Winter in Quebec, I avoid it at all costs. I am a 30-something snowbird who is out hunting for summer. That being said, I love winter sports like snowboarding, skating and snowshoeing. I also admit that there is a kind of Zen-like serenity after a big snowstorm when everything is covered in white. Hello, cocooning! Still, spending half of my year in the cold and in the slush is not my definition of happiness.
When I returned to Quebec in March, it was no surprise to arrive right on time for THE storm of the century. There was no snow all winter except to celebrate my arrival… thank you, Miss Weather! Against all expectations, I had the GREAT pleasure to discover the region of Quebec following this monumental storm.
You would also like: Winter Roadtrip in Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Where to stay in Quebec
The Auberge Internationale de Quebec, which is part of the Hi Hostels network, is the best starting point for an adventure in the Quebec City region. Located in the heart of Old Quebec, the inn offers private rooms and dormitory beds for all styles of travellers.
While you’re there, take the opportunity to join the Broue-Tour. What better way to meet people while warming up your body with good microbrewery beer and local products?
The Broue-Tour guide will take you to three local bars where you can taste local products and even visit a brewing room. Here are the highlights (and favourite beers) of my tour of Old Quebec:
- Stainless Steel (the oldest microbrewery in Quebec) – Brune aux épices
- The Project (stay tuned on their social media for deals) – Coconut Imperial Porter
- Ninkasi Saint-Jean (arrive early and reserve your seat to enjoy the live shows) – Beeez IP Hydromel
Top 5 winter activities in the Quebec region to add to your bucket list
1. Winter via Ferrata and zip line
This will be the third winter that Projet Vertical offers the Via Ferrata to the Saint-Anne canyon. In summer, the concept of walking along a cliff while you are hooked to a cable is quite intense. In winter, it is even more extreme with snow and ice!
Despite my fear of heights (and my shaking knees on a few occasions), I’ve never had so much fun getting out of my comfort zone. It’s THE BEST!
2. Ice canoe
If there’s one activity to do at least once in your life, it’s definitely ice canoeing. Adrenaline rush guaranteed! You’ll go right in the middle of the St. Lawrence River with a view of the Château Frontenac and the Quebec Bridge. You’ll row (and you’ll trot)! between the ice floes and the large liners aboard a racing ice canoe. Get your cardio in with a unique (and maybe a little crazy) experience you won’t regret.
My favourite moment: the little break in the middle of the River where we lay down on the ice floe after having tasted a good hot chocolate at Coureur des Bois. Yum!
3. The Ice Hotel at the Valcartier Vacation Village
For all the times I was asked if travelling Canadians lived in igloos in winter… I can now say almost! You don’t have to spend the night at the Ice Hotel to admire this architectural masterpiece (especially since it does not exactly fall into a backpacker’s budget). During the day, you can take a tour of the place and discover the talent of the artist-sculptors.
If you don’t want to spend a night in an ice palace as if you were the snow queen, sit down at the bar to try one of the cocktails served in an ice glass. Don’t forget to capture it in all its frosty glamour on Instagram.
You would also like: The Hôtel de Glace de Québec (or how to fall in love with winter!)
4. Dog sled ride and fondue evening in an outdoor refuge
The idea of a dog sled ride is so cliché… except for when you land at the Expeditions Rivières Blanche site and you are greeted by fifty dogs (mostly huskies) and your heart absolutely melts. I jumped for joy like a child on Christmas morning when the musher told me I could take control of the sled!
But it’s not over yet! The only way to get to your refuge is either by dog sled, snowmobile, snowshoe or cross-country skiing. Now you know that you are deep in nature. The René Grondines refuge at Portneuf Regional Park is a total disconnect from reality: it’s just you versus nature.
You would also like: The purity of the winter beauty of Abitibi-Témiscamingue
5. Snowshoeing on a frozen lake and hiking
Before returning to the big city, we take the time to oxygenate our lungs and take advantage of the magnificent temperature. In my opinion, doing activities in nature is the best way to tame winter’s fury. The site of the Sainte-Anne river gorges in Saint-Alban is breathtaking. Icicles hang on the limestone cliffs above the river for an absolutely magical look. You can snowshoe, hike, rock climb and even venture out with winter camping. Pssssst, in summer you can go down the river in a tube, like a lazy river version in nature!
Nomadic tip: While you’re in the area, stop by and see the guys from the Micro-brasserie des Grand-Bois in Saint-Casimir. Not only will you love their craft beers, but their label design is really cool. I really liked the Preparation Ax, a Pale ale with hibiscus!