Are you looking for a last minute winter break? Or maybe you're planning next year's winter holiday already? We think Québec should be high up on your list of considerations.
With heavy snow coating Québec’s national parks, cities, lakes and rivers, the province comes alive in the winter season offering one-of-a-kind sports and unique cultural activities that truly embrace the outdoors.
Québec Original, a team dedicated to promoting tourism in the area, has compiled a list of eight essential things to do in the beautiful landscape.
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From the leisurely to the extreme, here are Québec Original's selection of the top winter activities:
1. Experience an off-the-beaten-track Inuit winter adventure in Nunavik
Nunavik is a region in the far north of Québec, home to Inuit communities. As the days grow shorter in Nunavik, visitors are invited to experience the Purirnituq way of life on an immersive four-day journey to discover the remarkable natural landscape and rich cultural history of the Inuit people.
The Arctic landscape becomes the backdrop for dog sled rides, traditional ice fishing and guided expeditions led by local guides.
Visitors can also spend the night under the stars in an igloo, watching the famed aurora borealis dance across the sky for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2. Explore snowshoeing adventure trails in the Laurentians
Whether it’s for the first time or for well-seasoned snowshoe fanatics, Québec’s forests and parks are perfect for exploring the snow on foot in traditional snowshoes.
The Laurentians region, located north of Montréal, offers trails within easy reach of the city where visitors can journey up the Mont Tremblant gondola to take in panoramic views.
After a day snowshoeing visitors can then reward themselves with a traditional hearty fondue in a log cabin nestled in the heart of Mont Tremblant National Park forest.
3. Discover a snowmobilers' heaven in the Lanaudière and Mauricie regions
Invented in Québec and originally known as ‘snow machines’, the province of Québec has over 33,000km of trails and is one of the top destinations to do the sport. The Lanaudière and Mauricie regions offer a combined 4,800 km of maintained snowmobile trails to explore.
Snowmobiling is a great way to take in the view as you cruise through forests and across frozen lakes. Snowmobiling tours range from half-day excursions to sportier, week-long rides crossing the beautiful landscapes of Lanaudière and Mauricie.
4. Taste the flavours of Québec in a traditional sugar shack
Maple Syrup is a Québecois speciality as the region is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world and Montérégie, among other regions in Québec, is home to both rustic and modern sugar shacks which welcome visitors towards the end of their winter season in February and March.
A sugar shack, or ‘cabane à sucre’, is a private house or farm estate where sap created from maple trees is collected and boiled into maple syrup. Visitors can indulge their sweet tooth and try different maple products whilst being part of this grand Canadian tradition.
5. Try ice climbing in Montmorency Falls National Park
Certainly not for the faint hearted, ice climbing is one of Québec’s more extreme winter sports.
The activity involves ascending ice formations such as frozen waterfalls, cliffs or rock slabs with specialised equipment and rope systems. At 83m tall, Montmorency Falls is 30m higher than Niagara Falls and has one of the most beautiful ice falls in North America, famed for the ‘sugar loaf’ formation created when spray from the water freezes to form a mound of ice and snow at the base.
The falls lie just 12km from the centre of Québec City, an easy day out for those staying in the city and looking to try their hand at ice climbing.
6. Go ice fishing in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
Originally practised by the First Nations of Québec, ice fishing or ‘pêche blanche’ as it’s known in Québec, is enjoyed throughout the province once the ice is thick enough on rivers and lakes.
To protect themselves from the cold temperatures, fishing enthusiasts often set up small huts on the ice or snowmobile across the frozen lake to find the best spot.
The region offers fantastic fishing with large numbers of redfish, cod and black turbot inhabiting the Saguenay Fjord and Saint-Jean Lake. So why not turn farm to table on its head and enjoy lake to larder!
7. Enjoy cross country skiing before relaxing in a Nordic spa in Outaouais
Gatineau Park, located in the Outaouais region, offers numerous sports and activities to make the most of the snow and cross country skiing is one of the most popular winter sports.
A great way to work out and take in the scenery there are plenty of trails to explore. After a day spent in the snow it’s time to relax in the largest outdoor spa in North America, Nordik Spa Nature. With treatments inspired by Scandinavian spas, Nordik Spa Nature offers an all-round reviving experience.
Visitors can experience thermotherapy, book a Källa treatment, or visit the Banyä, a type of sauna inspired by a traditional Russian treatment.
8. Discover the wildlife of the Québec Maritime regions
Seasonal migrations and mating habits make winter the perfect time to get up close with nature in Québec. Discover wildlife and spectacular winter scenery in the Québec maritime regions, including the Appalachians, Percé Rock and the immense St. Lawrence River as it meets the Atlantic.
Annually, around 250,000 harp seals migrate from Greenland to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to give birth to their pups on the ice floes surrounding the Îles de la Madeleine. For centuries the pups have been hunted for their immaculate white pelts, but today baby harp seals are protected, and for several weeks each year you can participate in a seal-watching excursions to observe the whitecoats up close.
In 2019, between 21st February and 18th March, round trips between Quebec City and the Magdalen Islands will offer visitors the chance to observe these unique creatures in their natural habitat.
During the excursions great care is taken to ensure that the seals are not disturbed by the presence of visitors. Excursions usually last for three hours and protective winter gear is often supplied.
Thanks again to Québec Original for supplying this list.