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quebec beautiful winter window

How beautiful is this window in old Québec City?

There’s something about Québec City that brings out the romantic in all of us. Whether it’s the cobblestoned streets of the Lower Town, or the historic, castle-like architecture of Chateau Frontenac perched high above the picturesque St. Lawrence River, this city has all the ingredients for a perfect grownup getaway in any season.

But add a pretty layer of freshly fallen snow to all of the above, a visit to a nearby frozen waterfall and one of the best views of the city enjoyed over local wine and other goodies, and I challenge anyone not to fall head over heels in love with winter here.  We did, and here’s how you can, too.

Visit the photogenic Chateau Frontenac

Quebec Chateau Frontenac winter

Québec City’s iconic Chateau Frontenac

Even when the temperatures dip to minus 15 on the thermometer, Québec City sparkles brighter than ever. And the city’s poster child in any season has to be the Chateau Frontenac, recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world. With its turreted towers, steeply sloping roofs with their green patina, interior courtyard and historic decor, if this doesn’t look like a castle out of a winter wonderland, I don’t know what does.So whether you stop in for a drink, or just take your mittens off to snap a photo, the Chateau is a must-see on your winter itinerary – and with a deep blue sky on a cold winter day, there’s no better backdrop!

Go tobogganing on Dufferin Terrace

If you think that the Dufferin Terrace (the long promenade adjacent to the Chateau) is just for strolling in summer, don’t miss one of its features that you can only enjoy in winter: the toboggan slide, built in 1884 and still in use today. With speeds that can reach 70 kilometres per hour, sliding down this slippery slope is great fun for kids and adults alike, so get your $3 ticket, haul your wooden toboggan up the ramp, and enjoy the view from the top as much as the ride to the bottom! The fact that this slide is as popular now as it was 132 years ago is more proof that this city doesn’t just tolerate winter, it embraces it.

Quebec City toboggan run

Québec’s famous 19th century toboggan run on the Terrace near the Chateau Frontenac

Stroll the Petit Champlain Quarter

Any visit to Québec City has to include a stroll through Le Petit Champlain, a series of narrow streets below the Chateau that are paved with cobblestones and filled with boutiques, historic architecture and in some cases, 4-story tromp l’ceil murals on the sides of some of the buildings.

Quebec city mural

it’s hard to know where the mural ends and the sky begins

But in winter, this area of the city is particularly photogenic with shoppes pulling out all the stops to dress up their stores with lush evergreens and in some cases, quirky or unusual decor.

quebec rustic window

Le Petit Champlain area is filled with cobbled streets and charming winter decor on its stores

To get to the Petit Champlain area, take the staircase down from in front of the Chateau, or ride the original 1879 Funicular if you want to go old school. Or do both like we did, climbing down and riding back up – either way you’ll get a unique perspective on this part of the city.

Quebec City staircase

The Chateau Frontenac seen from the staircase that takes you from the Dufferin Terrace to the Lower Town

Wander Québec City by night

It isn’t just the Petit Champlain area that gets all dressed up for winter. The rest of the city keeps its winter finest on as well, sometimes with garlands and bows, and sometimes just with a blanket of fresh snow on its stone arches and window sills. Nighttime is even more magical both inside and outside the walled city, so bundle up and walk around to experience a wintery Québec City after dark.

Québec City's Parliament Building at night

Québec City’s Parliament Building at night


quebec kent gate night

The Kent Gate in Québec City

Fall for Montmorency Falls

Just 10 minutes outside Québec City lies one of its most popular nearby attractions: Montmorency Falls, a 275-foot high cascade at the mouth of the Montmorency River, and just as popular in the winter as in the summer months. Winter transforms this spectacular waterfall into a frozen cascade of ice where even in the most frigid of temperatures, rushing water continues to spill over its cliff, and clouds of freezing mist collect at the bottom in a giant mount of snow and ice known as the Pain de sucre (sugar loaf).

Montmorency falls

Visitors to Montmorency Falls can walk right up to the sugar loaf at the bottom

Some years the Sugar Loaf grows to be 60 or 70 feet high, but this year the winter had been so mild, it was more of a ‘cupcake’ than a full loaf, but we could still get up close to it by following a path that runs around the edge of the frozen river mouth. Being at the bottom of the falls also gave us some great views of the impressive staircase that takes summer visitors down for a closer look.

montmorency falls staircase

The Montmorency staircase is closed in the winter, but beautiful nonetheless

Admission to Montmorency Park also includes a ride up the cable car to the top of the falls, where you can walk across a suspension bridge that extends right over the top of the falls. I’d highly recommend riding up not only for the fun of taking a cablecar but also because the views are spectacular from both it and the bridge.

Que Falls from cablecar

Take the cable car for a fantastic view of Montmorency Falls

We happened to be visiting on the weekend of Valentine’s Day. and our ride in the cable car gave us a view over these footprints in the snow, further proof that we weren’t the only ones falling in love here.

Que heart shapes snow

Hearts in the snow made by winter-lovers, or just lovers?

Watch the frozen St. Lawrence float by on Île d’Orleans

Across the river from Montmorency Falls is one of the Québec City area’s best kept secrets (in winter, at least!): the picturesque Île d’Orleans. Known as the ‘Garden of Québec’, by summer the island beckons with its pretty collection of farms, vineyards and orchards, whose rolling hills and valleys spill down to the St. Lawrence River’s edge. But in winter, the island is beautiful in another way, with snow blanketing the fields and smoke puffing out of the farmhouses’ red roofs and stone chimneys.

At the extreme western tip of the island lies the village of Sainte-Pétronille, and a hidden gem of a restaurant that also offers one of the best panoramas of the river and the Québec City skyline – the Auberge la Goéliche.

Auberge la Goéliche on the Île d'Orleans

Auberge la Goéliche on the Île d’Orleans

The perfect place to view the sunset, the Auberge is also a great option if you want to taste the best of what the island’s farms have to offer, with a menu comprised of locally-made products, including wine. It was late afternoon when we drove here, so we indulged in a sampling of the local charcuterie and cheese, while watching massive chunks of ice float past on the near-frozen St. Lawrence.

Charcuterie board

Delicious local meats and cheese from Île d’Orleans farms


Auberge la Goéliche table

Can you imagine a better table than this one at the Auberge la Goéliche?

As the sun began to set, we reluctantly left our table, but found ourselves staying outside a few moments longer in order to capture these gorgeous wintery images before heading back across the bridge to Québec City.


Ice and steam on the frozen St. Lawrence river look spectacular at sunset seen from Île d’orleans


que gazebo sunset

Sunset from Sainte-Pétronille

Having visited Québec City a few times now, we can definitely attest to the fact that this area is beautiful no matter which season you visit. But if you are looking for a place for a grownup getaway in Canada’s coldest months, there’s no better place than Québec City for #RomancingWinter.

TIP: Of course we can’t forget about Québec City’s world-famous Winter Carnival, (which deserves an entire post of its own). But here’s a tip: with your purchase of the carnival’s entry pass (effigy) also comes with a Passport/discount booklet that includes great deals like a free Funicular ride, and free entrance to Montmorency Falls. We took advantage of both of these during our own visit.

Quebec City logo orange
Special thanks to City of Québec Tourism and the Carnaval de Québec for hosting my stay and providing the opportunity for me to explore some of the region.


PINTEREST_QuebecCity winter
Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

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