Tour Guide to Historic Signal Hill and Cabot Tower of Canada

Much of Newfoundland’s history can be learned by visiting Signal Hill and the Cabot Tower, and this is one visit you won’t want to miss.

Signal Hill, which dominates the skyline and overlooks the narrow entrance to St. John’s Harbour, played an important role in the development of defense and telecommunications in the region, while shaping Newfoundland’s international reputation.

The Signal Hill Visitor Center offers interactive exhibits about Newfoundland’s heritage. In 1762, the last North American war was fought here and Britain’s triumph ended France’s resurgent ambitions to dominate eastern North America.

Getting There

By plane

  • Nearest airport – St. John’s International Airport; 23.3 km

By ferry

  • North Sydney to Port aux Basques takes approximately 6 hours.
  • Visitors would still have a 10-hour journey to St. John’s after arriving in Port aux Basques.

By the road

  • Once in St. John’s, drive east on Empire Highway, Duckworth Highway or Water Avenue to Signal Hill Lane.
  • Continue straight on Signal Hill Road to the Visitor Center about halfway up the hill.

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What to do there


Hiking in Burma

  • Total distance: 2.4km
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty level: Easy enough
  • The road was built by American troops to connect its naval artillery to Fort Pepperell during World War II.
  • There were also a few bunkers to house the troops.
  • Hikers will come to a crossroads where the Ladies Lookout Trail meets the Burma Road Trail approximately one kilometer along the Burma Road Trek.
  • From here, hikers have the option of continuing to Cuckold’s Cove or branching off onto the Ladies Lookout Track and climbing to the top of Signal Hill.

Lady’s Lookout Hike

  • Total distance: 1.3km
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty level: Moderately difficult
  • The trail is believed to be named after where women in St. John’s used to look across the water to wait for their husbands to return from the sea over the years.
  • The route is classified as difficult because it is rugged in places and has an irregular and rough slope.
  • There are also a few stairwells to help hikers climb the more difficult peaks.
  • The longest of these stairs has 88 steps.
  • Although this walk can be challenging at times, the stunning views of the shoreline, the town of Quidi Vidi and St. John’s make it worth it.

Explore Cabot Tower

  • The Cabot Tower is an excellent representation of late Gothic restoration architecture.
  • Its rugged and durable exterior is aided by its deeply integrated architecture, outline, additional components and the approach in which they are handled and combined.
  • It was built to commemorate John Cabot’s 1497 expedition to North America as well as Queen Victoria’s 60th term.
  • Cabot Tower, perched atop Signal Hill, lends the region’s unique identity within its stunning natural surroundings.
  • Many people regard it as more than a regional landmark; it is considered a Newfoundland lighthouse.
  • The architectural importance of the structure, with a view of the city center and the sea, makes it completely visible and unmistakable.
  • The tower motif has become a regional icon, appearing in advertisements, diaries, postcards, brooches, novels and tourist brochures.

Take a guided tour

  • Visitors are greeted in the town of Quidi Vidi by an instructor disguised as a lieutenant of the 40th Infantry Afoot circa 1762.
  • From the highest elevation on the mountain, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views while learning about the site’s long brewing tradition.
  • Visitors will be able to speak with the specialists of the craft brewery Quidi Vidi, who will draw comparisons between contemporary and traditional beers.
  • At the region’s oldest craft brewery, visitors can end their trip with a taste of their finest beers and a fish and chips platter.

Visit the Signal Hill Tattoo

  • The tattoo represents the Royal Newfoundland Infantry military unit, the Royal Army Band and the Royal Battalion.
  • The troops, dressed in historic military gear, performed a show for each area, depicting the training and warfare strategies of the time.
  • The gunners put on a gunfire show to complete the show.

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Where to eat

Bellissimo Bistro and Espresso Bar

  • The Bellissimo family takes great pleasure in bringing the true taste of Italy to Newfoundland.
  • In a charming European-style atmosphere, they offer a wide selection of Italian dishes as well as specialties influenced by Calabrian traditions.
  • Bellissimo is a neighborhood cafe in a historic neighborhood with a select team dedicated to serving every customer.
  • Address: 123 Quidi Vidi Road, St. John’s, NL A1A 1C3, Canada

Zachary Restaurant

  • Zachary’s has been renowned for its delicious home-cooked meals since it opened in 1990.
  • Visitors can choose from a selection that includes conventional American dishes as well as a variety of delicious Greek specialties.
  • They passionately use their spices, dressings and flavors to complement the high quality cuisine they continue to prepare to order.
  • Address: 71 Duckworth Street, St. John’s, NL A1C 3K2, Canada

The little Sparo

  • At The Little Sparo, every dish is created with delicate and dedicated attention, from fresh homemade bread to artisan spaghetti.
  • Visitors can enjoy the comfort of Italian cuisine at the newly rebuilt open-air restaurant, which offers stunning views of St. John’s Harbor stretching out to the Gorge.
  • Address: 2 Hill O’Chips, St. John’s, NL A1C 6B1, Canada

Seto Kitchen + Bar

  • Seto Kitchen + Bar is a charming Victorian column house in downtown St. John’s with a focus on serving innovative and authentic cuisine.
  • Their modern Canadian recipes are influenced by Asian cuisine and prepared with sustainable regional resources.
  • In addition to the meal menu, the bistro offers a variety of periodic drinks as well as a varied selection of imported and local beers.
  • Address: 281 Duckworth Street, St. John’s, NL A1C 1G9, Canada

Signal Hill symbolizes Newfoundland’s heritage while providing tourists with a place to experience and speculate on the breathtaking scenery of the Atlantic Ocean, night sky and rugged coastline. It is a fantastic experience for anyone traveling to Newfoundland.

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