I’m probably committing the biggest sin an Ontarian can do by writing this article. But trust me when I say it’s for the greater good. So, here it goes: Quebec is a great province and a fantastic place to spend a vacation. There, I said it. You can take my Ontario health card away. I’ll be seeing myself out now.
Okay, okay. All jokes about intra-province hatred aside, I am genuine in my belief that Quebec is an overlooked vacation destination. One of the original provinces of Canada, this French Province is one steeped with culture and history. It is a melting pot of various influences that have left it one of Canada’s most distinct areas. I would even argue that there is no other place in North America, state or province, that even comes close in comparison.
But outside of Quebec’s status as “that place in Canada where people speak French,” I find that most people, Canadian or otherwise, don’t know all that much about Quebec. Let alone the fact that Quebec is a fantastic place to spend a vacation! I hope to change some minds and open some eyes to the possibilities present in this Canadian Province.
Common Misconceptions about Quebec
Before I get into the dazzling places you can spend time at during your Quebecois vacation, I want to clear up two beliefs about Quebec that people often have.
You have to be able to speak French to go to Quebec.
This statement is mostly false. Almost half of Quebec’s population are bilingual, with thirteen percent just speaking English. It mostly depends on where you’d be going in Quebec. The farther away from the major cities you get, the more likely it will be for residents to mostly speak French. But, if you’re sticking to tourist-centric areas or heavily populated areas like Montreal, you should be perfectly fine with just English.
Speaking of Montreal, that brings me to the next misconception…
The only place worth visiting in Quebec is Montreal.
No, no, no, no! That is not true at all. Don’t get me wrong, Montreal is a great city. I’ve loved my time there each time I’ve gone. But there is so much more to see, do, and explore in Quebec. There is quite literally an entire province worth of other areas that you could potentially visit. And while, yes, Montreal is a fantastic place to visit, don’t be afraid to explore past the city limits.
Now without further ado, let’s move onto the proper list of some of Quebec’s best places and attractions.
Arbraska Zipline Parks
Perhaps this is slightly cheating, considering Arbraska has a series of locations across southern Quebec. Still, I couldn’t bring myself not to mention them. For anyone who thinks themselves an adrenaline junkie, Arbraska Zipline Parks would make for an excellent day.
In Arbraska, patrons can choose from different levels of ziplining that fit their comfort levels. Their zipline and aerial game treks come in various heights and difficulties, so there will be a course for everyone’s comfort level. A few parks also have a dedicated children’s space. Even young kids can enjoy some adventure with those spaces by playing in the treehouses and testing the mini-ziplines.
For those who feel at ease with heights, Arbraska has some very fun opportunities. The aerial courses do scale in difficulty, but the real draw is the mega ziplines. This exhilarating experience sends you flying across incredibly long lines from one treetop deck to another.
Finally, for anyone who prefers to keep both feet firmly on the ground, Arbraska has something for you, too. Many of Arbraska’s parks offer hiking trails that you can walk and enjoy the nature surrounding you.
I personally would recommend giving the Rigaud location a visit for those familiar with ziplining, as the mega ziplines in that park are phenomenal. But each site offers something unique to them, making each of them an excellent choice in their own right. If there is one close to where you plan on vacationing, take advantage of it and spend a day of fun at Arbraska’s Zipline Parks.
Yes, I included the whole of Quebec City on this list. Why might you ask? Because I think the city deserves a moment in the spotlight. After all, I’ve met countless Canadians who are under the impression that Montreal is the capital of Quebec when it is, in fact, Quebec City.
Besides being the seat of the Quebec government, Quebec City is also one of the oldest cities in North America. In fact, the district of Old Quebec is the most intact fortified district outside of Mexico. UNESCO has even designated the area as a world heritage site. Walk the district’s winding streets and marvel at the distinctly French architecture as you visit the local shops and cafes. Unique boutiques and artisan shops dot the neighbourhood with amazing goods you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re interested in the arts, Quebec City is a great stop for you. It is home to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), a fine arts museum with a collection of 40’000 pieces. The museum features work from some of Quebec’s greatest artists dating back to the 17th century and some incredible pieces by Inuit artists.
There are also plenty of beautiful natural spaces in and around the city. Some highlights include the impressive Montmorency Falls Park (the waterfall there is 30m taller than Niagara Falls!) or the vast plains of Abraham. This beautiful park was also the historical battleground for the French and British forces.
Quebec City has a little bit of something for everyone and is an absolute must-stop if you plan a trip to the Province.
When putting together this article, I knew I had to include something related to skiing. Winters in Quebec are long, cold and pretty – making it a perfect natural fit for sports that rely on the snow and ice.
And while there are dozens of great ski spots scattered all around Quebec, I’ve chosen to mention Mont Tremblant. Tremblant is an incredibly popular mountain due to its reputation as a great spot to ski. A friend of mine who is an avid skier goes so far as to claim it as one of the best, if not the best, hills in Canada. But that is a debate I won’t be getting into here.
Boasting 102 total trails, Tremblant has something for every level of comfort. And for those wholly inexperienced or just looking to hone their skills, there is the Mount Tremblant Snow School. Visitors of any age can take lessons from certified instructors in skiing or snowboarding that help you learn to conquer the mountain at your own pace.
Tremblant also offers trails geared towards cross-country skiing, fat biking and snowshoeing for anyone looking for something more relaxing. But that still isn’t even the extent of what you can do when visiting Tremblant!
Various hotels are available all around the area, each boasting its own amenities and features. Many of them are even ski-in and ski-out, which means that you can ski right to their front doors if you wanted to.
Located at the foot of the mountain is the wonderfully charming pedestrian village. You can wander through picturesque streets and explore the various shops and boutiques. You might even bump into some of the different street performers who are there almost year-round. There is also great nightlife with a wide variety of bars and restaurants to choose from.
Mont Tremblant is a fantastic destination and is somewhere everyone should consider when planning a winter holiday getaway.
Did you know you could go on an exhilarating boat excursion only a few minutes from downtown Montreal? I’m here to tell you that yes, in fact, you can! Montreal Rafting is a company that offers fun experiences on the white-water rapids of St. Lawrence River.
For those who want to get hands-on, there are two rafting levels to choose from. A family-friendly route that takes a calmer section of the Lachine rapids is available, with the opportunity to do some swimming at the end. Alternatively, a more adventurous route is available. It tackles some of the more powerful waves for a more adrenaline-pumping experience.
But that’s not all! If you’re the kind of person that prefers to sit back and let technology do the heavy lifting, then Montreal Rafting’s jet boating is the option for you. Climbing aboard one of these boats enables you to ride along some of the most vigorous rapids of the St.Lawrence river, and all you have to do is strap in and enjoy yourself.
Montreal Rafting provides everything you need to participate in one of these adventures. So once you reserve your spot, you don’t have to worry about getting any equipment yourself.
I highly recommend Montreal Rafting. I had the pleasure of getting aboard one of their jet boats, and it’s an experience I remember fondly to this day. If you want an experience that will get your blood pumping but not lead you too far from the city, Montreal Rafting is perfect for you.
Valcartier Vacation Village
An Ice hotel, two water parks and a spa, all located only a half-hour north of Quebec City? It all sounds too good to be true. But Valcartier Vacation Village is the real deal!
Hôtel de Glace, the only ice hotel in North America, is a highly rated experience. Visitors have raved about the ice sculptures and the surprising warmth of the rooms. There is even a dedicated hot tub area and sauna area to warm up during your stay. For visitors travelling in the summer months (or perhaps anyone just not keen on ice), there is also a regular hotel you can stay in.
Valcartier’s Aroma Spa, open to both hotel guests and walk-ins, is the perfect way to unwind. Patrons can choose to participate in the popular hydrotherapy activities, get massages from expert masseuses or pamper themselves with the various available beauty treatments.
If you’d prefer to spend an afternoon up and moving around, then look no further than Valcartier’s two waterparks. You can have fun no matter the weather at the indoor Bora Parc, which features a winding adventure river and a giant wave pool. Or you can enjoy the sunshine at Valcartier’s outdoor waterpark, which boasts 35 slides and 100 water games!
If you’re someone who feels at home in the water or is constantly looking for unique experiences, or even just wanting a new way to unwind, then Valcartier Vacation Village is an excellent choice for you.
We’ve reached the end!
And that concludes our list of Quebec attractions! I hope I’ve been able to be informative and offer a fresh glance at this Canadian Province. Which one would you visit if you got the change? For anyone familiar with Quebec, are there any hidden gems that travellers should know about? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Did you enjoy this article, but wish I had talked more about Montreal? In that case, I recommend you take a look at this blog post written by another writer on Yoair.
But that’s all from me! I wish you the best of luck in your future vacation planning.