7 hidden gems in Québec

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Hikers sit and enjoy the sunset in Charlevoix, Quebec

If you’re booking flights to Canada, Québec is an incredible destination to visit, with myriad hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From the preserved ramparts of the Old Town to the stone towers that look over the Plains of Abraham, evidence of the various heritages that co-exist can be found across the province. The colourful culture found in Québec means that festivities and spectacular landscapes are aplenty. Festivals of lights, music and film celebrate the Anglophone and Francophone heritages, and monuments across the province document its history.

Francophone, Anglophone and the 10 First Nations have each influenced the architectural style which can be uncovered by heading into one of the many museums to find out more about Québec’s past or travelling down the cobbled streets from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage.

Read our other articles about Québec here:

How to spend 48 hours in Quebec City

The ultimate Quebec bucket list

Quebec: The Canadian city with Nouvelle-France flair

Québec can sometimes be overlooked when first-time visitors to Canada flock to the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia. However, Québec has absolutely stunning natural attractions. The province is much larger than many people realise and is full of diverse scenery. In addition to dozens of parks protected by Québec’s Sépaq outdoor network, there are also two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read on to discover Québec’s natural beauty and find out why you should swap the Rockies for Québec’s rolling hills, dramatic valleys and mighty rivers.

1.      Grands-Jardins National Park

The Grands-Jardins National Park is a stunning retreat for hikers, skiers and anglers. This national park is often considered one of the most beautiful parts of Charlevoix – a region already renowned for its natural beauty. The park is lush with boreal spruce, where caribou tread softly between trees and tundra.

 

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2.      Anticosti

On the idyllic stretch of the Gulf of St. Lawrence lies Anticosti island, the largest island in Quebec’s province that is separated by the Labrador Peninsula to the north and the Gaspésie Peninsula to the south.  The undisturbed serenity of Anticosti is like something out of ‘The Land Before Time’, with the landscape characterised by windswept beaches, forests of fragrant spruce and aspen, and isolated waterfalls. In the island’s National Park, you can see white-tailed deer graze on seaweed along the shoreline, while salmon teem in the emerald green rivers.

 

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3.      Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie

The name might be a mouthful, but this park is a joy. A series of river valleys cut deep into the high-sided mountains, where the Malbaie River winds through untouched sugar maple and American elm forests. The park is part of the UNESCO Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve – an area protected due to its fragile biodiversity. Activities range from snowshoeing, skating and ice climbing in winter to kayaking, cruising and hiking in summer.

 

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4.      Bas-Saint-Laurent

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region stretches from the banks of the St. Lawrence River to the Highlands, making it a diverse region full of rich maritime history and forested landscapes. We love it for its quiet seclusion and stunning sunsets. It’s the perfect location to visit quaint villages and islands and to spot marine mammals. Bas-Saint-Laurent offers spectacular memories only a couple of hours’ drive from Québec City.

 

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5.      Saguenay Fjord National Park

If you like camping, eco-adventures, kayaking and other outdoorsy activities, then this is the park you need to visit. The glacier-cut region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean boasts 1,150ft high cliffs dotted with quaint villages and the Saguenay Fjord National Park is the best spot to experience it. A little-known area teamed with some out-of-this-world scenery results in a quiet, crowd-free experience in breath-taking surroundings. For the more intrepid, it is a fantastic way to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled outdoors with activities such as biking, kayaking and exploring the Via Ferrata.

 

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6.      Mont-Tremblant National Park

Mont-Tremblant National Park has six great rivers and more than 100 lakes and streams. Needless to say, it’s a must-visit destination if you like canoeing or kayaking. There is also a via ferrata route (fixed cable climbing route) that will let you make the most of those stunning mountain views. In the summer, zip your way down the zip line network from the very top of the Tremblant Mountain. In the winter you can slide your way down the endless slopes and cosy up by the fire in one of the several hotels in the quaint pedestrian village of Mont Tremblant.

 

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7.      Eastern Townships

The lush landscape of the Eastern Townships borders the United States for 186 miles, providing space for outdoor adventure and relaxation. The area is important in understanding the heritage and history of Québec, as this is where British, Irish and American settlers came to live during the 18th century. Following the Townships Trail is one of the best ways to view the highlights of this area, showcasing 31 noteworthy towns and villages along the way.

 

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Are you tempted to visit? If you’d like to experience Québec’s hidden beauty spots, check out our driving holiday which takes in plenty of natural wonders that are off the beaten track:

Splendid Nature of Québec Holiday

 

Hero image credit: Steve Deschênes for Tourism Québec

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