a speech in Newfoundland English, followed by a shot of Screech rum, and kiss a real cod (often frozen). The ceremony is often done in a local pub and is a lot of fun!