I’d never heard of it and it took me a long time to figure out how to pronounce it, but once I stepped foot in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, I knew I’d found a special destination.
Thank you to Tourisme Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for the fantastic trip! There are affiliate links throughout this blog post. If you click on the links and make a purchase, I may earn some money. Your cost doesn’t change.
Depending on the activities you most enjoy, there really is no bad time of year to visit the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region! I visited this part of Québec in early May and there was still snow in certain areas and Lac-Saint-Jean was still covered with ice and snow. I didn’t find the weather very cold, though.
A few of the things I packed: jeans, comfortable walking shoes, a rain jacket (which I layered over a sweater or shirt/cardigan combo), and swimsuit. There were hot tubs at each of the hotels in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region where I stayed!
Where is the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Region?
The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is located about 2-2.5 hours drive north from Québec City, or 5 hours drive from Montréal, Québec in Canada. There are many options for transportation, including VIA Rail train, bus, car rental, or Intercar (a bus or limo bus transportation company which took my press trip group and I around the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region).
Things to do in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean
There are so many things to do in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean for the whole family! In the 4 days I spent in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, I experienced wildlife, culture, and the great outdoors. I learned about the importance of the pulp industry for the region at both Village historique de Val-Jalbert and La Pulperie de Chicoutimi – Musée régional. I saw black bears mingling with deer. I watched the rush of waterfalls multiple times. And I ate some amazing vegan food and stayed in gorgeous waterfront hotels!
Here are just 5 highlights from my trip to the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Take a helicopter ride over the Saguenay Fjord
Thanks to Peak Aviation (courtesy of Promotion Saguenay), my press trip group and I got to experience an evening helicopter flight over Saguenay Fjord!
This was my first helicopter ride and my first time seeing a fjord. I remember looking at maps and atlases as a child, dreaming about the day I could see a fjord in Scandinavia for myself. I never imagined being able to see one (from the air no less) in my home country of Canada!
Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Felicien
A visit to Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Felicien will be one you won’t easily forget! This is the kind of place children, adults, sulky teenagers, and elderly people will all enjoy. Most of the zoo is wheelchair accessible and a bus or trolley takes guests through the natural boreal forest where animals are free to roam in their habitats. Just take a look at some of the pictures from my trip to give you an idea:
Musee du Fjord
Located in the Saguenay borough of La Baie, Musee du Fjord offers a hands-on experience for visitors to see (and touch) creatures that live in the Saguenay Fjord. I love how interactive this museum is! This is a place that will both educate and entertain people of all ages.
With the assistance of some well-educated guys from the museum, who answered all our questions about the landscape, types of marine life, and history of the Saguenay Fjord, my group and I got to work looking for worms (and taking lots of pictures).
Village historique de Val-Jalbert
The Village historique de Val-Jalbert was one of my favourite places to stop on my trip to the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. This ghost town was set up as a company town in the 1920s for a paper mill. While many of the buildings have been restored, others have been left alone to show visitors what they’d look like without human intervention. Also, many of the materials for restoration are expensive and hard to come by!
Visitors can walk around the village, interact with costumed interpreters, have meals and snacks (I’ve been assured that they have vegan-friendly options available), and go up the gondola (dependent on time of year) for amazing views of Lac-Saint-Jean!
There’s a beautiful waterfall here, too!
Visitors can even stay the night! How cool would it be to wander around a ghost town at night?
La Pulperie de Chicoutimi
La Pulperie de Chicoutimi, located in the Saguenay borough of Chicoutimi, is often used as a site for wedding photographs. With the waterfall that leads in to the Saguenay River (via Chicoutimi River and Le Bassin), the beautiful natural surroundings, and historic buildings, it’s easy to see why!
Chicoutimi is a word in the Innu-aimun language of the Appelés Montagnais (or Innu) peoples of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region meaning “where seawater and freshwater meet.”
Chicoutimi was a very important place for meeting and settlement 4500 years ago and was a trading post until 1848. You can learn more of the history of the area at the museum. This museum features the history of the local residents and also hosts travelling and temporary exhibits. One of the highlights is viewing the detailed painting of the interior and exterior house of painter Arthur Villeneuve.
Beautiful walking trails nearby the Chicoutimi River allow visitors to get close to the historical buildings and enjoy the natural setting.
Looking for recommendations on places to stay in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region? Check out my post on 3 waterfront hotels in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.
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Check out the Tourisme Saguenay website for more ideas of what to do in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.