There’s a marvel just past every street corner in the birthplace of French North America. Slip on some comfortable shoes and follow your own path through its 400 years of history. The Old City is an awe‑inspiring journey through a collection of architectural treasures unlike anything outside Europe. In fact, all this monumental beauty has a place on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Just one more reason to come and experience Québec City for yourself, guided by friendly, welcoming locals.

Here is the top 10 attractions you don’t want to miss:

 

1 See the Château Frontenac in Person

The world’s most photographed hotel
Chateau Frontenac | Credit:  Jeff Frenette Photography
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography

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 and take a tour. You can partake of a little nourishment at its restaurants, Le Champlain and Le Sam. There’s also Bar 1608 whose canny mixologists and fantastic view of the St. Lawrence River are sure to make an impression.

 

2 Take a Turn on Dufferin Terrace

A hotspot with an amazing view

Summer on the 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, the city, the river, Île d’Orléans, and the surrounding mountains.

 

3Travel Back in Time along the Fortifications

North America’s only walled city north of Mexico
Fortifications | Credit:  Jeff Frenette Photography
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography

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, making these the best‑preserved fortifications in North America.

4 Explore Beautiful Place Royale

The place where Québec City was founded
Place Royale | Credit:  Jeff Frenette Photography
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography

This 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. In August, don’t miss the New France Festival, a tribute to life here in the 17th and 18th centuries.

5 Fall in Love with Petit-Champlain

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. 

6 Take a Quiet Moment in Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral

The only Holy Door in the Americas
Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral | Credit:  Daniel Abel
Credit: Daniel Abel

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. It’s also the site of the first and only Holy Door in the Americas. The neoclassical façade, asymmetrical towers, stained glass, and three Casavant organs are some of the marvels of this genuine architectural masterpiece.

7 Dive into the City’s Military History at the Citadelle

Britain’s biggest fortress in North America
Changing of the guard | Credit:  Jeff Frenette Photography
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography

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 as the changing of the guard in summer or the cannon that’s fired each day at noon. Tour the fortress for a behind-the-scenes look at Québec City’s defences.

8 Tour the Parliament Building

Québec’s first National Historic Site
Parliament Building | Credit:  Guy Lessard
Credit: Guy Lessard

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.

9 Experience the Charm of the Old Port

Irresistible streets just steps from the St. Lawrence River
Old Port of Québec | Credit:  Emmanuel Coveney
Credit: Emmanuel Coveney

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?

10 Get out there on the Plains of Abraham

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.

Want to discover more about the destination? Explore the area’s must-see attractions.