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Getting There 

St. John's is located about 136km (85 miles, or an hour and a half's drive) from the seasonal car ferry at Argentia. If you're coming from the other end of the province, it's about 900km (560 miles) -- perhaps 10 hours of driving, not including stops -- from the year-round car ferry at Port aux Basques.

St. John's International Airport (tel. 866/758-8581 or 709/758-8500; www.stjohnsairport.com) receives flights from Halifax, Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, and elsewhere in Canada, as well as internationally. The airport is 4 miles from downtown; taxis from the airport to downtown hotels cost from C$23 to C$28

Visitor Information 

The city's tourist office (tel. 709/576-8106) is located at 348 Water St., and is open year-round (daily 9am-5pm in summer, weekdays only 9am-4:30pm the rest of the year). The city produces a free, informative, and comprehensive pocket-size brochure detailing walking and driving tours of the metro area; it's an outstanding resource for planning and executing your visit to the city. Ask for it at the tourist office. The city's tourism website is at www.stjohns.ca.

There's also a good provincial visitor information desk (tel. 709/758-8515 or 758-8757) at the city airport, which remains open year-round -- one of only two such provincial VICs in the entire province that do so.

Getting Around 

The Metrobus (www.metrobus.com) system serves much of the city. Fares are C$2.25 for a single trip (C$1.75 for children 3 and over). Route information is available at the visitor information center or by calling the system's "Ride Guide" at tel. 709/722-9400.

Taxis are plentiful around St. John's; they charge an initial fee of C$3.25, plus about C$2 per additional mile. You can usually tour the city by taxi for around C$30 per hour.

Exploring

Parking is rarely a problem in downtown St. John's, so long as you remember to bring plenty of loonies and quarters to feed the parking meters. Once you park, you can continue easily by foot; the downtown area is quite compact. St. John's drivers seem to be especially respectful of pedestrians, too -- a nice bonus. If you so much as take a step off the curb (or even wrinkle your brow to think about it), drivers might all come to a halt and wave you across. My advice? Bring a good pair of walking shoes to St. John's, and plan to use them a lot.

Orientation 

St. John's is built on the side of a steep hill. The downtown is oriented along three relatively level streets -- Harbour, Water, and Duckworth -- that run parallel to water's edge, one above the other. Duckworth and Water streets contain the bulk of the shops and restaurants. Cross streets linking these main drags run the gamut from moderately challenging inclines to clutch-smoking vertical hills.

Outside its central downtown, St. John's is an amalgam of confusing roads that run at peculiar angles to one another and suddenly change names on a whim. You can try to navigate with a map, but it's just as easy to orient yourself by some landmark -- such as Signal Hill -- and then point your car in the general direction you want to go. The city's small enough that you shouldn't ever get too lost, and you'll eventually end up on the main ring road (which also goes by various names, including Columbus Drive, Confederation Parkway, and Prince Philip Drive).

Special Events 

The great annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival began in 1976 and is well worth a visit. This 3-day shindig, usually held during the first full weekend in August, brings in performers from all over the province to play in Bannerman Park downtown. (Bring a lawn chair.) Even after all these years, tickets are still quite affordable: Figure about C$12 per adult (less for seniors and children) for an afternoon pass or evening pass allowing you access to the entire slate of performers, or around C$50 for an all-weekend pass. That's a bargain, folkies.

Contact the festival organizers at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Council (tel. 866/576-8508 or 709/576-8508; www.nlfolk.com) for schedules and information about how to purchase tickets.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.