Old Québec City is like a magical fairytale land, especially in winters when the entire city is covered in snow. We had been to this beautiful city and fallen in love with it in the summer of ’17 but there is something spectacular about winters here that got us excited for a road trip. We spent 4 days in this winter wonderland and it didn’t disappoint one bit. So are you ready to be transported to Europe in North America?!
Where to Stay
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac – This iconic castle turned luxury hotel is just as opulent from the inside as iconic it looks from the outside. We had to extend our trip due to a snow storm and decided to stay in this historical heritage resort for a night.
Airbnb – We were keen on getting a cozy Airbnb with underground car parking and proximity to good restaurants and found this chic apartment just outside the old city. We really enjoyed living like the locals, grabbing groceries from the supermarket and cooking delicious breakfast in our cute little pad. In general, there are plenty of good Airbnb options to choose from.
Auberge Saint-Antoine – We enjoyed our stay at this charming boutique hotel located near Rue du Petit-Champlain on our last visit.
What to Do
Explore Old Quebec
Bundle up and stroll the cobblestone streets of Vieux-Québec and ready to be transported to old world Europe. The charming Rue de Petit-Champlain lined with cute boutiques and bistros is a delight in the winters with ice sculptures lining up the narrow street and lights brightening your way. Place Royale, a small plaza surrounded by historic buildings with stone facades makes for a great spot to people watch. Pop into the many boutiques, cafes and restaurants on Rue Saint-Jean to take a break from the winter chills.
In for some fun winter activity? Rush down a toboggan slide on a wooden sled for a thrilling but fun ride. This unique attraction is more than a century old, 1884 to be precise, and will give you goosebumps as you hurtle down with speeds reaching up to 70 kmph. It stands next to the iconic Château Frontenac and makes for a great view as well. I was skeptical at first but Akhil pushed me to try and can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Highly recommend this to everyone.
The iconic seasonal Hotel de Glace is a must when visiting Quebec in winters. Its located just 20 mins outside the city and opens from January to end of March. The entire hotel is made of ice and snow with sculptures and carvings on the walls. There are rooms available for those who are up for braving the cold to have this unique experience. We were happy to enjoy this freezing wonder for a few hours via paid visitor pass. There’s a fun ice slide, a beautiful chapel and a cool ice bar with neon lights serving up delicious cocktails in glasses made of ice.
Also, don’t forget to treat yourself with some sweet maple taffy at the Sugar shack right in front of the Chapel. For us, the best thing was to make it ourselves by spreading the maple syrup over fresh snow and let it cool for 20 secs. Then take a stick, dip it at one end and start rolling till the edge of the other end and voila you got yourself your sweet masterpiece!
When its time to relax, look no further than Strøm Nordic spa, set in a serene natural setting next to the St. Lawrence river in old Quebec. Couldn’t believe our luck as we checked into the spa, a snow storm started but it was like cherry on cake as it turned out to be such a unique experience.
Another unique experience was the Floatation bath with epsom salts that allowed our bodies to float effortlessly, it was so calming and relaxing. Other experiences to enjoy are outdoor thermal whirlpools, Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam bath, lounge areas with hammocks and a cafe serving delicious healthy food.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
The spectacular Montmorency waterfall is located a 15 min drive from old Quebec. These are taller than Niagara falls standing at 83 meter high. The magical winter wonderland view can be enjoyed on a cable car ride, from the numerous trails at the top of the falls or at the foot of the falls, where you can admire the impressive natural ice cone formations. We reached here past sunset and enjoyed the falls illuminated by light from the top.
Where to Eat
Being vegetarians, we didn’t try the quebecois food which is traditionally meat heavy apart from the signature poutine but Quebec city has lot to offer in terms of different cuisines. So here’s a list of restaurants we enjoyed eating at.
Honō Izakaya – Delicious fusion Japanese fare served by friendly staff. The place has a lively vibe with minimalist ambience and is reasonably priced. We liked the Crispy Tofu, Okonomiyaki (savory pancake), Candied mushrooms and the flavorful cocktails. The Okonomiyaki was really filling so we skipped dessert.
Matto – Highly recommend this trendy Italian restaurant in Old Quebec City. Without a doubt, we ordered some comforting classics like Agnolotti and Penne Arrabbiata. And all I can say is there were no leftovers.
Nina Pizza Napolitaine – Incredible Napoletana pizza at this cute gourmet pizza place would cure your winter blues for sure. We both had our individual pies, Funghi and a Verdura. Not sure if it was the hunger or the scrumptious crust that made us gobble it all up!
Paillard – This is one of the most popular café-boulangerie(bakery) located on Rue Saint-Jean. Great for a quick bite. We really enjoyed our roasted vegetable sandwich and almond croissant with a hot cup o’ cappuccino.
Café La Maison Smith – A perfect spot to relax and sip on your hot coffee while watching the bustling crowds go by on the cobblestone streets of old Quebec city. We fueled up by gorging on delicious pecan sticky bun and chocolate croissants here. A tip, if you wanna beat the crowds at Paillard but still wanna enjoy some of their delicious pastries and croissants, you should come here as La Maison Smith gets this stuff from Paillard.
Le Lièvre et la Tortue – This quaint little café-boutique is located farther away from the old city but what a delight it was sipping on tea and enjoying our blueberry pie at this charming place. They serve a variety of scones, cakes and coffee as well.
Épicerie J.A. Moisan – This is another cute cafe/ gourmet grocery store with exquisite collection of cheese, coffee, wines and breads. We stopped here to pickup up our breakfast supplies but the breakfast being served at the cafe looked tempting too. This is conveniently located on Rue Saint-Jean, so you can visit if in the area.
Things to Know
- Quebec city is a 6-hour drive from Boston. So if you decide to drive or rent a car to go around the city, you can use Copilote app to help find and pay for parking.
- Would highly recommend popping into this old stone church turned into a minimalistic and modern public library, Maison de la littérature. Located in the historic district, check in for some peace and quiet and to admire the beautiful architecture.
- The Ice hotel is located at Valcartier Vacation Village which features winter activities like Ice skating, Winter sliding etc..
- Quebec province has french as its official language so its nice to know a few useful French phrases. Most restaurants carry English menus, in case not, the servers who are fluent in english are happy to help you out.
Thanks for reading!