Must-See Attractions: Top 10 Things to Do
Québec City’s history, friendly vibe, and myriad attractions throughout the year make it a stand‑out travel destination. Every season brings its own special activities and stunning sights. This list of top attractions will help you plan your visit and enjoy a trip that hits all the right notes.
Include these essentials in your itinerary, they are not to be missed!
Jeff Frenette Photography
1 Old Québec
Stroll North America's oldest streets
Walk along the fortified walls surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage Site and admire the view from every angle. For all its 400 years of incredible history, it’s still very much alive: magical in the winter and popping in the summer. Full of charming little streets and local shops, Old Québec is best visited on foot.
Québec City’s most famous landmark is also the most photographed hotel in the world. Whether you’re just stopping by for a visit or staying for the night, it’s well worth a visit!
Take a stroll along Dufferin Terrace for a magnificent view of the St. Lawrence River and Château Frontenac, as well as live entertainment in the summer and a toboggan run in the winter. Named in honour of Lord Dufferin, a governor general of Canada who loved Québec City, the terrace is so eternally popular that it has been expanded twice since it was first built. While you’re there, hit up another historic site: the remains of the Saint‑Louis Forts and Châteaux, which lie beneath this iconic promenade.
The Ramparts and Gates
Did you know that Québec is the only walled city north of Mexico? The walls and four gates that surround the Old City will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
With its many local shops and enchanting ambiance, this charming pedestrian street is sure to win you over. Known for its concentration of art galleries and fine bistros, Petit‑Champlain is a bona fide memory maker.
This historical gem is where Québec City was officially founded. The unique period architecture testifies to the combined French and British influences so characteristic of the city’s built environment.
Plains of Abraham
On September 13, 1759, this giant urban park was the site of the famous Battle of Québec, the confrontation that decided Canada’s fate when the French lost the city to the British.
Citadelle de Québec
At the top of the famous Cap Diamant lies the biggest British fortress in North America. Built by the British between 1820 and 1850 to defend the city, the Citadelle is a remarkable military heritage site and home to the Musée Royal 22e Regiment, where you can learn all about the history of the regiment and the fortress.
Basilica Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec
Located in the heart of Old Québec, this basilica cathedral was home to the first Catholic parish north of the Spanish colonies. Its important place in the city’s history is reflected in its exceptional architecture.
Montmorency Waterfalls Park, Jeff Frenette Photography
2 Montmorency Falls
See a waterfall that’s 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls
Whether you’re riding the gondola, climbing the scenic stairway or crossing the suspension bridge, the views of the Montmorency Falls are simply breathtaking. Experience the power of nature, only 15 minutes from downtown.
From Manoir Montmorency, a path runs along the cliff’s edge to the suspension bridge at the very top of the falls. Once on the bridge, you’ll experience the overwhelming power of the falls as it rushes and roars beneath your feet.
Take the gondola for more great views of the falls and a superb panorama of Île d’Orléans and Québec City. *Temporarily closed until further notice*
If you’re a thrill-seeker, the double zipline will get you extremely close to the falls. Experience the adrenaline rush on your own or with a friend. You’ll be talking about it for months!
Explore the falls from a different angle along the via ferrata. It’s safe, easy (no need to handle a carabiner), and gives you the chance to get up close to the falls along 3 different routes.
The Manoir restaurant and terrace
The chef of Manoir Montmorency invites you to pull up a chair on the terrace. The natural panoramic scenery is exceptional, the menu features a vast array of delights, and the culinary offerings overflow with colour and flavour.
Le 1759, the park’s mobile restaurant
Located behind the Manoir Montmorency, le 1759 is the perfect spot to enjoy a good street food-style meal. The new mobile restaurant of the park features a varied menu at an affordable price.
Montmorency Falls in Winter
The Montmorency Falls turn into a playground for ice climbers in the winter. As soon as the cold hits, the mist from the falls freezes into the famous “pain de sucre,” or sugar loaf, an impressive natural ice formation.
Jeff Frenette Photography
3 Jacques-Cartier National Park
Explore one of Québec’s most dazzling glacial valleys
This vast and mountainous plateau, crisscrossed by deep valleys and rivers, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. There are a multitude of ways to experience the park and its lush surroundings. Hiking along the many trails, you may encounter beavers, deer, and even moose in their natural habitats.
Jacques‑Cartier National Park boasts over 100 km of trails. With its abundant greenery and breathtaking views, it’s a great place to discover the beauty of the region. In the fall, the hillsides covered in blazing fall foliage make for a memorable experience.
If you like camping, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of cozy campsites where you can pitch a tent for the night. You can also stay in a permanent tent, yurt, or small wood cabin
Kayaking & Canoeing
Explore the river valley aboard a canoe or kayak, just like the First Peoples who have navigated its waters for centuries. Floating on a river that’s quiet and roaring by turns, you’ll be blown away by the sheer size of the valley walls and the forest with its endless shades of green.
Jacques‑Cartier National Park in Winter
When the park is covered in snow, it’s time to pull out the snowshoes and fatbikes, enjoy the great outdoors, and do some backcountry skiing.
Jeff Frenette Photography
4 Île d'Orléans
Connect with local artisans on a day trip full of history and flavours
Stop in at the many artisan outlets and farm stands around the island for a delicious sampling of local products and the tastiest shopping you’ve done in years! Driving around Île d'Orléans is like a trip back in time to 18th century rural Québec, complete with centuries-old villages, farms, churches, and heritage homes. As the birthplace of French North America, it’s ground zero for many of our ancestors—families that arrived from France and went on to make their homes throughout the continent. The island is also home to 5 of Québec’s prettiest villages.
Local Artisans and Products
You’ll find everything you need for a perfect little getaway. Visit the vineyards, cider producers, chocolate shops, vinegar makers, and cheesemakers and enjoy a picnic in one of the picturesque villages looking out over the St. Lawrence River. The island is so authentic and the people so welcoming, you’re bound to have a memorable day.
Enchanting Heritage Sites
Île d’Orléans has over 600 historic buildings that have been lovingly restored and preserved, including magnificent stone houses that date back to the French colonial era and the oldest rural church in New France.
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Jeff Frenette Photography
5 Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Appreciate fine art at the world’s largest collection of Québec art
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) houses a reference collection of more than 40,000 works—a comprehensive overview of Québec art from the 17th century to the present day. Visit the museum’s 4 pavilions nestled in the vast expanse of the Plains of Abraham and take the full measure of the talented artists from here and elsewhere whose works are on display. *Please note that only the Lassonde Pavilion is open for summer 2020*
In the museum’s permanent collections you’ll find works by Québec’s greatest painters as well as an impressive collection of Inuit art. Every year the museum also welcomes exhibitions by major international artists.
A Stunning Pavilion
A favourite with Instagrammers, the Lassonde Pavilion is a stunning piece of architecture. The walkways and staircases bathed in the light streaming in from the tall glass windows are sure to win you over.
With workshops for kids and guided tours, MNBAQ is fun for the whole family!
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, Jeff Frenette Photography
6 Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine
Spend a quiet moment at the oldest pilgrimage site north of Mexico
Follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims who have been coming to this site, one of 5 national shrines in Québec, for over 350 years to pay homage to Saint Anne. Step inside and admire the glorious stained glass, paintings, mosaics, and stone and wooden sculptures that adorn the basilica. Attributed with miraculous healing powers, Saint Anne is a popular saint among people who are sick and handicapped. You’ll see many objects hung from the sanctuary columns in gratitude for Saint Anne’s favours.
Decorated in mosaics that tell the life of Saint Anne, the vault is a favourite with visitors.
The Way of the Cross
Outside, below the escarpment, you can make a modern‑day pilgrimage along the path that takes you past 14 stations illustrating moments in the Passion of Christ. Built gradually between 1913 to 1945, each station features 5 bronze statues.
7 Village Vacances Valcartier
Have fun at Eastern Canada’s largest theme park
This gigantic complex boasts a huge outdoor waterpark and a brand new indoor waterpark that is open year-round! In the winter, you can go nuts in the biggest winter playground in the Americas and visit North America’s only ice hotel.
An Outdoor Waterpark
In the summer the 35 waterslides, 2 adventure rivers, and huge wavepool make for an unforgettable day full of thrilling fun!
Bora Park, the Indoor Waterpark
Open 365 days a year, this indoor waterpark has 14 slides, including 2 extreme slides, a family pool with water toys, a surfing wave, and an adventure river. *Temporarily closed until further notice*
The Ice Hotel
From January to March, you can visit North America’s only ice hotel and even spend the night. This temporary work of art is built entirely out of ice and snow and features rooms, a chapel, and an ice bar.
A Winter Playground
Everyone will have a blast playing in the snow in this giant winter playground, with tubing runs as far as the eye can see! Thrill seekers can go barrelling down the hill in a snow raft or spinning at high speed in the Tornade. And to get you back to the top in record time, the hill is equipped with tow ropes.
Jeff Frenette Photography
8 Aquarium du Québec
Enter the fascinating world of nearly 10,000 specimens from 300 species!
*Reopening on June 29* Aquarium du Québec is spectacularly located overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Visit the Awesome Ocean Discovery tunnel to check out the creatures that inhabit the depths of the Pacific, and find out about Québec’s rivers and streams too. Make acquaintances with marine mammals like polar bears, walruses, and several species of seals. On the aquarium grounds you’ll find everything you need to spend an unforgettable day as a family: splash pads, picnic spots with a view of the St. Lawrence River, and a ropes course for the kids.
The Awesome Ocean Discovery Tunnel
See an underwater world from below as you walk through an enormous aquarium in the Awesome Ocean Discovery Tunnel. You’ll learn about the depths of the Pacific Ocean and the issues affecting marine life.
Known around the world for its walrus expertise, Aquarium de Québec offers friendly introductions to these marine mammals from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Fascinating Jellyfish and Seahorses
Meet the marine animals that live in our oceans in the Deep Sea Pavilion. You’ll see hundreds of jellyfish, seahorses, seadragons, and an interactive pool for petting rays.
The Aquarium in the Winter
Every year, the start of winter marks the beginning of Festilumières at the aquarium. As night descends, the aquarium gardens light up with projections and illuminated animal sculptures, turning the gardens into an enchanted forest.
Jeff Frenette Photography
9 Musée de la civilisation
Learn something new at one of Québec’s most popular interactive museums
Join in hands-on workshops for the whole family on a wide range of current, historical, and sometimes unusual subjects. The museum sheds new light on diverse societies and moments in history through a mix of permanent and temporary exhibits with an international or Québec focus.
Explore Québec culture with two original exhibits at Musée de la civilisation. People of Québec… Then and Now traces our history and the events that shaped it through a variety of objects and archival documents. This Is Our Story was created in partnership with 11 Indigenous nations as a way of presenting their contemporary cultures and sharing how they see the world.
The Youth Zones
Musée de la civilisation is Québec City’s premier family museum, with family‑friendly programming and activities like the interactive exhibitions and the costume workshop on weekends. It’s an educational outing your kids will love!
*The youth zones are temporarily closed until furthur notice*
Longhouse in Wendake, Jeff Frenette Photography
Explore Huron-Wendat ancestral traditions
Experience Huron‑Wendat culture in Wendake, the beating heart of the Huron‑Wendat Nation. Share in their long history, culture, and traditional knowledge as you take in dancing, hear stories and legends, and visit the Huron‑Wendat Museum and the authentic craft stores in the village, located right within Québec City. Round out the immersive experience by tasting the finest Northern terroir cuisine, with subtle and succulent dishes featuring game meat and corn.
The Huron-Wendat Culture
The Huron‑Wendat Museum is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and way of life of the Huron‑Wendat people, yesterday and today. Warmed by the fire in the longhouse, you’ll hear myths and legends that have fed their imaginations for centuries. After that, stop by the Huron Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Site for a craft workshop.
*The Museum reopens on July 1st and the Tratiditional Site is temporarily closed until furthur notice*
First Nations Cuisine
Corn, game meat, and fish take centre stage in Wendake’s restaurants. Get a taste of Indigenous culinary culture at La Traite, located within the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, a boutique hotel and museum complex.
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