Thinking of visiting the coastal side of Québec and you only have two weeks to do it? I have the perfect coastal Québec road trip itinerary for you! It has an unbeatable mix of nature, history, culture and outdoor adventure.
Some of the most well known sites in the province are featured in this Québec road trip plus many more beyond the beaten path destinations you may have never heard of.
Easily adaptable and extendable, this Québec road trip averages around 180km per day. So there’s plenty of time for relaxation or fast paced adventure, no matter which you prefer!
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Planning a coastal Québec road trip
With thousands of kilometres of beautiful coastline, Québec has a lot to offer when it comes to scenic and adventurous road trips. Indeed, you could easily travel and explore along Québec’s coastline for weeks.
For those on a more limited (or realistic) timeframe, however, I have put together a 2 week/14 day Québec road trip itinerary showcasing the highlights of this region. It includes Québec City, Tadoussac, Saguenay, Kamouraska and the breathtaking Gaspé Peninsula.
The following Québec road trip:
- Starts and ends in Montreal, completing a full loop
- Can be adapted to your own preferences and interests
- Is easily shortened if necessary on day 5 for a quicker coastal adventure
- Can be combined with other routes such as my East Coast Canada road trip itinerary
Coastal Québec Road Trip – 2 week / 14 day itinerary (2400km)
Read on for a day by day trip planning guide, including what to do in each location and accommodation suggestions. The latter is based on our own experience as well as online research and personal recommendations.
This road trip inspired by one we took with the assistance of Quebec Maritime as well as our own independent travel experience exploring the Tadoussac, Saguenay and Bas-Saint-Laurent areas.
Day 1 – Montreal to Québec City (255km)
Quite simply, Québec City is like nowhere else in Canada. This is likely because it is one of the oldest cities in Canada and is also the only walled city in North America.
The historical vibe and architecture of Vieux Québec (Old Québec) will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Europe. Drive straight to Québec City from Montreal to make the most of your time in this historic place.
Things to do in Québec City
Simply wandering around Quebec’s Old Town is the best part of any visit to Quebec. Here are my recommendations for places to visit and things to do in Québec City:
- Explore the lobby of the ever impressive Chateau Frontenac or take a one hour tour to see more
- Take the ferry to Lévis across the water for the best views of Quebec City
- Walk along the 200 year old wooden Dufferin Terrasse next to the Chateau and take the steps up to the the Plains of Abraham
- Explore the Citadelle de Québec, the largest British built fortress in North America
- Take a historical tour to learn more about the people and context of Vieux Québec
- Get the highest view of Quebec City at the Observatoire de la Capitale
- Take the stairs or funicular down to the Petit Champlain area below the Chateau Frontenac
- Go on a free guided tour of Quebec’s regal Parliament Buildings
- View the stunning architectural and opulence of the 350+ year old Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
- Taste and browse local produce at the Old Port Market
Where to stay in Québec City
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac – Quebec City’s beautiful and iconic castle-like hotel is one of the most photographed in the world
Hotel Terrasse Dufferin (we stayed here) – Just across the street from the Frontenac, this hotel has similar views and location for a more affordable price
Hotel Manoir Morgan – Located in the historic old town and highly rated on Booking.com
Day 2 – Québec City
Take an extra day to explore more of beautiful Quebec City. For a beyond the beaten path experience, consider taking a trip to one of Quebec’s vibrant outer neighbourhoods.
A food tour is a great way to explore hip and culturally diverse Saint Roch district, not far from Old Quebec. My highlight was definitely the mouthwatering Fromagerie des Grondines cheese Shop.
Day 3 – Québec City to Tadoussac (214km)
After a two night city break in Québec City, it is time to head out into the more wilder areas of Québec. First stop is Tadoussac, one of the best places in the world for whale watching.
Sitting at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Saguenay rivers, the waters surrounding this tiny town are visited by as many as 13 different whale species. One of the most common whales to see is the majestic beluga.
On the way to Tadoussac, take the time to stop at the powerful Montmorency Falls, just fifteen kilometres north of Quebec City.
Things to do in Tadoussac
- Go on a whale watching boat tour with AML Cruises and potentially see belugas, minke whales and humpbacks
- Kayak with whales on a tour with Mer et Monde
- Walk the short Sentier Pointe-de-l’Islet viewpoint trail from Tadoussac’s marina. This is a great spot to sea whales
- Learn more about the local whales at the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre
- Visit Petite Chapelle, one of North America’s oldest wooden churches (it dates from 1747!)
- Have a drink or a bite to eat at the impressive Hotel Tadoussac
- Learn about Tadoussac’s history at the Chauvin Trading Post, a replica of Canada’s first fur trading post
Where to stay in Tadoussac
Motel le Beluga – Great value option in quiet yet central Tadoussac location
Auberge La Merveilleuse – Comfortable inn with amazing waterfront location – some rooms even have ocean views
Auberge Maison Gagne – Highly rated cosy B&B close to the ferry in Tadoussac
Day 4 – Tadoussac to Saguenay (126km)
Flowing from Lac Saint Jean, the Saguenay river becomes a magnificent fjord reaching depths of 300m or more.
Carved by glaciers, the fjord cliffs are as high as the water below is deep. With such unique biodiversity, Saguenay is an essential stop on any Quebec road trip.
Things to do in Saguenay
- Go hiking in Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay
- Take a boat or kayak tour of the Saguenay fjord and spot whales, seals and seabirds
- Climb the stairs in the 21m high Pyramid of Ha! Ha! for views of the bay
- Visit what was once the world’s largest pulp mill – La Pulperie
- Take a step back in time at the Village Historique Val Jalbert, an authentic 1920’s pulp mill town
- Bike part of the 256km Véloroute des Bleuets circuit
- Walk the boardwalk at Chicoutimi’s Port Area
- Try the aerial adventure course and Via Ferrata at Parc Adventures Cap Jaseux
Where to stay in Saguenay
Gîte du Haut des Arbres – Spectacular location overlooking the fjord with modern rooms and swimming pool
OTL Gouverneur Saguenay – Comfortable and spacious rooms in hotel located close to Chicoutimi centre
Hotel Chicoutimi – Good value option in central Chicoutimi location
Day 5 – Saguenay
Fill your day with activities from the Day 4 list or consider these additional ideas –
- Go biking, hiking or paddling in Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin
- Check out the Musée du Fjord and discover what lies beneath the ocean’s surface
- Go white water rafting on the Shipshaw, Métabetchouane and Mistassibi rivers
- Hike the peaks of Parc national des Monts Valin
Day 6 – Saguenay to Matane (390km)
Returning to the Saint Lawrence from Saguenay, you have plenty of spectacular coastal driving and a ferry journey in front of you before reaching Matane on the magnificent Gaspé Peninsula!
We took the Godbout ferry, the most northern crossing to Matane but Baie-Comeau offers a good (and faster) alternative.
If you don’t want to drive as far north, take the Trois-Pistole ferry from Les Escoumins and then consider these stops on the way to Matane:
- Admire the beautiful gardens at Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis
- Choose from several day hiking options at coastal Parc national du Bic
Looking for a longer adventure? Consider continuing further north along the Route des Baleines (Route 138) to Sept-Îles, Rivière-au-Tonnerre and the Mingan Archipelago
Things to do in Matane (and on the way)
- Try to spot whales from shore at the Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre
- Experience the fascinating Jardin des glaciers in Baie-Comeau where you can feel the 4km Laurentian ice sheet under your feet
- Walk on the wooden bridge over the powerfull falls at Parc de la Chûte de Sault-Au-Mouton
- Take a walk on the sandy beach at Matane, also the perfect place to watch the sunset
- Have a guided tour of Matane’s Lighthouse at Musée maritime du Phare de Matane
- Search for moose at the Réserve faunique de Matane
- Admire the beauty of the gardens at Le jardin de Doris, a little horicultural oasis near Matane
Where to stay in Matane
Riotel Matane (we stayed here) – Smart, waterfront hotel with restaurant. Fabulous views from most rooms of the St Lawrence.
Auberge Bruine Océane – Quiet, comfortable and spacious B&B in Matane’s town centre
Hotel Motel Belle Plage – Great value motel, close to ferry and overlooking St Lawrence
Day 7 – Matane to Gaspésie National Park (125km)
Follow the coast to the pretty town of Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts before turning inland and gaining elevation to reach Parc national de la Gaspésie (Gaspésie National Park).
Offering a chance to explore the ‘spine’ of the Gaspé Peninsula, this park has fabulous alpine hiking opportunities.
Things to do in Gaspésie National Park
- Learn about the park at the Interpretation and Visitors Centre
- Check and sign up for park warden led interpretive activities
- Rent a canoe, kayak, SUP or pedal boat at Lake Cascapédia
Hiking is by far the most popular activity in Gaspésie National Park. Here are some trails to try:
- La Saillie (3.4km) – Steep but fairly easy trail to a lookout over the valley
- La Chute-Saint-Anne and Belvédère de la Lucarne (3km loop) – Two easy trails featuring impressive waterfall and an observation tower
- Mont Albert trail (17km loop) – Difficult trail leading to to a huge summit plateau
- Mont Jacques Cartier (8.3km) – Rocky trail up tallest mountain in Southern Quebec (1268m) with chances to see rare caribou herd
Where to stay in Gaspésie National Park area
Gîte du Mont-Albert – In the heart of Gaspésie National Park, this beautiful hotel is the perfect reward after a day of hiking. Heated swimming pool and on-site restaurant
Parc National de la Gaspésie has five vehicle accessible campgrounds. Camping spots can be reserved on the Sépaq website.
The coastal town of Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts is a thirty minute drive to the core area of Gaspésie National Park. There are plenty of accommodation providers here.
Motel Manoir sur Mer – Reasonably priced oceanfront property with fabulous views and spacious accommodation
Hôtel & cie – Centrally located hotel with stylish interiors and on-site restaurant
Day 8 – Gaspésie National Park
A full day to explore the valleys, mountains and trails of Gaspésie National Park. For a change of scenery in the evening, consider staying in Sainte-Anne-Des-Monts overnight instead.
Day 9 – Gaspésie National Park to Gaspé (210km)
The drive from Gaspésie National Park winds along the coast, passing dozens of small fishing villages, lighthouses and imposing Catholic churches.
Take the journey slowly, pausing to stop on windswept beaches, roadside waterfalls and to admire the breathtaking coastal views. Breathe in the salty air and get on Gaspésie time. Consider making a detour to visit the 19th century Manoir Le Boutillier, now a National Historic Site of Canada.
Things to do in Gaspé
- Visit the granite Cross of Gaspé which commemorates the arrival of French explorers in Canada in 1534
- Learn a thing or two about the history of the local area at the modern Musée de la Gaspésie
- Explore nearby Forillon National Park (see Day 10 below for more details)
- Discover the culture of the local Mi’kmaq at the Site d’Interpretation de la Culture Micmac de Gespeg
- Enjoy the golden sands of nearby Plage Haldimand
Where to stay in Gaspé
Auberge Sous les Arbres (we stayed here) – Stunningly furnished rooms, some with balconies, walking distance from town’s main sights. Tasty breakfast with home baked treats
Hotel Plante – Great value option, especially as some rooms have kitchenette. Centrally located in Gaspé
Auberge La Petite École de Forillon – Close to the entrance of Forillon National Park, this clean and spacious hostel is a good option if your budget is small
Day 10 – Gaspé
Forillon National Park is a 30 minute drive from Gaspé and is an ideal place to spend a full day. This park has a real end-of-the-world feel about it and has a mix of majestic mountains, steep cliffs, pebbly beaches and meadows.
Highlights of Forillon National Park include:
- Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse trail (8km) – Easy and mostly flat coastal route passing ocean views, Cap-Gaspé lighthouse and ending at rugged Land’s End
- Mont-Saint-Alban trail (3.6km) – Short but sometimes steep trail to observation tower with panoramic views of Forillon from above
- Whale watching and scuba diving
- Heritage houses with costumed interpretive guides and exhibits
- Underground fortifications of Fort Peninsula
- Gorgeous picnic opportunities by the ocean
- Beach fun and swimming at Penouille sand spit
- Wildlife watching – in one day, we saw one moose, six porcupines, eight black bears (including cubs) and a lynx
Day 11 – Gaspé to Percé (62km)
The distance between Gaspé and Percé is short but with both towns being distinctively different, it is worth spending significant time in each. The short drive also means it is possible to fit more activities and adventure into your day!
Percé is best known for Percé Rock, a huge formation jutting out from the St Lawrence River. It is a striking sight but not the only reason to spend time in this area.
Things to do in Percé
- Walk the waterfront promenade and discover local studios, boutiques and cafes
- Hike the Sentier des Belvédère trail to read a observation tower and suspended glass platform (fee required)
- Go sea kayaking and admire Percé Rock from a smaller boat
- Take a boat cruise around Percé Rock, Bonaventure Island and the Gaspé coastline
- Explore Bonaventure Island, one of the world’s largest bird sanctuaries
- Visit the Géoparc de Percé Tektonik interactive exhibit and learn more about the local geological wonders
- Hike to the Grotto and discover a cascading waterfall in a gorge
- Go whale watching and hope to see fin whales, minke whales, humpback whales and more
Where to stay in Percé
Gîte à l’Abri du Vent – Located next to the start of hiking trails, this highly rated B&B is only a five minute walk from the main street of Percé
Chalets Nature Océan – Cosy and well equipped cottages overlooking the ocean just a few minutes drive away from Percé
Camping de la Baie de Percé (we stayed here) – Located just behind the Percé Geoparc centre, this campground features traditional camping spots as well as ‘ready to camp’ glamping tents
Day 12 – Percé to Carleton-sur-mer (195km)
A long time vacation town, Carleton-sur-mer is a quiet and relaxing place to spend your final night on the Gaspé Peninsula.
There is plenty to do on the approach from Percé as well as around Carleton-sur-mer’s oceanfront location.
Things to do around Carleton-sur-mer
- Explore the grounds and historic buildings of the Banc-de-Pêche-de-Paspébiac Historic Site and learn about the development of the fishing industry on Canada’s East coast
- Visit the Musée Acadien in Bonaventure for an insight into the history and lives of Quebecois Acadians
- Go underground at the Grotte Saint-Elzéar in Bonaventure, Quebec’s oldest caves
- View forty native animal species in five major ecosystems at the Bioparc in Bonaventure
- Hike to the top of Mont Joseph (555m) for beautiful views towards New Brunswick and the Bay of Chaleur
- Visit the Oratoire Notre-Dame-du-Mont-St-Joseph and admire the mosaics and stained glass windows
- Taste local beers at the Le Naufrageur microbrewery
- Walk Carleton-sur-mer’s promenade and take in the ocean panoramas
Where to stay in Carleton-Sur-Mer
Motel L’Abri – Good value motel rooms with small kitchens. Close to the water and highway.
Hostellerie Baie Bleue (we stayed here) – Well appointed rooms with ocean views. On-site restaurant and heated pool.
Manoir Belle Plage – Old style charm with modern facilities and furnishings. As with our other top picks, this hotel is very close to the ocean.
Day 13 – Carleton-sur-mer to Kamouraska (415km)
The pretty village of Kamouraska in the Bas-Saint-Lawrence region is an ideal overnight stop to break up the journey from the Gaspé Peninsula to Montreal.
There are two ways to reach Kamouraska from Carleton-sur-mer – one turns to the Bas-Saint-Lawrence area just south of Matane while the other enters New Brunswick and stays inland. The distance and time is approximately the same.
The latter route through New Brunswick is ideal if you like to hike. A relatively small detour is possible to go to Mount Carleton Provincial Park, home of the highest mountains in the Canadian Maritimes.
Things to do in Kamouraska
- Explore the village of Kamourska on foot and visit some of the historical buildings including the courthouse, schoolhouse and church
- Take a self guided foodie tour through the village, stopping at the artisan bakers, chocolaterie, fish markets and cafes
- Browse local boutiques, artist workshops and the impressive Kamouraska Art Center
- Walk to the wharf and breathe in the salty air while admiring the views of the Saint Lawrence
- Discover the history and culture of the Bas-Saint-Lawrence region at the Musée régional de Kamouraska
- Drive Highway 132 along the Saint Lawrence to discover more picture perfect historical villages
- Make a stop at Fromagerie Le Mouton blanc in La Pocatière and taste sheep cheeses made from the on-site farm
Where to stay in Kamouraska
Villa Ward – Historic house with elegantly finished decor and modern facilities. Central village location.
Motel Cap Blanc – Good value option situated a short drive south of Kamourska. Rooms have kitchenettes.
Auberge le 112 – Newly renovated, this comfortable hotel is very close to the St Lawrence and is fifteen minutes north of Kamourska
Day 14 – Kamourska to Montreal (396km)
It’s time for your coastal Québec road trip to end. Drive carefully back to Montreal and enjoy the rest of your time in Québec!
Need to know tips and advice for Québec road trips
- The official language in Quebec is French. When travelling outside of the tourist centres of Montreal, Québec City, Tadoussac and Saguenay, it is more likely you will meet Quebecois who have limited English (if not, none)
- Brushing up on some French before you go on your Québec road trip is a good idea. Getting comfortable with the basics can go a long way – hello (bonjour), thank you (merci), please (s’il vous plait), I would like (je voudrais)
- Road signs in Québec are in French. Look for ‘centre-ville’ for directions to downtown areas. ‘Sortie’ is exit, and ‘ouest’ west
- It is illegal to turn right on red in Montreal. In other areas of Québec, turning right on red is legal unless specifically prohibited by a sign at the junction
- Slow down – life in coastal Québec is, by nature, slow. Summer is the busiest time but this still doesn’t mean you need to rush around and drive at high speeds.
- Provincial Parks are referred to as national parks within Québec. So be careful not to get confused between Quebec’s provincial park system (Sépaq) and the Canadian national park system (Parks Canada)
Essential items for any coastal Québec road trip
- Be sure to bring a couple of warm layers on your coastal Québec road trip. Even in the summer, breezes from the Atlantic can be cool, especially in the evening. We love to wear long sleeved merino wool tops (like this one) as the material helps regulate temperature, is easy to hand wash and packs down small
- Alongside insect repellent, it is also a good idea to bring or buy some kind of after bite lotion to Québec’s coastal areas. Mosquitos are prevalent. If camping, I’d suggest a Thermacell repellent applicance or at least some mosquito coils to burn
- Depending on your interests and preferred road trip stops, you may want to consider purchasing an annual Sépaq pass for Québec’s provincial parks. This waives all daily access fees, helpful if you’re visiting multiple parks
- Some of the more remote cafes and restaurants on the Gaspe Peninsula will only accept cash. Visiting Québec from the USA? It is best to have Canadian dollars – the vast majority of places will not accept American and those that do will offer an unfavourable exchange rate
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One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Gemma is happiest when hiking on the trail or planning the next big travel adventure. JR and Gemma are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada