8 must-dos in Quebec City

Visiting Quebec City: what are the best things to see and do in North America’s most European capital?

The capital of the province of the same name, Québec is a fortified city whose old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Young and dynamic, the city is home to many universities and cultural and artistic events, making it one of Canada’s major cultural centers. You’re sure to fall under the spell of this authentic city, which has a real cachet all of its own, with its stone houses, ramparts and cannons, and lively alleyways. Immerse yourself in the heart of French-speaking Canada! Wondering what to do in Quebec City? We’ve got you covered!

1. Old Quebec

Vieux Québec, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – Tony Webster

Designated a « World Heritage Jewel » by UNESCO, Old Quebec is the historic heart of the city. Here you’ll discover the city’s two main defensive structures: the Fortifications of Quebec and the Citadel. Opt for a guided tour on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage, to discover the unique atmosphere of this district – you won’t be disappointed!

2. Promenade des gouverneurs and Dufferin Terrace Promenade

Promenade des Gouverneurs, Terrasse Dufferin, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – saebaryo

If you’re going to visit Quebec City, you absolutely must take the Promenade des gouverneurs, inaugurated in 1960 and built on the rocky Cap Diamant! It takes just fifteen minutes and a few hundred steps to reach the citadel. All along the way, you’ll discover breathtaking views! Once at the top, you’ll arrive at the Plains of Abraham park, the green lung of Quebec City.

Just below the Château Frontenac is the Terrasse Dufferin promenade. On this wooden boardwalk, you’ll come across a variety of street performers as you gaze down on the St. Lawrence River.

3. Notre-Dame-de-Québec Cathedral Basilica

Basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Québec, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – Viv Lynch

Opposite City Hall, in the historic district of Old Quebec, Notre-Dame-de-Quebec Cathedral Basilica is a must-see if you’re visiting Quebec City. The oldest elements of this edifice date back to 1647, and its incredible architecture has earned it the title of « National Historic Monument of Canada ». You’ll be overwhelmed by both the impressive exterior and the beauty of the interior. You can also see the crypt where the bishops of the diocese and the 4 governors of New France are laid to rest.

4. The Museum of Civilization

Wondering what to do in Quebec City? We have no hesitation in recommending the Musée de la civilisation. Here, you’ll discover the entire history of Quebec, through original and fascinating exhibits that are also interactive and fun, delighting young and old alike! Other museums to visit include the Musée national des Beaux-arts du Québec, the Morrin Centre, home of Quebec City’s first prison, the Musée des Ursulines and the Musée du Fort. The Musée de l’Amérique Francophone, meanwhile, traces the history of French-speaking culture in North America.

5. Château Fairmont Frontenac

Château Fairmont Frontenac, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – Tony Webster

It’s THE emblematic building of the city! If you’re visiting Quebec City, you won’t want to miss it! It’s actually a château hotel, inaugurated in 1893. With its 618 rooms and 18 floors, it was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981. It is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world…

If your budget allows, why not spend a night here? Or enjoy a delicious dinner in its gourmet restaurant. Or simply take in the impressive beauty of the building and the view of the St. Lawrence River.

6. Petit-Champlain district

Quartier Petit Champlain, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – Viv Lynch

From the Dufferin Terrace, take the funicular to the famous Petit-Champlain district. You’ll fall under the spell of its pedestrian lanes, typical houses, small craft stores and numerous bars and restaurants. Stroll past Place Royale and the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, or the Québécois fresco depicting the city’s history.

7. Capital observatory

Observatoire de la Capitale, Québec City

Photo credit: Flickr – Colin Knowles

For a breathtaking 360° view of Quebec City, head for the Observatoire de la capitale. It’s located on the top floor of the Marie-Guyart building on Parliament Hill. Climb the elevator to 221 meters above sea level, and enjoy the incredible view! You’ll catch a glimpse of the river, the citadel, the Plains of Abraham and Île d’Orléans… Get your cameras ready!

8. Montmorency Falls Park

Located less than 20 minutes’ drive from Quebec City, come and discover the impressive Montmorency Falls, 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls. There are several ways to admire it: by cable car, by the 480-step panoramic staircase or from the suspension bridge. For the more adventurous, 3 via ferrata courses and a 300-metre-long zip line promise an unforgettable experience!

How to get to Quebec City

Jean-Lesage International Airport is located 16 km from downtown. Direct flights to Quebec City are available from Paris (allow 7 hours 45 minutes). You can find a cheap flight on the website of our partner Ulysse.

Where to stay in Quebec City

If you choose to visit Quebec City, there are many neighborhoods to choose from! There’s a wide range of accommodation on offer, thanks in particular to homestays. Old Quebec is the city’s historic district, and therefore the most touristy area, ideal if you want a central location. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste district is an active, young neighborhood, where you’ll find more upscale hotels. You can find a cheap hotel in Quebec City by searching on this hotel comparator.

Walking around and discovering Quebec City is also having the joy of encountering an open-minded, straightforward population full of humor and warm hospitality! Still wondering what to do in Quebec City?

Map of hotels and accommodations – Quebec City,ca