When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Québec City?
Québec is the largest province in all of Canada, with a rich range of natural and cultural activities to keep you entertained year-round. But there is simply too much to say about Canada’s largest province to possibly cover in one guide. Instead, we’d like to focus on Québec City today – showing you the best time of year to explore this historic city depending on your travel tastes.
Québec City is one of the rare places that has multiple high seasons, so there is no objectively wrong time to visit. This city has so much to offer, and we hope this guide will nudge a few readers towards visiting Québec in the near future. If anything here does inspire you, you might like to browse our extensive range of unique Québec Experiences and our exclusive range of Québec Accommodation.
Visiting Québec City During Winter
One of the things that makes Québec City so special is that it comes to life in winter. When the temperatures plunge, Québecers wrap up warm and head out to enjoy the outdoors. The average winter day in Québec City is full of the bustle of people, the smell of coffee in the air, and the sounds and pageantry of some kind of festival underway. In December, Christmas is in the air, with snow-dusted streets, beautiful decorations hanging overhead, and the twinkling of lights on every street for miles around. The aesthetics alone make Québec City perhaps the best Christmas getaway in Canada, but it doesn’t stop there…
In January and February, you have the Carnaval du Québec. This is the biggest winter festival in the world, and the exuberant joy and sense of occasion are more than enough warmth to combat the chilly temperatures. It is customary to wear red sashes during the festival, and there is red everywhere you look in the city. The music can brighten even the darkest days, and the warm drinks, food, and mixology booths will warm your heart as well as your stomach. There are live concerts, various performances, and a vibrant atmosphere most cities can’t even muster in the middle of summer.
Visiting Québec City During Summer
Like many cities around Canada, summer is the busiest month. With average temperatures of around 25 °C (77 °F), people come from all over the world to experience the capital city of French Canada. If you’ve only ever visited Québec in winter, you’ll be delightfully surprised by its summer charm. In fact, it’s difficult to conceive of a big city that changes quite as much seasonally as does Québec. In summer, you can tour the museums, lounge in the parks, and enjoy the historic architecture that makes Québec City so unique. You’ll notice the undeniable influence of French art, architecture, and cultural heritage, but it all comes with a distinctly Canadian flavour. Sample some of the best coffee (and coffee culture) in the world, and sit in the outdoor bars and restaurants watching the city walk, cycle, and drive by.
Summertime in Québec City also comes with its own calendar of festivals. In June, the province celebrates Saint-Jean Baptiste Day. In July, there is the Transat Québec Saint-Malo — a boat race with a lot of pageantry around it, guaranteed to entertain even the nautically uninitiated. Also in July, there is the Festival d’été de Québec, one of Canada’s largest outdoor music events, welcoming musical acts from all around the world. In August, there is the Plein Art Québec (arts and craft festival), Fêtes de La Nouvelle-France (celebrating the unique history and culture of the city), and numerous other smaller events.
If all these festivals and people get a little overwhelming for you, the countryside outside of the city is full of epic beauty, with countless places to give you a healthy dose of nature. Our Beginner Saguenay Fjord by Kayak Experience is perfect for people who want to get out on the water for a couple of days, clearing their head after one of the city’s big summer events.
Visiting Québec City in Spring and Fall
Photo by Rich Martello
We’ve grouped spring and autumn together here not because they are exactly the same, but because they aren’t quite as popular as summer and winter. There are far fewer festivals and events to draw big crowds, so the city calms down a little, its rushing rivers of people dropping to gentler, more manageable currents. If you’re interested in visiting Québec City but you dislike large crowds, then both spring and fall are ideal. It’s also a little cheaper to visit Québec at this time as the tourism low season drops accommodation prices and some of the other expenses that come with the bigger crowds.
Depending on when you visit in spring, there still may be snow on the ground. If you’re looking for the winter experience without the festival crowds, then try to visit in late March (after the spring break crowds have gone) and early April. In May and June, spring has usually well and truly sprung and you can enjoy the beautiful parks and greenery as it hits its full stride.
Fall in Québec is stunning. Once again, the smaller crowds are appealing to certain kinds of travellers, but many also find that the cooler temperatures make exploring the city even easier (and less sweaty). If you’re all about museums, galleries, and cultural walking tours, then fall is absolutely the best time to visit.
We hope we’ve inspired several readers to visit Québec City. There’s no one-time-fits-all season that we can recommend; this city really is special enough that it’s worth visiting in multiple seasons. If you have any questions about the Québec tours and experiences mentioned in this guide, please feel free to get in touch. With just a little planning, your big Québec City adventure can be truly unforgettable.