When you combine the charm of Europe, the romance and cuisine of France and friendly Canadians you get the perfect city. Quebec City! Sprinkle this perfect place with a dusting of snow and the historical Quebec City is instantly transformed into a magical winter wonderland – making it an ideal weekend winter getaway.
From November through to February Quebec City is packed with things to do, see (despite the sub-zero temperatures) and eat. This list will ensure you miss none of the magical festivities and charming corners whilst wandering through the snow-covered cobbled streets lined with Christmas trees and illuminated by strings of twinkling fairy lights.
Top things to do in Quebec City
1. Toboggan Slide at Chateau Frontenac
As you walk along Dufferin Terrace, past the Fairmont Hotel you cannot miss the toboggan slide. Open all winter long, this short adrenaline ride can get up to speeds of 70km an hour. Tickets are $3 p/p (multiple people can go on a sledge at a time.) Tickets available from the kiosk at the foot of the slide.
2. Rue du Petit-Champlain
Now over 400 years old Rue du Petit-Champlain is one of the oldest streets in North America. This picturesque street is lined with one of a kind boutique stores, quaint cafes and numerous restaurants. Throughout winter the snow-dusted village stays decorated with Christmas trees, garlands and twinkling lights – ensuring it looks like a storybook winter wonderland.
There is no shortage of amazing restaurants and cafes to choose from across the city. And Rue Saint-Louis and Rue Sainte-Anne are lined with renowned restaurants.
At the beginning of February every year thousands of people flock to Quebec City for the world’s largest winter carnival. The 2-week carnival has a jam-packed itinerary with a host of activities for all ages, including snow bath, night parades, snow slides, giant Foosball, ice sculptures, shows, dance parties, sleigh rides and skating. To gain access to all the festivities you need to purchase an Effigy ($15p/p available at the carnival entrance and most of the hotels also sell them).
During the winter carnival ensure to make dinner reservations, as all the restaurants get very full, very quickly.
4. Ice Skating
Annually a free to use skating rink is set up in the public square in Place D’Youville, in the heart of Quebec City. Skates can be hired and sharpened at the rink too.
When in the home of Poutine you have to try this ultimate winter comfort food of fries, gravy and cheese curd. Trois Garcons is an urban bistro where we had a delicious hearty portion but they are best-known for their gourmet burgers (which did look amazing)! The local food chain Chez Aston is renowned for serving the best poutine in the country.
6. Sugar Shacks
A quintessential winter experience in Quebec. Whereby warm maple syrup is poured over fresh snow and simply rolled up into a lollipop. Maple Taffy kiosks are set up all over the city and it costs $3 a pop.
(Fun Fact: The Quebec province is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world)
A 20-minute drive from Old Quebec City lies the only true Ice Hotel in North America and it’s really worth a visit! You can wander through the impressive 44 room fully functioning hotel, cocktail bar, arctic spa and make use of the ice slide. Self-guided tours start at $21p/p and if you have the urge to stay the night in what is essentially a giant igloo they offer that too.
- Quebec city is French-speaking, although English is widely spoken it is always polite to know a few French phrases.
- Visiting Quebec City in the winter is not about looking couture, the streets are thick with sludgy snow and it’s very, very cold. I suggest you pack snow boots and a good parka coat. Most people walk around sporting their full-on ski gear.
- When you are spending most of your day frolicking and exploring outside and the temperatures are subzero buy disposable hand and glove warmers. They are like tiny disposable hot water bottles. To use: simply remove from packaging, shake and insert them into your gloves, shoes or pockets to keep you toasty and warm all day. They last about 10 hours and really will save you much discomfort in the cold.
- Free wifi can be found throughout the city through an app called ZAP
- Photography Tips: Camera batteries go flat very quickly in the extreme cold – my full iPhone battery lasted only about 6 photos before dying in the cold temperatures. For my DSLR camera, I kept the spare battery in my coat pocket to keep it toasty.
- When walking in and out of warm hotels, restaurants and then out into the cold the extreme change in temperatures fogs up the lens and it takes few minutes to recover.