Climate

Because of its geographic location, Québec City has a continental climate characterized by four distinct seasons.  The temperature range is very wide, from a summertime average of around 22 °C to -10 °C in the winter. Despite temperatures that some may find extreme, it is entirely possible to take full advantage of each season and enjoy the outdoors. You just need to be prepared and wear the right clothing.

Mounthly Average Temperatures for the Québec City Area

  Maximum (day) Minimum (night)
January -8 ℃ -17 ℃
February -6 ℃ -16 ℃
March 0 ℃ -9 ℃
April 8 ℃ -1 ℃
May 17 ℃ 5 ℃
June 22 ℃ 10 ℃
July 25 ℃ 13 ℃
August 23 ℃ 12 ℃
September 18 ℃ 7 ℃
October 11 ℃ 2 ℃
November 3 ℃ -4 ℃
December -5 ℃ -13 ℃

Source: Environment Canada 

Summer

(June, July and August)

Summer in Québec City is hot and humid because of its proximity to the St. Lawrence River. This is when the city is at its liveliest, with numerous outdoor festivals, street performers, and major events.

Summer activities

  • Nautical activities
  • Outdoor activities
  • Hiking
  • Walking, rollerblading, and cycling on Québec’s many bike paths
  • Festivals

Clothing

  • Shorts or cropped pants, skirts, and sundresses
  • Hat to avoid sunburn
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweater for cool evenings

Fall

(September, October, and November)

Many consider fall to be the most spectacular season in Québec. In the span of only a few weeks, the landscape changes and becomes tinged with a thousand hues of red, orange, yellow, and green. October is usually marked by an Indian summer, a period of several days when the temperature is warmer than usual. In November temperatures are cooler, there is more rain, and snow may have already begun to fall.

Fall activities

  • Hiking in the woods; for example, at Station touristique Duchesnay, Mont-Sainte-Anne, and many other places
  • Apple picking
  • Snow goose watching

Clothing
(Note that your fall clothing can usually be worn in the spring.)

  • Raincoat or lined windbreaker for protection against cool weather
  • Waterproof boots
  • Light gloves, hat, and scarf

Winter

(December, January, February, and March)

The Québec winter, which generally starts at the end of November and ends in late March, is the province’s longest season. Winters are usually harsh, with temperatures occasionally dropping to between -25 °C and -30 °C at night and usually ranging between 5 °C and -10 °C during the day. Snow is often abundant (Québec City averages 107 snow days a year) and offers magnificent landscapes. Winter also brings gorgeous sunny days. However, contrary to what you might think, the sunniest winter days are often the coldest. The hours of daylight also decrease during this period, dropping from 16 in June to 8 in December.

 Although the winter is cold, it can be invigorating to be outdoors on a lovely sunny day, so don’t hesitate to get outside and enjoy winter activities.

When planning outdoor activities, check the weather by consulting sites like The Weather Network and Environment Canada. Remember to take into account the wind chill factor, which on some days can make it feel colder outside.

Within de city

It is possible to practice the following winter sports without leaving the city:

  • Sliding
  • Ice skating
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing

Within the region

Here are a few places where you can practice winter sports within an hour drive from downtown:

Downhill skiing and snowboarding
Mont-Sainte-Anne
Stoneham
Le Relais

Cross country skiing
Duchesnay
Camp Mercier 
Forêt Montmorency
Mont-Sainte-Anne

Snowshoeing
Duchesnay
Camp Mercier 
Parc de la Jacques-Cartier 
Forêt Montmorency 
Vallée Bras-du-Nord

You can usually rent all the equipment directly on site. If it is not the case, you can also rent it at Université Laval’s PEPS for 24h or more.

The Forêt Montmorency, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Le Relais also occasionally offer a shuttle service between Quebec and their location.

Clothingsee our workshop on this topic (offer in french)

  • Lined waterproof coat
  • Lined waterproof pants to put over your regular pants (for outdoor sports and activities)
  • Lined waterproof boots
  • Hat (remember that a lot of body heat is lost through the head)
  • Scarf, muffler
  • Gloves or mittens (mittens are usually warmer)
  • Fleece or wool sweater to wear under your coat on very cold days

If you live off campus and you don’t want to carry all your outdoor clothing from class to class, you can rent a locker. To do this, go to Suite 0242 in Pavillon Jean-Charles-Bonenfant.

Tips and Tricks for a Pleasant Winter

Winter is the season for colds and flu, which means it’s time to wrap up warm and pay attention to hygiene.

Public places like shops, buses, and the university are always well heated in winter. Take off your hat, mitts, gloves, and scarf indoors so that your sweat doesn’t evaporate and cool your body down once you go back outside.

When choosing what to wear in winter, avoid clothes made from 100% synthetic fibers that don’t absorb moisture. Opt for cotton, wool, or a blend of materials (e.g., 50% cotton, 50% polyester) instead.

Make sure your winter boots are big enough. You should be able to wear thick socks with them. Buy a waterproof spray from a boot store or shoe repair shop.

Keep an eye out for winter storm warnings. Université Laval may occasionally close after a very heavy snowfall. If you live off campus, allow yourself some extra travel time during the first day or two after a snowstorm. Snowy streets and slippery sidewalks slow everyone down.

Your extremities (hands, feet, nose, cheeks, and ears) are at most risk of frostbite. Make sure they are well protected. If white blotches appear on your face, cover your skin with a scarf or mitt. Stay on the move to avoid frostbitten fingers and toes. Some stores like pharmacies and corner stores sell small hand and foot warmers that you can slip into your boots or mitts for a few hours.

Spring

(April and May)

Springtime and late fall in Québec tend to be wet. But as the snow melts away, we are often treated to beautiful sunny days, too. There’s a reason Quebecers like to say, “En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil” (Til April’s dead, change not a thread). Even though temperatures are on the rise, don’t pack away your winter woolies just yet or you’re likely to catch cold.

Spring Fun

  • Visit a sugar shack to learn about how maple products are made—and try them for yourself!
  • Hit the slopes for some springtime skiing!

What to Wear
(Note that your fall clothing can usually be worn in the spring.)

  • Raincoat or lined windbreaker for protection against cool weather
  • Waterproof boots
  • Light gloves, hat, and scarf

Sources
Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion,
A Newcomer’s Introduction to Canada from Citizenship and Immigration Canada