As we drove past the gates entering Old Québec, we immediately felt like we rolled into a fairytale. The European-like town had charm exuding from each corner and street. I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast!
To top it all off, we visited during FEQ and were serenaded by some of the best bands in history. Jacob had the chance to shoot some epic photos of Foo Fighters from the photo pit – a dream come true for him.
We only spent a few days in the city, but are already starting to plan… perhaps a winter getaway? Can we handle it?
A big thank you to Quebec Region for hosting our trip. All opinions are always our own. This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Last Updated: September 4, 2021
15 Can't-Miss Things to do in Quebec City
1. Stroll Through Old Quebec
2. Walk Along the Fortifications of Québec
The fortifications of Québec City run for almost 4.6 km / 1.8 mi. It’s the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico and you can walk along the walls.
From mid-April to May, it’s open upon reservation, and from May to October, it’s open everyday.
3. Zipline at Parc de La Chute-Montmorency
We headed out to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency to see the beautiful Montmorency Falls. Did you know that these falls are 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls? You can take a cable car up to the top, then descend the 487 stairs to get a closer look at the falls.
If you’re looking for more adventurous things to do in Quebec City, try the zipline or via ferrata to get your adrenaline fix. This is only available in summer.
This was our third time ziplining, and it was so much fun zipping by the waterfall. You even get a little bit of the mist.
If you just want to check out the falls and ride the cable car, get tickets here.
Pro Tip: A lot of tours include a stop here. If you would rather be active, you can bike out here too!
4. Explore Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier
Outdoor lovers can head out to Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier to hike, fish, camp, canoe, and kayak. This huge mountainous plateau has deep gorges, over 100 km (62 mi) of hiking trails, and spectacular landscapes.
5. Go on a Bike Tour
Cyclist love the city because there are over 200 km of bike trails. When we decided on the bike tour, we were a tad concerned since we’re not the best cyclists. The trails, however, were mostly flat and easy enough for beginners. We even took our bikes all the way to Montmorency Falls. If you’re looking for a bike tour company, we went with Cyclo Services, who provides you with a lot of insight into the city along the ride.
6. Festival D'été de Québec
FEQ was the main reason we visited Quebec City. This festival happens every year over 11 days and brings some of the biggest names in music. We ended each night listening to great music, but the highlight was the Foo Fighters on the last night! Since a lightning storm cut their last performance short, they ended up playing an extra hour. How does Dave Grohl scream for that long?
The crazy thing is you get access to all 11 days for $100 CAD and the passes are transferrable. If you love visiting music festivals, this is a ridiculous bargain even after adding most flights from the US.
7. See art at MNBAQ
The Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec is covers Québec art from the 17th century to present day. There are 4 pavilions to explore and it’s set amidst the beautiful Plains of Abraham.
8. Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac claims the title of the most photographed hotel in the world, and we can see why. If the city is the setting of a fairytale, then this is the main castle. Anyone can walk into this historic building and see some of the main public areas, but one way to really enjoy it is to either stay at the hotel. Our room had an incredible view of the city, and we felt like we were staying in a castle. They also have have afternoon tea at the Champlain Restaurant, which we always enjoy when traveling.
If you’re interested in seeing more of The Fairmont, book a guided tour here.
Local Tip: Look up when you walk into the restaurant. The sculpture that runs along the ceiling is a replica of the St. Lawrence river.
9. Walk Along Dufferin Terrace & Look Below
You can walk along the beautiful terrace where Fort Saint’Louis used to stand in the 1600s. You get stunning views of the river and surrounding area. Beneath the Terrace, you can see the Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site, an archaeological crypt.
Also, don’t miss the Russian cannons captured by the British army during the Crimean War.
10. Get a Bird's Eye View at Observatoire de la Capitale
See the city from the top from of the Marie-Guyart Building to get a 360 view. Since the city has limitations on the heights of the buildings built, you can see a lot of it from this observation deck.
Local Tip: Another great view of the city is from the south shore of the St. Lawrence river. You can buy a round-trip ferry ticket to the city of Lévis to enjoy sunset.
11. Explore Île d’Orléans
Get a glimpse of what 18th century rural Québec was like at Île d’Orléans. We only had time to grab lunch on the island but got a taste of the delicious black currant in different foods and other local products. Visit artisan outlets, farm stands, and get away from the crowds of the city. If you prefer, book a food tour here.
Pro Tip: Try the black currant mustard at Cassis Monna & Filles. If only their bottles were 3 oz, I would have brought some back i my carry on.
12. See the Changing of the Guard at Citadelle de Quebec
This is the largest active fortress in Canada. Take a guided tour, check out the museum exhibits, and catch the daily Changing of the Guard at 10 AM from late June to early September. This is one we missed and will have to come back for.
13. Shop at the Petit-Champlain District
Petit-Champlain was named the most charming street in Canada. This area has been around since Québec’s foundation in 1608. It started as a small portside village with elegant homes, and is now filled with bistros, art galleries, and boutiques. The narrow streets, historical buildings, and cobblestone streets make it one of the most popular areas of the city.
14. See the Holy Door at Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral
This is one of eight Holy Doors, and one of two outside of Europe. It is only opened when the Pope deems appropriate, and when it does, thousands of people come to walk through it. You can still stop by to see the door.
Local Tip: The last time it was opened was in 2016, and the next planned Jubilee when it will be opened is in 2025.
15. Go 400 Years Back in time at Place Royale
The small square is where QuébecCity was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. The streets are lined with New France architecture and you can visit the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, the oldest stone church in North America. The church was really crowded, so we mainly walked the areas around the church.
Map of Quebec City
More Things to Do in Quebec City
- Aquarium du Quebec
- Place d’Armes
- Musée du Fort
- UNESCO Monument
- Cathedral Holy Trinity
- Musee des Ursulines de Quebec
- Parc du Cavalier-du-Moulin
- Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine
- Valcartier Vacation Village
- World of Aquarium du Québec
- Musée de la Civilisation
- Morrin Centre
- Maison de la Litterature
- Plaines D’Abraham
- Musee des Beaux-Arts
Where to Eat - Quebec City Restaurants
- Ciel! Bistro-Bar (1225, Cours du Général-De Montcalm, map) – rotating restaurant with a beautiful view of the city
- Cassis Monna & Filles (1225 Chemin Royal, map) – food and drinks made with cassis
- Manoir Montmorency (2490 Ave Royale, map) – enjoy a meal while you’re enjoying the waterfall
- Le Sam Bistro évolutif (1 Rue des Carrières, map) – had drinks and charcuterie here
- Restaurant Louis-Hébert (668 Grande Allée E, map) – great spot for big groups
- Boulangerie Paillard (1097 Rue Saint-Jean, map) – delicious pastries
Other Places We’re Hoping to Try: Albacore, Battuto, Buvette Scott, Buffet de l’Antiquaire, Honō Izakaya, Kraken Cru, L’affaire est Ketchup, L’Initiale, La Korrigane, Le Chic Shack, Le Clocher Penché, Le Saint-Amour, Légende par la Tanière, Les Méchants Moineaux, Tora-Ya Ramen
Where to Stay in Quebec City
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is an absolutely beautiful hotel inside and out. It’s a short walk to most major attractions and puts you right in the heart of town.
If you are staying at the hotel, head to the outside patio near the pool. Most guests miss this space and gives you a private rooftop view of Old Québec.
You can also use this link to look up other places to stay in QuébecCity.
Have you visited Quebec City? Does it remind you of Beauty and the Beast?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.