Founded as a fur trade colony in 1608 at what is now Place Royale, it quickly grew into an administrative centre and is now the capital of Québec Province and one of Canada’s most beautiful cities.
The Old Town of Quebec, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, is known not only for its commanding clifftop location overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway but also for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the only city in North America (aside from Mexico and the Caribbean) with its original city walls.
The French-speaking region of Canada is wonderfully intriguing, with beautiful landscapes, historic cities, and rich culture. Whatever season you visit, there are guaranteed many exciting things to do in Quebec city and activities to enjoy.
The Upper Town, also known as Haute-Village, was built for military purposes and housed the city’s defensive Citadel and some of the city’s most famous landmarks, such as the Château Frontenac and City Fortifications.
The Lower Town, also known as Basse-Ville, is recognised for its scenic, narrow streets and antique stone structures where the original settlement was built. Palace Royale and the Quartier Petit Champlain are both located here.
From the Upper Town to the Lower Town, a set of steps and several steep streets slope down, making the entire area accessible to tour on foot. The St. Lawrence River runs through the base, adding to the scene’s beauty.
Don’t miss out on Canada’s most beautiful city — here’s our list of the most delicate things to do in Quebec City!
10 Top-rated things to do in Quebec city
1 – Stroll through the Old Quebec City
The old parts of Quebec City are undoubtedly the most beautiful portion of the city, and you could easily spend days wandering through its small, cobblestone lanes. There are plenty of things to do in Quebec City.
Set aside at least a day to wander through Old Quebec, marvelling at the gorgeous architecture, beautiful cafes, unique pubs, and fascinating boutiques. You can also explore the city by going on a food tour.
Place Royale is a must-see in Old Quebec. Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608 on this charming cobblestoned square. Place Royale is noted for its European style and is home to North America’s oldest stone church.
Book a guided walking tour of Old Quebec City to learn about the city’s fascinating history and intriguing facts. You can check out some fantastic walking tours here.
2 – Visit the Parliament Building
The Parliament Building in Quebec City is recognised as the province’s most important historical site, and this, combined with its imposing architecture, placed it firmly on the list of the most delicate things to do in Quebec City.
Its design was inspired by the Louvre, a famous Paris museum, and it’s difficult not to be astonished the first time you look at it.
The National Assembly, which includes all 125 of Quebec’s elected members, operates in the Parliament Building, which is still in use.
However, you are not limited to admiring it from the outside. Most days, guided tours of the Parliament Building are available, bringing you through its wings and historic rooms.
You can even attend one of the National Assembly’s Parliamentary Sessions if interested.
Address: 1045 Rue des Parlementaires
3 – Wander around Dufferin Terrace
The upper town’s iconic boardwalk is one of the most prominent things to do in Quebec City, with over two million visitors flocking to the terrace each year to take in the views of the Saint Lawrence River.
The Dufferin Terrace, named after one of Canada’s Governor Generals, Lord Dufferin, was once off-limits to the general public of Quebec City and instead designated for the country’s elite to enjoy.
That changed in 1838 when it was inaugurated in front of a large crowd, and it is now one of the must-see attractions in Quebec at any time of year.
The Dufferin Terrace comes alive in the summer with dozens of singers, street performers, artists, and food vendors, while in the winter, everyone flocks to the terrace to race down the slope, and it is one of the popular things to do in Quebec.
Address: Rue des Carrières
4 – Tour la Citadelle de Quebec
The Cap Diamant fortress, located on the city’s outskirts, is one of the most impressive and exciting things to do in Quebec City and is well worth a few hours of your time.
This star-shaped citadel, which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site, boasts breathtaking views of the Saint Lawrence River.
The 22nd Canadian Regiment was formed at the start of WWI and has a long and illustrious history, including involvement at the Battle of the Somme, much later, in the Korean War, and has its headquarters here.
A flight of stairs goes up to the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham from the far end of the walkway in front of the Château Frontenac.
The museum ticket, the Changing of the Guard, and the Beating of the Retreat ceremonies are all included in the price.
The Citadel is open all year, with extended hours in the summer, making it one of the most popular things to do in Quebec City.
Address: 1 Côte de la Citadelle, Québec City
5 – Shop at the Petit-Champlain District
Petit Champlain’s lower town section boasts a romantic vibe that would put many European villages to shame, with narrow alleys, unique boutiques, elegant décor, and charming restaurants.
This is Quebec City’s most well-known tourist shopping zone, where you’ll get boutique items if you’re seeking them.
Take your time and look at the architectural features. You’ll see why Petit-Champlain is so popular.
Local designers’ apparel, Indigenous sculptures and handicrafts, jewellery, Québec terroir, and more are available. One of the best avenues in the city for finding souvenirs made in Québec.
Don’t miss the fantastic artisans offering hand-painted works and various handicrafts along the street. It’s a must-see in Old Quebec City.
Often referred to as North America’s most beautiful boulevard and one of the things to do in Quebec City!
6 – See the holy door at Notre Dame de Québec
The Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec, a national historic site in Canada, is North America’s oldest Catholic parish.
The Basilica, built-in 1647, has endured a turbulent history of bombardment and reconstruction.
Many artworks date from the French era, and it is also the ultimate resting place for four New France governors.
This is one of the top things to do in Quebec City for anyone who likes old, gorgeous architecture.
Address: Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 16, rue De Buade
Official Website – https://www.notre-dame-de-quebec.org/copie-de-basilique-cathedrale
7 – Wander through Place Royale
This is a tourist hub in Québec for its history and the modern-day atmosphere created by the restaurants, patios, and shops that have sprung up around the historical monuments. Visiting Place Royale is one of the top touristy things to do in Quebec City.
The original site of Québec’s establishment, when Samuel de Champlain established a fur trading post that grew into the capital of French America in 1608, is now known as Place Royale.
Place Royale is the most significant surviving group of 17th and 18th-century structures in North America, named after Louis XIV, whose bust graces it.
The lovely stone church of Notre-Dame des Victoires, as well as the Musée de la Civilisation’s Maison Chevalier, face a cobbled square.
The tiny square, which is adjacent to Place Royale and faces out over the river and is surrounded by solid walls and fortifications, is surrounded by robust walls and palisades.
Outdoor dining places are available in the summer. The snow turns the historic alleys and stone buildings into a postcard-perfect image in the winter. This is a lovely spot to visit during the day or evening and any time of year.
8 – Art at Musée National des Beaux
The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is devoted to studying Quebec art from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century.
It has four pavilions to explore and is located among the beautiful Plains of Abraham. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is one of Quebec’s most important art museums, housing about 38’000 works of art from across the province spanning four centuries.
The several pavilions each focus on a different style, and meandering among the displays on a wet day in Québec City is a great way to kill time. It is one of the top things to do in Quebec City for art lovers.
The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is located on the borders of the Plains of Abraham.
Address: 179 Grande Allée O
9 – Follow the Quebec City Walls
You’d be forgiven for not realising that Quebec City is a walled city unless you visit downtown. It is the only existing walled city in Canada or the United States!
The fortifications surrounding Vieux-Québec are 4.6 kilometres long and feature several big gates. You may even climb to the top of the wall in some areas, giving you a great perspective of the city in both directions as you walk about.
If you’re wondering what to visit in Quebec City, don’t overlook the fortifications! It is one of the top things to do in Quebec City.
10 – Visit Musée de la civilisation
The Musée de la Civilisation is a three-part institution in Québec City that covers the human history and the creation of French America, with the main museum located in Basse-Ville near the Old Port.
The centre museum, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is a work of significant architectural interest.
The permanent collection includes artefacts from worldwide and explorations of the Québec experience. Visiting this museum is one of the top things to do in Quebec City for all history lovers.
The Musée de l’Amérique Francophone (Museum of French America) is located in Upper Town and is situated in the ancient Séminaire de Québec.
As its name implies, the museum is dedicated to all aspects of French history in North America.
The Musée de la Civilisation exhibits are also on display at the Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain is buried.
Address: 85 Rue Dalhousie, Québec City
Other Things to do in Quebec City
1 – Château Frontenac
The majestic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1894, is today one of the city’s most famous attractions and recognised hotels. This historical monument can be seen for miles and is especially spectacular at night.
The Fairmont hotel chain in Canada is known for being housed in some of the country’s most stunning structures or sites, and Quebec City is no exception.
With its location high on the hill, this large hotel seems like a fortress, and with 611 rooms, it could shelter a small army.
Address: 1 Rue des Carrières
2 – Fortifications of Quebec
This National Historic Site may appear solely for history nerds, but you’d be shocked how much fun it is for the entire family!
The Fortifications will appeal to children and adults with musket demonstrations and the mystery of the talking walls.
Take a guided tour or explore on your own to learn how the old colony was secured by the walls, gates, cannons, and towers.
3 – Niagara falls
The Niagara Falls State Park is home to Niagara Falls. Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and the famed Horseshoe Falls are among Niagara Falls’ many falls.
There is so much more to do in Niagara than the falls. You could take a helicopter ride and watch the waterfalls below you, or you could also visit the Butterfly Conservatory and watch some fantastic varieties of butterflies.
4 – Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham are located near the Citadel in The Battlefields Park. Grab a doughnut and a cup of coffee and take a stroll through this historic site in Canada.
The English beat the French army in this precise spot on September 19, 1759. This victory gave the British administration control of Quebec City, and the British eventually acquired control of Canada the following year.
What do you think of that for a history lesson?! The Plains of Abraham Museum is also a great place to visit if you want to learn more about the conflicts that took place on this territory in the 1700s.
5 – Eat the local food
Many beautiful restaurants in Quebec City specialise in various types of Quebec cuisine.
Chez Muffy in Auberge Saint-Antoine is one of my particular favourites.
The restaurant, housed within the thick stone walls of a 19th-century warehouse, serves a modern take on traditional French cuisine.
Also, at Bistro Sous-le-Fort, a lovely café at 48 Sous-le-Fort, don’t miss this delectable cake drizzled in maple syrup.
You can also take a food tour to experience a variety of restaurants and shops while being guided by an expert.
You’ll visit five different locales on this 2.5-hour walking tour to savour the flavours of Quebec.
Alternatively, you can mix your samples with some wine and a little bit of the city’s history. You can book a food tour here.
Best time to visit Quebec City
The ideal time to visit Quebec City, in my opinion, is in the early fall or around the holidays. However, it all depends on what you’re looking for.
The most popular season to visit Quebec City is during the summer and when there are many things to do in Quebec City as it is alive with activities and festivals.
The weather is nice in July, with highs of up to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit), while there are some hot and humid days.
This is also when the city is busiest with visitors, and hotel prices are higher. There are fewer tourists in the fall, yet temperatures are still pleasant during the day, with highs ranging from 11° C (52° F) to 18° C (64° F).
The stunning scenery is a bonus. The lovely fall colours, which are exceptionally brilliant in this part of Canada, are a tremendous plus.
Quebec City is lovely at Christmas time, with the city decked out in traditional decorations.
The celebratory mood lasts until February, when you may join in the festivities at the Quebec Winter Carnival. With temperatures as low as -18° C (0° F) in the winter, you’ll need to bundle up.
The maple syrup season in Quebec City begins in the spring when everyone flocks to a sugar shack for live music and a substantial, sweet supper.
The weather can be rather fickle. There may still be snow and frigid weather in March, but things will begin to warm up in May.
How many days should you spend in Quebec City?
Three or four days is the perfect time to spend in Quebec City to get the most out of your trip.
The old city is modest, and the key sights may be seen in a few days.
However, you’d miss out on some of the city’s European vibe, not to mention its fantastic gastronomy, if you only had two days.
Take it easy on yourself. Dinners should be leisurely. Make a day trip out of it.
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This makes Quebec City an excellent choice for a trip if you’re searching for a taste of old Europe without having to cross the Atlantic (or fight the summer tourist crowd!)
Quebec City has a lot to offer visitors at any time of year.
We hope these Québec City bucket list ideas help you plan your vacation. If you found this helpful information, please share it with your friends!