Located in East-Central Canada, Quebec is both cosmopolitan and diverse, and there are plenty of exciting activities and destinations that are suitable for families, couples or groups of friends. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventure or big city lights, our Quebec holidays have it all. The official language of Quebec is French, though in most urban centers you will find plenty of English speaking people as well. Its people are as warm, vibrant and embracing as they are distinct in their culture. Its major cities (Montreal, and the provincial capital, Quebec City) reflect a European sensibility both in style and atmosphere. The far north is pristine and wild. Sparsely populated, it is mostly inhabited by Aboriginal peoples, although there are many wilderness lodges catering to those interested in canoeing, fishing and hunting activities. Travelers to Quebec can enjoy the best of both worlds: dynamic urban cities with excellent shopping, dining and world-class entertainment, as well as the many fun and unique activities that are reflective of French Canadian heritage and Colonial Canadian history, not to mention world-renowned destinations for skiing, boating, and camping.
Things to do
Quebec is a playground of diversity, offering a little something for everyone. Depending on the season, one can enjoy the province’s heritage through theatre and fine arts, sporting events such as NHL hockey and CFL (Canadian) football, leisure pastimes such as skiing and skating in the winter months, and myriad seasonal destinations designed to highlight its natural wonders. Urban centers offer world-class shopping, fine dining and five-star accommodation, while wilderness and adventure seekers can find plenty to marvel at with the abundance of fishing, canoeing and hunting activities in northern boreal areas of the Canadian Shield.
Enjoy some of Quebec’s most popular destinations:
Montreal is one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, and a popular destination for lovers of art and fine dining. Its city streets are perfect for strolling while you shop, with specialty vendors ranging from tiny artisan boutiques to exclusive high-end retail and aboriginal folk art. During the summer months, there are many festivals and street fairs, and gastronomes will find some of the world’s finest dining here, many with award-winning wine lists and global recognition. The best way to get around Montreal is to do as the locals do: rent a Bixy Bike! These handy bicycles are everywhere, and you can take them from one location and drop them off at another, as needed.
The city of Old Quebec has been described as ‘the most European city in Canada.’ A UNESCO World Heritage Treasure, is it the only ‘walled city’ north of Mexico. Stay at the historic Chateau Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel, and enjoy centuries-old architecture as you are taxied through the cobblestoned streets in a horse-drawn carriage. Stroll open-air art galleries in the summer months, and cozy up at the Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) in the deepest winter. The ‘Quebecois’ embrace the winter chill in late January and February with their annual Winter Carnival, where you can enjoy dog sledding, parades, pancake breakfasts, maple taffy made by pouring delectable Maple Syrup directly on the frozen snow, and marvel at some of the world’s largest ice and snow sculptures. For those who are so inclined, the nightlife offers endless activities, and there is always plenty for families to do and see at all times of the year, while honeymooning couples will find romance at every turn.
Mont Tremblant is a top ski and resort destination, located one and one half hours outside of Montreal, and less than two hours from Ottawa, Ontario. Offering an incredibly diverse range of winter sports, you don’t have to be a skier to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the Laurentian Mountains, while being pampered at one of several world-class spas. Their year-round resorts offer scenic vistas as well as plenty of summer activities such as canoeing and kayaking, white water rafting, zip-lining and fishing at Lake Tremblant.
When visiting the province of Quebec for the first time, it is helpful to know what are considered to be the “must see” and “must do” activities and destinations. Here are some of our top tips, designed to help you plan your trip:
- Montreal Restaurants: some of the world’s top chefs make Montreal their home, but there is something for every budget here. From their signature street food, “Poutine” which is a gooey mess combining French Fries, fresh cheese curd and topped with gravy, to the world-renowned cuisine at Au Pied de Cochon, one needs only to take a stroll down Rue St. Laurent to sample everything from traditional French cuisine to fresh Quebec cheeses and everything in between.
- Old Montreal: A small district in the downtown core, Old Montreal features cobblestoned walking streets, street performers and plenty of artisans, bistros, galleries and boutiques. It has a very European feel here, and there are several places to people-watch as you soak up the street culture.
- Go hiking: Quebec has several peaks and more than six thousand kilometers of trails to explore, and depending what season it is when you decide to visit, you could hike, cross country ski or snowshoe in any part of the province.
- Wine, Cider and Cheese: easily accessible from Montreal, the Eastern Townships of Quebec are filled with wineries, cideries and artisan cheese makers. Some of Canada’s top cheeses come from Quebec, and the range of flavors and styles are diverse enough that you will never get bored! One of Quebec’s most iconic cider products is Ice Cider, a sweet nectar made from pressing and distilling apples which have been frozen on the trees; the apple-based counterpart to Ice Wine, it is something you will rarely experience outside of the province. As for wine, Quebecers are very proud of their wine traditions, although it is admittedly not quite up to the quality of many European regions, focusing more on hybrid varieties which are more easily ripened in their cold climes, fortified and fruit wines. Still, the beauty of the vineyards and the passion of the winemakers are always heart-warming, and there are plenty of hidden gems to discover.
- Quebec City: The ancient walled city of Quebec is filled with historic charm. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Treasure, it is the only walled city in North America. Explore the almost five kilometers of fortifications, with its several gates. Take in the magnificent Plains of Abraham, the scene of the 1759 battle between generals Wolfe and Montcalm, now a beautiful urban park where you can enjoy walking, cycling and picnics in the summer, cross country skiing in the winter, and celebrate Quebec’s national holiday every June 24th. Walk in the footsteps of Canada’s first settlers. The Petit Champlain district is the oldest neighborhood in North America, and is magical at any time of year, with many boutiques and bistros to invite you as you stroll. The district, which includes Place Royal, dates back to 1608, where Samuel de Champlain founded his first ‘abitation’. Tour the historic Hotel Frontenac, and experience sweeping views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. In the winter, Quebec comes alive with activity during the annual Winter Carnival. You can experience Dog Sled races and rides, as well as horse-drawn sleigh rides, tobogganing, parades during the day and fireworks at night, with plenty of action for all ages.
- Ile de Orleans is a pastoral island in the St. Lawrence, accessible from by bridge from Quebec City. It is an agricultural region renowned for its strawberries, its occupation dating to the 1700’s. With a rich history of boat-building and shipyards, there are several towns and villages to visit which feature manor architecture and stone dwellings that date to the seventeenth century. With plenty of cozy inns and Bed and Breakfast accommodations, it’s easy to stay and enjoy the peace and quiet, but before you leave, be sure to sample the famous blackcurrant liqueur that is made here, as well as the many ciders, terrines, confits and other local delicacies.
- Hotel de Glace: Quebec’s Ice Hotel is one of only a handful of accommodations of this type in the world, its structure constructed entirely out of ice and re-built from scratch every winter. The hotel offers many activities including an Ice Bar and Discotheque, ice slides for the children, ice sculpture exhibits, and luxury rooms, fully equipped for you to sleep like a bear nestled between fur and down blankets, and all this at minus temperatures!