10 Best things to do in the Saguenay Fjord Region of Quebec – @SaguenayLac

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You may know about the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, and even my beloved Quebec Maritime, but you may not know as much about the Saguenay Fjord and the Saguenay-Lac St. Jean region of Quebec. It is a naturally spectacular region which had developed its tourism at a decidedly slower pace than the other regions.

I am firmly convinced that this gem is kept a secret so that locals can keep this pristine boreal forest region to themselves. Full of wide-open spaces, mountains, lakes, and the stunning Saguenay River, I cannot say enough about why you need to visit this region! I came up with 10 of the best things to do in the Saguenay Fjord region of Quebec.

Pourvoirie du Cap au Leste Saguenay Fjords @DownshiftingPRO

Not knowing much about the region should not dissuade you from discovering it. Saguenay-Lac St. Jean is only a three-hour drive from Quebec City. Pre-pandemic, I visited this region with a group of girlfriends and loved the effortless drive and various activities. Our initial trip started at the mouth of the Saguenay River, where it meets the St. Lawrence River – Tadoussac. From there, we quickly made tracks inland towards Lac St. Jean.

Our stops along the way led me to find the 10 Best things to do and see in the Saguenay region!

  1. Take a whale-watching tour
  2. Take a Floatplane and see the Fjord from above
  3. Stay in a luxury log cabin
  4. Scale the Via Ferrata des Géants on the cliffs of a fjord
  5. Plunge into a Nordic Spa
  6. Visit a remarkable Zoo
  7. Learn about the ecosystem at the Fjord Museum
  8. Visit a sawmill and heritage site at Village Val Jalbert
  9. The Véloroute des Bleuets bicycle circuit
  10. See the Defence Museum

1. Take a Whale Watching Tour

Although you are not technically in the Saguenay region when you are in Tadoussac, this is the starting point of many whale-watching tours. Many whales seek food and shelter in this area during the summer months. You can see belugas, wright, humpbacks, minke, and 9 other varieties of whales in these waters.

Whale Watching in Quebec Maritime by St. Simon @DownshiftingPRO
Your whale watching tour is led by an expert guide helping you spot the whales

I cannot recommend enough taking a whale watching tour which would incorporate a tour through the Saguenay Fjord. Our AML Crosiere tour leads us into the fjord to see the seals and sea birds residing on the shoreline, in the cliffs and in the water. They offer tours which include excursions through the Saguenay – St-Lawrence Marine Park as well as on the St. Lawrence River between the North Shore and Bas-St. Laurent.

2. Floatplane over the Fjord

It is pretty amazing to see the cliffs of the Saguenay Fjord from the water but to truly get a feel for the largess of the area, The cliffs along the Fjord have an average height of 150 metres (490 ft), reaching a maximum height of 350 metres (1,150 ft). So indulge yourself and take an aerial tour in a floatplane over the fjord. Head to Lac Sebastion where you will get to enjoy a scenic flight in a classic Beaver floatplane over the majestic Saguenay Fjord. Sadly, the day we tried we were unable to go due to the weather.

3. Stay in a Luxury Log Cabin

551, chemin Cap à l’Est, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord (Québec)  G0V 1T0 – Facebook & Twitter @capauleste

Although you access this luxury accommodation in what feels like a logging road, it is well worth the effort to get to the top. Pourvoirie du Cap au Leste, a typical rustic cabin resort but with a twist: the cabins are located at the edge of the Fjord’s cliffs. You will be literally on top of the Fjord (approximately 200 meters high) looking down to the Saguenay River. The views are stunning and the accommodations do not disappoint. Be they rooms in the main lodge or individual log cabins, they are so very cozy.

The lodge also offers a full spa experience with a sauna with a spectacular view, a lap pool, outdoor fireside seating, a large deck to take in the sun. There is also a restaurant and bar to enjoy local delicacies and savor Canadian spirits or experience our very popular micro-brew beers. I would love to return and stay in one of the cozy (but luxurious) cabins!

Cap Leste Sacre Coeur Quebec Nord Quebec Maritime

4. High ropes Course & Via Ferrata

Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux – High Ropes Course, Via Ferrata, Kayak, Hiking

250, chemin de la Pointe-aux-Pins C.P. 1058, Saint-Fulgence, G0V 1S0 Facebook, Instagram, Twitter : @capjaseux

Cap Jaseux Saguenay Frjords @DownshiftingPRO 1

This outdoor adventure park is a multi-activity site with climbing, a high-ropes course, ziplining, hiking trails and two natural beaches right on the Saguenay Fjord. Cap Jaseux features a variety of lodging options including some unique suspended spheres, tree houses and log cabins, all with great views. We did enjoy a guided visit of the amazing accommodation options (read more in 10 quirky and unique places to stay in Quebec).

Kayak excursion on the Saguenay Fjord with a guide from Organisaction Saguenay Lac St. Jean Region 1
Kayak excursion on the Saguenay Fjord with a guide from Organisaction

This is a great option for die-hard nature lovers who enjoy walks and hikes in the boreal forest or water activities. We were able to see the intricate high ropes course and zipline (though in early May, they were still closed for the season).

We eventually made our way down to the bay and got fully geared up for a kayak excursion on the Saguenay River with a guide from Organisaction. We had large sea kayaks and were definitely challenged by the wind and the small waves but it was worth paddling past the Via Ferrata des Géants. Our guide was skillful and helped us with all the equipment.

Parc National du Fjord du Saguenay – Via Ferrata des Géants

Via Ferrata des Geants via ferrata parc national du fjord du saguenay

For a true adrenalin-rush of things to do in the Saguenay Fjord, scale a rock cliff on a via ferrata. This guided climb is a series of handles, planks, and grips that are hammered into the rockface. You follow along on a wire and scale the cliff. There are many via Ferrata in Quebec but this particular one (that we saw from our kayaks) seems very challenging.

5. Visit a Musuem – Musée du Fjord.

Musee due Fjord, 3346, boulevard de la Grande-Baie Sud, La Baie, G7B 1G2   Facebook : @museedufjord | Twitter: @Musee_du_Fjord

Musee du Fjord - Things to do in the Saguenay Fjords

This is a small museum that educates you on marine life, flower and fauna and creatures found in the region. There is a short guided visit of the Musée du Fjord.

They have this very curious ‘Sea Bishop’ or a fictional sea monster (which I found very amusing). I told him my secrets and hoped he would guard them well.

All kidding aside, this is a fun interactive science museum suited to children’s curiosity. There is a pool with sea creatures you can touch, along with illustrations and demonstrations to help educate visitors on fjords.

Braised Beef at Auberge des Battures La Baie Saguenay @DownshiftingPRO

Accommodation recommendation: We stayed at the modest Auberge des Battures is a four-star country-style hotel with 32 rooms. Though the rooms were a bit dated, they were spacious and looked out towards Baie des Ha! Ha! (I’m not making out that name!). What set this accommodation apart was the meal. It had to be one of the best on our trip. It did surprise me but the braised beef and the wine selection were exceptional. It is worth the dining experience to stop here!

6. Tour a Wild Zoo in Saint-Félicien

Zoo Saint-Felicien, 2230, boulevard du Jardin C.P. 90, Saint-Félicien, G8K 2P8  Facebook : @zoosauvage | Twitter : @zoostfelicien

This was one of the highlights of our girl’s getaway. We did not have enough time in this fabulous zoo. You will take a guided tour of the unique Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien where the tourists are ‘caged’ and the animals run free. You ride a small train where you are behind safety bars but not behind windows. It was cool to see the different animals interact in their natural habitat. The only ones isolated (to protect the other animals) were the wolves. They remained in their own open-air enclosure. This internationally renowned wildlife park features over 500 animals in 86 species of animals living in semi-wild conditions.

There is an entire section that we missed where you can see a polar bear, tigers and monkeys. It encompasses Eastern Asia, Laurentian Forest, Mongolia, Rocky Mountains, Ethiopian Plateaus and a fun Kid’s Farm. With picnic areas and a splash park, this could be a whole day activity.

Zoo Sauvage de Saint Felicien Girls Getaway to Quebec DownshiftingPRO

Consider having lunch here. We had a delicious (and very traditional) meat pie – tourtiere – for lunch. It was delicious and the best thing is it is licensed so have a local beer!

7. Nordic Spa at Chalets et Spa Lac-Saint-Jean

Chalet et Spa Lac-Saint-Jean, 96, chemin du Parc-Municipal, Chambord, G0W 1G0 – Facebook: Chalets-et-Spa-Lac-Saint-Jean | Instagram: @chaletsetspa_lacsaintjean

Chalets et Spa Lac Saint Jean Sagueney SagLac DownshiftingPRO 2

When you are wondering what to do in Lac St. Jean, consider relaxing afternoon in their brand new Nordic Spa facilities. It was rebuilt and offers both hot saunas and cooling pools. We checked in for an overnight stay in a fully equipped condo then headed to the spa. It was chilly but we still had fun! Be sure and get robes when you check-in! The restaurant is seasonal but our meal there was very good. Check with the resort to see which services are available.

8. Visit the historical Village of Val Jalbert

Village Val Jalbert Quebec Girls Getaway to Quebec

Village Historique de Val Jalbert , 95, rue Saint-Georges, Chambord (Québec)  G0W 1G0 – Instagram : @villagevaljalbert

Village Historique de Val Jalbert is an authentic 1920s company town that will take you back in time. I found this historic village fascinating. We had a guided tour showing us through period houses (now converted into luxury accommodations), an abandoned ghost town of company homes, a mill, a general store and a breathtaking waterfall. This region was heavily influenced by the pulp and paper industry in the early 20th century. Closed by 1927, it sat idle until the 1960s when it became a tourist attraction. During the summer there are actors in period dress relaying the community activities in the 1920s. Entertaining and educational for visitors!

There are hiking trails that you can follow along which were part of the railroad. Cyclists are also welcomed as Val-Jalbert is also connected to the Vélouroute des Bleuets cycling trail (see below) that crisscrosses the theLac-Saint-Jean region. Cyclists can safely leave their bicycles at the visitor centre for a quick stop (vending machines and restrooms are available). Besides the luxury accommodations, you can also camp in the Village (there are simple or ready-to-camp options).

What to do in the Sageunay Fjord region - Visit Village Val Jalbert

UPDATE: Since our visit, they have added a cable car. “Behind the mill is the starting point of an amazing cable car ride that will carry you to the top of Ouiatchouan Falls, then to the top of the hill, where you can enjoy a splendid view of Lac Saint-Jean. More adventurous visitors can climb the trails and stairs up to Maligne Falls (often called the “second falls”), and the Ouiatchouan River.” from their website.

9. Follow the Blueberry Tour on a Bike

Équinox Aventure 160, av. Saint-Joseph Sud C.P. 84, Alma, G8B 5V5

The Véloroute des Bleuets bicycle circuit, circles Lac-Saint-Jean on a 256-kilometer pathway, crossing fifteen municipalities including the Montagnais community of Mashteuiash. Although you do not have to complete the whole circuit, you can ride a family-friendly section of the famous Véloroute des Bleuets, in Alma with Équinox Aventure. They provide the helmet and the right bike to get you started on the Blueberry Trail.

The trail winds its way along the shores of Lake Saint-Jean, a veritable inland sea, and through the picturesque agricultural countryside.

Accomodation recommendation: Centre de villégiature Dam-en-terre. Situated in Alma, these condos were the perfect ending point for our party of four. Our accommodation was a modern 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms two-story condo. It had a fully equipped kitchen, which let us order dinner from l’Orée des Champs directly in your suite.  A farm-to-table

1385, chemin de la Marina, C.P. 836, Alma, G8B 5W1 Facebook and Instagram: @Damenterre

10. Bagotville Air Defence Museum

Although the Bagotville Air Defence Museum is currently closed, I would recommend this military aviation museum if you are looking for things to do in the Saguenay Fjord region of Quebec. It is a unique and recognized museum dedicated to the history of Canadian military aviation in Quebec and the only francophone military aviation museum in eastern North America!

Canadian Armed Forces Captain Andrew Jakubaitis photo credit Air Defence Museum
Source : Canadian Armed Forces, Captain Andrew Jakubaitis, BN03-2016-0125-083 – Photo credit: Air Defence Museum

The Air Defence Museum is also the only military museum in North America that opens its base to the general public for guided tours of CFB Bagotville’s facilities during operating hours.

Since 1997, the Air Defence Museum has presented a number of large-scale exhibitions, including the permanent exhibit From Airmen to Fighter Pilots: the History of Canada’s Air Defence. 

Disclosure: I was the guest of the Saguenay and Lac St. Jean tourism region as part of a girl’s getaway FAM trip. I’m happy to partner with this and other Quebec regions to bring greater awareness of these beautiful tourist destinations. I’m here to anser your questions on what to do in the Saguenay Fjord region of Quebec. All opinions are my own and held without reservation or prejudice. 

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.