Québec City to Minganie: A 15-day Responsible Travel Itinerary
Prepare to be whisked back in time and dazzled by the wide open spaces on this 15 day itinerary along the north shore of Québec’s St. Lawrence River. You’ll have a variety of responsible experiences to choose from on this 8-stage, 2-week road trip.
This road trip is presented in partnership with Sépaq, Québec’s largest outdoor adventure network.
- Authentic encounter with the history of Québec through heritage, museums and interpretation sites
- Exceptional natural sites for observing wildlife, including the whales of the St. Lawrence
- Great choice of ecotourism activities on water and on land
- Stage 1: The one-and-only Québec City
Stage 1: The one-and-only Québec City
- Jeff Frenette Photography
Old Québec, Upper Town
Inside the walls of Old Québec, the secrets of the city’s singular history are revealed at the Fortifications National Historic Site, the Plains of Abraham and the Citadelle of Québec. A stone’s throw away, across from elegant Tourny Fountain, is the Québec Parliament, an iconic nineteenth-century building. And who could forget the world-famous Château Frontenac overlooking Dufferin Terrace, the perfect place to gaze out at the St. Lawrence River and soak up the ambient charm and history. Don't miss Rue Saint-Jean, a gold mine of great boutiques and foodie treats in Upper Town. No matter how you slice it, no Québec City trip is complete without a stop in Old Québec.
- Place royale, Pierre-Nic Lessard
Old Québec, Lower Town
From Dufferin Terrace, take the funicular railway or Escalier Casse-Cou (“breakneck stairs”) to the Petit-Champlain, a marvellous historic district nestled at the foot of Cap Diamant. Here too, the history of New France is all around: Place Royale is where colony founder Samuel de Champlain first established a trading post in 1608. Québec City on foot is a pure joy, with pedestrian streets full of local artists’ galleries and craft shops from the Petit-Champlain all the way to the Old Port. From there, you can stroll over to Saint-Roch, a once-working-class district that has become the bustling epicentre of downtown.
- Site Traditionnel Huron Onhoüa Chetek8e, Francis Gagnon
Onhoüa Chetek8e Huron Traditional Site
Learn about Indigenous traditions at a traditional Huron Wendat site in Wendake, just 15 minutes by car from downtown Québec City. The longhouse, meat smoking and drying huts, sweat lodge, canoe- and snowshoe-making workshops, dances, Wendat cuisine, spirituality, traditional medicine, and other activities immerse visitors in the vibrant culture of the Huron-Wendat Nation. Prepare to be charmed as the guides share the precious heritage in this traditional village. Want to extend your stay? Wendake has other attractions, including the gorgeous First Nations Hotel & Museum Complex, a perfect marriage of tradition and modernity.
- Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, Mathieu Dupuis
Jacques-Cartier National Park
The best thing about Québec City is the nearness of nature that goes along with all that thriving urban culture. Take Jacques-Cartier National Park, a 670 sq. km (259 sq. mile) outdoor playground in one of Québec’s most spectacular glacial valleys. From evergreen forests to whitewater rivers, the park has a slew of great activities—and accommodation options. For the perfect day, we recommend a canoe trip down the Jacques-Cartier River, an afternoon hike in moose territory, and a night deep in the woods in an EXP or Echo cabin. You truly can get away from it all—just half an hour from downtown.
- Stage 2: Pekuakami
Stage 2: Pekuakami
- André Olivier Lyra
Val-Jalbert Historic Village
Ever wonder what life was like a century ago? Val-Jalbert Historic Village is a throwback to the golden age of Québec’s pulp and paper industry in the real-life company town built for the workers at Compagnie de Pulpe Ouiatchouan. The mill was founded in 1901 at the foot of the breathtaking Ouiatchouan Falls. (At 72 metres tall, they’re higher than Niagara Falls!) Forty buildings from the era have been given a new life as part of this fascinating historical attraction. There’s a convent school, a post office, a general store selling lovely souvenirs, and a restaurant right inside the historic mill. Spend a night in the masterfully restored period homes for a unique accommodation experience combining 1920s elegance and modern amenities. Gorgeous!
- Simon Clark
The Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh
They call themselves Pekuakamiulnuatsh. The Innu of Pekuakami—also known as Lake Saint-Jean—are heirs to over 6,000 years of history, knowledge, tradition, and a way of living close to nature. The Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh was created to showcase their unique cultural heritage and pass it down to future generations. Especially exciting is the Tshilanu Ilnuatsh (We the Ilnuatsh) interactive exhibition exploring how the Pekuakamiulnuatsh traditionally lived in harmony with the seasons. The exhibit won a 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Museums Association.
- Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien
Zoo sauvage de Saint-Félicien (Wildlife Zoo)
Don’t miss the wildlife zoo in Saint-Félicien for an unforgettable day of family fun among the many animals that live in the boreal forest. Unlike in other zoos, the animals here mostly roam free in parks resembling their natural habitats. All year round, visitors can stroll through the zoo’s seven distinct areas and get a close up view of 80 species from boreal and cold climates, or hop the Nature Trail Park train to see wild animals in their natural surroundings.
- Mikaël Beauchemin
Pointe-Taillon National Park
There’s nothing quite like an inland sea to truly commune with nature. And there’s no better spot for that than Pointe-Taillon National Park, with its 45 km (28 miles) of sandy beaches along the Lac Saint Jean and the mouth of the Péribonka River. It’s paradise for hikers, swimmers, water sports enthusiasts, and anyone just looking for some downtime. Cyclists are in their element with a 45 km (28 mile) network that includes a section of the Véloroute des Bleuets bike route. Green accommodation options abound with Echo cabins, rustic camping, and both standard and glamping prospector tents. Canoeing, biking, and sleeping—life’s a dream!
- Stage 3: Majestic Lac-Saint-Jean
Stage 3: Majestic Lac-Saint-Jean
- Véloroute des bleuets
Véloroute des Bleuets (Blueberry Bike Route)
Care to take a spin around the lake? Get out your bike, rollerblades, or even hiking shoes and hit the Véloroute des Bleuets, a 256 km (159 mile) cycling route around Lac Saint-Jean. Free of charge and accessible to all, the loop takes you through 15 municipalities and the Indigenous community of Mashteuiatsh. You’ll find plenty of attractions and delicious eateries along the way, including some great microbreweries. You’ll also find numerous bike-friendly accommodation, with some forty inns that offer luggage transport shuttles for cyclists. A great escape!
For a huge range of thrilling ecotourism experiences, look no further than Équinox Aventure. The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean’s resident experts help new and seasoned outdoors adventurers get out and play on land and water. There are bike trips on the Véloroute des Bleuets; sea kayaking, canoeing, and voyageur canoe excursions on Lac Saint-Jean… The list goes on, but we don't want to spoil it. Just one last teaser: in summer, you can stay in an Iloft—a glass-domed houseboat right on the waters of Lac Saint-Jean, for an overnight stay like no other!
Domaine Le Cageot
Discover a family estate and thriving business that’s been embracing innovation for 45 years. Here, the region’s local berries—blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants—are transformed into jams, jellies, vinegars, aperitifs, liqueurs, and award-winning sparkling wines like Le Cageolais, made with wild blueberries. The estate also offers pick-your-own berries in the summer.
- Pulperie de Chicoutimi
Pulperie de Chicoutimi Regional Museum
Located in a former pulp mill, this museum is a great reason to stop in Saguenay and learn how industrial development shaped the region. La Pulperie de Chicoutimi houses an impressive collection of more than 26,000 artifacts and artworks. Two permanent interactive exhibitions bring to life the epic stories of the Compagnie du pulpe de Chicoutimi and the historic trading post site, while a third explores the life of eminent local painter Arthur Villeneuve (1910–1990). Live and learn!
- Stage 4: Whale Watching in Tadoussac
Stage 4: Whale Watching in Tadoussac
- Lise Gagnon, CIMM
Marine Mammals Interpretation Centre
This Tadoussac museum is the place to learn about the whales of the St. Lawrence River and how to protect them. Managed by a marine mammals research and education group (GREMM), the interpretation centre is home to an outstanding collection of skeletons. Try your luck on the whale-watching observation deck and learn to sing a whale song using a unique horn-like instrument, the “baleinophone.”
- Jocelyn Praud, Le Québec maritime
Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park
Experience nature at its most extraordinary where the St. Lawrence Estuary meets the Saguenay Fjord. The 1,245 sq. km (481 sq. mile) Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is one of the first marine protected areas on the planet, a natural habitat to more than 1,800 wild species. It’s also one of the world’s best places for whale watching. Prepare for a phenomenal experience, whether you get out on the water, take it easy on the shore, or visit one of two museums: the Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins or the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre.
- Mathieu Dupuis, Le Québec maritime
Essipit’s whale-watching guides are the captains you want on a trip to meet the leviathans of the St. Lawrence. The Innu-owned and member of the Éco-Baleine Alliance company from Essipit uses Zodiacs—a lightweight, highly manoeuvrable small craft—to give passengers the best possible views and most thrilling ride while being respectful of the marine mammals in Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. A magical experience!
- Marc Loiselle, Tourisme Côte-Nord
Mer et monde Écotours
This ecotourism company is all about creating and sharing authentic experiences with its guided sea kayak and paddleboard adventures. It’s the perfect way to observe marine mammals while being respectful of their natural environment. Mer et Monde Écotours also has a campsite near Essipit with regular tent sites, prospector tents, and rustic cabins. This is your chance to wake up to the sound of whale song.
- Stage 5: To the End of the Road!
Stage 5: To the End of the Road!
- Mathieu Dupuis, Le Québec maritime
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve boasts some of Canada’s most enchanting scenery: islands dotted with stone monoliths carved out by erosion over millennia, along with remarkable plants and iconic wildlife like the Atlantic Puffin. With hiking, ocean excursions, and prospector tents and teardrop-shaped huts for overnight stays, it has it all! Catch a boat from Havre-Saint-Pierre to see the otherworldly landscapes of nearby Quarry and Niapiskau Islands. Back on the mainland, don’t miss the Romaine-1 hydroelectric power station, with a stop at the Puyjalon Distillery to sample their line of craft gins with an unmistakably northern twist.
- Marc Loiselle, Le Québec maritime
Your reward for reaching the end of Highway 138 is a sense of being on the edge of the world. A few miles before the road stops at Kegaska you’ll find Natashquan, famous as birthplace of singer-songwriter Gilles Vigneault (whose childhood home is open to the public). The village is home to one of eight Innu communities along the Côte-Nord. See the remnants of the golden age of the cod fishery at Les Galets, and enjoy the stunning surroundings: fine sand beaches, taiga, and wild rivers. Breathtaking!
- Éric Deschamps, Le Québec maritime
On the return trip west along the Whale Route, stop off at Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan for a fascinating visit of Maison de la Culture Innue. This museum showcases the history of the Innu of Ekuanitshit and is also a gathering place for intercultural and intergenerational dialogue. About 10 km (6 miles) down the road, the Mingan Islands Cetacean Study (MICS) Visitor Centre offers a unique opportunity for the public to join professional biologists on sea excursions to observe different whales. Or take the boat trip to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve to explore the tundra of Île Nue and see the Atlantic Puffin colony on Île aux Perroquets. If you want to spend a night, there’s a lighthouse there that’s been converted into a comfortable inn. More memories in the making!
- Sébastien St-Jean
Bella Desgagnés - Relais Nordik
The nordic magic doesn’t stop where Highway 138 ends, thanks to the MV Bella Desgagnés. This cargo ship supplies Anticosti Island and the isolated villages along the Basse-Côte-Nord. The Bella Desgagnés also welcomes travellers eager to explore Québec’s far reaches and see remote communities clinging to the edges of the world. An unforgettable trip that takes passengers as far as Blanc-Sablon on the Labrador border.
- Stage 6: Nature and Culture in Sept-Îles
Stage 6: Nature and Culture in Sept-Îles
- Mathieu Dupuis, Le Québec maritime
Sept-Îles is at once a city, an archipelago, and a historically significant cultural crossroads with a beautiful bay. It deserves more than a quick stop! Be sure to book a boat trip: the archipelago’s islands are a never-ending source of wonders, with varied scenery and plenty of opportunities to sight birds and marine mammals. A stop on Grande Basque Island adds to the adventure, with hiking trails, educational activities about marine biology, and more.
- Tourisme Côte-Nord
Ferme maricole Purmer
For an excursion that’s equal parts educational and epicurean, set sail for the Purmer fish farm. Start by learning all about farming scallops, mussels, and seaweed, then taste the wonderful bounty of the sea for yourself. It doesn’t get any fresher than this! We like that the establishment is certified Smarter Seafood (Fourchette bleue) and member of Tourisme durable Québec. You’ll also have some free time on Grosse Boule Island to go hiking, swimming, sea kayaking, paddleboarding, or just to spend time on the beach. Want to keep the fun going? Consider spending the night in one of Purmer’s yurts.
- Mathieu Dupuis, Le Québec maritime
Vieux-Poste de Sept-Îles
Back on the mainland, Vieux-Poste de Sept-Îles is a former trading post that retraces the contact and shared history of Innu and European-Canadians through centuries of trade and cultural exchange. It’s a captivating interpretation site that brings history to life through historical reconstruction, interactive exhibitions, and a visit to a traditional Innu camp.
- Sébastien Desnoyers
Expand your knowledge of Innu culture and discover a living community at the Shaputuan Museum. The permanent exhibition is a rich collection of artefacts that tell the story of traditional Innu life over the seasons. This Sept-Îles institution actively promotes dialogue between Innu and other people through intercultural exchanges and a school outreach program.
- Stage 7: Vacationeering by the St. Lawrence in La Malbaie
Stage 7: Vacationeering by the St. Lawrence in La Malbaie
- Maxim Tremblay
Expect big things when AML Cruises, Canada’s number one boat tour and excursion company, comes to the best whale-watching spot in the world. Plus, they are proud members of the Éco-Baleine Alliance, Green Marine, Tourisme durable Québec and Aventure écotourisme Québec. The magic happens on 2–3 hour trips leaving from Baie-Sainte-Catherine to Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. Travel aboard a Zodiac or observation boat and get ready to see some whales!
- Mario Faubert
Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park
The village of Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs is a true gem in the Charlevoix backcountry. Breathtaking views as far as the eye can see come courtesy of Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park and leave even the most seasoned outdoors adventurers in awe (and for them, we recommend Acropole-des-Draveurs Trail). There are tons of outdoor and interpretive activities on offer. Special mention goes to the canoe-camping and the unique Sépaq accommodations (glamping, Écho cabins). One of Québec’s most spectacular national parks, hands down!
- EM photographie culinaire
Charlevoix is famous for gourmet local delicacies made by creative farmers and producers using sustainable techniques, all of which goes hand in hand with the region’s superb food and restaurant scene. Temptation beckons around every corner along the Flavour Trail, with stops like Fromagerie Saint-Fidèle for daily fresh batches of cheddar curds, Safran Nordique in Clermont to learn how the precious “red gold” is grown, and Menaud, a new Clermont institution brewing and distilling the essence of Charlevoix into delectable beers and spirits. Cheers!
- Joannie Fillion
Observatoire de l'Astroblème de Charlevoix
The Charlevoix region owes its distinctive geography to the crash landing of a gigantic meteor hundreds of millions of years ago. The Astroblème Observatory is the only interpretation centre dedicated to this astronomical phenomenon. Learn all about it on an interactive visit with a scientist as your tour guide.
- Stage 8: Breathtaking Scenery in Petite-Rivière-Saint-François
Stage 8: Breathtaking Scenery in Petite-Rivière-Saint-François
- Train de Charlevoix
The Charlevoix Hydrogen Train
Bask in picture-perfect vistas on the first hydrogen train in the Americas from Québec City to Baie-Saint-Paul. The rail cruise affords stunning views you can only see by rail. It’s the ideal way to slow down and contemplate your surroundings, or meet new people while enjoying the friendly service.
- Gabriel Gakwaya
Massif de Charlevoix
This mountain rises sharply up from the St. Lawrence River, delivering incredible views and the highest elevation east of the Canadian Rockies. As the scenery changes with the seasons, so too do the activities on offer. In summer and fall, there’s hiking, mountain biking, canyoning, and even a cable car. It’s everything you need for mountaintop adventure, beauty, and bliss!
- Tourisme Charlevoix
Caps de Charlevoix Trail
With trailheads at Saint-Tite-des-Caps and Massif de Charlevoix, Caps de Charlevoix hiking trail is almost 75 km (46 miles) of pure magic. Most of the route hugs the cliffs along the St. Lawrence, alternating pure river vistas with glimpses of the Montmagny archipelago and Isle-aux-Coudres, but the trail also takes you through gorgeous forest ecosystems.
- Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
Montmorency Falls Park
Open your eyes as the itinerary comes to its glorious close, welcoming you back to Greater Québec City. At 83 metres (272 feet) tall, Montmorency Falls is the province’s highest waterfall—even higher than Niagara Falls! With a cable car and hiking trails, you can enjoy this natural attraction from every angle, but nothing can touch the panoramic view from the suspension bridge overlooking the falls. Need your adrenalin fix? The park’s three via ferrata routes and 300-metre zip line should do the trick.
Did you know that the province of Québec has a vast Electric Circuit with more than 3400 charging stations for electric vehicles?
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