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Overview

St. John's is North America’s oldest city, tracing its history back more than 500 years to its European discovery by John Cabot. The settlement grew to a thriving seaport, the hub of shipping across the Atlantic. Its location as the closest point to Europe made it important in early communications and flight – Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message in the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, and the race to fly the Atlantic in 1919 began here – the same tower was Lindberg's last landmark. But for all its history, St. John’s is a very lively here-and-now city, visually striking for its steep hillside of brightly painted wooden ...

St. John's is North America’s oldest city, tracing its history back more than 500 years to its European discovery by John Cabot. The settlement grew to a thriving seaport, the hub of shipping across the Atlantic. Its location as the closest point to Europe made it important in early communications and flight – Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless message in the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, and the race to fly the Atlantic in 1919 began here – the same tower was Lindberg's last landmark. But for all its history, St. John’s is a very lively here-and-now city, visually striking for its steep hillside of brightly painted wooden buildings overlooking the harbor. At the docks a constantly changing assortment of shipping loads and unloads, flying flags from all over the world. It is a provincial capital, neither a sophisticated city filled with high fashion, nor a historical re-creation gussied up with cafes and boutiques. It is a real city, a jolly, lovable, overgrown fishing village, and for visitors who don’t require a lot of made-for-tourists attractions, it is love at first sight. All around is incomparable coastal scenery. Marine Drive heads north, past soaring headlands that jut out to enclose deep coves. To the south, Bay Bulls is the place for kayaking and boat tours to see puffins and whales.

Stillman Rogers
About the Expert

Stillman Rogers has written more than two dozen guidebooks, including Adventure Guide to Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Guide to Eastern Canada, and Adventure Guide to the Chesapeake.

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Stillman Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: St. John's is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It is considered by some to be the oldest English-founded city in North America. It is located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: Canadian dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    May-June for the best iceberg and whale spotting; all summer and through September for mild weather