A visit to Signal Hill is the #1 thing to do in St. John's, Newfoundland according to Trip Advisor. In a nutshell, Signal Hill holds great historical significance and is also where you can get some spectacular 365 degree views of St. John's as well as the Atlantic ocean and the Narrows (the single point of entry into St. John's harbour). Want to know more? Keep reading!
A Quick History
Signal Hill was the site of the The Battle of Signal Hill in 1762 - the final battle in the Seven Years War between the French and English. The French had previously captured St. John's and had made Signal Hill their base. During this last battle, the English launched a surprise attack on the French, causing them to withdraw.
Things to do
Perched on top of Signal Hill, Cabot Tower is an iconic structure, guaranteed to show up amongst the top photos when you search for St. John's in Google Images. Construction of the tower began in 1897. While it has been used by the British army as a lookout, it's also known for being the place where the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi received his first transatlantic wireless message. In Cabot Tower, there are some informative displays on Marconi's work.
The Queen's Battery was once an important point of defence for St. John's. Its location on the hill, high above the water was advantageous because there was little chance of return fire. When I visited in June 2017, the barracks were under construction, but you can still see the strategically positioned cannons by the battery, and get an amazing view of the narrows.
Hike the Trails
You have a choice of a number of trails at Signal Hill, with varying levels of difficulty depending on what you are able to do and what you feel like! I hiked part of the North Head Trail, which takes you closer down towards the Narrows. It's the most popular of the trails, and for good reason. The views were breathtaking! Parts of the trail take you by some deep drops though - read more about it here to see if it's for you!
If you're visiting Signal Hill in the summer, don't miss some of the events that take place there over the summer months. You can book in advance to 'fire the noon day gun' which is firing a cannon from Signal Hill! Or watch the famous Signal Hill Tattoo which includes a battle reenactment. More information on both of these events can be found here.
Want to get here?
Hours: The hours change depending on the season. Check here for current hours.
Address: 230 Signal Hill Rd., St. John's, NL
Getting here: It's about a 15 minute drive from downtown St. John's. There's a parking lot by Cabot Tower or the Visitor Centre. Or, you could park further downhill by the Johnson Geo Centre and walk up, but it's quite a steep walk.
Admission: Free in 2017 thanks to Canada 150! Check here for current admission fees. Some of the summer events also require additional fees.
Estimated time to spend here: 1-2 hours or more, depending on the events you take in or whether you choose to hike any of the trails!
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