Every year during the holidays, my office closes down for a week since most of our clients also take the week off and this year my family decided to take advantage of that and my sister’s time off (she’s a teacher!) to go to Quebec City. I had done a lot of research to cities that really went all out for Christmas and this was one of them so we were excited to see all the decorations in action! So note that all my recommendations below are based on cold weather and holiday season. If it was warmer, we would have done a lot more!
Sights to See
- Old Quebec City: This is a no brainer, but I would recommend seeing the old town from the bottom up. We started right where the ferry lets off and walked around the lower level and by the main church and then took the funicular up to the top and walked around up there. Seeing the city and the St. Lawrence river from the funicular is really gorgeous so I would recommend, but you have to pay in cash just an FYI. We also wanted to take the funicular because it was FREEZING and I didn’t want to walk around longer than 20 minutes at a time, so take that into account if going during the winter.
- Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac: Originally built as a hotel for Canadian Pacific Railway workers to have a place to stay when traveling through town, this gorgeous chateau is now a Fairmont hotel that has tons of history so walk around the grounds, stay for dinner or a drink, and if it’s the winter go on a toboggan ride outside. Everything about this place is history and elegance and I loved it. However, I have heard the hotel rooms themselves are really tiny. I didn’t see them since we stayed in another hotel outside the city, but take that into account if you are going with a larger family.
- Tour with Quebec Cicerone: Since it was Christmas while we were visiting, I wanted to see as much Christmas content as possible which is why I picked the Christmas Magic tour for us to participate in. Our guide was great – very knowledgable, had great fun facts and took us to both classic and off the beaten path locations. It was just so cold that it was hard to enjoy the end of it. So if you do a tour, just know there isn’t any time inside AT ALL on these things and if you can’t handle 2 hours out in -5 degree weather, then this is not for you.
Off the Beaten Path
- Ferry Ride: Since we got our hotel stay for free (thanks Hilton points!), we stayed in a town outside of the old town called Levis. It’s a cute little town and I’m glad we got to stay there since you can actually see Quebec City from the other side of the river and we got to take the ferry into the old town. The ferry was one of my favorite things about our time there. I’m not really sure why, it’s a random thing to enjoy but the views on the ferry were top notch and the river froze over a lot since it was so cold so the ferry had to slice right through it. It made me feel like I was on the Titanic but without the death and letting Jack go part. It’s about $3 a person and would be really fun to go in the summer and hang out in Levis for an hour and then take the ferry back. Levis doesn’t have a lot going on in the winter FYI.
- Montmorency Falls: For our final day in Quebec, we decided to rent a car and go see the falls. These are actually much higher than Niagra but somewhat less impressive because they are smaller in width. It was cool nonetheless and I could see why they would be awesome during the summer. In the winter, they never really freeze so they are still roaring and you have to walk along a path to get there that is also really pretty and has great views of Ile d’Orleans. The falls are actually not far from downtown and you could take an Uber if you wanted, but we wanted to go explore the island nearby so we rented a car instead.
- Ile d’Orleans: This little island right by the falls was adorable. Not a lot was open since it’s the winter, but we did get to go to lunch on the island and got some great poutine and then stopped by Cassis Monna & Filles for a little wine tasting and hit up a cute chocolate shop as well. I want to come back to Quebec when it’s warm solely to hang out on this island that is supposed to be a foodie paradise!
- J.A. Moisan: Found in 1871, this is the oldest grocery store in North America. It’s super cute inside and I say off the beaten path because while it is near the old city it’s a bit of a walk in freezing temperatures. I don’t know if you’re sensing a theme here but it was FREEZING.
- Saint Roch Neighborhood: I had heard that the most up-and-coming neighborhood was in lower Quebec City and about a 10 min taxi/Uber from old city, so we went out to explore one morning. There isn’t a lot to see sight-seeing wise, but it has tons of cute restaurants, cafes, and shops. We used this guide to walk around and everything is really on one road – rue Saint Joseph Est. Some notable spots: Deja Vu, Champagne Chocolatier (they had the BEST hot chocolate ever), and Swell & Ginger.
Food & Drink
- Cochon Dingue: I’m not usually one to recommend chain restaurants, but we actually ended up going here twice because it was right by our hotel. Their brunch was amazing and I highly recommend.
- Nina: This hipster pizza spot was sensational. It’s in the Saint Roch area so a bit out of the way, but super worth it. We had the pizza with mozzarella, peas, and lemon and it was out of this world.
- 1608 Bar: This is the wine and cheese bar in the Fairmont. It is cozy with multiple fireplaces, has an amazing view of the St Lawrence River, and has great cocktails and a super wine list. We came here twice to warm up and stayed for hours.
- Chocolats Favoris: Another chain, but their chocolate dipped cones were so delicious we went back twice. They have all sorts of flavors to dip your cone in including mint, salted caramel and sea salt. They also had poutine made of cookies with ice cream – so cute! Going back twice was a theme of ours this trip mainly out of free of losing limbs to the cold but also because these places were that good that we felt the need to go twice!