10 Best Things to Do in Old Québec City

Équipe édito
Editorial Team
Updated on November 14, 2023
A couple walk on the Pierre-Dugua-De Mons terrace near Avenue Saint-Denis, looking at the Château Frontenac.
Jeff Frenette Photography

What to Do in Old Québec?

Slip on some comfortable shoes and walk your own path through its 400 years of history. The Old Town has many interesting sites to visit and is an awe‑inspiring journey through architectural treasures unlike anything outside Europe. All this monumental beauty has a place on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Our best advice is to take a walking tour when you arrive to enjoy the city's rich heritage throughout your stay.

There’s a marvel just past every street corner in the birthplace of French North America. There are luxury hotels in Québec City Old Town and many shops. Among the best restaurants in Québec City Old Town, you will find incredible places for fine dining as well as lovely restaurants inside Old Québec's walls.

Old Town Québec City Map
Old Town Québec City Map: Top 10 Attractions

  • 1

    Château Frontenac

    See the world’s most photographed hotel in person

    Rising up from a clifftop, the iconic Château Frontenac has been the crown jewel of the Old City for over 125 years now. Getting your picture taken in front of it is obviously a must. Step inside to get a better look at the Château’s remarkable architectural style. 

    Tour the Château Frontenac

    Enter one of the most emblematic hotels in Canada. Take a guided tour through the hotel’s public spaces, learning about its famous guests and the historic meetings between global political leaders. Admire the blend of old world and art deco architectural details, the beautifully hand-carved beams and painted ceilings. Take time to enjoy the quiet nooks on the second floor and stare up at the shimmering chandeliers towards Le Champlain and 1608 Wine Bar.

    Eat in one of the Château’s restaurants 

    You can partake of a little nourishment at its restaurants, Le Champlain and Le Sam. There’s also Bar 1608 whose mixologists and fantastic view of the St. Lawrence River are sure to make an impression. Sunday Brunch at Le Champlain offers a cornucopia of culinary delights including Québec cheeses, buttery croissants, fruits and delicious meats. Sip mimosas or champagne and soak up the old world elegance of the dining room.

    Stay in one of the Château’s rooms 

    Yes, you can sleep in the Château! Soak up the history and beauty of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac hotel during your stay. Rooms have an art deco feel to them, with cozy beds that beg to be laid in all day. 

  • 2

    Terrasse Dufferin

    Take a turn on a hotspot with an amazing view

    Summer on the Dufferin terrace is a whirlwind of singers and entertainers busking and strutting their stuff. It’s also a prime location to see the fireworks during Les Grands Feux Loto‑Québec. In winter, you’ll find thrill-seekers of all ages hurtling down a century-old wooden toboggan run. At the far end, you can climb a few more steps to Promenade des Gouverneurs or to the Pierre-Dugua-De Mons Terrace for a breathtaking panorama of the Château Frontenac, the city, the river, Île d’Orléans, and the surrounding mountains.

    I loved all the popular places to visit in Québec City but my favourite moment and experience was visiting the Pierre-Dugua-De Mons Terrace at sunset. It felt like we were able to take in the whole city from this special spot.

    - Marisa Mercanti-Gagnon, The Daydream Diaries, Ontario

    Have an ice cream cone while enjoying the view

    On a hot summer day, there is nothing quite like stopping at Au 1884 on Dufferin Terrace for an ice cream cone. We love the italian gelato from Tutto Gelato and the chocolate-dipped ice cream, made with chocolate by Érico, that will take your summer treat to the next level as you saunter down Dufferin Terrace. A delightful break as you explore the only fortified city north of Mexico.

    Visit the remains of Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis

    In summer, under the Dufferin Terrace, you can visit an authentic archaeological crypt that testifies important moments in the history of Québec. The Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis were the residence of the governors from 1620 to 1834. The visit will reveal vestiges, artefacts as well as anecdotes about the way of life of the time.

    Zoom down the toboggan slides

    In winter, bundle up and participate in one of the oldest attractions in Québec City! Rent a long wooden toboggan and walk up to the top of the slide. Then sit down and get ready for a thrill as you speed your way to the bottom, all while admiring the wintery views of Old Québec City and the St. Lawrence River!

  • 3


    Fall in love with Canada’s prettiest pedestrian street

    If the European charm of this ravishing, exclusively pedestrian street doesn’t enchant you, the shopkeepers will. Petit-Champlain is simply gorgeous, and winter adds a fairyland sparkle with the lights on the snow. Wander into one-of-a-kind boutiques and meet some of Québec City’s artists and artisans. Slow down and check out the architectural details. You’ll see why everyone loves Petit-Champlain. 

    Shop at local artisans

    One of the oldest shopping streets in North America, the boutiques of Petit-Champlain offer beautiful products created by local artisans. Shop for clothing made by local designers, Indigenous sculptures and handicrafts, jewellery, Québec terroir and more. One of the best streets for finding Québec-made souvenirs.

    Be amazed by a real Christmas village

    Step into a living Christmas card. Winter in Petit-Champlain is breathtaking, especially after a snowfall. Admire the festive decorations from December through February, take an obscene amount of photos, and warm up in a cozy restaurant or pub. You have to see it in person to truly absorb the winter elegance.

  • 4

    Place Royale

    Explore the place where Québec City was founded

    Place Royale is the spot where, in 1608, Samuel de Champlain built what became the first permanent French settlement in North America. Its European charm is set off by the exquisite Notre-Dame-des Victoires Church, one of the continent’s oldest stone church.

    Take pictures of the historic buildings

    Place Royale is dripping with European charm with its cobblestone streets and buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Snap endless photos of the square and pose for photos on rue Saint-Pierre and des Pains Bénits. In winter, when the Christmas tree is erected and everything is covered in snow, this little neighbourhood is pure magic.  

    Visit Notre-Dame des Victoires church

    One of the oldest stone churches in North America, Notre-Dame des Victoires stands on the spot where Champlain’s trading post once stood. This small church is truly the heart of Place-Royale. In summer, the doors are open for visitors to explore and admire the beautiful architecture.

  • 5

    Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral

    Take a quiet moment by the only Holy Door outside Europe

    Take a moment to sit back and drink in the majesty that surrounds you in the mother church of the continent’s first Catholic parish north of Mexico, Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. It’s also the site of the first and only Holy Door outside Europe. The neoclassical façade, asymmetrical towers, stained glass, and three Casavant organs are some of the marvels of this genuine architectural masterpiece.

    Live the experience of the Holy Door

    As part of the 350th anniversary of the diocese of Québec, the Holy Door will be open for two years starting December 8, 2023.  Walking through the Holy Door is a unique spiritual experience not to be missed.

    Go on a self-guided tour

     You don’t need to be catholic to marvel at the religious opulence and history of Notre-Dame de Québec. The self-guided tour begins in Saint-Joseph chapel, and guides you through the artifacts, architecture and history of the tomb of Saint-François de Laval, the Altar of the Holy Family, the Central and Saint-Anne Naves, the Sacré-Coeur Chapel and Holy Door. A truly divine experience in the heart of Old Québec City.    

  • 6

    Québec City's Walls

    Travel back in time along North America’s only walled city north of Mexico

    You might be asking yourself: “Why is Québec City Walled?” In fact, the escarpment of Cap Diamant provided the colony of New France with a natural defence system on the west side. A decision was made to build fortification walls on the other sides to provide a better protection. From these walls, the colonists could spot enemies approaching from land, as well as from the St. Lawrence River, giving them ample time to prepare a defence. A system which worked well for hundreds of years. Today, the ramparts remain intact as a testament to the character, history and battles that have taken place since the 17th century.

    Walking along the ramparts

    Sure you can walk through the Saint-Louis and Saint-Jean Gates. But did you know you can also walk on top—on the ramparts between them? There are stairs in the Artillery Park near the Saint-Jean Gate that will take you up over Place D’Youville. The stones have been meticulously restored by Parks Canada, making these the best‑preserved fortifications in North America.

  • 7

    Parliament Building

    Tour Québec’s first National Historic Site

    The Parliament Building is a fantastic work of Second Empire architecture you don’t want to miss. In summer you can wander through its magnificent gardens and admire it all from up close. There are also free guided tours where you can learn about Québec’s history and parliamentary institutions.

    Discover Québec’s parliamentary history on a guided tour

    Take a free guided tour through the halls and public spaces of the Parliament Building.  Admire the intricate details of the National Assembly, all while learning about the history, and function of the Québec Parliament.

    Restaurant Le Parlementaire

    Dine in the historic and remarkable dining room. The menu features locally sourced ingredients, some of which are grown in the Parliament's garden, and highlights the best of Québec cuisine. A unique dining experience in Québec City.


  • 8

    Citadelle de Québec

    Dive into the city’s military history at Britain’s biggest fortress in North America

    On the city’s natural summit at Cape Diamond is another authentic historic wonder. The Citadelle has been home base for the Royal 22e Régiment since 1920. Come experience such military traditions the cannon that’s fired each day at noon. Tour the fortress for a behind-the-scenes look at Québec City’s defences.

    Tour the Citadelle and the Musée Royal 22e Régiment

    Military enthusiasts and history lovers will love this guided tour of La Citadelle, the only way to tour the military base! When your tour is complete, wander through the museum to admire the artifacts and documents which pay homage to the rich history of the Royal 22e Régiment.

    Attend musical performances

    In summer, the musicians of the Royal 22e Régiment, dressed in their red uniform and traditional bear fur cap, offer a musical performance. A spectacular experience set against the backdrop of Old Québec City, to the sound of trumpets, French horns, symbols, and drums.

  • 9

    Plains of Abraham

    Get on the site of the Battle of 1759

    In 1759, the Plains of Abraham rang out with the clash of arms. Today the former battlefield rings out with the music of the Québec City Summer Festival as tens of thousands flock to the plains to hear the world’s hottest artists. In winter, there are athletes to cheer on in competitive events. This vast park is also home to several monuments, two Martello towers and the Plains of Abraham Museum.

    Learn about the Battle of Québec

    The Battles | 1759-1760 exhibit in the Plains of Abraham Museum is one of the best ways to learn about the circumstances and history of the famous battle of the Plains of Abraham. Learn about Generals Montcalm and Wolfe, how the battle took shape and so much more. A fascinating stop on your historic journey through Québec City.

    Treat yourself to a picnic on the Plains

     A gorgeous and large green space close to the fortifications of Québec. The Plains of Abraham are an ideal spot for laying out on a blanket and enjoying a picnic comprised of local goods. A delightful experience on a sunny day.

    Go ice skating and cross-country skiing within Old Québec

    Spend an afternoon ice skating and cross-country skiing on the Plains of Abraham. Take in the winter beauty and views of the St. Lawrence River and the neighbourhood of Montcalm. Unique winter experiences in the heart of the city! 

  • 10

    Old Port

    Experience the charm of the irresistible streets just steps from the St. Lawrence River

    The many antique shops on Rue Saint-Paul are living proof of Québec City’s closeness to history. You’ll also find art galleries, cafés, and restaurants that practically force you into the role of flâneur, the idle sophisticate of Europe’s Belle Époque. Continue your meanderings in a magical setting much prized by cruise ship visitors. The river whispers to you. “Relax,” it says—why fight it?

    In summer, several streets in the Old Port turn into terraces and allow visitors to live the unique experience of a huge open-air restaurant and the feeling of being wisked in Europe.

    In February and March, it is possible to go ice fishing on the frozen basin while admiring the views of the Old City. 

    Browse the antique shops and art galeries

    Old Port is the best place to shop for antiques and art in Québec City. Start on rue Saint-Paul and continue to rue Saint-Pierre, popping into antique shops for artifacts that are functional, religious and decorative. Wander through the small art galleries and discover the astounding talent of Québec artists. There is a good chance you’ll find a piece to display at home, a constant reminder of your unforgettable trip to Québec City. 

What is the difference between Old Québec and Québec City?

Old Québec City is a neighbourhood of Québec City that refers to the historic district. Old Québec (also called Québec City Old Town) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Old Québec is both in Lower Town and Upper Town.

What is the difference between Upper and Lower Town?

Lower Town is along the St. Lawrence river while Upper Town is circled by the fortifications, with an elevation of about 50 metres. Here are the main attractions in these parts of the city:

Lower Town:

  • Petit-Champlain: Just beneath the ramparts, where Rue du Petit-Champlain and Place Royale are located
  • Old Port: Between the Petit-Champlain and the St. Lawrence River

Upper Town:

How easy is it to walk around Old Québec?

Old Québec is a very walkable city. But above all, walking is the best way to fully enjoy its impressive heritage. Lower Town and Upper Town are connected by steep streets and staircases. The funicular can also help people who have more difficulty to get around: you can walk down and use the funicular to reach the Upper Town or use it in both directions.

    Old Québec VS downtown​

    Quebec Neighbourhoods

    Québec City incorporates Old Québec as well as central neighbourhoods and other neighbourhoods near downtown. The central neighbourhoods are concentrated in a relatively small area. Each one has its own vibe with unique food, shops and places to mingle with the locals and have a good time. 

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