Things to Do in Quebec City: The 17 Best Places to Visit
You’re planning to visit Quebec City during your next trip and you’re looking for the best things to do?
You’re at the right place!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 17 best things to do in Quebec City, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to visit Château Frontenac, Quebec old town, the Montmorency waterfall… and a lot more!
In addition to my list of things to do and activities, I will also give you optimized itineraries to visit Quebec City in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Quebec City? Where to stay?
- Things to Do in Quebec City: The 17 Best Places to Visit
- Visit Quebec City: All must-see attractions
- 1. The Château Frontenac
- 2. The Dufferin Terrace promenade
- 3. The Petit-Champlain district
- 4. Cruising the Saint Lawrence River
- 5. Taking the Quebec City-Levis Ferry
- 6. Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec
- 7. Visiting Quebec City’s museums
- 8. The Citadel of Quebec
- 9. The Plains of Abraham
- 10. The Parliament Building
- 11. The Observatoire de la Capitale
- 12. The Aquarium of Quebec
- 13. Quebec Winter Carnival
- Best things to do around Quebec City
- How many days to visit Quebec City?
- One Day in Quebec City
- 2 Days in Quebec City
- 3 Days in Quebec City
- Where to sleep in Quebec City
- Where to eat in Quebec City
- How to Get to Quebec City
- My thoughts on Quebec City
- Tourist map of Quebec City
- You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
- Visit Quebec City: All must-see attractions
Visit Quebec City: All must-see attractions
1. The Château Frontenac
We kick off this roundup of things to do in Quebec City with the city’s iconic landmark: the famous Château Frontenac.
I’ll let you in on a secret right away: to truly be in the know, you’ll need to snap photos of it from every conceivable angle during your visit to Quebec City. After all, it’s said to be the most photographed hotel in the world.
Let’s be real, it is remarkably imposing and effortlessly charms with its authentic allure, inspired by French castles.
It’s also steeped in history, having hosted Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt for two conferences in 1943 and 1944. The site is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can explore the interior of the Château Frontenac during a one-hour guided tour, led by a vibrant character dressed in period costume. This will give you a chance to learn a heap of historical anecdotes about the place.
To book your guided tour of Château Frontenac, click on the green button below:
2. The Dufferin Terrace promenade
Right at the foot of Château Frontenac (so you can also take pictures from there) is the Dufferin Terrace promenade.
This long wooden pedestrian walkway is the best spot in Quebec City to contemplate the St. Lawrence River below. It also offers a stunning panorama of the Island of Orléans (Île d’Orléans in French) and Quebec City Lower Town.
It’s always popular and frequently hosts activities:
- Among the best things to do in Quebec City in winter: Enjoy the Terrasse Dufferin Slides by racing down a giant 250-meter toboggan run!
- If you’ve decided to visit Quebec City in summer, get ready for lively street artists and outdoor concerts.
3. The Petit-Champlain district
The Petit-Champlain district is a must-visit neighborhood in Quebec City. With its pedestrian-friendly streets and typical houses, it’s one of the main attractions to stroll around in Quebec City.
You’ll find plenty of nifty artisanal boutiques to do a bit of shopping during your trip to Quebec City, along with a wealth of bars and restaurants.
The area has a very warm vibe, particularly in winter when the streets are lit up by Christmas decorations. It’s the perfect neighborhood for a leisurely stroll
Also, you absolutely have to check out Place Royale in the district. It’s the oldest French site in North America and definitely worth a visit! The square hosts the oldest church in Canada, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.
Also, take a moment to stop in front of the fresco called “Fresque des Québécois“, portraying the city’s history through its notable figures.
4. Cruising the Saint Lawrence River
My tourist guide continues with a truly delightful must-do activity in Quebec City: a short cruise on the Saint Lawrence River.
You’ll have a range of cruises to choose from, some including breakfast or dinner, but most follow roughly the same route so you can feast your eyes on the stunning panorama of Château Frontenac, the city fortifications, and the waterfalls of the Island of Orleans.
All cruises depart from the Chouinard dock, located just below Old Quebec City.
To book your cruise in Quebec City (it’s essential to do this in advance), you simply need to click on one of the orange links below:
- A 1.5-hour guided cruise on the Saint Lawrence River – Departures late in the morning and early afternoon.
- An evening cruise with entertainment featuring a DJ to get the party started.
- A cruise with a brunch included
- A cruise with a five-course gourmet dinner for a romantic outing in Quebec City!
Just to be clear: these Quebec cruises do not operate in winter as the river freezes over and such boats cannot navigate.
5. Taking the Quebec City-Levis Ferry
Just a stone’s throw away from the Petit-Champlain district, you can hop on the ferry that connects Quebec City to the town of Levis. It’s a fantastic addition to your Quebec City tour, offering breathtaking views as you cross the river.
This isn’t a real cruise, but the journey allows you to take in Quebec City, Château Frontenac, and Cap Diamant in all their splendor. It offers one of the most beautiful views of the city.
In winter, it’s also the only way to enjoy the panorama since cruises don’t operate due to the ice covering the river.
Riding the ferry will give you a unique experience as the boat acts as an icebreaker to make its way. Quite a Canadian adventure!
You can make the round trip in one go within an hour for about $7 per person.
6. Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec
Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec (as the locals say) is located opposite the City Hall in the historic district of Old Quebec.
It’s considered the cradle of Catholic faith in North America. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s a must-see site on your Quebec itinerary.
Designated a “National Historic Site of Canada” for its remarkable architecture, the cathedral is worth a visit both inside and out.
The interior ornaments, along with the entirely gold-plated canopy and baldachin, are stunningly beautiful. You can also visit the crypt where the bishops of the diocese and the four governors of New France are buried.
7. Visiting Quebec City’s museums
Quebec City boasts a rich cultural scene thanks to its numerous museums.
Here’s my selection of museums to visit in Quebec City!
- The Museum of Civilization traces the history of Quebec and also presents temporary exhibitions. If you’re visiting Quebec City with your family, it’s very interactive and fun, and it will please both young and old alike.
- The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec showcases the works of Quebecois artists.
- The Morrin Centre is the site of Quebec City’s first prison. You can visit the old cells there. Today, it houses a magnificent library (Harry Potter-style), and the tour includes both the dungeons and the library.
- The Ursulines Museum presents the origins of the institution and the history of these nuns.
- The Fort Museum where you can enjoy a sound and light show retracing the city’s military history.
- The Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site gives you a chance to discover the ruins of the first castle built in Quebec City by Champlain. The guided tour lasts 1 hour and can be booked by clicking here!
8. The Citadel of Quebec
Another must-see in Quebec: the Citadel, an integral part of the city’s history.
Built between 1820 and 1850 to guard the city against Americans, it quickly became the largest British fort in North America.
Guided tours of the Citadel are available all year round.
You’ll learn more about the city’s military history and the capture of Quebec by English forces.
Just so you know, the Citadel is still an active military base, so you can’t go wandering around on your own. It’s home to the Royal 22nd Regiment, the only French-speaking infantry regiment in the Canadian army.
From the ramparts, you’ll also enjoy a stunning view of the Chateau Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River.
9. The Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham, also known as Battlefield Park, hold significant symbolic value for the city of Quebec.
They were the stage for the famous battle of 1759, where the British and French empires clashed.
The British troops, led by General Wolfe, defeated the French troops commanded by the Marquis de Montcalm, who had to surrender the city.
By the end of the war, France ceded several colonies to England, including Canada.
Today, the Plains of Abraham are a large park, the green lung of the city. It’s the perfect spot in Quebec for a leisurely stroll. The view of the St. Lawrence River is particularly beautiful.
In winter, there’s a skating rink available for free.
In summer, the Plains transform into a giant concert venue, hosting the biggest stars from around the world, like the Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Madonna, and Elton John.
10. The Parliament Building
If you’re wondering what to see in Quebec, I recommend visiting the Parliament Building, the seat of the National Assembly of Quebec.
Perched on a hill and surrounded by 23 statues of historical figures, with a grand fountain at its center, this French-style building is one of the must-see places in Quebec City.
You can enjoy free tours of the interior.
You’ll get to admire the National Assembly Hall, the President’s Gallery and the Legislative Council Chamber. It’s a chance to learn more about the organization and workings of the Canadian government.
11. The Observatoire de la Capitale
If you want to enjoy a 360° view during your weekend in Quebec City, the Capital Observatory is the place to be!
It’s located on the top floor of “Édifice Marie-Guyart”, an office skyscraper on Parliament Hill.
An elevator will take you up to 221 meters high for a breathtaking view of the river, the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, and the Island of Orleans.
In short, it offers a view of all the places mentioned in this list of things to do and see in Quebec City!
All the info on access and rates can be found on the official Observatory website.
12. The Aquarium of Quebec
If you’re looking for a fun activity with your kids during your stay in Quebec City, I recommend visiting the Aquarium of Quebec.
Spread across 16 hectares, the vast site houses nearly 10,000 marine animals, including seals and polar bears. There’s also a touch tank with rays and a deep-sea tank with jellyfish and seahorses.
This unique site in Quebec is open year-round.
It offers different activities depending on the season. For example, in winter there’s an outdoor light trail, while in summer your kids can enjoy water games and treetop courses.
Plan your visit to the Aquarium by checking out the official website.
13. Quebec Winter Carnival
It’s the most anticipated event of the year: the Quebec Winter Carnival.
If you’re in Quebec City between late January and mid-February, you can’t miss this staple of Quebec life.
Thousands of visitors flock each year to the world’s largest winter carnival. The atmosphere is festive, warm, and very family-friendly.
A multitude of activities are lined up to entertain you:
- A nighttime parade with a float procession
- An ice canoe race with participants from around the world
- An international ice sculpture competition
- A massive snow bath
- Ice skating and sledding
- Giant bowling or kegling games
- A sugar shack
- Tomahawk throwing (yes, we’re in lumberjack country!)
Finally, you’ll meet the carnival mascot, Mr. Bonhomme Carnival, a huge snowman wearing a red toque. I should note that a picture with him is a must for your souvenir collection! Feel free to share it with us in the comments! 🙂
Best things to do around Quebec City
So, you’ve finished exploring the city, now what? I’d say it’s time to venture beyond Quebec City and discover it’s surroundings. There are a bunch of nearby attractions perfect for a day’s outing.
14. Montmorency Falls
Just a quick 40-minute drive from Quebec City, you’ll discover one of the most awe-inspiring natural sites around the Montmorency Falls.
Taller than Niagara Falls by 30 meters, you really should check them out while you’re in town. They’re a year-round spectacle, equally impressive in the winter when parts often freeze over.
You’ll be able to admire the fall’s mighty rush of water from a bunch of different viewpoints.
And for a real treat, why not take a cable car ride to the top, then cross the suspension bridge that spans the falls? You can now even book your cable car ticket in advance to avoid queueing:
Also, there’s a staircase with 480 steps starting at the foot of the falls that lets you ascend to the top or descend after crossing the bridge.
And for the brave or the fit, there’s also a 300-meter-long zip line and a via ferrata course.
To grab a bite, you’ll find a restaurant at the top of the falls. Or you can bring your own picnic and enjoy the tables provided for visitors.
15. Ile d’Orléans – The Island of Orleans
I’ve mentioned it a few times in this post, Quebec City boasts gorgeous views of the Island of Orleans (or Ile d’Orléans as the locals call it). So, why not go explore it after you’ve toured Quebec City?
Stepping foot on the Island of Orleans, you might feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Here, you’ll discover quaint rural villages with centuries-old homes that have preserved Quebec traditions. The villages of Saint-Laurent, Saint-Jean, Saint-Pierre, and Saint-François are all well worth a visit.
In Sainte-Pétronille, you’ll find one of the most stunning views of Cap Diamant and Montmorency Falls.
The surrounding countryside is also a sight to behold, known for its strawberry and raspberry fields, as well as its pear and apple orchards. When the season is right, you’ll find plenty of roadside stalls selling local produce.
For me, it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit around Quebec City!
16. Village Vacances Valcartier
Just 30 minutes north of the city, you’ll find the perfect place for a family day near Quebec City: Village Vacances Valcartier.
In winter, Village Vacances Valcartier is the largest winter playground in North America. It features:
- Over 35 snow slides
- Ice skating trails
- Snow rafting
- High-speed sledding areas
- An ice hotel. Tickets for the visit are available here!
To book your day at Valcartier, just click on the green button below:
You can also go for a massive indoor Polynesian-themed waterpark. Get ready for wave pools, water slides, a surf wave, and an adventure river.
In summer, the park also has an outdoor water area with a pool, slides, toboggans, and volleyball courts. You can even camp there if you wish.
On-site, you’ll also find a 4-star hotel right next to all the activities. It’s perfect for some rest before or after a full day of sliding. You can book your night at Valcartier Hotel here.
17. Other activities to do around Quebec City
Around Quebec City, you’ll be able to take part in a bunch of fantastic activities, some of which are truly iconic for a trip to Canada:
- Snowmobile trekking! It’s Voyage Tips’ top pick for a winter outing!
- A dogsledding excursion to Lac Saint-Joseph, 50 km from Quebec City
- Black bear watching
- Quad biking in the heart of nature
- Snowshoeing in Jacques-Cartier National Park, with round-trip transportation from Quebec City
- A hike with a guide, also in Jacques-Cartier National Park. Transportation included
- A descent down the Saint Lawrence River in an ice canoe
- A sea kayaking excursion to Island of Orléans
- A fat bike ride (a bike specially equipped with big snow tires)
- Via ferrata in the Vallée Bras-du-Nord, 1 hour from Quebec City.
How many days to visit Quebec City?
You can easily explore Quebec City on foot in just 2 days. You’ll have plenty of time to see the majority of our top 15 picks.
However, if you’d like to tour all the museums or take the opportunity to explore the surroundings like Ile d’Orléans for instance, I’d suggest allocating 3 days to Quebec City.
One Day in Quebec City
For a day in Quebec City, I’d suggest the following itinerary:
- Start by admiring the Château Frontenac
- Take a stroll along the Dufferin Terrace
- Drop by the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec
- Take the funicular or brave the thrilling breakneck steps down to the Petit-Champlain district
- Lunch break in the district where you’ll find a multitude of restaurant choices
- Wander through the cobbled lanes and do a bit of shopping
- Take a cruise or catch the Quebec City-Lévis ferry at the end of the day
2 Days in Quebec City
To visit Quebec City in 2 days, follow the itinerary from the first day and add:
- Visit of the Citadel of Quebec
- A walk in the Plains of Abraham
- Discovery of the Parliament building
- Head up to the Observatoire de la Capitale
- Lunch break
- An afternoon at Montmorency Falls Park
For getting around Quebec City during this day, you can also take the hop-on hop-off bus that stops at all the main tourist sites that I recommend.
It has 14 stops in total, including Place Royale, the Citadel, the Plains of Abraham, and the observatory.
3 Days in Quebec City
Spending 3 days exploring Quebec City? Follow my two-day guide, then add:
- A morning visiting the city’s museums. If you’re only going to check out one, I highly recommend the Museum of Civilizations to dive into the city’s history.
- Lunch break
- An afternoon on the Island of Orleans.
Where to sleep in Quebec City
- Quebec City International Hostel: This hostel is located in Old Quebec. Dormitory beds from €27. Strong points: the location, the cleanliness. The best choice for budget accommodation in Quebec City!
- Hotel Manoir Vieux-Quebec: Situated right next to the Château Frontenac. Modern and comfortable double room starting at 130€ per night. Strong points: the location, the view from the terrace, the comfy beds.
- Hotel Port-Royal: Located in Old Quebec. Double room equipped with a kitchenette starting from 170€. Strong points: the location for exploring Quebec City on foot, the friendly staff.
- Hotel Clarendon: Also located in Old Quebec, you’ll stay in a 19th-century building. Cosy double room from €170, breakfast for €22. Strong points: the very comfortable beds, the central location, the views from certain rooms.
- Le Capitole Hotel: Located in Old Quebec. Superb tastefully decorated room starting from €290 per night. Strong points: the warm staff, the great location, the quality of service, the rooftop pool, the excellent breakfast. Our recommendation for a high-end stay in Quebec City!
- Château Frontenac: Why not spend a night in the world’s most photographed hotel? A unique experience and the chance to enjoy all the services and comforts of a luxury hotel: spa, pool, gourmet restaurants. A great way to treat yourself in Quebec, after all, it’s not every day you get to sleep at Château Frontenac!
Where to eat in Quebec City
- Le Chic Shak: Located at Place d’Armes, in Old Quebec. The restaurant offers dishes made from fresh, local products. You can choose between Canadian beef burgers, poutines, and even homemade sodas. Rediscover the real “good” fast food. I should also mention that the prices are very affordable. It’s our favorite spot for quality/price.
- Chez Rioux and Pettigrew: Located on St. Paul street, 200 meters from the Museum of Civilizations. The restaurant welcomes you in a super warm setting. The dishes are plentiful, tasty and affordable. You can choose the blind tasting menu. Be sure to book and secure your seats in advance to ensure availability.
- L’affaire Est Ketchup: Located on St. Joseph East street. The atmosphere is friendly, the welcome is warm, the service is impeccable, and the dishes are good and plentiful. Very good wine list as well. Small restaurant with about twenty seats, remember to book.
How to Get to Quebec City
If you plan on visiting Quebec City during your tour of Canada, the best way is to fly into Montreal.
Then, you have several options to reach Quebec City:
- By car, which is the quickest way. Expect about a 3-hour drive. You should know that car rental is quite affordable in Canada.
- By bus, it’s about 3h15 ride for around $25. Departures are from the Montreal bus station. Orléans Express line offers 17 daily trips between the two cities, so you’ll have a choice of times.
- By train, it’s a 3h30 trip for around $35. Departure is from the Montreal railway station. About ten trips per day.
My thoughts on Quebec City
Quebec City is a city that begs to be explored on foot. As a European visitor, you’ll likely find a comforting sense of familiarity, making you feel right at home amidst the enchanting charm of this place.
I especially enjoyed the Petit-Champlain district with its pedestrian streets and its neat little shops. The neighborhood is very warm and really exudes a good vibe.
I found the Château Frontenac particularly impressive and of course, I helped it maintain its ranking as the world’s most photographed hotel! 🙂
Tourist map of Quebec City
To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created a tourist map of Quebec City, with all the best things to do and must-see attractions.
You can display the map’s legend by clicking the button with a small arrow located in the top left corner.
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Canada? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Canada: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Canada are listed there.
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- Itinerary: 10 days in Quebec: An amazing 10-day itinerary in Quebec
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Quebec: All my best tips to visit Quebec in 14, 15 or 16 days
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Quebec: the perfect 3-week road trip in Quebec!
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