8 Things to Do in Quebec
Featured destinations: East Coast Canada, Quebec City
Published 31 March 2017
Bienvenue à Québec, the French-speaking, poutine-eating, outdoors-loving province found in eastern Canada. Here among the farms, mountains and Arctic tundra, winters are long and icy, and autumns are gloriously golden. Forests are home to moose, wolves and bears, while whales, dolphins and porpoises frolic in the region’s waters. The majority of the population have settled the delightful cities of Québec and Montreal, but venture into the surrounding wilderness to find the true Québécois sense of adventure.
Cruise or kayak the Fjord du Saguenay
Making up almost the entirety of Saguenay Fjord National Park, Saguenay Fjord (or Fjord du Saguenay) is a beautiful spot, its dramatic sides tracing the edges of the Saguenay River, travelling 65 miles to the St Lawrence River. There’s plenty of resident wildlife to spot, including black bears, beavers, lynx and even beluga whales, and plenty of activities to try, including hiking, horseriding, skiing, cruising and kayaking.
Walk the walls of Vieux-Québec
Québec City’s Old Town, known as Vieux-Québec, is a cosy, quaint little place with cobblestone streets and cottage-like buildings, dominated by the fairy-tale castle of Chateau Frontenac, which is actually a hotel. It’s all rather pretty, especially in the snow, and best appreciated with a walk along the fortifications, 2.85 miles of ramparts dotted with centuries-old gates and the occasional cannon. Take your time, admire the views, and perhaps stop at a café or two along the way.
Feast on Poutine
Poutine, a fast-food dish made up of chips topped with brown gravy and cheese curds, originated in Québec. Thought to have been invented in the 1950s when gravy was poured over cheesy chips in an attempt to keep them warm, the dish can be found all over, from swanky high-class restaurants to roadside chippies. Try the classic version or spice it up a bit by adding bacon, smoked meat, sausage, bolognaise, lobster, jerk chicken, cheeseburger….you’ll find it all at the many dedicated poutineries across Québec.
Go whale watching in Tadoussac
Not far from Saguenay Fjord, and so easily combined on a visit to the region, Tadoussac is a delightful village on the shores of the St Lawrence River. Tadoussac is the top whale watching spot in Québec, being home to various whale species, including humpbacks, orcas, blue whales, pilot whales and beluga whales, as well as harbour porpoises. The best time to see them is from May to October, when you can head out to sea on a cruise or in a zodiac or catamaran. Boats are not allowed closer than 400m from the belugas, but luckily these white whales are not aware of the rules and often come up close for a good look.
Try some winter sports
Québec is a haven for winter sports, and we’re not just talking skiing. In the darker months, Québec transforms into a veritable winter wonderland, with dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice climbing and ice fishing all on the agenda. A good place to try a few is Mont Tremblant, one of the province’s best ski resorts, and home to Québec’s longest ski run. For cross-country skiing and snowshoeing head for Mont-Sainte-Anne, blessed with 125 miles of trails.
Hike the Laurentians
If summer’s more your thing, then Québec’s mountains and forests offer plenty of hiking opportunities, ranging from short ambles to epic, multiday treks. For a prime hiking trail, you could do worse than the Laurentians (Les Laurentides), a collection of tree-covered hills and valleys that in winter form part of the Mont Tremblant ski resort. In summer though, a popular 19.3-mile hiking loop is one of the region’s most challenging and beautiful, or for something easier try one of the many short walks in Parc National du Mont-Tremblant. Just keep an eye out for bears.
Climb Mont Royal in Montreal
A 233m-high hill in the heart of Montreal, Mont Royal gave the city its name (Mont Royal = Montreal). To get to the top you have a choice of hiking, biking, driving or taking the bus through Parc du Mont Royal, with the popular walk a gentle stroll taking around 45 minutes. Arrive at the summit and you’ll find a 31.4m cross, which is illuminated at night, a toboggan run, a snow tube, a forest and a bandstand. But the real attraction is the beautiful view that the hill gives of the rooftops of Montreal, with Lac St-Louis in the distance.
Look for Wildlife
Canada is blessed with hugely diverse flora and fauna, with 90 mammals and over 300 bird species found in Québec province alone. No fewer than 13 types of whales frequent the waters around the St Lawrence River, as well as various dolphins and porpoises. If it’s land mammals you’re after then you’re in luck too, as Québec’s dense forests are home to black bears, moose, deer and beavers, as well as smaller creatures such as red squirrels and chipmunks. For Caribou, it’s hard to beat Charlevoix’s Parc national des Grands-Jardins, while black bears are found in the Laurentians and the Station touristique Duchesnay near Québec City. For moose, try the remote Reserve Faunique de Matane, where moose safaris are the order of the day.
Head to Quebec with one of Round the World Experts' East Coast Canada Holidays.