So you’ve chosen to vacation in Canada this year (a wise choice, my friend). Now, however, you have to pick where in Canada you want to go. Two of the country’s most popular cities for travelers are Toronto and Quebec, with each one being as different from the other as they are delightful to visit.
Deciding which is for you depends largely on what you’re looking for. Glittering cityscapes or quaint cobblestone streets? A thriving art scene or inspiring nature views? Settle your internal debate once and for all with this handy-dandy guide to both destinations. Spoiler alert: whichever you choose, you’re in for a treat.
Hustlin’ & bustlin’ vs. small & intimate
As the most populous city in all of Canada, it’s little surprise that Toronto is a cosmopolitan metropolis. Real estate in Toronto is tightly packed with high-end restaurants and chic boutiques, and its culturally diverse residents benefit from a clean, reliable, and convenient public transit system. Nothing summarizes Toronto, though, quite like the iconic CN Tower. At close to 2000 feet tall, nearly two millions tourists make their way to the tower’s panoramic viewing area each year to enjoy a spectacular view of the city in all its glory.
If all that sounds a bit overwhelming for you, Quebec City offers the perfect antidote. Instead of slick, shimmery skyscrapers, the skyline of this former French colony is defined by ornate 17th- and 18th-century-style architecture, including the only remaining fortified ramparts north of Mexico. Far from the dense, on-the-go atmosphere of Toronto, Quebec offers a cozier, more leisurely experience, one that is ideal for those seeking rest and relaxation.
Mild summers & winters vs high highs & low lows
Located in the south of Canada and insulated by the calming influence of the picturesque Lake Ontario and the towering Rocky Mountains, Toronto has one of the country’s mildest climates. Whether you’re vacationing in winter or summer, you’ll rarely have to worry about it being too hot or too cold. Call it the Goldilocks city if you want; the temperatures here are just right. Summers rarely go higher than low-to-mid 70s, while light-snowfall winters that rarely dip below 30.
Meanwhile, if you’re like your summers hot and your winters cold, Quebec City’s temperatures typically reach up to the high 70-degree range (with high humidity sending the heat index into the stratosphere) or can plunge as low as -20 degrees. If you like snow you’ll love winter in Quebec, where the flakes start falling in November and don’t stop until April. Fun for skiers, not so much for shovelers.
Arts & entertainment vs. history & elegance
Toronto has been called the New York City of Canada, and true to that comparison, visitors to the capital of Ontario are never at a loss for things to do. Attracting artists and entertainers of all kinds, Toronto nightlife is a nonstop party of art galleries, local musicians, street performers, and annual festivals. During the day, families can visit 60+ permanent museums and the world-famous Toronto Zoo, or go shopping at the hip and happenin’ Distillery Historic District.
Quebec City may not have as many concerts or art shows, but its own unique attractions have been enough to get the entire area declared a World Heritage Site. From the Assemblée Nationale du Québec (modeled after the Louvre in Paris) to the La Citadelle de Québec (a popular tourist spot thanks to its Buckingham Palace-style daily guard-changing ceremonies), the city overflows with history and elegance.