Newfoundland and Labrador is a gorgeous province on the East Coast of Canada with large cliffs, fjords, and waterfalls. Originally an area inhabited by Vikings, this part of the country is across the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland. This connection is significant to the province because many Newfoundlanders are of Irish descent, their ancestors migrating across the waters to Canada’s shores. This stunning easterly province deserves a spot on any traveler's Canada itinerary, and the best way to explore is with one of these scenic road trips.
10 Granite Coast Drive
Newfoundland’s Granite Coast Drive is a 45 km scenic day trip that starts in Channel-Port aux Basques. Travelers must load their vehicle onto the ferry to reach the access point for the drive. Once en route, there are many scenic viewpoints and attractions to stop at along the way, including the Railway Heritage Museum and the historic community called Isle aux Morts.
9 Irish Loop
For a longer road trip, travelers can embark on the Irish Loop (Route 10), which is 312 km long. The route starts south of St. John’s, allowing drivers to travel around the lower half of the scenic Avalon Peninsula. Although it’s possible to complete this journey in just 3-4 hours, there are plenty of scenic viewpoints to stop at along the way, so it’s a good idea to plan a least a full day or two with a bed and breakfast stop overnight to enjoy this loop.
8 The Viking Trail (Route 430)
The Viking Trail in Newfoundland and Labrador is a 526 km route that starts from Route 1 and takes drivers onto Route 430 at Deer Lake. The route has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Gros Morne National Park, which is a picturesque destination. Driving the Viking Trail eventually takes travelers onto Route 436, where they can view the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on the drive, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.
7 Kittiwake Coast
The Kittiwake Coast drive, also called the Road To The Shore, starts in Gander or Gambo and is approximately 307 km long. The route is a horseshoe shape that takes travelers along Route 330 and Route 320 right on the coast between these two iconic towns. This is an excellent road trip option for travelers who want to explore Gander, which has a significant reputation on the world stage following its involvement in housing travelers during the tragic events of 9/11. Since then, it has come to even greater fame as part of the musical based on these events, called Come From Away.
6 The Grenfell Drive
Grenfell Drive is a road trip from the northern tip of Newfoundland and covers 171 km. Another part of the old French Shore of the province, once home to French fishing communities, the route houses the French Shore Interpretation Centre and Crouse, which is a popular hiking destination. Traveling this route by car takes only a few hours, but visitors should plan to spend at least one full day to permit time to stop and learn about the fishing history of the area and enjoy some of the beautiful hiking trails.
5 The Trans-Labrador Highway
The Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH) is a scenic drive across Labrador, traversing winding roads and narrow bridges. It begins in Fremont, Quebec, and is the only public road across all of Labrador. May to September is the best time to do this remote, scenic drive to avoid severe weather conditions. The journey takes 22 hours from start to finish (1185 km), but most people plan several days to space out the driving and enjoy hiking and stops along the way. Much of the route is unpaved and was built in 1992; travelers should confirm with their rental company whether they are allowed to drive their vehicle on this type of road to avoid violating rental agreements.
4 Codroy Valley International Wetlands
The Codroy Valley International Wetlands road trip is just 40 km and is the perfect choice for a casual day trip with beautiful views. To reach the start of this route, travelers just drive 15 minutes north of Channel-Port aux Basques via Route 1 and pass through tons of gorgeous, sprawling farmland. The 40 km distance reference is for one-way, so travelers who are planning to return to their origin point to sleep that night should plan for an 80 km journey.
3 The French Ancestors Route
The French Ancestors Route is located on the West Coast of Newfoundland and is a 161 km route. The route has a coastal loop and passes through Stephenville-Port au Port Peninsula, which is a hub for French culture in the province. This shore was previously owned by the French for fishing and only came under Newfoundland’s control in 1904. Stephenville has an air base and a Theatre Festival, so travelers who appreciate the arts should plan their trip accordingly to catch a musical or comedy show along the way.
2 The Caribou Trail
Also located near the west coast of the province, The Caribou Trail is a 148 km drive starting on Route 1 that takes travelers to the south coast of the island. Travelers depart from the West Coast on Route 480 and pass through densely forested areas and past Sandbanks Provincial Park. The park has multiple sandy beaches making this a great place for a pit stop for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts.
1 Captain Cook’s Trail
Travelers who have just one afternoon for a road trip somewhere in Newfoundland should consider driving Captain Cook’s Trail, named for the famous explorer, Captain James Cook. This driving route is only 53 km long and passes by a commemorative statue of the captain himself in Corner Brook. The drive offers the beauty of the mountains, ocean, and fishing villages along Route 450, the Bay of Islands, and Lark Harbour.