Quebec is a vibrant, multicultural Canadian province that is often referred to as the “Europe of North America”. It’s the only official French province in the country and it’s unlike any other tourist destination on the continent.
Quebec is known for its rich settlement history, its predominantly French-speaking population, and its robust tourism industry. Its European feel and preservation of French culture set this province apart from its Canadian neighbors.
Let’s discover what makes Quebec one of the most distinct destinations in North America!
1. Old Quebec
If there’s one destination that Quebec is known for, it’s Quebec City.
Quebec City is the capital of the province and one of the oldest settlements in North America. The historic quarter of Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts millions of visitors every year.
The charm and heritage of the Old Quebec district is unmatched. With a long history of over 400 years, Quebec offers amazing architecture that’s not found anywhere else in North America.
Step back in time as you stroll the cobblestone streets and admire the 17th-century buildings. You may feel like you’re wandering an old European city, but make no mistake – you are indeed in Canada!
Discover Old Quebec’s long history at one of its many museums including the Musée du Fort, Musée de la Civilisation and Musée des Ursulines. For the best city views, take a ferry ride along the gorgeous St. Lawrence River.
Don’t forget to stop for a drink at Quebec City’s oldest pub, L’Oncle Antoine. Established in 1754, this basement watering hole has an amazing selection of draft beers!
If there is one dish that Quebec is famous for, it’s poutine – an incredibly unhealthy combination of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
This ultimate comfort food originated from Quebec in the 1950s and has become one of the most iconic Canadian foods. The name of the dish is actually slang for “mess” – but this mess sure tastes good!
Poutine is commonly found at pubs, sports venues, and food trucks. Even fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King offer it as a side dish. Evolving from its original ingredients, today you will come across unique poutine creations made with everything from pulled pork to lobster.
From poutine-eating contests to nationwide festivals like La Poutine Week, this signature Quebec dish is a hit for many. As the French say, bon appétit!
3. French Language
The Francophone culture is still very much alive in Canada’s only French province. In fact, 94% of residents speak French.
Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Although most people in Montreal are bilingual, you will rarely hear the English language in any other part of the province.
The combination of Quebec’s historical founding and present day advocates keeps the province predominantly French-speaking.
But don’t be too concerned about language barriers if you are visiting – especially in Old Quebec. Known for their friendliness, locals want you to love the French culture just as much as they do!
4. Montmorency Falls Park
Who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls? Located 15 minutes from Quebec City, Montmorency Falls Park is the region’s second most visited tourist attraction after Old Quebec.
No matter the time of year, spending a few hours or an entire day at this magnificent park is well worth it. Most people are surprised to learn that the falls are actually 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls!
There are several different ways to view the falls including from a cable car, a suspension bridge, or a neighboring staircase. All provide stunning views of this natural marvel that you’ll want to capture on your visit.
While the waterfalls are the main draw, the park also offers hiking, rock climbing, and zip-lining for those seeking a little more adrenaline.
5. Maple Syrup
Did you know that the province of Quebec produces 75% of the world’s maple syrup supply? The sugar maple leaf is even represented on Canada’s flag. More than 11 million gallons of this natural resource comes out of sugar shacks in Quebec every year.
Maple syrup production is a huge industry for the Quebec economy, bringing in over $400 million annually. In 2012, over 3000 tons of maple syrup were stolen from local suppliers and this became known as the “The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist”.
Canadian maple syrup is referred to as “liquid gold” around the world – and for good reason. Not only does it taste delicious, this natural sweetener is also rich in vitamins and nutrients to help boost your immune system.
While visiting Quebec, be sure to indulge in some famous derivatives like maple taffy or maple beer!
6. Mont Tremblant
If you are looking for a winter break, look no further than a weekend trip to Mont Tremblant. This world-class ski destination is only a two-hour drive from Montreal, and is the perfect place to play in the snow.
Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, this ski town is a European-style pedestrian village mixed with newly updated amenities, restaurants, and boutiques.
Boasting an impressive 102 ski trails, the resort is an excellent choice for both seasoned and beginner skiers. Quebec is known to have some of the snowiest winters in Canada, adding to the majestic feel of the picturesque Mont Tremblant.
While it is known for its remarkable skiing, the area offers plenty of other activities including ice climbing, winter biking, a Scandinavian spa and much more. Enjoy a few days in a Quebec winter wonderland!
7. Celine Dion
Celine Dion, the worldwide singing sensation, is one of the most famous people to hail from Quebec. She was the youngest of 14 children raised in Charlemagne, a small town just northeast of Montreal.
Celine began her music career at the age of 12 of quickly became known for her powerful vocals and emotionally driven performances. She rose to international fame in 1991 after releasing the Grammy Award-winning duet “Beauty and the Beast” with Peabo Bryson.
Her greatest hit, however, came from her recording of “My Heart Will Go On”, the theme song for the blockbuster movie Titanic. Whether you love it or hate it, you know the song.
Today, she has released a total of 27 albums and has the most successful Las Vegas performance residency of all-time. From humble beginnings to a net worth of $800 million, Celine’s story should inspire people of all circumstances to work hard and follow their big dreams.
Quebec is home to the second-largest city in Canada, Montreal. The city is a cultural hub full known for its rich history, amazing shopping, and world-renowned universities.
Montreal is one of the most desirable and most populated student cities in the world. Universities like McGill and Concordia attract thousands of students every year.
Known as Canada’s party city, Montreal has a vibrant nightlife that draws in youngsters who want a mix of study and party. From upscale cocktail bars to underground nightclubs, Montreal’s nightlife is world-famous.
The past meets present in Old Montreal – one of the liveliest neighborhoods in the city. The district is full of trendy cafes, galleries, and lofts within a stretch of cobblestone streets. Spend the day shopping at the many unique boutiques on St. Paul Street – the oldest street in Montreal.
The city is also home to the most beloved hockey team in Canada – the Montreal Canadians, also referred to as “The Habs”. They are the oldest team in the National Hockey League, and one of the most successful franchises in all of sports.
Check out this post for more of what Montreal has to offer.
9. The Citadel
No trip to Quebec would be complete without visiting The Citadel – a star-shaped fortress in Quebec’s capital city. Built by the British in 1832, this remarkable landmark is the only military fortress that is still active in all of North America.
There are 25 buildings within the fortress walls, so taking a guided tour is a must when visiting the Citadel. Discover over 300 years of military history and secrets as you wander through this National Historic Site.
During the summer, you can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony performed by the Royal 22nd Regiment. Aligned with its European roots, the ceremony is based on the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London. The ceremony is a must-see for all visitors to Quebec’s capital!
10. National Parks
Although Quebec is primarily known for its rich history, it also offers an abundant amount of wilderness for nature lovers. With 27 national parks to choose from, you’re never a far drive away from your next outdoor adventure.
For canoeing or kayaking enthusiasts, head to Saguenay Fjord Park. More impressive than its name, here you can spot seals, whales, and belugas as you paddle on the waterways.
Jacques-Cartier Park is the best for camping and wildlife sightings. Oka Park offers an especially vast range of activities including hiking, stand-up paddling, pedal boats, snowshoeing and more.
Immerse yourself in the outdoor joie de vivre while exploring some of the best national parks Quebec has to offer.
11. Winter Carnival
Quebec is known for hosting the largest Winter Carnival in the world. The annual festival takes place over 17 days and attracts nearly half a million visitors every year!
The Winter Carnival, referred to by locals as La Carnaval, is a family-friendly event with activities for all ages. During the festival, you can ride a horse-drawn carriage through the snowy Plains of Abraham, make your own (and eat) maple taffy, or explore the outstanding Ice Palace.
The main event is the Night Parade which features colorful floats and an appearance by the festival’s mascot, Bonhomme.
Like most of Canada, winters in Quebec can be frigid so be sure to bundle up to enjoy all the festivities. La Carnaval offers residents and visitors an exceptional winter experience that represents Quebec’s joie de vivre!
12. Chateau Frontenac
Quebec’s famous Chateau Frontenac is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. This architectural treasure sits atop Cap Diamont and overlooks the beautiful St. Lawrence River in fortified Old Quebec.
From royal visits to classic films, the luxurious hotel has been a destination for many famous people. The hotel has stayed true to its old-world charm, with its grand lobby and hand-painted ceilings. The guest rooms are elegantly furnished, making guests like royalty themselves.
Enjoy afternoon tea at the Place Dufferin restaurant or pamper yourself at the Moment Spa. The hotel has so much history – it even offers public guided tours.
If you ever have the chance, splurge and stay at the glamorous Chateau Frontenac – even just for one night!
13. Just for Laughs Comedy Festival
They say laughter is medicine for the soul, and Montreal gets people laughing. The annual Just for Laughs Festival has been a Montreal tradition for almost 40 years. It brings together over 1700 artists from 19 countries, and has become the biggest comedy festival in the world.
Over the years, the comedy extravaganza has welcomed big names including Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, and many more. Just for Laughs has become its own brand, and broadcasts festival performances on its own television shows and specials.
The festival also serves as an opportunity for new talent to showcase their comedic skills. If you want to take your shot at comedy, or you just really love to laugh, consider visiting Montreal in the summer during the event.
The historical cities, lush landscapes, and French heritage make this Canadian province a truly unique travel destination. Are you ready to explore the enchanting culture of Quebec?
Leave a comment down below if you would love to visit!