Welcome to Newfoundland, an RV traveller's paradise waiting to be explored! This stunning Canadian province is filled with natural wonders, charming towns, and a unique culture that will leave you in awe.
In this blog, we will take you on an RV journey through Newfoundland, from its breathtaking landscapes to its unique culture. Discover why choosing an RV for your Newfoundland adventure is the perfect way to experience all that this beautiful region has to offer. We'll also share must-visit places and give you tips on travelling Newfoundland by RV. Get ready to create unforgettable memories as we delve into the wonders of Newfoundland by RV and help you plan an extraordinary trip.
Why Choose an RV for Your Newfoundland Adventure?
With the convenience of accommodation and transportation combined, you can easily explore remote areas and experience the stunning landscapes. Connect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities while enjoying the comfort of an RV.
While limited RV rentals are available in Newfoundland’s larger cities, you’ll find it easier (and have a better selection) to rent an RV in Halifax
and have the true round-trip experience onto and off the island. Our own adventure had us arriving in Argentia
on the first summer ferry of the season – a perfect jumping off point for all things scenic on the Avalon Peninsula. It's a seasonal ferry (mid-June to mid-September) with sailings only three times a week, departing at 5.30pm. As it’s a 16+ hour trip, we'd strongly recommend you book an overnight cabin.
We had the added advantage of being first on, so first off! You can opt to return on the same route or, as we did, drive from east to west to exit the island at Port aux Basques
(year-round ferry into Sydney, taking around 7 hours).
Arriving off the Argentia ferry
How Easy is it to travel Newfoundland by RV?
The Trans Canada is a breeze. It’s a well-maintained paved highway stretching from west to east. Until you zoom in on a map of Newfoundland, it may look like this is the province’s only road but mouse in and smaller provincial highways will appear. Most provincial highways are paved, and many are fairly narrow. Our own experience was that maintenance varied from municipality to municipality. The “Beware, Potholes Ahead” sign appeared frequently on our travels so some trips were much slower and bumpier than others.
Potholes caution sign and potholes
Are there lots of RV campgrounds in Newfoundland?
We didn’t find an over abundance of private campgrounds, in fact most of them were located close to or north of the Trans Canada Highway. There are National Park Campgrounds in both Terra Nova and Gros Morne National Parks and thirteen of the province’s 30 provincial parks also offer camping. Free camping was fairly easy to find with boondocking being the order of the day on the southern Avalon and Bonavista Peninsulas. See where we camped at the end of this blog.
Plan your Itinerary: Must See Places for a Memorable Newfoundland RV Vacation
When planning your itinerary for a memorable RV trip to Newfoundland, there are several must-visit destinations and experiences to consider. Explore the stunning coastal landscapes, perfect for hiking and photography. Take the time to visit Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its towering cliffs and fjords. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Newfoundland by visiting quaint fishing villages and attending traditional music events. Don't miss the chance to see icebergs up close (seasonal), as Newfoundland is one of the best places in the world for iceberg viewing. And of course, experience the thrill of whale watching in Newfoundland's pristine waters, where you might spot humpback whales and orcas.
These are some of our favourite places.
Lower Avalon Peninsula
St Mary’s Ecological Reserve
During the breeding season, “the Cape” is home to 30,000 Northern gannets, 20,000 black-legged kittiwake, and more than 20,000 common and thick-billed murre. For us, the big pull was the Northern gannets on Bird Rock. These monogamous birds reunite with their mates every spring then go their own way after the breeding season finishes. It's a 20-minute walk out to bird rock, through open meadows that top steep cliffs. We headed out around 8.30am and had the rock to ourselves – so peaceful. While it’s not a difficult hike, you should wear solid shoes. Overnight RVing is allowed in the Interpretive Centre’s carpark.
Gannets on Bird Rock
From June to August, humpback whales can often be seen just off the beach. The 5km beach is the largest site in the world where you can view these magnificent mammals from land. Be aware that the beach is rock and pebbles. so closed toe footwear is a good idea. The beach isn’t safe for swimming.
The big draw to Ferryland is the Colony of Avalon, founded in 1621. Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of early houses, and you can view some of the thousands of artifacts uncovered here. Hike to the restored lighthouse and look out for whales, seabirds and perhaps even an iceberg or two floating by.
Bay Bulls and Witless Bay are home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in North America. Both places are stops on the East Coast trail, a network of coastal hiking trails connecting more than 30 communities along the East Coast of Newfoundland. Book a Puffin & Whale Watching tour in Bay Bulls, Newfoundland and enjoy an entertaining two hours on the water. Perhaps even get ‘screeched in’ as an honorary Newfoundlander! We booked with Gatherall's Puffin & Whale Watch and had a super time.
An entry point to Witless Bay Ecological Reserve
Upper Avalon Peninsula
Some top-rated (and worthwhile) attractions here include the Signal Hill National Historic Site & Cabot Tower, Cape Spear Lighthouse and National Historic Site, The Rooms, the village of Quidi Vidi, the Johnson Geo Centre, Bell Island (reached by car ferry) and the colourful houses all around the city. Schedule in a few days here.
Quidi Vidi | Cape Spear New Lighthouse | Downtown St John's | Cape Spear Old Lighthouse
The Harbour Grace Heritage District is a collection of affluent homes, public buildings, gardens and stone walls overlooking the harbour. An Amelia Earhart statue at the end of Water Street commemorates the world’s first transatlantic solo flight by a woman, from Harbour Grace to Northern Ireland. Also of interest here is an old DC3 airplane – the Spirit of Harbour Grace – and a marooned rusty wreck of the S.S. Kyle in the water.
Harbour Grace Gates & ss Kyle
Upper Avalon captures the hearts of many – literally. With towns like Hearts Delight, Heart’s Desire and Heart’s Content, many are drawn here by their romantic sounding names. They are all beautiful villages, but Heart’s Content has a special place in Canadian history. It was here that the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable was landed, reducing the time to communicate across the Atlantic from weeks to minutes. The Heart’s Content Cable Station’ exhibits focus on the history of telegraphy and the role that the village of Heart’s Content played in improving communications. For lighthouse lovers, there’s a tall striped lighthouse close by.
Heart’s Content Cable Station | Heart’s Content Lighthouse
With more than 29,000km of coastline, Newfoundland has its share of lighthouses, many of them historic. The most picturesque of those we found on the Lower and Upper Avalon Peninsulas were Cape Race, Ferryland, Bay Bulls and Cape Spear. Cape Race and Cape Spear are driveable, the other two involve hikes but are worth the effort.
While we had amazing experiences right across Newfoundland and soaked in the sights, it was the Bonavista Peninsula that stole our hearts. In hindsight, we could have spent way more nights here. Don’t miss:
A super walkable village with so much colour and charm. Like many coastal villages on the Peninsula, its roots lie in fishing, but it’s the preservation of Trinity’s buildings which make it the most notable heritage community in Newfoundland. Drop into the Visitor Centre and purchase a pass to visit any of the 13 registered heritage structures, shop for chocolate at Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop or just enjoy the serenity of this beautiful village.
Before refrigerators, vegetable crops were kept cool after the harvest in a root cellar and Elliston is arguably the Root Cellar Capital of the World. View small hobbit-like structures built into the side of small hills and banks with more than 130 still existing in the area, many of them still in working condition today. Aside from the root cellars, Elliston is home to the Sealers Interpretation Centre, featuring massive artworks and vividly bringing the sealers’ stories to life. If you’re on the lookout for puffins between May and September, head to the free Puffin Viewing Site which overlooks Bird Island.
Root Cellar | Puffin Chairs | Atlantic Puffins | Sealer’s Interpretation Centre
It’s an eclectic mix of old and new – colourful houses dotting a rocky shoreline, providing ample opportunity for hiking, whale watching and other activities. History abounds.
Be sure to visit:
Cape Bonavista Lighthouse
One of the few lighthouses in Canada where you can still see the same seal-oil-fueled catoptric light apparatus used in the 1800s. It’s a striking lighthouse and a prime location to view whales, icebergs and Atlantic puffins.
Once the site of a thriving fishery plantation, the main house has been restored to 1939 and recreates a time when the question of whether to join Canada or remain independent was the topic of the day.
Town of Bonavista | Lighthouse Lanterns | Cape Bonavista Lighthouse | Old Days Pond Boardwalk
Ryan Premises National Historic Site and the Bonavista Museum
Interpreters at this historic fishing premises, together with exhibits and artifacts, tell the 500-year story of Newfoundland’s east coast fishery.
Stroll the Old Days Pond Boardwalk
End your day of sightseeing with evening stroll along the town’s Old Days Pond Boardwalk, featuring gazebos and lookouts.
The Discovery UNESCO Global Geopark
It’s one of only five Global Geoparks in Canada, encompassing 27 communities rife with culture and stories. From 560-million-year-old fossils to dramatic sea stacks and curved sea arches, there’s a lot to explore in this UNESCO Geopark including the Dungeon. Located in Dungeon Provincial Park, this heart-shaped crater worn by wind and water is an attraction worth checking out.
The Garrick Theatre
A totally restored historic theatre providing a venue for movies, live theatre, and special events. Check out what’s happening there during your visit.
Notre Dame Bay
Notre Dame Bay is home to many islands, including Twillingate Island and the small town of Twillingate in the heart of Iceberg Alley. With no campgrounds in the area, we joined a number of other campers boondocking near Wild Cove Beach. Our overnight camping spot looked out to massive icebergs floating in the ocean nearby.
The town’s population swells during iceberg season as people flock to one of the best iceberg-viewing spots in Newfoundland. Driving into Twillingate we saw three large bergs floating in the harbour and immediately booked a trip with Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours for a more up close and personal view. We’d highly recommend this company.
Aside from the iceberg experience (we were unfortunately too early for whales), we really enjoyed:
Long Point Lighthouse
It’s still an operational lighthouse, but without the several full-time lighthouse keepers it once had. Interpreters are on hand to show you how those lighthouse keepers lived. If available, don’t miss the opportunity for a small fee to climb up into the light and enjoy the views of the surrounding area.
Wild Cove Beach
A pleasant place to wander on a non-foggy day. In iceberg season, there’s every possibility you’ll see icebergs.
A moderately challenging 4.8km loop trail via French Beach to a beautiful cove. Some steep bits but overall a relatively easy 1.5 to 2 hour hike.
Twillingate Dinner Theatre
One of the highlights of our visit. Dinner and a show from some very talented locals. The actors are also the servers. A good night out with delicious food – be sure to order the lobster if you are into seafood!
Great Northern Peninsula
St Anthony and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
Reached via the Viking Trail to the north, St Anthony attracts visitors as a base from which to explore the Viking Settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows. Located at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, this former Norse settlement dates back around 1000 years and is today an archaeological site transporting you back to where Vikings once stood. It’s a 400km trek each way from Rocky Harbor, returning down the same highway, but has opportunities at small bays, coves, and towns to stop and photograph some spectacular coastal scenery.
L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
Rocky Harbour and Gros Morne National Park
By the time we reached Rocky Harbour, we’d pretty much boondocked our way across Newfoundland so it was nice to pull into the Berry Hill Campground to an electrical hookup and campsite laundry facilities. Book in advance as sites are limited, and plan to stay at least three nights - more if you are an avid hiker. Excellent hiking trails and spectacular boat rides can take you right into the heart of the park’s most dramatic places: Don’t miss …
Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse
The lighthouse and exhibits are the initial draw to this picturesque place but there’s plenty here to keep you entertained for at least a half day. Explore the rock pools at low tide and wander along winding trails leading to hidden outcrops and spectacular views. It’s a great place to fly a kite or pack a picnic, and be sure to stay to enjoy the sunset.
Western Brook Pond
The best way to explore this glacier-carved, land-locked “fjord” is on a boat tour (an easy 45 min walk is required from the carpark to the dock). View waterfalls cascading down billion year-old cliffs. If you’re up for a difficult day hike, you can join a professional guide at the dockside and hike to the top of the gorge.
Hiking to the summit of Gros Morne Mountain
This challenging day hike, taking between 6 and 7 hours to complete, takes you to the second-highest peak in the province. It’s well worth the trek but, if your fitness level isn’t up to it, there are many easier hikes in the park. Check at the visitor centre for recommendations.
While Western Brook Pond and the Trout River Pond are described as land-locked fjords, they are no longer true fjords. A true fjord is open to the sea and Bonne Bay is Newfoundland’s only one. We cruised the fjord with Bontours on the EMM-CAT, listened to live music, saw whales and enjoyed an entertaining commentary.
Port aux Basques
Sadly, the end destination of the Newfoundland portion of our trip. J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park was our overnight stop before taking the 11:45am sailing back to Sydney, Nova Scotia. This ferry also has a 11:45pm sailing between mid-June and mid-September but we think it’s better to take the daylight sailing to enjoy the views.
Port aux Basques Ferry | Newfoundland Coastline
Exploring Newfoundland in an RV is an incredible adventure that allows you to experience the beauty of this stunning province at your own pace. From rugged coastlines to picturesque fishing villages, there's so much to see and do. Renting an RV is the perfect way to make the most of your trip, providing you with the freedom and flexibility to explore all that Newfoundland has to offer.
We travelled with CanaDream. Their website has a Newfoundland itinerary which we loosely followed, along with informative pages on destinations across Canada. Booking was easy. We checked out their great reviews on Trustpilot before we chose them and weren't disappointed. There are so many places in Canada worth visiting but, for our money, Newfoundland has to be way up there on the bucket list. So why wait? Start planning your RV adventure today and get ready for an unforgettable journey through this breathtaking province.
Where we camped:
Boondocking. St Mary’s Ecological Reserve Carpark
Boondocking near Powles Head Lighthouse
Pippy Park Campgrounds
Boondocking near the Visitor Centre
Dry camping at John Cabot Municipal Park (by the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse)
Boondocking near Wild Cove Beach
Berry Hill Campground – National Park Campground 8km from Rocky Harbour
St Anthony Area
Port aux Basques area
J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park