Located along the Saint-Lawrence River, Quebec City is the second oldest city in Canada and the only fortified city north of Mexico. With its beautiful and European-like architecture, preserved fortifications, colourful neighbourhoods and thriving food scene, there are tons of things to do in Quebec City. Welcoming and safe, with many places of interest in one place, small and cozy, Quebec City is never dull.
Quebec City has 6 major neighbourhoods, however, many of the must-visit places can be found in Old Quebec.
Things to Do in Quebec City
Things to Do Around Quebec City
Is Quebec City Different from Montreal?
Do I need a Car in Quebec City?
What is the Best Time to Visit Quebec City?
What Can You Do in Quebec City in 1 Day?
Things to Do in Quebec City
This famous building is probably the label of Quebec City. Located near Terrace Dufferin, it enchants with its majesty and reminds you of Great Gatsby era. Despite its name, Château Frontenac is a hotel, not a castle. However, with its majestic style, it’s well worth going inside to explore the public spaces with a guide.
Terrace Dufferin attracts locals and tourists both in winter and summer. In winter it is a great place to go tobogganing while in summer you can enjoy the performances of the local musicians and other enеertainers. Extending along the St. Lawrence River, the promenade offers stunning views of Quebec City old town and the blue waters. Take a stroll along the river or enjoy the views while sipping your coffee. To go back in time, visit the crypt below the Dufferin Terrace which will take you to the remains of the Château Saint-Louis.
Come any season, Teracce Dufferin is such an atmospheric place that cannot be missed.
Saunter through Quartier Petit Champlain
You come to Quartier Petit Champlain for shopping, history, views and French vibes. With amazing historic architecture that dates back to times when Quebec was founded, it’s easy to forget that you’re in Canada. Breakneck steps, Place Royale, marvellous murals and charming artisan boutiques await you in here. You’ll also find the main street of Quebec City, a charming Rue de Petit du Champlain which turns into a real winter wonderland with a Christmas village.
Take in the Famous Frescos: La Fresque des Quebecois and La Fresque du Petit Champlain
On your way to Place Royale, stop by the mural on Rue Notre Dame and explore this huge wall art. The mural tells you about the history and shows important people. If you notice, it depicts different seasons. You’ll be stunned by how real it looks.
One more amazing fresco can be found at the southern end of Rue du Petit Champlain.
The lively public square in Old Quebec is, in fact, the cradle of French America. This is where Samuel de Champlain put up the first permanent French settlement in North America. Take pictures of beautiful old buildings and have a cup of coffee on one of the patios. This square is a must-see in Old Quebec.
Take the Funicular in Quebec City
Hop on the 140-year-old piece of history to quickly reach the upper Quebec City from the lower town. The ride will save your legs for exciting activities that the city is packed with and give access to great views.
Notre-Dame de Quebec
Built in the 17th century, Notre-Dame de Quebec is the oldest church in Canada and also the first church made of stone in the city. Although it might not stand out from the exterior, its baroque interior is of stunning beauty. Covered in gold and featuring historical paintings that date back to the French-colonial period, the basilica welcomes visitors every day throughout the year.
Quebec City is a Fortified City
Did you know that Quebec City is the only walled city of Canada? Once a powerful part of the fortification system, the walls now take us back to the the17th century. Head to the Saint-Jean gate, Porte Kent and Porte Saint-Louis to take in the views of the city. You can also walk on the ramparts between Saint Louis and Saint Jean Gates if youtube up the stairs in the Artillery park and reach the Place D’Youville.
Morrin Centre is a hidden gem that lets you explore one more part of Quebec's history. A jail in the past and a great English language cultural centre today, Morrin Centre is one of few places that give access to English literary heritage in the francophone province.
Observatoire de la Capitale
To experience the beauty of 400-year-old Quebec City from the top, go up to the highest point of the city, Observatories de la Capital. Located on the top (31st) floor, the Observatoire offers bird-like 360-degree views of the city.
Plains of Abraham
Named after its owner from the 17th century, Plains of Abraham are a part of Battlefields Park. It is an ideal place to learn some history through the interactive exhibition and enjoy a walk on a nice sunny day. Winter and fall are not short of activities either. Come here and enjoy cross-country skiing, ice-skating or snowshoeing. Around Halloween time, the place becomes home of spooky activities and themed scavenger hunts.
Visit Quebec Winter Carnival
Carnaval in Quebec City is the biggest winter carnival in the world. For 17 days joy and fun fully pervade the city. Packed with lots of activities and events, the carnival will become a great pastime for everyone. Take part in parades and enjoy the outdoor concerts, ride a horse-drawn carriage through the snow, tour the ice palace and admire the snow and ice sculptures, take part in the night parade and enjoy ice-skating at Place D’Youville. The event is full of fun.
Take a short walk from the old Quebec City Old town and go direction of Old Port. This historic place is ideal to while away by the water, have a special dinner in one of the charming cafes and shop in an antique boutique. Peppered with historic sites, galleries, cafes and stores, it offers breathtaking views, water excursions and cutting-edge installations.
Tour the Museums
With a history of more than 400 years, there’s a lot to see and learn in museums and art galleries. Understand a connection between the past and the present in the Museum of Civilization, explore the artifacts in the Musée de l’Amerique francophone and learn about the oldest teaching order in the province in Pôle Culturel du Monastère des Ursulines.
Take a Ferry from Quebec City to Lévis
For many locals using the ferry from Quebec City to Levis is a means of transportation. I guess, they charge with energy during their short ride. For tourists, it’s a chance to view the city from a new vantage point. Add this activity to your Quebec bucket list and you’ll not only enjoy the fresh ocean air but also take in the spectacular views of the old Quebec and the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. You can either explore Lévis or wait 15 minutes and walk back on the ferry. While in Lévis, you could enjoy the splashes of Chutes de la Chaudière and saunter at the Parc de la Marina-de-la-Chaudière. Kids will love playing at Quai Packet.
Foodie Paradise in Quebec City
Every trip involves meals anyway. However, the Quebec City itinerary would be incomplete if we haven’t highlighted the city’s food scene. Quebec City ranks high in Canada’s top food destinations. It was even once entitled as one of the world’s top 20 food cities by Conde Naste Traveler.
From cliched goodies to exquisite specialties, you’ll be lost in finding the best place to eat. There are just too many grand chefs in the city. Poutine, the meat pie tourtière and pouding chômeur are those typical Quebecois dishes that you cannot miss. You’ll find these dishes in practically any eatery.
The most popular spot for poutine is fast-food restaurant Chez-Aston, according to locals. Le Chick Shack and Poutineville are those beloved by TripAdvisor travellers. Visit Le Saint-Amour for fine dining and Orygine for a big number of vegan and vegetarian options. Some award-winning eating houses and big names include Aux Ancient Canadiens and Laurie Raphael.
Just 20 minutes from the city centre will take you to Grand Alée, a popular district with a vibrant nightlife. It doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing to do here by day. Explore old Victorian-era buildings and admire the works of local artists at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec. Come here in the evening and relax in one of the restaurants with patios, bars and clubs which along with the revellers make it a very atmospheric place, popular with locals.
Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier
A tranquil place to reconnect with nature where you’ll find sun, peaceful trails and a great waterfront area. Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier is a free outdoor space, situated just 20 minutes from Quebec City. Ideal for quiet walks in summer and for snowshoeing in winter, the park welcomes its visitors any time of the year.
Things to do Around Quebec City
First Nations Experience in Wendake
If you’re interested in First Nations history, head to Wendake, the home village of the Wendat people, also known as Huron. The village is just 15 minutes away from the heart of Quebec City and you can even take a cycling tour from Downtown Quebec. While in Wendake, have a look at the Huron-Wendat village which recreates the traditional village of Wendat people. Attend the largest pow wow in Eastern Canada, if you happen to be here in June. Take a tour of Wendake Hôtel Musée Premières Nations where the furniture has notes of Wendake art and culture and take part in some traditional experiences. Nature, history and culture are the three things you’ll easily experience in Wendake.
If you’re a foodie or just happen to be hungry, you cannot skip La Traite which serves First Nations cuisine in a place with native American motives and a terrace overlooking the Akiawenrakh’ River.
The province of Quebec is the world’s biggest producer of a natural sweetener, maple syrup. Many of the sugar shacks are situated near Quebec City. Visit a maple farm in spring when maple syrup is collected, although there are many which are open year round. You’ll find out a lot about the production of this nutritious sweetener as well as savour some of the most delicious maple derivatives like maple taffy.
Some of the most popular maple farms are Érablière du Cap, Érablière du Lac-Beauport and Chez-Dany.
Built in the Romanesque Revival Style, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre is one of the most important holy shrines in Quebec. The place became famous thanks to the miracles reported by people who visited it. Religious or not, everyone will enjoy its architecture, beautiful paintings and mosaics.
Admire Montmorency Falls
Situated 15 minutes from Quebec City centre, Montmorency Falls make for the second most popular tourist destination after Old Quebec. Being 83-metres-high, Montmorency Falls are 30 metres higher than world-famous Niagara Falls. You can enjoy the Falls in different ways, including the panoramic staircase, from the cable car or on the via ferrata.
While Away at Village Valcances Valcartier
Village Valcartier is a vacation village that is brimming with lots of activities for the whole family year round. With both outdoor and indoor water park, you’ll be able to enjoy the water rides any time of the year. A great thing is that it won’t take you much time to reach the village from Quebec City, it’s only a 20-minute drive.
Also, you’ll find one of the most unique hotels in Canada at Village Valcanes Valcartier. I am talking about Hotel de Glâce (Ice Hotel), where everything from walls to beds is made of ice and the temperature always remains 23F (-5 C). You won’t believe it, but you can sleep over there and even find some places to warm up.
FAQs about Things to Do in Quebec City
Is Quebec City different from Montreal?
Montreal and Quebec City are in the same province and they both are great representatives of French America in North America. However, Montreal is a huge metropolis with urban vibes, vibrant nightlife and bilingual people while Quebec City is a charming old town with lots of narrow streets. If you’re short of time, choose one city to avoid cramming it all at once. Also, consider the events that take place in the cities when you’re there.
Do they speak English in Quebec City?
While French is the main spoken language in Quebec City, English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
Do I need a car in Quebec City?
The main attractions in Quebec City are roughly located in one place which makes the city perfectly walkable. You can also explore many areas by bike. If you want to take a day trip, car rentals are available.
What is the best time to visit Quebec City?
Summertime is a busy season in small Quebec City with many tourists flocking to explore the historic place on sunny days. Apart from the weather, these are festivals and events that attract people to come to Quebec City. Some of the most popular include the summer music festival Festival D’ETE, the firework show Grands Feux Loto-Quebec, The Magic Festival, Free Outdoor Circus Show and others. Mind that you need to book hotels ca. 3 weeks in advance in summer.
Wintertime is another popular season for those ready to weather the weather. First, you’ll enjoy magic flavour on the streets of Old Quebec. Second, winter is a festive season thanks to Quebec Winter Carnival. Third, the snowfalls make the city look even more beautiful.
What Can You do in Quebec City in 1 Day?
Have a look at the checklist and don't miss these places.