One Picture Perfect Day: Discover Quebec City in December

Itching to get to Europe but don’t have the time (or money)? Check out this bucket list destination closer to home. Discover Quebec City in December.

Europe is always a good idea, don’t you agree? But what happens when you don’t have the time to cross the pond? Go to the next closest thing- the European-esque French speaking fairytale town of Quebec City. The charm, culture, cobblestone and cuisine… count me in!

I’m so excited to share this itinerary with you. Sorry Disney World, but I’m convinced the Marche de Noel Allemand de Quebec (AKA the Quebec German Christmas Market) is the happiest place on earth. Read on to learn how to spend 24 hours in this picture perfect winter wonderland town of Quebec City in December.

Getting to Quebec City in December

We flew from Memphis to Montreal, then took a train to Quebec City. Train service is offered by VIA Rail Canada. The train from Montreal takes ~4 hours, and there are several departure times throughout the day. Ticket prices are based on demand so booking early is better. We paid about $40 each way. The train line was beautiful, clean and comfy. I would highly recommend this mode of travel!

Once we got there, 95% of what we did can be reached by foot. Our superb dinner (more on that later) technically could have also been reached on foot, but would have been a trek. We took an Uber to dinner, and to and from the train station since we were bogged down with luggage.

Where to Stay

We rented an Airbnb hosted by Posh Properties, and would HIGHLY recommend! I prefer having my own space with a kitchen on vacation, and typically like to rent an apartment over staying at a hotel. It also seems more local, cozy and homey. This studio apartment was no exception!

Posh Properties went above and beyond with their accommodations and amenities. The studio had a fully stocked kitchen, fridge, and a welcome basket including snacks a bottle of wine. So sweet!

The location in the heart of Old Quebec couldn’t have been better. We were within walking distance to our whole itinerary (besides dinner), which was a major plus. The building is historic and has so much character. Waking up to the snowy view out our frosty third floor window was nothing short of magical. Can you tell I’d go back in a heartbeat?

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Quebec City in December: What To Do

We arrived at the train station around 10 pm on Wednesday night, and left at 8am Friday morning. We had one full day to explore the city, which was perfect. If you have more time, I would recommend day trips to the mountains to do some fun snowy wintertime activities.

While traveling I like to make sure I see some neat off-the-beaten path sites, but definitely don’t want to miss any important “tourist” attractions either. Especially the first time I visit a city! I’ve found that browsing the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in cities I will be traveling to is a good way to make sure I see anything and everything noteworthy. I knew I wanted to see the historic fortifications around the city, so we decided to start our day walking in that direction.

Quebec City in December

Did you know? Quebec City was founded as a French settlement in 1608 and is the only fortified city remaining north of Mexico in North America. The Historic District of Old Quebec was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some other famous World Heritage sites you will have heard of include the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and Yellowstone National Park. To become a World Heritage site, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) must deem a landmark culturally, historically or scientifically significant.

During our two week backpacking trip through the UK, we found ourselves at a handful of other UNESCO World Heritage sites including:

The City of Bath

The Lake District National Park

Conwy Castle in Wales

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen, Wales

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

the Tower of London

But let’s get back to Quebec City!


In case you didn’t know (like me), “fortified” is just a fancy word for “walled”. Think of a fortification as a military fort and/or walls constructed to protect a city. We started with a walk to the St. Louis gate, then along the walls toward the St. John gate.

Old Port & Quartier Petit Champlain

Next, we headed toward the water to check out the Old Port. We walked along the water’s edge and enjoyed the view across the St. Lawrence River to Levit. We rounded out our walk and wandered the charming shopping street of Quartier Petit Champlain. The quarter is co-op owned with independent boutiques, galleries, restaurants & a theatre. The street was decked out for the holidays with so much cheer. We window shopped until our stomachs growled for lunch.

Quebec City in December

The Funiculaire & Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

We had planned to take the Funiculaire (AKA inclined elevator) up to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel, but there was a sign that said cash only and the ATM was not working. I’m honestly not sure if the Funiculaire was running, or if everyone was like us and got caught without cash. Either way, we headed up to Montmorency Park on foot which boasts beautiful views across the river and up to the Chateau Frontenac. We took more stairs all the way up until we reached the hotel for the lunch (more on that later).

Quebec City in December

After lunch, we headed back to our Airbnb for me to pump (I was still breastfeeding out 7 month old at the time). Message me if you need any tips to navigate pumping while traveling internationally!

La Citadelle de Quebec

After lunch, we walked to La Citadelle de Quebec. This active fort provides spectacular views and another great location for photographing the Chateau Frontenac.

Did you know? The Chateau Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in the world! If you can’t beat them, join ’em! Make sure you take a few pictures of your own of this prominent castle-like hotel open since 1893 overlooking the St. Lawrence river.

Marche de Noel Allemand de Quebec

After the Citadel it was time for the main event and reason we chose to travel in December: The Christmas Market! Quebec City hosts Marche de Noel Allemand de Quebec. The Christmas market is comprised of 5 sites all within the heart of Old Quebec. The market is inspired by the traditional European markets that originated in the late Middle Ages in German speaking cultures of Vienna, Munich, Bautzen and Frankfurt as early as 1298.

These open air markets included stalls with hand made gifts, food, drinks, singing, dancing and overall cheer to celebrate during the Advent season leading up to Christmas. Old Quebec has all the character necessary to recreate this festive tradition, and has executed it to a T. The atmosphere definitely rivals that of the great European Christmas markets. You must enjoy a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine), a fresh pretzel and local made crafts and gifts for everyone on your list. It is the ideal place to get in the Christmas spirit, and should make it onto your bucket list if it’s not already there!

After some festive happy hour drinks and snacks at the Christmas market, we got in an Uber and headed to dinner to complete our picture perfect December day in Quebec City.

Quebec City in December: Where to Eat

We are not done yet! Before I let you go we have to go over some of the great eats in this city. As mentioned, we arrived late (around 10 pm). We had planned to drop off our bags then walk the couple blocks to Rue Saint-Louis and the many restaurants that line the street. Online hours said they should all still be open, however restaurant after restaurant told us their kitchen had just closed, and sent us away. We struck out, and headed back to our Airbnb to call in delivery.

Poulet Rouge

We ordered Poulet Rouge, and it did NOT disappoint. We were so pleasantly surprised (because our expectations were low given the circumstances), but the quality of the grilled chicken was far superior to any fast food we’ve had in the states. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, do not sleep on Poulet Rouge!

Quebec City in December

Cafe Le Maison Smith

The next morning, we enjoyed a short walk form our centrally located Airbnb to grab breakfast at Café La Maison Smith Des Jardins. We enjoyed an impressive Quiche Lorraine, pistachio latte and a handpicked selection of 6 macaroons to go, and leisurely ate them in the apartment while planning out the rest of the day.

Sam Bistro

For lunch, we braved the stairs to eat at Bistro Le Sam inside the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. We savored our late lunch, and I had my first taste of Canadian poutine! Their take was wonderful with beef cheek and pickles (and of course squeaky cheese curds, french fries and gravy). The views can’t be beat, and hotel was decorated exquisitely for the holidays. It’s a must see, even if you are not staying there! And grabbing a great lunch with a view is a good excuse to sneak a peak inside this historic hotel.

Quebec City in December


For dinner, we Ubered to Sardines at the recommendation of a waiter we met in Montreal. This meal was the highlight of not only the trip, but possibly the whole year. The menu is so creative and doesn’t just change seasonally or weekly, it changes daily. If you are English speaking, be sure to download the English menu online before you go (we found the Wifi to be spotty). They have a chalkboard with the daily menu in French, but I’m sure your waiter can also walk you through it. They choose a couple bottles of wine of each color (red, white, rose, orange) to open and serve all night, and specialize in small shareable bites you won’t find anywhere else.

We started with oysters from Prince Edward Island, then ordered 3 small plates. The first was seared cod with white carrots in a buttery cream sauce with caviar. Next, a ravioli stuffed with ricotta, scallops and sobrasada. Last, a Canadian “boudin” blood pork sausage with apples and swiss chard. They brought out homemade focaccia as well to soak up any leftover sauce.

So unique. So complex. SO good. We had the best slow dinner, enjoying the ambience and unassuming cozy interior until closing time. I would recommend this as a must visit. Get a reservation just to be safe.

We could not have enjoyed our Canadian Christmas getaway more. We were in awe of the charm and quaintness we found around every corner. And I love a city I can explore on foot. I can’t speak for other times of the year, but Quebec City in December is pure magic. We boarded the train the next morning to head back to Montreal for a few days, but are so glad we decided to take the quick trip to Quebec City. Until next time!

Enjoy the journey,