17 Best Quebec City Attractions: A Locals Guide!
Quebec City, considered by many to be the ‘Europe of Canada,’ is known for being the most beautiful city in Canada. Quebec City attractions include breathtaking scenic sights, festivals, art and history.
Our local traveler on the ground, Kristin from Tiny Footsteps, has the best tips on this fantastic Canadian capital.
By the end of this article, you’ll know the best attractions Quebec City has to offer, and insider local scoop on things to do, where to stay, and when to visit.
FUN FACT: Quebec City, often just called ‘Quebec,’ is the capital of the province of Quebec, which is the most French-speaking province in Canada. French is the language of Quebec City, but as a tourist, you’ll have no problem getting around using English.
So let’s jump in!
Best Quebec City Attractions
Here are the best Quebec city attractions that you’ll want to make time for during your stay. You don’t want to miss out on these while you’re in Quebec!
1. Take an afternoon trip to Montmorency Falls
Don’t visit Quebec without a visit to the most beautiful waterfall in Canada. The breathtaking Montmorency Falls (known as Chute-Montmorency) is even taller than Niagara Falls.
This beautiful attraction allows you to walk right over the falls on a bridge and down a long flight of stairs along the side – allowing you to look at the waterfall from many points of view.
The view from the bridge hanging over the falls gives you a picturesque view of water plunging over the cliff below, as well as the surrounding land.
Located only 15 minutes from Old Quebec, you can drive to Montmorency Falls, take an Uber or public transit.
It’s best to book your tickets to visit the falls online in advance.
2. Join a guided tour of the Citadelle of Quebec
The Citadelle is an active military base built originally to protect Quebec from an American invasion.
Take a 1-hour guided tour (available in French and English) from an expert who will share with you the most interesting details about the Citadelle, which was built in the 1800s and contains the oldest military building in Canada.
After the guided tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour, you will have time for a self-guided tour of the w22e Régiment Museum, which was built in 1750 and contains important artifacts from Canada’s military history.
Visitors are strongly encouraged to book their tickets to the Citadelle online.
3. Walk along the Grande Allée
The Grande Allée is considered to be the Canadian “Champs-Elysées” and is the best way to walk to and from Upper Town and Old Town in Quebec.
Its lined with restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs, boutiques, and souvenir stores. Basically, it’s where all the ‘action’ in Quebec is.
Grab a bite to eat along one of the summer patios, dance, or meet new people.
Grande Allée is completely car-free on summer weekends and during the summer festival, and in the weeks leading up to the annual New Year’s Eve bash.
4. Go on a haunted walk of Old Town
Being one of the oldest cities in Canada, Quebec City is home to 400 years’ worth of stories, tales of escapes, murders, tragedies, executions, and unsolved mysteries.
The ghost tours allow you go deeper with your exploration of Quebec and learn about some of the darker side of Canada’s prettiest city.
Lead by an expert in costume, be prepared to be spooked as you listen to bone-chilling tales while you admire Old Quebec by night.
The Quebec City ghost tours start at 8 pm on weekends and can be booked online.
5. Sample locally-made chocolate
You can visit Erico Chocolatier on weekends for a free self-guided tour to learn about chocolate production throughout history to the present day.
On weekdays, drop by to watch the chocolatiers making chocolate through a window looking into Erico Chocolatier’s factory.
BONUS: Check out Erico’s fine chocolate products in their store: hot chocolates, teas, pastries, and other assortments!
Old Quebec City Attractions
A walk through Old Quebec is an attraction in itself, but while you’re there, there are several attractions that will allow you dig deeper into its fascinating history.
6. Take a stroll on the Dufferin Terrace
Dufferin Terrace is a boardwalk outside of Chateau Frontenac, a perfect platform for viewing the surrounding Old Town buildings.
It’s also home to live entertainment in the summer and a toboggan run in the winter.
What many tourists don’t know is that the only archeological crypt in North America is buried right underneath the Dufferin Terrace.
You can enjoy the Dufferin Terrace on foot or book a private tour of the crypt online.
7. Admire the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
The most iconic building of Quebec City, and Canada’s most famous hotel, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in the world.
You don’t have to stay at Le Chateau Frontenac in order to explore it.
Book a guided tour on Le Chateau’s website, which will allow you to learn about its history and the famous people who have stayed here. You can also view historical artifacts that date back 400 years.
8. Indulge in French-Canadian Cuisine
Restaurants aux Ancients Canadiens serves traditional, gourmet French Canadian cuisine that you can’t miss during a trip to Quebec.
Experience Quebec like a local by trying locally sourced, delicious recipes that are unique to the region. There are some fabulous vegetarian options as well.
Be sure to try their Poutine, which is a traditional French-Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curd, and gravy.
9. Ride the funicular
Get a break from climbing the hills of Quebec City, and take a ride on the historical funicular, which has been open in Old Town Quebec for almost 145 years.
The funicular is the only cable car of its kind in North America.
Open all year round, summer and winter. The funicular allows you to travel 85.5 m uphill on a 45-degree angle as you admire the view of Old Town, the St. Lawrence river, and the town of Levi on the other side of the river.
The funicular ride is about 2 minutes long and costs $4.00 CDN in cash. The funicular can be accessed in Louis Jolliet House, at 16 Petit-Champlain.
Quebec City Attractions in Winter
Quebec City is home to world-famous festivals held throughout the winter.
Anytime you visit between December and March, there will be charming winter-themed events unique to Quebec that can’t be found anywhere else in North America.
Here are two of the most iconic events to plan your Quebec City winter vacation around.
10. Quebec City Christmas Markets
Stroll through Old Quebec during the holiday season for the classic feel of European-style Christmas markets.
The German Christmas Market, held in the heart of Old Quebec, offers a festive atmosphere of Christmas lights, traditional wooden kiosks, Christmas music, hot drinks, and more than 90 vendors selling unique and often handmade items. Look for it from November 23rd to December 22nd, 2023.
The Grande Christmas Market is an indoor event with more than 200 vendors. A perfect destination for foodies, or anyone looking for unique, artisan, 100% local and handmade goods – you’ll be sure to find special gift ideas that can’t be found anywhere else.
11. Carnival de Quebec
Held annually in February, Quebec City’s Carnival de Quebec is one of the largest winter festivals in the world, bringing in thousands of tourists each year.
The Carnival features a range of stunning snow sculptures in Old Town, night parades, games, toboggan slides, and special musical entertainment hosted by a snowman named Bonhomme.
You can also visit and admire North America’s only ice hotel.
Free Things To Do in Quebec City
Quebec is home to many old churches, historical monuments, parks, and green spaces that can be enjoyed without spending a dime.
12. Discover the Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is an extensive park and museum where the Battle of Quebec took place.
The battle location was once farmland belonging to a man named Abraham, hence the name. The French and the English fought over the land in this battle, which later influenced the creation of Canada as a country.
Today, the park is enjoyed by locals and tourists for relaxation, walks, and festivals.
13. Relax in the Joan of Arc Garden
This small Victorian park is a mix of English and French flower garden styles.
For the past 100 years, the National Battlefields Commission has been growing flowers here, and there are over 150 species of flowers, herbs, and plants to enjoy in the spring and summer.
Admire the statue of Joan of Arc on horseback in the center of the park. There are benches and plenty of mature trees so you can relax and get a break from the sun on a hot day. There are public restrooms across the street.
Joan of Arc garden is open year-round daily and often decorated according to the season and holidays.
14. Admire the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
The Notre Dame Basilica Catherdral was built in1647, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in Canada.
It has been burned to the ground and rebuilt twice. It’s also Quebec City’s most beautiful church, and well worth a visit to admire the stunning work of art on the inside and out.
Notre Dame Basilica’s doors are open daily to visitors.
15. Climb the St. Louis Gate
Old Town of Quebec is confided by fortified walls. The St. Louis Gate is an entry point in those fortified walls, where the Grande Allee meets Old Town.
You can also climb the St. Louis Gate and get a beautiful photo of steps leading down to Old Town from above.
You can also take a 2.8-mile (4.6 km) walk along the city fortifications to admire the structure and view Old Town from multiple viewpoints.
Unique Things To Do in Quebec City
If you want to delve more into French Canadian culture and make plans that differ from the traditional tourist agenda, then you should consider the below attractions that are frequented by locals.
Here are some local insider tips that are unique to Quebec City and often overlooked by tourists.
16. Shop at Artisans de la Cathedrale
Artisans de la Cathedrale is a daily summer market held in the heart of Quebec City, right next to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Hundreds of local artists display their works of art, upcycled material made from recycled glass, woodwork, fine art, ceramic, beading, and more.
Held every day from 10 am to 9 pm, a walk through Artisans de la Cathedral allows you to admire and support local Quebec art.
17. Take the Quebec-Levis ferry
Taking the ferry across the river allows you to see Quebec City from a completely different view that most tourists miss!
The ferry ride, which takes 12 minutes, runs day and night all year long – you can admire the city lights gleaming onto the river surface or enjoy the view of the Quebec skyline by day.
Levis, a small city, is home to old parishes, a stone fort, and many parks, which make it a nice half-day trip either on foot or by bike.
The ferry leaves every 30 minutes, and the schedule can be viewed online.
Where to Stay in Quebec City
Quebec City has a range of accommodation options to fit different budgets. Whether you’re looking to splurge or save, Quebec City has options.
📍 Auberge Internationale de Quebec: If you want to stay right in Old Quebec on a budget, this is an awesome deal. Auberge is a hostel and part of a historic building that dates back to the 1790s.
With both dorms and private rooms, with and without ensuite bathrooms, Auberge is located right in the heart of Old Quebec City. See everything in historic Old Town without being too far away, and do it on a budget!
📍 L’Addresse 401 Grande Allee: L’addresse, located at the top of Grande Allee allows you to pass the excitement of Grande Allee and go through the Port St. Louis each day as you cross into Old Town.
📍Farimont Frontenac Quebec – Stay at the most photographed hotel in the world with the most pristine view overlooking the St. Lawrence river and Old Town.
FAQ: Quebec City Travel Tips
Here are a local’s answers to some of the most commonly asked questions from tourists about Quebec City.
Is Québec City worth visiting?
Yes, Quebec City is a unique city in Canada, with the oldest buildings, breathtaking views, and history. It is well worth a visit.
Another great Canadian city worth visiting is Toronto. And I would know, I’ve done it with a toddler!
What are things Québec City is famous for?
Quebec is City is famous for being the birthplace of French Canadian culture, the 2nd oldest city in Canada with its picturesque Old Town, and for hosting the largest winter festival in the world, Carnival.
How do you spend 2 days in Québec City?
Spend one full day in Old Town; ride the funicular, and explore the Chateau Frontenac and the Grande Terrace.
The next day, take a day trip to Montmorency Falls and enjoy a leisurely stroll in the Plains of Abraham.
What is the best month to visit Quebec?
The best months to visit Quebec City are June through October and December through February.
The summer and winter months allow you to take most adventures of the unique festivals and markets happening at that time of year.
Is Quebec City prettier than Montreal?
Quebec City is the prettier and more photogenic between Quebec City and Montreal because of the beautiful historic buildings and European-style Old Town.
Yet another great Canadian gem to consider is Ontario.
Final Thoughts: Best Quebec City Attractions
Quebec City has exciting festivals and things to do year-round. Regardless of the time of year you visit, you won’t be disappointed in the Quebec City attractions.
Visiting Quebec City attractions allows you to engage with Canada’s earliest history, immerse yourself in French Canadian culture and admire the stunning views of Old Town.