Quebec is an incredible destination all year long, and Quebec City in winter is even more magical. Justin and I are fortunate to have visited Quebec City in the fall, winter, and summer, so we’re able to compare all of the seasons. Seeing Quebec City under a light dusting of snow makes everything look so pretty. And there are lots of things to do in Quebec City in winter, like festivals, activities unique accommodations and more.
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While I do love Quebec City in the summer, there are so many great Quebec City winter vacation ideas. Even though you’ll need to bundle up, it’s totally worth it! Here are some Quebec City itinerary suggestions, top winter activities, and ideas for planning your Quebec City winter getaway.
Quebec City in Winter: Stay at the Ice Hotel
Spending the night at Quebec’s ice hotel is one of the best things to do in Quebec in winter. The Hotel de Glace is a bucket list item that you’ll want to check off your list at least once in your lifetime. It’s the perfect Quebec City winter vacation, and one of the top ways to spend a winter weekend in Quebec City.
You might have thought that ice hotels were only overseas until now. This ice hotel in North America is more accessible to Canadians and Americans alike. It’s the only hotel of its kind in the continent.
Each year, the property is made out of snow and ice from scratch. It’s different every year and there are always new themes and new, creative ice sculptures. There are themed suites with fireplaces, relaxing spa experiences, and even an ice chapel for weddings.
Hotel de Glace is only open from the beginning of January through the end of March, making it the perfect addition to a Quebec City winter trip. Book your stay at the Hotel de Glace, and read more reviews from fellow travelers who have visited.
Where to Stay in Quebec City
Would you rather stay right in town instead of the Ice Hotel? There’s a good chance that you’ll only stay for one night at the Hotel de Glace before spending your remaining nights in a regular hotel. There are lots of great Quebec City hotels and Airbnb accommodations.
Here are all of the hotels and Airbnb stays pictured together on one map! You can compare prices and easily book from the map below.
Getting Around Quebec City
Quebec City itself is very walkable. If you stay in Upper or Lower Old Quebec, you should have no problem making your way from place to place by foot.
However, if you’re looking to visit the Ice Hotel, Village Vacances Valcartier, Montmorency Falls or other places just outside of the city, I suggest renting a car. You can easily compare car rental rates at Discover Cars and book directly from the website for the best prices.
Quebec City Winter Festival: Quebec Winter Carnival
The Quebec Winter Carnival is an annual celebration of winter, snow, and ice. It’s one of the world’s largest winter celebrations, and it’s one of the top things to do in Quebec City in winter. There’s no better way to spend a Quebec City winter weekend than celebrating at the Carnaval de Quebec.
From the end of January until mid-February, the festivities are in full force. Images of Bonhomme, the iconic snowman ambassador of Carnaval, are plastered all over town. Pack your mittens, your arrow sash, and your stash of Caribou – the alcoholic drink of choice during Carnaval. You shouldn’t visit Quebec in winter without planning a trip to the Quebec Winter Carnival.
These Quebec City winter activities include a sugar shack, ice slides, winter sports, hot tubs, and drinking at the ice bar. We participated in a life sized version of foosball. Admire the enormous ice palace in front of the Parliament building.
You can go bowling in a massive inflatable ball where you’re inside of it, trying to knock down the pins. For those daring folks, there’s a snow bath…are you adventurous enough to wear your bathing suit in the snow?
Marvel at the snow sculptures, participate in the night parade, watch the challenging ice canoe race, and keep warm by attending the outdoor dance party. Meet Bonhomme de Neige and be sure to give him a hug for us! For more details and dates, please check out the Carnaval de Quebec official website.
When we visited Quebec City on a media trip in the fall one year, we got to go behind the scenes for Quebec City’s Carnaval! If you’d like to see a sneak peak of Quebec City’s Winter Carnival that most people don’t get to see, check out our behind the scenes blog post.
Quebec in Winter: Village Vacances Valcartier
Have you heard of Village Vacances Valcartier before? Maybe not, but this is the site of the Quebec City ice hotel, and it also happens to be a massive snow park. Snow tubing is one of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter because it’s thrilling, entertaining, and you could easily spend all day here.
Village Vacances Valcartier is the largest winter theme park in North America, with more than 35 snow slides, snow rafting, and a high speed tubing slide. Our favorite section of snow slides was called Himalaya.
These are the steepest and longest slopes at Village Vacances Valcartier. You can also reach up to 80km/hour flying down these hills, just on your inner tubes. Book your snow tubing excursion here.
If you’re not into snow tubing, there are lots of other Quebec City winter activities on site. There’s a 1km skating path, and you can rent skates on site. You can also eat hot maple taffy, rolled up onto a lollipop from a bed of snow. It’s delicious!
Even if you’re not staying overnight at the Hotel de Glace, you can book a tour of the ice hotel property to see the rooms, the snow sculptures, and the ice bar (you’ll get a cocktail, too!). Along with the other recommendations listed here, you’ll want to travel to Quebec City in the winter ASAP.
Pentathlon de Neiges
The Pentathlon de Neiges is a new winter sport and everyone is welcome to participate. It’s one of the most unique Quebec City winter activities due to the sheer combination and amount of different sports involved. The Pentathlon de Neiges is similar to a triathlon, except there are five different disciplines: biking, running, skiing, skating, and snowshoeing.
It’s one of the most interesting things to do in Quebec City in winter. There are events for solo participants or for those working as a team. Even beginners are encouraged to join in the fun for healthy competition and exercise.
There are events for schools, families and friends, and corporate challenges, in addition to the races for competing athletes. The Pentathlon de Neiges generally happens at the end of February, so feel free to plan your Quebec City winter vacation around it.
Red Bull Ice Cross (Formerly Red Bull Crashed Ice)
Red Bull Ice Cross (formerly known as Red Bull Crashed Ice) is an extreme winter sport where athletes plummet down icy hills and speed around sharp corners. It’s one of the most exciting things to do in Quebec City in winter. Watch these amazing athletes and cheer them on from the stands.
The skating track flows through the urban center of Old Quebec, and over 50,000 people attend the event. It’s very exciting to experience the races in person, and I encourage you to check it out. Not able to visit Quebec City in winter just yet? Check out our Red Bull Ice Cross video for to see what it’s like to attend Red Bull Ice Cross in Quebec City.
Quebec City Christmas Market
Looking for a fun Quebec City winter event, but heading to Quebec in December? The Quebec City Christmas Market unites a German tradition with Old Quebec. The outdoor event runs from the end of November until just before Christmas.
You’ll find vendors selling unique handmade wares, yummy treats, delicious mulled wine and other beverages, and Christmas decorations all around.
The organizers take great care in selecting small businesses that feature talented artists, bringing only the best to the market. The vendors at the wooden booths sell winter accessories, jewelry, clothing made from recycled materials, Christmas ornaments, wooden trinkets, ceramics, and so much more.
There are also some local delicacies, such as flavoured vinegars and fruit jams from neighboring Ile d’Orleans. Of course, there’s plenty of maple syrup to be found!
Wander Around Old Quebec in the Winter
Old Quebec is equally as charming in both the winter and summer months. There’s something even more enchanting when Quartier Petit-Champlain is covered with a light dusting of snow. In December, the Christmas decorations adorn the buildings and homes all around town. Once the Quebec Winter Carnival arrives, you’ll also find freshly carved ice sculptures around town.
Historic Old Quebec in winter is such a magical place, and it is one great reason to plan your Quebec City winter holiday. Grab your camera and take a stroll around Old Quebec in the winter for a magical experience. Place Royale is another spot in Old Quebec that you can’t miss. Check out my photo essay: Christmas in Old Quebec.
There are also many historic buildings and museums to visit in Old Quebec. In Upper Town, going to the Morrin Centre is a must visit for history buffs. It was formerly an old jail and it’s the oldest English language library in Quebec City.
You should also visit the Parliament Buildings in Quebec City, whether it’s for a stroll around the exterior like we did or you stop by for an official tour indoors. The Notre Dame de Quebec is a beautiful cathedral, and it’s home to the only Holy Door in the Americas.
The Observatoire de la Capitale offers some of the most impressive panoramic city scenes of Quebec City. It’s up on the 31st floor, and there’s also a great overview of Quebec City’s history (and a charming display about the history of Quebec City Winter Carnival).
Montmorency Falls in the Winter
Montmorency Falls is stunning during the summer months, but it’s a fascinating destination in the winter, too. The waterfall freezes over and eventually forms an impressive ice cone at its base, dubbed the Sugar Loaf. It’s a massive mountain of ice that you can only witness in the winter. The icy falls are lit up at night, making this majestic scene even more magical.
There are lots of Quebec City winter activities happening at Montmorency Falls. For instance, you can go snowshoeing at Montmorency Falls. The cable car is open during certain times, too.
Also, have you ever tried ice climbing? You can go ice climbing at Montmorency Falls for an amazing Quebec City winter adventure. And of course, the suspension bridge is open all winter long.
If you’re looking for more beautiful natural places near Quebec City, you should check out Canyon Ste-Anne. It’s about 30 minutes from Quebec City. Canyon Ste-Anne is home to the first uninterrupted winter via ferrata in the entire world. Please note that Canyon Ste-Anne is only open for via ferrata in the winter. The regular season runs from May to October.
Quebec City’s Toboggan Slide
At Dufferin Terrace near the Chateau Frontenac hotel, there’s a steep toboggan slide that’s an annual tradition. This long luge is one of the oldest attractions in the city, running since 1884. There are three runs side by side, and up to four passengers can ride a toboggan at a time.
Feel the cool breeze as you fly down the icy hill, approaching speeds of 70 km/hour. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Quebec City in winter, and you’ll want to add it to your Quebec City winter bucket list. Here’s a short video to show you just how fast you go on the luge!
Where to Go Ice Skating in Quebec City
Each winter, there is an outdoor skating rink at Place D’Youville in Quebec City. There’s even a system in place to keep the rink frozen during some warmer periods of time. The ice rink is free for everyone to use, and there are skate sharpening and rental services on site. You can’t plan your Quebec City winter trip without doing a little bit of ice skating!
Maple Syrup and Sugar Shacks
Once March rolls around, it’s maple syrup season! Indulge in this tasty Canadian treat at one of several sugar shacks in the region. You can learn about how maple sap is harvested from the trees and transformed into maple syrup. Be sure to taste maple syrup as it’s poured and rolled on top of the snow. One place to eat maple syrup treats is at Village Vacances Valcartier, as mentioned above.
Eat Delicious Food & Enjoy Warm Beverages
I’m not sure how you could visit Quebec City in winter and not sample some of the delicious food and drink around the city! For those who also follow a vegan diet like myself, I put together a vegan restaurant guide to Quebec City.
I also highly recommend taking a trip to the historic Quebec City monastery any time of the year, but especially for their amazing restaurant that focuses on fresh and local cuisine. It’s also a hotel, wellness center, and museum.
Quebec City Winter: A Magical Season
Of course, you can also visit many attractions and activities that are open all year long. I love checking out the public art and street art in Quebec City. The city is also known for its many staircases, and I’m sure you’ll encounter a few on your visit.
And naturally, Quebec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Old Town and Fortifications. A trip to Quebec City isn’t complete without exploring its old fortification walls. After a stroll around the fortified walls, continue walking down the Governor’s Promenade with amazing views of the St. Lawrence River.
I hope this has given you lots of ideas for a winter getaway in Quebec. There are so many fun things to do in Quebec City in winter that you can easily spend a weekend, a few days, or a whole week there. You’ll have the chance to try new winter activities and sports, sleep overnight in an ice hotel, or participate in a local festival. Hope you have a blast on your Quebec City winter getaway!