If you are looking for a fun winter trip then look no further than Québec City.
Winter in Québec City looks like a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie with its festive scenery of lights and decorations. The city offers many ways to enjoy the winter season from holiday shopping at the Christmas Market, to cycling in the snow with fat tire bikes, to relaxing in outdoor heated pools at the spa.
One of the best parts of a trip to Québec City as a New Englander is that you can easily visit by car. It takes about 5 hours to drive there from Portland, Maine.
Keep reading to see some of the things to do, food to eat, and attractions to visit during your trip to Québec City!
The German Christmas Market
Something that you can't miss when visiting the city during the holiday season is the outdoors German Christmas Market. The market holds more than 90 vendors across 5 venues in the city making it the perfect place to find the best gifts and grab a bite to eat. Try some churros, pretzels, sausages, and grab a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm up!
Timeframe - The German Christmas Market opens in late November and closes on Dec 23.
Le Grand Marché de Québec
Located downtown, the Grand Marché is a public market and gourmet hub with nearly a hundred regional food producers selling their goods like maple syrup, jams, cheeses, spices, chocolates, etc.
Hours: Monday to Friday: from 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday: from 9 am to 5 pm
Rue du Petit-Champlain (Petit Champlain Street)
Rue Petit-Champlain, one of the oldest shopping streets in North America, is a magical place to stroll through during a fresh blanket of snow. It looks like a living Christmas card!
Tip: Ride the Old Québec Funicular up or down, a short cable car that connects the Dufferin Terrace to the Rue du Petit-Champlain for those that want to avoid the steep stairs. A ride cost $4 Canadian (cash only).
Perched over the city, Château Frontenac is Québec's most famous and photographed landmark. You don't have to be a guest to check out the grand interior of the lux hotel. There is a restaurant, bar, and even some shops located inside. Guided tours are also available.
Place Royale is where Québec City was officially founded. This charming square is a picturesque spot lined with buildings that use French and British architecture and the oldest stone church in North America. During the holiday season, you will see a large twinkling Christmas tree standing in the middle!
Located a short 15 minute drive from Old Québec, Montmorency Falls is a spectacular sight you will not want to miss. There's a walkway and suspension bridge for a better view of the waterfall and the St Lawrence River below. The Montmorency Falls is nearly 100’ higher than Niagara Falls!
One of the oldest attractions, the toboggan slide is a thrilling experience you can't miss when you are in Québec City during the winter. The three icy runs are open from mid-December to mid-March, or even longer if weather permits.
Cost: A ride is 3$/per person and is purchased at the coffee shop hut at the bottom of the slide.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday: 10 am - 5 pm, Friday and Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm.
A great way to enjoy the winter is to go ice skating. Skating in Québec City is a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike. Here are a couple of rinks we visited to try it out ourselves!
In the heart of Old Québec, you can skate the small outdoor rink at Place D’Youville. Its also a cool spot to watch others skate. Skate rental is located on-site and the rink is open from mid-November to mid-March.
Plains of Abraham Skating Rink
The skating rink at Plains of Abraham is a circular rink open to the public. There's a heated cabin with skate rentals and a snack bar that's open everyday 10 am - 9 pm. The rink is also near the museum, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec if you wanted to check that out after.
Fat Tire Bike Tour
We did a bike tour through Tuque & bicycle experiences and had a blast! Our tour guide and business owner, Emilie, was very accommodating and gave us a great introductory tour to fat tire biking and the city. Emilie and the crew helped us suit up with warm winter gear for the best time possible.
The snow had freshly fallen making it the optimal time for this activity. The bikes are surprisingly light and easy to maneuver in the snow. We rode along the river and enjoyed scenic views of the city and the park.
Soak in the Thermal Pools at Strom Nordic Spa
On the last day of our Québec City trip we relaxed with a thermal experience reservation at Strom Nordic Spa in Old Québec. There are several hot and cold treatments including a heated infinity pool overlooking the St. Lawrence river. It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenery around you.
If you want to splurge and make the most of your spa visit, you can also book a massage or beauty treatment. Your access to the thermal experience is guaranteed when you book your spa appointment.
Tip: Make sure you bring your bathing suit, sandals, and a water bottle. A robe and a locker rental will come with your thermal experience access. I also recommend bringing a book too since there are plenty of relaxation rooms with comfy chairs.
Food to Eat:
Québec's cuisine is rooted in British history which means hearty and comforting dishes like meat pie and stews. You will also find flavors from around Europe like Swiss fondue and flaky French croissants. Here are some notable dishes from our trip:
What's a trip to Canada without poutine? Poutine is the city's most iconic dish and comes traditionally with crispy fries, hot gravy, and fresh cheese curds. The Burgundy-Style Poutine pictured below from Les Mordus includes fries, cheese curds, pulled beef cheek, red wine brown sauce, mushrooms & bacon bits. Yum!
Crepes (thin pancakes) show Québec's French culinary heritage and come in both sweet and savory flavors. Either way is filling and delicious!
Pictured here is my sweet crepe filled with apple filling topped with caramel and vanilla ice cream and my husband's savory crepe with egg, sausage, mozzarella, bacon and pure maple syrup.
The Croque Madame dish is a French classic made with bread, butter, cheese, ham, sauce, and a fried egg. The name "croque madame" refers to a woman's hat which is like the egg added on top! Pictured here is the breakfast dish from Cochon Dingue, a Quebec restaurant with 5 locations.
Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate)
One of the best ways to warm up in Québec City is a cup of steamy hot chocolate. I recommend trying a cup at La Fudgerie located on Rue du Petit-Champlain. It is so decadent! You can also pick up some gifts of chocolate, nougat, and fudge while you are there too.
Boreal Ingredients at Restaurant Légende
We indulged in a 6-course tasting menu at Restaurant Légende and it was an amazing experience! The restaurant only uses local boreal ingredients that can be found in Canada. For example, you won't find vanilla beans or citrus being used.
Every dish was packed with flavor, texture, and uniqueness making it unlike any other meal I have had before. Not to mention, each dish was photo-worthy! Some standouts of the meal were the Ravioli dish filled with wagyu beef and a creamy corn sauce and the venison served with roasted potatoes.
If you are looking for a unique dining experience with local ingredients then Légende is the place!
General Québec Tips:
The official language in Québec is French. While most locals in the tourism industry will speak English, there are some that may speak little or none at all.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Hilton Québec and it was a great location since it was within walking distance to the Old Québec area where the Christmas Market and festivities are held. Some of the amenities include an on-site restaurant, a grab-n-go café, a fitness gym, and a heated rooftop pool!
Since this trip is winter-activity focused, you are going to want to pack layers and warm clothes. A winter jacket, hat, gloves, and scarf are a must!
Thanks for reading!
- The Maine Chick