Tips for Driving in Newfoundland

If you've been visiting my blog these past few weeks, you'll know I've been posting about my adventures in Newfoundland (and there's more to come)! Newfoundland is a ruggedly beautiful place, totally worth seeing at least once. But if you are hoping to visit, you'll have to drive. There are spectacular sights to be seen all over the island, and trying to get to all of the spots without a car will be difficult, since many of the places aren't that accessible without a car. Here are some tips for you for driving in Newfoundland!

Book you rental car ASAP

Newfoundland has been known to not have enough cars for the demand over the summer months, which is their busy season, so book your car early. In addition to that, make sure that you book a rental with unlimited kilometres. You'll be driving a lot and if the mileage isn't unlimited, your charges will rack up quickly. I put over 3000 kilometres on my rental in just 9 days! One last tip regarding renting a car, one-way rentals (ie. picking it up from one city and returning it at another) will cost you, so if saving some dollars is important to you, plan your trip so that you circle back to return your car from where you initially picked it up.

Limit driving to daylight hours

For the most part, unless you are near a bigger town/city (such as St. John's), the highways in Newfoundland are not lit, so it's best to try to limit your driving to times when there is still natural light. Thankfully in the summer months, the sun sets quite late, averaging at around 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.

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Leave time for construction

The summer months are heavy construction months for Newfoundland's highways. Leave a little earlier if you need to get to your destination at a particular time because you'll likely come across some delays.

Moose alert!

When I was researching before my trip to Newfoundland, I kept hearing that they had a moose problem. I wasn't quite sure what that meant. I mean, how bad could it be? Well, I saw 13 moose in 9 days, including one moose calf! While I will admit that I enjoyed spotting the moose at the side of the highways, hitting a moose with your car is highly dangerous and could be lethal, so take caution when you're driving. 

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Fun fact: Did you know that moose aren't local to Newfoundland? They were introduced to the island in 1878, and today, they have one of the highest concentration of moose in the world!

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Watch out for potholes

In addition to moose, you'll have to watch out for the crazy amount of potholes that plague the highways in Newfoundland. Be prepared for a bumpy ride! I don't remember ever seeing any 'watch out for potholes' signs in my part of Canada, but those signs were all over the highways in Newfoundland. I ended up being really thankful that we upgraded to a Jeep Wrangler because I'm not sure how smaller tires would have fared on those roads. 

Be prepared for long stretches of highway with no rest/gas stops

On road trips I normally have a mindset of 'fill up on gas whenever you can' to avoid being in that sticky situation of running out of it! This is especially true in Newfoundland if you're driving north of Gros Morne, along the Viking Trail, towards L'Anse Aux Meadows to visit the viking settlement. It is a very lonely drive. After Rocky Harbour you won't see many places to stop and rest. There will be small towns, some of which have gas stations, but if you're looking for a Tim Hortons (a Canadian staple!) to get a quick coffee, you'll be out of luck until you reach St. Anthony's. Check out this Iceberg Donut that I saw there. I haven't seen it at any other Tim's!

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Keep an eye out for interesting town names

Besides the breathtaking natural sights you will see on your drive around Newfoundland, one of my favourite things about driving there was spotting the weird and wonderful town names! The most well-known of which is probably the now internet famous town of Dildo. I made a quick stop there. There's not much to see but there is a beautiful lake! Other than Dildo, there are many other gems as well. Some of my favourites that I spotted were Heart's Delight and Come By Chance.

Last but not least, enjoy the view! 

The best part about driving in Newfoundland for me was the spectacular sights along the way, many of which you won't find in the travel guides or tourism books. There are so many small towns that you'll pass through, and so many beautiful hidden gems. Trust me, you won't be bored!

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Keep exploring: Newfoundland | Canada | Travel

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