Short answer: all year long it’s the best time. But that doesn’t help. Fact is: it depends on what you are looking for in Quebec City.
What is the best time for Winter activities in Quebec City and surroundings?
Depending on the weather, part of December, January, February and most of March will be best suited if you are looking for all activities related to Winter, snow, ice and cold temperatures: snowmobile, dog sledding, ice canoeing, Winter carnaval of Quebec City (usually February), German Christmas Market (from the end of November to Christmas), the Hôtel de Glace (from January to March), Winter walking tour of Old Québec (our introductory guided tour available from November to March), etc.
- Some sites, especially outside the city, might be closed, but there’s a lot to see.
- Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it is the super high season: it is going to be more challenging and more expensive to find a room and activities. Plan way ahead. Expect a crowd.
- Keep in mind there’s no bad weather in Canada, only bad clothing. Check our ultime guide to dress appropriately in Winter.
- If you’re just looking for heritage and you’re afraid of cold, that might be not the best time.
What is the best time in Quebec City to enjoy it as much as possible?
During the cold season: from the end of November to Christmas to enjoy the small but fantastic German Christmas Market; during the Winter Carnaval in February.
From mid-May to mid-October, this is the cruise ship season and most of activities and sites will be open.
What kind of events are organized and when?
Several nice events are organized and you might be interested:
- FEQ (Summer music festival)
- Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France (New France festivities)
- Festivent (August, in Lévis, mostly locals)
- Carnaval de Québec (Winter carnaval)
- Marché de Noël Allemand (German Christmas Market)
- More events on Québec Cité website.
Finally, there’s the 24-25th June for the National Day (Saint Jean-Baptiste). Best time if you want enjoy events and activities with locals. To understand why you’ll see more locals during Quebec National Day than Canada Day (1st July), check our Summer introductory tour which helps to understand Quebec contemporary society.
If you are looking for heritage and history
Most of the museums are open all year long, sometimes with reduced open hours during the low season. We provide public thematic tours (women history and military history for example) during the high season only. Some sites managed by Parks Canada are open during the high season only.
For private tours based on ancestry, I also recommend the high season because without the snow it is easier to see some points of interest. Old Lévis and Old Lauzon are also easier to visit when it’s warm.
That’s why if you’re looking for heritage and history, it’s better to visit Old Quebec from mid-May to mid-October.
Spring, Summer and Autumn: what about the weather?
Temperatures vary a lot in Quebec City. You can expect rain at any time of the year, and different kind of rain. It is impossible to predict what kind of weather you’ll deal with. Even the day before you won’t have a clear idea it.
Just come with back-up clothes to deal with cold and rainy days, proper shoes and you’ll enjoy your time anyway. I guide all year long, rain or shine and, trust me on this, it’s not that hard to come prepared and that is going to drastically increase your chances to enjoy your trip.
What is the best time in Quebec City to avoid the crowd?
April, second half of October and November (except last week) are the least touristy time periods. The main reason is quite simple: season. April is too late for Winter activities, too early for blooming Spring; November is too late for Autumn colours, too early for Winter activities.
In January Old Quebec is also crowd-free.
Because there’s much less tourists, there will be less activities and less sites available. That can be disappointing.
Here are some tips to visit Old Quebec during the high season and avoid the crowd:
- wake up early and go to the main attractions such as Petit Champlain and the area of the Château Frontenac before 9AM when the old city is still empty,
- after 9AM start to go off the beaten path, including Lévis
- book a private tour of Old Québec or Lévis, tell to our guide you want to avoid the crowd and the tour will be tailored accordingly.
When to expect the crowd?
In May there’s a lot of school trips. In July and August, with many people travelling, it’s quite intense. In September up to mid-October, there’s a lot of cruise ships. If you want to avoid the crowd, take a look at the Port of Quebec City to check how many cruise ships will be on dock.
There are also the main events mentioned above and holidays to take into consideration: Pâques (Easter), the Action de Grâce (or Canadian thanksgiving), the American thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Quebec National Day (24-25th June), etc.
Finally, there are 3 major sport events you might want to avoid:
- Le Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie
- Marathon of Quebec City (October)
- Grand Prix cycliste de Québec (September)
Guiding in Old Québec all year long, I feel it’s always the best time to come here. Each season has its downside, but every-time there’s a solution. When is it the best time to visit Quebec City? I recommend you come when you want and can and then come back at another time of the year to have a different experience: twice during Winter (German Christmas Market and Winter Carnaval + Hôtel de Glace), once during the low season when the city is almost empty, and each time there’s an event you’re interested in.
Many people come here for one day or two and, surprise, you could actually spend a week here. There’s so much to do.