Newfoundland and Labrador is located on the eastern shores of North America between the 46th and 61st parallels.
Newfoundland, the island portion of the province, is situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence separated from larger mainland Labrador by the Strait of Belle Isle, and from Nova Scotia by the Cabot Strait. The bulk of Newfoundland is below the 50th parallel.
Labrador is almost entirely north of Newfoundland, 20 kilometers (12 miles) across the Strait of Belle Isle and 800 kilometers (497 miles) south of Greenland. It is bordered west and south with the Canadian province of Quebec, and shares a small land border on Killiniq Island with the Canadian territory of Nunavut.
NL may look like a mid-sized region on a map, but in reality it is a huge place with lots of open country. At 517,110 square kilometers (199,657 square miles), it is vast. The island of Newfoundland covers 111,390 square kilometers (43,008 square miles) with even more massive Labrador covering 405,720 square kilometers (156,649 square miles).
NL is more than three times the total area of its neighbouring Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) combined. Similarly, if NL was one of the United States, it would rank fourth in size behind Alaska, Texas, and California, and is almost one-and-three-quarter times the size of Great Britain.
514, 536 people reside in NL. St. John’s, its provincial capital, is the largest city with 106,172 residents. 94.8% of the population (487, 808 people) live on the island while the remaining 5.2% (26, 728 people) reside in Labrador.
Newfoundland occupies its very own time zone called Newfoundland Standard Time (NST) which is half an hour ahead of Atlantic Standard Time (AST) and 1.5 hours later than Eastern Standard Time (EST). While most of mainland Labrador observes AST, one noted exception, the southeast region from Black Tickle to L’Anse au Clair operates on NST.
To our American visitors, NL operates on the metric decimal system of measurement.
See CONVERSION CALCULATOR (Excel).
NL boasts a modern transportation infrastructure with comprehensive air, road, and marine/ferry service.
The province is serviced by 4 regional and 3 international airports:
Labrador’s northern coastal communities are serviced by:
Highways & Byways
Both NL regions contain major highway networks that reach its secondary routes including the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH).
The TCH (Route 1) crosses Newfoundland from Channel-Port aux Basques to St. John’s, a distance of 905 kilometers (543 miles).
Click image for Driving in Newfoundland map (PDF).
The TLH (Routes 500 and 510) runs 1,135 kilometers (705 miles) from the Quebec border to L’Anse Au Clair on its southwest coast.
See TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY USER GUIDE (PDF).
Note The first 533 kilometers (331 miles) of the TLH (Route 500 to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) is fully paved. Route 510 is partially paved (the first 80 kilometers [50 miles] after Happy Valley-Goose Bay and from Lodge Bay Road to Blanc Sablon, Quebec). The remainder is gravel. There is no cellphone service along the TLH.
The NL Government operates the TLH Satellite Phone Loan Program (satellite phones at no cost to travelers on the TLH). Drivers are encouraged to borrow a free phone in the event of an emergency.
Visit DESTINATION LABRADOR for details and pick-up locations.
Reaching western Labrador via Route 389 in Quebec is a 570 kilometer (354 mile) highway that travels north from Baie-Comeau through the Côte-Nord region.
Note Only 300 kilometers (186 miles) of this road is paved, in two sections, with the remainder being gravel. Driving time: 8 hours.
Click image for Quebec’s highway map, Côte-Nord region (PDF).
Visit QUEBEC 511 for further highway information.
DRIVING DISTANCES & TIMES
Visit COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY DISTANCE FINDER for approximate driving times and distances, an essential tool on any NL road trip.
NL’s climate, topography, and natural habitat offers a unique set of driving conditions.
See DRIVING SAFETY IN NL guide (PDF).
Visit TRANSPORTATION AND WORKS for further information on vehicle and highway conditions.
Marine & Ferry
NL maintains excellent service delivery and offers numerous marine options to explore its exquisite coastal communities including:
Marine Atlantic, regulated by Transport Canada, services a four-vessel fleet with 2 major routes: a year-round 96 nautical mile daily ferry service across the Cabot Strait between Channel-Port aux Basques, south-western Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The second route is a 280 nautical mile tri-weekly ferry service between Argentia, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia. This service operates from mid-June until late September. From Argentia, the driving distance to St. John’s is 131 kilometers (78 miles).
These modern car ferries also accommodate recreational vehicles and offer a wide variety of on-board accommodations and features including deluxe cabins, dormitory sleepers, full meal and beverage service, live entertainment, lounges, movies, and children’s activity programs.
Visit MARINE ATLANTIC for bookings, schedules, and rates.
The NL Government maintains a fleet of 13 ferries and coastal boats (automobile, passenger, and freight) that operate on a year-round and seasonal basis.
Visit TRANSPORTATION AND WORKS for schedules and rates.
Click image for Newfoundland Ferry Routes & Commuting Times map (PDF).
STRAIT OF BELLE ISLE
The Strait of Belle Isle is a waterway separating the Island of Newfoundland from the Labrador Peninsula. Ferry service is provided by Labrador Marine between St. Barbe (Newfoundland) and Blanc Sablon (Quebec), which is a three minute drive to the Labrador border.
Visit LABRADOR MARINE for bookings, schedules, and rates.
Note Reservations not required but highly recommended.
Ferry service in Labrador is provided by Nunatsiavut Marine and operates from roughly June to November (the ice-free season). A five day return trip departs on Mondays from Goose Bay to the northern coastal communities of Rigolet, Makkovik, Postville, Hopedale, Natuashish, and Nain. A weekend service also operates from Goose Bay to Rigolet, Cartwright, and Black Tickle.
On-board services include a cafeteria with hot and cold dishes and a snack bar. Accommodations include economy, standard, deluxe, economy by berth (shared) consisting of male and female quarters, and a cabin for passengers with disabilities.
Note While at sea network communication problems can occur that affect the ability to use debit and credit cards. It is recommended to carry some cash with you.
Visit NUNATSIAVUT MARINE for bookings, schedules, and rates.
Click image for Labrador Ferry Routes & Commuting Times map (PDF).
Climate & Weather
When it comes to NL weather, you will never be stuck for conversation and its residents love talking about it. NL’s climate can be attributed to its ocean proximity, particularly the extensive area of cold water and seasonal ice offshore including:
(i) the cool Labrador Current
(ii) the distinctly warmer Gulf Stream
(iii) the North Atlantic Drift to the southeast of the Grand Banks that extends the Gulf Stream north-eastward, and which affect the properties of air reaching the province from the south and east.
|Average Temperatures °C|
|Average Temperatures °F|
Newfoundland has a maritime climate that is moderate (minimal temperature fluctuations) and characterized by four distinct seasons. Overall, summers range from cool to hot with an average temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit) while winters are mild with average temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
While regional temperature differences exist (coastal versus central), they are minor in nature. One defining characteristic of Newfoundland’s climate is its unpredictability. It is not uncommon to hear a Newfoundlander say “we can get four seasons in a day”.
Characteristic of the Canadian mid-north, Labrador’s climate is more arctic than maritime. As a result, it has cold winters with typical daytime temperatures for January between -10 and -15 degrees Celsius (14 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit).
The ground is snow-covered for eight months in the far north and for six months in the south. Summers are short and cool along the coast because of the cold Labrador Current. Labrador’s interior has a continental climate with long, cold winters, deep snow cover, and weather patterns which are relatively more settled. The Upper Lake Melville area has relatively shorter winters and warmer, sunnier summers.
Coastal Labrador is exposed to stormy and unsettled weather from the Labrador Sea. The area south of Groswater Bay usually has the heaviest precipitation, and at times experience extremes of temperature during offshore wind directions during both summer and winter.
Northern Labrador, north of Nain, has a tundra climate. Summers are short here and too cool to support full tree growth with a precipitation decrease toward the north. The mountains and fjords of the Torngat region create locally variable conditions.
Before You Leave
- Planning Tips See TRAVEL PRIORITIES CHECK-LIST (PDF).
- Camping in NL? See CAMPING CHECK-LIST (Excel).
- Prudent traveler? See TRAVEL BUDGET (Excel).