What to do in Quebec City
Quebec City has 400 years of history and is certainly the most European city in North America. No matter what time of year it is, it is impossible to get bored in this charming capital city, which can easily be visited on foot, on wheels or on the water.
During the winter, Quebec City is particularly magical under the snow and there is no shortage of activities to enjoy during the cold season.
1. Slide on the Dufferin Terrace
To capture the essence of Quebec City, take a stroll on the Dufferin Terrace. This long wooden walkway allows you to admire the view of the St. Lawrence River, Île d’Orléans, the Lower Town and of course the majestic Château Frontenac.
In winter, the famous wooden slides are a popular attraction for thrill-seekers who can go down them at full speed (up to 70 km/hour). Built in 1884, they overlook the river and include three ice corridors that are accessible from mid-December to mid-March.
Photo credit: Dufferin Terrace / Francis Gagnon, OTQ
2. Admire the Château Frontenac (and stay there!)
Summer and winter alike, the Château Frontenac is an eye-catcher. But with its fairy tale castle look, it is even more magical under the snow. The most photographed hotel in the world, commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1892, it has become emblematic of Quebec City.
Elegant and majestic, it becomes a jewel case at nightfall. Its cachet is even better discovered when you stay there, especially when you can reduce the bill with these few tips.
Photo credit: Château Frontenac / Stéphane Audet, OTQ
3. Participate in the Quebec Winter Carnival festivities
The largest winter carnival in the world, the Quebec Winter Carnival is a must-see tradition in February. Throughout the city, various sites offer a wide range of activities for young and old.
Ice sculptures, night parades, Bonhomme’s Palace, canoe races and other animations come to life in the snowy districts of the capital.
This year, the Quebec Winter Carnival is from February 3 to 12, 2023!
Photo credit: Sculpture, Québec Winter Carnival / Frédéric Lavoie, OTQ
4. Discover the narrow streets of Old Quebec and Place Royale
With its winter decor and its illuminations, Old Quebec is best admired under its magnificent white coat.
In the Lower Town, the alleys are a real pleasure for the eyes with old buildings, each more beautiful than the other and with many colorful touches. Most of them have been restored over the years, which makes this whole area particularly cozy.
In the Petit-Champlain sector, these pedestrian streets are becoming more touristy with many stores, restaurants and cafés where it is nice to warm up. These lead to the magnificent Place Royale where the picturesque stone church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is located.
It is precisely on this paved square that Samuel de Champlain erected a trading post in 1608. You can’t miss the huge Fresque des Québécois, which tells the story of Quebec City through a giant trompe-l’oeil work.
Photo credit: Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Place Royale / Francis Gagnon, OTQ
5. Skate on the refrigerated rink at Place D'Youville
After having strolled through the enchanting streets of Old Quebec in winter, a stop at the skating rink in Place D’Youville is another must-do activity to end the day.
Under the lights, encircled by the ramparts and heritage buildings, its setting is magical to say the least. The icing on the cake : admission is free.
Photo credit: Place D’Youville skating rink / Stéphane Audet, OTQ
6. Crossing the Holy Door of the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
Like a rite of passage, passing through the Holy Door of the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral Basilica marks a symbolic transition from one space to another.
This search for meaning, from the outside in, will normally be possible next time on December 8, 2023 when the Holy Door (currently sealed) will be reopened in a special way on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Diocese of Quebec. It is the only Holy Door in the Americas andone of seven in the world.
It was donated by the Vatican and then installed in 2013.
Photo credit: Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral Basilica / Francis Gagnon, OTQ
7. Visit the Aquarium du Québec
10,000 marine animals representing 300 species await visitors at theQuebec Aquarium (the only one of its kind in the province!) for a must-see winter outing that the whole family will enjoy.
Not to be missed: the Great Ocean Tunnel built through a huge aquarium and the Deep Sea Pavilion with its hundreds of jellyfish, seahorses, sea dragons and its contact pool with rays.
In winter, it is a great opportunity to see many polar bears, seals, walruses and arctic foxes in the outdoor park.
Photo credit: Polar bear at the Aquarium du Québec / Jasmin Brochu, OTQ
8. Contemplate the view of Quebec City from Observatoire de la Capitale
Taking the height allows to contemplate a city from another perspective. It’s a good thing, because Quebec City has its own observatory which is simply the highest panoramic view of the capital. Old Quebec, the Lower Town, the St. Lawrence, Orleans Island, the South Shore, the Appalachian Mountains and even the Laurentian Mountain are revealed before our eyes.
A breathtaking 360-degree view from the 31st and top floor of the Marie-Guyart Building in the heart of Parliament Hill. What a pleasure to admire this white landscape in winter while discovering the Horizons trail which allows you to understand the history of the city!
Photo credit: View of Quebec City from Observatoire de la Capitale / Jonathan Robert, CCNQ
9. See the Montmorency Falls
For a morning or an afternoon, a little excursion to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is always a good idea. Located only 15 minutes from Old Quebec, this famous 83 meter high waterfall is very impressive.
In winter, the fine splashes it throws out freeze and form a natural ice cone at its foot, nicknamed the “Sugarloaf”. The Montmorency Falls can be contemplated from several viewpoints, including a circuit leading to a vertiginous suspension bridge, by cable car. But also now from the long boardwalk at the bottom of the falls, which is cleared of snow during the winter season.
It is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls.
Photo credit: Montmorency Falls in winter / Yves Tessier, OTQ
10. Sleeping at the Ice Hotel
Unique in North America, the Hôtel de Glace offers an incomparable winter experience. Located only 20 minutes from downtown Quebec City by car, it is built from 2300 blocks of ice and 15,000 tons of snow.
Ephemeral work, it is inspired each winter by a new theme with a new architecture and original sculptures. You can spend the night there or simply come and contemplate its dazzling installations.
Photo credit: Hôtel de Glace / Renaud Philippe, OTQ
With its many attractions and must-do activities in winter, Quebec City is a beautiful destination to visit in the snow.
Between its warm interiors and its invigorating walks, it has everything to charm the lovers of this season who are looking for magical places.
Watch for some of Destination Cité’s lodging promotions in Quebec City. Then use your points to deduct your travel expenses!