Planning a Newfoundland Road Trip

Road tripping across Newfoundland may be the absolute best way to experience the island.

Since so much of the province’s charm is found in rural areas, it’s very helpful to have a vehicle. Without one, you’ll be limited to either staying on the Avalon where public transit is readily available, or taking a charter across the island. By renting a vehicle or driving your own, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the best of Newfoundland.

Since so much of the province's charm is found in rural areas, it's very helpful to have a vehicle. Click To Tweet

One important thing to note is that the island of Newfoundland is very big. It takes roughly 8-10 hours to drive from “one side to the other” between Corner Brook and St. John’s, to give you an idea. We recommend breaking this up. If you’re road tripping then it’s not a problem since you’ll be stopping and spending time in various locations.

Tourist season ramps up from June – September. Visiting during this window ensures that most of the tourist destinations and attractions will be open!

Getting Here

If you plan to road trip across Newfoundland, you have two options: bring your own vehicle or rent one.

Driving Your Own Vehicle

If you’ll be driving your own vehicle to the island, you’ll need to take one of the Marine Atlantic ferries and arrive on either the Eastern or Western portion of the island. There are two routes available, both which depart from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

https://www.marineatlantic.ca/sailing-information/sailing-routes

The Port aux Basques, NL route is the shortest of the two options, at 96 miles or roughly 7 hours. The Argentia, NL option is 280 miles or about 16 hours on the water. Which route you prefer will depend on the logistics of your trip. You may even take one route to get to the island and another to leave, since they are on opposite sides.

Renting a Vehicle

If you’re not able to drive your own vehicle to the island, then renting would be a good option for you! There are car rental agencies inside St. John’s International Airport, making the logistics easy.

 

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An important thing to be aware of is that demand for rental cars surges in the summer months, often leaving no cars available. It would be very wise to book your rental car far in advance, and check in with the company closer to your arrival to confirm.

Planning Your Trip

Various aspects will come into play when planning your trip, such as where you’d like to visit, how long you are spending in Newfoundland, accommodation preferences, and more.

The Drive

Logistically, it makes the most sense to drive from one side of the island to the other. Either from the Eastern/Avalon side to the Western side, or in reverse, depending on your specific situation.

If driving to the island and arriving by ferry, you could arrive on one side, drive to the other side, then take the other ferry home.

If you are flying in and out of St. John’s airport, then you would need to drive east to west and back again. There is an airport in Deer Lake on the western side of the island, but it would likely add cost and complexity, or simply have no flights available. Most people fly in and out of St. John’s.

 

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Google Maps will help you with estimating drive times, use your best judgement to plan based on how much you and/or anybody joining you can drive in a single day. You will need to be well-rested and alert for traveling the province’s highways.

You’ll also want to ensure proper stops for eating and fuel-ups, though most modern vehicles will have no trouble as long as you hit the road with a full tank.

Along the way you can expect some long hauls with beautiful scenery, intermittent cellular and radio coverage, and dangers such as moose on the roads. It’s a good idea to review your route before leaving, or bring a GPS, just in case you travel through an area where cell phones don’t work.

Where to Stop

Covering every little nook and cranny that should be seen in Newfoundland would be nearly impossible to do in this article, but we can certainly offer some advice for planning your road trip! Start with our guide of must-see attractions.

One of the first considerations should be accommodations. Would you like to try outdoor camping? Staying in a cabin? There are many types of Airbnbs and Bed & Breakfasts across the province, or maybe you prefer only to stay in hotels.

If you’re interested in hiking, then experiencing the East Coast Trail and Gros Morne are a must!

 

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There are boat tours, lighthouses, beers, foods, icebergs, and so much more to see and experience.

There are boat tours, lighthouses, beers, foods, icebergs, and so much more to see and experience. Click To Tweet

We recommend planning in a linear fashion, plotting each destination, activity, and accommodation on a list on Google Maps. You may choose to spend a night or two in certain areas, or stay in a more central location nearby and take day trips to visit some places.

A day or so in some of the more rural areas is likely enough, though there’s nothing wrong with taking some extra time to sit back and enjoy life. We’d recommend at least a couple of days in the Avalon area since there’s so much to see and do around the capital city of St. John’s such as nightlife and landmarks.

 

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Corner Brook, Fogo, Bonavista, Twillingate, Cow Head, the Irish Loop, and Cape St. Mary’s are some among many other notable areas which many tourists like to check out.

Our entire website is dedicated to exploring Newfoundland, so please check out our other articles for help planning an amazing Newfoundland visit!

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