Quebec has a long history, and the list of things to do in Quebec is almost as long. At the time of the arrival of the French, the Algonquini, Iroquois, and Inuit lived in what is now Quebec. Like many 16th and 17th century explorers, the great purpose of exploring this area was to try to find a passage to Asia, but in 1534 the French explorer Jacques Cartier traveled the St. Louis River. Lawrence and asked for land on behalf of French King Francis I. Until 1603, the French tried to settle the colony in the area which led to the founding of one of the largest cities in the province – the city of Quebec. Based on the fur trade with the local Huron and Iroquois tribes. Over time, the colony grew along with other cities such as Montreal and the Three Rivers. In 1756 France and Britain were at war, and by 1759 the British had managed to take the colony of New France from the French. While under English control, the population had a large French and Catholic population, and in order to keep the population under control and not risk rebellion, the British signed Quebec Act 1774 to enable French settlers to retain their language and culture, hence the reason why the province still speaks French.
Quebec is big. The province is as large as many countries and, as they say, Quebecois are not French. Most people speak French but do not feel any attachment to France, however, English is also very often spoken either as a second language or as a mother tongue. Most bilingual people are based in Montreal, which has a long-standing English community. Services and signs are usually offered in both languages, although depending on some parts of the province, it will be useful for travelers to become familiar with the French language. As said, Quebec is a great place and depending on what you love, there is something for everyone. Camping in the mountains, hiking through the fjords, enjoying delicious food and checking out 17th-century architecture are just the tip of the iceberg. If you will research beautiful province, take a look at these amazing things you can do.
City of Quebec
Take a walk through old Quebec: If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk through a 17th-century French village, now’s your chance. The old city of Quebec has managed to retain much of its charm over the last few hundred years, and if you don’t know where to start your adventure, just take to the streets and wander around. The entire neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with cobbled streets, New French-style architecture and horse-drawn carriages. Most of the area is hiking so you can walk the streets, check out the shops and admire the only walled city north of Mexico. In the winter months when you cool down too much duck into some cozy beer or cool off in the summer months with iced coffee from a small side cafe.
Admire or spend the night in Château Frontenac: A stunning example of sumptuous Victorian architecture Château Frontenac remains after more than 200 years as a symbol of the city. Château Frontenac was built in the late 1800s and is located on top of a hill overlooking the city. From the old town you can see it towering and from the estate itself you will feel like you are the commander of a fort. The hotel is a huge luxury accommodation that was part of a series of luxurious hotels that ran along the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The hotel now offers apartments, spas, heated indoor pools, top-notch meals, balls, luxury car rentals and more. It is literally the city’s architectural diamond, and also holds the world record for “most photographed hotel”.
Hike around Montmorency Falls: Montmorency Falls is a short drive outside downtown Quebec and is almost a full 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. A walk through the old town is fine, but entering nature and hiking are a great way to experience the natural beauty that the province has to offer. The waterfalls are massive and can be viewed from several angles. Climb to the top and check it off the bridge or walk to the lower platform and feel the fog on your face. If you don’t like hiking uphill, there is a gondola service or if you feel particularly hungry for adrenaline, you can also cross it by ziplane, 984 meters in the air.
Quebec Carnival: Winters in Quebec can be quite long and pretty damn cold, but that doesn’t stop locals from going out and enjoying the weather. Since 1984, the Carnaval de Quebec has hosted annual winter festivals that include snow sculptures, ice rinks, winter canoe races, night parades and light shows. It is the second largest winter festival in the world and the largest in Canada. You can also stay in an ice hotel. Made of 500,000 tons of ice, the ice hotel is a huge undertaking that simply disappears in the spring. The hotel has a lifespan of four months, but is a pretty spectacular endeavor of architecture and design. It has 85 rooms, a club house, a bar and a chapel. The beds are covered with fur and sleeping bags, and the only heated space is the sauna. It’s not four-star accommodation, but it’s memorable.
Eat on the way through the city: Montreal is the largest city in the province and the second largest in the state. The city is diverse and home to many different ethnic and immigrant groups offering their own cuisine to share with the world. Montreal is a kind of gourmet city, where you will find fusion cuisine and authentic recipes, along with top European restaurants with street meals.
- Schwartz’s: It may seem like a cliché, but smoked meat in Montreal is truly unique and Schwartz’s has been doing it for over 90 years. It was founded by Reuben Schwartz, a Romanian-Jewish immigrant, and most of the restaurant has not changed since. Even the inscription on the front that says “Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen” is original (and allowed to remain in English). The menu is small, for cash only, and the prices are dirty.
- Bagels: It doesn’t speak New York, but Montreal pastries rule. St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagels are the two largest and most locals have the advantage. Montreal-style bagels are rolled by hand, cooked in sweetened water, and then baked in a wood-fired oven. Montreal pastries are a little thinner and thicker, offering a crispy crust-like exterior.
- Putin: No visit to Montreal is complete without a plate of your favorite provincial dish. Made up of large french fries (though not wedges or chips in the British style), then layered in beef stock sauce (which is neither too gelatinous nor too sparse) and cottage cheese (always curd, never shredded and must be crunchy) the dish is the main food in many restaurants across the city. She is a favorite person who loves night parties and although it is theoretically simple, it is difficult to master. There are variations with different toppings, but the combination of french fries, sauce and cheese must always remain the same.
- Neighborhoods and markets: Montreal is home to a large number of ethnic groups, and in these enclaves in the neighborhood you will find amazing food. Little Italy in Montreal has a multitude of amazing Italian bakeries and delicacies, as well as the large Jean-Talon market where you will find butchers, cheese sellers and bakeries. While Parc-Ex is home to the city’s Greek and South Asian communities. In the Plateau district you will find hipster shops and Little Portugal, while the Lachine Canal is the site of the bustling Atwater Market.
Climb the Royal Mountain: The mountain after which the city is named is one of its biggest tourist and local attractions. Located in the heart of the city, Mount Royal Park is an urban park full of nooks, bike and hiking trails, green areas and a cult lookout point at the top that offers beautiful views of downtown Montreal. Much of the green space in the park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who designed New York’s Prospect Park and Central Park. Take all those calories out of your daily consumption and climb to the top.
Attend the festival: The city has a staggering amount of festivals. Regardless of the time of year, a kind of festival is held. Just For Laughs is one of the largest comedy festivals held annually during July, while the Mondiale de la Bière Festival (World Beer Festival) takes place in early June and features beer and spirits from around the world and Canada. For music lovers, JazzFest is one of the biggest jazz festivals, and Osheaga highlights indie and alternative music, while Heavy MTL is for metal lovers.
Watch the whales: Three hours from the city of Quebec is the town of Tadoussac. The Maritime Region is known for some of the best whale watching places in Quebec. Tours are available where you can hop on a boat either via a private tour or with a group, so you will exit to the St. Louis River. Lawrence where you can observe various marine mammals and whales.
Explore Saguenay Fjord National Park: As home to one of the few fjords in North America, the Saguenay Fjord National Park has consistently been ranked as one of the most beautiful places in the area. The fjord is located along the eastern end of the Saguenay River, and the surrounding area offers many hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing and more in the area. Just bring a camera.
Hike the Appalachian Trail: Hiking the Appalachian Trail is on the list for many hikers and nature lovers, and while the American part of the trail starts in Maine, the mountain range stretches north from the Quebec border and up through Labrador. Excursion groups are available for inexperienced trekkers who offer guided tours, meals and shelter. Or you can go out on your own and walk the legendary trails and mountains.
Check out World War II battlefield in Forillon National Park: While most of the fighting for Canada was fought in Europe, the battle for the Atlantic came near the shores of North America. Located at the mouth of the St Lawrence River, this area played a key role for Allies in World War II. As early as 1941, German submarines were spotted near Newfoundland, and the St Lawrence River was a major target of Allied shipping. By May, coastal cannons and fortifications had been established, and a week later submarines were spotted in the river. From 1942 to 1944, 23 ships were sunk in what is known as the Battle of St. Lawrence. Weapons and fortifications still exist, and the fortification marks a largely forgotten point in the history of Canada’s World War II.
Our last word
Needless to say, we love Canada. From the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula to the Boreal Forest, Quebec is a province full of amazing things to see and discover. The natural wonders and sights are some of the best in the world, and the bustle of its cities makes the region feel lively and diverse. Discover all the amazing nooks and crannies the province has to offer and see why it’s called that beautiful province.