Yay! The first snow has fallen upon the streets of Québec City, and while we do not know if it will melt before the next snowfall, we are beyond excited for the start of winter. Cue the wintery holiday music – Boney M’s Feliz Navidad is playing now, it is like a warm childhood bear hug – and warm up the chocolat chaud.
Winter in Québec City is magical; with the snow clinging to the historic buildings like frosting on a mouthwatering cake. In winter Québec City looks like a real-life fairy tale destination, and while we are not fans of the crisp chilly wind that sometimes whips through the city, we cannot resist putting on all of our winter gear and exploring the city.
Here is what you NEED to pack for winter in Québec City, along with the ONE thing everyone forgets to pack!
Yes, we are pulling out the ‘P’ word! Standing guard along the shores of the Saint-Lawrence river, Québec City is in the perfect position to embrace winter’s full blast; and unlike Western Canada, there is definitely some moisture in the air in Québec! Buy a parka, not some flimsy winter jacket. Trust us, nobody wants to go back to their hotel early because their body feels like a frozen corpse due to a lame winter jacket. Helly Hansen and Columbia are two of our favourite brands for winter jackets.
You are visiting the oldest Canadian city, in winter, it is time you use the local vernacular! We lose 7-10% of our body heat through our head (the 40% is a myth, you can read more about that here), you need to keep it covered! We suggest wearing a toque that is warm and whimsical. Québécers enjoy warm whimsical winter hats (yes, we did that on purpose).
This should be obvious. Your fingers will not get so cold that you get severe frostbite, but they can get cold enough that it becomes difficult to move them — especially if you’re not wearing warm gloves or mittens! If you don’t live in a super cold winter climate, you could buy some warm glove inserts to put into a pair of gloves you already own. Or you could buy a pair of ski gloves or woolly mittens!
A good parka, as well as gloves or mittens are essential, but there are days when HotHands come in very handy (yeah, we know, that was super cheesy). While these delights were created to help keep your hands warm on extremely chilly days, we like using them on other parts of the body – like inside a bra, or taped our butt cheeks (nobody likes an icy bum). It is probably best to stick to hands or feet.
Winter boots are essential in Québec City, and Sorel boots are out top choice. Why? It is quite simple, they have good tread, they are warm, and perfect for all types of winter weather: snow, ice, rain, sleet (mixture of snow and rain). Whether there is snow on the ground or not, you will feel out of place if you’re not wearing winter boots between the months of November and March. Sorel is our favourite brand – and they are Québec made!
The is the ONE things everyone forgets to pack for winter in Québec City. Ice crampons are essential, especially from December to the end of February when the streets are a mixture of snow and ice. It sounds extreme, but the streets and sidewalks in Vieux Québec get very slippery in winter – and if you glide when you walk, your butt will spend more time on the ground than your feet!
Québecers love their snow pants in winter, a lot. Once the snow starts to fall, almost everyone can be found walking around outside in a parka AND snow pants – especially in January and February when Old Man Winter seems to have a death grip on the city. Plus, as most Québecers love outdoor winter activities, snow pants are mandatory for keeping your dry and somewhat warm.
Long sleeve shirts are common sense in winter as they help to keep your arms warm. We like the waffle style thermal shirts that fit a little snug, and then we top it off with a t-shirt. Winter is all about layers, and lets be honest, sometimes you will need to peel off the layers and relax before layering back up and venturing outside again.
Québec City is a stunning magical winter wonderland, and if you show up without a camera, you will instantly regret it. We love that the Nikon 1 V3 is mirrorless, lightweight, and very easy to use. It also takes superb photos! A favourite at Urban Guide Québec when we don’t want to lug around our Fuji X-T1.
A winter outfit is not complete without warm socks to wear. We like wearing snowboarding socks; they are fun and whimsical and super warm as well. Pack a couple pairs, and consider using a pair to hold your camera and SD cards. We like to stuff ours in a pair of warm socks to keep our camera gear from freezing!
Lip balm and hand salve are just as important as winter clothing and a camera, and while there are plenty of options where you live, we think you should try out some of the fabulous body care products made right here in the province of Québec. Brands like Savonnerie des Diligences and BKIND can be purchased online before you travel to Québec City, or you can wait until you arrive and shop for Québec-made products at some of our favourite boutiques. We highly recommend Article 721 in Limoilou!