Culture, gastronomy, natural wonders: 9 must-see destinations to discover

April 21, 2023

When travelling, we bring unique, exotic experiences back with us, all of which become unforgettable memories. There are nine ports of call along the Saint Lawrence River, each a lively bustling hub of activity.

There are so many experiences to be had, led by local members of the community who are more than happy to take you on a tour of their beloved region.

Amongst all the activities you can choose from while cruising the Saint Lawrence River, here are a few that promote sustainable development, environmental practices, strong links with local communities and the economic development of the regions located alongside the river. Îles de la Madeleine: sampling local lobster

While the beginning of May signals the start of the summer cruise season, for the people of Îles de la Madeleine, this time of year is all about putting the lobster traps in the water. There are celebrations to mark the start of the nine-week-long fishing period. Lobster fishing has been closely monitored and eco-certified since 2013 to ensure it is done in a sustainable way. The best lobster in the world (according to the Madelinots, of course) can be sampled in many ways when visiting local restaurants and fishmongers.

Gaspésie: taking a boat tour to the Rocher Percé

A favourite amongst travellers, the town of Percé in Gaspésie is home to the very ‘instagramable’ Rock! Of course, the guided sea tour led by the friendly local captain is one of the most popular activities. In addition to getting up close and personal with the famous Rocher Percé, this unique outing is the perfect opportunity to admire the majestic cliffs of Bonaventure Island, where over 250 000 sea birds are nesting. It is also sometimes possible to spot grey seals in their natural habitat.

Havre-Saint-Pierre: playing lighthouse keeper for a day

When stopping over in Havre-Saint-PIerre, a visit to Parrot Island is a must. Parrots in Canada? While, they are actually puffins (also referred to as sea parrots) and belong to the penguin family. This species, along with several others, can be found on this out-this-world island, hence its unusual name. There was also a lighthouse erected here. The place is full of history and anecdotes and gives visitors an overview of what it used to be like to be a lighthouse keeper

Sept-Îles: finding out what it was like to be a fur trader

Characters seemingly straight out of the 19th century guide visitors on their tour of the trading post in Sept-Îles. Visit the Old Fur Trading Post and discover a place where both the innue and Euro-Canadian people converged for commerce back in the mid-17th century. A historic interpretation site tells you more about life as a settler and demystifies a collection of diverse artefacts

Baie-Comeau: walking on a real hydroelectricity dam

Monument to Québec engineering, the Manic-2 generating station is worth the detour. Most of Québec's electricity is generated from hydroelectricity, and this clean energy source initially required gigantic construction sites. These projects remain a source of pride for both the workers, and the residents of the province, and Manic-2 is no exception. The majestic structure is bound to make the imagination run wild!      

Saguenay: attending a show worthy of Broadway

Everything is big in Saguenay, even the theatre shows! And when it comes to telling the story of the place, the locals go all in. “La Fabuleuse histoire d’un royaume” is a production involving 150 volunteer actors, a cavalry of seven horses, vintage cars, a gigantic water tank, music, lighting, cannon shots and grandiose special effects. Just listing everything that’s in the show is somewhat of an undertaking: imagine seeing it! 

Québec: sampling the delights of Île d’Orléans

Yes, Québec and its legendary Château Frontenac and Old Québec area are on the Unesco World Heritage list. But if you want to experience Québec City differently, a visit to its local food supply is a must: the Île d’Orléans. Birthplace of Québec beloved poet Félix Leclerc, its fertile soil is perfect for growing a wide range of produce. Wineries, bakeries, vegetable and fruit stands, cider houses, chocolate factories: there’s something for everyone. As a bonus, those who want to eat onsite can often do so while sitting at a picnic spot overlooking the majestic Saint Lawrence River. 

Trois-Rivières: tasting maple syrup at a sugar shack

It would be impossible to visit “ la belle province” without being tempted by its maple delicacies. A staple of Québec’s local cuisine, maple syrup has conquered the entire world thanks to its distinctive sweet taste. While maple syrup season only lasts a few weeks in spring, several sugar shacks stay open all year-round and offer a wide range of fun activities in addition to the traditional maple syrup meal, which always comes with a friendly atmosphere.    

Montréal: meandering in the (pedestrianised) streets

Pedestrianised streets have become part of Montréal’s urban landscape, especially during the summer. Safe, quiet, they provide residents with a better quality of life, improve the air quality, and allow Montrealers to host special events. Visitors can therefore immerse themselves in the life of the diverse communities and enjoy restaurant terraces, shops, as well as spaces set up for people to relax, cool down or enjoy the view. Cultural performances or film projections are often shown during the many festivals held in the city. This well-balanced mix of activity and relaxation now forms part of Montréal’s DNA.

Find out more about the Cruise the Saint Lawrence sustainable development guidelines on our sustainability page.