Québec City on a Budget

Couple picnicking near the Pierre-Dugua-De Mons terrace while admiring the Château Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River.
Jeff Frenette Photography

Looking for activities and travel opportunities that won’t cost you a lot while in Québec City? The city is filled with experiences that are affordable (and sometimes free!). Keep reading to learn how to experience the best of Québec City’s history, food and culture without going broke – and still have the time of your life!

Getting Around the City

Mention de source Jeff Frenette Photography

Old Québec is the perfect place to explore on foot. Walk down streets and alleyways to discover the history and beauty of the old city. If you don’t want to tackle the big hill between Petit-Champlain/Place-Royale and Upper Town you can opt to ride the Funiculaire for about $3.

If you’re thinking about visiting neighbourhoods outside the tourist areas, consider skipping the taxi and taking a city bus instead. A day pass costs less than $10 and a weekend pass is less than $20. A great deal if you are planning to explore a couple of neighbourhoods – I suggest Limoilou, Saint-Roch and Montcalm to start.

Things to See & Do

  • Spend time in a park - There are several parks in the city that are worth a visit. Our top picks are the Plains of Abraham, Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons Terrace (stellar views of Château Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River from there) and Place des Canotiers.
  • Ride the ferry - On a nice day, take time to ride the ferry from Québec City to Lévis and back. The ride costs about $7 round trip. A delightful little ride with spectacular views of Québec City’s skyline.
  • Festivals, parades and more! - In summer, the streets of Québec City are filled with street performers and artists. It is also one of the best seasons for festivals and events, many of them are free! Watch fireworks burst over the St. Lawrence River, admire the costumes at the New France Festival and enjoy a free outdoor circus show.
  • Visit a museum - Museums are a perfect way to learn about the history and culture of Québec. If you’re looking for a free museum to visit, check out the Naval Museum of Québec. Musée du Fort, while not free, is a fabulous little museum and admission is less than $8. Good to know: museums are free on the first Sunday of each month.
  • Art installations and pop-ups - Each year, art installations appear throughout Québec City, as well as urban pop up spaces. All of which are free!
  • Tour Parliament - Did you know you can do a free walking tour of the Parliament building in Québec City? You totally can and it is gorgeous (and interesting). A great option on days that are overcast.
  • Take a bus to Montmorency Falls - Tours to Montmorency Falls can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to skip it. Instead, take bus #800 towards Beauport and get off at stop #3473 des Rapides. From here it is a short walk to the falls. Spend an afternoon exploring the trails and admiring these beautiful waterfalls from every angle possible. It is truly mesmerizing.
  • Explore 400+ years of history - Tour through Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, walk along the old city walls and take in views of the old city, check out the details on the canons along the wall (there is a German one in there somewhere), and wander down Dufferin Terrace.

Where to Eat

Grand Marché de Québec
Mention de source Lorraine Richard Nolin

There are so many restaurants and épiceries (small food shops) in Québec City, it can sometimes be hard to choose where to go. And if you’re on a budget, things can be a little confusing at times. Here are a couple of suggestions to help stretch your dollar and give you a yummy foodie experience.

  • Shop for Québec terroir & have a picnic - Pop by J.A. Moisan in Saint-Jean-Baptiste or by Québec City's Grand Marché (public market) to buy local products for a picnic. Pick up cheese, charcuteries, and baguettes. Pack them all into a basket or soft cooler and head over to Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons Terrace for a picnic with views of the old city and the St. Lawrence River or pop down to Promenade Samuel-De Champlain and go for a walk along the river afterwards.
  • Eat poutine - if you have not enjoyed the gooey hot goodness of poutine, then get on it! There are several places to enjoy poutine in the city, and it is generally cheap to eat.
  • Best Value Restaurants - Everyone likes to make a great bargain, the following restaurants are the best bang for your buck you’ll find in Québec City. Many of Québec’s best restaurants offer a prix fixe menu at lunch. It is an ideal option if you’re looking for a gourmet meal for under $20 per person.

Pamela Macnaughtan, amoureuse de Québec
Pamela MacNaughtan

Travel writer and photographer, Pamela has a deep love of all things Québec City. She is an anglophone from Ontario who prefers living in Québec. An avid city explorer and chocolat chaud connoisseur, Pamela accentuates the finest experiences in the city.

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