Quebec City is the most beautiful city in Canada because of its history, architecture and culture. While you’re walking along the cobblestone streets, you’ll hardly be able to believe that you’re not in Paris, France but the 400-year-old capital city in the province of Quebec. If you’re a Canadian and you haven’t explored its beauty, then read this post and pack your bags! Here is your guide Old Quebec/Vieux Québec: all of your must-see attractions to make the most out of your visit.
Plus check out the end of this blog post for a special section on some great spots for Instagram photos!
Old Quebec City
Take a stroll back in time inside the stone walls of Quebec City. It is the only fortified wall city that remains in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Old Quebec” is the part of the city that resides with those walls. Stepping through the gates will transport you back to 1608 when the city was founded by French fur trader Samuel de Champlain. If you are a Canadian, then this is one city that you must visit in your lifetime. In my opinion, it shows our true Canadian heritage and culture more than any other city. Over 95% of the residents here speak French but most are well equipped with some English, making it easy enough to communicate.
This city is best explored on foot. Pack your walking shoes and enjoy the old-world romance and charm that it has to offer. Canada boasts this town as one of the safest, so roaming around alone at any time of day or evening won’t leave you feeling uneasy. This was my fourth trip to Quebec City and I wanted to highlight some of my favourite things to see and do, although there are SO many! So don’t limit yourself to just these sights. This itinerary can be adjusted to accommodate any length of stay!
Accommodations in Quebec City
Staying in the heart of Old Quebec is a must for this trip. Auberge Saint-Antoine has more character, charm and special attention to detail than any other hotel that I have ever stayed at. It is located in the city’s Old Port, just a block from the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The family-owned hotel offers 95 designed rooms and suites. No two rooms are the same and many boast large sized terraces. The hotel also doubles as a museum, beautifully showcasing artefacts that were found on site, some that date back to 1608. Staff-guided tours can help you learn more about the evolution of the property and archaeological digs. Check out the Bed and Breakfast deal and dine at the superb buffet breakfast at the rustic Chez Muffy every morning. Artefact is also the name of the modern bar and restaurant just off of the main lobby.
Attractions – What to do in Quebec City
Vieux Quebec Red Bus Tour
A great place to start in any new city is with a tour. The Old Quebec Red Bus Tour is a hop-on, hop-off tour that takes you on a 2-hour tour with 14 stops at all of the major attractions. Let it help you get your bearings and decide where you want to go first! The bus provides you with headphones so you can tune into multiple language options for a verbally guided tour of the city. I personally like to ride the tour from start to finish then explore on foot. If you have young kids or mobility issues then this may be a great option to see it all! Check their website for ticket and schedule information.
Guided Walking Tour
If you want to know more about the Canadian history of this land then I highly recommend a guided walking tour. With Tours Voir Québec, you get a licenced, professional guide and a 2-hour walking tour throughout the Upper Town and Lower Town. These tours are very affordable and leave you rich with knowledge! If you’re a foodie, then consider the Food Tour!
Rue du Petit Champlain / Quartier Petit Champlain
This street. Rue du Petit Champlain is the heart of Old Quebec. Fill your soul with all the charm of the local boutique shops, pubs and restaurants on the prettiest street in Canada. This 17th-century area called Quartier Petit Champlain is a great place to people watch and grab that perfect photo opportunity. You can access the Upper Village with the stairs at the top of the street or a Funicular ride.
The Citadel has over 300 years of military history. It is the oldest military building in Canada and still an active military garrison. You can pay and admission to tour the museum and the grounds. Even if you aren’t interested in history, it’s worth taking a walk up to get a great viewpoint of the city. Watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony during the summer months.
Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is located in The Battlefields Park next to the Citadel. Grab yourself a pastry and a coffee and go for a walk in this place that changed the course of history for Canada. On September 19, 1759, The English defeated the French armies right in this very place. This win left control of Quebec City to the British government, who eventually took control of Canada the following year. How’s that for a history lesson?! The Plains of Abraham Museum is a really neat spot to check out as well to help you experience battles fought on this land in the 1700s.
Evening Ghost Tour
One of my favourite ways to explore a city and learn more about the spooky folklore and history is with a night-time ghost tour. You will love getting to see a different side of the city by walking around the old cobblestone streets after dark. The Ghost Tours of Quebec takes you on a 2- hour walking tour by a well-versed story-telling guide who strolls the city in a cape holding a candle-lit lantern. The tour ends in the darkness of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Don’t miss out on this experience and reserve your tickets online!
Easily the most photographed landmark in Quebec City is the Chateau Frontenac. It is another historic Fairmont hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1893. Take a stroll on Dufferin Terrace, the wooden promenade that looks out onto the St. Lawrence River from the cliffs of the Upper Town. Snap a photo of the monument of Samuel de Champlain and the excavated remains of his first dwelling below the boardwalk.
Museum of Civilisation
If you need to take a break from the outdoor elements then spend a morning or afternoon in the Museum of Civilization. It is Quebec City’s most popular museum and for good reason to. Many of the exhibitions are very interactive, making it a fun experience for both kids and adults. The museum itself is modern, well taken care of and not-at-all overwhelming. You can easily spend a few hours here and cover everything you’d like!
If you love craning your neck to awe the architecture that old cathedrals have to offer then don’t miss the beautiful treasures in within the walls of Quebec City. The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity was the first Anglican church built outside of the British Isles. The Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral is an absolute must-see with its gold-leafed baldachin or canopy over the altar.
Where to Instagram – Instagrammable Spots
This wouldn’t be a proper blog post from Pursuing Pretty if I didn’t include some places to take great Instagram shots! If you cover enough ground on foot, wander up and down the cobblestone streets, then you’ll be sure to find many of the beautiful coloured windows and doors in Old Quebec. Quartier Petit Champlain is another great spot with many photo opportunities. Love the white walls? If you stroll through the gates the left of the Notre Dame, you’ll end up in the stunning white courtyard of Cour intérieure du Petit Séminaire de Québec. An absolutely stunning photo any time of year! Just time your visit properly, as this is an active schoolyard during weekdays!