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Newfoundland Viking Trail Road Trip: How To Plan A Drive Through History On Newfoundland’s West Coast

Discover whales, icebergs, sea caves, and history along The Newfoundland Viking Trail, one of the most iconic road trips in Canada.

Boy with a viking sword stands on a rocky beach looking through a sea cave on the Newfoundland Viking Trail

Around the year 1,000 CT, long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Vikings, sailing west from Iceland or Greenland came upon the shores of Newfoundland. Their settlement, on what would become Canada’s easternmost province, wouldn’t be uncovered for another thousand years

As new settlements and historic sites are discovered, a pathway back in time is opening up, allowing visitors to step through history and experience the Newfoundland Viking Trail.

I first drove the Newfoundland Viking Trail back in 2017 along with my family and my mother. While we only gave ourselves three days to drive the Viking Trail, the route made such an immense impression on us that Newfoundland has remained one of our favorite travel destinations in Canada.

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What is the Newfoundland Viking Trail?

Two young boys walk along a boardwalk towards a grass covered stone building - Newfoundland Viking Trail

Hugging the winding northern peninsula coast in Western Newfoundland is one of Canada’s most iconic road trips. The Newfoundland Viking Trail offers intrepid explorers the chance to step back in time, from the beginnings of the earth through Indigenous burial grounds to 1,000-year-old Viking settlements all while touring Newfoundland’s glorious west coast.

The Viking Trail in Newfoundland is a 489 km Newfoundland road trip connecting Deer Lake in the south to the town of St. Anthony in the north. Along the journey, travelers pass through the incredible UNESCO World Heritage site such as Gros Morne National Park. This park sits at the very tip of the Appalachian Mountain range. It features glacier-carved valleys, lush wilderness, and some of the world’s most incredible geological formations.

The Newfoundland Viking Trail snakes along the western coast of Newfoundland, offering incredible opportunities for whale-watching along the way as it continues up the coast to the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland where you can visit the remains of an ancient Indigenous village and the famous Viking settlement of l’Anse aux Meadows.

The route concludes at the town of St. Anthony, which sits along Newfoundland’s iconic Iceberg Alley.

While the Viking Trail road trip can be completed in just 5 hours, you’ll definitely want to spend as much time exploring the many scenic communities and historical sites, along with taking in the coastline views and the majestic Gros Morne National Park.

With so many side trips available to visitors, it could turn a 5-hour drive into a weeklong adventure.

How To Plan Your Newfoundland Viking Trail Road Trip

A road trip is the best way to experience Newfoundland’s iconic Viking Trail. The 489 km journey from Deer Lake to St. Anthony is packed with wonderous attractions, majestic landscapes, and billions of years of history.

There is much to see along the way including lighthouses, quaint fishing towns, and epic national parks. Here are a few of the things that you shouldn’t miss along the way.

Gros Morne National Park

Smokestack rocks at Green Gardens in Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland are one of the most amazing places in Canada

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit stop along the Viking Trail for nature lovers, hikers, and anyone seeking an escape into the great outdoors. Not only is Gros Morne Beautiful, but its fascinating geology is among some of the unique and ancient terrain on the planet.

The park is home to soaring mountains, sparkling fjords, ancient forests, and abundant wildlife, including moose, caribou, and black bears. There are numerous hiking trails to explore, ranging from easy strolls along coastal paths to challenging climbs up rugged peaks.

Gros Morne National Park is an epic hiking destination. You can read about our experience hiking the Green Garden Trail here.

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

A white lighthouse with red accents posed on top of a rocky cliff - Newfoundland Viking Trail

Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse is one of the southernmost stops along the Viking Trail road trip. Built in 1887 and standing 12 meters in height, this cast iron lighthouse has guided ships through the dangerous waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Strait of Belle Isle for almost as long as Canada has been a country.

The surrounding area is a popular spot for tourists to take in the beautiful scenery of the Newfoundland coastline. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse for a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.

Along with the lighthouse itself, there is a small museum on site that tells the story of the lighthouse and its role in the history of Newfoundland. The museum includes exhibits on the history of the fishing industry in the area, as well as displays on the local wildlife and ecology.

Lobster Cove Head is also a popular spot for catching beautiful Newfoundland sunsets as well as a great place to watch whales breaching in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Western Brook Pond

The cliffs of Western Brook Pond from the lowlands boardwalk - Newfoundland Viking Trail

One of the most famous natural features in Newfoundland, Western Brook Pond is a landlocked fjord on the edge of Gros Morne National Park.

Carved out thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers and featuring sheer 2,000-foot-tall cliffs, Western Brook Pond is majestic. Tours of Western Brook Pond are done by boat tours that can be boarded at the end of a long boardwalk leading to the fjord.

The Western Brook Pond tour travels the entire 16 km length of the lake and passes past one of Canada’s tallest waterfalls that pours 2,000 feet down the sheer rock face.

The Arches Provincial Park

A double arch looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean at Arches Provincial Park in Newfoundland. It's one of our 12 Unforgettable Canadian Road Trips

Ancient limestone rocks carved by the Atlantic Ocean helped create the incredible arches at The Arches Provincial Park along the Newfoundland Viking Trail.

The Arches Provincial Park is not far from Western Brook Pond. The park has picnic areas and a rocky beach where visitors can walk through the iconic triple-arched rock that borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including seabirds, whales, and seals. Visitors may be able to spot these animals from the park’s viewpoints or while hiking along the coast.

Port Aux Choix National Historic Site

A young boy points a sword at a lighthouse on the coast of Newfoundland - Newfoundland Viking Trail

Port aux Choix National Historic Site in Western Newfoundland offers a fascinating glimpse into Canada’s ancient history. On this site, human habitation dates back 6,000 years. Through the ages of Maritime Archaic Indan, Dorset, and Groswater Paleoeskimo and more recent Indigenous habitation, humans have made camp on the shores of Port aux Choix to live off of the abundant sea life on its coast. The site features newly uncovered burial sites and relics such as spears and harpoons.

In addition to the archaeological sites, Port au Choix National Historic Site is also home to a museum that showcases the history and culture of the area’s early Indigenous peoples. The museum includes exhibits on the various cultures, nations, and communities that have lived in the area over the centuries, as well as displays on the local wildlife and ecology.

Visitors to Port au Choix National Historic Site can also enjoy scenic hiking trails that wind through the rugged coastal landscape. The park offers stunning views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. You may even be able to spot whales and other marine life from the park’s viewpoints.

l’Anse aux Meadows

Two young boys knock on the door of a Viking house in l'Anse aux Meadows - Newfoundland Viking Trail

The discovery of l’Anse aux Meadows in 1960 rocked the current view of American history. Until this ancient village was uncovered, it was believed that John Cabot was the first European to land on continental North America in 1497.

The Viking village of l’Anse aux Meadows, believed to have been settled by Norse explorer Lief Erikkson in 1,000 AD, pushed that date back nearly 500 years.

Discovered in 1960, l’Anse aux Meadows was the first site to offer conclusive proof of European presence on North American soil prior to the infamous Columbus excursions of 1492. The site contains the remains of houses, a boat repair building, and workshops. l’Anse aux Meadow was likely used as an exploration camp by Norsemen from larger settlements along the Gulf of St. Lawrence River and New Brunswick.

A visit to l’Anse aux Meadows isn’t complete without seeing the Interpretive Centre, where you can gain a full understanding of Newfoundland’s Viking Trail history.

St. Anthony

A young boy points off a rocky coast towards a large iceberg - Newfoundland Viking Trail

The Newfoundland Viking Trail comes to a dramatic end in the town of St. Anthony at Newfoundland’s northern tip. St. Anthony deems itself “The Iceberg Capital of the World”.

During the summer season, icebergs, some of them hundreds of feet long, make their way along the coast of the island of Newfoundland as they make their way from the glaciers of Greenland before making their way across the top of the province and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Many of those icebergs stop to visit the town of St. Anthony along the way.

The route has been dubbed “Iceberg Alley” and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year form May till June when the icebergs are at their peak.

Norstead Viking Village

A woman works over a fire in a Viking settlement at Norstead Viking Village in Western Newfoundland
Norstead Viking Village – Photo credit: Go Western Newfoundland and Tom Cochrane Photo

Just past the town of St. Anthony is Norstead Viking Village. This living history museum offers interactive exhibits and demonstrations of Viking crafts and technologies, such as blacksmithing and boat-building. It’s a fantastic stop for all ages that offers a hands-on glimpse of the lives of the Norse explorers who first landed on Canada’s shores.

Best Time For A Viking Trail Roadtrip

The best time for a Newfoundland Viking Trail road trip is during spring, summer, or fall.  Being so far up north, Newfoundland weather is very unpredictable, so if you can time your visit from late June to August, you’ll experience the most comfortable temperatures.

If you’re timing your visit with the annual iceberg migration and want to see them in towns such as St. Anthony and Twillingate, you will want to come between mid-May to mid-June.

Keep in mind that these times will also be the busiest, and finding accommodations, especially in small towns can be a challenge. If you want to avoid the crowds and have the Viking Route to yourself, aim for a trip in September when the summer crowds have dispersed.

Where To Stay Along The Viking Trail In Newfoundland

There are no shortages of accommodations as you vacation through Newfoundlands Viking Trail. There are countless Hotels, Motels, Inns, Cottages, Bed and Breakfasts, and vacation homes sprawled all through this driving trail that fit every traveler’s needs and budget.

Deer Lake

Located at the gateway to the Viking Trail, Deer Lake Motel is a 4-star motel just 30 km from Gros Morne National Park and 2 km from Deer Lake Airport. For the golf fans out there, Humber River Golf Club is just a short 5-minute (3.8 km) drive away.

Rocky Harbour

For many travelers along the Viking Trail, Rocky Harbour is the jumping-off point between Gros Morne National Park and the northern section of the Viking Trail. Out East B&B features guest cottages that include a private kitchen and living room.

Port Aux Choix

Located within easy reach of the Port Aux Choix National Historic Site, A Wave From It All is a quirky and relaxed spot where you’ll immediately feel at home.

Each villa has air conditioning and a flat-screen TV as well as a kitchen, dining room, and private bathroom.

St. Anthony

The small town of Anthony is packed with attractions from wineries to restaurants. At the center of it is the historic Grenfell Heritage Hotel & Suites. Northland Discovery Iceberg & Whale Tours and Grenfell House Museum are both within a 5 minutes walk from this hotel. Fishing Point Municipal Park is 3 km away.

These are just a few examples of the multitude of accommodations that are available to travelers when tackling the Newfoundland Viking Trail. There are no wrong choices, just the choices that fit you best.

Enjoy Your Travels Along The Newfoundland Viking Trail

As a family travel destination, the Newfoundland Viking Trail offers the perfect combination of history, natural beauty, and fascinating culture. It’s a destination that shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking to explore Canada’s east coast.

If you want to join other families who are passionate about family travel, we welcome you to join our Family Travel Support Group on Facebook. This group is made up of families just like yours who have a passion to show their kids the world.

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Martin Negus

Friday 20th of October 2023

We are planning a trip to the area but we understand that l’Anse aux Meadows. is not open until June ( one week after we leave Newfoundland) Is it still worth our while to include St Anthony in our itinerary. We are seniors and while walking is much of a problem it is not our strong suit.

Kevin Wagar

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Hi Martin,

Yes, unfortunately l'Anse aux Meadows is only open from June 1 to October 4. That being said, if you are already on the Western shores of the island, St. Anthony can be a great place to visit. The drive along the Viking Trail is wonderful and St. Anthony is a wonderful stop at the end of it. It's easy to get around, has some scenic shorelines and a visit to the lighthouses and winery in the town make for a nice change of pace from the rest of the route. You can have a look at my St. Anthony guide and see for yourself if the town intrigues you.

Dolores Kirby

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Planning family trip beginning of October. Flying into St John’s, then St Lawrence family connection. How long a drive from there to start of Viking Trail. What weather possibilities

Kevin Wagar

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

The drive from St. Johns to Rocky Harbour is about 7 hours if you go directly across. You can, honestly, expect anything in October. Prepare for chilly nights and warmer days with the possibility of rain, or even a bit of snow if you're visiting in late October.


Thursday 27th of July 2023

Dear Kevin Wagar and the Wandering Wagars, I liked your article on the VIking Trail a lot, particularly reading about the Norstead Viking Village and L'Anse aux Meadows. It would be neat to know where else the Vikings stayed in the coastal US and Canada in real life. It would be helpful if scholars studying Vinland laid out the locations and directions that the 2 main Viking Sagas about Vinland give coordinates for, and then drew maps based on a literal reading of the Sagas. I tried to do so here:

The two Sagas are: The Saga of Eric the Red ( The Saga of the Greenlanders (

Mark Q.

Monday 22nd of May 2023

I’m hoping to travel to Newfoundland this summer and want to see the Viking museum and icebergs. How long does it take to travel from St John’s to the area where the Viking museum is? Are there hotels/motels on route? Do I need to reserve ahead?

Kevin Wagar

Wednesday 31st of May 2023

Hello Mark,

St. Johns and l'Anse aux Meadows are on opposite sides of the island. But you'll be happy to know that it's a beautiful road trip with plenty to see along the way. You're looking at close to 11 hours of driving time between St. John's and St. Anthony. I'd recommend spending the time in between visiting Burnside, Twillingate, South Brooke and Deer Lake. You will find some motels along the way, however it's high season for Twillingate, Burnside, and St. Anthony, so you'll want to make sure that you have reservations ahead of time.


Wednesday 4th of January 2017

We really want to make it to Newfoundland! Great photos that make us want to go even more!