By: Jim Bamboulis
Quebec City is quaint, intimate and compact. But before we get into the details of what to see and do, consider some quick facts:
- If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to arrive, check in, drop everything and hit the ground running, then you can do QC is 1-2 days. It’s a very walkable city.
- It’s one of the oldest cities in North America (over 400 years old).
- The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec are the only remaining fortified city walls that exist in the Americas (north of Mexico).
- The Historic District of Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Plains of Abraham is considered to be the birthplace of Canada!
- Bring comfortable and durable walking shoes – you’ll need them.
The winters here are as you would expect, very cold. But if you can tolerate a bit of a chill, you can enjoy some great adventures. There’s the annual Winter Carnival, the Ice Hotel and plenty of skiing to be done. But I prefer the summer, where you can walk around comfortably and enjoy the boat ride up the St. Lawrence with some great skyline views.
Do – Walk around Vieux Quebec
Walking and entering the Old City through one of its gates is a thrill in and of itself. The incredible stat about QC is that there are 37 National Historic Sites of Canada in this city and its enclaves!
A funicular and “neck-breaking” steps connects the Upper and Lower Town. Throughout both, you’ll find museums, narrow walkways with boutiques, art galleries and restaurants all encompassed with beautiful Old World architecture.
The Chateau Frontenac dominates the city skyline. A château style hotel, it was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company with the aim of luring wealthy travellers and bringing in luxury tourism bucks both throughout its trains and subsequently to QC. For some of the better views of the Chateau and of the St. Lawrence River, be sure to take a walk along the Dufferin Terrance, a long boardwalk at the edge of Upper Town beside the Chateau. You can’t miss it.
Do – Take a boat ride up the River
To get a great overview of Quebec City and get a sense of what it must have been like to approach this port hundreds of years ago, hop on a chartered boat and take a tour along the St. Lawrence. There are several excursions to pick, some even offering alcohol onboard. All are accessible along the waterfront, pick your style and time and you’re off.
See – Plains of Abraham + The Battlefield Park
The Dufferin Terrace leads you to the Citadel of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham. Known to be the birthplaces of Canada, it was here where the British took Quebec from France. It’s hard to imagine that there was a great battle here more than 250 years ago because today, this space is a large and beautiful park, perfect for a walk, jog, bicycle ride or even a picnic.
Tip – If you’re flying into QC be aware that the best way to get to the Old City is to take a cab. And that’s going to run you $35.
If you decide to arrive by train, you’re in luck. The train station is centrally located and is a few minutes walk (uphill) to the old, fortified city.
Bring your stamina.
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