NL 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.
Mainland Labrador is almost entirely north of the island, 20 km (12 miles) across the Strait of Belle Isle, and some 800 km (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 km2 (199,657 square miles), NL is vast. The island of Newfoundland covers 111,390 km2 (43,008 square miles) and even more, massive Labrador covers 405,720 km2 (156,649 square miles).
To give you a better perspective, NL is more than three times the total area of its neighbouring Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island).
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, our 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% or 26, 728 reside in Labrador.
Newfoundland occupies its very own time zone, known as Newfoundland Standard Time (NST). 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 which operates on NST.
To our American visitors, NL operates on the metric decimal system of measurement.
DOWNLOAD our convenient CONVERSION CALCULATOR (Excel format).
NL boasts a modern transportation infrastructure with comprehensive air, road, and marine (ferry) service.
Moreover, we are serviced by 4 regional and 3 international airports:
Labrador’s northern coastal communities are serviced by:
Highways & Byways
Both regions of NL contain major highway networks that reach our many secondary routes including the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) and the Trans-Labrador Highway (TLH).
Also, you can access Labrador from either the province of Quebec (Route 389) or the Island of Newfoundland. (via Labrador Straits ferry service in St. Barbes).
The TCH (Route 1) crosses Newfoundland from Channel-Port aux Basques to St. John’s, a distance of 905 km (543 miles).
CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD our informative ‘Driving in Newfoundland’ map (PDF format).
The TLH (Routes 500 and 510) run 1,135 km (705 miles) from the Quebec border in the west to L’Anse Au Clair on the southwest coast.
DOWNLOAD this handy TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY USER GUIDE (PDF format).
(i) the first 533 km (331 miles) of the TLH (Route 500 to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) is fully paved. Route 510 is partially paved (the first 80 km after Happy Valley-Goose Bay and from Lodge Bay Road to Blanc Sablon, Quebec). The remainder is gravel.
(ii) There is no cellphone service along the TLH. Fortunately, the Provincial Government operates the TLH Satellite Phone Loan Program (satellite phones at no cost to travelers of the TLH). Drivers are encouraged to borrow a free satellite phone for a safe drive.
CLICK HERE for details and pick-up locations.
Reaching western Labrador via Route 389 in Quebec is a 570 km (354 mile) highway that travels north from Baie-Comeau through the Côte-Nord region.
Only 300 km (186 miles) of this road is paved, in two sections, with the remainder being gravel. Driving time is approximately 8 hours.
CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD Quebec’s highway map, Côte-Nord region (PDF format).
VISIT QUEBEC 511 for further highway information.
Driving Times & Distances
VISIT COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY DISTANCE FINDER for approximate driving times and distances. An essential tool on your NL road trip.
Equally important, NL’s climate, topography, and natural habitat offers a unique set of driving conditions.
DOWNLOAD our DRIVING SAFETY IN NL guide (PDF format).
VISIT TRANSPORTATION AND WORKS for further information on vehicle and highway safety and current road conditions.
Marine & Ferry
Getting to NL is definitely an adventure in itself and what better way to begin your journey than an ocean cruise.
Accordingly, our region maintains excellent service delivery and offers numerous marine options to explore our exquisite coastal communities.
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 km (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 Government of NL maintains a fleet of 13 ferries and coastal boats (automobile, passenger, and freight). They operate on year-round and seasonal schedules that take you to and from our coastal communities.
VISIT TRANSPORTATION AND WORKS for schedules and rates.
CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD our convenient ‘Newfoundland Ferry Routes & Commuting Times’ map (PDF format).
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, a three minute drive to the Labrador border).
VISIT LABRADOR MARINE for bookings, schedules, and rates.
Reservations not required but highly recommended.
Ferry service in Labrador, provided by Nunatsiavut Marine, operates each year 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 a variety of hot and cold dishes, including local cuisine whenever possible. A snack bar is also provided.
Accommodations include economy cabins, standard cabins, deluxe cabins, economy by berth (shared accommodations) consisting of male and female quarters and a cabin for passengers with disabilities.
While at sea, network communication problems can occur that affect the ability to use debit and credit cards. We recommend passengers carry some cash with them.
VISIT NUNATSIAVUT MARINE for bookings, schedules, and rates.
CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD our informative ‘Labrador Ferry Routes & Commuting Times’ map (PDF format).
Climate & Weather
When it comes to NL weather, you won’t ever be stuck for conversation and we love talking about it.
NL’s climate can be attributed to our ocean proximity, particularly the extensive area of cold water and seasonal ice offshore including:
(i) the cool Labrador Current system;
(ii) the distinctly warmer Gulf Stream;
(iii) the North Atlantic Drift system 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.
Newfoundland has a maritime climate that is moderate (minimal temperature fluctuations) and is characterized by four distinct seasons.
Overall, summers range from cool to hot with an average temperature of 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) while winters are mild with average temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
So 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’ climate is more arctic than maritime.
As a result, it has cold winters with typical daytime temperatures for January between -10 and -15 Celsius (14 and 5 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.
On a regional basis, the Labrador 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. At times the region experiences extremes of temperature during offshore wind directions during both summer and winter.
Northern Labrador, north of Nain, has a tundra climate. Summers are short 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.
Finally…Before You Leave
- For tons of great planning tips and suggestions, DOWNLOAD our TRAVEL PRIORITIES CHECK-LIST (PDF format).
- Thinking of camping in NL, DOWNLOAD our practical CAMPING CHECK-LIST (Excel format).
- Are you a prudent traveler? DOWNLOAD our TRAVEL BUDGET to track your holiday expenses (Excel format).