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. 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.
St. John's International Airport (IATA: YYT, ICAO: CYYT) is located 18 minutes (10 km) from the downtown section of St. John's. Flights arrive from major centers like Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Newark/New York, the Caribbean, London-Heathrow (Summer Only) and Dublin (begins June 2014 and also Summer only). The airport is served by Air Canada, WestJet, Porter and United Airlines.
There is no public transit between the St John's Airport and the City of St John's.
If you wish to drive to Newfoundland, you will have to take a ferry from North Sydney, NS or fly and rent a car. Once you arrive at either ferry terminal (see below), simply follow the Trans-Canada highway east, and it will bring you directly to the city of St. John’s.
The island portion of the province is accessible by several ferries leaving North Sydney, Nova Scotia. From there, you can take a 5 to 6 hour ferry ride to Port-Aux-Basques, at the southwest corner of Newfoundland, and drive 905 km across the island to St. John’s, near its eastern tip.
Alternately, from mid-June through September, you can take a 14-17 hour ferry ride from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Argentia, Newfoundland, which is roughly a 1 hour drive (131 km ) from St. John’s. Ferry schedules, reservation information, etc. is available on the Marine Atlantic website . It is recommended that you make a reservation well in advance, especially if you want a cabin on an overnight crossing. Marine Atlantic ferries offer a wide variety of on board accommodations and features, including deluxe cabins, dormitory sleepers, full meal and beverage service, live entertainment, movies, and children's activity programs.
If you choose not to travel with your own vehicle, you can take DRL Coachlines from Port-Aux-Basques to St. John’s (although that’s a long bus ride, typically 12 hours if on schedule), or New Hook Bus Lines (709-426-4876) from Argentia to St. John’s (much easier to handle: 1-2 hours).
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 $2.25 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 .
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 centre, 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.
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.
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.
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.
See & Do
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 have 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.
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.
As in any other city of comparable size, use caution when traveling after dark. Common areas to avoid include Buckmaster Circle, Crosbie Road, Old and New Penneywell Road, areas immediately around Hamlyn Road, Livingstone Street, Water Street west (Springdale Street west to the beginning of Waterford Bridge Road including Victoria Park) after dark, and Shea Heights. Most of these places are not areas which tourists would normally be in, and shouldn't be a huge problem.
Caution should be used when on George Street, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. 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.