Best Historic Sites

Équipe édito
Editorial Team
Updated on April 26, 2024
Saint-Jean Gate illuminated in the early evening, with the Hotel Palace Royal in the background.
Jeff Frenette Photography

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Québec is full of history. See how the French, British, First Nations, and North Americans have left their mark over the past 400 years in the best historic sites of Québec City.

Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site

Québec City is a treasured UNESCO World Heritage site and the only fully walled city north of Mexico.The ramparts encircling Old Québec run for 4.6 km—a testament to the city’s military past.

  • Learning about Québec City’s defence system with a knowledgeable guide
  • Seeing the magnificent Saint-Jean and Saint-Louis Gates from up above
  • Immersing yourself in the history of the British military period in Québec City by visiting the officers' quarters at the Artillery Park

Citadelle of Québec

The biggest British fortress in North America has done double duty as the home of Canada’s Governor General since 1872. Other remarkable buildings include the oldest French military building in Canada, which dates back to 1693, and the Dalhousie Gate, the only Citadelle gate to remain intact.

You’ll enjoy:

  • Catching spectacular views of Old Québec and the St. Lawrence River from above, with the Laurentian Mountains to the north
  • Getting your picture taken with one of the guards in their scarlet tunics and bearskin hats
  • Attending the musical performances (in summer only)

Plains of Abraham

This vast expanse of hilly green—now a federal park—was the site of a battle that sealed the fate of North America in 1759 when the British army defeated the French in the famous Battle of the Plains.

You’ll enjoy:

  • Experiencing the famous Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Battle of Sainte‑Foy through Battles, a gripping immersive projection
  • Going inside the Martello Towers to see an exhibition or as part of a fun activity to learn more about these defensive structures built at the start of the 19th century to defend the city
  • Walking around the magnificent park with its numerous cannons, commemorative plaques, monuments, and interpretive panels

Château Frontenac

William Van Horne, CEO of the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway, had Château Frontenac and other hotels like it built to promote travelling by train as a luxury experience. After opening in 1893, the majestic hotel quickly became a favourite stop among travellers passing through Québec City and a venue of choice for fancy parties and big celebrations.

You’ll enjoy:

  • Snapping a picture of the world’s most photographed hotel
  • Taking a fascinating guided tour of this historic landmark with Cicérone Tours, including areas that are closed to the general public and rooms where major historical figures stayed and history was made
  • Seeing artifacts that date back almost 400 years displayed in glass cases for all to see

Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site

This archeological crypt lies under Dufferin Terrace, just beside Château Frontenac. It was the residence and seat of power of successive governors from the time of Samuel de Champlain in 1620 until it was destroyed by fire in 1834.

You’ll enjoy:

  • Exploring the remains of Château Saint-Louis
  • Watching the kids have fun as they tackle their own archeological dig

Parliament Building

Home to Québec’s National Assembly, the Parliament Building is Québec’s seat of legislative power and the province’s foremost historic site. The brand new reception building was inaugurated in 2019 and serves as a modern educational space for all.

You’ll enjoy:

  • Seeing the façade, done in the Second Empire style, and the 26 bronze statues erected in honour of men and women who have shaped the history of the province
  • Taking a free guided tour of the Parliament for a captivating account of the province’s history and democratic institutions
  • Enjoying a delicious meal in the Beaux Arts–style restaurant, Le Parlementaire, which serves up fabulous terroir products and is one of the city’s best‑kept secrets

Morrin Centre

The Morrin Centre is a fascinating study in contrasts. Built as a common jail, it was later converted into an English‑language institution of higher learning. Today, it houses a charming Victorian library.

You’ll enjoy: 

  • Visiting Québec’s first jail, seeing real prisoner cells, and hearing some very surprising prison stories
  • Being spellbound by the haunting stories surrounding the charming Victorian Library, home to a collection of literary gems, some of which date back to the 16th century

Monastère des Augustines

Augustinian Nuns built the continent’s first hospital north of Mexico in 1639. For nearly 400 years, they spent their lives caring for those suffering bodily and mental illnesses. They also played a role in the development of modern medicine.

You’ll enjoy:

  • The harmonious blend of historical and modern architecture
  • The 40,000 artifacts from 12 Augustinian monastery hospitals on display in the permanent exhibition, which traces the social and spiritual work of Québec’s Augustinian nuns through the centuries

Îlot des Palais

Get your fill of 17th century thrills! Walk around the site of New France’s first brewery and home of the colony’s intendants. At Îlot des Palais you’ll find permanent and temporary exhibitions that explore the history of the site.

You’ll enjoy: 

  • Seeing the biggest visible arches from the French regime, which date back to the 18th century
  • Playing the Intendant’s GeoRally

Other Historical Sites

There are tons of other architectural, religious, and military heritage buildings throughout the Québec City area that are as fascinating as they are enriching.

  You’ll enjoy:

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