So nice I had to visit twice! I loved my first trip to Quebec City so much that I decided to return again this time with Nick and my grandparents.
Nick and I typically travel as a couple, but we decided to invite my Gram and Pop Pop to join us for a little holiday adventure. In their younger years they spent a lot of time in Europe and LOVED traveling, but they sadly can’t make it overseas anymore as the distance is just too far. We’ve always wanted to do something special for them and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give them a little taste of the Europe culture and charm they love a bit closer to home.
For those unfamiliar with Quebec City, it’s the capital city of the Canadian province of Quebec where French is the official language. The city itself dates back to 1608 and to this day still maintains its colonial roots. Quaint cafes, cobblestone streets, an intact fortress and the tall ramparts that surround historic Old Quebec all contribute to making visitors feel like they’ve stepped back in time in France.
QUEBEC CITY WINTER TRAVEL GUIDE
Y’all know how much I LOVE France so I had a feeling that Nick would adore Quebec City. Since we all had the best time, I’m hoping this will become an annual December trip.
what to pack
If you’re visiting Quebec City in the winter you’ll want to pack your warmest clothing like chunky sweaters, leggings and fleece vests + pullovers. Don’t forget about winter accessories either! You will also need a hat that covers your ears, a scarf for your neck and a pair of gloves.
Oddly on this trip the temperatures were similar to what I’m used to in New York in December (30s) however my trip last year during the same timeframe was painfully cold. I’m talking single digit temperatures with wind and snow. I wore multiple layers of clothing under my Canada Goose coat and I was still freezing. I would recommend checking the weather the week before your trip and planning accordingly.
Quebec City gets a lot of snow in the winter so you’’ll also want to bring boots that are suitable for the elements. This is my favorite pair that I wore on both of my trips! I also included a few more recommendations below.
COLD WEATHER ACCESSORIES
SWEATERS & PANTS
HOW TO GET THERE
Depending on where you are coming from, I would recommend flying into Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Old Quebec, very well-run and easy to navigate. U.S. airports should take note…
We flew direct from Newark airport to Quebec City on United Airlines. The flight was just 1 hour 9 minutes!!! I believe Air Canada has direct flights to Quebec City from the New York area as well.
If you don’t mind a road trip, you can also drive to Quebec City. We have friends who have done this and they said it took them about 8 hours to get there from New Jersey.
Sightseeing & winter activities
We decided to take a slower pace on this trip because 1) I had already visited last year (you can read my Quebec City December Travel Guide here) and 2) we were with my grandparents and wanted the experience to be enjoyable for them. I think they would’ve been on the first flight home if we’d tried to do everything fast and furious like how Nick and I usually are on our trips LOL.
You’ll notice we visited a few of the same restaurants and attractions that I included in my first travel guide, however there are a bunch of new spots that I happily got to check off my Quebec City bucket list.
German Christmas Market (Address: Place et Jardins de l’Hôtel-de-Ville)
European-style holiday market that’s walking distance from the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel
Old Port Christmas Market (Address: 160 Quai Saint-André at the Old Port Market building)
Another well-known Quebec City holiday market that’s full of European charm
Boutique de Noel de Quebec (Address: 47 Rue De Buade)
Festive boutique where you can shop for Christmas decor & ornaments. Across the street from the German Christmas Market at Place et Jardins de l’Hôtel-de-Ville!
QUEBEC CITY SIGHTSEEING:
Quartier Petit Champlain (quaint historic shopping district)
The Funicular (photogenic cable car ride down to Quartier Petit Champplain)
Quebec City boardwalk
Rue Sous le Fort (street for good photo opp)
Place Royale (pretty street & cobblestone square)
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires (oldest stone church in North America located in Place Royale)
Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville (shopping + German Christmas Market)
Rue Christie (cute colorful street)
Rue Couillard (cute street)
Rue du Sault-au-Matelot (cute street)
Pierre-Dugua-De Mons Terrace (for good city view photo)
Place D’Youville (cute area + ice skating rink)
Grande Allée and the Parliament Building (bars, restaurants + good area for walking around)
QUEBEC CITY WINTER ACTIVITIES
I really wanted to surprise Nick and my grandpa with an adventurous new experience, so I booked a half day dogsledding excursion. There are a number of places to dogsled near Quebec City, but since I wasn’t sure of the best one so I asked the concierge at our hotel for help. I told the concierge we wanted to go somewhere that was 1) not a far drive and 2) would be easy and not too intense since my Pop Pop is 80 (but 50 at heart :P)
They recommended Expedition Mi-Loup Dog Sledding on nearby Île d’Orléans– a small island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River just 15 minutes from Old Quebec. The concierge set everything up for me including the car transfer to/from Expedition Mi-Loup. All in I believe I paid around $100 per person.
We had the BEST time. Expedition Mi-Loup provides snow pants, boots, jackets and gloves so all you need to do is wear a warm outfit and bring your own hat. I would also recommend sunglasses since the sun glare against the snow can be very bright.
The actual dogsledding lasted about one hour. After a ten minute briefing on safety and how to steer the sled, we were paired with our sled dog teams. There are two people per sled– one person stands on the back to steer and the other person sits in the sled. Then halfway through the course you’ll stop and switch places so both people get a chance to steer.
We did a group excursion so there were about 16 other people (paired 2 people per sled) sledding at the same time as us. Expedition Mi-Loup had all the sleds set up in advance and you basically just follow the leader. Since we had three people, my Pop Pop actually got to pair with one of the Expedition Mi-Loup guides in the front sled dog team and lead our entire group. Nick and I were right behind them second in line.
It was a little intimidating at first because the dogs are so excited to run and you take off quite fast, but once you get going it’s actually really fun and relaxing. These dogs LIVE for this job and love being outside in the snow. You really don’t have to do much because they know the trail by heart. The scenery was beautiful as well!
The fun didn’t end after our trail ride. After thanking our pooch team for a good run, we spent the next 30 minutes playing with about 15 HUSKY PUPPIES. I didn’t want to leave! Dogsledding was fun and all, but the puppy time was definitely the highlight for me.
If you’re visiting Quebec City during the winter months and are looking to do something adventurous and out of your comfort zone, I’d definitely recommend dogsledding. We had a blast!
More Winter Activities:
Quebec City Winter Carnival (annual week-long event held in late January or early February)
Visit an ice hotel (Quebec City’s Hôtel de Glace opens every year in January)
Go to a thermal spa (I would love to visit nearby StrØm Spa Nordique or Sibéria Station Spa on a future trip!)
Ride the Au 1884 slide (toboggan) on the Quebec City boardwalk
restaurants & bars
Quebec City has a great food and drink scene! Here are some of the restaurants and bars I recommend.
QUEBEC CITY RESTAURANTS & BARS
Lapin Sauté- Adorable cozy spot in the heart of Quartier Petit Champlain that’s equally great for lunch or dinner
Café La Maison Smith- Casual cafe for lunch or a hot chocolate/coffee breakBar 1608
Bar 1608- Epic wine and cheese bar in the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel with an amazing view of Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River. The cheese and charcuterie boards are incredible!
Bistro Le Sam- Another chic spot in the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel that’s part restaurant and part lounge. I had dinner here on my last trip and lunch on this trip and both meals were fantastic!
La Grolla- Casual cozy traditional fondue restaurant. Highly recommend for a memorable AND tasty dining experience.
Chez Muffy at the Auberge Saint-Antoine- Farm-to-table restaurant serving innovative local cuisine in the Saint-Antoine hotel. We had a lovely dinner here!
Pub de L’Oncle Antoine- Cozy no-frills old stone pub in Quartier Petit Champlain. Great spot to stop for a beer!
^ Lunch at Lapin Saute restaurant
^ Fondue at La Grolla
^ Cozy ambience at Chez Muffy
^ Incredible drinks and charcuterie at Bar 1608
^ Lunch at Bistro Le Sam
^ Beer break at Pub de L’Oncle Antoine
If you’re looking for more Quebec City restaurant and foodie ideas, here are some additional spots that were recommended to me by followers and friends. Hopefully on a future trip I’ll be able to check these off my list!
MORE QUEBEC CITY RESTAURANTS + BARS
Le Continental (fine dining restaurant in Fairmont Le Château Frontenac)
Auberge St. Antoine + Bar Artefact (hotel bar with fireplace + good hot chocolate)
L’Affair est Ketchup (quirky local dining spot featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”)
Chic Shack (casual burger spot)
Bistro Sous le Fort (traditional French food)
Gaël Vidricaire (pastries + hot chocolate)
Bar Ste-Angèle (drinks + live jazz)
We actually decided to book the same hotel I did for my trip last year: the gorgeous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. I’ve never stayed somewhere that’s reminded me so much of Hogwarts castle! It’s by far the largest and most visually stunning hotel in Old Quebec City.
Having the chance to stay at Le Château Frontenac is an experience in itself and I would highly recommend it! The service level is a 10/10, rooms are super chic and cozy, there are multiple restaurants and shops within the hotel and the location is walking distance to Quartier Petit Champlain (Old Quebec’s photogenic historic shopping district) and many of the city’s top restaurants and points of interest.
I would especially recommend Château Frontenac if you’re traveling with older relatives or kids and anticipate needing to drive anywhere. My grandma can’t walk long distances and the concierge and valet were beyond helpful with coordinating car service. The hotel actually has a complimentary valet car and can drive you to/from nearby restaurants and activities if you request it and the car isn’t being used. We took advantage of this perk throughout our trip and they were always available to drive us! So so convenient.
PS airport pickups/dropoffs to Château Frontenac must be scheduled separately and are not complimentary. We didn’t book ours through the hotel and just grabbed a taxi outside the terminal! Uber is also readily available in Quebec City.
The Château Frontenac is the only hotel in Quebec City I’ve ever personally stayed at so I can only speak to my experience there, however if you’re looking for more options here is a list of other top-rated properties.
MORE QUEBEC CITY HOTELS
Auberge St. Antoine
Hotel du Vieux Quebec
Le Germain Hotel Quebec
Hotel le Priori
Auberge Place d’Armes