Quebec City offers the charms of a French or Swiss destination. What’s more, you’ll hear enough French in Quebec City to get a taste of that European language barrier. A much smaller city than Montreal — which has four million residents — Quebec City’s intimate, old town-chic atmosphere is extremely appealing to travellers. It’s a metropolis that’s more akin to Geneva, Switzerland or Nice, France than to London or New York City. Known for its history and architecture, Quebec City is beyond picturesque and feels authentically Québecois. Here’s everything you need to know about the capital of Canada’s French-speaking province, from the culinary scene and points of interest to the best events in this idyllic city. By Maya Kachroo-Levine
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
From a weather perspective, you’re going to be chilly in Quebec City in the winter (with temperatures firmly below – 5 degrees Celcius). Nonetheless, it’s a picturesque time to visit. The summer and fall months are much more temperate. Spring is still cold with a fair amount of precipitation.
Quebec City’s annual Carnaval de Quebec is held in February. The festival dates back to the late 1800s and is one of Quebec City’s biggest attractions.
In January, the Hôtel de Glace opens, which is not only a spectacle but the perfect time to spend a night at the Ice Hotel.
In April, Quebec City hosts a charming book fair, which is locally referred to as Salon International du Livre de Québec.
Quebec is known for hosting both food and comedy festivals — with both Montreal and Quebec City offering events for gourmands and comedy enthusiasts. Quebec’s gourmet festivals are in May (Festival Québec Exquis!) and November (Québec Gourmet Table) and their ComediHa! Fest-Québec is in August.
Things to Know
When we say Quebec City is known for their architecture, we mean it. It’s the only walled city (on this continent) north of Mexico.
Just like many classic European destinations, Quebec City has an important river that runs through the metropolis: the St. Lawrence River.
They speak both French and English in Quebec, though keep in mind that French dominates some parts of the city. The French spoken in Quebec City and Montreal — often referred to as Québecois French — is slightly different from French spoken in France.
Old Quebec is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quebec City is known for its charming, European-esque cobblestone streets and the renowned Château Frontenac, which is now a Fairmont hotel.
Currency: Canadian Dollar
(Check the current exchange rate)
Calling Code: +1
How to Get Around
Buses: The local bus transportation network in Quebec City is called the Réseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC). This is the main form of public transportation in Quebec City and is well-run. One ride costs $3.50 or (INR 260) (cash) or $3.20 (INR 237) (with ticket) and a one-day pass is $8.85 (INR 656).
Taxis: You can find taxis at the airport and major hotels in Quebec City. You can also call a local taxi company like Taxi Laurier.
Car service: Uber is available in Quebec City.
Fairmont Château Frontenac
Address: 1 rue des Carrières CITQ No. 040703, Québec City, Quebec G1R 4P5
The Fairmont Château Frontenac is a Quebec icon. The hotel offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and the Old Fortified City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each of the 610 guest rooms is flush with luxury accommodations to ensure a relaxing stay. Visitors can stop into the Château Frontenac’s Moment Spa for a blissful massage or facial. This historic hotel also offers tours of its grandeur to those unable to stay on the property.
Hôtel de Glace
Address: 2280 Bd Valcartier, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, QC G0A 4S0, Canada
The Hôtel de Glace opens annually through the winters and is the only ice hotel in North America. Made entirely of ice, right down to the cocktail glasses in the bar, staying at the Hôtel de Glace is a truly memorable experience. Guests can warm up in a selection of hot tubs or saunas with a view of the starry night sky.
Address: 8 Rue Saint-Antoine, Québec, QC G1K 4C9, Canada
In the heart of Quebec City, you’ll find the historic Auberge Saint-Antoine, which offers guests easy access to city activities and beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River. The Auberge Saint-Antoine extends through three buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries and was built on an archaeological site. Guests can find a selection of artefacts throughout the rooms and must stop into Bar Artefact for an imaginative cocktail.
Hotel Le Germain
Address: 126 St-Pierre Street, Quebec, Quebec, G1K 4A8
Located in the Old Port, the Hotel Le Germain is in an excellent location for exploring all that Quebec City has to offer. Offering amenities like 24-hour gym access, in-room Nespresso machines, and a continental breakfast, this hotel has something for everyone — plus, it’s pet friendly
L’Hôtel du Capitole
Centrally located in downtown Quebec City, L’Hôtel du Capitole’s 108 guest rooms allow guests to enjoy the city in ultimate comfort. From the reception desk on the seventh-floor guests can take in panoramic views of Old Quebec. Amenities include a pool on the ninth floor, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, complimentary breakfast, and on-site laundry.
Le Lapin Saute
Address: 52 rue du Petit-Champlain, Québec (Québec)
In the Quartier Petit Champlain, Le Lapin Saute is a charming spot featuring some of the best rabbits in the city. During the winter months, Le Lapin Saute seats 32 diners with a cosy, fireside ambience. In the summer there’s additional seating on the breezy terrace. Stop in for rabbit poutine or one of the delightful cassoulets. Reservations are recommended but not required.
Restaurant Le Continental
Address: 26 rue St-Louis, Vieux-Québec, Québec, G1R 3Y9
Dining at Restaurant Le Continental is a feast for your eyes and your palette, as experienced staff offer table-side Caesar salad, chateaubriand, and carved duck. Traditional French cuisine shines at Le Continental — consider finishing your meal with their divine take on a crepe Suzette. An extensive wine list with French, Italian, and American wines pairs effortlessly with the menu.
Address: 519, 3e Avenue Québec, Qc G1l 2w4
Diners at Arvi can expect a theatrical dinner that does not disappoint. Arvi uses seasonal produce to create two five-course tasting menus (one vegetarian-friendly). The open-air concept virtually eliminates the barrier between the dining room and the kitchen, so guests can experience the thrill of watching the food on its journey from kitchen to table. Oh, and the same chefs that cooked the food, also deliver it to the eagerly waiting diners. With 30 seats, reservations are recommended.
Address: 380, Dorchester Street
Québec (Qc) G1K 6A7
La Korrigane brews small-batch artisanal beer in-house. Stop in for a pint of their Black Kraken or Saison, brewed with seasonal fruit. When it comes to food, La Korrigane is serving up delicious, light, seasonal dishes prepared with local, seasonal ingredients. Reservations are available for parties up to four. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.
Le Pied Bleu
Address: 179 Rue Saint-Vallier O,
Quebec, QC G1K 1J9
Phone: 418 914-3554
The atmosphere at Le Pied Blue is welcoming, warm, and positively homey. Their speciality is charcuterie and meats, with award-winning blood sausage. Stop by for brunch, lunch, or dinner, or select a few items for take out. They’re also serving up cocktails and a diverse wine list.
Things to Do
La Citadelle de Quebec
Address: 2, rue D’Auteuil, Quebec City, Quebec G1R 5C2
Phone: (418) 648-7016
Quebec City is one of the last remaining fortified cities in North America and Touring La Citadelle de Quebec allows guests to uncover nearly 300 years of Canadian history. This historic site is an active military base. Visitors can explore the site’s intrigue via guided tours and through the on-site Musée Royal 22e Régiment.
Musée de la Civilisation
Address: 85, Rue Dalhousie, Quebec City (Québec) G1K 8R2
Situated in Old Quebec, the Musée de la Civilisation was originally developed to create and promote French history. The museum features a blend of permanent and temporary exhibits on both contemporary and historical topics. Visitors can explore a variety of interactive exhibits to illustrate a connection between the past and present.
Roger-Van den Hende Botanical Garden
Address: 2480 Boulevard Hochelaga, Quebec City, Quebec G1V 0A6
Phone: (418) 656-3742
The Roger-Van den Hende Botanical Garden, located at Laval University, is an affordable delight in the city. Free, with a suggested donation of just $2 (INR 148), visitors can enjoy a variety of botanicals and plant life. The garden is a living laboratory for students and researchers at the university, and it’s home to a variety of environments including a water garden, composting site, and rose garden. Guided tours are offered for groups of 10 or more ($5 or INR 370 per person).
Île d’Orleans, an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, is a delightful retreat for tourists and Quebec locals alike. The island is a designated historic area and has an abundance of fresh, island-grown produce that supply markets and stalls lining the city streets. Enjoy scenic walking paths, farm-to-table restaurants, and quaint shops and galleries featuring the work of local artists.
Quartier Petit Champlain
Take a walk through Quartier Petit Champlain and admire the work of local artists and artisans. Rue de Petit Champlain is one of the oldest pedestrian shopping streets in North America and is home to unique boutiques and adorable restaurants perfect for a leisurely lunch if you’re in need of a shopping respite.
Address: 2450, boulevard Laurier, Québec, QC,
Head over to Place Ste-Foy to shop luxury brands in Quebec City. Interested in some personalised fashion advice? Set up an appointment with a stylist for a guided shopping experience.
Address: 35 1/2, rue du Petit-Champlain, Québec, Québec, G1K 4H5
Pop into Amimoc, located in the Petit Champlain district of the city, for some well-crafted moccasins, boots, and more. The shoes are handmade and available for children, men, and women.
Le Grand Marché Quebec
Address: 250, boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel, Québec City, Québec G1L 5A7
Parking Lot P4
Phone: 418-692- 2517
Food purveyors, artisans, and farmers gather at Le Grand Marché Quebec filling the stalls with seasonal delicacies. Stroll through the market to find meats, cheese, artisanal pastries and baked goods, wine, spirits, and so much more. Le Grand Marché is just minutes from Quebec’s city centre and is easily accessible by car, bike, or public transport.
Galeries de la Capitale
Address: 5401, Boul. des Galeries, Québec, QC G2K 1N4
Head over to Galeries de la Capitale for world-class shopping. The shopping centre is also home to Eastern Canada’s largest indoor amusement park, le Mega-Parc.
Neighbourhoods to Know
Old Quebec: Called Vieux-Québec in French, this historic neighbourhood of Quebec is encircled by nearly three miles of fortifications. Visitors love the stone walls, rolling hills on which locals laze in the summer, and of course, the crowning jewel of Vieux-Québec, Château Frontenac.
Saint-Jean-Baptiste: A Boho-chic neighbourhood with hipster vibes, Saint-Jean has art galleries and cafes lining its cobblestone streets. The neighbourhood is also home to the legendary Breakneck Stairs — the city’s oldest staircase, built in 1635 and comprising 59 steep stairs.
Montcalm: This neighbourhood is home to attractions like Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, but it’s also fairly residential. You’ll find charming art galleries and nice restaurants in Montcalm, as well as the must-visit Avenue Cartier.
Saint-Roch: One of the Haute downtown districts in Quebec City, Saint-Roch has been revitalised over the last decade. Tourists now flock to Saint-Roch for their excellent boutique shopping, charming cafes, and must-try restaurants like Le Clocher Penché.
Winter: Spoilers — winter in Quebec City is cold. You’ll see lows under -12 C in January and February, and winter highs of 0 C. You should expect December, January, February, and March temperatures to hover around -5 degrees Celcius with a fair bit of snowfall each month.
Spring: Spring thaws Quebec City, but temperatures aren’t necessarily warm. You’ll still get temperatures around 1 degree Celcius in April and 4 degrees Celcius in May. However, the highs can reach up to 15 degrees in May. You’ll see a significant amount of precipitation in the spring.
Summer: With temperatures reaching around 20 degrees Celcius, summer is lovely in Quebec City. The city still sees rain in the summer, but the warmth lasts through the end of August and is a welcome treat for locals and tourists alike.
Fall: September and October are a delight in Quebec City, with temperatures around 15 degrees and turning leaves lining the cobblestone streets. By November, temperatures dip as low as -1 C.