What to do in Quebec
To visit Quebec , the capital of the province of Quebec, is to discover the most European of cities in North America .
With its old town and its charming alleys where you can stroll in all seasons, you will feel a little like home, especially since Quebecers are very welcoming and warm.
To help you organize your stay in Quebec , I have prepared a list of the 15 best things to see and places of interest to discover.
At the end of the article, I also offer you itineraries to visit Quebec in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as a list of the best accommodations according to your budget.
So, what to do in Quebec? Follow the leader!
Visiting Quebec City: the must-sees
1. Chateau Frontenac
We start this top things to do in Quebec with the emblematic building of the city, the famous Château Frontenac.
I warn you right away that if you want to be in on it, you’ll have to come back from Quebec having taken pictures of it from every angle. It is indeed said that it is the most photographed hotel in the world.
We must admit that it is particularly impressive and that it has a small effect with its authentic charm inspired by French castles . It also has a strong historical connotation because Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt came there to attend 2 conferences in 1943 and 1944. The site is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you want to do more than photograph it and you have a fairly substantial budget, I recommend that you spend at least one night there because the Château Frontenac is above all a luxury hotel. Enjoy beautifully decorated rooms, the spa, the swimming pool, the view of the St. Lawrence River and dine in one of the hotel’s gourmet restaurants. Ideal for a romantic stay.
2. Dufferin Terrace promenade
Just at the foot of the Château Frontenac (so you can also photograph it from there) is the Promenade de la Terrasse Dufferin.
This immense wooden promenade allows you to contemplate the St. Lawrence River below and offers an exceptional panorama of Île d’Orléans and the Lower Town of Quebec.
The promenade, very popular, is frequented in all seasons because a host of activities are organized there. In winter , you can enjoy the Glissades de la Terrasse by tobogganing down a giant 250-meter toboggan. In summer , there are street artists and open-air concerts.
3. The Petit-Champlain neighborhood
The Petit-Champlain district is the most famous district of Quebec. With its pedestrian streets and typical houses, it is one of the main places of interest in the city.
You will find lots of nice little craft shops and many bars and restaurants. There is a very warm atmosphere, especially in winter when the streets are lit up with Christmas decorations. This is the ideal area for strolling.
Not to be missed in the neighborhood is Place Royale, the oldest French site in North America and home to the oldest stone church, the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires . Stop also in front of the fresco of Quebecers depicting the history of the city through great outstanding figures.
4. Take the Québec-Levis ferry
On the outskirts of the Petit-Champlain district , getting closer to the edge of the river, I advise you to take a ride on the ferry that connects Quebec to the city of Levis located opposite.
The trip allows you to observe Quebec, the Château Frontenac and Cap Diamant in all their splendour. It is one of the best views you will have of the city. Do not forget your camera ! In winter, you will also live a unique experience because the boat turns into an icebreaker to make its way. Quite a Canadian adventure!
You can do the round trip in stride in an hour for $7 per person.
5. The Cathedral Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Québec
The Notre-Dame-de-Québec Cathedral Basilica is located across from City Hall in the historic district of Old Québec.
It is considered the cradle of the Catholic faith in North America. Whether you are a believer or not, it is a must see during your visit to Quebec.
Classified as a “ National Historic Monument of Canada ” for its remarkable architecture, the visit is worth the detour for both its exterior and its interior. The ornaments inside as well as the completely gilded canopy and canopy are of great beauty. You can also see the crypt where the bishops of the diocese and the 4 governors of New France rest.
6. Visit the city’s museums
Quebec City has a very rich cultural offer thanks to the many museums that you can visit:
- The Musée de la Civilization retraces the history of Québec and also presents temporary exhibitions. It is very interactive and fun, and it will appeal to young and old alike.
- The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec highlighting the works of Quebec artists
- The Morrin center is the seat of the first prison in Quebec. You can visit the old cells there. It now houses a magnificent library (in the Harry Potter style) whose visit is included with the dungeons.
- The Ursuline Museum which presents the origin of the institution and the history of these nuns.
- The Fort Museum where you can attend a sound and light show retracing the military history of the city.
- The Musée de l’Amérique francophone retraces the history of French-speaking culture in North America. It houses a magnificent chapel.
7. The Citadel of Quebec
The citadel is an integral part of the history of Quebec City. Built between 1820 and 1850 to protect the city from the Americans, it quickly became the largest British fort in North America.
Guided tours of the citadel are organized all year round. You will learn more about the city’s military history and the capture of Quebec by English forces. Note that the citadel is still an active military base, so you cannot walk there alone. It is home to the Royal 22nd Regiment , the only French-speaking infantry regiment in the Canadian army.
From the walkway, you will also enjoy a very beautiful view of the Château Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River.
8. The Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham , also called Parc des Champs de Batailles, is a highly symbolic place for the city of Quebec.
They were the scene of the famous battle of 1759 which saw the British and French empires clash. British troops , led by General Wolfe , defeated French troops led by the Marquis de Montcalm and were forced to surrender the city . At the end of the war, France ceded several colonies to England, including Canada.
The Plains of Abraham are now a large park , the green lung of the city, where it is very pleasant to walk. The view of the St. Lawrence River is particularly beautiful. In winter, there is an ice ring that allows free skating. In summer , the plains are transformed into a gigantic concert venue where the biggest stars from around the world perform , such as the Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Madonna and Elton John.
9. Parliament Building
The Parliament Building is the seat of the National Assembly of Quebec.
Located on a hill, surrounded by 23 statues representing historical figures and with a large fountain in its center, the building with French architecture, is one of the places of interest to see in Quebec.
Interior visits are organized free of charge . You can admire the National Assembly room, the Presidents’ gallery and the Legislative Council room. The opportunity to learn more about the organization and functioning of the Canadian government.
10. The Capital Observatory
If you want to benefit from a 360° view of Quebec , it is at the observatory of the capital that it happens!
It is located on the top floor of the Marie-Guyart building, on Parliament Hill. An elevator will take you to exactly 221 meters above sea level to enjoy a breathtaking view of the river, the citadel, the Plains of Abraham and Île d’Orléans. In short, of all the places we tell you about in our top 15 things to do and see in Quebec!
All access and price information is on the observatory’s official website .
11. Aquarium of Quebec
If you want to do a family activity during your trip to Quebec, I advise you to visit the Aquarium of Quebec.
On 16 hectares, the vast site brings together nearly 10,000 marine animals including seals and polar bears. There is also a contact pool with rays and a depth pool with jellyfish and seahorses.
This unique site in Quebec is open year-round. It offers different entertainment depending on the season. Thus, in winter it sets up an outdoor luminous course while in summer your children will be able to enjoy water games and courses in the trees.
Prepare your visit to the Aquarium by visiting the official website.
This is the city’s most popular event of the year, the Quebec Carnival.
If you are in Quebec, between the end of January and mid-February , it is impossible to miss this essential part of Quebec life. Thousands of visitors flock each year to the largest winter carnival in the world. The atmosphere is festive, warm and very family-like.
A multitude of activities are scheduled to entertain you:
- A night parade with a parade of floats
- An ice canoe race with participants from all over the world
- An international ice sculpture competition
- A giant snow bath
- Skating and sliding on ice
- Skittles or giant bowling games
- sugar shack
- Ax throwing (we are in lumberjack country yes or no!)
Finally, you will meet the carnival mascot, Mr Bonhomme Carnaval , a huge snowman dressed in a red toque. I specify that the photo with him is obligatory as a souvenir! Feel free to share it with us in the comments!
13. La chute Montmorency
Some 40 minutes by car from Quebec is one of the most spectacular natural sites in Quebec, Montmorency Falls.
Higher than 30 meters than Niagara Falls , I really advise you to go and admire them during your stay. The place can be visited both in summer and in winter where the fall is just as impressive because a part is often completely frozen.
Many points of view make it possible to admire the impressive flow of the fall. In particular, you can climb to the top by cable car and then take the suspension bridge that crosses it. A staircase of 480 steps from the base of the falls also allows you to reach the top or to descend after crossing the bridge.
And for the more athletic or brave, there is also a 300-meter-long zip line and a via ferrata course.
To eat, you will find a restaurant at the top of the falls or you can bring your picnic and take advantage of the tables available to you.
14. Ile d’Orleans
I told you about it several times in this article, Quebec offers beautiful panoramas on the island of Orleans. So how about going for a little walk there after visiting Quebec?
When you arrive on Île d’Orléans , you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You can discover authentic rural villages with century-old houses that have preserved Quebec traditions. The villages of Saint-Laurent, Saint-Jean, Saint-Pierre or Saint-François are really worth a look.
The surrounding countryside is also very beautiful and famous for its strawberry and raspberry fields and its pear and apple orchards. In season, you will find many stalls of local producers on the roads.
15. Valcartier Vacation Village
30 minutes north of Quebec City is the perfect place to spend a family day, the Valcartier vacation village. The village is a huge play center offering a multitude of activities whether in winter or summer.
In winter, the Valcartier vacation village is the largest winter playground in North America. We find there :
- Over 35 snow slides
- skating trails
- Snow rafting
- A high-speed sliding sector
You can also enjoy a huge indoor aquatic area with a Polynesian theme. Wave pools, water slides, wave surfing and the adventure river are all yours.
In summer, the park also has an outdoor aquatic area with a swimming pool, slides, slides and volleyball courts. You can even camp there if you wish.
On the site you will also find a 4 * hotel to be closer to all the entertainment. Ideal for resting well before or after a full day of sliding. You can book your night at the Valcartier Hotel here .
Find all the information on the official Village Vacances Valcartier website .
How many days to visit Quebec?
Quebec City can be visited very easily on foot in 2 days. You will have time to see the majority of our top 15.
However, if you want to go around the museums or take the opportunity to explore the surroundings , such as Île d’Orléans, for example, I advise you to spend 3 days in Quebec.
Visit Quebec in one day
For this one-day program , I recommend the following itinerary:
- Start of course by going to contemplate the Château Frontenac
- Stroll along the Dufferin Parkway
- Take a tour of the Notre-Dame-du-Québec Cathedral Basilica
- Take the funicular or the daredevil stairway down to the Petit-Champlain district
- Lunch break in the neighborhood where you will have a multitude of restaurant choices
- Wander the cobbled streets and do some shopping
- Take the Québec-Lévis ferry at the end of the day
Visit Quebec in 2 days
To visit Quebec in 2 days , take the itinerary of the first day and add:
- Visit of the Citadel of Quebec
- Walk on the Plains of Abraham
- Discovery of the Parliament Building
- Climb to the Capital Observatory
- Lunch break
- Afternoon at Montmorency Falls Park
Visit Quebec in 3 days
In 3 days of visit to Quebec , follow my advice for the 2 days then add:
- Visit of the museums of the city for the morning. If you only have to do one, I recommend the one at the Museum of Civilizations to discover the history of the city
- Lunch break
- Afternoon on Île d’Orléans
Where then what I advise you is to take advantage of this 3rd day in Quebec to live a unique experience: go whale watching!
Where to sleep in Quebec
- Hôtel Terrasse Dufferin : Located a stone’s throw from the Château Frontenac. Double room with a slightly old-fashioned but warm decor from €50 per night, breakfast at €3. Most: the excellent geographical location, the view of the river, the warm welcome.
- Hotel Château Bellevue : Located 2 minutes walk from the Dufferin terrace. Double room with super comfortable bedding from €79 per night, breakfast at €6. Most: the central location to visit on foot, the comfortable bed, the good breakfast, the reception of the staff.
- Auberge Saint-Antoine : Located on the banks of the Saint-Lawrence River in the Old Port district. Simple and elegant double room with underfloor heating in the bathroom from €152 per night, breakfast at €17. The pluses: all the comfort of a luxury hotel, the decoration of the hotel, the impeccable service.
- Château Frontenac : Why not spend a night in the most photographed hotel in the world? A unique experience and the opportunity to enjoy all the services and comfort of a luxury hotel: spa, swimming pool, gourmet restaurants. A good way to have fun in Quebec, it’s not every day that you can sleep at the Château Frontenac!
Where to eat in Quebec
- Le Chic Shak : Located in Place d’Armes, in Old Quebec. The restaurant offers dishes based on fresh and local products. You will have the choice between Canadian beef burgers, poutines, and even homemade sodas. Rediscover the real “good” fast food. I would add that the prices are very affordable. This is our favorite value for money.
- Chez Rioux and Pettigrew : Located on rue St-Paul, 200 meters from the Musée de la civilisation. The restaurant welcomes you in a super warm setting. The dishes are hearty, tasty and affordable. Possibility of opting for the blind table d’hôtes menu. I recommend that you book.
- L’Affaire Est Ketchup : Located on rue St-Joseph Est. The atmosphere is friendly, the welcome warm, the service impeccable and the dishes are good and plentiful. Very good wine list too. Small restaurant with about twenty seats, remember to book.
How to get to Quebec
If you want to visit Quebec City during your tour of Canada , the best thing is to land in Montreal .
Then several ways are available to you to reach Quebec:
- By car is the fastest way. Count about 3 hours. Note that car rental is not very expensive in Canada.
- By bus , count 3h15 of journey for approximately 25$. Departures are from the Montreal bus station. The Orléans Express line offers 17 daily trips between the 2 cities, so you will have the choice of timetables.
- By train , 3h30 trip for about $35. Departure from the Montreal train station. About ten trips per day.
My impressions of Quebec
Quebec City is a very pleasant city to explore on foot. As a European, you don’t feel too out of place there and it certainly reinforces the feeling of well-being, you feel a little like home there.
I really enjoyed the Petit-Champlain district with its pedestrian streets and neat little shops. The neighborhood is very warm and has a really good atmosphere.
I found the Château Frontenac particularly impressive and of course I helped increase its ranking as the most photographed hotel in the world!
Quebec tourist map
So that you can find your way around easily during your trip, I have prepared a tourist map of Quebec, with all the places to visit that I talk about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
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