Nestled among rolling hills, sparkling bays, and abundant nature, Charlevoix is an enchanting gem of a vacation destination. One of Quebec’s premier tourism hotspots, Charlevoix’s people, hospitality, and natural beauty have made it a must-visit location for decades. Its popularity dates all the way back to 1760 when La Malbaie was established as the country’s first ever resort community. With a history this rich, you know Charlevoix has experiences that’ll make any traveller smile.
No one should skip a trip to one of Quebec’s most pristine landscapes—bring your camera, because the views of the St. Lawrence River are unparalleled! As Canada’s vacation rental experts, we’re excited to share our tips to help you discover the region and the best things to do in Charlevoix.
Getting to Charlevoix
The Charlevoix region is just over an hour northeast of Quebec City and about four and a half hours away from Montreal. Travellers coming from outside of Quebec can land at either city’s airport and hop in a car for the drive. If you’re already planning on doing our Montreal to Quebec City road trip, this is a fantastic addition to the last leg of your journey! The drive will take you along the St Lawrence River and through the beautiful river basin, giving you a taste of what you’ll experience once you get to Charlevoix.
For those who prefer to travel by rail, the Train de Charlevoix departs from the base of Montmorency Falls in Quebec City and ends in La Malbaie with daily trips between June and October. The railway winds its way around sheer rock faces and the shores of the vast St. Lawrence, making it a breathtaking and unique way to see the landscape.
The Best Time to Visit Charlevoix
There are things to do in Charlevoix all year round, but the peak season for the region is between June and October when the weather is warm and skies are clear. Depending on when you travel, you’re in for different—but equally mesmerizing—experiences.
For a hot summer vacation in Canada between June and August, take advantage of the sunny summer days on the St. Lawrence in Charlevoix! Soak up the sun, take some gorgeous souvenir photos, and hike some of Charlevoix’s hiking trails. About a 30 minute drive away, you’ll find the Parc national des Grands-Jardins with a number of hiking trails for all levels, including La Chouenne Trail, a 4km hike with amazing views of the valley.
Between mid-September and October, the trees across the Charlevoix region turn vibrant, beautiful colours. Head out before the end of October for harvest cheer and autumn charm.
If you’re into skiing and snowboarding, visiting the ski resort Le Massif de Charlevoix during the winter is a must!
Things to do in Charlevoix
In spring, set your curiosity free and explore the entire Charlevoix region. A stroll through the centre of Baie-Saint-Paul and a stop at Le Saint-Pub for some local craft beer and a delicious bite is a must. It’s also the perfect opportunity to check out the local art galleries.
Continue the spring exploration by getting outdoors. Lace up your hiking boots, and explore the heart of the Charlevoix biosphere reserve at Les Grands-Jardins National Park. Or head to Le Massif de Charlevoix, the region’s local ski resort, for a number of hiking trails.
Alternatively, you can build your trip around Charlevoix’s unique Flavour Trail. Local farmers, producers, and chefs open their doors to the public for education, tastings, and meals made with ingredients and talent sourced right from the Charlevoix region. We recommend trying a sip of Omerto, a wine made from locally-grown tomatoes (you read correctly) that aren’t produced anywhere else in the world.
Summertime is nature time in Charlevoix! Whether you’re travelling with friends or family, there are plenty of picnic spots and outdoor activities to keep everyone active.
Try kitesurfing on the St. Lawrence River and soak in the summer sun and sparkling river views. This blend of surfing and sailing is a thrill anyone who loves the water should experience at least once. For the best experience, don’t just rent a kitesurfing board and go on your own. The local Suroît Adventures runs a kitesurfing school on the beautiful Isle-aux-Coudres and will show you the top kitesurfing beaches in the area.
Music lovers should also include Charlevoix’s festival season in the summer on their itinerary. Le Festif! de Baie-Saint-Paul takes place in June and features over 70 shows celebrating both music and culture. Catch some entertainment at one of the 20 show sites and enjoy the beautiful Baie-Saint-Paul.
Anyone with an eye for beauty and a passion for nature should head to Charlevoix in the fall for the changing of the leaves. An out-of-the-ordinary thing to do in Charlevoix is day trip to Isle-aux-Coudres, a serene, secluded island in the middle of the St. Lawrence that offers a front-row view to the breathtaking hues of its many hazel trees.
The Site régional de la montagne de la Croix de Clermont is another local favourite spot known for fall colours. Hike to this natural site for panoramic views of the changing leaves in the valley beyond.
Fall foliage goes hand-in-hand with another cultured Charlevoix pastime: visiting the many art galleries in Baie-Saint-Paul. Be sure to check out the Beauchamp Art Gallery and the Iris Art Gallery.
Make the trip to Le Massif de Charlevoix in the winter, because come mid-December, the mountain opens up to some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding on the east coast. Hit the trails for some awesome downhill skiing or sledding—there’s no shortage of winter fun on this hill.
After a day of enjoying the Charlevoix ski scene, check out Le Massif’s live après-ski performances. The ski station’s bar features fantastic live music from local bands to enjoy as you sip hot cocoa or a winter warmer and take in the views.
Where to Stay in Charlevoix
For summer family vacations and winter getaways, a cottage near Le Massif will put you in the heart of the action. The river views near the mountain are sure to delight any traveller.
For fall travellers, staying in a vacation rental on the St Lawrence River in historic La Malbaie will put you in the front row seat for rich, warm autumn colours.
For spring explorers, a stay in a vacation rental right in Baie-Saint-Paul will put you in the centre of the action for exploring Charlevoix’s charm on foot.
No matter when you travel to Charlevoix, a vacation rental makes the perfect home base for your group. Find your perfect stay on CanadaStays.