You’ll find a hidden getaway about 120 miles south of Quebec City in Saguenay, where rows of multi-colored homes look beyond to rolling hillsides and curl around the beautiful St. Lawrence River. While on a cruise to Saguenay, Quebec, Canada, book a tour of the town’s biggest attraction—An incredible fjord stretching 60 miles long with dramatic cliffs jutting a thousand feet into the air. The Saguenay Fjord National Park is a can’t-miss day trip (or longer) for ziplining, camping, hiking, or other outdoor pursuits.
The landscape will definitely awe you, but so will the city’s charm, where sites like the Pulperie de Chicoutimi or the Cathedral of Saint François-Xavier give a sense of the community and its history. Saguenay is your introduction to a quieter, off-the-beaten path Quebec. Whale watch along the St. Lawrence River or enjoy poutine from a patio in Chicoutimi. As a stop on a Canada and New England Cruise, Saguenay could be called a respite, an oasis of culture and nature, before hitting the remote, isolated wilderness of Northern Quebec.
Experience the rugged cliffside of Saguenay Fjord National Park, home to one of the longest fjords in the entire world. Saguenay Fjord National Park promises scenic views of the glacier-cut fjord, thousand-foot tall cliffs, whale-watching aplenty, kayak or swim in the glacial waters, and adventure into the park’s undisturbed forest.
If you’re unfamiliar with the history of Saguenay, La Pulperie de Chicoutimi is a great place to start. Expand your knowledge on the history and people of Quebec, including its role in the pulp and paper industry as well as the fur trade. Tours and interactive exhibits guide you effortlessly through the region’s past.
Before you visit Saguenay Fjord National Park, consider a trip to the Musee du Fjord for information on the formation of the fjord, structure, and history of the area. This science museum is an attraction for the whole family while on your Saguenay cruise, and even features an aquarium which houses over 400 fish.
Take in sights of this awe-inspiring Norman-Gothic cathedral overlooking the Saguenay port. A short walk from downtown Saguenay, the Cathedral of Saint François-Xavier is a perfect pit stop for architecture lovers.
Another quick stop in the La Baie area is the Ha! Ha! Pyramid, a contemporary art exhibit which memorializes a flood that devastated the area in 1996. The pyramid is made from thousands of traffic “yield” signs, making this exhibit completely unique, and a thought-provoking testament to a challenging time in the history of the area. Take photos in front of the pyramid, and if you come in the summer, you’ll have the chance to go inside.
As one of the only fjords in the world that can be traversed from both directions, the Saguenay River fjord is a little unlike anything else. Book a tour of the fjord where you’ll learn about the landscape—including how to spot whales—and see the fjord via seaplane, on foot, or boat.
The waters of the St. Lawrence River are overflowing with krill, making it a haven for whales. Plus, these waters are protected, so you can rest easy knowing the ecosystem will be expertly preserved. Bring a camera or binoculars to experience these majestic creatures up close while you’re on your Saguenay cruise.
Climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers are welcome in Saguenay. While you’re at Saguenay Fjord National Park, ziplining through the fjord with the help of Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux, who arrange camping and a challenging adventure course in the park. Perfect for daredevils, climbers, and adrenaline junkies.
Cafe du Presbytere
Address: 240, Rue Bosse, Chicoutimi, Saguenay, Quebec G7J 1L9, Canada
After a stop at La Pulperie de Chicoutimi, stop in for locally sourced from the forest near Chicoutimi, and features traditional Quebecois cuisine. Be sure to make a reservation first for this small, friendly cafe.
Address: 3919 Rue Saint Jean Jonquière, G7X 3J4, Canada
This restaurant is nestled away in a home in downtown Jonquière outside of Saguenay. Le Bergerac focuses on sustainability and composting, even growing their own herb garden. Add a cozy atmosphere and impressive wine list and you’ve got a perfect date night while on your Saguenay cruise.
La Voie Maltée
Address: 2509 Rue Saint Dominique, Jonquière Jonquière, G7X 6K1, Canada
Enjoy gastropub favorites like poutine, homemade coleslaw, or fish and chips at Saguenay’s first microbrewery, situated in a casual pub setting.
Address: 387-A Rue Racine E Chicoutimi, G7H 1S8, Canada
If you’re in the mood for authentic French cuisine, try La Cuisine, which has been open since 1994. Their sizable wine cellar ensures you’ll get the perfect complement to your meal, be it sirloin steak, scallops, or even roasted elk.
When ships dock at the La Baie district on a Saguenay cruise, you can expect a charming, undiscovered town with a culture and history unlike anywhere you’ve ever been. Cruises to Saguenay, Quebec, Canada are a respite from other large metropolitan area, giving you a chance to catch your breath and surround yourself in the natural fjords, hiking trails, and waterfalls of the area.
The region is mostly French-speaking, and the people of Saguenay are astoundingly friendly. Don’t be surprised if you hear English from locals at tourism attractions and the cruise port.
Originally, Saguenay was a colonial French trading town divided into three main boroughs: La Baie, Chicoutimi, and Jonquière. Today’s Saguenay encompasses all those cities into one municipality. Many of the cultural sites are located in Chicoutimi, while some of the city’s best restaurants can be found in Jonquière.
Cruises to Saguenay, Quebec, Canada dock on the shores of the memorably-named Ha! Ha! Bay in a district called La Baie. You might see street performers called “La Fabuleuse,” welcoming you to the region with handstands, juggling, and dancing. Inside the cruise pavillon, you’ll find the usual amenities: an information desk, free Wifi, restrooms, and a cafe for your coffee fix before you head off to explore. To get to downtown Saguenay from La Baie, it’ll take about 20 minutes via car or taxi and around 50 minutes via public transit.
There are a few options for getting to and around the town center of Saguenay:
Some attractions in La Baie will be walking distance from the cruise terminal, but getting to the city proper of Saguenay would take too long to walk.
Hail a taxi from the cruise terminal to get to the city center of Saguenay or back to the cruise terminal. You can also simply take a taxi to get from point A to point B.
Rent a car at the National Car Rental office within the cruise terminal. They offer a mobile app for download where you can access a self-guided tour.
You’ll find local craftsmen have set up shop at the cruise port terminal, selling everything from handmade soaps to glasswares or hand-woven items of clothing. Strike up a conversation with the artisans and find a gem of a souvenir or gift for yourself or a loved one. You can find more shopping at a public market near the Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori Church within walking distance from the La Baie port.
Don’t forget to exchange your currency to the Canadian dollar (CAD) before you arrive in Saguenay. You can exchange currency at banks in the city as well. Most shops accept MasterCard and Visa, and many places will accept U.S. dollars—but they’ll give you change in Canadian currency. You’ll find the closest ATM across the street from the cruise terminal in front of the restaurant Au Pavillon Noir.