By car or motorcycle
Québec’s road network stretches for some 325,000 km. Yes, it’s huge! Our vast territory is connected by about thirty highways and close to 200 national, regional, secondary and local roads.
Québec recognizes driver’s licences from French-speaking and English-speaking countries. If your licence is in another language, you’ll need to obtain an international driving permit from your country.
Our Highway Safety Code is undoubtedly different in some ways from your country’s highway code. The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) has prepared a document for tourists and newcomers on the particularities of driving in Québec.
Road network directory provided by the Ministère des Transports du Québec.
To estimate the distances and travel times between locations in Québec, use the tool provided by the Ministère des Transports du Québec.
For up-to-the-minute information on road conditions, use the Québec 511 service provided by the Ministère des Transports du Québec:
Tel.: 511 or 1-888-355-0511 (outside Québec). Québec 511 is also accessible via mobile apps and on the main social media platforms.
Don’t have a vehicle? Think about leasing one or carpooling.
Motorcycle tourism is very popular in Québec. It’s forbidden to ride a motorcycle between December 15 and March 15. Protective helmets are mandatory for motorcyclists in Québec.
Good to know: The buses are still sometimes called the Voyageur buses, which is the name of a former company that no longer exists. The Gare d’autocars de Montréal is the only intercity bus terminal in Montréal offering routes to and from most Canadian and U.S. cities and towns.
In the cities
Public transit services are available in Québec’s major cities. Montréal is served by a subway system (the “metro”), buses and commuter trains. And we can’t speak about the metro without mentioning Montréal’s underground city, made up of over 30 km of corridors between 10 metro stations, giving access to thousands of businesses and public buildings.
For information on routes and fares of the main transit services in Québec’s major cities, visit the following websites.
Montréal (city): The Société de transport de Montréal (STM) offers one- and three-day and week-long unlimited travel passes.
Montréal (Greater Montréal): Exo (Réseau de transport métropolitain).
Québec City: The Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC) offers one- and two-day unlimited travel passes.
Joliette: MRC de Joliette – Division Transport (regional routes to Montréal and the Lanaudière region).
Gatineau: Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO).
Laval: Société de transport de Laval (STL).
Longueuil: Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL).
Sherbrooke: Société de transport de Sherbrooke (STS).
Given the sheer size of Québec, air travel is a fast and extremely practical way to get around. Not only can you reach isolated regions like Nunavik that are inaccessible by road, but you can also cover huge distances in next to no time, like Québec-Gaspé or Montréal-Chibougamau, both of which take around 90 min.
Taking a plane is also a great way to get to the Basse-Côte-Nord or to the Îles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Certain operators will even let you charter a bush plane or a seaplane to the destination of your choice. Contact Québec’s airports and airfields for information.
It’s important to keep the following in mind, however: Flight connections are infrequent and prices are relatively expensive here, given Québec’s huge distances (over 1,500,000 km2) and low density of 5.6 inhabitants/km2 (compared with 232.36 in Germany, 215 in Belgium, 34.4 in the United States, 64.78 in Mexico, 105.8 in France, 274.03 in the United Kingdom, 206.96 in Switzerland).
Air travel is therefore not as common as in the United States, Europe and Asia. It’s our way of inviting you to make several trips to visit Québec instead of trying to see everything at once. Come back to see us as often as you’d like. We’ve got 20 tourist regions for you to explore!
Regional air routes (French PDF) indicating the carriers serving Québec
Réseau aéroportuaire public québécois (French PDF) on a map of Québec
Touring Québec by air (French PDF)
In North America, the car rules as the most common means of land transportation. Travellers from Europe or who have travelled on that continent will notice that our rail network is not as extensive. Also, we don’t have high-speed trains. It’s important to know so that you can plan your trips accordingly.
Still, needless to say, travelling by train is pleasant and practical in the wintertime! It gives you time to admire the landscapes, keep working, write postcards (oh yes, people still do that!), enjoy VIA Rail’s entertainment program and, thanks to wireless Internet connection (except on the Adventure Routes), plan the next parts of your trip.
With several departures daily, the most popular train running is the one between Montréal and Québec City. There is also the Montréal-Ottawa route that takes you to Outaouais, with the city of Gatineau just a few minutes away. You can also enjoy a longer ride by hopping aboard one of the trains departing for Matapédia, Saguenay, La Tuque and Senneterre.
Fun fact: On the Montréal-La Tuque-Senneterre and Montréal-Jonquière routes, you can hop on and off at various spots along the route if the train’s staff sees you (it’s true!). It’s usually outdoor enthusiasts, fishers and hunters who take advantage of these rather unusual stops in the middle of nature. On the Montréal-Halifax line, between the Sainte-Foy terminal in Québec City and Matapédia, you can also get on and off at certain spots upon request.
For a more “contemplative” trip, the Train de Charlevoix offers a tourist route between the sea and mountains, along the Charlevoix coastline between Québec City and Baie-Saint-Paul, from May to October.
Commuter trains (exo) – Montréal
Québec’s rail network (French PDF)
Cycle tourism is picking up speed in Québec: our biking network has some 12,000 km of bike paths, including 5,300 km that make up the Route verte. There’s something for all biking enthusiasts: city cyclists or those who use self-service bikes such as BIXI in Montréal, families on a vacation road trip, avid bikers who pedal a hundred kilometres a day, weekend visitors or cycle tourists participating in tours organized by Vélo Québec.
Accommodations with the “Bienvenue cyclistes!” certification
When you head out on bike for several days, it’s best to find night-time accommodations close to the bike path to be all ready the next morning to set out. All along the Route verte and its side roads, some 500 tourist accommodation establishments and campgrounds that have been certified under Vélo Québec’s “Bienvenue cyclistes!” program offer amenities tailored to the needs of cycle tourists.
You don’t have to be a master mariner to go boating in Québec. With our many lakes and rivers and immense St. Lawrence River, you have a multitude of ways to take a boat trip. For example, you can get on board (as a pedestrian or with your car, bike or motorcycle) one of the many ferries that complement road travel, offering year-round or seasonal service on the St. Lawrence and other major rivers (including the Saguenay, Saint-Maurice, Richelieu and Outaouais). Pleasure boating is also highly popular on these waterways.
You have your own boat and want to know where the marinas are located, what services are available for pleasure boaters and what tourist attractions are nearby? Québec’s best resource for this information for boating enthusiasts is Nautisme Québec. It’s designed to meet the specific needs of pleasure boaters and tourists. It’s an initiative of the Alliance de l’industrie nautique du Québec, designed for pleasure boaters. The Nautisme Québec website provides a map of Québec with its 16 nautical areas and some 210 marinas.
We have a precious jewel in the heart of the Gulf of St. Lawrence—the Îles de la Madeleine archipelago. You can get to the islands by ferry from Prince Edward Island or by cruise ship from Montréal and Québec City, with CTMA Transport. Seeing the coastline roll by gives you a completely different perspective of our majestic river and Québec’s regions. It’s also a great way to discover the Côte-Nord by sea: a passenger-freight ship leaving from Rimouski serves the entire Basse-Côte-Nord region between Kegaska (where Route 138 comes to an end), Île d’Anticosti and Blanc-Sablon. Reservations are recommended, particularly during peak season.
Proof of competency for pleasure boating
In Québec (and all of Canada), if you operate a motorboat for recreational purposes, you must have proof of competency, EXCEPT if you are not a Canadian resident AND you have been operating your own boat for less than 45 consecutive days. Note that a proof of residence is required on board at all times.
The competency card is the proof that you have the basic knowledge to safely operate a boat with a motor and that you know what to do in case of an emergency.
You don’t live in Canada, you don’t have your own boat and you want to come boating in Québec? If you rent or charter a Canadian-licensed or Canadian-registered pleasure craft, OR if you come with your own boat for 45 consecutive days or more, you will need an operator card or any other document that meets the requirements of your state or country.
For more information, refer to Transport Canada’s requirements for foreign recreational boaters.
Traverses et dessertes maritimes du Québec (map of Québec with crossing distances and times)
Sentier maritime du Saint-Laurent (navigable waterway particularly for shallow-draft watercraft like sea kayaks)