11 Amazing Places to See in Old Québec City - Travel Guide

11 Amazing Places to See in Old Québec City
 

Old Québec City has 400 years of history and culture in its cobble streets, French style architecture, and fortifications. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this walled city might be small, but packs a lot of amazing sites and experiences in its tiny size. 

 

cannon ramparts port old quebec city canada
Cannon on the ramparts overlooking the port.

Founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608 as a small French outpost on the Saint Lawrence River soon grew into the economic and military powerhouse of New France. In 1759 it was the site of the Battle of Québec in which it fell to the British, ending France’s presence as a land power on the continent. Today it remains one of the best examples of a fortified colonial city and the only one north of Mexico.

 

street old quebec city canada
The streets of Old Quebec City have a very European feel to them.

Still the cradle of French North America, a walk through Old Québec City is a journey into the past. This European style city has all the charms of a laid-back provincial city with all the excitement of the metropolis it once was. Whether you spend a day within its walls or extend for a week, there is so much to see, experience, eat, and enjoy in this French Canadian historic town.

 

What to Do

 

Old Québec City is an amazing place to see and experience. The old city is small enough to tour by foot, making it easy to create your own itinerary depending on the time you have and all of things you want to see. All the things that I have listed can be seen in a single day in Old Québec City, but if you are wanting to take it slower, take in the culture and food more, or see some of the other museums, then you will want to add a day or two to your trip.

 

La Citadelle de Québec


cannons citadel of quebec old quebec city canada
Cannons along one point of the still active citadel.

La Citadelle de Québec is a prominent fortress located on the highest point in the city, overlooking Old Québec City and the Saint Lawrence River. The citadel is the largest British fortress in North America and still serves as an active fortress today. Although not part of the original fortifications of the city, construction of the citadel was started soon after the defeat of the American invasion during the War of 1812.


royal 22e regiment guards citadel quebec old quebec city canada
Guards of the Royal 22e Regiment in front of the citadel gate.

La Citadelle de Québec is still an active military fortress and is home to the Royal 22e Régiment, the only sole French speaking infantry regiment in the Canadian Forces. It is also the residence of the Governor General of Canada, King Charles III of England, when he visits Canada. Because the citadel is still and active military base you can only visit on a guided tour.

 

Cost: Adult: 18 CAD/13.57 USD, Senior/Student: 16 CAD/12.06 USD, 11-17 yrs: 6 CAD/4.52 USD, Family: 40 CAD/30.16 USD
Tour Hours: Every hour from 10am – 4pm

 

Place Royale


place royal notre dame des victoires old quebec city canada
Place Royal and Notre-Dame des Victoires.

Place Royale in and of itself is a beautiful cobble-stoned square wrapped by old stone buildings of cafes, shops, and a 17th century church. Beyond its beauty it is also a historically significant place in Old Québec City. The church, Notre-Dame des Victoires, is considered one of the oldest churches in North America and the oldest stone church in Canada. The church itself was built on the site of Samuel de Champlain’s house, the founder of Québec City, and uses some of the same stones. Just north of the square is Québec City Mural, a great depiction showing the story of the city. Near the mural are also ruins of Samuel de Champlain’s outpost.

 

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac


fairmont le château frontenac dufferin terrace old quebec city canada
View of Fairmont le Château Frontenac from Dufferin Terrace

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is easily the most known site in all of Old Québec City and is arguably the most photographed hotel in the world. This historic hotel was opened in 1893 and was the first of a series of grand railroad hotels across Canada. The hotel itself sits atop what was once the site of the Château and Fort Saint-Louis and as such its prominent position means it can be seen from all over the city. Still an active hotel, you can reserve a room for your time in Old Québec City if your wallet can afford it. If you wish to see the inside of the hotel past the lobby, you can do so with a guided tour.

 

Tour Cost: Adult: 20 CAD/15.08 USD, 6-16 yrs: 10 CAD/7.54 USD, Family: 50 CAD/37.70 USD
Tour Hours: Every hour from 10am – 3pm, except noon

 

Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral-Basilica


notre dame of quebec cathedral basilica old quebec city canada
Inside of Notre-Dame de Quebec.

Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral-Basilica is the oldest church in Canada and was the first to gain the rank of Basilica. Four governors of New France and every bishop of Québec are buried in its crypt. The cathedral-basilica is also the second church to receive a Holy Door outside of Europe and one of eight in the world. The interior of the church is nothing short of spectacular and well worth viewing. Remember that this is an active church, so, if you wish to enter, dress and act appropriately.

 

Old Québec City Swing and Royal Battery


swing royal battery old quebec city canada
The Old Québec City Swing is the perfect place to get a picture.

The Old Québec City Swing is a great place to the perfect photo of the lower city and the Château Frontenac literally framed in the photo. Located at the Royal Battery the swing hangs within a large picture frame, which when taken from the right angle creates a perfect scene. The Royal Battery is also worth seeing. Originally built in 1691 after the failed British siege of the city, the battery fell to disuse and was eventually covered up. What is currently there is a restored version of the original battery.

 

Cathédrale Holy Trinity


The Cathédrale Holy Trinity was opened in 1804 as the first Anglican cathedral to be built outside of the British Isles. Within the church is a museum that shows the gifts from King George III to the church.

 

Cost: Guided: 6 CAD/4:52 USD; Self-Guided: 3 CAD/2.26 USD
Hours: 10am – 5pm

 

Dufferin Terrace


dufferin terrace old quebec city canada
Dufferin Terrace is a popular place to hangout and watch street performers.

Dufferin Terrace is a wide boardwalk with great views of the Saint Lawrence River. You can also get some awesome pics of Château Frontenac from here as well. Dufferin Terrace sits atop what was once the Châteaux Saint Louis, the house of the governor of New France, and throughout the terrace there are windows to look down at the ruins below. If you wish to join any of the tours of the town, Dufferin Terrace is where you will meet. Château Frontenac dominates the northern end of the terrace and if you walk to the south, you will find the Governor’s Promenade, a raised pathway that hangs out over the cliff side along the walls of the citadel.

 

Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux


kitchen chateaux saint louis old quebec city canada
Kitchen in the ruins of the Chateaux Saint Louis.

Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux is a national historic site and is run by Parks Canada. Located under the Dufferin Terrace, a guided tour of the site takes about 45 minutes. Along the tour a park ranger gives you all of the history of the site and details and stories about the use of the buildings. The tour itself is through the ruins of the western part of the Châteaux.

 

Cost: Adult: 8.50 CAD/6.41 USD, Senior (65+): 8 CAD/6.03 USD, Youth (6-17 yrs): 3.20 CAD/4.52 USD
Hours: 9:30am – 4:30pm

 

Ursuline Chapel


ursuline chapel old quebec city canada
Ursuline Chapel

The Ursuline Sisters were the first nuns in New France and began work in 1639. Shortly after they began the building and expanding of the chapel and school where it stands today. The Ursuline convent became the oldest educational institution for women in North America. After learning the languages of the native peoples, they began to teach the young girls how to read, write, and domestic arts. The chapel is filed with 17th and 18th century paintings and the woodwork is considered the finest in Canada. There is also a museum on the premises with a number of exhibits.

 

Chapel Cost: Free

Museum Cost: Adult: 12 CAD/9.05 USD, Senior/Student: 10 CAD/7.54 USD, 6-17 yrs: 6 CAD/4:52 USD, Family: 35 CAD/26.39 USD
Tour Hours: 10am – 5pm

 

Rue du Petit Champlain


rue du petit champlain old quebec city canada
The Rue du Petit Champlain is a popular place to shop.

Rue du Petit Champlain is a narrow cobblestone road flanked by old buildings turned shops and boutiques. If you are into shopping, then this is a must visit, as it is considered one of the oldest shopping streets in North America. If, like me, shopping isn’t your thing, taking a walk down the road is still worth the view. You can also grab some goat milk ice cream while your there. At the top of the road is also the Escalier Casse-Cou, or Breakneck Steps, a steep staircase leading back to the Upper City known as being one of the city’s oldest stairs.

 

Ramparts


saint louis gate old quebec city canada
Saint Louis was one of the main gates into the city.

If you like forts, then you probably like walking along the tops of the walls. Although you can’t walk the full circumference of the city atop its walls there are a few places you can. In the northeast of Old Québec City, along the Rue des Remparts, is a great place to walk the walls, see the cannons and mortars, and look down on the port below. Likewise, you can walk along the outer walls of La Citadelle de Québec. Lastly, all three gates, Saint Louis, Kent, and Saint John Gate, have access to walk atop the gate and the ramparts on either side.

 

Where to Eat


poutine old quebec city canada
Poutine is a popular dish in Quebec.

Old Québec City has an array of national and international restaurants throughout the city. The two main areas for food within the walls are along Rue Saint Louis and Rue Saint John, the two main roads entering the city. Beware that there will be a wait for breakfast at pretty much all pastry shops in the morning and for dinner you will want to make a reservation, especially for the nicer restaurants, or you will very likely not get a seat. If you forget to make a reservation or are just looking for slightly cheaper food, then look outside the walls of Old Québec City. I would recommend walking to the neighborhood of Saint Roch, just about a 10-minute walk northwest of the old city. This was the first neighborhood outside the walls of the city and has many small restaurants and bars.

 

Where to Stay

 

There are many hotels within the walls of Old Québec City. Most of the hotels are old and spectacular, with modern amenities of course, but they are expensive as well. The most renowned of these is the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, which is expensive and the reason I only toured it instead of staying there. There are a few not so expensive hotels, as well as two hostels, but these fill up fast. For cheaper hotels, you can look to the west, outside the walls of Old Québec City. I wanted to be within the city, so I stayed at the Hôtel Manoir Vieux-Québec overlooking the Governors’ Garden. One note to be aware of is that many of the hotels within the walls do not offer parking, nor have it, so you will likely need to pay for parking at a garage nearby. When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range. 

 

How to Get Around

 

Old Québec City is very small, about 0.5 sq miles, so walking is the best way to visit all of the sites in the city. If you want to travel in style, you can get around in a horse and buggy. If you happen to be staying in a hotel further away from the city, you can take a bus to just outside the city gates or use a rideshare or taxi app to get a ride to the city.

 

How to Get There

 

Since Old Québec City is small enough to tour by foot, you can take any mode of transportation without worries once you get there.

 

Bus

 

The bus is by far the cheapest option whether you are coming from somewhere else in Canada or the United States. If you are coming from Western Canada or the US, you will need to first travel to the main bus hub in Montreal. Then you can take a bus to Gare du Palais, located just a five-minute walk from Old Québec City’s northern wall.

 

Train

 

Like the bus, there is the option to also take a train into Québec from Montreal as well. The VIA Rail leaves Gare Centrale in Montreal and arrives at Gare du Palais just north of Old Québec City in just 3.5 hours.

 

Driving

 

If you plan to do any site seeing around the Québec area or Old Québec City is just one of many stops in your Canada trip, then driving might be the best option for you. Take notice that parking within the city walls is limited to parking garages and many hotels within the walls do not offer parking for their residents. Although you will be able to park temporarily outside the hotel to check-in and unload your luggage, you will need to park somewhere else. Fortunately, there are a number of parking garages so it won’t be hard to find one, but it will cost you a minimum of 25 CAD/18.88 USD per day with no reentry. If you stay outside the walls, you will have an easier time with parking.

 

Airplane

 

If you are traveling to visit Old Québec City from further afoot, then flying would be your best option. Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB), located 16km west of Old Québec City, is the main airport that services Québec City as a whole and is a hub for a handful of both international and local airlines. There are a few options to get to the old city from the airport. The cheapest, but longest, option is by bus. Route 80 runs every 30 minutes from 5am – 7:30pm and every 60 minutes after that until 1am and will drop you off just north of Old Québec City. The airport is also the hub for all the major rental car companies as well if you will need a car during your trip. Lastly, both Uber and Eva rideshare companies offer pickup and drop off at the airport.

 

What was your favorite thing about Old Québec City?

 

11 Amazing Places to See in Old Québec City


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12 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I hope one day I can travel beyond Asia and visit Quebec

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  2. That's a good list. I've done more than half on it but I haven't stayed at the Chateau Frontenac as yet. One day soon, hopefully.

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    1. Thank you. I haven't stayed at the Chateau Frontenac either. I stayed just across the park from it though.

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  3. Quebec is in my list for next year, I personally can't wait to visit it and meet my friends. it looks amazing! Thanks for tips, saving it for actual planning. Lyosha

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  4. This is amazing, I will keep this on the list to visit it when I go to Canada. Thank you for sharing!

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  5. A whole lot of Canada is on our some-day list, and Quebec is definitely in the top there.. your post pushed it further up :-)

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    Replies
    1. It had been on my list for a while as well. It is well worth visiting.

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  6. These are some beautiful places to visit in Quebec. I can’t wait to visit there sometime.

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  7. It looks like somewhere in European city and you don't need to cross the Atlantic. This place is so beautiful and well maintained. Worth exploring!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is very much like a colonial French city. It is so beautiful.

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