Planning a trip during the winter always seems more challenging than planning summer trips, but it doesn’t have to be. One of my favorite places to visit during the holiday season is Quebec City – its architecture, cafes, restaurants, and overall European feel, all add to the magic of this time of the year, turning Quebec City into a true winter wonderland. If you can’t decide where to go during your winter vacation, here are a few reasons why Quebec City is a great choice; so go ahead, pack your winter jackets and let’s explore!
Places to Stay
One of the keys to a successful trip is finding the right “home” away from home. From castles to icy palaces, Quebec City has it all.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
One of my favorite places to stay, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac looks like a castle straight out of a fairy tale. The breathtaking hotel went through a restoration project that blended its enchanting past with modern innovations, making your stay memorable and inspiring!
This boutique luxury hotel is a landmark 300 years in the making! The family owned hotel located at the heart of Canada’s richest historical district is stylish, comfortable, and overflows with history – including 95 rooms and suites, each with its own history. The hotel also offers unique services for guests, including an archeological tour and a children’s program.
Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel)
About 45 minutes outside of Quebec City is the famous ice hotel. The whole complex is made out of ice and you can even stay in one of its 44 guest rooms with beds made of ice! On-site activities include: a winter playground, spa, games room, indoor waterpark (don’t worry – temperatures here are 30oC, so you won’t freeze to death!), and my favorite… a dog sledding excursion!
Places to Eat
Quebecers love their food, and after trying out a few restaurants, you will know why. There is more on the menu than just poutine and maple syrup…
Bistro Le Sam
The restaurant within Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is nothing short of amazing, starting with the exceptional views of the St. Lawrence River. We started our culinary adventure with one of the restaurant’s famous cocktails. A talented mixologist began by asking us a few questions to get to know our tastes, then crafted a custom cocktail for each of us to experience. We were at Bistro Le Sam for Thanksgiving, and it might just turn into my new tradition. Our meal with an amazing lobster salad and oyster Rockefeller. We also had a rack of lamb with foie gras, red snapper, the butcher’s cut – which was a suckling pig and a steak with, of course, more foie gras! We ended the feast with the best crème brulee and other amazing sweets.
This restaurant in the old town Petit Champlain area is definitely a hot spot. They serve the most amazing rabbit dishes. It has great atmosphere, service, and cute décor. This is one place I wouldn’t skip.
This Quebec city chain now with 5 locations across the Quebec city area is raved by many as one of the best Brunch spots in Quebec. Known to be “100% Quebecois with a Parisian bistro flair”, theres no better way to kickoff your day with a Quebec culinary experience. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic eggs benny, or maybe you have a sweet tooth and go for the chocolate and banana brioche french toast, theres definitely something for everyone. But if you got a big appetitive and are looking to indulge, then I would definitely recommend the Breakfast Poutine — I mean you are in Quebec after all.
Paillard, Le Café-Boulangerie
Known for its homemade products and for being one for most popular gourmet destinations in Quebec, this is another top favorite. The long, communal tables at Paillard’s flagship location on Rue Saint-Jean give the bakery a warm and welcoming vibe. It’s a great place to tune in to the rhythm of locals and visitors. From a coffee and croissant to a light dinner of fresh salads and sandwiches, Paillard’s homemade offerings rival the best boulangerie in France. Try the feta-and-olive bread or an abricotier, a croissant filled with apricot preserves.
Things to Do
Québec City stands out as one of Canada’s most charming cities and even more so during the winter. You will be amazed at how much there is to see and do even during the wintertime!
Quartier Petit Champlain
Just steps from the Chateau, is the lower town with cobblestone lined streets, with lots of restaurants and shops. It is the oldest commercial district in North America and is definitely worth a visit. Instead of walking down the steps to the lower town, you can also take the funicular for a few dollars.
Quebec Winter Carnival
Held this year from January 26 to February 11, 2018 in Quebec city, the acclaimed “worldwide capital of snow”, since 1894. With an extensive program, there are activities for everyone. From Bonhomme’s ice palace to the wide variety of alcohol related activities (to keep you warm on the inside). The Carnival is the perfect way to experience historic Quebecois culture.
German Christmas Market
If you’re visiting the city in December, you don’t want to miss the German Christmas market. It is a magical European wonderland nestled right in the heart of Quebec City. There are wooden stands selling everything from Christmas trinkets to bratwurst and warm mulled wine. The outdoor bar serving cocktails and outdoor fireplaces to stay warm, turn this shopping experience into the perfect way to start off the holiday season.
Musee National Des Beaux Arts Du Quebec
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec is a great way to spend an afternoon. The museum consists of 3 pavilions, each in a separate building: historic, modern, and contemporary art. Each is unique and interesting, but the modern section is in a converted old prison, which was super neat! The museum is also in the Art District so you can stroll down Avenue Cartier for more shopping and great restaurants.
Place de l’Assemblee Nationale (National Assembly of Quebec)
This is Quebec’s legislature building and you can go in for a free-guided tour of the building to learn all about Quebec’s history and government. The interior of the historic building and chambers of parliament are beautiful. It’s also a great way to stay warm.
Outdoor Skating Rinks
During the winter months, the city comes to life with a wide array of skating rinks. One of the cutest is the Place D’Youville skating rink amid the ambiance of the old city wall, just across from Porte Saint-Jean and Capitole de Québec.
Rue Saint-Jean is known as the area that brings culture, heritage, and festivities together. It runs outside and inside the old city walls, and on both sides you will see lots of shops, artisanal boutiques, and endless assortment of restaurants and cafes. It’s the perfect place to enjoy yourself while you hunt for unique finds!
Simons is a family owned and operated department store based out of Quebec — although now expanded into Ontario as well. It is a great place to shop for unique fashion styles & trends, and home décor!
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
Only a few minutes outside of Quebec City, the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is one of Quebec’s most spectacular waterfalls. It is 83 meters high, which is taller than Niagara Falls. The park is open year-round and there is also a cable car that you can take across the falls for a better view. Check online for the cable car schedule as it is closed certain months of the year.
I hope your next winter wonderland experience to Quebec City is just as amazing as ours was! Stay tuned for many more of my ultimate must-see travel stops around the Globe. Want to visit in a less “chilly” time of year? No problem, check out my recap of our “friendsgiving” trip earlier this year on my blog.