An aerial view of the natural beauty in Québec
The province of Québec is home to beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, and a fascinating colonial history that makes it feel like a country within a country. In addition, the province is home to an iconic culture encompassing distinctly North American and European identities.
Québec is Canada’s largest province in terms of landmass, and with its rolling hills, vineyards, and lakes, the province is a must-visit during the summer months. In this guide, we look at some of the top attractions you can visit and activities you can do in Québec during the summer.
Québec City is Canada’s oldest city, and it is its authentic old-world charm that also makes it one of the country’s most picturesque. Its cobbled streets, Parisian-style cafes, incredible architecture and designer boutiques are some of the reasons that make this a holiday destination to remember.
The city is home to lots of incredible attractions. For example, we would highly recommend strolling around the streets of Old Québec – a UNESCO World Heritage treasure – as it is like journeying back in time. It is also one of the best ways to get introduced to the city and learn about its French heritage, as you can see the likes of Château Frontenac, an iconic landmark and a great example of French architecture that can be seen across the city.
If you are a foodie, you will love Québec City as it is famed for a cuisine that is a melting pot of European and Aboriginal influences. However, we’d recommend you do your research as the city is home to so many restaurants that you could easily spend an hour just looking through all the different menus.
Anda Galffy is an award-winning travel writer who runs the Travel Notes & Beyond blog, and she loved the food in the city: “Québec City is a food paradise! It would be a pity to visit the city and not taste its delicacies. I had the opportunity to go on a food tour with a local guide from the Québec City tourist board.
“One food that you should try in Québec City is poutine. This is a nationally beloved dish made with French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Fattening but delicious! The Québecois argue that poutine was actually invented here in the province.”
What separates Québec City from other major cities worldwide is its proximity to beautiful nature locations. As a result, anyone visiting can enjoy a mix of city life and culture as well as stunning natural landscapes.
Montmorency Falls is one example of stunning natural beauty just a few minutes from Québec City. The waterfall is 83 metres high, 30 metres higher than the iconic Niagara Falls, and is nestled amongst rivers and cliffs, making it a stunning place to visit. The summer is a great time to visit Montmorency Falls as not only are there lots of hiking trails you can go on, but there is a zip line that you can experience.
If you are looking at flights to Canada, you can book a direct flight from London into Québec City during the summer. This is another reason the city should be on your bucket list of places to visit!
ALSO READ: How to spend 48 Hours in Québec City
Visit Québec’s other vibrant cities and enjoy the festivals
Whilst Québec City is a must-visit, there are other incredible cities that you can explore in Québec, such as Montréal.
Montréal is the second-largest city in Canada after Toronto, and it is modern, stylish and cosmopolitan. It is one of Canada’s most multicultural cities. During a visit, you can experience its colourful entertainment and local cuisine and enjoy a range of attractions, including the Notre Dame Basilica and the Montréal Botanical Garden.
Mel, the travel writer behind the BRB Travel Blog, speaks about why she loves Montréal in the summer: “In my opinion, the best time to visit Montréal is during the Summer months (May to August). It feels like Montréalers cannot get enough of the good temperatures and live outside on the bar patios and parks.
“The Summer is home to the best festivals, such as the Montréal International Jazz Festival and Montréal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. During the summertime, you can also enjoy outdoor patios (called terraces in Montréal) with breathtaking views of the city or enjoy the fireworks competition at one of these pop-up terraces.”
Another reason why you should visit the province of Québec is all of the incredible events and festivals that take place, many of which are free to attend. It’s true that the Québécois love a good party and embody ‘joie de vivre’, and that’s why over 500 festivals and events take place throughout the year, with many organised during the summer months.
Here we take you through some of the top festivals and events you can enjoy in Québec:
•Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (24 June) – the holiday marks the summer solstice and honours the patron saint of French Canadians—Jean Baptiste, or John the Baptist. You should expect lots of bonfires, dancing, the singing of traditional folk songs, parades, and music concerts by local, national, and international artists.
•Festival International De Jazz, Montréal (29 June-8 July) – Founded in 1980, it is now recognised by Guinness World Records as the largest jazz festival on the planet. Located in the heart of downtown Montréal, there are around 150 indoor concerts and more than 350 free, open-air shows that you can visit to see jazz legends and some of the finest up-and-coming artists in the world.
•Wendake International Pow Wow, Québec City (30 June-2 July) – bringing together 11 Indigenous nations and more than 200 dancers, this traditional Pow Wow celebrates the cultures of the First Nations peoples.
•Canada Day (1 July) – The day commemorates the joining of Canada’s original three provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Canada province, which is now known as Ontario and Québec) as one nation in 1867. Québec City usually has a range of activities organised to celebrate Canada Day, and it is well worth visiting the Plains of Abraham and Fort Saint-Louis as there will be events taking place at both locations.
•Festival d’été de Québec, Québec City (6-16 July) – Considered the most important outdoor musical event in Canada, this festival in the heart of Québec City presents a string of international superstars along with top new talents. Showcasing 1,000 artists over 300 shows, this is a must-do event for music lovers.
•Just For Laughs Montréal (14-29 July) – This is considered the king of comedy festivals, and it is a mecca for the most side-splitting and madcap comedians from around the globe.
•Le Festif! de Baie-Saint-Paul, Charlevoix (20-23 July) – this popular musical and circus-arts festival takes place in the heart of downtown Baie-Saint-Paul at 25 different show sites.
•Grands Feux Loto-Québec, Québec City (1-24 August) – from an excellent vantage point on the bank of the St. Lawrence River, you can watch the brilliant pyrotechnical display light up the night sky.
•Montréal Pride, Montréal (3-13 August) – Montréal Pride is an 11-day showcase of equality and inclusion which includes free shows, panels, the ever-popular two Community Day and, of course, the Pride Parade.
•International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (11-20 August) – This festival paints the sky every year as hundreds of balloons take to the sky. You can also enjoy a range of musical and culinary programs, as well as a wide variety of rides and activities.
•Festival Western de Saint-Tite, Saint-Tite (8-17 September) – Attracting more than 600,000 visitors over the ten days of the festival, it is recognised for its breathtaking professional rodeos, major country western shows, festive atmosphere and authentic character.
ALSO READ: 48 hours in Montreal
The culture and history of Québec
Québec is a province that boasts a rich culture and history, which dates back to 1534–35, when the French explorer Jacques Cartier landed at present-day Gaspé and took possession of the land in the name of the king of France.
To really dive deep into the culture and history of the province, you should visit some of the best museums in Québec, and below we have highlighted some great ones to consider.
•Montréal Museum of Fine Arts: the oldest art museum in Canada, its collection showcases Québec and Canadian heritage and international art.
•Musée de la civilisation: this museum in Québec City has lots of exhibitions about the culture and history of Québec. Each exhibition explores a different historical or contemporary topic.
•The Musée de la Nature et des Sciences in Sherbrooke: at this museum, you can learn more about the incredible wildlife that lives in the province of Québec.
It’s not just incredible museums that you can visit, however, as in Québec City you can also learn more about the province’s French heritage at historical villages such as Notre-Dame-du-Portage, Saint-Pacôme, and Stanstead, all of which are home to historical architecture and buildings.
Something else that the province of Québec is famous for is its maritime history, and this is evident still today with a staggering 43 traditional lighthouses dotted along its coastline. The summer is the perfect time to explore them as you can get some spectacular sunset photographs, and some of the most picturesque lighthouses are Phare du Pot a l’Eau-de-Vie and Pointe-a-la-Renommee.
The religious heritage of Québec can also still be seen today, and if you want to experience this, we’d recommend visiting Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montréal or the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
Québec’s indigenous heritage
If you are visiting Québec in the summer, you can organise a trip to meet members of the First Nations communities. This is a whole other way of discovering Québec, and there are a number of unforgettable experiences that offer an opportunity to learn more about ancestral cultures.
With 11 Indigenous nations and more than 50 communities in the province, there are plenty of sites that you can visit.
Below we’ve shared some of the best attractions, events, and experiences you can visit to learn more about Québec’s indigenous heritage:
•Chisasibi Heritage & Cultural Centre, Chisasibi – there are exhibitions that honour and celebrate the indigenous culture of Québec. You can enjoy the artistic craftsmanship at their gift shop and listen to stories and songs from First Nations heritage.
•Gesgapegiag, Gaspésie – this is a Mi’kmaq community located at the mouth of the Cascapedia River, where you can discover the community’s culture through the people.
•First Nations Great Summer Gathering, Mashteuiatsh – an annual event where you can come and dance in the footsteps of First Nations communities. Here you will be able to sample traditional dishes, look at exhibitions from First Nations artists and artisans, watch traditional sports competitions and attend musical performances on the banks of the Pekuakami.
•Stay in First Nations accommodation – across Québec, there is traditional accommodation that has been influenced by First Nations people where you can stay.
•Onhwa’ Lumina, near Québec City – This new multimedia night walk takes you along a 1.2km pathway infused with light, sound and video in celebration of the Huron-Wendat Nation and their way of life.
•Wendake, near Québec City – if you’ve been inspired by Onhwa’ Lumina, there is plenty more Indigenous heritage to discover at Wendake, including traditional workshops and visits to areas of cultural importance. You can even stay at the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, which offers an on-site museum.
The amazing nature of Québec
Another reason that summer is a great time to visit Québec is its great outdoors. With all its natural parks, there are so many outdoor activities you can enjoy and plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities. Read on to discover some of what’s available.
Go whale watching
The waters around Québec are teeming with life; in fact, the province is one of the few places in the world with such a wide variety of cetaceans: no fewer than 13 species.
The summer is one of the best times to see them as the whale watching season runs from May to October, and there are plenty of ways you can watch these magnificent animals. You can go on a specialist whale-watching cruise, or if you really want to get up close, you can go kayaking.
The marine wildlife and whales in Québec that you can see include Beluga whales, Minke whales, Humpback whales, Blue whales, Fin whales, North Atlantic right whales, and Sperm whale. Recently there has also been a pod of Killer whales seen in St. Lawrence.
Experience the incredible hiking trails in Québec
The national parks and wildlife reserves in Québec are home to more than 6,000 km of short and long trails, which are suitable for every level of fitness. Sprinkled with lakes and rivers, these trails are home to spectacular panoramic views and a variety of wild animals, meaning it is not uncommon to see foxes or caribou.
Some of the most highly-rated hiking trails in Québec on All Trails are:
•Acropole des Draveurs
•Round Top and Lake Spruce Loop
Cycling in Québec
Québec is home to more than 12,000 km of bicycle paths, and cycling is a great way to explore the province. The routes aren’t just in the cities as there are trails in the mountains that offer up some spectacular views along rivers and through the countryside.
There are many routes along the St. Lawrence River where you can stop to taste local products. If you are more of a thrill-seeker, then you should try mountain biking. Québec is home to over 140 mountain bike sites and 2,500km of trails that will get the heart racing and boast some spectacular views.
Inspired to visit Québec?
If you have been tempted and want to visit the province, you should take a look at the holidays to Québec and book your dream trip today. If you contact us and speak to one of our experts, we can tailor-make your dream holiday.