Travel as far and wide as you like, but you’re never going to find a place quite like Quebec. The perfect mash-up of French and Canadian culture, it’s one of North America’s oldest towns and possibly the best preserved. The entirety of the Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage site, full of history and cobblestones, yet it also manages to retain a welcoming, cosmopolitan feeling among the historical buildings.
Quebec City serves as a fantastic base for exploring the rest of the province and if you’re staying for a longer period of time, you’ll have plenty of opportunity as the city itself is brilliantly compact and easy to navigate. We’ve outlined some must-see ideas to get you started on your trip, so why not save your favorites to your BUCKiTDREAM planner to get you started?
Marvel at the Old Town Strolling through the historic Old Town, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve been transported not just out of Canada, but the entire American continent. Impeccably clean and full of French charm, it never fails to impress. It’s an architectural dream, full of original structures and the area has been carefully planned so that any new buildings match the original design.
Check out the Carnival Quebec simply loves to entertain. Summer visitors will find a town full of acrobats and entertainers in period costume, while February’s Winter Carnival is truly a spectacular sight to behold. Spread over three weekends, you’ll find parades, an amazing ice sculpture competition and mind-boggling events like a snow bath. If you don’t mind the cold, this is the celebration for you.
Go to Foodie Island Île d’Orléans is a mere 15-minute drive from downtown Quebec but its incredible foodie scene has earned it the nickname “The pantry of Quebec”. Travel by car to take full advantage of the scenery and don’t forget to stop at one of the many strawberry farms to pick your own basket.
Niagara What? One visit to Montmorency Falls and you’ll forget all about Niagara Falls. 100 feet higher than the more famous falls, you can explore the area with a cable car or by going over the suspended bridge.
Go Wild Nature lovers simply must schedule a road trip to Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier during their vacation. A mere thirty-minute drive from the city, it’s a utopia of kayaking, hiking and fishing. If you have the time, you can rent a cabin and if you’re lucky you might even spot a bear.
Mmm, Chocolate… Think you know chocolate? Think again. Erico Chocolatier’s small museum has a free self-guided tour that show you some very interesting artifacts but the real highlight is the little store where you can choose between ten different types of hot chocolate or an eye-popping array of candy to take home.
Relive History One for the history buffs, the Plains of Abraham is both an incredible city park and the site of many historical clashes between the French and British Empires. It’s a perfect place to relax with a picnic in the summer, but it’s also home to a fascinating museum with historical exhibits and the park also runs free walking tours.
Go Native Getting to the heart of Canada means learning about the people of the First Nations and their fascinating and often tragic history. Wendake is a self-governing territory just a short trip from Quebec City and here you’ll find an authentic reconstruction of the homes and culture of the local First Nations people as well as a thriving artistic community. Look out for intricate masks and clothing made by hand.
High-end Quebec is home to one of only two ice hotels in the entire world. If you’d like to be part of this very exclusive club, you’ll have to pay a visit to Hotel de Glace between January and April. Thankfully, the spectacle is not just reserved for hotel guests; you can arrange a full tour of the hotel before 8 pm, though access is restricted to hotel guests after that. Explore the themed rooms, each decorated with intricate ice sculptures, or for a truly unforgettable experience, you can even plan a wedding at the chapel where your guests can sit wrapped up on snow pews.
Mid-range If you want to truly relax during your Quebec visit, book a stay at Le Monastere des Augustines. Set in a historic monastery that’s still run by the Augustinian Sisters today, you can choose between contemporary rooms or authentic monastery rooms, which have been immaculately preserved. You won’t find any TVs in your bedroom here, but you will have homemade, healthy, ‘silent’ breakfast and an ideal base to explore the Old Town.
Budget If you want to save your cents without compromising on location, Auberge de la Paix is the place for you. Nestled in a 19th-century building in heart of the Old Town, this hostel has a peaceful courtyard in which to spend time in the summer and also caters to large groups.
This city is all about the cheese and you’ll find plenty of delis and markets to help satisfy your craving. There’s a huge diversity of flavors, including varieties made from raw sheep, cow and goat milk. Dedicated foodies can even pay a visit to some of the province’s most famous cheese makers. Stock up before you go home because it’s almost impossible to find these delicacies outside the Quebec province.
Drinks & Nightlife
Winter visitors can warm up by sipping a caribou – a local hot mixture of red wine, whiskey and maple syrup. It’s usually made at home so you’ll have to shop around to try all the different local recipes; all in the name of science, of course.
For a cozy night in, seek out the stone cellar of L’Oncle Antoine, a pub that serves up plenty of local crafts brewed in one of the city’s oldest surviving houses. When you’re ready to party, head to the Grand Allee to dance until closing time at 3 am. Le Dagobert is one of the city’s oldest and biggest clubs; it’s ‘free entry’, so the club tends to get pretty busy and is popular with a younger crowd.
Tips & Culture
You’ll have a much easier time if you brush up on your high school French before visiting. For approximately 80% of the population, French is their native language and the town is fiercely proud of their French-Canadian heritage. You won’t run into any issues in Quebec City with speaking English, but if you want to venture further out into the small, scenic towns, a few words will go a long way if you need help getting directions.
Despite what some waitstaff and bartenders may tell you, tipping is not required by law. While a 15% tip is standard, it’s purely left to the discretion of the customer. If you do decide to tip, most people will also accept American dollars if you run out of local currency.
If you manage to get up early enough to capture it, the sunrise fog that can linger over the city or river in Quebec can be an amazing photographic opportunity. In the city, you can often find it rolling down the river or if you’re out exploring nature, head for the mountains to capture the spectacular sight of peaks rising out of the mist. The sunlight tends to burn off this spectacle all too quickly, so only the earliest of risers will be able to see it in all its glory.
The fabulous fog is just one of the many Instagram-worthy shots you’re bound to take in during your adventure in this unique and fascinating city. After a couple of days in Quebec you’ll want to share your experiences with everyone, so don’t forget to keep snapping and posting on social media to inspire others to make the trip!