Insider Travel Guide: Incredible Getaways in Quebec
Known as “la belle province” (the beautiful province) to its locals, Quebec is Canada’s largest province and home to more than 8.2 million people.
Founded in 1608, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America, and it boasts a historic district (Old Quebec) that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This district, encircled by stone walls, is famous for its well-preserved 17th and 18th-century architecture. Not to mention the iconic Château Frontenac, which holds the title as the most photographed hotel in the world.
Quebec is home to a rich blend of history, culture, language, and gastronomy that you would be seriously hard-pressed to find anywhere else. It’s the only predominantly French-speaking province in Canada, offering a unique blend of North American dynamism and European charm. It’s a place where you could get lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets one minute, then explore breathtaking natural landscapes the next.
If you are looking for an immersive cultural experience, Quebec is your destination! After very recently experiencing this incredible city for myself, let me share with you all of the best things to do in Quebec, as well as the most amazing food you can try here, alongside my insider tips and more!
What to Expect in Quebec
Language: The multicultural fabric of Quebec brings together a multitude of languages, cultures, and cuisines, making every exploration a joy of discovery! Although French is the native language of most people here, we found that lots of people also speak English.
Currency: Canadian dollars. Also, remember tipping is expected here when it comes to restaurants and service!
When should you visit Quebec?
No matter the season, Quebec’s charm is ever-present, making it a fantastic destination year-round.
In Winter, Quebec embraces a true Winter wonderland, as snow blankets the landscape, creating a picturesque scene perfect for Winter activities like skiing and snowboarding. The temperatures can drop significantly though (between -10°C to -20°C), so bundle up!
As Spring arrives, the city bursts with new life as flowers bloom and temperatures gradually rise (ranging between 0°C to 15°C). It’s a delightful time to explore the city’s parks and gardens.
Summer brings warmth and sunshine, with temperatures ranging between 20°C to 30°C, making this time of year perfect for outdoor adventures. Enjoy festivals, street performances, and leisurely strolls along the bustling streets all season.
Fall graces Quebec with a stunning display of vibrant autumn foliage, creating a breathtaking backdrop for hiking and scenic drives. As temperatures cool between 5°C to 15°C, embrace the cozy atmosphere and savour the seasonal flavours of apple picking and pumpkin spice.
Where and What to Eat on Your Quebec Getaway
From delightful comfort foods to sweet Canadian nectar (maple syrup), Quebec’s culinary scene is a gastronomic expedition waiting for you to explore. Here are the very best things to eat in Quebec:
- Poutine (French fries with cheese curds). This is probably the number 1 most famous food in Quebec! It’s basically French-Canadian comfort food, consisting of thickly cut potato chips drizzled in gravy and covered in cheese curds. While it is neither healthy nor aesthetically pleasing, it is totally delicious! You’ll find this dish just about everywhere in Quebec City, from takeaways to upmarket restaurants. Often times, you’ll also find variations of poutine that incorporate extra toppings like smoked meat and streaky bacon. We got our fix of this at La Buche, which is an extremely popular restaurant in the old town that serves a great range of classical dishes, often with a little twist.
- Soupe aux pois (pea soup). Not to be underestimated, this classic dish was possibly the tastiest food I tried in Quebec. Top tip: Add maple syrup and you’ll be in foodie heaven… Just trust me it somehow really works! I tried it at Érablière du Lac-Beauport and although we’ve only just left Canada I would honestly go back just for this dish (seriously!)
- Viande fumée (smoked meat). This is a corn beef-style smoked meat usually eaten in sandwiches, which has been a gastronomic institution in the region for nearly 100 years.
- Fèves au lard (baked beans). If you’re looking for the best breakfast in Quebec, try Fèves au lard, which is a fat-infused baked bean dish covered in sweet maple syrup. Originally intended to fuel early lumberjacks and hunters with energy for a long day of labour, nowadays, it’s a popular dish among all manner of Quebecois people. You’ll find it on the menu at most Canadian restaurants.
- Tourtière (Quebecois meat pie). A minced meat pie packed full of beef mince or spiced pork, wrapped with flaky pastry. Some chefs add vegetables like diced potatoes and onions, plus spices. For lots of Quebecois families, Tourtière forms part of their traditional Christmas celebrations, but it’s super delicious so it can be found on the menu all year round.
- French-Canadian crêpes. A local rendition of the classic French crêpe, which is stuffed with savoury or sweet toppings. This version is notably thicker, with crispier edges than the European version. It’s so good I had 6 in one sitting (with lashings of maple syrup!) It’s an absolute must-try in Quebec. You can get your fix at Érablière du Lac-Beauport.
- Pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding). A maple syrup-infused cake served all around Quebec City. Although the name translates to “poor man’s pudding,” it’s a sweet treat popular among every socio-economic level! The odd moniker came about during the Great Depression when its inexpensive ingredients were all that most families could afford. I had this for dessert at La Buche, but they also offer a savoury version.
- Tire sur la neige (maple taffy). This is the most Quebecois thing imaginable. It’s made by pouring boiling maple syrup onto a fresh bed of snow. The cold shock instantly stops the syrup from cooking, forcing it to thicken into a hard, chewable taffy. The entire process only takes a few seconds and is very cool to watch and the taffy itself is to die for! It’s on the menu all year round at Érablière du Lac-Beauport.
- Tarte au sucre (sugar pie). A traditional French-style pie with heaps of maple syrup. Some patisseries also add in whipped cream for a fuller, creamier flavour. Canadian comfort food doesn’t get much better than this. I tried it at Aux Anciens Canadiens, which is the oldest house in the City and probably the quaintest restaurant you’ll find in Quebec, serving all the classics.
Alternative Food Options in Quebec:
Best International Cuisine in Quebec City: If traditional Canadian food doesn’t appeal then you might want to check out La Signature, which is a gorgeous restaurant that does a mix of French, International and Canadian Cuisine.
Best Sushi in Quebec City: Alternatively, if you’re looking for some super healthy and delicious sushi, head to Masaru Sushi, which is voted the best Sushi in Quebec City for good reason! They also offer vegan options.
The Ultimate Canadian Foodie Experience:
Visit a Sugar Shack!
If there’s one thing you absolutely have to do in Quebec, it’s going to a sugar shack or as they say in Quebec, a “cabane à sucre”! These are special venues, usually found in the rural regions of Quebec, where sap from the sugar maple is collected and boiled into maple syrup.
This is one of the coolest things to do in Quebec because it offers a real taste of Quebec’s culture and tradition, seamlessly blending history, a culinary adventure, and just the pure joy of being part of a shared tradition. And let’s not forget the beautiful landscapes that serve as the backdrop for this amazing experience.
A stroll through the tranquil maple forests is an incredible counterpoint to the communal revelry of the sugar shack. As Quebecois would say, “C’est si bon!” (It’s so good!)
When can you visit a sugar shack? Sugar shack season coincides with the thawing of the land as we move from Winter into Spring, typically from late February to late April. It’s during this time when the sap in the sugar maple trees starts to flow, and the conditions are just right to harvest and transform this liquid gold into various maple products. But remember, the exact timing can change from year to year depending on the weather, so always check ahead!
Some of the top seasonal sugar shacks in Quebec include Sucrerie de la Montagne and Érablière du Cap. Thankfully there are also amazing sugar shacks that are open all year round, like Érablière du Lac-Beauport, which is where we went in June. You can pick up amazing maple souvenirs here and I just couldn’t help myself! ⁀➷
Once you step into a Quebecois sugar shack, you’ll be hit with the tantalising aroma of syrup mingling with home-style, comfort foods. A visit isn’t just about the food though. It’s about embracing the warm, festive spirit that is integral to Quebec culture.
After the meal, during sugar shack season, you’ll usually be able to participate in activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides, folk dancing, and of course, tours of the sugar bush to see the tapping of the trees and the boiling process that transforms sap into syrup.
Luckily we got to sample taffy on the snow at Érablière du Lac-Beauport, even though we visited during Summer. So, I highly recommend heading here, especially if you won’t be in Quebec during sugar shack season.
The food we tried was possibly some of the tastiest I have ever had in my life (and no, this is not an ad, the food here was just honestly so incredible I would love for everyone to try it!)
Best Things to do on your Quebec Getaway
If you’re looking for a guide to the must-see sights for your Quebec getaway, you have come to the right place!
From exploring historic cities to immersing yourself in nature, Quebec is full of incredible attractions, which are guaranteed to make your trip to this Canadian jewel nothing short of spectacular.
Here are some of the top things to do on any Quebec getaway:
#1 Château Frontenac: Number 1 Attraction in Quebec
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Quebec is a filled with historic buildings and charming narrow streets that are considered a living museum to Canada’s historic past. This neighbourhood is gorgeous and full of so many things to explore from dawn until dusk. Old Quebec City is not just a place—it’s an experience so be sure to explore the highlights of Old Quebec City while you’re in town.
The best place to start your tour of Old Quebec city is Château Frontenac, which dominates the skyline and is perhaps the most iconic landmark in Quebec.
This grand hotel is a stunning example of Châteauesque architecture and is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. However, the pictures don’t even do it justice! It’s something that truly needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate its scale and splendour.
While you’re here, take a guided tour or simply savour a meal at one of the chateau’s fine restaurants to soak in the historic atmosphere. Plus there’s even a Starbucks inside if that’s all you have time for!
For breathtaking views of the Saint Lawrence River, head to the Dufferin Terrace, located right next to the Château Frontenac. This is the one of the best places to go on your Quebec getaway, especially for getting some Instagram worthy content!
#2 Meander through the Quartier Petit Champlain
Known as the oldest commercial district in North America, the Quartier Petit Champlain is a gorgeous neighbourhood that’s just a short walk downhill from Château Frontenac.
Here, you’ll find stone buildings hosting boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint bistros, offering a taste of European charm and making it truly an unmissable spot to add to your Quebec itinerary.
#3 Citadelle de Québec
No Quebec getaway would be complete without touring the Citadelle, the largest British fortress in North America. This is an awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece and one of the best things to see in Quebec City.
Here, you can enjoy the Changing of the Guard ceremony and tour the historic Fortifications, which stretch nearly 4.6 kilometres and tell tales of Old Quebec’ City’s military past. Walking along them offers breathtaking views of the city, the St. Lawrence River, and the surrounding landscapes.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking panoramic views of the city, the Citadelle is an absolute must-visit and a memorable highlight of any trip to Quebec.
#4 Do a Free Tour of the Parliament Building
Home to Quebec’s National Assembly, the Parliament Building is a stunning example of Second Empire architecture. It’s located located in the Upper Town, just outside the fortifications.
Free guided tours offer insights into Quebec’s political history and a close look at its beautiful art and architecture.
#5 Experience Place Royale
Step onto the historic ground where Quebec City was born in 1608 at Place Royale. This picturesque square, with the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church at its heart, is a testament to the city’s rich heritage.
Arriving into this square feels like stepping back in time, as it beautifully preserves the atmosphere of the city’s early days. The cobblestone streets and traditional buildings immerse you in the historic charm of the city, making Place Royal an absolute must-see on your Quebec getaway.
#6 Marvel at Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (MNBAQ)
Art lovers shouldn’t miss the MNBAQ located on the Plains of Abraham, in Quebec City. It hosts an unparalleled collection of Quebec art, from the earliest days of the province’s history to contemporary times, through a collection containing over 42,000 pieces!
Additionally, MNBAQ boasts the largest collection of art books in Québec, a delightful restaurant, as well as some of the best city views from the patio.
Monday – Tuesday: 10am – 6pm.
Wednesday: 10am – 9pm.
Thursday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm.
#7 See the Breathtaking Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
The Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral is a truly magnificent architectural gem that captivates everyone with its grandeur and beauty.
The intricate craftsmanship, stunning stained glass windows, and ornate details make it a must-visit destination on your Quebec getaway.
Stepping inside the basilica evokes a sense of reverence and awe as you witness the harmonious blend of Gothic and neoclassical styles.
#8 Experience the Best of Nature’s Wonderland:
Beyond the cities, Quebec is a nature lover’s dream. It’s home to more than a million lakes and rivers, making it an ideal destination for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and more!
Waterfalls in Quebec
Montmorency Falls is a true gem in Quebec’s natural landscape and only 15 minutes from Old Town Quebec.
This towering waterfall stands 30 meters higher than the famous Niagara Falls, making it a must-see landmark on any Quebec getaway, especially for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Whether you choose to climb the panoramic staircase, take a cable car ride, or cross the suspension bridge for a bird’s-eye view, Montmorency Falls promises unforgettable experiences and should absolutely be on your itinerary for Quebec!
If you fancy venturing a few hours away from the city, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean is a majestic blue kingdom of waterways well worth exploring.
It’s also the location of the Saguenay Fjord, which is one of the world’s longest fjords and one of the most beautiful sights for your Quebec getaway.
National Parks in Quebec
Don’t forget about the stunning wilderness areas either, like the Gaspésie National Park, famous for its high peaks and caribou, or the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve with its unique limestone monoliths jutting out of the sea.
Just north of Ottawa, Parc Omega lets you discover Canada’s wildlife up close. Here you can encounter animals such as wolves, bears, beavers, and moose in their natural habitat while driving through the park or taking a walking trail. This is one of the most amazing things to do in Quebec, especially for animal lovers.
Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or simply enjoy stunning landscapes, Mont-Tremblant is the place to be on your Quebec getaway.
It’s in the heart of the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, which is around 3 hours from the city.
Here you can Ski or snowboard down its renowned slopes in Winter, or hike, bike, and zip-line in the Summer. Don’t forget the gondola ride for spectacular views!
#10 Music Festivals in Quebec
Quebec isn’t just a history lover’s paradise; it’s also a hotbed for entertainment. Believe it or not, Quebec is actually known as the land of festivals, with over 400 celebrations taking place throughout the year!
For instance, the Quebec Winter Carnival, held annually since 1894, is the world’s largest Winter carnival, featuring snow sculptures, ice canoe races, and the beloved carnival mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval.
If you’re planning a Quebec Getaway in the Summer you may be pleased to know that the streets come alive with music during the Quebec City Summer Festival (known as the Festival d’été de Québec). This is Canada’s largest outdoor music event, spanning 11 days and featuring performances from artists around the globe.
Where to Stay in Quebec
In terms of where to stay on your Quebec getaway, my personal recommendation is B&B La Marquise de Bassano.
We stayed at this charming B&B, which is right in the middle of Quebec city – just 200m from Chateau Frontenac and 400 m from Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec!
This is the ideal Quebec base to explore the city and it offers incredible value for money (about CAD 300 per night, which is cheap for Quebec).
But if this Quebec accommodation doesn’t appeal, there are different options to suit literally everyones budget in the city. You can find the best deals using Hotellook ⁀➷
Fancy a Day Trip from Quebec? Visit Multicultural Montreal!
Montreal is the largest city in Canada’s Québec province and a truly magical place that’s full of old-world charm and contemporary dynamism.
After recently spending a few days here myself, I would describe Montreal as a vibrant blend of European flair and North American spirit, making it a truly unique travel destination you absolutely won’t want to miss!
It is possible to do a day trip to Montreal from Quebec, where you could squeeze in some of the key highlights.
However, since it takes a few hours to get to Montreal from Quebec, and there’s so many unmissable gems, I highly recommend staying in Montreal for at least 1-2 nights.
Read Next ⁀➷
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an outdoors enthusiast, or a music lover, Quebec has something amazing for you in store. Even with its unique cultural identity, Quebec embodies a sense of inclusivity and openness that will make you feel right at home. And who knows? By the end of your trip, you might find yourself tossing a “merci” or “bonjour” into everyday conversations. So, pack your bags and let Quebec’s irresistible charm lead the way!
I hope my Quebec Getaway Guide was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below! 🥰
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