Saint John, New Brunswick Travel Guide

Canada  #15 in Best Family Vacations in Canada
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Why Go To Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick may not give the best first impression: The city's skyline is dominated by shipping terminals and oil tanks, while decades of industrialization have left behind a somewhat gritty appearance. But don't be too quick to dismiss New Brunswick's largest city. Beyond the factories lies a vibrant downtown area where remnants of the Victorian era enhance the scenery. History lives on in the heart of Saint John with sites like the Loyalist House, which pays tribute to the city's former allegiance to the British. You can still feel Great Britain's presence by grabbing a stool and a stout at one of the city's many Irish pubs, a cultural marker set by the many Irish immigrants who made their home here in the mid-1800s.

But perhaps the primary reason to visit Saint John is its access to the Bay of Fundy. This large inlet separating New Brunswick from Nova Scotia is an ideal backdrop for outdoor excursions. You can get a feel for Fundy's powerful tides in the heart of Saint John with a visit to Reversing Falls. But to truly experience the bay's beauty, head out of town to one of New Brunswick's natural parks where Fundy views beckon to hikers. Just keep your eyes peeled: You're bound to catch a glimpse of a whale or two.

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The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Saint John, New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Saint John are April to May and September to October. These shoulder seasons offer mild weather, a colorful landscape (with blooming flowers and changing leaves) and low room rates. Summer is by far the most popular time to visit Saint John thanks to its warmer temperatures and abundant festivals, but heavy crowds can turn the exploration of the rather small downtown area into a test of patience. You'll have the city all to yourself if you visit during the wintertime, but icy sea breezes will keep you confined to the underground passageways and overhead walkways of The Inside Connection.

Weather in Saint John, New Brunswick

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
30.4
16.5
29.3
15.3
34.2
20.8
41.4
28.4
51.3
34.7
60.6
42.6
68.5
50.9
67.8
52
60.6
45.9
50.9
37.9
42.6
30.7
34.2
22.1
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
5.91
4.93
5.15
4.8
3.97
4.01
3.52
4.26
5.15
6.37
5.67
5.86
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Saint John, New Brunswick

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • It's Saint John, not St. John's The city name is never abbreviated. Make this spelling error when making travel plans, and you could find yourself with a flight to St. John's, Newfoundland.
  • Parlez-vous français? New Brunswick has two official languages. You can expect to see and hear some French, but English speakers won't have to worry about facing a language barrier.
  • Get out of town Saint John does boast a fair number of cultural sites and shopping districts, but you'll be missing out if you don't set aside some time to visit New Brunswick's nearby natural parks, like Irving Natural Park.

How to Save Money in Saint John, New Brunswick

  • Visit during the winter Chilly temperatures between November and February drive tourists out and hotel rates down. And The Inside Connection (Saint John's indoor walkway system) allows you to get around without setting foot outside.
  • Park on the side streets If you have a car in Saint John, you can save money on parking by avoiding the metered spaces along the main drags. Many of the smaller side streets offer free parking.
  • Stay on Manawagonish Road This strip of affordable hotels is just a 10-minute drive from downtown Saint John and offers both affordable rates and excellent views of the Bay of Fundy.

Getting Around Saint John, New Brunswick

The best ways to get around Saint John are on foot and by car. Many of the city's most popular attractions can be found within its concentrated downtown and are within walking distance of one another. But if you are planning to visit sites outside of the city proper -- like Fundy National Park -- you will need your own set of wheels. You can find major rental agencies in town and at the Saint John Airport (YSJ), which is located about 10 miles northeast of town. If you don't want to spend money on a rental car, you can rely on the city's bus system to get around.

Entry & Exit Requirements

Whether you're traveling by land, air or sea, a passport is required for citizens of the United States to travel to Canada and to re-enter the country. You must produce a passport, passport card or NEXUS card (which allows expedited border crossings for both private and commercial travelers through Canadian and U.S. border controls). For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website.

Photos

Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John, New Brunswick
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Recent travelers strongly recommend a jet boat tour of the Reversing Falls to experience the unique tidal currents.

Courtesy of Tourism New Brunswick

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