Quebec City Visual Travel Guide

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Our definitive Quebec City Travel Guide has been carefully formulated to assist you to enjoy every moment of your visit to this outstanding UNESCO World Heritage city. This is where you can find the best tips about what to see, where to go, where to stay and even what to eat!

A little background: Quebec City started off as a tiny fur-trading post on the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River. Today the city is the capital of Quebec province, which is the largest of Canada’s 10 provinces. This “New France” settlement went on to become one of the most important Canadian cities and the most historically significant city in Canada.

Place Royale is the exact location where Samuel de Champlain built the first permanent French settlement in the Americas
Undeterred by the vast wilderness and isolation of their new home, the early French colonists set out to re-establish all their French customs, traditions and architectural styles. In the true European tradition, they built massive defensive walls to protect their outpost. Behind these walls a maze of cobblestoned streets and alleyways sprang up, lined with fine 17th and 18th century buildings, many of which you can still admire today.

Maison Chevalier, one of the 18th century buildings in Lower Town, very well represents the architecture of New France

Interesting and Fun Facts about Quebec City

If you are not sure whether Quebec City is for you, we invite you to take a moment to look at a few Interesting and Fun Facts about Quebec City:
  • Quebec City sprang up along the left bank of the Saint Lawrence River, just where it narrows to meet the Saint Charles River. Its name is derived from the Algonquin word Kebec, meaning “where the river narrows”
  • The old town, “Vieux-Quebec” has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is divided into an Upper and Lower town, linked by 30 sets of stairs, and includes at least 1,400 historic buildings – a treasure trove for history and architecture enthusiasts
Breakneck Stairs is the oldest stairway in Québec City, dating back to the beginning of the French colony

Why go to Quebec City?

Faced with prioritizing your must-see destinations in Canada you may wonder why go to Quebec City? The answers are diverse and could be surprising – read on to learn more:
  • A Taste of Europe in North America – Quebec City offers a uniquely “European” ambiance that you will not find anywhere else in North America. Here Americans can experience some of Europe’s famed history, art and architecture without boarding a plane or stepping out of their comfort zone.
Credit: Le Monde en Vidéo, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Cultural Diversity – while French culture and traditions dominate in Quebec City, the population includes people from many other countries including England and Ireland. The result is a melting-pot of identities, religions and cuisines
Parade in the annual New France festival
Change of the Guard at the Citadelle de Québec based on a similar ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Credit: CasselmanCanada via Youtube

Top 10 Quebec City Attractions

Depending on how much time you have at your disposal in Quebec City, the following 10 Best Quebec City Attractions should all feature on your must-see list. Each of these attractions will have a role in shaping your experience of the city so that you leave with unforgettable memories and a broad experience of what Quebec City and the surrounding area has to offer tourists. Let us start with the most popular attraction – Old Quebec.

1. Old Quebec

Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec) is indeed a city within a city. This the where Quebec City started off as a fur-trading settlement and this is where you will find many of Quebec City’s most popular attractions. Most visitors will want to start their tour by walking along the beautifully preserved fortified walls which surround Old Quebec, which has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Place Royale and Notre Dame des Victoires Church

2. Village Vacances Valcartier (Valcartier Vacation Village) & Ice Hotel

When you need a brief break from history, art and architecture, the Valcartier Vacation Village offers a fun day out. Being the largest entertainment complex in North America, it is located a 20-minute drive from Quebec City. All ages can find enjoyment and excitement in the seasonal activities held here year-round.

Bora Park

The main attraction of the village is Bora Park, an indoor all-season water park where the whole family can have hours of fun. It is over 100,000 sq and themed with the Polynesian style. The park comprises a wave pool, a tubing river, 14 waterslides and a double surf wave. There is a 4-star hotel with 153 rooms attached to this park. 
Credit: Takyo Travel via Youtube

Outdoor Amusement Park

There is an even larger and more extravagant outdoor water park for summer fun. The park has a huge wave pool, 2 lazy rivers and 35 waterslides with runs from mild to crazily fast. For visitors who wish to stay overnight, there is a 600-site campground next to the park.
Credit: Nova Film, Destination Québec cité

Winter Playground

From December to March, Village Vacances Valcartier opens the largest winter playground in America with 35 snow slides at all levels of difficulty! Thrill-seekers find breathtaking sensations with the high acceleration slides, snow rafts, and the crazy spinning Tornado. For family? They will enjoy skating in the illuminated Skateway with music and hot cocoa.
Credit: Family Travel Forum via Youtube
Village Vacances Valcartier
Based on 23 Reviews
Ryan J.
Ryan J.
2023-03-18 14:50:13
Spent 4 days here, near starved to death with 2 kids. Almost nothing to eat, no decent coffee. The day prior to checkout overheard 2 separate people were...
B K.
B K.
2022-12-28 12:02:53
Really overcrowded. Incredibly long waits to do anything. A really disappointing experience. It would be so simple for the resort to better manage capacity,...
Bruno G.
Bruno G.
2022-08-14 16:28:34
Le village vacances Valcartier est très le fun en été (on ne l'a pas encore visité en hiver). Le site est très propre et il y a beaucoup de sécurité. Il y a...
Larry M.
Larry M.
2019-09-30 15:16:37
The best! I loved it. 4 times in the summer and once in the winter. Many more trips to come. There are about 600 sites of all kinds. The best. And they are...
Amanda T.
Amanda T.
2019-02-22 14:56:04
Tubing at Valcartier is awesome, period. There are tons of impeccably-groomed hills, gorgeous views and decent amenities. Here's the thing, though - on my...
Sara W.
Sara W.
2018-03-22 16:23:24
What an amazing and fun morning out with our kids. Came here. Tubed for a bit, laughed alot and just truly had a great time. Was busy but the lines move fast.
French C.
French C.
2017-02-18 07:56:22
Reviewing new complex and winter activities. Hotel - Rooms are nice, big, comfy and noticeably clean. The hotel is lacking inclusive breakfast so expect...

Hotel de Glace

Only open from January to March, Hotel de Glace is the only ice hotel in North America made entirely of ice and snow. It has more than 40 rooms with different themes. Staying overnight or just walking around the hotel is definitely an experience of a lifetime.
Family stroll in Hotel de Glace
Credit: Nova Film, Destination Québec cité
Bar at Hotel de Glace

Credit: Nova Film, Destination Québec cité

Best things to do in Quebec City

Quebec City is a vibrant and exciting city where you will never be bored. Our choice of the top best things to do in Quebec City includes options for all ages, tastes and activity levels and everyone visiting the city will find plenty of informative and fun activities.
Many of these activities are unique to Quebec City and will greatly enhance your appreciation of all the city has to offer.

Visits to historic sites in Old Québec

Credit: Nova Film, Destination Québec cité

Summer activities

Winter Activities

Adventurous Activities

Best Food and Restaurants in Quebec City

Tasting the traditional foods of a region is often the best and most memorable way to learn about the place you are visiting. Quebec City is no exception. The city draws heavily on its French culinary traditions and no visit would be complete without tasting some of the traditional flavors that now define Quebec City.
Poutine is often referred to as the national dish of Canada
Although you will find Poutine on the menu at just about every café and bistro, the following are rumored to be two of the best places in the city to eat Poutine:

Le Chic Shack and Poutineville

You should try and treat yourself to a Sugar Shack experience at least once during your visit. Here you will get to savor an eat-as-much-as-you-can feast of all the traditional Quebec: meat pie, baked beans, pea soup and much more. Although this is usually a seasonal treat at the start of spring, Le Relais des Pins Restaurant offers a sugar shack feast all year round.
Maple Taffy on snow
A typical meal served in a Sugar Shack in Quebec City

Quebec City Hotels

Like most other modern cities, Quebec City offers a broad range of hotels for guests to choose from – in fact, more than 280 hotels are vying for your custom.
Depending on your budget, you could choose to spend a night or two in the famous Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which is often cited as the most-photographed hotel in the world, or set your sights a little lower and choose a comfortable B&B a little further away from the action.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac seen from different angles
Many visitors take home fond memories of their stay in one of the charming old-world hotels located in or near Vieux Quebec (the Old Town) – choosing to stay in this area means that just about all the main tourist attractions can be reached on foot. On the other hand, hotels located further from the city center tend to be more affordable and the city has excellent public transport.

Follow the arrow to explore the interior of Hotel du Vieux-Quebec in the heart of Old Port

Top Events and Festivals in Quebec City

Everyone loves a festival! And in Quebec City, they take their festivals seriously!
When you plan your trip to the city, make sure it coincides with at least one of the top events and festivals in Quebec City. All the festivals and events revolve around history, culture, food and sports – there is something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of which month of the year you are planning to visit.
The majority of the top festivals and events take place during the summer months, but there are some really fun winter festivals too. Choose your month, choose your festival and come and join the local Quebecers as they pull out all the stops to enjoy their annual festivities.

Best time to Visit Quebec

When is the best time to visit Quebec? There is no short answer! We believe there is no such thing as a bad time to visit Quebec City! Sure, some months of the year may have more to offer than others, but even if you visit outside of the most popular times you will find plenty to do and some unexpected seasonal perks.
That said, if you want to take part in all the festivals and events, you should visit between June and September or December to February, when most festivals take place.
However, if you decide to visit during the spring and fall shoulder seasons you will usually benefit from discounted accommodation and other special deals. Fall is wonderful to witness the amazing tapestry of color that it brings to all outdoor areas, while spring heralds the start of the maple syrup harvesting season.

Getting to Quebec City

Excellent roads, rail and air connections ensure that getting to Quebec City is really easy. The majority of visitors will travel to Quebec City by air, arriving at the Jean Lesage International Airport. Visitors who are arriving via other Canadian cities could make the journey by car, bus or train. Finally, you can also choose to arrive at Quebec City on a luxury cruise liner – in this case you will disembark conveniently close to the beautiful Old Town.
Gare du Palais Train Station

Getting Around Quebec City

Unlike many major tourist destinations, getting around Quebec City is easy with several options available to visitors
Most visitors will enjoy exploring the Old Town (Vieux Quebec) on foot – strolling along the many quaint cobblestoned passages is an adventure in itself and all the major tourist attractions are relatively close together. Walking tours of the Old Town are extremely popular and will take you to all the major attractions.
While walking may be very pleasant in summer, winter can be very cold indeed and you may prefer to travel from attraction to attraction in a convenient (and heated!) Métrobus.
Funicular connects Petit Champlain with Dufferin Terrace
There is also a funicular railway which you can take from the Lower Town (Basse Ville) up to the Upper Town (Haute Ville) to save yourself a steep walk. The fabulous views along the way are an added bonus. If you have limited mobility or are travelling with young children, an inexpensive taxi ride can be the ideal way to get from Point A to Point B.
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