The Getaway
Your Québec City Bucket List

Going to Europe can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Where do you go when you want Europe's feel without the hassle of international travel? Québec City is your destination. French is the city's official language — and approximately 80% of residents are Francophone (meaning they speak French). The language, combined with immutable old-world charm, makes it easy to forget you're still in North America.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes! This enchanting city has winding cobblestone streets and hills to climb. Breathtaking views make every step worth the effort.

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01 Snap a selfie at the Château Frontenac

Frontenac Castle in Old Quebec City in the beautiful sunrise light

Château Frontenac is an opulent, five-star hotel that holds the Guinness World Record for "Most Photographed Hotel in the World." It's easy to see why. The 20-year-old castle has an instantly recognizable verdigris copper roof that stands out from the rest of the city's skyline.

You don't have to book one of the castle's 611 rooms to enjoy its luxuries. Savor fine French cuisine prepared by a top chef in the Champlain restaurant, sip a cocktail in the cozy wood-paneled 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar, grab a bite in Bistro Le Sam, or have afternoon tea at Place Dufferin. Make reservations, though. People travel the world to visit Château Frontenac.

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02 Stroll down the cobbled streets of Vieux-Québec

Lot of Umbrellas in Petit Champlain street Quebec city, Canada

Old Québec (the locals call it Vieux-Québec) earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. The European-style historic district is divided into two neighborhoods: Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and Basse-Ville (Lower Town). It's an incredibly walkable area, so take time to wander. You never know what you'll discover.

If you get a bit peckish on your journey, take a three-hour walking food tour and finish your excursion with a drink at Pape Georges V, a 400-year-old tavern with vaulted ceilings.

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03 Take a cable car over a very tall waterfall

Aerial of Montmorency Falls, near Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Open year-round, the unmissable Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is easy to reach from Québec City. You'll fall in love with the park's 272-foot waterfalls, which are nearly 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls. A cable car will take you up the cliff to the manor at the top. There, you'll find a footpath that takes you to a suspended footbridge stretching across the waterfall's drop. Don't look down unless you want a thrill!

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04 Ride up the Old Québec Funicular

Old Quebec Funicular

For over a century, the Québec Funicular cable railway has linked Basse-Ville and Haute-Ville, lifting passengers at a steep 45-degree angle between these two parts of the city. Funicular will take you 200 feet above your starting point, so it's a great way to take in the scenery while enjoying a ride.

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05 Eat poutine at Chez Ashton

Poutine being eaten with forks

Canadians and the rest of the world can thank Québec for inventing poutine, one of the country's top comfort foods. The famous dish, which consists of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, was first served in 1972 by chef Ashton Leblond at his restaurant. To this day, Chez Ashton is still the place to sample these savory, cheesy, gravy-drizzled spuds. There are now 25 Chez Ashtons in the region — many of which are conveniently located near drinking establishments. What a terrific way to avoid a hangover!

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06 Take a ferry across the river

For less than $5, you can board a ferry, or traversier, that will transport you across the St. Lawrence River to a sweet little town called Lévis. The ferry leaves its port at Old Québec every half hour and only lasts about 15 minutes. During that time, you get picturesque, panoramic views of the city. If you happen to find yourself in Québec during the winter months, the ferry ride is particularly thrilling when it becomes a glorified icebreaker, slicing through the ice on the river.

The Ferris wheel at Levis Quebec Canada at sunset LSOphoto / Getty Images

07 Watch the changing of the guard

La Citadelle de Québec is the largest active fortress in North America, backed by over 200 years of history. If you're quick on your feet, you can catch the Changing of the Guard at 10 am from late June through early September. Be sure to check out the fort's museum exhibits and guided tours. Also, spend a little time soaking up the spectacular views of the city and the St. Lawrence River from high above Québec City.

Four Guardsmen - Citadelle of Quebec GBlakeley / Getty Images

08 Put together a picnic from North America's oldest grocery store

Jean-Alfred Moisan opened his petite epicerié's doors in 1871, and they haven't closed since. Epicerié J.A. Moisan has a decidedly old-fashioned vibe, with tin ceilings, original woodwork, and vintage 1920s and '30s music piping through the speakers. But the store's offerings are anything but dated. Its shelves are stocked with fine Québec-made delectables, including local preserves, bread, charcuterie, cheeses, and hard-to-find foodstuffs from around the world. The epicerié has all the fixings you need for the perfect picnic in the park. You can also spend you can even spend a night or two in the original founder's living space, which has been transformed into a fully functioning B&B.

Jeangagnon / Wikipedia

09 Eat French onion soup at Aux Anciens Canadiens

french onion soup

When it comes to dinner options, you pretty much can't go wrong anywhere in Québec City, thanks to the city's abundance of authentic French "gastronomie." But if you want the quintessential Québecois dining experience, just look for the red roof. Aux Anciens Canadiens opened its doors in 1675 as Maison Jacquet and retains most of its original character. The restaurant gets its name from a novel written by Philippe-Aubert de Gaspé, who lived in the house from 1815 until 1824. Don't miss la Soupe a l'Oignon au Fromage — French onion soup —while you're here.

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10 Savor some Pet de Soeur

This Québecois pastry glazed in butter and brown sugar is so scrumptious that even its name doesn't deter die-hard fans — it means "nun's fart" in French-Canadian. Some say it gets its off-putting moniker from the sound it makes when frying. Others claim a nun's fart once caused so much uproarious laughter that someone dropped a piece of dough into boiling oil. Regardless of the origin, it's hard to argue that Pet de Soeur is deliciously addictive.

Rye bread display with signs in French at bakery behind window krblokhin / Getty Images

11 Enjoy Jacques-Cartier National Park

Step into the heart of nature at Jacques-Cartier National Park, a sprawling outdoor haven just 30 minutes from Québec City. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or a peace-seeking wanderer, the park's 415 square kilometers of verdant valleys, rushing rivers, and towering peaks offer something for everyone. Hike along the scenic trails, paddle down the serene rivers, or set up a picnic and soak in the breathtaking views. The park's diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Jacques-Cartier valley and its vibrant foliage at Fall David Boutin Photography / Getty Images

12 Watersports at Beauport Bay

Just a stone's throw from Old Quebec, Beauport Bay is a hidden gem that offers a refreshing escape from the city's hustle and bustle. Spend a sunny afternoon paddleboarding or windsurfing on the bay's calm waters, or relax on the sandy beach with a good book. The bay's on-site restaurant and bar provide the perfect setting for a leisurely lunch or a sunset cocktail. With its tranquil ambiance and beautiful views, Beauport Bay is a delightful addition to your Québec City itinerary.

beach bay kevin yulianto / Getty Images

13 Wander downtown Quebec City

Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Downtown Québec City, a bustling district that perfectly blends the city's rich history with its modern spirit. Explore the myriad of museums that offer a glimpse into Québec's past, indulge in some retail therapy at the chic boutiques, or savor a delicious meal at one of the many local restaurants. As the sun sets, the downtown area comes alive with music, laughter, and the clinking of glasses, offering a nightlife experience as diverse as the city itself.

Old Quebec City downtown historic skyline view Pgiam / Getty Images

14 Gawk at everything on Rue Saint-Jean

A stroll down Rue Saint-Jean is a feast for the senses. This lively street is lined with charming boutiques, quaint bakeries, and gourmet chocolate shops that will satisfy your sweet tooth. As the day turns into night, Rue Saint-Jean transforms into a gastronomic hotspot, with restaurants serving everything from traditional Québecois fare to international cuisine. Whether you're a foodie, a shopaholic, or simply a curious traveler, Rue Saint-Jean has a slice of Québec City's vibrant culture for you.

Rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste Patrick Donovan / Getty Images

15 Time travel on Quartier Petit Champlain

Quartier Petit Champlain is home to North America's oldest commercial street. The district is brimming with artisan shops, cozy cafes, and French-inspired cuisine. The architecture and the district's artistic vibe make Quartier Petit Champlain an essential, unique cultural experience.

Petit Champlain District LeonU / Getty Images

16 Get on island time at Île D'Orléans

Escape the city's hustle and bustle and head to Île D'Orléans, a tranquil island known for its lush vineyards, charming villages, and scenic landscapes. Spend the day exploring the island's artisan shops, savoring locally-produced wine and cheese, or simply soaking in the idyllic views. A visit to Île D'Orléans offers a taste of rural Québec's laid-back lifestyle and rich culinary heritage.

Colorful houses in the village of Saint Jean on the island of Orleans near Quebec City, Canada Delpixart / Getty Images

17 You don't have to pray at Basílica Sainte Anne de Beaupré:

Discover a piece of Québec's spiritual heritage at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Located just 20 minutes from the city's center, this historic pilgrimage site draws millions of visitors each year. Marvel at the basilica's stunning architecture, intricate stained glass windows, and works of art. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré offers a serene, enriching experience to all who journey there.

The shot of Saint-Anne de beau pre basilica from inside naibank / Getty Images

18 Chill out visiting the Hotel De Glace

Book a stay at the Hotel De Glace, the city's only ice hotel! (Then again, why would a city need more than one?) Open from January to March, this architectural marvel is made entirely of ice and snow. Details like carved ice sculptures and fur-lined beds turn the hotel into a winter paradise. Even if can't stay overnight, book a hotel tour to witness this spectacular place.

Ice Hotel Quebec-Canada Pierre Roussel / Stringer / Getty Images

19 Visit Mont Saint Anne

Less than an hour from Québec City, Mont Saint Anne is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Winter's snow-covered slopes are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, the area becomes a haven for hikers and downhill mountain bikers. With its stunning views and a wide range of activities, Mont Saint Anne offers year-round fun and adventure for visitors of all ages.

Mont Sainte Anne seen from Montmagny,Montmagny,Quebec,Canada Claude Laprise / 500px / Getty Images

20 Gaze in and outside of Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec

The Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Quebec is a testament to the city's Catholic heritage. As the oldest church in the Americas north of Mexico, this stunning cathedral is a treasure trove of religious art and history. The on-site Chapel of the Sacred Heart features a Holy Door authorized by the Holy See. Catholics often visit the Holy Door during religious pilgrimages. It's a beautiful sight regardless of your religion, though.

quebec city basilica Buena Vista Images / Getty Images

21 Observatoire de la Capitale - test your fear of heights

Elevate your Quebec City experience at the Observatoire de la Capitale. You get a spectacular view because the observatory is on the Marie-Guyart Building's 31st floor. On clear days, you can see the city's skyline, the shimmering St. Lawrence River, and the rolling Appalachian Foothills. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, the Observatoire de la Capitale offers a fresh perspective on Quebec City.

Edifice Marie-Guyart, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada Patrick Donovan / Getty Images

22 Visit the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

Art enthusiasts shouldn't miss the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec. Located in the historic Plains of Abraham, this museum is home to a vast collection of Quebec art spanning from the 17th century to the present day. Make time to explore the museum's four pavilions. Each showcases a different aspect of Quebec's artistic heritage, so they deserve your attention.

woman looking at art George Rose / Getty Images

23 Then check out the Musée de la Civilisation

Dive into human history at the Musée de la Civilisation. This innovative museum hosts exhibitions that explore different aspects of human civilization. You'll find exhibits about ancient cultures and modern societies. The Musée de la Civilisation offers a fascinating journey through time and culture. Learn about the rich heritage of Canada's indigenous cultures, the Maya Civilization's mysteries, and Canada's ancient fishing traditions.

Colorful painted museum sign on asphalt pavement of plaines d'Abraham in Quebec City, Canada krblokhin / Getty Images

24 Explore the military history at Artillery Park

Artillery Park is a hidden gem where history buffs can immerse themselves in the military past of Quebec City. Nestled within the city's fortifications, this site features well-preserved 18th-century French army barracks and offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of soldiers who once guarded this historic city. Visitors can marvel at the Arsenal Foundry with its giant model of 19th-century Quebec and interact with guides dressed in period costumes, bringing the rich history of the French and British troops to life in an engaging and informative way.

25 Appreciate Indigenous cultures in Wendake

Just a stone's throw from downtown Quebec City lies Wendake, a vibrant community where visitors can explore the traditions and heritage of the Huron-Wendat Nation. Through craft workshops, traditional dance performances, and captivating storytelling sessions, Wendake offers a profound insight into the Indigenous culture that has shaped the region. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Huron-Wendat Museum or take an illuminated night walk through the forest with Onhwa' Lumina, promising an unforgettable cultural experience.

26 Attend the Quebec Winter Carnival

Embrace the chill of winter at the Quebec Winter Carnival, one of the most anticipated events in the city's calendar. This spectacular festival transforms the city into a winter wonderland, complete with night parades, ice canoe races, and breathtaking snow sculptures. Whether you're snow bathing or tobogganing, the carnival's lively atmosphere and array of activities offer fun and excitement for all ages. It's a celebration of Quebec City's winter spirit that you won't want to miss.

27 Discover local flavors at La Souche Microbrasserie

La Souche Microbrasserie is the go-to spot for foodies looking to dive into Quebec City's culinary scene. This neighborhood brewery stands out for its innovative take on poutine, a Canadian classic, and its selection of small-batch brews. With its rustic charm and friendly vibe, it's the perfect place to unwind and savor the flavors of the region. Whether you're a beer aficionado or just in search of a cozy spot to enjoy a meal, La Souche offers a genuine taste of local hospitality.

28 Recharge at a Nordic spa

After a day of exploring Quebec City's cobblestone streets and historic sites, there's no better way to unwind than at one of the city's Nordic spas. These havens of relaxation, such as Strøm Nordic Spa or Sky Spa, offer a tranquil escape with their thermal waters, saunas, and breathtaking views. Whether you're looking for a serene retreat in the heart of Old Quebec or a nature-infused experience at Sibéria Station Spa, the city's Nordic spas promise rejuvenation for both body and mind.

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