Quebec City, Canada, is located 296 kilometers (184 miles) from Montreal and is known for the famous European-style Fairmont Château Le Frontenac hotel with spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River. Besides being the most photographed hotel in the world, it is also known for its rich history. Locals call Quebec City “little Europe” and are proud of it.
Mid-September is fall in Quebec, and the fall colors are showing their warm, vibrant colors. This is what I call sweater time. However, I missed it by a week! The best times to visit Quebec are from June to October and from December to March. I’ve only heard of winter and seen pictures, but it’s a wonderful time to visit and there are plenty of attractions to see. Locals tell me there is no bad weather, just bad clothes. But I have to admit that I prefer the summer months.
Quebec City and its narrow cobbled streets are very walkable, but if you’re planning on going to Montmorency Falls and a few places I’ve mentioned below, you’ll want to rent a vehicle. The city has many public parking lots and garages, and the average cost is between 18 and 25 dollars per day. City hotels have valet parking.
Destination Québec cité welcomed me. All opinions are mine.
1. Old Quebec
Walk through the narrow streets of the city while admiring the beauty of each fortification (building), landmark, shop and restaurant. You may come across something that takes your breath away. I say this because I was impressed every time I walked out of my hotel room.
As you walk through the old town, look for Le Monastère des Augustines. It is a monastery that has been restored and refurbished into a heritage haven of culture and well-being. It offers its guests a unique global health experience and a living contact with the Augustinian heritage. You can spend the night, dine in their restaurant and visit the museum to learn more about the legacy left by the congregation.
Suggestions for dining in Old Quebec City:
As you wander around the city looking for dinner ideas, may I suggest these experiences?
- Le Clan is a six-course, wine-pairing culinary experience serving a unique dining experience by Chef Stéphane Modat.
- Chez Muffy is a luxury restaurant located inside the Auberge Saint-Antoine luxury hotel that serves the best local, seasonal ingredients and requires advance reservations.
- Laurie Raphael is a 3-hour dinner experience with an eight-course meal and wine pairing. It’s an experience that serves up a fork that’s unique to every course! They value culinary simplicity and the utmost respect for food.
2. Guided walking tour of Old Quebec
If you want to know the history of Quebec City, the best way to discover Old Quebec is with a local guide company such as Cicerone Tours.
It’s a 2 hour walking tour with a guide who knows everything about the area. You’ll learn a bit of history and maybe learn something you didn’t know. Much of what he told me was taught in high school, but I was still amazed by it. There is so much history that started here that shaped the United States.
3. Old Quebec Funicular
For $4 one-way, take the funicular across Upper and Lower Town for great city views. Opt for the return walk or pay for the return. Either way, it’s a must see at least once while you’re in town.
4. Nordic Strom Spa
For an outdoor thermotherapy indulgence, consider booking a visit to Strom Nordique Spa, a luxury spa experience overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It is an experience of complete relaxation and absolute rejuvenation, to create the best of yourself and reconnect with what is important. Expect at least 2 hours of sightseeing or more.
Pro tip: Bring a bathing suit and sandals.
5. Parc De La Chute-Montmorency
Immerse yourself in nature as you stroll through Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and marvel at the scenery and the spectacular 83-foot waterfall. You can walk to the waterfall and back down. But to do this, there are 487 steps involved. I recommend paying the price to go up and down the cable car. It offers the best view of the falls and surrounding area.
If you’re adventurous, book a zipline over the waterfall or via ferrata. It’s on my to-do list the next time I visit. The park is a 15 minute drive from Quebec City. If you feel like a snack, there is an on-site restaurant, as well as a food truck serving unique specialties.
Pro tip: Don’t be in a rush here. Give yourself at least 2 hours or more to experience everything.
6. Jacques-Cartier National Park
This national park is a 30-minute drive from Quebec City and is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Quebec. I spent time with a naturalist guide as she took me on a trip through the valleys of the Jacques-Cartier River by canoe. Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier offers hiking, whitewater canoeing, flatwater rentals, kayaking, fishing, camping and many other outdoor activities. The park is open all year round. It is one of the best places to experience outdoor activities in winter.
I highly recommend having a naturalist guide on your trip through the park.
Pro tip: Allow at least half a day to make the most of your visit.
7. Drive to Île d’Orléans
A few minutes from downtown Quebec, Île d’Orléans is the perfect place to relax, admire the beauty of the landscapes and taste the local delicacies. You can discover it by cycling or kayaking in the summer. There is also a golf course on the island. There are some nice places to stop if you are going to see the sights and maybe eat a little.
Cassis Monna & Daughters
Cassis Monna & Filles offers several things in one place. Take advantage of the La Monnaguette restaurant for lunch, shop in the boutique and treat yourself to the dairy bar. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Take the opportunity to taste their delicious homemade blackcurrant-vanilla ice creams and sorbets.
Restaurant La Goeliche
Dine al fresco at La Goeliche for an exceptional view of the St. Lawrence River. Order the poutine if you want to experience a local favorite featuring cheese curds, fries and gravy. Being a Texan I like my fries crispy so I was not a poutine fan. But you have to try this favorite local dish just because you’re there. Don’t take my word for it – try it yourself!
A few other places to visit are Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans for ice cream and delicious chocolate, Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau for apple or ice cider, and Vignoble-Isle De Bacchus for wine and cheese tasting. Quebec cheeses.
8. Overnight in Wendake, Canada
Wendake, Canada is 25-30 minutes from Old Quebec and is one of 11 communities in Quebec that identifies as Indigenous tourism. I had the pleasure of spending the night in Wendake to experience the life of the natives and their community. Suppose the weather allows you to move around Quebec City. In that case, I highly recommend taking a short drive (perhaps overnight) to Wendake to explore the world of its Indigenous peoples and the unique First Nations culture, heritage, arts and traditions. .
Hotel-Museum First Nations
The First Nations Hotel-Museum is a 4-star boutique hotel and museum owned by the Aboriginal community. Its stylish hotel and rooms are beautifully inspired by First Nations culture, including leather, buckskin and rich decor. It was to my liking and I enjoyed my stay. The Huron-Wendat Museum is the only one of its kind in Canada. The La Traite restaurant inside the hotel offers native-inspired cuisine and outdoor patio seating during the warmer months.
Continue your self-guided museum tour outside to stroll the grounds of a replica longhouse depicting the lives of early Europeans. It’s a very nice story that I will never forget. Those who are impatient and book a hotel room can choose to spend the night in the farmhouse.
A favorable part of visiting Wendake is seeing Onhwa Lumina at night. It’s a fantastic nocturnal journey of magical lights, sounds and videos of the Huron-Wendat people. As I wandered through the thousands of lights, sounds and stories in a language I didn’t know, I couldn’t help but stare at people and listen to them whispering in French – I’m sure ‘they felt more than I did. It was a sight to behold, something remarkable. The attraction is open year round.
As Onhwa Lumina starts at dusk, you might want to plan to spend the night in Wendake.
Pro tip: Quebec City is very proud of its city, and there is so much history there that I highly recommend booking local tours whenever possible. I would have missed so much Quebec City history if I hadn’t done the tours.