What does one see and do in Québec City during a 24-hour stopover? Well, exploring the city’s history should be at the top of everyone’s list–this is generally why people come to Québec City–quickly followed by a hot and gooey bowl of poutine! Here is how to catch Québec City's top highlights in a single day.

Morning

Place Royale and Petit-Champlain
At the site of the first settlement of New France (now known as Québec City), wander the cobblestoned streets of this small neighbourhood, stopping by Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church which stands on the site of the first home and trading post of Samuel de Champlain when he established the first colony in 1608. As you reach the end of Rue Sous-le-Fort you’ll spot the Breakneck Stairs (Escalier Casse-Cou) on your right. To your left, Rue du Petit-Champlain, one of the oldest shopping streets in North America. Today, the cobblestone street is flanked by boutiques, artisan shops and restaurants. Charming (and busy!) during the day, this area is also quite beautiful at night. When you’ve had your fill of Petit-Champlain, walk back towards to Breakneck Stairs and ride the funicular to the top of Cap Diamant.

Dufferin Terrace & Château Frontenac
A ride on the funicular offers a lovely view of Petit-Champlain district, Place Royale and the St. Lawrence River. When you exit the funicular hut, you will be standing on Dufferin Terrace, facing Château Frontenac and a monument dedicated to Samuel de Champlain (the city’s founder). Spend time admiring the views from the terrace and the majesty of the château and stop by Au 1884 to buy an ice cream cone.

Lunchtime

There are quite a few restaurants to choose from in Old Québec. But there are also amazing sites to make a memorable picnic.

Afternoon

Discovering the relics of the past
Québec has a lot of interesting activities for history fans. After lunch, consider visiting some of these sites: Citadelle de QuébecMusée du Fort and Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site.

Religion has played a large role in the shaping of Québec City and there are several churches and cathedrals in the city that are worth a visit, like Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral and Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

For those who love to shop

  • Art & antiques - In the neighbourhood of the Old Port, on Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue Saint-Paul, you will find several art galleries and antique shops. 
  • Fashion - Probably one of the best neighbourhoods for fashion, Saint-Roch is a 15-minute walk from Old Québec (or you can take bus #1 or #18). Walk along Rue Saint-Joseph to shop local boutiques.
  • Gourmet foods - Walk outside the gate on Rue Saint-Jean into the neighbourhood of Saint-Jean-Baptiste to shop at places like J.A. Moisan (a Victorian era grocery store and gourmet food shop), Épicerie Europpéenne and Érico’s chocolate shop. 

Evening

After a full day of walking around the city and experiencing all that it has to offer, maybe you'd want to eat at one of the restaurants that showcase Québec's traditional food or at one of Old Quebec's fine dining restaurants If you are a lover of craft beer, go to places like Griendel in Saint-Sauveur; or Korrigane, Noctem and La Barberie in Saint-Roch. 

Evenings in Québec City tend to be more quiet and laid back, a good time to wander through the streets and admire the lighted buildings.

The secret to having the best day in Québec City is to indulge in the things you love most. Open your eyes and your heart. Make time to stop in a café for a coffee and pastry, try speaking French (the locals love it when tourists make an effort, no matter how bad that is) and take a lot of photos! After you spend the best day exploring Québec City you will likely want to come back for more (and stay longer as well!).