What to do in Canada? 22 activity ideas
The province of Quebec is characterized by its remarkable natural environment, its historical and cultural richness and its world-renowned cities. There are many activities to do and many remarkable things to see throughout the course of the year :
The first snowfall marks the return of popular activities such as snowmobiling and dog sledding while summer allows you to explore the urban landscape by bike or to hike up hills in national parks. Certain months witness exceptional natural phenomena, such as the passage of whales in the St. Lawrence River, which can be observed in Tadoussac from May to October. Northern Lights hunting take place during long winter nights, from the Saguenay region to Quebec's far north.
Cultural events also change with the seasons with the re-opening of sugar shacks in mid-March and the arrival of major music festivals on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City and on Place des Arts in Montreal when warm weather returns. In winter, a delicious poutine and a local craft beer will be your best allies against the cold weather. Didn't know what to do for your upcoming trip to this part of Canada? Here’s a selection of the best activities to do.
Participate in a few typical activities to feel like a true Quebecker:
AdventureSeaplane flight over La Mauricie National Park
Fly over the province
From the sky, Quebec is a maze of rivers and forests, interspersed with mountains and gorges. Some national parks such as La Mauricie or Jacques-Cartier have the perfect landscapes for seaplane flights. The Tadoussac region, close to the Charlevoix Mountains and the Saguenay Fjord, is also a great place to enjoy a high-quality flight.
More interested in urban settings? Jump aboard a helicopter to familiarize yourself with Montreal buildings and Château Frontenac with its Dufferin terrace overlooking the city.
AdventureAxe throwing, Montréal
A typical Canadian activity, you will learn how to handle axes in the friendly atmosphere of Rage-Montreal. Your instructor will teach you the secrets of axe throwing. Placed in front of a target, you will then compete with your companions to elect the best axe-thrower in the group.
CultureNative Museum of Mashteuiatsh
Discover Canadian Native culture
Eleven Indigenous nations belonging to three different linguistic families (Iroquoian, Algonquian and Inuktitut) are spread about over 55 villages across Quebec. Some communities offer visitors the opportunity to enter their ancestral universe and observe their way of life, a combination of traditions and modernity. You will have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities and crafts and to go hunting and fishing. Community-managed accommodations are also available: longhouses, tipis and even igloos in the Far North.
The heritage of the First Nations is present everywhere and you will have the opportunity to discover various aspects of Canadian Native culture throughout your stay in Quebec. Whether it is by tasting a traditional dish prepared by an Amerindian chef, admiring the works of Amerindian art exhibited in various museums in the province or participating in a festival dedicated to Amerindian culture during the summer. Other sites retrace the history of the First Nations while explaining certain legends and customs, such as the Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh near Lac Saint-Jean.
CultureFrancoFolies de Montréal
Go to a music festival
Montreal is often presented as the musical capital of the province. Jazz and rock concerts, not to mention the legendary Osheaga festival or the FrancoFolies are held every year on Place des Arts or in Parc Jean Drapeau. Québec City also has an interesting artistic scene with the annual FEQ (Quebec City Summer Festival) featuring international artists.
Enjoy a Poutine
La Poutine: a delicious mix of French fries, cheese curds and gravy. An emblematic dish from Quebec that you should eat at least once during your stay. You can also enjoy a few more elaborate versions, topped with rabbit, shredded pork or guacamole. Vegetarians can rest assured, there is a whole range of products adapted for them.
One particular restaurant is very popular among Montrealers: La Banquise! A real institution open 24/7.
CultureVisit of a sugar shack
Visit a Sugar Shack
During the warmer months of the year, one of Quebec’s most lovely traditions comes back: the opening of sugar shacks! The ideal place for anyone who has a sweet tooth. It is customary to sit around large tables to share traditional dishes such as baked beans, served with the year’s “sweet juice”. Don't leave without tasting the "tires": hot maple syrup poured in strips over the snow, then the taffy is rolled up on a stick. Traditionally, sugar shacks are located in the middle of a beech-maple forest, however some have opened on the outskirts of Montreal and Quebec City. Overall, the province has more than 200 cabins open each year during "Sugar Season" (mid-March).
Visit a museum
As the cultural and artistic capital of Quebec, Montreal has some of the best museums in the province. For instance, Pointe-à-Callière Museum traces the city's history by displaying archaeological remains. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MBAM) and the Musée d'art contemporain (MAC) allow visitors to admire masterpieces by Courbet, Pissarro or Paul-Emile Borduas.
RelaxationCruise on St. Lawrence River
Cruise the St. Lawrence River
Looking for a memorable and instructive experience along the St. Lawrence River? Treat yourself with a cruise to discover Québec City and its surroundings: Château Frontenac, Île d'Orléans, Montmorency Falls or the Laurentian Mountains. In addition to enjoying an uncommon perspective, you will enjoy the detailed comments of your guide on the key role of the Old Capital in the history of Cruises from the Old Port of Montréal are just as fascinating and offer a unique panoramic view of the city's buildings.
Observe the Northern Lights
One of Mother Nature's most majestic shows! The phenomenon occurs on clear nights from September to March, with a peak period between 10pm and 3am. To maximize your chances in this northern lights hunt, follow a guide for the evening in Saint-David-de-Falardeau or take part in a several-day tour in Nunavut and Nunavik. A unique opportunity to witness these majestic and hypnotic dancing colours.
RelaxationIce hotel - Québec
Visit the ice hotel
This ephemeral palace carved in ice will allow you to have an unforgettable winter experience. A work of art with a unique design where snow vaults and frozen statues create a magical atmosphere. Stop at the sublime ice bar where delicious frosted cocktails are carefully prepared for visitors. If you’re not sensitive to the cold, you will have a wonderful stay in one the thematic suites, some even have their own fireplace. Guided tours of the hotel are available to all other curious people who wish to leave with amazing photos without staying an entire night.
RelaxationRorquals - St. Lawrence River
Meet local wildlife
Seeing whales in their natural environment is a childhood dream that can become true in Tadoussac or the Gaspé Peninsula. Embark on the ship of your choice (boat, zodiac, kayak) to meet Humpback and Beluga whales or admire the blow and dives of Minke whales directly from the shore.
Quebec is also famous for its Moose, easily spotted in the Chic-Choc Mountains. In the Wild Zoo of St-Félicien, over 75 Boréalie species roam freely on 1200 acres of land while you observe them from the caged train.
Other structures and observation centres such as the Bioparc de la Gaspésie or Aventuraid in the Saguenay region put the country’s most fascinating predators under the spotlight. You will be able to spend the night with them, in a tent, and fall asleep to the howling of the pack.
RelaxationSmoked meat sandwich, Montreal
Taste Montreal’s fast-food
Montreal has the best North American gastronomic scene after New York and some of its fast-food has become the symbol of the city. For instance, Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich, La Banquise or Poutineville’s poutine, or Fairmont or Saint-Viateur’s bagels.
RelaxationPancakes with maple syrup
Go out to brunch
Let's stay in the world of gastronomy with a Montreal brunch. If you are into salty foods, no doubt that scrambled salmon eggs, grilled bacon and traditional baked beans will meet your expectations. If you have a sweet tooth, enjoy large blueberry pancakes. Anyway, you are welcome to drizzle maple syrup over any or all of these dishes!
RelaxationSpa in Montréal
Relax in thermal baths
What a pleasure to relax in a hot bath after a long day of walking and visiting the city. During winter, you can gaze at the frozen landscape while enjoying the warmth and comfort of the spa. The best spas in Montreal are BotaBota and the Scandinavian Spa in Old Montreal.
RelaxationMontreal Canadiens jersey
Attend a hockey game
Witness the athletic prowess of the Montreal Canadians, the city's top-ranked team. Attending a hockey game immerses you in the national culture.
RelaxationBeer bar, Montréal
Enjoy a nice drink
If you are looking for an alcoholic beverage, head to one of the city’s many microbreweries. If you ever need a coffee break, Mile End and Plateau Mont Royal have many cosy cafés where you can relax.
SportSnowshoeing - Montréal
Snowshoe to wonderful panoramas
Experience a new way of enjoying winter by snowshoeing through the snow-covered landscapes. An outdoor activity that can be enjoyed throughout the province of Quebec! Each region has a unique character, from the Charlevoix mountains (Sentier des Caps) to the Saguenay fjord (Valley of the Ghosts) and Jacques-Cartier National Park. You will be pleasantly surprised by how easy this sport is.
Go out on a snowmobile tour
Snowmobiling is an integral part of Quebec’s winter culture and is the only transportation mode in some remote villages. Take the opportunity to ride through the 20.505 miles of snow-covered prairies, lakes and forests. Experienced riders can find trail and accommodation maps on the website (here) to help them plan their journey. For safety reasons, beginners will have to go on a tour with an experienced professional guide. It is an ideal excursion for anyone looking for an exciting adventure.
Drive a husky team through the snow-covered trails of the Upper Laurentian Mountains or Saguenay like a true musher. This emblematic activity will provide you with a feeling of freedom as well as an opportunity to gaze at beautiful landscapes and to meet with dogs. You can choose between 2 options, a 2-hour introduction or several-day expeditions. We recommend selecting a good company with a good reputation and good ethics to be sure that dogs are not mistreated.
Hike and paddle through national parks
The main appeal of the province is its 30 national parks spread across the territory. Beginner loop trails, intermediate trails or day hikes with sharp drop-offs, you will definitely find the perfect hike for you. Once your legs are too sore to walk, go on a canoe trip to discover the lakes and rivers.
An immersion in the heart of nature that will leave no one indifferent: large bodies of water and lost waterfalls await you in La Mauricie or Saguenay National Park.
SportMontmorency Falls zipline
Reach for the sky
If you want to spice up your trip, brave the Montmorency Falls zip line, it is more than 260 ft high and 980 ft long. When flying into the air, enjoy the view of the majestic falls and their powerful flow on one side, and of the St. Lawrence River and Île d'Orléans on the other.
In the same spirit, Parc Aventure Cap Jaseux in the Saguenay offers six giant zip lines as well as via ferrata tours.
For rock climbing enthusiasts, the Mont de l'Ours, located in the Grands-Jardins National Park, and its 2788 ft high wall, offers you a sensational view of the Charlevoix mountains. There are many other climbing spots in the province, like the Mont Pinacle in the Coaticook region or the Cap de la Baie-Eternité overlooking the Saguenay River. During winter, climbing remains an option, however the icy walls make it even more difficult.
SportFamily bike tour in the streets of Montreal
Cycle through the city
Street art hunting in the Plateau-Mont-Royal and Mile End or a Sunday stroll along the Lachine Canal: discover the hidden faces of Montreal on your bike. The many bicycle paths of the city allow you to cycle peacefully throughout the city. Rent a bike on your own or take part in a guided excursion to learn more about the architecture, history or even the gastronomic scene of the neighbourhoods visited.
Similar excursions are organized in Quebec City St. Charles River or the Samuel-De Champlain Promenade.