Québec City, Canada, is located 296 kilometers (184 miles) from Montreal and is known for the world-famous Fairmont Château Le Frontenac European-style resort with stunning views of the St. Lawrence. Apart from being the most photographed hotel in the world, it is also known for its rich history. Locals refer to Quebec City as “little Europe” and are proud of it.
Mid-September is fall in Quebec City and the fall colors show their warm, vibrant colors. It’s what I call sweater weather. However, I missed a week! The best times to visit Quebec City are from June to October and from December to March. I’ve only heard about the winter and seen pictures, but it’s a great time to visit and there are lots of sights to see. The locals tell me there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. But I can admit that I prefer the summer months.
Quebec City and its narrow cobblestone streets are very accessible, but if you plan to head to Montmorency Falls and some of the places I’ve listed below, you’ll want to rent a vehicle. The city has many public parking lots and garages, and the average cost is between $18-25 per day. Hotels in town have valet parking.
The destination of Québec cité hosted me. All opinions are my own.
1. Old Quebec City
Walk the narrow streets of the city enjoying the beauty of each fortification (building), landmark, shop and restaurant. You might stumble upon something that takes your breath away. I say this because I was in awe every time I left my hotel room.
As you walk through the Old Town, look for Le Monastere des Augustines. It is a monastery that has been restored and renovated as a cultural heritage and wellness retreat. It offers its visitors a unique holistic health experience and a living contact with the Augustinian heritage. You can stay overnight, dine in their restaurant and take a tour of the museum to learn about the legacy left by the church.
Suggestions for dinner in Old Quebec City:
As you roam the city throwing out dinner ideas, may I recommend these experiences?
- Le Clan is a six-course wine-paired dining experience serving a unique gastronomic experience by Chef Stéphane Modat.
- Chez Muffy is an upscale restaurant located within the luxury hotel Auberge Saint-Antoine serving the finest local seasonal ingredients and requires advance reservations.
- Laurie Raphael is a 3-hour dining experience with an eight-course meal and wine pairing. It’s an experience that serves a clean fork in every course! They value culinary simplicity and the greatest respect for food.
2. Walking tour of Old Quebec
If you want to experience the history of Quebec City, the best way to experience Old Quebec is with a local tour company such as Cicerone Tours.
It is a 2 hour walking tour with a guide who knows everything about the area. You’ll learn some history and maybe learn something you didn’t know. Much of what he told me was taught in high school, yet I was still amazed by it. There is so much history that started here and shaped the United States.
3. Old Quebec Cable Car
For $4 one way, ride the cable car to go through the upper and lower city and see great views of the city. Choose to walk back or pay to return. Either way, it’s something you should do at least once while you’re in town.
4. Strom Nordique Spa
For an outdoor thermal therapy treat, consider booking a visit to Strom Nordique Spa, a luxurious spa experience overlooking the Saint-Lawrence River. It’s an experience of total relaxation and total rejuvenation, to create your best self and reconnect with what’s important. Expect a visit of at least 2 hours or more.
Pro tip: Bring a bathing suit and sandals.
5. Parc De La Chute-Montmorency
Immerse yourself in nature by strolling through Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and marvel at the sights and impressive 83-foot waterfall. You can walk to the waterfall and back. But to do that, there are 487 stairs. I recommend paying the price to ride the cable car up and down. It offers the best view of the falls and its surroundings.
If you’re feeling adventurous, book a zip line over the waterfall or the Via Ferrata. It’s on my to-do list for the next time I visit. The park is a 15-minute drive from Quebec City. If you have the appetite, there is an on-site restaurant as well as a food truck serving unique specialties.
Pro tip: Don’t rush here. Give yourself at least 2 hours or more to experience them all.
6. Parc National De La Jacques-Cartier
This national park is a 30-minute drive from Quebec City and is one of Quebec’s most beautiful glacial valleys. I spent time with a naturalist guide as she took me on a canoe trip through the valleys of the Jacques-Cartier River. Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier offers hiking, whitewater canoeing, stillwater rentals, kayaking, fishing, camping, and many other outdoor activities. The park is open all year round. This is one of the best places to enjoy winter outdoor activities.
I highly recommend having a naturalist guide on your trip to the park.
Pro tip: Plan for at least half a day to get the most out of your visit.
7. Drive to Île D’Orléans
Just minutes from downtown Quebec City, Île d’Orléans is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the beautiful scenery and sample the local delicacies. You can discover it by bike or kayak in the summer. There is also a golf course on the island. There are great places to stop if you are going to see the sights and maybe grab a bite to eat.
Cassis Monna & Filles
Cassis Monna & Filles offers many things in one location. Enjoy La Monnaguette restaurant for lunch, shop in the boutique and relax in the dairy bar. Indoor and outdoor seating available. While you’re there, opt to sample the delicious handmade soft-serve jellies and blackcurrant-vanilla sorbets.
La Goeliche Restaurant
Dine outside at La Goeliche for excellent views of the River St. Lawrence. Order the poutine if you want to enjoy a local favorite with cheese curds, french fries and brown gravy. Being a Texan, I like my fries crispy, so I wasn’t a fan of the poutine. But you have to try this favorite local dish just because you’re there. Don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself!
A few more places worth visiting are Chocolaterie de Île d’Orléans for ice cream and delicious chocolate, Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau for apple or frozen cider, and Vignoble-Isle De Bacchus for Quebec wines and cheese tasting.
8. Overnight in Wendake, Canada
Wendake, Canada is 25-30 minutes from Old Quebec and is one of 11 communities in Quebec designated as Indigenous Tourism. I had the pleasure of staying the night in Wendake to experience the life of the indigenous people and their community. Let’s say time permits your travels to Quebec City. In this case, I highly recommend taking a short drive (perhaps overnight) to Wendake to explore its aboriginal world and unique First Nations culture, heritage, arts and traditions.
Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations
Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations is a 4-star boutique hotel and museum owned by the indigenous community. The style of the hotel and its rooms are beautifully inspired by First Nations culture, including leather, buckskin and rich decor. It was to my taste and I enjoyed my stay. The Huron-Wendat Museum is the only one of its kind in Canada. The in-house restaurant La Traite offers First Nation-inspired cuisine and outdoor patio seating during warmer months.
Follow up your museum tour with your own guided tour outside to walk the grounds of a replica longhouse depicting how early Europeans lived. It is a very neat story that I will never forget. Those who wish and book a hotel room can choose to spend the night at the far house.
An auspicious part of visiting Wendake is Onhwa Lumina at night. It is a fantastic night journey with magical lights, sound and video of the Huron-Wendat people. As I wandered through the kilometer of thousands of lights, sounds and stories in a language I didn’t know, I couldn’t help but watch and hear them whispering in French — I’m sure they felt more than I did. It was a sight, something remarkable. The attraction is open all year round.
Since Onhwa Lumina starts in the dark, you may want to plan to stay the night at Wendake.
Pro tip: Quebec City is very proud of its city and there is so much history there that I highly recommend booking local tours whenever possible. I would have missed so much history of Quebec City if I hadn’t taken the tours.