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Growing in popularity as a tourist destination, remote Newfoundland and Labrador is nevertheless frequently the brunt of jokes by Canadians living elsewhere. While Labrador adjoins Quebec, Newfoundland is an island which was, up until 1949, a British colony. St John’s and Labrador City are the main hubs, but the likes of Gros Morne National Park and Marble Mountain draw hikers and skiers. The coast boasts icebergs from April through June and whales in August. While you may not be able to understand the friendly locals due to their unique dialect, this offbeat Atlantic province is well worth a visit for its rugged natural beauty.
Car hire in Newfoundland and Labrador is the best way to tour this rugged part of Canada which is little served by public transport. Vehicles are most easily picked up in large centres such as St John’s and Labrador City. Prices are competitive so don’t forget to compare car hire before booking. Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Enterprise and National have a presence St John’s airport.
St John’s airport on Newfoundland is the main gateway from the US and other Canadian airports, while it also offers season flights to the UK. Airports are also present at Stephenville, Deer Lake, Gander and Wabush. Limited coach services operate between major provincial destinations such as Port aux Basques and St John’s. Rail services connect Labrador with Quebec, but there are no trains on Newfoundland. Car ferries serve Newfoundland from ports in Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec, with the shortest crossing around 2 hours. The Trans Labrador Highway is the main road route through the province.
Over 100,000 moose call the province home so drivers need to watch out for crossing animals, especially at night. Roads here are in poor condition compared with those in other parts of Canada, with many gravel routes and potholes on remote roads. It is imperative to carry an emergency kit in case of breakdown as distances between petrol stations can be vast and mobile phone coverage is often unavailable.
Head to Twillingate in winter to experience the offshore icebergs on a cruise or go hiking along the East Coast Trail. St John’s offers Signal Hill fort, the Battery and a pretty natural harbour, but visitors shouldn’t miss daytrips out of the city with car rental in Newfoundland and Labrador to discover the quaint communities of the Avalon Peninsula. History buffs can make a stop at the Viking UNESCO World Heritage site of L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland’s north.
The province offers cool summers with temperatures of around 20°C, while winter temperatures in St John’s hover just below freezing, but temperatures in Labrador can drop to as low as -20°C. June through September is the warm period and the most comfortable time to visit, but skiers and iceberg-spotters may prefer the snowy winter months of December through March. October is the wettest month.