St. John, NL, Canada | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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St. John, NL, Canada

St. John's is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is the oldest city in North America and is located on the Avalon Peninsula in the southeast corner of the island of Newfoundland. The city is the easternmost point on the Trans-Canada Highway, a network of roads leading more than 8000 km westward to Victoria, British Columbia.

John Cabot was believed to have sailed into the harbor on June 24, 1494 - the feast day of John the Baptist, for whom St. John's Harbour is named. The first year-round settlement was not long after 1630, although a seasonal fishery operated in the region long before then. Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the area as England's first overseas colony on 5 August 1583 under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. Fishermen from England's West Country controlled most of Newfoundland's east coast by 1620. Fortifications were installed from 1670 onward to defend the... Read more

St. John, NL, Canada

St. John's is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is the oldest city in North America and is located on the Avalon Peninsula in the southeast corner of the island of Newfoundland. The city is the easternmost point on the Trans-Canada Highway, a network of roads leading more than 8000 km westward to Victoria, British Columbia.

John Cabot was believed to have sailed into the harbor on June 24, 1494 - the feast day of John the Baptist, for whom St. John's Harbour is named. The first year-round settlement was not long after 1630, although a seasonal fishery operated in the region long before then. Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the area as England's first overseas colony on 5 August 1583 under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. Fishermen from England's West Country controlled most of Newfoundland's east coast by 1620. Fortifications were installed from 1670 onward to defend the city, against the Dutch and then against the French - both of whom had briefly captured the town at one time or another.

When Newfoundland became a self-governing dominion within the British Empire in 1907 (a status similar to that of New Zealand), St. John's was its national capital. Confederation with the Dominion of Canada in 1949 demoted the city to provincial capital status; by then, Newfoundland had fought in two world wars.

It lies 1'339 miles northeast of Toronto and is closer to Dublin than Vancouver. It is the most easternly urban settlement in North America and is just 3.5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Vancouver on the west coast of Canada is 8 hours behind GMT.

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St. John, NL, Canada: Port Information

Cruise ships dock at the port which is located within walking distance from the center.
There are two piers for cruise liners - Pier 10 and Pier 11. When there are two ships at the same time, the smaller one docks at Pier 17.

Get around St. John, NL, Canada

By bus

St. John's has a public transit system of buses called Metrobus, that services nearly all of St. John's, the neighborhoods of Shea Heights, Kilbride, and the Goulds, as well as the neighboring city of Mount Pearl. The service is per use, and not per distance, making it a very cheap, affordable way of getting around town. Most, if not all, of the bus drivers are kind and courteous and are willing to give directions. Travelers can check routes and even the current position of any bus on the Metrobus online.

By car

St. John's is a driver-friendly city, although the road layout is haphazard and a map or GPS is de rigueur for visitors. Except for the Downtown center, parking is almost always abundant and traffic jams are non-existent. Be aware that the downtown area contains many one-way streets so it is important to watch for signs. St. John's International Airport has the following car rental agencies: Hertz, Avis, Thrifty, Budget, and National. In the city, you can also find Enterprise, Discount, and Rent-A-Wreck. Book rental cars early for travel during the peak summer months. Executive Car Service is also available for chauffeured car rentals and tours from several providers such as Black Car Service, Corporate Concierge, and Jimmy's Sedan Service.

By foot

The Downtown core can be easily explored by foot. Take a stroll up

Water Street

, stop for a drink or take in some live music at a wide range of drinking establishments, and a wide range of restaurants as well as distinctive shopping.

George Street

, just above Water at the west end of the downtown core, near City Hall and the Convention Centre, is a concentration of nightclubs, taverns, restaurants that is typically busy any night of the week, with bar patrons spilling onto many patios and onto the street itself. Adjacent streets such as Duckworth Street also have interesting shopping and restaurants, and there are a number of (liquor-licensed) billiards halls.

By bicycle

Be warned, St. John's rivals San Francisco with its notorious sloping hills. Unless you're in the mood to challenge gravity, renting a bicycle is probably not the best idea.

By taxi

St. John's issues over 300 taxi licenses and many of the cab drivers are quite knowledgeable and eager to help visitors find out about local attractions. If you want to see something but aren't sure what or where ask a cabbie for a tour of the city or Cape Spear.

What to see in St. John, NL, Canada


  • The Rooms 

    - the major cultural center at Fort Townsend for Newfoundland & Labrador. The building itself has become one of prominence (and controversy) rivaling that of the Basilica. The Rooms contain the Newfoundland Museum, Provincial Archives, and Art Gallery. From the upper floor, you can get an unrivaled view of the area. For the cheap, there is free admission on Wed. 7-9 PM.
  • Railway Coastal Museum. Interesting history of the development of rail services for otherwise isolated island communities.
  • The Fluvarium. A partially underground aquatic center 
  • The Newman Wine Vaults. Historic wine vaults constructed in the late 18th century; one of St. John's oldest buildings.

Historic Sites

  • Signal Hill - unrivaled views of the city, site where Marconi received the first wireless TransAtlantic message in 1901.
  • Cape Spear National Historic Site - Great lighthouse and most easterly point in North America. About a 20-minute drive from St. John's.
  • Historic St. John's Harbour.
  • The Battery - the small village on the edge of the downtown where small houses are framed by the sheer cliffs. The village was once part of the British Defence for the St. John's Harbour. A trail leads from the end of the Battery around the cliffs and up to Signal Hill.
  • St. John's old downtown churches - the Anglican Cathedral, St. Thomas Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Basilica (designated a minor Basilica by the Pope), St. Andrews Presbyterian, and the Gower Street United Church.
  • Fort Amherst - a lighthouse and World War II military fortification. Located across "The Narrows" on the opposite side of the harbor from Signal Hill. Offers unique views of the city and Cape Spear.

Parks & Outdoors

  • Bowring Park. A beautiful 250-acre park with duck ponds, bridges, walking trails, tennis courts, playground equipment, an outdoor pool, and many monuments. 
  • Bannerman Park. A newly renovated park near downtown St. John's. Features a swimming pool, playground, splash pad and an outdoor skating loop in the winter. 
  • The Grand Concourse. A network of walking trails in St. John's 
  • Salmonier Nature Park. A 3 km nature trail winds through a mixture of wood and wetlands. View animals in their (enclosed) natural habitats. The trail takes approx. 1 hour to walk. About 45 minutes from St. John's. 


  • Memorial University of Newfoundland 
  • Eastern Edge Art Gallery - contemporary art from Canada and the province

What to do in St. John, NL, Canada


  • Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, Bannerman Park. Early August. A three-day festival featuring traditional music, storytelling, and dancing. Food and local products are available from vendors.  
  • Victoria Park Lantern Festival. Last weekend in July. A festival featuring thousands of handmade lanterns held in Victoria Park.  


  • The St. John's Arts & Culture Center - art gallery & theater.
  • LSPU HALL: The Resource Center For The Arts - art gallery and theater.


  • East Coast Trail. A 265 km coastal hiking trail starting in St. John's. Made up of 24 paths of various lengths and difficulties.
  • Kayaking. 


  • Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours - Enjoy St. John's from the water. See whales, seabirds, and icebergs. Departures 9:30 am/1 pm/4 pm/7 pm from Pier 7 on St. John's Harbour.
  • The St. John's Haunted Hike - tour historic St. John's while being regaled with stories of the spooky & strange. The tour begins and ends at the Anglican Cathedral.


  • Breakout NL - a type of physical adventure game in which people are "locked" in a room with their team and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.
  • St. John's Icecaps - The St. John's American Hockey League team that plays their home games on Mile One Centre in downtown St. John's.

What to eat and drink in St. John, NL, Canada



  • Bagel Cafe, 246 Duckworth St, ☎ (709) 739-4470. One of the best breakfasts available in St. John's.  


  • Bamboo Garden - Duckworth Street. Excellent service, great dim-sum style dumplings, noodle soups and crazy cheap!
  • Ches's Fish and Chips - 4 locations: 9 Freshwater Rd., 655 Topsail Rd., 8 Highland Dr., 29-33 Commonwealth Ave
  • Hava Java
  • International Flavors - 4 Quidi Vidi Road, Simple Pakistani Cuisine, fantastic flavors, and value!
  • Leo's Fish and Chips - 27 Freshwater Rd, St. John's. Famous and a Newfoundland visit must.
  • Magic Wok - good traditional or Canadian-style Chinese food
  • The Rocket - 272 Water St. Coffee, baked goods, soups, sandwiches.


  • The Sprout 364 Duckworth Street, (709) 579-5485 - vegetarian
  • Pi 10 King's Rd, (709) 726-2000 - gourmet pizza and pasta 
  • Fog City Avalon Mall, Kenmount Road, (709) 726-4949
  • The Celtic Hearth Water Street, traditional Irish pub and restaurant. Open 24 hours.
  • The Pepper Mill 178 Water Street, (709) 726-7585 
  • Pasta Plus 223 Duckworth Street, (709) 739-6676, and Avalon Mall (709) 722-6006
  • India Gate 286 Duckworth Street, (709) 753-6006 - the best Indian food
  • Zapata's 10 Bates Hill, (709) 576-6399 - Mexican food


  • Blue on Water Restaurant & Hotel 319 Water Street, (709) 754-2583
  • Raymond's 95 Water Street (709) 579-5800
  • The Gypsy Tea Room restaurant and cocktail bar - 317 Water Street (709) 739-4766
  • Oppidan Sheraton Hotel, (709) 726-4980
  • Magnum & Stein's 284 Duckworth Street
  • Basho Japanese fusion, chic minimalist decor - 283 Duckworth Street


  • George Street, in the heart of downtown, is a prime location for nightlife as it boasts the most bars per square foot in North America
  • Water Street, the oldest street in North America, also contains several pubs, usually of a more relaxing atmosphere
  • Duke of Duckworth. Cozy English style pub with excellent food and good beer  
  • The Quidi Vidi Brewing Company - tour the brewery and sample specialty beers

Shopping in St. John, NL, Canada

St. John's has two modern shopping centers. The Avalon Mall, the largest shopping center in Newfoundland, has 140 stores and is on Kenmount Road. The Village Shopping Center is in the West End on Topsail Road. St. John's also has several big box centers; Stavanger Drive in the east end; Kelsey Drive (off Kenmount Road); and Pearlgate located in the suburb of Mount Pearl.

Downtown St. John's boasts a wide array of shops and boutiques, most notably Water Street. Everything from unique souvenirs to designer clothing.

Along with Quebec, Newfoundland is the only province in Canada where cold beer can be purchased in convenience stores.

Groceries & Food

  • Belbin's Grocery, 85 Quidi Vidi Rd, ☎ (709) 702-5156. Mon-Fri 8:30 am-8:00 pm; Sat 8:30 am-6:00 pm; Sun 10:00 am-6:00 pm. Small, local grocery store. 
  • Halliday's Meat Market, 103 Gower St., ☎ (709) 753-8332. Butcher shop and convenience store. Operating for over 100 years.  
  • Sobeys, 8 Merrymeeting Road, ☎ (709) 726-2242. MO-SA 8:00 am-10:00 pm; SU 10:00 am-6:00 pm. 


  • Living Planet T-Shirts, 197 Water Street, ☎ (709) 754-9300. Locally designed and printed t-shirts
  • Byron's For Men
  • Couture Studio, 174 Water Street, ☎ (709) 739-8868. Designer Asian clothing
  • Twisted Sisters Boutik, 175 Water Street. Locally made clothing and accessories by Canadian designers 


  • The Travel Bug - travel accessories
  • Attica - upscale furniture store
  • Hempware - Newfoundland's only hemp product specialty store
  • The Dog House - très chic pet boutique
  • The Downhomer Shoppe - local souvenirs and literature.
  • Home - on Water Street
  • Bowring's - a Newfoundland institution, and the home-base of a now-national chain, Bowring's of Newfoundland. Housewares and decor.

Safety in St. John, NL, Canada

While St. John's is generally regarded as a safe city, recent increases in the crime rate have been reported. Panhandling is very common in downtown, however simply replying "no" or ignoring those individuals usually does the trick, while a few more may be more persistent. Very rarely will these people become violent, and are usually not a problem.

Caution should be used when on George Street. With excessive drinking and drug use, there is a high tendency for people to turn violent. However, it's unlikely that you'll fall victim to a violent assault if you keep out of trouble. Extreme caution is to be had at 24-hour restaurants and convenience stores across town, especially in the downtown area. Violent patrons from George Street often stagger into such restaurants after last call and can be violent, sometimes attacking unsuspecting individuals. As well, a recent rise in armed robberies in the metropolitan area have left 24-hour convenience an easy target for criminals.

However, with crime rates much lower than the national average, little is to fear about walking around St. John's at most times of day or night. With exercising some basic caution, there is no reason why your visit to the city can't be a safe one.

Language spoken in St. John, NL, Canada

English and French are the official languages. 


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