Downtown Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec.

9 Most Underrated Towns in Quebec

The largest province in Canada, Quebec, stands out for its distinct culture, vibrant history, and breathtaking natural beauty. However, its characteristic small towns, filled with long-standing histories and remarkable outdoor activities, are often overlooked by the mainstream. Whether it's seeking historical insights at the storied waterfalls of Rivière-du-Loup or marveling at the dramatic rocky cliffs that define the impressive Forillon National Park in Gaspé, these nine underrated small towns in Quebec are sure to exceed the expectations of any traveler.


The riverside scenes in downtown Magog, Quebec.
The riverside scenes in downtown Magog, Quebec.

Magog is the quintessential small town on Lake Memphremagog, celebrated for its charming character and its proximity to stunning natural attractions. Downtown's scenic bay offers prime destinations for family-friendly outdoor exploration, such as the gardens of Magog Bay Park, Magog Beach, and the beloved Pointe-Merry Park, known for its lakeside walking trails. Adventure seekers can explore the flat, boardwalk trails of the Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises or embark on renowned hiking and skiing adventures within Mont-Orford National Park, either through Mont-Orford itself or the recreational area around Lake Fraser. A must-visit is the Blue Lavender Farm, featuring interactive displays and the opportunity for outdoor lavender picking.


Street view in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec
Street view in Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec

Baie-Saint-Paul is a captivating refuge along the St. Lawrence River, tucked behind Isle-aux-Coudres. The town's approach, following the Gouffre River, is marked by stunning natural scenery, accessible from Boisé du Quai Park. This includes the tranquil waters and natural sands of Baie-Saint-Paul Beach or the scenic viewpoint of Belvédère Baie St. Paul, reachable by car on Route 362. The town's most celebrated attraction is the Baie-Saint-Paul Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a beautifully restored former cinema, complemented by quality nearby dining options like Mousse Café and Le-Saint-Pub Microbrasserie Charlevoix. Gouffre Park offers a less known but equally enchanting natural escape amidst tall trees in this small town.


Downtown Gaspe in Quebec
Downtown Gaspe in Quebec, By Andre Carrotflower - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Gaspé encapsulates the charm and underappreciated beauty of the Gaspé Peninsula in Eastern Quebec. The town's harbor on the Gulf of St. Lawrence features a significant cross monument commemorating the Birthplace of Canada and the picturesque marina of Club Nautique Jacques-Cartier. The Gaspesie Museum, dedicated to the history of the peninsula, stands out as a popular attraction. However, much of the tourist interest in Gaspé is directed towards the adjacent Forillon National Park, known for its majestic tall rocky cliffs that frame the Atlantic Ocean, complete with rocky beaches, quaint villages, and colorful lighthouses.


Person biking in Kamouraska, Quebec
Person biking in Kamouraska, Quebec, via Pack-Shot /

Kamouraska offers a memorable seaside experience on the St. Lawrence River. Visitors particularly enjoy the panoramic views from Kamouraska Quai Miller, a scenic overlook featuring charming townhouses along the waterfront, the Quai Taché pier extending into the sea, and the serene Kamouraska Beach, ideal for shallow sea explorations at low tide. The town's quiet seaside ambiance is complemented by two highly-rated dining options: La Fée Gourmande, known for its exceptional baked goods and hot drinks, and the top-quality Poissonnerie Lauzier bistro. For those seeking further adventure, the beachy coastline leads to the Sentier du Cabouron hiking area.


Aerial view of City of Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada.
Aerial view of City of Tadoussac, Quebec, Canada.

Tadoussac is situated at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence Rivers, offering fantastic ocean views amidst forested beauty. The downtown area, centered around Tadoussac Bay, is renowned for the Marine Mammal Interpretation Centre, which focuses on both active research and impressive exhibits, Tadoussac Beach, and the popular Microbrasserie Tadoussac. However, the surrounding area's natural wonders are less recognized. These include the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, known for sightings of blue and beluga whales, the rocky trails around Tadoussac Bay such as Islet Point and Pointe Rouge, and the hiking trails up Mont Adéla-Lessard. For those looking to explore further, traveling upriver along the Saguenay reveals breathtaking views within the Saguenay Fjord National Park.


Rue LaFontaine is an important commercial street in Rivière-du-Loup
Rue LaFontaine is an important commercial street in Rivière-du-Loup, By Nicogag - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Rivière-du-Loup, a picturesque town on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, is a popular destination for travelers arriving by ferry from Saint-Siméon. Beyond its distinctive marina lies an expanse of lush greenery in Parc de la Pointe, featuring an extensive boardwalk along the waterfront. Unique to Rivière-du-Loup is the Parc des Chutes (Waterfalls Park), boasting a 108-foot waterfall, woodland trails, and a heritage orchard. The town is also known for dining at L'Innocent, birdwatching from the observation deck in nearby Cacouna, and accommodations at Auberge De La Pointe.


The colour houses and fishing boats of Havre Aubert, Iles de la Madeleine, on the gulf or St Lawrence in Canada.
The colour houses and fishing boats of Havre Aubert, Iles de la Madeleine, on the gulf or St Lawrence in Canada.

Havre-Aubert, located on the largest land mass within the remote Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) in the Atlantic Ocean, boasts a distinct community character showcased at the Musée de la Mer (Sea Museum) and the popular venue, Le Site d'Autrefois. The natural scenery adds to the island's charm, with highlights including the Sandy Hook Dune, ideal for walks to Bout du Banc, and panoramic views from the Anse-à-la-Cabane Lighthouse, near the esteemed restaurant Le Millerand. Explorers traversing the islands should also visit the Borgot Lighthouse and its striking red, rocky cliffs near L'Étang-du-Nord.


Theater in Knowlton, Quebec
Theater in Knowlton, Quebec, via meunierd /

Knowlton exudes a peaceful atmosphere, embodying classic Quebec charm. Much of its allure comes from Lake Brome, providing a picturesque setting for Tiffany Park and the Club de Golf de Knowlton. The quaint downtown is marked by the architecture of the Lac Brome Museum and Theatre Lac-Brome, situated next to the tranquil Étang du Moulin. Visitors are encouraged to stroll through downtown after visiting Café Caron, continuing on to the accessible trails of Parc Coldbrook. For a more extensive outdoor adventure, there's the Sentier Lac Brome trail system. Additionally, an evening at The Thirsty Boot offers local live music, enriching the visitor experience.


Local development centre in Montebello, in the former Canadian Pacific Railway Depot
Local development centre in Montebello, in the former Canadian Pacific Railway Depot, By P199 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Montebello is a vibrant, small village located alongside the Ottawa River, which serves as the boundary between Quebec and Ontario. Outdoor activities are highly popular in Montebello; it's recommended for travelers to mountain bike through the forested areas near the Ruisseau Papineau and around the Marina du Château Montebello, with bike rentals available from Montebello Mountain Bike. However, the most celebrated outdoor attraction in Montebello is Omega Park, an extensive wildlife park where visitors can drive through pastures inhabited by wolves, moose, bears, and other large North American mammals. Families can enjoy picnics here, often beneath the towering totems of the First Nations Trail, or dine at the OmegaBon Restaurant. For those interested in the town's history, a visit to the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site is highly recommended.

The Bottom Line

While Quebec's most renowned destinations often include large cities such as Montréal, Quebec City, and Gatineau, the province's small towns and hamlets offer unique experiences that should not be overlooked. Ambitious outdoor enthusiasts can find breathtaking panoramic views in Kamouraska over the St. Lawrence River or paddle up the Saguenay River through the Saguenay Fjord National Park. Meanwhile, those keen on learning will find the museums in charming Quebec towns like Baie-Saint-Paul and Tadoussac to be exceptional. These nine underrated towns in Quebec offer diverse attractions catering to every interest.

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