Why Quebec City is Magical in the Winter

Quebec City is the type of destination that almost makes you forget that you are in North America instead of Europe.

The perfect blend of old and new in a city that speaks French as the primary language and English as the second. Quebec City is magical in the winter, especially during the Quebec Winter Carnival.

Walking Tour of Quebec City

Thanks again to Quebec Tourism for hosting our visit. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. 

Walking Tour of Quebec City

Take a Walking Tour of Quebec City

I love taking tours when I visit a city for the first time. You learn so much more when you have access to someone knowledgeable about the area.

unique architecture in Quebec City

A guided tour from Québec Cicérone Tours provides such a great introduction to the city’s history, architecture, and local culture.

unique architecture in Quebec City

Walk Around a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Old Quebec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 17th Century. 

Old Quebec City

The Old City is still an architectural wonder today. 

Old Quebec City

View the Murals in Old Quebec City

There are several very detailed murals in Old Quebec City.

murals in Old Quebec City

The murals depict interesting aspects of the city’s history. 

Walking Tour of Quebec City

Our Walking Tour Guide

Our guide aka cicerone, Jean Gagnon arrived at our hotel authentically dressed in a period costume.

couple with their Walking Tour Guide in Quebec City

He answered all of our questions both modern-day and diving into Quebec’s history.

monument in Quebec-City
architecture in Old Quebec City
architecture in Old Quebec City
shops in Old Quebec City
entrance to Old Quebec City

Admire the Beautiful Architecture in Old Quebec City

Our guide showed us significant architecture throughout the city and shared interesting stories about the buildings along the way.

architecture in Quebec City
shops in Old Quebec City

Go Window Shopping in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City is filled with shops and restaurants.

Shopping in Old Quebec City

You’ll discover many places that you will want to return to after your tour. 

church in Old Quebec City

Visit Historic Churches in Quebec City

We stepped inside several gorgeous churches during our tour that were also a nice break from the cold. 

church in Old Quebec City
Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Old Quebec City

We spent some time inside the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica in Quebec
inside Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica
Pope designated holy door at Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica

Next, we visited the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-Québec Basilica. This is one of seven churches in the world with a Pope-designated Holy Door.

Old Quebec Funicular

Save a few steps on the Old Quebec Funicular

The Old Quebec Funicular provides another perspective of the city and the St. Lawrence River while you travel up or down at a steep 45-degree angle.

Old Quebec Funicular

I don’t have a fear of heights but we did ride with a stranger who did and found it easier to look up toward the station versus back at the lower town.

view from the Old Quebec Funicular

The rest of us in the car enjoyed the unique perspective of the Saint Lawrence River and beyond. The ride is smooth and moves at a steady pace.

view of the Saint Lawrence River from the Old Quebec Funicular

If you want to save going back up several flights of stairs, start your ride at the lower station located at Louis Jolliet House in the Old Port and travel up to Dufferin Terrance near the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

Toboggan Slide Au 1884 in Old Quebec City in Canada

Take a ride on the Toboggan Slide Au 1884

A unique adventure for thrill-seekers of all ages, a toboggan ride with an incredible view of the St. Lawrence River is a must!

Adventure Mom on a toboggan
Toboggan Slide Au 1884 in Old Quebec City in Canada

This toboggan tradition on the Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City dates back over 100 1884, and you can reach speeds up to 70km on your way down!

Toboggan Slide Au 1884 in Old Quebec City in Canada

You can ride on the toboggan with up to four passengers and make sure that your hat is secure and that you wear gloves because it can be really chilly with the wind.

Toboggan Slide Au 1884 in Old Quebec City in Canada
Toboggan Slide Au 1884 in Old Quebec City in Canada

After your ride, warm up inside with a delicious cup of hot chocolate at the cafe located at the base of the run.

street view Le cochon dingue

Great Restaurants in Old Quebec City

Diner Le Cochon Dingue

46 Champlain Blvd, Quebec City, Quebec G1K 4H7, Canada

inside Le cochon dingue in Quebec

The restaurant is tucked away below street level with cozy seating nooks. 

The seafood pot pie (Lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops, salmon, and diced potatoes in a cream sauce)is a very popular menu item. 

meal at  Le cochon dingue in Quebec

I can confirm that the seafood pot pie is delicious!

burgundy stew at Le cochon dingue in Quebec

My husband ordered the Burgundy stew (beef braised in Burgundy with seasonal vegetables served with seasoned potatoes)

craft beer at Le cochon dingue in Quebec

We also tried local beer and cider during our visit. 

dessert at Le cochon dingue in Quebec

For dessert, the carrot cake and the maple pie are a MUST!

I’ll admit that we were already stuffed but we powered through it… in the name of research.

La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

Dinner at La Buche

49 Rue Saint Louis, Québec, QC G1R 3Z2, Canada

inside La Buche restaurant in Quebec City
dining at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City
coffee with whiskey at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

After our guided tour of Quebec City, we decided to start our meal by warming up by adding a little kick to our coffee with some local whiskey. 

bison skirt steak at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

I ordered the Bison Skirt Steak, I don’t eat bison very often but I thought I might as well since I’m in Canada.

Quebec shepperd's pie at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

My husband ordered Quebec Shepperd’s Pie (Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Creamy Corn, Bacon, Red-Wine-Braised Beef and Fruit Ketchup)

The meat was delicious and tender but as someone with a sweet tooth, the dessert was my favorite.

dessert at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

For dessert, the poor man’s pudding with ice cream is absolutely dreamy. Definitely get it ala mode so that the warm sauce and the ice cream make their magic with the cake!

bathroom at La Buche restaurant in Quebec City

The bathroom area in the basement at La Buche is also noteworthy because it’s so unique.

Guests wash their hands in the bathtub and can mark their visit by signing their name to a section of their choice.

Maple taffy in Old Quebec City

Try the Maple Taffy

Warm messy magic in your mouth!

Maple taffy in Old Quebec City

I noticed a couple walking down the street while they were trying to keep the taffy from making a mess as they walked…so of course, I had to know what it was and try some at a local “sugar shack.”

The maple syrup is poured onto the snow in a tray and then molded onto a popsicle stick.

Maple taffy in Old Quebec City

We opted for the snow tray indoors because you can control more of the elements.

Maple taffy in Old Quebec City

The maple taffy basically melts in your mouth so be prepared as you eat it because it can get messy if you don’t consume it quickly.

outside Chez Ashton in Quebec City

Don’t forget to Try Poutine in Quebec City!

Many restaurants have their own versions of poutine.

poutine at Chez Ashton

If you want to try a fast-casual version of the popular dish, make a stop at Chez Ashton.

poutine at Chez Ashton
poutine at Chez Ashton

I opted for the spicy gravy and I also tried their spicy hamburger because everything is better spicy!

This was definitely a heavy meal and I was grateful that we walked for several miles afterward.

bar at the winter carnival in Quebec city

Visit Quebec City during the Winter Carnival

Quebec City does a great job of making winter feel magical…and dare I say enviable.

winter carnival in Quebec city

What is the Winter Carnival in Quebec City?

Winter Carnival is one of the largest outdoor winter carnivals in the world.

winter carnival warm up station

In Quebec, they embrace the winter weather with a variety of outdoor activities throughout the city.

winter carnival activities

When is the Winter Carnival in Quebec City?

Winter Carnival takes place toward the beginning of February.

winter carnival at night
Winter Carnival Quebec City
snowboard swing at winter carnival
snow carver at Winter Carnival in Quebec City
ice wall Winter Carnival  Quebec city
indoor stage Winter Carnival  Quebec city
ice tower Winter Carnival Quebec city
adventure mom at winter carnival Quebec city

What to Wear for Winter Carnival

There are lots of outdoor activities going on throughout the city which aren’t a problem if you are dressed in layers and have your snow gear on.

ice wall daytime winter Carnival Quebec City

It’s perfectly acceptable and not odd to walk around wearing your snow pants.

Make sure that you pack a waterproof jacket, scarf, gloves, hat, hand warmers and snowboots.

ice wall daytime winter Carnival Quebec City

Trust me, you will be glad that you did!

balancing on a log at the winter carnival

Daytime Activities during Winter Carnival

There are plenty of activities to check out during the day during the Winter Carnival.

winter carnival dragon in Quebec City

It’s also nice to see the ice sculptures during the day and at night.

rolling logs at the winter carnival
 ice bar daytime at the winter carnival
maze at the winter carnival
warming station winter carnival in Quebec

Winter Carnival is Twice as Nice, Day or Night

Make sure that you check the hours of the Winter Carnival events so that you allow for plenty of time to explore. 

giant snow sculpture at Winter Carnival in Quebec City

Ice carving demos, ice bars, warming stations, and photo ops galore day and night.

YouTube video

Where to Stay in Downtown Quebec City

view of Hotel Le Concorde

Stay in Downtown Quebec City at Hotel Le Concorde

1225 Place Montcalm, Quebec City, Quebec G1R 4W6, Canada

Check out that view!

window view Hotel Le Concorde

If you like staying close to the action, Hotel Le Concorde is a great option.

bed Hotel Le Concorde

With close proximity to parks, Winter Carnival, and restaurants, it’s only about a 15-minute walk to Old Quebec City.

beautiful view of Quebec City

Speaking of walking, it’s easy to get lots of steps in, almost without noticing it. Parking can be limited downtown, and it’s a lot easier to walk instead. 

window view from Hotel Le Concorde

We walked several miles each day during our visit which felt great after so many amazing meals.

The hotel also has a revolving restaurant, Ciel! The Bistro bar is located on the top floor of the restaurant for incredible 360-degree views of the city. 

You can find savings on your hotel room in Quebec City here. 

Baked beans for breakfast in Canada

Why Do Canadians Eat Beans for Breakfast?

Beans are a great source of protein and are hearty for cold winters.

At first, I thought it was odd to eat beans for breakfast but the more I thought about it, it actually made sense.

Breakfast, Wifi, and parking are included at the hotel, and during our stay, we learned that baked beans are a staple on the breakfast buffet.

Old Quebec City

Do You Need a Car Rental in Quebec City?

You could easily park once and find plenty to do during your stay downtown within walking distance.

Old Quebec City

A rental car comes in handy if you do want to explore beyond the downtown.

Old Quebec City Canada at night

What side of the road do they drive on in Quebec City?

People drive on the right side of the road in Quebec City so the only real adjustment is that many of the road signs are in French.

Old Quebec City at night

The stoplights are pretty much the same except for the blinking green light that allows you to turn left instead of a green arrow.

Old Quebec City gate at night

Your speedometer is in kilometers which is also an adjustment but it’s really not that big of a deal.

We had GPS for our rental but we found that it was easier to just use the Waze app from our phones instead.

walking in Old Quebec City at night

There are several rental car agencies at the Jean-Lesage International Airport. The airport is about 20 minutes from downtown.

If you plan on staying downtown for most of your visit you might be better off using rideshare instead.

If you like the freedom to explore the city and neighboring areas or if you plan on visiting the Hotel de Glace you might want to consider a rental.

Montmorency Falls in Canada

Where to Take a Drive Close to Quebec City

There are a few local attractions in the area that are worth the drive.

Adventure mom Montmorency Falls

View a Frozen Waterfall Up Close at Montmorency Falls

5300 Boulevard Sainte-Anne, Québec, QC G1C 1S1, Canada

Montmorency Falls in Canada

Normally I chase waterfalls when it’s warm outside but a frozen waterfall 15 minutes from Quebec City was too close to miss!

Montmorency Falls is an absolutely beautiful sight in the winter.

Montmorency Falls in the winter

At 30 meters (nearly 100 ft.) it is actually higher than Niagara Falls.

cable car at Montmorency Falls in Canada

Take the cable car up the mountain for a closer view of the falls.

 bridge at the top of Montmorency Falls in Canada

Then explore the falls from several different viewing areas, a pedestrian bridge, and trails at the top.

Manoir Montmorency in Canada

Explore Manoir Montmorency

You can warm up inside Manoir Montmorency.

art inside Manoir Montmorency in Canada

Learn more about the history of the area in a small museum on the second floor, grab a bite to eat, and rent snowshoes. 

The manoir is located steps away from the cable car.

Chapel at Hotel de Glace Ice Hotel

Visit the Hôtel de Glace “Ice Hotel”

Worth the drive, Hôtel de Glace is located about 30 minutes from Quebec City. Guests get to experience a new frozen theme each winter. (These images are from a previous year)

bar at hotel de Glace

During our visit, there were 42 rooms for overnight guests, an ice bar, a slide, and a chapel. You can purchase a self-guided ticket to Hotel de Glace here.

Ice Sculpture at Hotel de Glace

Make sure that you wear your snow pants so that you stay warm and you can take a ride down the slide in comfort.

Ice bar at hotel de glace

A drink at the bar from a glass made of ice is a MUST and if you are feeling extra adventurous you can even sleep in the hotel.

Jean-Lesage International-Airport

International Travel Tips for Visiting Quebec, Canada

Whenever you travel internationally it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. This will help cover you in case of illness, travel issues, or accidents. We purchased our travel insurance policy from Allianz.

I’ve used them before and I love that their customer service is available 24/7 if an issue comes up.

passport next to a globe

You will also need your passport for a visit. If you don’t currently have a passport allow an additional 6-8 weeks in your travel plans for the application process.

The airport that you fly into for Quebec City is Jean Lesage International Airport.

During our flight home, our plane was delayed. The day before we flew home there was a large snowstorm that canceled and delayed most of the morning flights.

Depending on what time of year you visit, you might want to allow some margin in your travel dates so that you have options if you experience a weather delay.

old quebec city gate

A Warning About Visiting Quebec City

Quebec City is definitely a four-season destination that travelers will fall in love with from the moment they arrive… and dream of coming back the moment they leave.

winter time in Quebec City

Our visit to Quebec City has given us so many reasons to want to return!

More Quebec Related Articles

How to Make the Most of Your First Visit to Hotel de Glace

4 thoughts on “Why Quebec City is Magical in the Winter”

  1. Hi Nedra, this is s a nice article since I haven’t explored Quebec City when I was in Canada. This post just gives me an idea for my next travel. Thanks!

  2. I have been to Québec City several times, but never in the winter. Your photos are great! You do the city great justice. 🙂

  3. Quebec City has been on my list of places to visit for several years. My husband and I would love to see the Hotel de Glace though I admit I’m not a fan of the cold, I can’t imagine an adventure I’d rather do than spend the night in the ice hotel.

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