Quebec City is the capital of province of Quebec. It is a smaller city than ones such as Toronto or Vancouver, but is filled with great shopping, dining and historic attractions. People who go to Quebec City frequently name it as one of their favourite places. The city has a European feel to it, with many shops, boutiques and cafes. Quebec is a French-speaking province, but don’t let that deter you. Most major businesses have English-speaking staff.
Quebec City is loved by almost everyone who visits. The people who enjoy it most love a European atmosphere, cultural tourism and heritage site, fine food and wine. Additionally, many people come for the shopping, as the malls are large and filled with amazing stores.
Things to do in Quebec City
Old Quebec City
The Old Town, filled with shops, cafes and other attractions is definitely worth a visit. Wear good walking shoes! This pedestrian area is steep and to get there you need to go down a steep set of stairs. Alternatively, take the funicular from the historic Chateau Frontenac, a five-star hotel originally built for executives of the CN Rail. Other Chateaux are located throughout Canada, along the rail line. It is worth touring the grounds of the Chateau and you can probably get a tour of the luxurious public areas inside of the Chateau.
Shopping- Mass Merchandisers
Quebec City features amazing historical attractions, but shoppers will not be disappointed. The main mall is the Galerie Laurier. This has the best mix of stores in Eastern Canada, which is a large part of the reason why it is the second most popular attraction in Quebec City (after the old town).
Shopping- Pedestrian Streets
If busy commercial centres are not your interest, pedestrian shopping streets just might be your preference. These boulevards feature wide cobblestone street filled with numerous boutiques and artisan stores. Some of the main ones include the Petite Champlain district, the oldest of its kind in North America. Aside form the great stores, you can view old houses and purchase authentically ‘made in Quebec’ souvenirs. Another shopping street is just outside of the fortifications. This is Rue St Jean, and it features artisan shops and food stores offering local produced treats and baking. For the fashion savvy shopper, St Jean is also the place to go for the most trendy stores and boutiques. Other excellent opportunities are also found.
A final example of the products you will be able to purchase in Quebec City is speciality foods. The Quebec Public Market, located near the port, here is where you’ll find fresh produce of all kinds as well as deli meats, Quebec cheese (a must try!) and other local specialities. Beer aficionados will want to check out the world-famous Dépanneur La Duchesse d'Aiguillon. This shop features brews from the city, the province and even the world. The selection is incredible and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The oldest supermarket in North America is one of the must-see foodie destinations of Quebec. This market, J.A. Moisan, features fine foods and a full selection of Quebec specialites. The 1920s music and decor make this a full sensory experience.
New France Festival
The New France festival is a heritage event that occurs each year celebrating the origins of this celebrated city. The festival features parades of huge statues, dancing, music and all things that reflect the history and heritage of Quebec.
The biggest and best known event in Quebec is the annual winter carnival and its mascot, Bonhomme Carnival – a friendly snowman. The carnival runs the first two weeks of February and is one of the largest winter carnivals in the world. This event features activities for everyone from the youngest children to adults. Snow slides, amazing snow sculptures, skiing and concerts are just some of the spectacles you can experience.
Cirque de Soleil
The world-renowned Cirque de Soleil has a show that they put on for free near the harbour. The show is a series that continues each year, but you don’t have to see the previous performances to appreciate each episode. There is no actual language, so this is not a barrier to understanding the story.
A cultural and European style city, Quebec City’s dining establishment will impress even the most discerning tastes, thanks to the award-wining chefs from as far away as France. These chefs give Quebec City its reputation as one of the best cities in Canada for fine dining. Some suggestions are Portofino, for fine, traditional Italian meals or Restaurant Champlain which features scenic views of the St. Laurence River.
The St Lawrence River
While in Quebec City, a cruise of the St Lawrence River is a must. There are cruises of varying lengths and some which offer a light meal during the excursion. Most cruises include a guide who narrates the history of the city and points out the landmarks along the way.
The Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham are perhaps the most important landmark in Quebec. Today they include a beautiful park and gardens, a museum and an old fort in which you can take an interactive tour. The plains were once the site of the final battle between the English and French forces. The French lost, but were allowed to keep their language and culture as a consolation prize.
Getting to and around
A main international airport is located just outside of Quebec City, and taxis and shuttle buses offer service to and from this transportation hub. Prices for taxis are pre-set according to destination and are quite reasonable. Coaches and the passenger train service also come and go from here. Within Quebec itself, a large network of tourist buses bring visitors from their hotel to attractions such as the Laurier Mall. The Old City is pedestrian-only. Walking around the upper city is a great way to see the area. Taxis and buses also are possibilities. Taxis are not as expensive here as they are in larger cities. Driving with your own car or a rental is not too difficult, if you don’t mind navigating foreign cities. For a different experience, you can take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic area. However, this is a major tourist draw, the price is quite high.
Pick the time right!
Tourists visit Quebec City in Summer
The best time to come depends on your interest. If you want to ski or participate in the Winter Carnival, you’ll need to come in winter, when it can be quite cold. The summer is high tourist season, so prices are at a premium during this time. Fall would probably be best as it is not a crowded time of year for tourists, and the leaves will be changing colours, painting the city in red, yellow and gold. Beautiful!