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Fun Things to do in Quebec City

Quebec

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city guide

Quebec, French Qu̩bec, city, port, and capital of Quebec province, Canada. One of the oldest cities in Canadahaving celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008Quebec city has a distinct old-world character and charm. It is the only remaining walled city in North America north of Mexico and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Among its other distinguishing characteristics are its narrow cobblestone streets, stone buildings, fortifications, and rich French Canadian culture grounded in the French language. The citys splendid views of the surrounding landscape and unique character were noted as early as 1842 during a visit by Charles Dickens, who called Quebec the Gibraltar of North Amerca. In addition to being a major tourist destination, Quebec is an administrative centre and a port city for transatlantic trade. Its location at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saint-Charles rivers, about 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Montreal, provided a number of strategic military advantages: because of the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River, Quebec was the farthest upstream oceangoing vessels could navigate, and the citys fortifications on a high ridge had a commanding view of the river. Area 175 square miles (454 square km); metro. area, 1,293 square miles (3,349 square km). Pop. (2011) 516,576; metro. area, 767,310; (2021) 549,459; metro. area, 800,296.

About

Best time to go

Spring, summer, fall, winter: each brings its vibe, its own activities. If you want to avoid the tourist season, come in April, May, or June, rather than July, August, or September. Winter is also the best time to visit Old Qu̩bec, which is at its most magical under a blanket of snow.

Weather

Fun city facts and activities

    1. STROLL THROUGH OLD QUEBEC
    Old Qu̩bec is what you picture when you think about Qu̩bec City. Walking through the streets make you feel like youre wandering Europe. Its a UNESCO world heritage site that gives you a glimpse into the past of the European settlement in North America.

    2. WALK ALONG THE FORTIFICATIONS OF QUBEC
    The fortifications of Qu̩bec City run for almost 4.6 km / 1.8 mi. Its the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico and you can walk along the walls.
    From mid-April to May, its open upon reservation, and from May to October, its open everyday.

    3. ZIPLINE AT PARC DE LA CHUTE-MONTMORENCY
    We headed out to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency to see the beautiful Montmorency Falls. Did you know that these falls are 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls? You can take a cable car up to the top, then descend the 487 stairs to get a closer look at the falls.
    If youre looking for more adventurous things to do in Quebec City, try the zipline or via ferrata to get your adrenaline fix. This is only available in summer.
    This was our third time ziplining, and it was so much fun zipping by the waterfall. You even get a little bit of the mist.
    Pro Tip: A lot of tours include a stop here. If you would rather be active, you can bike out here too!

    4. EXPLORE PARC NATIONAL DE LA JACQUES-CARTIER
    Outdoor lovers can head out to Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier to hike, fish, camp, canoe, and kayak. This huge mountainous plateau has deep gorges, over 100 km (62 mi) of hiking trails, and spectacular landscapes.

    5. GO ON A BIKE TOUR
    Cyclist love the city because there are over 200 km of bike trails. When we decided on the bike tour, we were a tad concerned since were not the best cyclists. The trails, however, were mostly flat and easy enough for beginners. We even took our bikes all the way to Montmorency Falls. If youre looking for a bike tour company, we went with Cyclo Services, who provides you with a lot of insight into the city along the ride.

    6. FESTIVAL D'T DE QUBEC
    FEQ was the main reason we visited Quebec City. This festival happens every year over 11 days and brings some of the biggest names in music. We ended each night listening to great music, but the highlight was the Foo Fighters on the last night! Since a lightning storm cut their last performance short, they ended up playing an extra hour. How does Dave Grohl scream for that long?
    The crazy thing is you get access to all 11 days for $100 CAD and the passes are transferrable. If you love visiting music festivals, this is a ridiculous bargain even after adding most flights from the US.

    7. SEE ART AT MNBAQ
    The Mus̩e National des Beaux-arts du Qu̩bec is covers Qu̩bec art from the 17th century to present day. There are 4 pavilions to explore and its set amidst the beautiful Plains of Abraham.

    8. AFTERNOON TEA AT THE FAIRMONT LE CHTEAU FRONTENAC
    The Fairmont Le Ch̢teau Frontenac claims the title of the most photographed hotel in the world, and we can see why. If the city is the setting of a fairytale, then this is the main castle. Anyone can walk into this historic building and see some of the main public areas, but one way to really enjoy it is to either stay at the hotel. Our room had an incredible view of the city, and we felt like we were staying in a castle. They also have have afternoon tea at the Champlain Restaurant, which we always enjoy when traveling.

    9. WALK ALONG DUFFERIN TERRACE & LOOK BELOW
    You can walk along the beautiful terrace where Fort SaintLouis used to stand in the 1600s. You get stunning views of the river and surrounding area. Beneath the Terrace, you can see the Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site, an archaeological crypt.
    Also, dont miss the Russian cannons captured by the British army during the Crimean War.

    10. GET A BIRD'S EYE VIEW AT OBSERVATOIRE DE LA CAPITALE
    See the city from the top from of the Marie-Guyart Building to get a 360 view. Since the city has limitations on the heights of the buildings built, you can see a lot of it from this observation deck.
    Local Tip: Another great view of the city is from the south shore of the St. Lawrence river. You can buy a round-trip ferry ticket to the city of L̩vis to enjoy sunset.

    11. EXPLORE _LE DORLANS
    Get a glimpse of what 18th century rural Qu̩bec was like at _le dOrl̩ans. We only had time to grab lunch on the island but got a taste of the delicious black currant in different foods and other local products. Visit artisan outlets, farm stands, and get away from the crowds of the city. If you prefer, book a food tour here.
    Pro Tip: Try the black currant mustard at Cassis Monna & Filles. If only their bottles were 3 oz, I would have brought some back i my carry on.

    12. SEE THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT CITADELLE DE QUEBEC
    This is the largest active fortress in Canada. Take a guided tour, check out the museum exhibits, and catch the daily Changing of the Guard at 10 AM from late June to early September. This is one we missed and will have to come back for.

    13. SHOP AT THE PETIT-CHAMPLAIN DISTRICT
    Petit-Champlain was named the most charming street in Canada. This area has been around since Qu̩becs foundation in 1608. It started as a small portside village with elegant homes, and is now filled with bistros, art galleries, and boutiques. The narrow streets, historical buildings, and cobblestone streets make it one of the most popular areas of the city.

    14. SEE THE HOLY DOOR AT NOTRE-DAME DE QUEBEC BASILICA-CATHEDRAL
    This is one of eight Holy Doors, and one of two outside of Europe. It is only opened when the Pope deems appropriate, and when it does, thousands of people come to walk through it. You can still stop by to see the door.
    Local Tip: The last time it was opened was in 2016, and the next planned Jubilee when it will be opened is in 2025.

    15. GO 400 YEARS BACK IN TIME AT PLACE ROYALE
    The small square is where Qu̩becCity was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. The streets are lined with New France architecture and you can visit the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, the oldest stone church in North America. The church was really crowded, so we mainly walked the areas around the church.

City facts

Neighborhoods to explore

    Old Quebec
    Limoilou
    Petit-Champlain and Place-Royale
    Saint-Roch
    Saint-Jean-Baptiste
    Sillery - Avenue Maguire
    Montcalm
    Parliament Hill
Neighborhoods

Restaurants
Food Specialties

    Foods to Try in Quebec City:
    1. Poutine
    2. Crepes
    3. Steak
    4. The Hot Chocolate at Artefact
    5. Maple Syrup
    6. Maple Taffy
    7. French Onion Soup
    8. Tim Hortons
    9. Pea Soup
    10. Meat Pies (Tourti̬re)
    11. Rabbit
Restaurants
Events

Quebec City Offbeat activities

Free or cheap things to do

1. Visit the Mus̩e de la Civilisation: This museum offers interactive activities and exhibits to explore the history and culture of Quebec City.

2. Take a Food Tour: Explore the city's culinary scene with a variety of food tours, from cheese tastings to walking tours of the city's best restaurants.

3. Go on a Ghost Tour: Learn about the city's haunted past with a guided tour of some of its most haunted sites.

4. Explore the Petit Champlain District: This historic area is lined with cobblestone streets and is home to some of Quebec City's best shops, restaurants, and galleries.

5. Take a Segway Tour: Discover the city's attractions with a guided Segway tour.

6. Visit the Montmorency Falls: Take in the stunning views of the falls, or take a cable car ride to the top.

7. Take a Brew Tour: Sample some of the

Offbeat activites
Kid friendly

Fun things to do in with kids

Free or cheap things to do

1. Mus̩e de la civilisation
This museums interactive exhibits focus on both science and cultural history. The Discovery Zone offers activities for children, including an elaborate dress-up experience and a maker's lab. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours here.

2. Place des Canotiers
This riverfront square has a splash pad, art installation, and views of any cruise ships in port for a fun spot to take a break from walking.

3. Quebec City-L̩vis Ferry
Another way to take in great views while cooling off is to ride the ferry across the St. Lawrence River. The ride is 12 minutes each way and only costs a few dollars. Kids under 5 are free.

4. Quartier Petit Champlain
This cobblestoned pedestrian zone is as cute as can be, and, with no cars, its easy to wrangle kids while you window shop or stop for a bite. Find the giant snow globe and the photo-ready cutouts in some of the picture-perfect squares.

5. Old Quebec Funicular
If climbing the Breakneck Steps isnt on your agenda, take the funicular from Petit Champlain (lower town) to Ch̢teau Frontenac (upper town) and enjoy the view as you ascend.

6. Dufferin Terrace
A boardwalk straight out of a Victorian seaside town, but perched high above the St Lawrence River gives this promenade a festive feel. Add in street performers, views, cannons to climb on and the fireworks displays through the summer and you may find yourself coming back to this spot again and again.

7. St-Louis Forts and Chateaux
Hidden beneath the Dufferin Terrace are the archeological remains of the citys original fort and Governors residence. You can peer down the glass domes on the terrace to see them or explore them in person. Kids can even dig for archaeological relics in a designated sandpit.

8. City Hall Splash Pad
Grab a coffee from La Maison Smith Rue des Jardins and sit while the kids enjoy the splash pad in front of City Hall.

9. DIY Food Tour Along the Rue Saint-Jean
How convenient is it that you can host your own food tour right along one street. Taste local specialties like maple crepes at Au Petit Coin Breton, poutine at Snack Bar Saint-Jean, hand-dipped ice cream from Chocolats Favoris, and the irresistible kettle corn from Marys Popcorn.

10. Ramparts of Quebec City
Youre visiting a walled city! How cool is it to stroll along the top of the citys ramparts. A popular spot is to visit the St-Jean Gate and the Artillery Park.

11. LA Citadelle de Quebec
Cant get to Buckingham Palace? At this active military base, the changing of the guard ceremony has all the pomp, plus a special guest star, Batisse the goat. You can also take a tour to learn about the history of the 300-year-old fort.

12. National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBAQ)
Spanning three buildings, including the old prison to a brand-new glass pavilion, the buildings are as interesting as the 25,000 works of art. Dont miss the family gallery at this Quebec City museum.

13. Plains of Abraham, National Battlefields Park
This 267-acre green oasis offers sweeping river views and is a great place to picnic or just run around after visiting the Citadelle or art museum. The "Abrahams Bus" tour is a short, entertaining way to learn the history of the site.

14. Morrin Centre
Tour the Morrin Centre, built 200 years ago as a prison, to see firsthand the terrible conditions, including getting locked into a solitary confinement cell. Now, however, the building is an English language library and hosts storytimes on Saturdays as well as afternoon teas. If only all prisons could make such transformations.

15. La Buche
When is lunch an activity? When the menus are like coloring books and you can make your own maple sugar taffy on a freezer table after eating rabbit wings and shepherd's pie balls. Don't miss this Old Quebec City restaurant.

16. Quebec City Festivals
Quebec City seems to have a continual flow of festivals, many free, that give the city a festive vibe almost any time of year. During our visit in August, for example, there was a comedy festival, fireworks festival, and free nightly circus show. See the entire calendar of festivals.

17. Afternoon Tea at Chateau Frontenac
If youre not staying at Quebecs most photographed hotel, you can still enjoy the historic setting with a classic afternoon tea.

18. Benjo
So much more than a toy store, Benjo offers a cafe, a life-sized robot, crafts studio, and family workshops, plus rides on the indoor electric train. Check the store's website for current hours.

19. Samuel-De Champlain Walkway
The riverside park and path is great for a bike ride or stroll. Theres even a sandy beach, a small woods, and water features to discover.

20. Montmorency Falls
They say getting there is half the fun and for these spectacular falls its true. Once you arrive at the park, a short drive or taxi from the city, you can walk to the base of the falls and then climb the steps to the top, ride a tram, or zip line (yes, really!). At the top, youll definitely want to walk out onto the suspension bridge to peer over the top of the falls.

21. Aquarium du Quebec
Youll enjoy strolling through the beautiful grounds of this aquarium as well as exploring the touch tanks, watching the walrus and penguin shows, and seeing the gorgeous, colorful jellyfish displays.

22. M̩ga Parc des Galeries de la Capitale
In a city where the weather may not always cooperate, this indoor amusement park is always a sure thing, with 18 rides, including a carousel, bumper cars, roller coaster, Ferris wheel, skating rink, and arcade.

23. Ile d'Orleans
A great day trip just 20 minutes from downtown Quebec, Ile d'Orleans is a stunning island full of food makers and farms. Use the interactive map to find pick your own farms, sugar shacks, vineyards, and more to visit. Some of our favorites were Cassis Monna & Filles, which has a lovely patio restaurant with an amazing view, and Confiturerie Tigidou for homemade jam tasting.

24. Village Vacance Valcartier Water Park
With both an indoor and an outdoor water park, this nearby water park is sure to bring smiles no matter what the weather is like in Quebec City.

25. Wendake Reserve
Learn about Quebecs Huron-Wendat Nation with family-friendly activities like the fireside Myths and Legends experience, jewelry making workshops, a museum, and a restaurant where you can taste traditionally inspired flavors.

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Best Parks

City data and FAQ 

Is Quebec worth visiting?
It is the cradle of French America and the only fortified city on the continent north of Mexico. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the best historic sites, soak in the region's magnificent heritage, storied past, and European charm. It's festive, welcoming, and wonderfully safe.

How many days do you need in Quebec?
We recommend spending a minimum of 3 days in Qu̩bec City to get a feel for the city, its people and authentic French Canadian culture. Our Qu̩bec City itineraries are filled with suggestions on things to do in Qu̩bec City, whether you're coming for a weekend getaway or planning to stay longer.

Do you need a car in Quebec?
You do not need a car in Qu̩bec City, but if you plan on taking a daytrip or two, you can rent a car in town or at the Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB), located about 8 miles west of Old Qu̩bec. Another option for exploring is by bike.

What is Quebec famous for?
Quebec is well known for producing maple syrup, for its comedy, and for making hockey one of the most popular sports in Canada. It is also renowned for its culture; the province produces literature, music, films, TV shows, festivals, folklore, and more.

Is Quebec a walkable city?
With plenty of things to do, Quebec City makes for an excellent weekend destination. The city is very walkable and all the major attractions are located close to each other.

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