Top Things to Do in Québec City
Wondering what to do and what to see absolutely as there are so many things to do in Québec City? We have put together the best places to visit, from historic monuments to religious sites, including parks and tourist attractions in the city and around.
The top things to do in Québec City are among the best tourist attractions in the province of Québec, combined with memorable local experiences. Québec City is best known for its vibrant and unique French Canadian culture, living history, incredible shopping, family fun, and stunning outdoors nearby which can be enjoyed any time of year.
Top Activities in Québec City
These must-see attractions include things to do in Québec City and around which are fun for families, solo travelers, couples, and more.
The Famous Places in Québec City
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, the Old Québec historic district is filled with fascinating attractions and Québec City landmarks. The famous places in Old Québec City are all very easily accessible on foot : walking is actually the best way to explore and admire its beauty. You can also take a bus tour, or drive if need be.
A château-style hotel built by Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 19th century, Château Frontenac stands majestically over Old Québec, offering beautiful views of the city, as well as the St. Lawrence River.
Running right in front of Château Frontenac, the Dufferin Terrace is a lovely promenade with pretty views and plenty of space to relax during your exploration of the city. Hint: in summer, you can also visit the site of a former fort below the terrace, Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site and in winter there is a toboggan run that you simply cannot miss!
The Ramparts and Gates
Old Québec is the only fortified city north of Mexico. The ramparts circle Old Québec on three sides, with cannons and gates. The guided tour of the fortifications is very interesting, but it’s also possible to walk the walls on our own. We love walking to the top of the Saint-Jean and Saint-Louis gates for unique views of Old Québec.
This charming small neighbourhood is one of the oldest shopping streets in Québec City. Walking along the cobblestones on rue du Petit-Champlain and discover Québec artisans. A perfect spot to grab a souvenir or two. In winter, this area looks like a living Christmas card. It is truly magical.
Steps away from Petit-Champlain, Place Royale is the site of the first habitation of the colony of New France in 1608. We enjoy spending time on a patio admiring historic architecture, visiting Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, and doing a little shopping.
Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is the site of the famous battle of 1759 between Wolfe and Montcalm, which lasted 15 minutes and forever changed Québec. Today, it is one of the best attractions in Québec City for picnics, outdoor sports, festivals, and more. There is also a museum where you can learn more about its history.
Whether you are a military history lover or not, we recommend visiting the Citadelle. An active military base within the Québec City fortification walls, the Citadelle features a great museum and walking tour. In summer, you can also witness the changing of the guard.
Located just outside the Old Québec fortification walls, the Parliament Building is the home of Québec’s national assembly. We suggest spending time exploring the gardens outside, as well as the many monuments which celebrate some of Québec’s important historical figures. A free walking tour is offered inside and the restaurant is one of the city’s hidden gems.
Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec
The oldest church in Canada, this important Québec City landmark is home to the Holy Door, and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Québec. Intricate details, serene, and majestic: the basilica-cathedral is one of the must-see attractions in Québec City.
Old Québec Walking Tour
The Historic District of Old Québec is divided into two areas, Upper Town and Lower Town. Walk along the fortification walls in Upper Town, which sits atop Cap Diamant. Wander quiet streets and visit impressive Québec landmarks like Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, La Citadelle, and Château Frontenac. Inside the walls of this historic district can also be found the gorgeous streets Saint-Jean and Saint-Louis. We recommend walking through the Saint-Louis gate and visiting Parliament Hill and the Plains of Abraham. Lower Town, which comprises Petit-Champlain and the Old Port, rests below the walls and along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The area is filled with beautiful unique architecture, relaxing patios, and historic landmarks such as the breakneck steps and Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church.
Guided Tours in Québec City
We recommend taking a guided tour if you would like to dig deeper and learn more about French Canadian culture, Québec’s rich history, and why Québec City is one of the best destinations in North America. Walking tours, whether historic or foodie-focused, are a fun way to dig your way into the nooks and crannies of the city. Bus tours offer a wonderful overview of the city and will help you decide which areas you want to explore deeper on your own. Active travelers will enjoy bike tours, which can be done all year round (Fat bikes in winter? Yes, please!).
Museums in Québec City
There are plenty of museums and interpretation centres in the Québec City area to keep you entertained. We recommend visiting museums to learn quick history lessons about Québec, and to experience local art and culture.
Musée de la civilisation
This museum is one of the best places in Québec for interesting interactive exhibits. Their permanent exhibitions include a deep dive into local Indigenous history and culture, as well as an exploration of the people who have made important contributions in shaping Québec as we know it today.
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Comprising 4 buildings, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec highlights talented Québecois and Indigenous artists, as well as artists from around the world. Home to over 38,000 works of art from old masterpieces to modern art, we love spending a day wandering from gallery to gallery, seeing the old jail cells, and discovering the sculptures around the museum.
Monuments in Québec City
As a city with over 400 years of history, we have a lot to celebrate and commemorate, which means we have a lot of monuments. Our monuments are a wonderful way to learn quick history facts as you walk around Québec City. Here are a couple more important ones to get you started.
Samuel de Champlain Monument
Located on Dufferin Terrace in Old Québec, the Samuel de Champlain monument commemorates the founder of Québec City. Beautiful from every vantage point, we suggest getting up close to discover the historic details which are hidden in plain sight.
Steps away from the Samuel de Champlain monument, you will find the UNESCO monument that commemorates Old Québec’s world heritage site designation in 1985.
Churchill & Roosevelt Monument
Did you know that Churchill and Roosevelt met in Québec City to discuss Second World War developments? They met twice, in 1943 and 1944. You can find this monument near the Saint-Louis gate, across from the road leading to the Citadelle.
Monuments on and Around the Parliament Building
There are many monuments around the Parliament Building. Begin with the ones on the building’s facade which represent important political leaders throughout Québec’s history. Walk along the Promenade des Premiers-Ministres which highlights the province’s premiers since the Confederation in 1867.
Boat Tours and Cruises in Québec City
We love to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the area, as well as the Québec City skyline from aboard a boat tour on the St. Lawrence River. Enjoy a delicious dinner cruise in the evening or savour a leisurely brunch. Book a whale watching tour, or go on a cruise aboard a zodiac and soak in the beauty of the city’s skyline from a unique perspective.
Shops in Québec City
The best shopping in Québec City can be found in neighbourhoods throughout the city. Shop for Québec terroir, art, clothing, jewelry, and more. Petit-Champlain is one of the oldest commercial streets in North America, and a wonderful place to start. From there, we recommend venturing into Old Québec and central neighbourhoods like Saint-Roch, Limoilou, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and Montcalm.
Best Restaurants in Québec City
Québec City’s local food scene is one of the best in the province, with chefs incorporating a lot of locally produced ingredients in their food. The marriage between Québec producers and chefs is magical. The best restaurants in Québec City feature cuisines from around the world, but the traditional Québécois and French restaurants are always a good place to begin. Indulge in gourmet burgers and poutine. Dive into the vegan and vegetarian food scene. There is something delicious and unforgettable for everyone!
Local Artisans and Products
The relationship between Québec farmers, artisans and producers with local restaurants and small businesses is a special one. It’s a marriage that creates farm to table experiences which can be enjoyed by everyone. We highly recommend trying some of our specialties during your trip to Québec City, and taking home your favourites to enjoy with friends and family. Blackcurrant liquor, berry confiture, award-winning cheeses, and locally cured charcuterie are a great place to start your agritourism adventures.
Grand Marché de Québec
This large farmer’s market in Limoilou is filled with local artisans and producers all year round. In summer, baskets of strawberries from Île d’Orléans practically beg to be devoured, and in winter a magical Christmas market takes place. You can also make a day of visiting the various public markets found throughout Québec City and area to discover more artisan products. Here is a top local tip: pick up local products at the Grand Marché for a picnic in Old Québec and head to the Pierre-Dugua-De Mons Terrace.
Located 17 kilometres from Old Québec, Île d’Orléans is home to several artisans and producers who work closely with local restaurants. It’s also one of the best places to visit in Québec to interact with local culture and gourmet shops. Take a tour around the island, stopping to enjoy cheeses, wine, cider, freshly picked strawberries, and blackcurrant liquor or enjoy a gourmet meal at one of the restaurants on the island.
Did you know there are more than 10 craft breweries in downtown Québec City and nearly 30 in the area? Craft beer has been a part of French Canadian culture since the 17th century when Jean Talon opened the first commercial brewery, La Brasserie du Roy. We recommend taking a guided walking tour of downtown breweries to sample some of the best craft beers in Québec City, and learn about the history of craft beer in Québec.
Wineries and Local Liquor Producers
The Québec City area is home to a diverse variety of wineries and local liquor producers. Île d’Orléans is the perfect setting for enjoying a wine tour, sampling blackcurrant liquor, and locally produced cider. In Québec City, discover local distilleries such as Distillerie Stadaconé, which is known for its artisanal gin.
Attractions Near Québec City
There are several tourist attractions in Québec that we recommend visiting during your trip. The best places to visit near Québec City include religious shrines, outdoor attractions, fun family activities, winter adventures, and Indigenous experiences.
Montmorency Waterfalls Park
Taller than Niagara Falls, these waterfalls are beautiful any time of year. Walk along the paths to enjoy the waterfalls from above, as well as below. The Montmorency Falls are a must-see attraction in Québec and only 15 minutes from downtown.
Village Vacances Valcartier
Fun for the whole family, all year round. In summer, Village Vacances Valcartier is the place to go for outdoor water slides, wave pool and lazy rivers. In winter, it has some of the best tubing near Québec City. Oh, and there is also a huge indoor waterpark which is open all year and provides hours of fun for everyone.
Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel)
Québec’s famous ice hotel is located at Village Vacances Valcartier, and is open January to March each year. Explore the chapel, bar, rooms and suites during the day, or spend a night or two. This unique hotel features a different theme of ice carvings each year and is made entirely of ice and snow.
Aquarium du Québec
Open year-round, the Aquarium is one of the most popular family attractions in Québec City. In summer, kids can enjoy an outdoor splash park and aerial obstacle course. Visit the polar bears and rays, try the touch pools, and observe birds of prey. Halloween and Christmas are also fun times to visit for themed displays and activities.
This important shrine welcomes thousands of religious pilgrims each year. Located in Côte-de-Beaupré, this beautiful Gothic and Norman style shrine is known for miracles which cured many who are sick and disabled.
This is the best place to visit in Québec to learn about the history of the Huron-Wendat people and discover Indigenous experiences, only 15 minutes from downtown. The Huron-Wendat people played an important role in shaping Québec.
National Parks Near Québec City
There are several parks within Québec City, as well as exciting outdoor destinations nearby. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures in an urban setting, or surrounded by nature, there are exciting options to choose from.
Jacques-Cartier National Park
Around 30 minutes from Québec City, Jacques-Cartier National Park is known as one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Québec. Spend your day among the trees, hiking, geocaching, or biking. Head down to the Jacques-Cartier River for fishing, canoeing, or kayaking. In winter, this is a popular spot for snowshoeing, skiing, winter hiking and more.
Montmorency Waterfalls Park
These beautiful waterfalls near Québec City are perfect for everyone. Walk along the paths to view the falls from above or below, or take a guided tour. Adventure lovers will love climbing the cliff face on the via ferrata for unique views and an adrenaline boost. In winter, consider trying snowshoeing.
Walk across suspension bridges and trails in Canyon Sainte-Anne, a canyon carved into 1.2 billion-year-old bedrock by the Sainte-Anne falls. We love spending a day exploring the outdoors at the canyon, from easy walking to the crazy AirCanyon attraction which shoots you 90 metres above the gorge at 50 km/h (30 m/hr).
Festivals and Events in Québec City
Québec City is one of the best destinations in Canada for festivals and events. Our lively city hosts spectacular events throughout the year, many of which take place in winter. Plan your trip to Québec City using our annual events calendar and stay to enjoy everything else the city has to offer. Here is a big picture of major events taking place within Old Québec City.
Québec Winter Carnival
One of the oldest festivals in Canada, the Québec Winter Carnival is a time to get out of the house and enjoy the crisp winter air. We love to see Bonhomme’s castle, admire the ice sculptures displayed throughout the city, watch the ice canoe races, and enjoy the outdoor concerts.
Festival d’été de Québec
One of the best and biggest music festivals in Canada, the Festival d'été features famous artists, as well as local indie singers and bands. It’s 11 days of music, activities, food, drinks, and celebration. Buy tickets for big name concerts, enjoy free shows by indie bands or do both!
New France Festival
Taking place in August each year, the New France Festival highlights the early days of Québec. Discover the history and culture of Québec as you interact with local artists, crafters, and interpreters – all in period costume.
German Christmas Market
Opening in November, the German Christmas market takes place in Old Québec’s Upper Town. Shop and sample seasonal treats in wooden huts set up in the square at City Hall and along rue Saint-Anne’s walking street, watch outdoor music performances, and get into the holiday spirit.
New Year’s Eve in Québec City
There is nothing quite like a 4-day party ending in fireworks. New Year’s is a special time in Québec City, with outdoor events, concerts and activities. Ride a Ferris wheel, drink maple whisky and savour a gourmet meal at a local restaurant! Local tip: wear plenty of layers if you’re planning to watch an outdoor concert on a cold day to keep you warmer, longer.
Family Attractions in Québec City
There are so many attractions for families in Québec City which highlight the city’s history and culture in fun and engaging ways. There are also plenty of fun sports, outdoor adventures, educational exhibits, and parks to discover and enjoy.
Village Vacances Valcartier
Located 20 minutes from Québec City, Village Vacances Valcartier is popular all year round. In summer it is known for its wave pool, outdoor waterslides and lazy rivers. In winter, there are excellent tubing hills and the ice hotel. They also have a large indoor waterpark which is open all year. It’s clearly a family-friendly resort.
Aquarium du Québec
We love to go to the aquarium throughout the year. There are polar bears and seals and opportunities to touch rays. The aquarium is an exciting place to go during holidays like Halloween and Christmas when everything adorned with festive decorations and extra themed activities are added to their calendar.
Méga Parc des Galeries de la Capitale
This recently renovated indoor amusement park is one of the most unforgettable family-friendly attractions in Québec. It is also one of the biggest in North America. Spend the day riding roller coaster, playing games, ice skating and more.
Is Québec City worth visiting?
Yes, always. Québec City is the birthplace of French North America, and a destination filled with activities and experiences that everyone can enjoy. It’s also worth visiting more than once to see how the seasons transform the city.
What can you do in Québec City for free?
There are several things to do in Québec City for free. Wander around Old Québec, enjoy beautiful parks and public art. Check out our tips on how to visit Québec City on a budget to get more tips about savings.
What should you not miss in Québec City?
We recommend starting in Old Québec, surrounded by French history and culture. Visit must-see attractions such as Château Frontenac, the fortifications and the Citadelle. Go to Montmorency Falls, take a tour around Île d’Orléans, and bask in the beauty of outdoor destinations like Jacques-Cartier National Park. What you should not miss in Québec City is also opportunities to interact with locals as you explore our beautiful historic city.
Is Montreal or Québec City better?
Montréal vs Québec City is one of the most popular questions we receive, and honestly, both cities are spectacular. Each city has its own vibe, with Montréal being electric and cosmopolitan, and Québec City being cozy and welcoming. We recommend adding a couple of days in Montréal to your itinerary to get a taste of both cities.
What special attractions does Québec have?
Québec has many special attractions with historic and religious significance, such as the Holy Door at Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, monastery museums, and important military forts and landmarks like the Château Frontenac.
What is so special about Québec?
Québec City has over 400 years of history, from the first voyages of Jacques-Cartier in the 1500s to today, Québec has played a vital role in the history of Canada. It’s the birthplace of French North America, and the only fortified city North of Mexico. Also, what is so special about Québec is when winter transforms the city into a sparkling winter wonderland.
What is the best season to visit Québec?
The best time to visit Québec City depends a lot on what you want to do while you’re here. Summer is the busiest season, perfect for wandering around Old Québec City, exploring Montmorency Falls and Île d’Orléans, on top of enjoying beautiful restaurant patios. In Fall, the days are warm and the nights are cool. The city is alive with activities and one of the best things to do in Québec Province is admire the vibrant autumn colours.
In other words, the best time to visit Québec City depends on the type of activities you want to do. The busiest season is summer, followed closely by winter. Autumn is warm with cool nights and vibrant colours. Spring can be brief, but it’s quiet and filled with renewal. During the winter season, the best attractions in Québec include Carnaval de Québec, shopping in Petit-Champlain, and the Ice Hotel. Québec City is worth visiting in Spring as it’s low season and the city embraces a more laidback vibe. It’s an ideal time for visiting must-see attractions such as Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec, and the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine in Côte-de-Beaupré.
What is there to do in Québec in the summer?
We love summer in Québec City. This is the season when the city is the most alive with activity. Enjoy many festivals and events, eat on patios, explore on foot or by bike, take guided walking tours, visit major exhibitions in museums, and more.