Last Updated on February 21, 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!
You may have seen photos of Quebec City winters, with snow-capped historic buildings, ice hotels, Bonhomme, and piping hot mugs of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). It all looks so romantic and lovely and OH MY GOD LET’S BOOK FLIGHTS!!!
And it is, really. Quebec City is probably one of the most beautiful cities in Canada in winter!
A Quebec City winter can be breathtaking, literally and figuratively, When the snow falls and covers Old Quebec City, it looks like a living Christmas card and one dreams of spending Christmas in the city.
It is also one of the locations of SNOWMAGGEDON (along with Montreal, and several other cities in Eastern Canada).
In January and February, the coldest months of the year, the air is frigid and when the wind kicks in, it has the ability to take your breath away as it whips by you.
Sometimes the streets and sidewalks are icy, but most of the time everything appears to be covered in mountains of snow. I mean, have you seen the video of two dude snowboarding down a street in Saint-Jean-Baptiste?!
Sunny days happen, but so do the intense snowstorms that have the ability to grind everything to a halt. And Quebecers love it. Well, some times. 😉
How do you survive a Quebec City winter and still have an amazing vacation? Here are some tips to help you with that!
Quebec City winter weather can change quickly, and layering your clothing will make it easier to add or remove clothing depending on the temperature and road conditions outside. If you’re not sure what to pack, we have a list for that!
Tip: There are a lot of hills in Old Quebec City, which can make walking around a challenge on icy days. Wearing ice cleats over your boots is ideal to help you stay upright!
Mix Indoor & Outdoor Activities
When you’re planning things to do in Quebec City in winter, consider mixing indoor and outdoor activities. If you’re thinking of spending the day exploring Hôtel de Glace and going snow tubing, then spend your evening inside a nice restaurant or relaxing in a cozy pub. If you’re planning to walk around the city, mix in some shopping on rue du Petit-Champlain or visiting a museum.
Know Where to Find the Coffee Shops!
Staying warm is key, and sipping on rich delicious hot chocolate and taking coffee shop breaks is always a good idea! There are a few coffee shops to choose from in Old Quebec City’s Upper Town, but there is only one good one down in Petit-Champlain and Place-Royale. That being said, pubs such as L’Oncle Antoine, Pub des Borgia, and Pape Georges all serve coffee, tea, and hot toddy’s!!
Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
While you should always be aware of your surroundings, but especially in winter. If you’re walking around, always look before crossing a street. I know, it should not need to be said, but I cannot tell how many people I see who just walk wherever they want with abandon.
Sure, in summer and autumn vehicles can stop quickly, in winter, however, things can get dicey very quickly!! Look before you walk. Don’t back onto a street with your selfie stick to grab a quick photo. BE SMART!
Make Sure Your Car Has Winter Tires
Did you know it is against the law to drive in Quebec City in winter without winter tires? Road conditions can be sketchy, and a tad scary at times.
Sliding through stop signs or into intersections is very easy to do, especially if there is a layer of black ice hidden under all of the snow. You’ll also want the added traction to up the big hills found throughout Quebec City, as well as outside the city.
Avoid Parking on the Street Overnight
If you’re driving to Quebec City, consider parking your vehicle in a parking lot or parking garage instead of on the street when parking overnight. Freak snowstorms happened overnight and there are times when we will wake up to a few feet of snow.
While I chuckle at the sight of cars on the street, buried in snow, you won’t if it’s you trying to dig out your car!
Note: The streets in Old Quebec City are cleared of snow before most parts of the city and street parking is often shut down to allow snowplows to clean properly.
Make Snow Angels
Remember when you were a kid, and the joy of making snow angels?! Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean you have to stop! Seriously, there is SO MUCH SNOW, just drop what you’re doing and make a few snow angels, and maybe a village of snowmen, and then there will still be snow to make a Château Frontenac, and maybe La Citadelle too. LMAO
French. Onion. Soup.
We have written an entire article on where to enjoy the yummiest bowls of French Onion Soup in Old Quebec City. It’s the perfect winter lunch. Pipping hot flavourful broth (well, most places), caramelized onions, bread, gooey cheese with little pools of grease on top. OMG, I know what I’m having for breakfast!
Cardboard Can Your Friend at an Outdoor Concert!
Huh? That’s what you’re thinking, right?? Let me explain. New Year’s Eve and most of January and February can be COLD. I’m talking -20ºC plus a windchill. While you will not need cardboard to walk around, it can come in handy during nighttime events/concerts in frigid weather, like the awesomeness of the Toboggan Festival (it’s a music festival, not actual toboggan worship 😉 ).
The cardboard acts as an insulator and will keep your feet warm if you’re standing in one place during a nighttime concert. I’ve personally tested this!