With its charming cobblestone streets, old-world charm, and French influence, Quebec City is the perfect choice for a European getaway within North America, but if you’re looking for more serene alternatives, the city is also a gateway to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the surrounding province. From hiking along the towering Montmorency Falls to whale watching at Sainte Marguerite Bay or spending a frozen evening at the Hotel de Glace, Quebec has plenty of options for both nature lovers and culture vultures alike. Here’s where to go on your next city escape.
Just 15 minutes from downtown Quebec City, this is the perfect backdrop for a jaw-dropping Instagram moment or an unforgettable outdoor adventure. Climb a scenic stairway or cross a suspension bridge; no matter your path, the views you’ll find here are simply breathtaking.
Getting There: The falls are a quick drive from downtown Quebec City but are also directly reachable via several public bus lines. The #800 bus will take you there for $6 round-trip. Entrance is free year-round.
Travel Tip: Hop on the gondola for more great views of the falls and an incredible panorama of Ile d’Orleans and Quebec City.
Jacques-Cartier National Park
With its abundant greenery, Jacques-Cartier is the ideal spot to discover Quebec’s natural beauty. This mountainous plateau, crisscrossed by deep valleys and rivers, boasts more than 60 miles of hiking trails. Get ready to feel fully embedded in the wild; you’re bound to encounter beavers, deer, and moose in their natural habitats here.
Getting There: Quatre Natures offers a daily shuttle bus from downtown Quebec City with a total ride time of 45 minutes.
Travel Tip: For serious hikers, the Sentier Les Loups hiking trail—a round-trip hike of 7 miles with a 2,000-foot elevation at its summit—offers some seriously stunning views of the valleys below.
Valcartier Vacation Village
This gigantic winter playground, 20 minutes from downtown Quebec City, is perfect for families. Valcartier boasts both an indoor and outdoor waterpark (including 35 heated water slides), an ice rink, inner tubing, rafting, and more.
Getting There: Old Quebec Tours runs a daily shuttle to Valcartier Vacation Village from Old City three times a day between January and March. A summer shuttle runs from Quebec City’s Sainte-Foy and Gare du Palais bus terminals between June and August.
Travel Tip: Valcartier is also home to the Hotel de Glace, North America’s only ice hotel. Built using 500 tons of ice and featuring 42 rooms with amenities like an ice bar and ice chandeliers, an overnight stay here is every winter lover's dream. The hotel's 20th anniversary is in 2020, so expect special events throughout the year.
Due to its excellent microclimate and an abundance of farmland, this island is an agricultural hotspot and the premier destination in Quebec to find incredible cheese, honey, and maple syrup. In fact, products stamped with the label “Savoir-faire Ile d'Orleans” are some of the most highly regarded in all of Canada. From vineyard hopping in Sainte-Petronille, strawberry picking in Saint-Laurent, cheese tasting at Les Fromages de Ile d’Orleans, and incredible meals at the island’s best restaurant, Le Moulin de St. Laurent, this is an essential day trip for any foodie.
Getting There: PLUMobile offers daily shuttle service between Ile d'Orleans and Quebec City on weekdays.
Travel Tip: Ile d’Orleans is famous for its blackcurrant liqueur, which you’ll find at many of the island’s bars and restaurants. Learn more about its history at museum and distillery Cassis Monna et Filles.
To learn about indigenous life in Quebec, a trip to Wendake is in order. One of the most accessible First Nations communities in Canada, this small town has been the official home of the Wendat Nation since the mid-1600s and boasts a thriving community of artists and artisans paying tribute to their heritage. No visit here would be complete without a stop at the Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Huron Site, where cultural exhibitions, archaeological displays, and craft demonstrations present a window into the Huron-Wendat Nation’s way of life.
Saint-Anne de Beaupre
Situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, only 10 miles northeast of Quebec City, this city is best known for the Shrine of Sainte-Anne de Beaupre, an ancient basilica that welcomes an annual religious pilgrimage of 1.5 million. It’s also home to the Canyon Sainte-Anne Waterfall, an impressive gorge crossed by suspension bridges, as well as the Parc du Saint-Anne, a gorgeous national park perfect for hiking.
Getting There: PLUMobile offers daily shuttle service between Mont-Sainte-Anne and Quebec City on weekdays.
Travel Tip: Stop by culinary gem Auberge Baker, located in a 19th-century farmhouse, for Québécois specialties like meat pie and smoked blood pudding.
This charming village—known to some as the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil—is perfect for the art-loving traveler. Home to a large creative community, the town’s main street of Saint-Jean-Baptiste is lined with art galleries open year round. The village also hosts several annual cultural festivals, including the prestigious International Contemporary Art Symposium of Baie-Saint-Paul, during which artists from all over the world are invited to live in Baie-Saint-Paul for a month, creating new works as spectators look on.
Getting There: From June to October, take the Train de Charlevoix, departing from Quebec City's Montmorency Falls, to explore this quaint town by foot. The ride is approximately two hours, and its scenic route features some of the most beautiful views in the province.
Travel Tip: As you wander the Baie-Saint-Paul, keep your eyes on the village’s architecture; many of the homes you’ll see here are more than a century old.
For nature lovers looking for an off-the-radar destination not frequented by tourists, Saguenay Fjord is the place to go. This stunning landmass was created by receding icebergs and is home to more than 60 miles of bays, coves, and cliffs. The Sainte Marguerite Bay is a must-see for whale watchers: it’s frequently visited by belugas.
Getting There: An ideal road trip destination, the fjord is approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Quebec City.
Travel Tip: For adventure junkies looking for a unique place to sleep, Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux offers stays at a rustic-chic 20-foot-diameter glass dome, as well as rooms situated in fiberglass bubble-spheres suspended from trees.