Photo Story | Atlantic Canada, Sable Island and Gulf of Saint Lawrence

The Top Ten Attractions on the Mighty Saint Lawrence

© Dennis Minty

Each Adventure Canada expedition holds its own unique itinerary highlights. Wildlife, geology, vibrant culture, and lip-smacking gastronomy are close to our hearts in this corner of Canada. Read more about our ten picks for the top experiences of this trip of a lifetime, the Mighty Saint Lawrence.

Sure, the Saint Lawrence is a seaway—but more than that, it’s a crossroads of cultures, creatures, and stunning sights. Along this fabled waterway dwell Québecois, Acadians, French from France, and Newfoundland fisherfolk—plus Anne of Green Gables. In the seas and skies, you’ll see everything from blue whales to puffins to belugas galore. And rising from the waters? Fjords, sea stacks, limestone spires, and ridiculously idyllic isles.

Here, in our humble estimation, are the top ten attractions of the Mighty Saint Lawrence.

Hotel chateau frontenac

© Danny Catt

1. Explore timeless alleyways in Old Québec

A former outpost of Europe overlooking the St. Lawrence, Québec City is pure cobblestone charm and it’s worth arriving here early. Within the walled Old Quarter, you’ll find citadels and cathedrals harkening back to the seventeenth century. Nearby is the famous Funicular and the battlefield of the Plains of Abraham. And down every laneway are hole-in-the-wall eateries offering haute cuisine and sumptuous Québecois comfort food, the perfect amuse-bouche to the Mighty Saint Lawrence Taste of Place program. Bon Appetit!

Humpback whale tail barnacles markings

© Dennis Minty

2. Flip for whales in Canada’s splashiest fjord

Not far downstream from Québec City is the startlingly majestic Saguenay Fjord. In this national park, glacier-carved walls plunge into nutrient-rich waters, attracting whales galore: fins, minkes, blues, and ghostly white belugas. It’s hard to know whether to gaze at the cliffs or—“Thar she blows!”—at the sea below.

Jardins metis reford gardens

© Danny Catt

3. Smell the roses at a famous floral oasis

Snug in a balmy valley on the St. Lawrence’s south shore, the Jardins De Métis National Historic Site (Reford Gardens) nurtures 2,000 varieties of flowers and plants, some found nowhere else in Canada. Your spirit will blossom as you stroll the leafy, fragrant paths and explore the art installations, sculptures, and delightful museum.

Mingan archipelago

© Danny Catt

4. Witness puffins and wave-sculptured isles

At the otherworldly Mingan Archipelago on Québec’s Lower North Shore, the ocean gets creative. Here, lively waters carve the surrounding limestone into strange pinnacles and monoliths. You’ll revel in the surreal shapes. Joining you in your awe may be flocks of Arctic seabirds, including puffins and eiders, and a menagerie of harp, harbour, and grey seals.

Gannet soaring

© Danny Catt

5. Gape at the ramparts of Gaspésie

Guarding the face of the Gaspé Peninsula, sheer cliffs mark where the Appalachian Mountains drop into the deep blue sea. A fine place to take in this rugged oceanscape—plus the abundance of birds and sea-mammals—is from Canada’s tallest lighthouse, perched high in Forrilon National Park.

Gannets at bonaventure island

© Victoria Polsoni

6. Cruise sea stacks and gannet colonies

Like countless mariners before you, you won’t miss it: standing proud off the tip of the Gaspé is myth-haunted Percé Rock. This sparkling, red-gold landmark is bisected by one of the world’s highest natural sea arches, reaching four storeys above the waterline. Nearby is the less-imposing Bonaventure Island, one of New France’s first fishing ports and the nesting grounds of countless gannets.

Prince edward island

7. Get comfy on Prince Edward Island

Wee, twee, and on the sea, Canada’s cutest province features gentle hills, wooded glades, cozy coves, and rich red soil. This bucolic isle is most famous as the home of Anne of Green Gables. While touring P.E.I.’s iconic sites, you’ll find this place so adorable you’ll want to pinch its cheeks.

Magdalen islands iles de la madeleine

© Dennis Minty

8. Make merry on the Magdalens

The Îles de la Madeleine are a world apart. On this remote, cliff-flanked archipelago thrive 12,000 hearty fisherfolk, many of them descendants of shipwreck survivors. Over centuries, they’ve forged a distinctive Acadian dialect and culture. Get to know the islanders—and their handicrafts, seafood, and local beers and wines!

Garia bay newfoundland

© Victoria Polsoni

9. Tour the south coast of The Rock

It seems strange to say, but Newfoundland’s southern shore is its rockiest and most remote. On this wind-blasted, wave-lashed coast you’ll see roadless fishing outports where the inhabitants live much as their forbears did, surviving almost entirely from the sea. Here, too, you can experience puffins, seabirds, whales—and, if the weather is right, a perfect hike.

Small wooden boats on Saint Pierre

© Dennis Minty

10. Sail to France—yes, really!

Just kilometres offshore of Newfoundland is Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, an official territory of the French Republic. The locals drive Citroens, smoke Gauloises, and pay in Euros, but are crazy about ice hockey. Here you can indulge in French food, wine, and shopping—without having to fly clear to Paris.