Last Updated on February 20, 2021 by Pamela
COVID UPDATE: As of March 9, 2021, most regions in Quebec (with the exception of Montreal and its surrounding regions) are now orange zone, with a 9:30pm – 5am curfew. Restaurants will now be open for dine-in (with restrictions), as well as gyms, museums, shops, and salons. Bars remain closed. Travel to Quebec at this time is not advisable. In the meantime, I hope you will utilize this site for travel inspiration and future travel planning!
There is nothing quite like a Québec City Christmas. The air is often crisp and cool. Snow clings to trees and covers the rooftops of 17th, 18th and 19th-century buildings.
On a good year, it’s as though Mother Nature and Jack Frost have danced to Québécois folk songs and the scenes before you look like a living Québec City Christmas card. It is pure magic that would give the Grinch heart palpitations.
Yeah, it sounds like pure hyperbole, but it’s true, when the city is covered in snow it is absolutely stunning. Even I, who loathes winter, cannot help getting dressed in all my warm gear and exploring the city![ps: don’t forget to pack plenty of warm clothing, as well as a camera!]
Planning a Québec City Christmas
Arriving in Québec City a couple of days before Christmas is ideal as many places will be closed Dec 25th–26th (more below!). After all, if you’re coming to our beautiful romantic city, you will probably want to have the full experience!
As much as I hate to use these words, writing out a ‘Christmas vacation wishlist’ is a good place to start. You probably will not do everything, but it can help you decide what you REALLY want to see and experience during your time in Québec City. Here are some suggestions!
Québec City Christmas Vacation Wishlist
Let’s get to it, shall we?! I should note that while many of the things below can be found within the Historic District of Old Québec, I have also added things from a few other neighbourhoods. If you truly want to experience all the magic Québec City has to offer, you need to leave the old city walls!
Note: Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) does not open until January, therefore you will not find it below.
Marché de Noël Allemand de Québec
This annual German Christmas market is the highlight of the season. Shop for locally made handicrafts, sample winter treats such as German gingerbread, mulled wine, and chocolates. And don’t forget to enjoy live music performances as well!
Finding the market is not difficult, just look for the cute wooden huts/shacks standing in the square across from Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral or in the public square of City Hall across the street.
It’s free to walk around, but bring cash in case some pretty little handicrafts catch your eye, or you’re struck by food cravings!
Le Grand Marché de Noël
Replacing Marché du Vieux-Port, which shut its doors earlier this year, Le Grand Marché is a beautiful new market space located across from the Videotron Centre in Limoilou. It’s big and airy and filled with an impressive amount of delicious Quebec terroir.
Needless to say, I’m excited to visit Le Grand Marché de Noël this year as it will be the first Christmas market in the new space. Held mid-Nov – Jan 2nd, the market is brimming with yummy treats, activities, and celebrations. Visit their website for updates as the season approaches.
How to get there: Take bus 801, 802, 3, or 4. | Open: Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat–Sun 9am–5pm | Address: 250, Boul Wilfrid-Hamel
Ride the Dufferin Slide
One of the oldest attraction in Québec City, the Dufferin Slide first began in 1884, a few years before Château Frontenac was built. Yes, it’s older than the château! While the slide stopped operating in 1981, it started up again in 1992 and has been going strong ever since.
Dress warmly and get ready for a thrilling ride on a wooden toboggan as you race down the slide, up to 70 km/hr. It is almost too fast to enjoy the view of Château Frontenac and the Saint-Lawrence River.
Open: Sun–Thu 10am–5pm, Fri–Sat 10am–8pm | Cost: $3 CAD /slide or $10 CAD for 4 rides.
Hot Chocolate & Québec Cheese at Bar Artefact
If you have not paired rich and delicious hot chocolate (I’m talking about the real stuff, not the stuff you buy at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks) with a savoury cheese plate, you’re missing out. There are a few places in Québec City that serve mind-blowing hot chocolate, and Bar Artefact at Auberge Saint-Antoine is one of them!
Served in a tall white porcelain pitcher, the house hot chocolate at Bar Artefact is thick, rich, and said to serve four people. I prefer to slowly drink it myself while nibbling on a cheese plate filled with savoury Québec cheeses. The mix of the rich chocolate and the sharpness of the cheese is pure heaven! It is even better when sitting the bar’s alcove, next to a roaring fire. Hot chocolate is served mid-Nov to March each year.
Open: daily 11am–11pm | Cost: $18 CAD / pitcher + $18 CAD cheese plate | Address: 8, rue Saint-Antoine
Drink Fancy Winter-Themed Cocktails
If you’re a cocktail lover, then there are few bars to consider visiting during your Québec City Christmas vacation. It is the perfect time to sample limited edition winter cocktails, soak in the festive ambiance, and warm up after a long day of exploring. Here are some of the best cocktail bars in Québec City.
Note: The hotel bars will be open on Christmas day. Yay!!
- Le Sam, and 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar – both are located inside Château Frontenac
- Bar Artefact – located in Auberge Saint-Antoine | Neighbourhood: Vieux-Port
- L’Atelier – 624, Grande-Allée Est | Neighbourhood: Montcalm
- Restaurant Ophelia – 634, Grande-Allée Est | Neighbourhood: Montcalm
- Maelstrom – 181, rue Saint-Vallier Est | Neighbourhood: Saint-Roch
- Chez Tao – 104, rue Saint-Vallier Est | Neighbourhood: Saint-Sauveur
Visit a Nordic Spa
Québec City is home to a couple of nordic spas, each one a welcome refuge on a cold winter day. Choose to soak in and hot outdoor pool or indulge in the full nordic spa experience, either way, it’s a soothing way to spend a few hours on a crisp winter day.
Strom Spa is the closest to Old Québec City and offers a thermal experience, as well as massage, skin care treatments, and a healthy gourmet restaurant serving boréal-inspired cuisine. Further out, close to Stoneham Mountain Resort, The Nordic Spa & Relaxation is in a serene location and features Finnish saunas, Turkish hammam steam baths, nordic baths, and more!
Go on a Christmas-Themed Walking Tour
Guided walking tours are one of the best ways to explore Québec City. Whether you join a group tour or hire a private tour guide, walking tours layer historical details with interesting anecdotes, offer a local’s perspective, and often give a taste of Québécois culture and traditions.
Consider booking a Christmas-themed walking tour such as Christmas Magic in Old Quebec, or Christmas Food Tour.
Note: Each tour has a different meeting point, so read your voucher carefully.
See the Snow-capped Montmorency Falls!
Montmorency Falls is open all year round, however, the parking lot (there is a fee to use) and cable car are closed from Nov 4th – Dec 25th, and open up Dec 26th – Jan 5th for the Christmas season. You can drive to the parking lot at the top of the waterfalls or take a taxi. You can also take bus #800 to the end of the line and walk-in.
Montmorency Falls is simply stunning in winter, and the backdrop of many photos (*cough* Instagram *cough*)!
Book a Private Photo Session
If you’re looking for a souvenir you can treasure for many years after your Québec City Christmas vacation, consider booking a private photo session with a local photographer. Sunny is a passionate tour guide, as well as a talented photographer. Her photo sessions run about an hour in length and take place in Old Québec City, where all the history and magic takes place in the winter season (and around the year, if I am being honest).
Shopping for Souvenirs by Quebec Artisans & Producers
There are plenty of shops and boutiques to visit in Québec City, but in my opinion, the best places to shop are ones that support local artisans and producers – whether there are from Québec City or elsewhere in the province. Here are some suggestions!
This is not one shop, but a street lined with shops and boutiques. The prices will be a little higher as you’re in the heart of Old Québec City’s tourist area, but there are a few boutiques in Petit-Champlain that I highly recommend checking out.
- Boutique Amimoc – Known for their high-quality Québec-made boots and mocassins.
- Flamand Sculpteur – An extremely talented wood sculptor.
- Charlevoix Pure Lane – Sweaters, hats and mittens and other goods made with sheep’s wool from the Charlevoix region.
- Lowell – A Montréal-based brand specializing in fine leather jackets, bags, and accessories.
Le Sachem has two locations in Old Québec City. One on rue des Jardins in Upper Town and the other on rue Sous-le-fort in Quartier Petit-Champlain. Personally, I’m a fan of the boutique on rue des Jardins.
Le Sachem is one of the best boutiques in Old Québec City for finding First Nations handicrafts, apparel, and sculptures. Inside you’ll find knives with beautifully hand-carved handles made of wood or bone. Soapstone sculptures, furs, moccasins, art prints, jewellery and more. Items in the shops are purchased directly from the artisans and come from nations spread throughout Canada, as well as a few in the United States.
Address: 17, rue des Jardins
Le Boutique de Noël de Québec
Naturally, once cannot go Christmas shopping without stopping in Québec City’s famous Boutique Noël. In this glittery Christmas boutique, you’ll find all kinds of trinkets and ornaments, some of which are made locally. It’s a fun spot for Québec-themed ornament shopping.
Address: 47, rue du Buade
Les Trouvailles de Jules
A short walk from the tourist information center on rue Sainte-Anne, not far from Château Frontenac, this little boutique specializes in Québec terroir. Shop for artisanal maple syrup (Nos Cabanes), preserves from Saguenay and Charlevoix, and other savory and sweet snacks. Shop for ceramics created by talented artists such as Patrick Leblond from Iles de la Madeleine.
Address: 22, rue Sainte-Anne
Rue Saint-Joseph Est
The main street in the neighbourhood of Saint-Roch, rue Saint-Joseph Est is filled with boutiques, many of which carry Québec-made products. La Place is the place to go for Québec craft beer and gourmet terroir, and Krwn barbershop sells high-end grooming products for men. Deux22 is a small boutique with fun accessories and some clothing, it is also a tequila bar and Mexican restaurant.
Located on Ave 3e in the neighbourhood of Limoilou, Article 721 is one of my favourite boutiques in Québec City. Inside, you’ll find everything from clothing and art prints to skincare, jewellery, trinkets and more. Everything inside is made by local artisans – which is why I adore it so much.
Address: 721, Ave 3e
Where to Eat Christmas Dinner
While most of Québec City shuts down for December 25th, there are a few places within the old city that remain open and serve Christmas dinner for those visiting during the holidays.
Note: Some places require a reservation. It is best to book early to ensure you’re not eating chips and drinking coke for Christmas dinner!
- La Bûche – 49, rue Saint-Louis | 418-694-7272
- Maison Livernois – 1200, rue Saint-Jean | 581-742-2555
- Champlain Restaurant – Château Frontenac | 418-692-3861
- Chez Muffy – Auberge Saint-Antoine | 8, rue Saint-Antoine | 418-692-1022
- Le Saint-Amour – 48, rue Sainte-Ursule | 418-694-0667
- Chez Boulay – 1110, rue Saint-Jean | 418-380-8166
- Pied Bleu – 179, rue Saint-Vallier Ouest | 418-914-3554
- Birria & Basta – 802, rue Saint-Joseph Est | 418-524-1462
Québécois Foods to Try
If you’re planning a Québec City vacation, there are a few Québécois food I highly recommend trying while you’re in the city. After all, travel is one of the best ways to experience new cultures and cuisines!
This should be a fairly obvious one. Poutine was, after all, invented in the province of Québec (although the exact town is up for debate). What is poutine? Basically, it is fries topped with squeaky cheese curds and covered in hot gravy. Or in other words, PURE HEAVEN. Of course, in Québec, we love to add little twists and create delicious combos like smoked meat poutine (pictured above). My picks for the best poutine places can be found here.
Traditionally, tourtière is served on Christmas Eve. It rarely looks like the ground meat pie you find in the frozen aisles of the grocery store. My favourite is the tourtière from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, which is a deep-dish pie made with potato and chunks of wild game. There are a few places to try tourtière in Québec City: Aux Anciens Canadiens, La Bûche, Buffet de l’Antiquaire, and Café St-Malo, to name a few.
Okay, it’s not totally Québécois since onion soup has been enjoyed by millions since the days of Ancient Rome. That being said, onion soup is a favourite winter treat and most families have their own recipe. It is also a favourite among tourists who hunt for cheesy bowls of French onion soup in Québec City!
Screw ketchup, maple syrup is the ultimate condiment! Buy some artisanal maple syrup to take home, but be sure to enjoy maple taffy (boiled maple syrup poured over snow and rolled with a stick). If you make it out to a sugar shack, then remember to add a little maple syrup to everything. It really does make the world a better place. 😉
Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)
A traditional dessert enjoyed at Christmastime, Bûche de Noël originated in France. Generally made from Genoise or sponge cake baked in a Swiss roll pan, iced or filled with a sweet preserve, and rolled into a cylinder. The cake is then iced to resemble a wooden log and then decorated with festive winter accents. While you’re in Québec City, consider going to Paillard (1097, rue Saint-Jean) to buy your own Bûche de Noël to enjoy!
Where to Sleep During Your Québec City Christmas
It’s Christmas, indulging comes with the territory, right?! Whether you spend your cold hard cash on experiences and yummy eats or luxurious digs, is up to you. Thankfully, there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses in Québec City to meet every budget.
That being said, if you are looking for a sparkly Christmas-y vibe, then the following hotels are an excellent choice!
- Château Frontenac – from the decorations to the overall luxurious vibe of the hotel, this is truly a magical place to sleep. The views of Old Québec and the Saint-Lawrence River help too.
- Auberge Saint-Antoine – Located in Vieux-Port this luxury boutique hotel is close to the old city and offers rooms with insanely comfy beds and pretty views.
- Hôtel Manoir Victoria – Close to the action on rue Saint-Jean, this boutique hotel has a modern-contemporary vibe, as well as a pool and spa. A lovely base for a Christmas holiday.
- Hôtel PUR – Located in the heart of Saint-Roch, this hotel has comfortable rooms and a decent restaurant. It’s close to many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. You can walk to Old Québec City in about 20 mins.
- Hôtel 71 – Across the street from Musée de la Civilization, Hôtel 71 is a beautiful boutique hotel with views of the Saint-Lawrence River and Old Québec. The rooms are spacious and the beds are quite cozy!
- Monsieur Jean – A new hotel in Old Québec City, Monsieur Jean is located across the street from Pub Saint-Patrick. The hotel has a modern decor with a surrealist twist, rooms are spacious and the location is fabulous.
Looking for something different? Check out hotel deals in Québec City.