Old Québec city has a lot to offer because you can experience history, culture, nature, magnificent architecture, festivals, and a lot of fancy restaurants including Chateau Frontenac. The old city is a very popular tourist destination, and all this is in one place. It feels much like a European country than Canada.
There are several amazing things to do in old Quebec. From dining in a fancy restaurant and staying in Quebec hotels to shopping on the streets, the old Quebec has a lot to be amazed of.
Booking yourself a trip to the magnificent old Quebec would be the best thing to do if you want to give yourself an old European feel without actually travelling to Europe.
About Old Quebec City, Canada
Old Quebec City, which is officially known as the Historic District Of Old Quebec is among the UNESCO world heritage site. Old Quebec is a historic ghetto of Québec City, Quebec, Canada and is located at the top and on the foot of Cap-Diamant, which is on the eastern edge of a plateau called the promontory of Quebec (Quebec hills).
Old Québec city has preserved its colonial architecture for over 400 years now and is one of the most intact fortified towns in the north of Mexico. It is also known as the native land of French North America.
Old Québec City is renowned for its history, magnificent European architecture, cobblestone streets, stone buildings, rich French Canadian culture, and fortifications. It is a rich French-speaking province where 80% of its residents and 95% of Quebecers speak French, however, English is also a very common language there, and is spoken well by the people.
The Upper Town and Lower Town of the Old Quebec City
The city is bifurcated into two parts namely the upper town and the lower town. Quebec’s upper town also known as Haute-Ville is located on cliffs overlooking the St.Lawrence River, providing the best overview of the countryside. Build by the French and British, the Upper Town is a part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and attracts the most visitors as a lot of tourist attractions are located here.
On the other hand, Quebec’s lower town (Basse-Ville) is a historic district which is located at the bottom of Cap Diamant. It is the oldest part of Quebec city and contains a lot of historic buildings and sights. It is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains a lot of tourist interests like Palace Royale, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Museum of Civilization (Musee de la Civilization), and many more.
What is the Best Time to Visit the City?
It depends on you whether you want to visit in summer, fall, winter, or spring and on what are you looking for because every season will give that magical feel.
Summers are the busiest in Quebec city and it is the most crowded time of the year when a tourist comes from all around the world to witness the beauty of Old Quebec. During this time the hotel rates are also very high, and the weather is quite pleasant with a high of 25 degrees with some hot and humid days.
Fall is quite calm in Quebec as there are fewer tourists and the temperature is also comfortable during the day with highs between 11 degrees to 18 degrees. The real interest in this season is the gorgeous falls.
Winters are the most magical period in Quebec city because the city is covered with beautiful decorations for Christmas. The Christmas celebrations are carried on till February when the winter carnival starts. But, you have to keep in mind that the temperature here in winter goes as low as -18 degrees.
Spring in Quebec is all about maple syrup because at this time everyone heads to sugar sacks for some meal and sweet music. The temperature is varied at this time because you will feel the snow in March and slowly things get to warm up in May.
How many Days You should Spend in Quebec City?
Spending just 3 to 4 days in the city is more than enough to get the most out of it because the city is quite small and all the major sites could be covered in a day or two. Take it easy and enjoy the best time of your life.
More than 20 Things to Do in Old Quebec City
If you are someone who is looking for a guide on what to do in the old Quebec city, then read along and develop an insight into it. Your stay is incomplete without visiting these must-see attractions. Given below is a list of all the main attractions you need to visit on your trip.
1. Visit Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac: World’s Most Photographed Hotel
Designed by Bruce Price, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac or Château Frontenac is a world-famous hotel situated in Old Québec city Upper Town on the southern side of Place d’Armes. This royal hotel offers a lot of facilities to its customers from elegant rooms to indoor pools, pubs, on-site dining options, and a beautiful view of the Lawrence River. You can book a room for yourself and enjoy a royal elegant stay.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is a 4.5-star luxury hotel in old québecCity. You can get yourself a relaxing spa, or dine in any of the three restaurants or you can also enjoy a drink at their bar. It is also famous for its warm hospitality as well as delicious cuisines.
Some of the facilities which you will get in Château Frontenac are indoor pools, an indoor spa, free wifi, and elevators. The famous Château Frontenac also is pet-friendly- you can always bring your pet with you to the hotel. It is a perfect location for everything you want to do.
2. Go on the Old Quebec City’s Food Tour
This got you drooling right? Try not to miss the old Quebec food tour because this tour helps you discover one of the most authentic tastes of the European-like neighbourhood of old Quebec city. It is a 3-hour walking tour which is about 1.7 Kms. It includes 5 stops, and 8 different food, and drink tastings which is more than enough to satisfy your hunger. This famous food tour takes place on weekdays and on private requests.
Now that you have the information, don’t forget to grab your tickets and indulge in the authentic tastes of Old Quebec City, Canada.
3. Drop by the Morrin Centre
Standing high 200 hundred years ago, the Morrin Centre is a nationally recognized heritage site and leading English language culture centre, which is located in the heart of historic old Quebec City. It was the city’s first jail but now it is one of the most beautiful libraries. The library offers varied events such as the annual writers’ festivals, concerts, children’s activities, readings, and lectures.
You can visit the library during these events and have fun reading, listening, and doing other activities. You can also book a traditional afternoon tea for yourself and just live in the moment and have the best experience of the famous old Quebec city.
4. Be amazed at Maison de La Litterature (House of Litterature)
This beautiful House of Litterature is located in the historic neighbourhood of Old Quebec city. It gives a very Scandinavian feel to its visitor. It not only focuses on literature but also on visual arts and other mediums. It is one of the most underrated things to do in Old Quebec City, Canada and it is a gem in itself.
Maison de La Litterature is such a place where you are free to write, read, and completely immerse yourself in literature. If you are someone who is interested in literature then it is a must-visit.
The entire building is dedicated to an exhibit on Quebec literature. It is the only such combination of public libraries and centres for literary creation on the continent. It is also one of the places to meet professional and amateur authors in Old Quebec City.
5. Say Hi from Seminaire de Quebec
The oldest educational institution Seminaire de Quebec was founded in 1663 and became the National Historic Site of Canada in 1929. It amazes its visitors with its whitewashed courtyard and its wrought-iron gate. You can visit the place and just admire its beauty and say hi from one of its windows.
As you enter the building you will witness the beauty of this historical building that played a central role in the province’s history. You will also see majestic promotion rooms and other sites which are available for private events, receptions, and weddings.
6. Wander Around Promenade Des Gouverneurs
Promenade des Gouverneurs is a giant boardwalk that connects Plains of Abraham to Dufferin Terrace and Château Frontenac. In order to reach the top, you need to climb 300 steps which is not at all easy as the cliffs are quite steep but once you get to the top the view is worth it. It is breathtaking because the view of old Quebec city, the island of Orlean, and the rivers are awe-inspiring.
This wooden tail follows a path of the citadel, with old fortification walls on one side of the walkway.
7. Buy Antiques at Rue Saint-Paul
Rue Saint-Paul has some of the best antiques around old Quebec city. You can also find antiques that are travel/suitcase friendly and get your hands on some best antiques for yourself as well as for your family and friends. The place is situated at the foot of Chateau Frontenac in the quieter area of Lower Town.
Rue Saint street was laid out by Francois Dollier de Casson and it is one of the oldest streets in Old Quebec City. There are many cool shops on the street one of them includes Antiquities Bolduc, which is a fantastic shop for antiques if you want some of the best antiques.
8. Joyride the Ferry across the St. Lawrence River
Do you want to get the best view of Old Quebec? So you definitely need to take this ferry service which operates on the Lawrence River between the capital and its neighbour Levis. You just need to take the ferry, sit back and enjoy the magnificent view that blossoms before your eyes.
There are hundreds of people who take the Lawrence river ferry ride every day between old Quebec City and Levis. One of the best things with you will experience during this ride is the view. In the daytime, you can witness old Quebec city’s beautiful landscape and see the beauty of Château Frontenac as it stands tall on the Cap Diamant, whereas at night time you will be completed amazed by the old Quebec city lights as they reflect on the waves.
9. Explore Palace Royale
In 1608, Samuel De Champlain founded old Quebec at this very place. Back in the 15th century, the place royale served as a trading post, a storehouse, and even a fort. You will also find the continent’s oldest stone church called Notre-dame-des Victoires church at this very place. You can visit the place and observe the French Canadian Civilization as well.
Place royale is considered the cradle of French North America as it was a trading post, storehouse, residence, and fort all rolled out in one. It is also known among the historic walking areas.
10. Visit Louise Taverne and Bar à Vin
A very famous wine bar Louise Taverne & Bar à Vin is located in the heart of the old port of Quebec city. The bar offers a warm and lovely atmosphere with a well-sourced menu, and friendly service as well as the best selection of privately imported wines, cocktails, and beers. Their terrace has more than 60 seats and is beautifully bathed in sun during the summer season.
One should definitely not miss this wine bar. Visit the place and get yourself indulged in the beautiful atmosphere, drinks, and cuisines of the place. You also get free wifi there.
11. Ride The Funiculaire
Funiculaire is simply a cable car that goes up and then down the steep hills that separate the upper town and the lower town of Old Quebec city. If you don’t want to climb the stairs you can always take this Funiculaire and skip the climbing part from the upper town to the lower town plus you will get an elegant, lovely, graceful, and well-crafted view of this beautiful city “The Old Quebec City.”
12. Walk on the Ramparts
Ramparts are stretched over a distance of 5 to 6 km. While walking by it you will see a lot of beautiful viewpoints. These walls hold a lot of secrets. You could climb the stairs by Kent gate and get the self-guided visit to the only fortification North of Mexico City.
13. Go Ice Skating within The Old Quebec
Do you love to skate? Well, you can go ice skating in the planes of Abraham and enjoy the very beauty of winters in the city. You will also get to experience the beauty of the St. Lawrence River. And yes, don’t forget to bring your wool winter coat because the temperature goes down.
14. Experience North America’s only walled City
Quebec city has seen many wars and sieges and in order to protect itself against such attacks, a wall was built around Quebec City. The wall made it easy for the colonists to spot their enemies and prepare for defence in advance. This system helps the colonists for hundred years. It is the only city that is still walled in North America north of Mexico.
Till today, all the ramparts, history, and battles that took place in the 17th century are still intact and in their place. You can go around this only walled city and experience those battles that took place.
15. Stay in Quebec City’s Ice Hotel
Do you feel like living on ice? Well, dreams do come true. You can stay in Quebec city’s ice hotel, Hotel de Glance because it is a winter wonderland magic. This impressive hotel is rebuilt every year with a different theme. This place has dozens of rooms with a beautiful suite, ice carvings and cool neon lights that give the place a whole luxury vibe. This is Quebec’s worth exploring place and is definitely a must-visit.
16. Celebrate Quebec City’s Winter Carnival
Quebec city’s winter carnival (Carnival de Quebec) is worth exploring because it is an annual event that features massive snow structures, rides, street parties, and much more. It also has the world-famous 7 feet tall snowman which is a must-must see.
17. Enjoy the Old Port
The old port is the historic port of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It stretches over 2 km along the St.Lawrence River and provides various entertainment activities such as Montreal Science Centre, IMAX theatre, cycling, rollerblading, quadricycle, pedalo, and much more. You can spend a day here and have the best entertainment of your life.
18. Walk the Streets of Dufferin Terrace
Dufferin Terrace is a 671meter long boardwalk beside the Chateau Frontenac. It is a 200-year-old wooden promenade to a huge star-shaped fort known as the historic Citadelle. You will experience one of the best views from here and will get to see interesting historic sights like the cannons.
Both in winters and summers, you will get the best experience because, in summers, street performers are out in their best state and in winters, riding the toboggan slide is quite a thrill.
19. Explore the City in a Horse Carriage
Do not forget the horse-drawn carriage tours as old Quebec tours give the best old-world feel. You can find a horse-drawn carriage usually near Chateau Frontenac and get to see the best views of the city.
The carriage is quite pricy but the money is worth it because the driver covers all the key highlights with a proper narration. Locally this horse-drawn carriage is known as a calèche.
20. Go on the Ghostly Walking Tour
Does it sound scary? Well, it is scary. Get a chance to discover the dark history of New France on this 90-minute walking tour. Your guide will be dressed up as ill-famed characters and will tell you about the terrible crimes and other bad things that happened in that particular place centuries before. It is scary but entertaining.
21. Watch the Montmorency Falls
83 meters (272 feet) and 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls, this Montmorency Fall lies on the outskirts of Quebec city. You can take up a cable car, watch the fall and feel the extreme power of this beautiful fall. You can also jump off the cliff and zipline across the fall because it is very adventurous. If you are someone who loves adventures then it is a must for you.
22. Taste the Local Food
Any tour is incomplete without tasting the city’s local food. The food over here is fabulous and very tasty. There are numerous restaurants that serve the purpose, hence, you can visit any of these and get the best local tastes of all time.
23. Shop at the Oldest Grocery Store
The oldest grocery store in Quebec city takes you back in time with its old-fashioned decor and music. The store is at St. Jean Street which is named J.A. Moisan. It is basically known for its selection of fine food and foodstuffs from around the world. Thereby, check out the 12 best Quebec city restaurants having innovative cuisines.
The Bottom Line
Old Quebec City is ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is infused with history and a breathtaking landscape and one can witness the very natural beauty of Canada here. Because of so many qualities, the old Quebec city should definitely be on your bucket list. There are not just these 10 things you can do in the city but there are uncountable other activities and adventures to take in this beautiful city of Canada as well.
Quebec City will give you one of the best travel experiences. Apart from the above-mentioned things, you can also witness theme tours, go on sightseeing food, experience a beautiful nightlife walking, and see different historic sites.
The people residing in this old Quebec city are as beautiful as the city. You will even get friendly shopkeepers who can be good friends with you. The local atmosphere is very calm, safe, and dynamic. It offers an outstanding quality of life and every now and then they conduct festivals, parades, and other major events. You will definitely have a lovely time wandering in this beautiful city.