20 Best things to do in Quebec City

Bradley Williams
Written By:
Bradley Williams
Last Updated:
August 1, 2022
Looking for inspiration on the best things to do in Quebec City? This charming French-inspired city is packed with wonderful sights to see. Let's find out.
things to do in quebec city

Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in Canada, and is well worth a visit! 

This scenic UNESCO World Heritage Site offers so much to travellers, with incredible architecture, an old-world charm, and of course, plenty of attractions. 

Not only that but Quebec City is surrounded by breathtaking scenery! 

If you’re planning to travel through Canada, then this awesome city has to be on your bucket list! 

Before I get into the best things to do in Quebec City, let’s dive into some of the things you should know about this awesome destination.

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How to get to Quebec City

There are several different ways you can get to Quebec City, and it all depends on where you’re travelling from.

So let’s break it down for you! 

Plane

The closest airport is Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport which is 10 miles from downtown Quebec. 

You’ll find direct flights to Quebec from many major cities in Canada and the United States. This includes the likes of Toronto, Vancouver, and New York. If you’re looking for great deals then check out Skyscanner

Train

You can travel from Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto by train using VIA Rail Canada. If you’re travelling from the United States you’ll use Amtrak services and changeover at Montreal.

Bus 

Greyhound offers tonnes of bus journeys from American cities to Montreal. You’ll then transfer over to the Orléans Express bus to reach Québec City.

Getting around Quebec City

getting around quebec city

In my opinion, the best way to get around Quebec City is simply to walk! 

Most of the major attractions are all situated within the Old Town, and you won’t have to walk far between them. 

You’ll get to wander through the city’s narrow alleyways, find hidden gems, and take your time.

This city has lots of incredible attractions, and delicacies to try - so isn’t a place you want to rush.

There are also plenty of cosy cafes located throughout Old Quebec City, so you’ll have plenty of resting points!

However, when visiting the sites just outside of the city, there are plenty of other ways to get around.

Other methods of getting around Quebec City

Here are some other methods of getting around the city:

Ascenseur du Faubourg - An elevator that connects the Saint-Roch and Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighbourhoods.

Bicycle -  There are plenty of bicycle and e-bike rentals in the city, making this a great way to get around! 

Bus - The local bus network RTC is an easy way to travel around Quebec City. Fares are cheap, and you won’t be waiting long as they run regularly. 

Car - Hiring a car isn’t the best way to explore the city as parking can be a nightmare! However, there are plenty of car rental firms in Quebec if you do want to do this. 

Ferry - The ferry linking Quebec City to Lévis runs every day of the year! 

Old Quebec Funicular - Links the Upper and Lower town, and is a great way to see the city. 

Taxi - There are a variety of different taxi companies within the city, but UBER is probably the most popular. 

Taxi boat - This is a great way to travel along the St. Lawrence River and get from A to B. However, reservations are needed. 

Tour - There are plenty of great tours available when it comes to exploring Quebec City. These include a city sightseeing cruise, a walking tour of old Quebec City, and an evening cruise - where you’ll get to see the city lit up. They’re perfect if you only have a short amount of time in Quebec. 

Where to stay in Quebec City

When it comes to staying in Quebec City, you’ll want to stay in the Old Town itself. 

This way you’ll be close to all the popular attractions, and will have a variety of awesome restaurants to choose from. 

Luxury: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

This heritage hotel has a variety of on-site dining options, a spa, an indoor pool, and a hot tub! 

It’s in the perfect location to explore the city as the Notre Dame Cathedral is just a 3-minute walk away, and the Citadel is just 500 yards from the hotel. Montmorency is also only a 2-minute drive away! 

Mid-range: Hotel Port-Royal 

Hotel Port-Royal is situated in a beautiful part of Old Quebec and is only one block from the St. Lawrence River. 

Each room comes with a private kitchenette which is perfect for travellers looking to save a bit of cash. There are also plenty of attractions situated nearby, and the hotel has on-site dining options.

Budget: Hôtel Sainte-Anne

Hôtel Sainte-Anne is situated inside the old fortified walls of Old Quebec. It’s within walking distance of several tourist attractions including the Parliament Building and the Morrin Center. 

With stylish rooms, modern amenities, and a great central location - this hotel is perfect for a budget stay. 

20 best things to do in Quebec City 

1. Explore the gorgeous Petit-Champlain

Simply walking the old town of Quebec city is a treat, and one of the nicest spots to discover is the beautiful Petit-Champlain.

It’s one of the most charming areas in Quebec city and is known for its art galleries, bistros, boutique stores, and even sweet shops.

The last one is a must, as you’ll be able to taste some of the city’s delicious handcrafted fudge.

If you’re a keen photographer you’ll also want to head to Rue du Cul de Sac, which is a colourful umbrella-covered lane.

As you wander through the narrow streets, you’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time - trust me!

If you want to see the best of old Quebec City, then this 2-hour walking tour will show you all the best attractions.

You’ll also have an expert guide who will leave you with a great understanding of the city’s history. 

2. Admire the City View From Château Frontenac

Château Frontenac has to be one of the most popular attractions in Quebec City and it’s easy to see why! 

Originally built as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels in the 1890s, it’s now one of the most prominent landmarks within the city. 

The hotel has also featured in several films, welcomed endless celebrities, and was the site of a crucial political decision - to invade occupied Europe in WWII. 

With its incredible architecture and looming towers, it’s no wonder that Château Frontenac is thought to be one of the most photographed hotels in the world. 

If you’re looking to learn more about the historical events and people that shaped this esteemed hotel, you can go on a guided tour of Château Frontenac.

However, it’s not just the interior and the architecture that will blow you away. From the hotel’s location on top of Cap Diamant (or Cape Diamond), you’ll get spectacular views of the Saint Lawrence River, Dufferin Terrace, and the city itself! 

3. Take a romantic stroll along the Dufferin Terrace

Dufferin Terrace

Taking a stroll along Dufferin Terrace is one of the best things to do in Quebec city for FREE! 

This long wooden sidewalk is situated next to Château Frontenac and offers spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River. 

As you wander along Dufferin Terrace you’ll be entertained by various street performers and musicians. It’s also the perfect spot to grab an ice cream or a hot chocolate - depending on what time of year you visit! 

A highlight of this area is the “Les Glissades de la Terrasse” which is a toboggan that you can ride at certain times of the year. 

Built in 1884, it’s one of the oldest attractions in Quebec City and will take you racing down the slope at an impressive speed of up to 70 km/ph (43.5 mph). 

You’ll also get to see the ruins of Forts-et-Château-Saint-Louis which are located under the terrace. 

4. Walk the walls of the Citadelle de Québec

Covered in snow on our visit!

Citadelle de Québec is situated on top of Cap Diamant and is a huge fortress that was built in the 1800s. It’s surrounded by ditches, thick walls, and ramparts so makes for a pretty impressive sight! 

Known as ‘the Gibraltar of the America’s’ due to its location, Citadelle de Québec is also shaped in a unique star shape. 

Today it’s an active military base and the summer residence of the Governor-General of Canada. 

However, you can still visit and the entrance fee gives you access to the museum exhibits located inside. 

Citadelle de Québec is also home to the famous 22nd Canadian Regiment which was formed at the beginning of WWI and has an impressive military record. 

If you visit Quebec City in the summer you’ll also get to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony every morning! 

This guided tour of Quebec City will teach you about its history. 

5. Try the local Onion Soup (a traditional delicacy of Quebec!)

Now this one is an absolute must, especially on a cold winter's day! 

Onion soup may not sound very appealing, but trust me it’s something you just need to try. 

The dish essentially consists of a savoury broth, onions, and croutons covered with a crispy layer of cheese. 

You’ll find that onion soup differs throughout the city, and is made with different ingredients. 

Some will make it with chicken broth, while others will use beef or veal stock. Often you’ll find that bread is used to replace the croutons, and red wine is added to it in some restaurants.

If you’re looking to taste this authentic dish, then you’ll want to head to some of the most popular spots in the city. These include Q-de-Sac Resto-Pub, Le Sam, and Le Continental. 

Tasting this delicious traditional delicacy is one of the top things to do in Quebec City, so don’t miss out! 

6. Better yet, eat at Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens

Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens

Aux Anciens Canadiens is the perfect place to grab dinner after a long day’s exploring.

Built between 1675 and 1676, it’s one of the oldest remaining buildings in Quebec City. 

The restaurant is full of character and charm and has a great value lunch/dinner menu. 

It’s also recognised internationally for the quality of its food, and of course, the warm welcome that you receive upon arrival! 

(we ate here so can offer additional pics/descriptions of what we ate)

This is another spot in Quebec City that does a tasty French onion soup.

7. See the Plains of Abraham

Plains of Abraham 

The Plains of Abraham has to be one of the most popular Quebec city attractions.

It’s a green expanse that’s situated outside of the city walls and is the perfect spot to relax and take a picnic.

However, it wasn’t always this way!

The Plains of Abraham is the site of ‘the Battle of Quebéc’ which took place in 1759. 

This battle determined the fate of ‘New France’ when the British troops defeated the French under the command of General Wolfe. 

If you want to learn more about the battle there are interactive exhibits located at the museum which are found on-site.

There is also a ‘family treasure hunt’ which is perfect for keeping the little ones entertained.

If you head to the Plains of Abraham during winter it will be covered in a glistening blanket of snow.

Not only is it beautiful at this time of year, but it’s also a favourite spot for skiing and tobogganing! 

8.  Take a trip out to Montmorency Falls

A visit to Quebec City isn’t complete without taking a trip out to Montmorency Falls. 

Montmorency Falls is an impressive 83m (272 feet) high and is situated only 15 minutes from Old Quebec. 

Now you have a couple of options when it comes to exploring these falls. 

You can either take the cable car to the top of the cliff, or you can cross the suspended bridge to get an awesome view of the falls. 

However, if you’re looking for the daredevil version I’ve got you covered! 

You can take a zipline right across Montmorency Falls, and get a truly unique view of the roaring waters. 

The zipline is 1,000 feet long, and you can even partner up with someone so you don’t have to experience it alone! 

Either way, you’ll get to see the rushing water crash over the cliff edge into the St. Lawrence River. Trust me, it’s quite a breathtaking sight! 

9. Visit the Royal Battery

The Royal Battery is a fortification that was constructed in 1691 as a defence against British attacks.

It was also used by the French troops during the ‘Battle of Quebéc’ in 1759 and was later restored in the 1970s.

The entrance to the Royal Battery is situated on rue Sous-le-Fort, within the charming Petit-Champlain district.

This site is an important part of Quebec City’s history, but that’s not all it offers. 

You’ll also get breathtaking views of Château Frontenac, the St. Lawrence River, and the city itself. 

During your time here, make sure you take a picture of yourself perched on the cannons - it’s almost like a right of passage!

The best way to learn more about the Royal Battery’s history is to go on a guided tour of Old Quebec City

Your knowledgeable guide will take you on a walking tour of the Royal Battery among plenty of other sights, and teach you about the history of each area.

10. Admire the architecture of Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré

If there’s one thing that Quebec city isn’t short of - it’s incredible architecture! 

However, two fabulous buildings steal the limelight.

These are the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec, and the Basilica of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré.

The Cathedrale Notre-Dame is situated in the heart of Old Quebec and has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO.

You can visit throughout the day, and you’ll be left breathless by the stunning interior, stained-glass windows, and the beautiful altar.

During your time in the city, you’ll also want to visit the Basilica of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré. 

Saint Anne is the patron saint of Quebec and is believed to have healed the sick, often making miracles happen.

The basilica is dedicated to her and attracts around half a million pilgrims every year.

With its beautiful paintings, mosaics, and sculptures - this spot is a must-visit. 

Visiting these two architectural masterpieces is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Quebec City. 

11. Visit the Chaudièr Falls Park

If you’re wondering what to do in Quebec City, then heading out to Chaudièr Falls Park is a must. 

This waterfront park is located just across the St. Lawrence River and is about a 20-minute drive from the city centre.

It’s a great place to have a wander and explore the hustle and bustle of the city. 

However, the highlight has to be the spectacular views of the Ottawa River and Chaudièr Falls. 

Chaudièr Falls (or Chutes de la Chaudièr as it's sometimes known) are a set of cascading waterfalls that fall side by side. They are around 60m wide and drop 15m, so as you can imagine they’re a pretty impressive sight. 

The park has plenty of viewing platforms and a suspension bridge that crosses the river giving you the best views possible.

If you want to get a closer look you can even head down to the riverbed, but be careful not to get too close to the river. The current is pretty fast! 

12. Visit the Parliament Building (Hotel du Parlement) & Parliament Hill

Parliament Building

Visiting the Parliament Building and Parliament Hill is one of the top things to do in Quebec City. 

Parliament Hill is situated in the upper town and is home to the incredible Parliament Building.

Its architecture is based on the Louvre Palace in Paris and is simply beautiful. Luckily you can get inside, and trust me - this isn’t an experience you want to miss. 

Both Salle du Conseil Législatif (the Legislative Council) and the Salle de l'Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly) are open to the public, and a must-visit when exploring the city. 

Free guided tours are available to take you around, but it’s important to book your tickets in advance as this spot gets pretty busy! 

The tours last about 60 minutes and will give you an in-depth look into the history of Quebec’s parliament, and the province in general. 

13. Wander through Place Royale

Palace Royale has to be one of the most popular attractions in Quebec City. 

It’s where the city was originally founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain - so it holds a special place in Quebec’s history. 

Palace Royale is not only beautiful, but it’s also home to the largest collection of 17th and 18th-century buildings in all of North America.

There are plenty of things to do in this area like visiting Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, and Musée de la Civilisation which is the city’s museum of civilisation. Don’t worry we’ll discuss this site in more detail later! 

You’ll also get to see the outline of Samuel de Champlain’s home - well one of them! 

This 2-hour guided tour of Quebec City will take you to Palace Royale, and plenty of other awesome sights.

Not only will you get to learn all about the history of each site, but your guide will also point out hidden gems, places to eat, and additional activities! 

14. Get lost and wonder the Old Town

old town quebec
There is LOTS to discover when wandering Quebec

Quebec city feels like the oldest place in Canada, so why not embrace that theme and take a trip to the historic Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps) located in the Old Town of Quebec City.

Or simply wander the cobblestone streets and discover cutely decorated store fronts, amazing architecture, and great artwork!

We loved simply walking around and came across lots of photogenic spots.

quebec store fronts

15. Take a day trip to Île d’Orléans

Île d’Orléans (otherwise known as the Island of Orleans) is a 15-minute drive from downtown Quebec City. 

Not only is the island incredibly charming, but there are plenty of things to do here. 

Some of the most popular activities include picking berries at a farm, visiting the Manoir Mauvide-Genest, and heading up the observation tower. 

Make sure you also pay a visit to La Seigneurie de l'Île d'Orléans and Saint-Jean-de-l'Île-d'Orléans - both are incredibly beautiful. 

If you’re a big foodie like us, then I’ve got the perfect tour for you!

The Island of Orléans Taste Trail will help you discover the flavours of the island by tasting local dishes and meeting the producers of the region. You’ll get to explore vineyards, taste nougat, and visit a local jam maker. 

However, the highlight has to be visiting the Chocolaterie Ste Petronille which produces chocolates, truffles, and ice cream soaked in chocolate! 

Taking a day trip out to Île d’Orléans is one of the best things to do in Quebec City.

16. Head to the Top of the Observatoire de la Capitale

If you’re looking to get the best view of the city, then you need to head to the top of the Observatoire de la Capitale

Situated on the 31st floor of the city’s highest skyscraper, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of Quebec City, the St. Lawrence River, and the Island of Orleans.

If it’s a clear day, you’ll be able to see right over to the Appalachian foothills, and the Laurentians Mountains - two of Canada’s awesome mountain ranges! 

Once you’ve admired the views, head over to ‘Horizon’ which is a special exhibit that teaches you all about Quebec City.

You’ll get to explore culture, history, and politics, whilst learning about the events that shaped the city and its residents.

This place is one of the most popular attractions in Quebec City and it’s not hard to see why! 

17. Visit Morrin Center

The Morrin Centre is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It’s truly a hidden gem and is a lot less crowded than other tourist attractions in Quebec City. 

The Center was built over 200 years ago, and was actually the city’s first prison! It was used to house public offenders up until it closed in 1868.

Today, it’s one of Quebec’s most charming libraries - however, you can still wander through old prison cells and learn about its history at the prison exhibition.

The Morrin centre is also the city’s only English-language library, and you’ll find some interesting reads that relate to Quebec's history.

The aim of the centre today is to educate people about the history and culture of English speakers in the city. 

This is one of the best spots to visit in Quebec City, as it’s a national historic site! 

18. Take the ferry to Lévis

ferry to Lévis

Taking the ferry over to Lévis is one of the top things to do in Quebec City. 

Lévis is another city that’s situated across the St. Lawrence River.

There are plenty of things to do here like crossing the Quebec Bridge, exploring the forts, and visiting Chantier maritime A.C. Davie which is a historic shipyard.

However, the most popular thing to do is simply marvel at the awesome views across the river of Quebec City.

I’d recommend hopping back aboard the ferry in the evening, so you can enjoy a beautiful sunset on your way back to Quebec. 

You’ll also get to see popular sights illuminated like the Château Frontenac.

To catch the ferry, you’ll need to head down to the waterfront station which is situated within the Lower Town. It’s only a short walk from other popular attractions in the area including Place Royale. 

19. Experience Christmas All Year Round

Christmas in quebec city

Quebec city is the sort of place that looks amazing at Christmas, and it will give you all the French Christmassy vibes your heart desires.

But what if you're not visiting in the Christmas season? Well, fear not! There is a year-round Christmas shop "La Boutique de Noël de Québec" giving you Christmas vibes all year through.

It also means you can pick up a Christmas bauble and save it for your Christmas tree back home.

20. Explore Under The Sea at the Aquarium du Quebec

Now, this is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Quebec City for families. 

Aquarium du Quebec is home to over 10,000 animals, and houses both an outdoor and indoor aquarium.

First of all, you can take a look at the outdoor park and get to see popular species including the polar bear, walruses, seals, and arctic foxes. 

You can view some of the species from both the land and underwater, through the glass viewing areas!

Then head on inside to the ‘Awesome Ocean’ exhibit where you can walk through an underwater tunnel. 

This is a pretty awesome experience as you’ll be walking underneath a 92,000-gallon saltwater tank, and will get to see a variety of different species.

Quebec Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is a must-visit.

You can get your tickets here, and they can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund. 

Quebec City travel tips & FAQ

When is a good time to visit Quebec City?

When is a good time to visit Quebec City

Generally, the best time to visit Quebec City is either the summer months of June-September or between December-February. 

If you’re looking for warm temperatures head there in the summer, but if you’re looking to ride the toboggan or visit the Ice hotel you’ll want to head to Quebec during winter. 

How long should you spend in Quebec City?

When is a good time to visit Quebec City

It’s possible to take a day trip to Quebec City from Montreal, but I wouldn’t recommend visiting this way. There is far too much to see and experience to simply spend a day here!

I’d recommend spending at least three days here so you can see the best sites, and not have to rush around. 

What is a good budget for Quebec City?

Although Quebec City is one of the most expensive cities in Canada, there are plenty of free attractions within the city, and public transport is pretty cheap too.

When it comes to budget, I’d recommend around CA$130 ($102) per day. This gives you enough for food, attractions, and accommodation.

Can you just book a tour for Quebec City?

It’s entirely possible to just book a tour of Quebec City!

Some of the best options include a walking tour of Old Quebec City, a city sightseeing cruise tour, and a guided city tour with transport.

There is also a Ghosts and Crimes tour of Quebec which is pretty interesting, and you can head out on a full-day whale-watching cruise

However, to see the best of the city you’ll also want to go on a self-guided tour of the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets. This way you can explore the hidden gems by yourself! 

Where to go after Quebec City

Quebec is the largest province in Canada and offers so many incredible places to see. 

After visiting Quebec City, make sure you save some time for exploring other parts of Quebec. 

This incredible city has so much to offer, but only just scratches the surface when it comes to this beautiful region. 

Here’s what else to get up to in Quebec: 

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