Poutine in Quebec

How to Do Canada Like the Royals: The Best Things to Do in Quebec

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A million years ago, I arrived on a ship in Quebec City, and who should be on the boat next to me but the British monarchy, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge? And while they have may have had a more royal time in French Canada than I did, there are still plenty of things to do in Quebec for us common folk, whether you’re traveling with an escort, flying solo or vacationing with your family.

Kate and Will

This post was last updated in October 2023.

Here are a few of my personal Quebec favorites—as well as a couple on my own bucket list.

Take a road trip from Montreal to Mont Tremblant

I’ve had the good pleasure of visiting the province on a number of occasions, including Canada Day a few years back, but Mont Tremblant is at the top of my Canadian bucket list—I’ve wanted to explore this mountainous region just two hours northeast of Ottawa. When there, be sure and take a lake cruise of Mont Tremblant.

©TQ/M. Dupuis

©TQ/M. Dupuis

Get your groove on at Festival d’été de Québec

I may be a Bonnaroo veteran, but there are startlingly few other outdoor music festivals that I’ve attended in my life—and definitely not one in Canada (yet). Quebec in summer is one big party, and you can get your groove on at Festival d’été de Québec or go a bit more mellow at Festival International de Jazz de Montreal instead.

©TQ/J.-F. Hamelin

©TQ/J.-F. Hamelin

Be a spectator at the world’s third-oldest tennis tournament

As a college tennis player, one of my big travel goals is to eventually check off all the Grand Slam events and tennis masters tournaments, and I’ve yet to attend one in Canada. The women’s National Bank Open tournament is held in August each year, and it brings all the biggest names in pro tennis to Montreal.


Go birdwatching in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Gaspesie

You can’t visit Canada without surrendering to its natural beauty. The rugged coastline flanking the gulf is some of the most spectacular countryside and boasts nearly 300 different species of birds, to boot, including PUFFINS. If marine life is more your thing, Quebec has plenty of whale-watching tours on offer.

©TQ/L. Gagnon

©TQ/L. Gagnon

Dive into the creative scene at the Fashion & Design Festival in downtown Montreal

On my three visits to the stylish city of Quebec, I was wowed by the ensembles I saw—let’s just say it leaves the United States in its well-coiffed dust where fashion is concerned—and there’s no better time to get a sense for that avant-garde scene than the 50 shows comprising this week-long festival (essentially Montreal’s version of New York Fashion Week) that sees more than half a million in attendance annually.


Eat all the poutine

The Duchess may not give into such gluttony, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Québec’s signature dish: French fries and cheese curds drowning in gravy. And when better to try it then at the annual Festival de la Poutine at the end of each summer with so many varieties available to sample? Even if you’re visiting at another time of year, this food tour of Montreal will give you a taste of what the city’s cuisine is all about.

Now that I’ve shared a few of my travels wants, I’d love to know: What’s the top item on your own Quebec bucket list?

  • June 22, 2015

    Great post !! this is so cute and great tips for the baby i hope she can go their someday

  • June 23, 2015

    Poutine is heart! Others find it weird combination but this snack is awesome and you should must try it when you are in Quebec.

    • June 24, 2015

      I don’t think it’s weird at all! What’s not to love about cheese and fries? =)

  • June 23, 2015

    I’ve never been to Quebec before, but I have always wanted to go. Sounds like this would be an amazing trip! So many fun things to do and see there! And yes, thank goodness for zoom lenses! 🙂

    • June 24, 2015

      Haha! I should probably buy a new one now that I’ve upgraded my body to a full frame…I mean, I wouldn’t want to miss out on another chance opportunity to go all paparazzo on a royal, right? 😉

  • June 24, 2015

    Love this bucket list for them… and it’s so cool that you saw them!!! Life goals haha. Great post 🙂

  • June 25, 2015

    and here we are with the fried potatoes again. i’ve always wanted to try poutine since i sadly learned about it on an episode of The Bachelor a few years ago. one of the girls brought the bachelor to her maine hometown and fed him poutine. and then he sent her home. clearly he was an idiot.

  • June 25, 2015

    This is particularly timely as I’m planning a trip to Montreal and Quebec City later this summer!

  • June 29, 2015

    I’ve never been to Quebec before. But this post makes my mind to visit soon.

  • June 29, 2015

    Oh man, this post makes me kind of sad I cancelled my first real trip to Canada this summer. I really need to explore our great neighbor to the north one of these days!

  • June 29, 2015

    Quebec…still have to make it there in Canada…

  • June 29, 2015

    My Canadian experiences have been been very limited, but I would love to visit Quebec. I mean, what’s not to love about poutine??

  • June 30, 2015
    Diana Edelman

    I WANT TO GO!! What cool stuff to do. I’ve only ever done Montreal, and only for a day or two. Never anything else.

  • June 30, 2015
    Heather Sinclair

    Nice list! I did a road trip across Quebec last summer, and happily I was able to take in some of the bucket list items on *your* list. I would add:
    -while in Mont Tremblant try via ferrata (probably you’ll have to age at least another decade though)
    -Bonaventure island for gannets (a close second to awesome puffins)
    -sugarbush (if you’re there in the winter of course)

    Great post! I love Quebec and hope to return soon.

  • July 1, 2015
    Ligeia and Mindy

    We loved our visits to Quebec. If you go in the winter try to time it to coincide with Winterlude, which is lots of fun!
    Also, for those who are interested, there are very delicious vegan versions of poutine. 🙂

  • July 11, 2015

    Don’t just stay in Quebec – branch out to the west too! Vancouver is stunning.

    • September 23, 2015

      Will be sure and do that the next time! I’ve been to Canada many times at this point, and I definitely think I could spend a year traveling there and not see everything worth seeing!

  • September 23, 2015

    Kristin, I didn’t realize you were up in my neck of the woods! Dang, I’m a bit behind reading a few of your posts, it’s been a busy summer and I spent a great deal of it on PEI…so I’m still catching up on pretty much everything now that I’m home.
    I live literally a 2-minute walk from the Ontario/Quebec border. If you’re in my hometown, Ottawa, you are in Quebec in about a minute and a half as it’s just a wee bridge across to the province of Quebec. Then of course another 2 hour-drive to Montreal, or 5-hours to Quebec city so we’re not *that* close. But glad you had a terrific time and you saw lots of great stuff. Too bad I missed you, though! I could have given you a few good rec’s, though looks like you didn’t need any at all ha ha! This is a great, thorough article on what to see/do there, I’m sure it’s inspired lots of people to go already 🙂

    • September 23, 2015

      I was there four years ago, so this was a bit misleading =) Though I’m always happy for any excuse to return to Canada!!!

  • January 16, 2017

    Not to mention the Just for Laughs Festival or the Montreal Jazz Fest or bagels oh my god I miss those damnable weight gaining Montreal bagels so much. Still haven’t learned to love poutine though – fries and gravy yep great but that squeaky cheese….leaves much to be desired…lol

  • August 17, 2017

    I couldn’t live without poutine!

  • April 22, 2020
    Stacey Wittig

    I just made POUTINE for my virtual trip to Churchill, Manitoba. My first attempt was a big success. My picky hubby loved it!

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