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Why You’ll Want to Visit Quebec City in December

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December is not traditionally a time for tourists in Quebec City and as such it’s a great time to go. Prices are lower, there’s lots to do both inside and out and there’s a real magic to the city – especially with so many Christmas lights and beautiful decorations.

Beautiful holiday decorations adorn the shops of Quebec City

Beautiful holiday decorations adorn the shops of Quebec City

Over a weekend you could easily fit in a visit to all of the following places. Park you car for everything but the aquarium. Quebec City is a great walking city and easy to navigate.

Rue de Petit Champlain

Considered to be one of the prettiest streets in Canada, Rue de Petit Champlain is at its festive best in the winter months when it’s draped in garlands and covered in lights. A little snow makes it that much prettier – though this year it’s late in coming.

Home to galleries, boutiques and local restaurants you’ll have no problem finding lots of French onion soup and poutine – along with vin chaud and hot chocolate to warm you up. Château Frontenac serves as a backdrop and is easily accessed via a climb on the famous breakneck staircase or via a quick ride up on the funicular.

Rue de Petit Champlain is one of the prettiest streets in Canada

Rue de Petit Champlain is one of the prettiest streets in Canada

The view from Quebec City's funicular

The view from Quebec City’s funicular

German Christmas Market

Looking for some Christmas cheer with an authentic German twist in old town Quebec City? Head for the German Christmas market – now in its eighth year. Wooden kiosks sell traditional German crafts, woolen socks, cozy slippers, children’s toys, local food and drinks as well as favourites like gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, churros and glühwein (a delicious hot mulled red wine) under a backdrop of holiday lights. For a taste of real German food don’t miss the food tent where you can chow down on a traditional currywurst with sauerkraut while listening to music. It’s open until December 20th on a Wednesday to Saturday basis from 11 AM until 8 PM, and until 6 PM on Sundays.

Twinkling lights at the German Christmas Market in Quebec City

Twinkling lights at the German Christmas Market in Quebec City

Selling locally made foods with an upbeat attitude

Selling locally made foods with an upbeat attitude

Le Monastere de Augustine

When you need a break from the craziness of the holidays, whether it be for a few hours over lunch or a multi-night stay, check out Le Monastere de Augustine, in the heart of old town Quebec beside Hotel Dieu.

Recently transformed from a monastery to a hotel, it already holds the rank as one of the top three healing hotels of the world. You feel a sense of peace and calm the minute you walk in the door. Visitors can tour the museum – an incredibly interesting space and very well presented. Or show up for lunch.

The restaurant in the Manastere des Augustines in Quebec City

The restaurant in the monastery

If you only have a few hours, lunch is what I’d suggest. Start at the soup and salad bar where you can load up on chickpea, beet, quinoa, lentil, carrot and several other super healthy, visually appealing salads. Fill a bowl with soup, grab a few slices of artisan bread – and then wait for your main course…and a small dessert. The all-inclusive price is $25.

The most visually appetizing salad bar I've ever seen - La Monastere des Augustines in Quebec City

Salads chosen from the most visually appetizing salad bar I’ve ever seen

Take a few hours to enjoy your lunch in this serene setting. You’re only a block or two from Rue St. Jean so you can get back to shopping and sightseeing very easily.

Quebec Aquarium

I didn’t even know there was an Aquarium in Quebec City until last weekend. It was primarily filled with families but I thought it was a fun and educational place to visit. You could easily spend two hours here checking out all the displays. There’s a pavilion devoted to seahorses and jellyfish while another one is full of fish and creatures from the St. Lawrence River. A selection of northern mammals can also be seen including seals, walruses and Arctic fox – perhaps even some polar bears but I missed that. It’s decorated for Christmas so show up after the sun goes down so you can enjoy the beauty of the light display.

Checking out the walrus at the Quebec City Aquarium

Checking out the walrus at the Quebec City Aquarium

Walking through a tunnel of fish - Quebec City Aquarium

Walking through a tunnel of fish

The Arctic fox does not sit still for long

The Arctic fox does not sit still for long

Walk the Wall

In Quebec City, the Ramparts are the only fortified city walls remaining north of Mexico. The wall surrounds a good chunk of the old city. In theory you can walk on or beside the wall for about 4 kilometres – but not as a continuous stretch. I did a beautiful section from the St. Louis gate up towards the Citadel so I could get views over the St. Lawrence River. If you grab a detailed city map, you’ll see where you can follow the wall. It’s a great walk – loaded with history and beautiful scenes.

Walk alongside the wall in the vicinity of the Quebec Citadell

Walk alongside the wall in the vicinity of the Quebec Citadel

Looking out over the St. Lawrence River from the wall around the Citadel in Quebec City

Looking out over the St. Lawrence River from the wall around the Citadel

Traditional houses and the Chateau Frontenac can be seen from the wall in Quebec City

Traditional houses and the Chateau Frontenac can be seen from the wall

I’m a fan of Quebec City – and always have been. It’s a city where people embrace winter and get out to enjoy it. December is no exception. There’s a real joie de vivre; people are friendly and it’s full of atmosphere. And although I was a guest of Quebec City Tourism, my thoughts on the city are mine alone and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Have you ever had a chance to visit Quebec City?

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Hike Bike Travel

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Dalene says:

    I 100% agree with all you say – and think that everyone might as well spend ALL of December in QC! We did it last year and loved it! :)

    • @Dalene I think Canadians are conditioned to think that if you go somewhere in the cold that it’s not a holiday – and it can only be a miserable experience. As long as you have the right clothes and footwear there’s no reason why everyone can’t enjoy being outside – even when it’s -25C. And it feels so good when you come in to warm up.

  • Oh, this looks so nice, cozy and christmassy. I must say, posts like that always make me miss the cold weather and the Christmas traditions.
    P.S. I want currywurst now!

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for the itinerary and tips Leigh! Haven’t been to Quebec City though I love traveling to destinations during off season after the tourists have depart because you really get a local experience and it feels like the place is your own. I’ll have to pencil next December in as the time to go. Thanks!

  • Nathalie says:

    If winter is your thing Québec is definitely a good place to be. I grew up in the province of Québec and have been running away from winter since I left ;)

  • Miranda says:

    Quebec City is so lovely – I went about 8 years ago just for 36 hours and had a blast. So much history everywhere, and for some reason it felt way more Quebecois than Montreal to me. The Monastery looks like a great place to visit. Who knew you would find such a great salad bar there?!

  • Kristin says:

    It seems like December is the perfect time to visit Quebec City! I love when a place embraces the winter, especially since it’s a season that I don’t really get at home in the sub-tropics.

  • We just visited for a pre-Christmas getaway and LOVED Quebec City! We actually dined at Le Lapin Saute, too, and loved the charm and coziness of the town. It’s even prettier with the snowfall!

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