10 Reasons You Should Travel to Quebec City This Winter
When the winter months roll around most cities bundle up inside waiting for the warmer weather and bright blooms of spring, but Quebec City celebrates winter with a joie de vivre that can be found nowhere else. With French influences and nearly 500 years of history there has never been a better time time plan a trip to Quebec City, but if you visit Quebec City in the winter you’ll find a city that has been transformed into a snowy wonderland. Here are 10 reasons to travel to Quebec City this winter.
Explore the Petit- Champlain District
Gorgeous anytime of year, the picturesque cobblestone streets of the Petit-Champlain District are especially charming during the winter. Discover independent boutiques and cafes selling Quebecois specialties such as maple syrup and ice wine or just enjoy wandering through the narrow alleys enjoying the festive decorations and ice sculptures celebrating the winter season.
Toboggan slide Au 1884
You know a city takes its winter fun seriously when there is a toboggan run right in the middle of town. Operating from Dufferin Terrace since 1884, this run offers up an exhilarating ride on old-school wooden toboggans with a view of the iconic Le Chateau Fronternac on one side and the icy St. Lawrence River on the other while reaching speeds of over 40 miles per hour. Prices for Au 1884 start at $3 CAD or $10 CAD for a group of 4 making this an affordable attraction for the entire family.
Quebec City Winter Carnival
Every year from the end of January through mid February Quebec City celebrates the Winter Carnival, the largest winter festival in the world. Bundle up and enjoy the best snowy fun Quebec has to offer; try your hand at dog sledding, enjoy a cozy sleigh ride or delight in the frozen creations of the International Snow Sculpture Competition. Not to be missed is the exciting ice canoe race, where elite athletes row their way across the frozen St. Lawrence River. Join the locals at one of the lively night parades, where you’re sure to see Bonhomme, a jolly seven foot snowman beloved by kids who joyfully welcomes festival goers as the ambassador of the Winter Carnival.
You can find outdoor ice skating rinks throughout Quebec City during the winter season but one of the most charming can be found at Place D’Youville. Glide across the ice in full view of the grand Port Saint-Jean gate and Capitole de Quebec, then warm up at one of the many nearby cafes ( I recommend the delicious maple latte at Cantook, a boutique coffee house located 5 minutes away on Rue Saint-Jean). Admission to the rink is free if you have your own skates, but there is also onsite skate rental as well.
Looking for a little downhill action? You’re in luck. Quebec City’s proximity to the Laurentian Mountains means there are four ski resorts within a short drive of the historic Vieux-Port. Le Relais Centre is a quick 15 minute from the Quebec City while the nearby Stoneham Mountain Resort boasts the largest night skiing area in Canada.
Visit an Ice Hotel
Quebec’s Hotel de Glace is a fantastical winter wonderland located just 10 minutes from historic Quebec City. An overnight stay at North America’s only ice hotel is definitely bucket-list worthy but the less intrepid of us can discover the Hotel de Glace on a day tour. Explore the ice hotel’s 44 rooms and suites, take a turn down the ice slide and enjoy a frosty cocktail (served in a glass made of ice, of course) at the ice bar. There’s even an ice chapel for couples who want to tie the knot in high polar style.
Relax at a Nordic Spa
There is no better way to warm up and unwind than a visit to one of Quebec’s Nordic spas. Immerse yourself in the Scandinavian tradition of thermotherapy; visits to toasty saunas and eucalyptus- infused steam rooms are alternated with dips in icy-cold pools that relax tired muscles and increase circulation. It’s the perfect way to rejuvenate from a day of enjoying Quebec’s winter activities.
Each winter, when the Louise Basin inner harbor freezes over, an outdoor recreation area comes to downtown Quebec City in the form of Village Nordik. Igloos dot the harbor where you can try your hand at ice fishing. Lucky enough to land a trout? Bring your catch to Le Marhe de Vieux-Port where they will prepare your fish with a side of wild rice, quinoa, veggies and a salad.
Snow Tubing at Village Vacance Valcartier
Not a skier but still looking for some outdoor winter thrills? The 35 snowtube runs at Village Vacances Valcartier (North America’s largest snowtube park) offer adventures from mild to wild and may be the most fun you can have in the snow.
Join the locals on the Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham, Quebec City’s answer to Central Park, is popular with locals looking to get outside and enjoy the snow. Strap on some snowshoes or cross-country skies to explore the park’s expansive trails (there’s an onsite kiosk with rentals available) or just enjoy a stroll with views of the Fine Arts Museum and the St. Lawrence River.
Do you have any recommendations for visiting Quebec City in the winter? Please share your tips in the comments!
I was graciously hosted by Quebec City Tourism, but as always all opinions are my own.