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24 Best things to do in Québec City

Quebec City, Canada

From quaint cobblestone streets and UNESCO heritage sites, to sprawling fields and powerful waterfalls, there’s no shortage of Québec City attractions for you to check off your bucket list this year. 

Whether you want to take in the Canadian culture or simply treat yourself to a weekend getaway, Québec City is a great place to be. In this article we’ve put together a list of 24 of the best things to do in Québec City in both the summer and winter months so you can get the most out of the city all year round! 

Want to experience a European summer without actually stepping foot in Europe? Québec City is the perfect place to unwind and relax – with beautiful cobblestone streets, warm weather and the romantic French accent surrounding you, Québec City is well worth a visit. 

Québec City is stunning year round, but it becomes something out of a postcard (or Hallmark movie) in the winter. If you feel like visiting Québec City in the off season, we’ve also got a few outdoor activities to keep you busy in a Canadian Winter.

Best things to do in Québec City!

1. Take a picture at Le Château Frontenac

No visit to Québec City is complete without a stop at the famous Le Château Frontenac! Known as the most photographed hotel in the world, this iconic landmark officially opened its doors in 1892 and is free to enter. 

Built in what’s known as a “Châteauesque” style, and now a National Historic Site, many famous people have graced its hallways over the years. From filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, to Allied Leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt and Sir Winston Churchill, and of course, we can’t leave out Canada’s unofficial queen, Celine Dion. 

2. Explore the cobblestone streets of Quartier Petit Champlain

When navigating the streets of Old Québec, the area can be broken down into two different areas – Lower Town (Basse-Ville) and Upper Town (Haute-Ville). 

Lower Town is best known for its gorgeous, pedestrian friendly cobblestone streets. Once you step onto the main shopping street, Rue du Petit Champlain, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to an enchanting small European town. Whether you want to do some shopping, try a classic Canadian treat known as a Beavertail or simply snap some pics for Insta, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Québec City. 

3. Try fresh maple taffy

Those of you with a sweet tooth have to make a stop at La Petite Cabane à Sucre de Québec. Located in Lower Town on Rue du Petit Champlain, this store sells a quintessential Canadian treat – maple taffy. Created in Québec, this traditional dessert is prepared by boiling maple syrup and pouring it onto a fresh bed of snow. Once it cools it becomes a sticky, maple syrup popsicle! This location sells it year round, but during the winter months, more locations pop up around town.

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4. Go shopping in Upper Town

Upper Town is in the heart of the city and a great place to get lost. Although a bit more modern than the historic Lower Town, the upper part of the city is home to all sorts of stores, from luxury brands to touristy corner shops so you can shop to your heart’s content. It’s also home to a year round Christmas shop called La Boutique De Noël De Québec for all you festive fanatics! 

If you find yourself in the area between mid-May to mid-October, you’ll want to wander past Artist Alley. Tucked away off a main street is Rue du Trésor. Here, local artisans display and sell all different kinds of artwork in an open-air art gallery. 

Old Town, Quebec, Canada

Image source:Contiki

5. Sit by the water at the Old Port

Close to the hustle and bustle of the city, the Old Port is a great place to go not only for a bit of peace and quiet, it’s also a beautiful spot to take in the views of the St. Lawrence River. Whether you need to rest your feet or just want a relaxing spot to sip your drink, Place des Canotiers is a local favourite! Not to mention, the Old Port is home to some great galleries, antique stores and restaurants. 

6. Stroll along Dufferin Terrace

Just outside of the Chateau Frontenac you’ll find Dufferin Terrace. This wooden boardwalk wraps around the back of the hotel so you can not only enjoy the beautiful hotel, but stunning views of the St. Lawrence River as well! 

7. Get your blood pumping on a toboggan ride

The Toboggan slide on Dufferin Terrace is one of the oldest attractions in the city, dating all the way back to 1884, marking itself as one of the best things to do in Québec City. From late December to mid-March, you and your friends can race down this structure and reach speeds of up to 70 km / hour. Tickets are only $4 and can be bought online ahead of time or on the day!

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8. Pit stop at Samuel de Champlain’s statue

Placed perfectly between the Chateau Frontenac and at the start of the Dufferin Terrace, why not take in a bit of the city’s history by making a pit stop at the Samuel De Champlain statue? The French explorer is credited with the founding of Québec, but in the summertime, this statue is more than just a historical landmark. This area is always bustling with musicians and the odd street performer that help make this a lively and bustling part of town! 

9. Step into the past at Place Royale

Whether you consider yourself a history buff or simply love old-timey architecture, Place Royale is a must-see place while in Québec City. This cobblestone square is the first permanent French settlement that Québec’s founder Samuel De Champlain established back in 1608 and still has the same historic charm! 

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10. Visit the Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec

Located in the heart of Old Québec, this Cathedral-Basilica is a designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is Canada’s oldest Cathedral. It’s also home to the only Holy Door located outside of Europe. These doors are generally sealed shut, and opened very rarely. When the door is opened people are welcome to walk through, regardless of their faith, if they wish to reflect on their lives and seek Truth. 

Entry to the Basilica is free year-round and open every day, however hours may change depending on religious services.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec, Canada

Image source:Contiki

11. Have a Québec mural scavenger hunt

Québec City is no stranger to art. With 13 murals scattered around the city, you could easily spend a day wandering around, checking them off your list. Two of the largest and most central murals that are a must see are Fresque des Québécois, located down by Place Royale, as well as Fresque du Petit-Champlain, tucked in along one of the oldest streets in North America. 

12. Learn about Québec City’s history at La Citadel

This National Historic Site is a great place to spend an afternoon to learn a little more about the history of Québec City. 

Whether you buy a ticket to wander the impressive star-shaped fortifications on your own, or prefer to book a guided tour, you get to enjoy access to the museum as part of your entry fee! You might want to check the website before you visit – they have changing of the guard ceremonies as well as an occasional music performance you won’t want to miss.

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13. Enjoy the Carnaval de Québec

If you happen to be in Québec City anywhere between late January or early February, you’re in luck. Québec City hosts a HUGE winter carnival every year that’s now known as the world’s oldest Winter Carnival, and the largest outdoor winter festival in the Western Hemisphere. 

With an Ice Palace, Night Parades, Ice Sculptures, music events, an Ice bar and many many other winter themed activities, the city really comes to life during these few weeks. 

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14. Wander the fortified walls

Thanks to a man named Lord Dufferin, Québec City is now the most fortified city north of Mexico. The massive stone walls and four gates surrounding the city add to its unique charm, and make it one of the most impressive fortresses in North America

Whether you want to take in the architecture up close and personal with a tour or simply walk the walls solo, it’s a great way to take in the city and its history. 

15. Have a picnic at the Plains of Abraham

Québec City is full of history, and the Plains of Abraham are no exception. Located in the heart of the city, this National Historic Park of Canada was once the site of an important battle in Canadian history. Today you can wander around its beautiful grounds or head to an interactive museum to learn more about the fall of the French to the British in 1759. 

The park is open year round and with 103 hectares of land to explore, and it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists in both summer and winter. From relaxing picnics and afternoon runs, to skiing and snowshoeing excursions, this is a great place to relax while also learning about the city’s history.

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16. Skate at Place D’Youville

Although it’s not the biggest rink around, it is one of the most picturesque. Located just outside of one of the fortification gates and steps away from plenty of restaurants, cafes and nightlife, if you’re wanting to skate in a winter wonderland, this is a great option.

Over on the Plains of Abraham, a section of the large open space is turned into a public skating rink! It might not be surrounded by twinkle lights like Place D’Youville, but it is much larger and away from the hustle and bustle of busy streets. 

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17. Visit the Museum of Civilization

A short walk from Place-Royale, the Museum of Civilization welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year. With rotating events, special exhibitions and interactive displays, it’s no surprise it’s the most visited museum in the country. 

Whether you’re interested in archeology, history, ethology, art, or cultural studies, this institution is home to more than four million artefacts! Head to their website to check out what special exhibitions are on when you’re in town. 

18. Enjoy stained glass at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré shrine

While you’re out exploring Montmorency falls, you may want to make a stop at the oldest pilgrimage site north of Mexico, and one of five national shrines in Québec – the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine. 

With stunning stained glass windows, mosaics and dramatic architecture, people have been visiting for 350 years to pay their respects to Saint Anne.

19. Try a Canadian delicacy – Poutine!

You can’t visit Québec, the birthplace of Canada’s National dish and not give it a try! Poutine is a hearty dish made of fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. Whether you’re looking for comfort food or a sloppy late night snack, poutine’s got you covered. You can’t go wrong with visiting Le Chic Shack or Poutineville in the heart of the city.

If you’re lucky enough to be travelling Canada in February, you’re in luck! Every year across the country, the largest Poutine Week festival in the world is held! With traditional dishes and the craziest food combinations you could think of, it’s definitely worth checking out. 

20. Take a journey back in time at the Huron-Wendatt Traditional site

Another short drive out of the city and you’ll find yourself at the Huron-Wendat Traditional Site. Here you’ll learn about the Indigenous history, cultures and traditions of the Wendake people who have lived in the area since the 17th Century. With a guided tour you’ll be taken through the Long House (Wendat’s traditional housing), smokehouse, tee-pee and more! 

The Eastern Canada Adventure Contiki trip actually spends a morning at the site as part of their MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiece

21. Tour a winery at île d’Orléans

If you’ve got a bit of extra time in your busy itinerary, incorporating a visit to île d’Orléans is well worth it, especially for wine lovers! Best known for its rolling landscapes, 18th century villages and agriculture, you can spend an afternoon hopping from winery to winery while taking in some of Québec’s prettiest villages. 

île d’Orléans is a stunning place to visit any time of the year, but it especially comes to life in the autumn when the leaves are vibrant yellows and rich reds that rival that of East Coast Canada

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22. Get your heart racing at Montmorency Falls

Although it’s a short 15 minute drive away from the city centre, you can’t miss out on seeing Montmorency Falls. With a suspension bridge that holds you over the 83 metre tall waterfall (30 metres higher than Niagara Falls), and a staircase that brings you right up to the powerful mists, you have to add this to your list whether you’re in the city in the summer or winter! 

And for all you adventure seekers, there’s a zipline that takes you right over the falls, as well as a few via ferrata routes you could give a try! (With a professional guide of course.)

montmorency falls, canada

Image source:Contiki

23. Wander a Québecois museum: National des beaux arts

The Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec (MNBAQ) is home to over 40,000 pieces of art, dating all the way back to the 17th Century, making it a great place for art lovers to spend an afternoon. Located in the Lassonde Pavilion near the Plains of Abraham, be sure to snap a picture of the stunning building before heading inside! 

24. Strap on your skis at one of four ski resorts!

All just within an hour drive from the city centre, Québec is home to some great skiing for those of you itching to hit the slopes. Massif de Charlevoix is arguably the best spot to go thanks to it being home to the tallest hill in the province as well as its stunning views of the St. Lawrence River. Le Relais is another great option if you’re looking for something close to the city – it’s just a short 15 minute drive from Old Québec. 

Even if you’re in town during the warmer months, Québec’s got you covered. At Centre Préski there’s two indoor simulators that beginners and experienced skiers alike can use! 

Is 2 days enough to visit Québec city?

You can absolutely get a great taste of the city and all it has to offer in two days! A lot of main attractions, big shopping areas and historic sites are all within the city centre which makes it easy to hop around and check them off your list. 

If you have a lot that you want to see and do however, two days may feel rushed. For more time to leisurely wander the streets and museums three days might suit you better. That way, if there’s something else that peaks your interest while in the city, you have a bit more flexibility to say yes to something you might not have originally planned for! 

park in Quebec, Canada

Image source:Contiki

Is Québec City worth visiting?

100%. There’s not a lot of places in Canada that have the same amount of charm and history. Not to mention it really can feel as if you’re in Europe thanks to the architecture and beautiful French language and culture. 

If you’re planning a bigger road trip in Canada, you may want to check out our list of some of the best places to visit in Canada

When’s the best time to visit Québec City?

The most popular time to visit Québec City is in the summertime (June – August) when the city comes to life. The air is warm, restaurant patios are open, and the sun doesn’t set until late into the evening. 

However, there is something to be said for each season! 

Springtime (March – May) is a good time to go – the weather is slowly getting warmer so you can be outdoors and enjoy the beautiful blooming flowers. Sugar shacks are also in their peak production which means more maple syrup than you know what to do with. It’s also not as crowded as the summertime! 

Fall or autumn (September – October) is stunning in Eastern Canada thanks to the abundance of beautiful fall leaves. If you love to be outside and enjoy going on hikes, this is the season for you – bright oranges, yellows, and deep reds take over the forests. 

Winter (November – March) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s something to be said for the winter wonderland. When the snow is falling just right, you feel as though you’re standing in a snowglobe, or in the middle of a peaceful painting. Canadians know how to make the most of the cold season, with skating rinks, toboggan rides and a winter carnival to look forward to, don’t count winter out too quickly! 

If you’re still piecing together your itinerary for your ultimate Canadian adventure, we’ve got you covered. Here’s some of the best things to do in Canada on your next trip

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