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The Canadian destination of Quebec City offers travelers a unique opportunity to get a taste of Europe without ever leaving the mainland of North America. Quebec City is an excellent weekend getaway destination because of all the fascinating historical sites, parks, and delicious food here. Here are our top recommendations for things to do in Quebec City next time you’re in this part of Canada.
The streets of Old Quebec are narrow, winding, and beautifully historic with their iconic architecture. It very much feels like you’re walking through Europe when you take a stroll through Old Quebec. This part of the city is also where many of the top attractions are located, including the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Citadel. Place Royale, the Plains of Abraham, and the Parliament Building are in this part of the city as well. Additionally, it’s fun to stop into some of the artisan shops and cafes for a cup of coffee.
For stunning scenery during your time in Quebec, you only have to travel a few miles northeast of the city. Montmorency Falls Park features a 272-foot waterfall that’s nothing short of impressive. It’s a tall waterfall along the St. Lawrence River and lovely to see at any time of the year. Not only can you go hiking in this park, but there are also some really fun zip lining opportunities as well. If you don’t feel like climbing the stairs to the top of the falls, you can also pay to take a cable car to the top. No matter how adventurous you feel like getting at this park, the views are spectacular and you only have to venture about 15 minutes from downtown Quebec City to experience them.
Anyone who enjoys shopping simply must visit this historic shopping district with lots of boutique stores and cute cafes. Many of the shops are in restored and historic houses, and it’s fun to simply walk through the area to people-watch. But if you’re looking to beat the crowds, head to this area first thing in the morning when the shops open. There are around 45 shops and restaurants that are open here year-around. Depending on when you visit, you can also check out a local festival here, such as the Gourmet Terrace Fest or the Folk Festival, which both occur in June.
Battlefields Park, also known as Parc des Champs-de-Bataille, is a lovely green space with a historic twist. The area has historical significance because this is where the Battle of Quebec was fought during the French and Indian War. You’ll see a few cannons here today, but also beautiful gardens and areas that are perfect for a picnic.
The Citadel is a huge fortress that was built by the British and still serves as a military base today. Onsite, you can watch a changing of the guard ceremony, take a guided tour, and learn more about the role of the military in past and present Quebec City. This site is near Battlefields Park and Old Quebec, so it’s easy to combine these attractions into one day of sightseeing. The adult admission cost for a Citadel and museum tour is $16, and guided tours are offered in both English and French throughout the year.
The Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupre is a popular pilgrimage site and a national shrine in Quebec City. Even if you aren’t a religious pilgrim, it’s still beautiful to see the wooden sculptures, mosaics, paintings, and stained-glass windows in this historic church. Masses are still held at this church on a regular basis, and the mass schedule is posted on the church’s website.
Anyone interested in human history and society should visit Quebec City’s Museum of Civilization. Inside this museum, you’ll find exhibits about life in Quebec City throughout history, art, artifacts, and more. The museum offers many interactive opportunities for both kids and adults and has a nice mix of permanent and temporary exhibits that focus on local and international topics. The admission fee for adults over age 31 is typically $17, with discounts for young adults, youth, and families.
Another great public park area in Quebec City is Terrasse Dufferin, which used to be a military fortification but often serves as a performance space and entertainment venue today. It’s not uncommon to see street performers doing their acts here in the summer and visitors riding an ice toboggan in the winter. This wooden promenade connects several top sites in the city and has historic cannons to see along the way.
The Terrasse Dufferin wraps around the Chateau Frontenac, which is a popular attraction to visit in Quebec City. This iconic building was built as a hotel for the Canada Pacific Railway company and is owned by Fairmont today. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has 611 luxurious guest rooms and suites that you can stay in during your trip to Quebec City. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy a meal at the Chateau Frontenac by reserving a table at Chef Stephane Modat’s Champlain Restaurant or savoring a snack and drink at the 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar.
Quebec City is also an amazing place to visit if you love food, and there are food tours that you can join to embrace your inner foodie and experience the best dishes the city has to offer. Local guide companies offer food tours of Old Quebec with both traditional and modern foods and the Saint-Roch Quebec tour to get off the beaten path with the hip and trendy culinary scene here. The Saint-Roch neighborhood is away from the tourist areas but still has lots of shops, restaurants, and art galleries to explore like a local. These tours last about three hours and cost between $59 and $65 CAD. Don’t forget to try the poutine and pea soup!