The province of Québec is well-known for its Francophone cities. Think Québec and you’ll picture winding cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages through the picturesque cities of Montréal and Québec City. But did you know that the Québec countryside is full of hidden beauty spots?

Québec can sometimes be overlooked when first-time visitors to Canada flock to the Rocky Mountains in Alberta and British Columbia. However, Québec has absolutely stunning natural attractions. The province is much larger than many people realise and is full of diverse scenery. In addition to dozens of parks protected by Québec’s Sépaq outdoor network, there are also two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read on to discover Québec’s natural beauty and find out why you should swap the Rockies for Québec’s rolling hills, dramatic valleys and mighty rivers.

1.      Grands-Jardins National Park

The Grands-Jardins National Park is a stunning retreat for hikers, skiers and anglers. This national park is often considered one of the most beautiful parts of Charlevoix – a region already renowned for its natural beauty. The park is lush with boreal spruce, where caribou tread softly between trees and tundra.

2.      Anticosti National Park

This quiet national park sits in the centre of Anticosti Island, which itself lies in an idyllic stretch of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The landscape is characterised by windswept beaches, forests of fragrant spruce and aspen, and isolated waterfalls. The undisturbed serenity of Anticosti National Park is like something out of ‘The Land Before Time’. White-tailed deer graze on seaweed along the shoreline, while salmon teem in the emerald green rivers.

3.      Parc national des Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie

The name might be a mouthful, but this park is a joy. A series of river valleys cut deep into the high-sided mountains, where the Malbaie River winds through untouched sugar maple and American elm forests. The park is part of the UNESCO Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve – an area protected due to its fragile biodiversity. Activities range from snowshoeing, skating and ice climbing in winter to kayaking, cruising and hiking in summer.

4.      Bas-Saint-Laurent

The Bas-Saint-Laurent region stretches from the banks of the St. Lawrence River to the Highlands, making it a diverse region full of rich maritime history and forested landscapes. We love it for its quiet seclusion and stunning sunsets. It’s the perfect location to visit quaint villages and islands, and to spot marine mammals. Bas-Saint-Laurent offers spectacular memories only a couple of hours’ drive from Québec City.

5.      Saguenay Fjord National Park

If you like camping, eco-adventures, kayaking and other outdoorsy activities, then this is the park you need to visit. The glacier-cut region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean boasts 1,150ft high cliffs dotted with quaint villages and the Saguenay Fjord National Park is the best spot to experience it. A little-known area teamed with some out-of-this-world scenery results in a quiet, crowd-free experience in breath-taking surroundings. For the more intrepid, it is a fantastic way to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled outdoors with activities such as biking, kayaking and exploring the Via Ferrata.

6.      Mont-Tremblant National Park

Mont-Tremblant National Park has six great rivers and more than 100 lakes and streams. Needless to say, it’s a must-visit destination if you like canoeing or kayaking. There is also a via ferrata route (fixed cable climbing route) that will let you make the most of those stunning mountain views. In the summer, zip your way down the zip line network from the very top of the Tremblant Mountain. In the winter you can slide your way down the endless slopes and cosy up by the fire in one of the several hotels in the quaint pedestrian village of Mont Tremblant.

7.      Îles de la Madeleine

Translated as the Magdalen Islands, this little archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence makes up for its small size with big experiences. You’ll find stunning sandy beaches and incredible fresh seafood waiting for you. In the winter take a helicopter and land on the sea ice to go baby seal watching – a once in a life time experience! Plus, the locals on the Îles de la Madeleine are some of the friendliest anywhere.

Are you tempted to visit? If you’d like to experience Québec’s hidden beauty spots, check out our driving holiday which takes in plenty of natural wonders that are off the beaten track:

Splendid Nature of Québec Holiday

Hero image credit: Steve Deschênes for Tourism Québec