A panoramic view overlooking the historical buildings of Old Quebec City from Montmorency Park, showcasing a serene park with people relaxing on benches, surrounded by lush greenery, with the iconic Château Frontenac in the background. This is one of the best things to do in Old Quebec City, offering a peaceful retreat with a stunning backdrop.

16 Best Things To Do in Old Québec City

Are you looking for the best things to do in Old Québec City?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit beautiful Québec City 3 times, and during these visits, I’ve explored every corner of this charming city district. In today’s post, I am excited to share my top activities and experiences with you.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or just looking for some unique cultural experiences, old Québec City has something to offer!

Many travelers often feel overwhelmed when planning a trip to a city with as much history and diversity as Québec City.

It can be a lot to manage, from deciding which historical sites to visit, like the Place Royal, to admiring the breathtaking views at Terrasse Dufferin, exploring the fascinating Morrin Centre, and figuring out the best local cuisine to try!

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

With my expertise and personal experiences from multiple visits, I’ll guide you through a curated list of must-visit spots that will give you a genuine taste of what Québec City has to offer, whether you’re strolling through the historic streets for the first time or returning to discover more hidden gems, this guide is tailored just for you.

So, let’s dive into the adventure that awaits in Québec City!

1. Walk on the historic Citadel of Québec

Walking on the historic walls of Québec City. You can see Old Québec on one side and modern Québec City on the other!

Take in the fortitude of Old Québec’s city wall and enjoy views of both historic Old Québec and modern Québec, as well as some of the beautiful surrounding nature. 

Built by the British in the early 1800s, the Citadel of Québec is considered a UNESCO world heritage site, and because it’s still standing tall as it did back in the day, that makes Québec City an UNESCO recognized city as it’s known as the only city north of Mexico in North America to have a standing fortress. 

You can visit the Citadel and walk on the vast walls that wrap around Old Québec City for free, or to dive deeper into the history of the Citadel of Québec and Old Québec, opt for an Old Québec City Walking Tour

For a different experience of the Citadel of Québec, sign up for an interactive self-guided tour that combines an outdoor escape game with a treasure hunt!

2. Have a quiet moment inside the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Catholic Church

The historic Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Catholic Church is a must on your list of the best things to do in old Québec City!

Step inside the stunning Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Catholic Church, a Canadian Historic Site known for its historic symbolism, art, and famous individuals buried inside.  

Observe the incredible detail of the church’s architecture and interior, dating back to the mid-1600s. Some notable figures from the New France era in Canada, including four governors and the diocese of Québec, are buried there. Check out the chapel dedicated to François Laval, the first bishop of Québec. 

Notre Dame de Québec is also known as the first Catholic Church north of Mexico and houses the “Holy Door,” which is an experience in itself!

3. Step into your new reality at the Holy Door

The famous Holy Door is situated inside Notre Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. This physical door, fixed on the side of the cathedral, symbolizes the movement of leaving the past and stepping into a better tomorrow. 

The Holy Door is a famous sight to see, as there are only 7 doors of its kind that exist in the world, and Québec is one of the cities in the world that has it, as a gift to commemorate the 350th anniversary of establishing Notre Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral.

Whether you’re religious or not, the experience is open to all who wish to symbolically enter a new reality, seek answers, or begin a new stage in life. 

You can experience a whole ritual as part of the Holy Door, which makes this one of the most unique things to do in Québec City!

It is currently open every day of the week until December 2024. Please check the hours of visitation here.

4. Enjoy views of the St. Lawrence River at Terrasse Dufferin

Enjoy amazing views of the St. Lawrence River, the Fairmont, and beautiful nature around Québec from the Terrasse Dufferin!

Walk along the long promenade sandwiched between the extensive St. Lawrence River and the famous and beautiful Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. 

This is a perfect place to take photos, enjoy the beauty of old Québec City, look at the streets and shops below, and much more! 

There is often live music here, and people dress in historical attire for reenactments, so there’s never a dull moment!

5. Peek at the Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis

As you walk along the Terrasse Dufferin, check out Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis, a historical sight known as a former seat of government by the French and British between 1620 and 1834. 

There are glass cases popping out from Dufferin Terrace, so you’re sure not to miss them as you walk along the famous promenade. These cases offer a look into the historic crypts, four forts, and two previous government houses situated below. 

Tours are available, whether guided or self-guided. It’s one of the most exciting sites to visit in old Québec City, so make sure to book your tickets ahead of time! 

Don’t have time to go inside? Learn all about the historic Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis on a historic walking tour of Québec City!

🎫 BOOK guided site tour tickets for Forts-et-Châteaux-Saint-Louis

6. Take a breathtaking cruise on the St. Lawrence River

Watch the boats and even cruises make their stop through the St. Lawrence River at Québec City.

One of the most famous and most significant rivers in North America, the St. Lawrence River played a major role in the “discovery” of America by the French when they settled in modern-day Québec City. 

The St. Lawrence River, known by the Indigenous people as “Magtogoek,” is a body of water that connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are plenty of ways to explore and enjoy the river, beyond just seeing it from Dufferin Terrace, for different levels of fun. 

Enjoy numerous ferry opportunities, including a Half-Day Orleans Island Small-Group Sea Kayaking Tour, where you’ll enjoy the amazing views of the St. Lawrence River and Québec City.

If you’re looking for night plans, book yourself in for an unforgettable Sunset Happy Hour Cruise in Quebec, or simply enjoy the views from land on a Québec City Guided Electric Scooter Tour.

7. Visit the impressive Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Since its opening in 1893, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has drawn the attention of dozens of visitors who have been impressed by this towering structure.

I can’t possibly talk about the best things to do in Old Québec City without mentioning the stunning Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, which has as much history as it does beauty and is worth enjoying on your visit!

Known as one of the most photographed hotels in the world, the luxurious hotel has hosted numerous famous figures historically, from Theodore Roosevelt to Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Queen Elizabeth II, Céline Dion, Leonardo DiCaprio, and more! 

The hotel sits beautifully on Cape Diamond and offers incredible views of the St. Lawrence River, as well as the charming streets of Old Québec. It’s also quickly become one of the city’s most popular skyline figures and symbol of the city. 

Treat yourself to afternoon tea inside the hotel or a memorable meal inside one of their restaurants. 

Or, if you want to get the historical background, feel free to step in and absorb a bit of the grandeur inside by booking a tour of the famous hotel.

🎫 BOOK your tickets for a tour of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

8. Plan a scenic picnic on the Plains of Abraham

One of my personal favorite stops while visiting Québec City – you can see all of Québec City, including some of the French/British architecture.

Make your way to the historical grounds of the Plains of Abraham. 

Once the setting of some of the most important battles fought in Québec, today, the Plains of Abraham is one of the most scenic spots to visit and take in the beauty of Old Québec City. 

The Plains of Abraham were once the setting of one of the most important battles that decided the fate of New France at the time. The British and French battled, and the British troops defeated the French, consequently “winning” Québec. 

Situated on a small hill, it’s a great place to take a perfect photo of Québec City and also to enjoy a picnic, one of my favorite things to do in this spot. 

9. Get epic views of Old Québec City on the Funicular du Vieux-Québec

The ride is not only scenic, but you save yourself from having to go up the steps between the upper and lower Québec City.

There’s more to explore when it comes to the things to do in Old Québec City. 

To begin with, you can hop on the Funicular du Vieux-Québec for a short ride to the lower part of Old Québec City. 

The historical funicular, inaugurated in 1879, is easily accessed from Dufferin Terrace and arrives at the base of the beautiful Quartier Petit Champlain (street). 

To get back to the upper part of Old Québec City, you can access the funicular through the historic Louis Joliet house. 

Fun fact for all my fellow Illinoisans: This is the house where Louis Joliet, the person who “discovered” the Mississippi River and established modern-day Joliet, IL., was born. 

Joliet is known as the first French-Canadian to achieve such a feat and is highly regarded for this achievement.

Tickets for the funicular are $5 CAD. 

10. Walk Canada’s oldest and most beautiful street – Quartier Petit Champlain

Named one of the prettiest streets in Québec City and all of Canada, you must take a walk and enjoy the beauty of this street in old Québec City!

Quartier Petit Champlain is one of the most beautiful streets you’ll walk through in Old Québec and even all of Canada. 

Don’t believe me? Multiple publications have named it the prettiest street in Canada, and it is also considered one of the most beautiful streets in the world. 

You won’t wonder why any longer as soon as you take a few steps and marvel at the numerous local shops, beautiful architecture, quaint gardens, and narrow streets. 

Step in, do some local shopping, and see what local crafts make it back home with you!

11. Enjoy some Poutine

Poutine is a must-try food when visiting Québec City, as this is a regional dish of the province!

You can’t visit French Canada and not try some local poutine! 

The traditional recipe for this French Canadian dish is a hearty and comforting mix of French fries, gravy sauce, and cheese curds, but some restaurants offer other variations and toppings that are well worth trying, too!

Some places I recommend for Poutine in Old Québec City:

Though Québec’s gastronomy is most famous for Poutine, there is so much more to try and explore on a guided food and drink tour in this unique blend of North American and French cuisine.  

Before departing for Québec City, make sure to learn about some of those must-try local dishes with my quick guide to the 8 Must-Try Foods to Eat in Québec City

Use this as a guide, and prepare to see these dishes on the menus outside the restaurants so you don’t miss out on this important part of Québecois culture!

12. Shop locally produced items at the unique shops

The Christmas magic (and music) goes strong all year round at this shop in old Québec City.

Part of Old Québec’s charm is also due to its tons of great shopping opportunities, which offer high-quality souvenirs and mementos of your time in Québec City. 

Of course, there are typical souvenir stores, but if you can, step inside one of the local shops, art galleries, local clothing brand shops, maple syrup shops, or specialty food shops. 

Quartier Petit Champlain is a great place to check out local stores, but it won’t be hard to find a great place to do some local shopping throughout old Québec City. So my recommendation is to get lost in the charming streets and see which shops catch your eye. 

One shop I think is worth mentioning is the Québec Christmas shop, which houses not only the cutest Christmas ornaments, dozens of nativity scenes, and other Christmas-esque items but also a whole lot of Christmas magic – all year round!

The Québec Christmas Shop: 47, rue De Buade, Québec, QC, G1R 4A2

13. Spend a few moments inside a historic Jail Cell or Browse the Books at Morrin Centre

Such a cool place to visit while in Québec City – the Morrin Centre has tons to offer and learn about life in old Québec City back in the day.

Check out Morrin Centre, one of Québec’s cultural centers with a really interesting history to explore. 

Book a tour of Morrin Centre to experience the depth of all its purposes throughout the years, from a prison to a university, a library, and much more. 

Considered a nationally recognized heritage site and the oldest educational society in Canada, the Morrin Centre inspires with its towering shelves full of historic books, Victorian-esque furniture, and more. 

Step downstairs, however, and the vibe will be totally different from the library, as the historic prison was located there. 

If you’re feeling bold enough, you can step inside one of the cells and have the door closed to experience what it must have felt like to be imprisoned for “crimes” as minimal as stealing an apple in the late 1800s. 

14. Experience the Cradle of French North America at Place Royal

Another beautiful place in old Québec City that you can’t miss! It tends to get crowded, but it’s definitely worth a visit!

Historically significant, as it’s the setting where Samuel de Champlain officially founded Québec City, Place Royal is another one of the picturesque spots in Old Québec to explore and meander a bit. 

Located a few streets away from Quartier Petit Champlain, Place Royal is a beautiful petite European square where you’ll find a mix of British and French architecture buildings and a church known as the oldest stone-built church in North America.

Enjoy the shops and restaurants nearby, take your pictures, and peek at the bust of King Louis XIV to really help you sink into the history of the time in which Québec was founded by the French.

15. Dive into Québecois culture and history at the Museum of Civilization

Explore the beautiful art pieces inside the Museum of Civilization, starting with learning about the indigenous people and their culture.

Take a break from the heat or the cold and dive into the fascinating history at the Museum of Civilization, located on the famous Rue Saint-Pierre, where you’ll learn all about unique Quebecois history, art, and culture that spans back to the Indigenous, to modern day Québec. 

Past visitors share that nature lovers should check out the nature collection for an interesting look at the unique natural makeup and wild species that belong to the Québec region, while history buffs should take a look at the historical leaflet of the Québecois flag and much more! 

I haven’t made it to the museum myself yet, but this is definitely the kind of museum that deserves a spot on your list of best things to do in Old Québec City to keep expanding your knowledge of this fascinating city. 

16. Walk through other scenic streets in Old Québec

Left: Rue Saint-Dennis, middle: Rue du Cul-de-Sac (Umbrella Alley), right: near walking to Rue Sainte-Anne
  • Grande Allée – one of the most active streets in old Québec, Grand Allée is buzzing with life with restaurants, bars, and little shops. By night, enjoy the best bars in old Québec here, or explore the creepy happenings on Grand Allée and the rest of Old Québec City on a crime walking tour, with guides dressed in historical period clothing.
  • Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue des Pains Bénits – 2 beautiful streets perfect for taking in the mix of French and British architecture (and sneaking in a quick photo shoot).
  • Rue du Cul-de-Sac (umbrella alley) – known as umbrella alley for the hanging umbrellas hanging over the beautiful cobblestone street. Before walking under the umbrellas, make sure to look up and enjoy the unmatched views of the towering Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. 
  • Rue Notre-Dame – a beautiful cobblestone street that passes by one of the largest murals in old Québec City worth seeing called The Fresque des Québécois
  • Rue du Marche Champlain – step away from old Québec City for a bit to get one of the most amazing views of the city on Rue du Marche Champlain. See the city’s lower and upper zones in one glance. 
  • Breakneck Steps – an alternative to riding the funicular, you can also take the scenic steps (Breakneck Steps) and enjoy the stunning views of Quartier Petite Champlain. 
  • Rue Sainte-Anne – here, you’ll find one of the prettiest restaurants (Bistro 1640) and the beautiful street it’s on, which has equally beautiful views of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
  • Av. Saint-Denis – This avenue is located next to the Plains of Abraham, and is a beautiful street lined French/British style buildings. It’s one of the prettiest (and quietest) streets to enjoy not only the architecture, but the park, and even a bit of the Fairmont.

More unique experiences in and near Québec City

Relax and unwind at a Nordic Spa 

Nordic spas are a very popular and one of the most famous attractions to add to your list of the best things to do in Québec City. 

Known as a traditional pastime in the region, especially in the winter, Québec City has some of the best Nordic spas to help you unwind, relax, and gain amazing health benefits through its multiple services and just enjoy the Québecois nature typically surrounding these spas. 

Here are a few popular ones close to Old Québec City

Sleep on an ice bed at Hôtel de Glace 

Speaking of relaxing, another popular activity/place to check out in Québec City is Hôtel de Glace! 

Opened in 2001, this unique hotel is made entirely of ice and snow and is rebuilt every winter. 

Though the idea of sleeping in a room made of ice may not immediately sound like the most appealing, visitors are equipped with proper wear and special blankets to safely have visitors enjoy this unique Québecois experience; plus, when you’re not sleeping on the ice bed, you can opt for sipping hot cocoa at the ice bar, and even attending the ice chapel! 

Enjoy the beautiful ice sculptures and snowy rooms and fun activities like ice sliding and snowshoeing.

So, if you’re looking for something undeniably cool (pun intended), the Hôtel de Glace is a must on your list of things to do in Quebec City!

Enjoy the Québecois wintertime at The Winter Carnival 

Typically held in late January to mid-February, the Winter Carnival is a festive gathering that started in 1894. Every winter, it lights up the historic heart of Old Quebec City with its fun and cheer. 

With so many activities held throughout the city, you can expect to see giant ice palaces and snow sculptures, hop on the fun sleigh rides, plus so much more! If you’re in Old Quebec City during the carnival, it’s a must-do activity! 

Learn how the Canadian government works at the Parliament Building

The Parliament Building is closeby, just outside of Old Québec City.

This grand building is where Quebec’s government makes important decisions. 

The Parliament is famous for its beautiful exterior architecture as well as fascinating interiors.

On a guided tour, you can learn about Québec’s unique laws and political standing within Canada.

Inside, you’ll see impressive artwork and learn about Québec’s history and culture, which is a great way to understand what makes Québec unique. 

It’s also right in the heart of Old Quebec, just across the entrance of Old Québec City, so it’s a great place to stop by! 

I’ve done the parliament tour in Ottawa, so I can tell you that these tours of the parliament buildings are very interesting, especially considering how different Canadian and Québecois laws work.

Feel the rush at Montmorency Falls

Such a beautiful natural escape, just a few minutes drive from Old Québec City!

Montmorency Falls is one of the most impressive natural sights I’ve seen in Canada, and absolutely worth visiting near Québec City.

Only a less than 10-minute car ride from Old Québec City, these falls were created naturally thousands of years ago by water from the Montmorency River rushing over a cliff. 

What makes them so special? In addition to their stunning beauty, they are taller than Niagara Falls! Visitors (including myself, since I’ve been there 3 times) love visiting Montmorency Falls because you can see the water up close, feel the refreshing mist, and enjoy multiple walking paths around the falls. 

You can walk on a bridge right over the falls and see the cascades from a different perspective, zip line across for a thrilling view, or you can hop on the cable car that takes you across the base of the falls. 

Want to visit the magnificent Montmorency Falls?

You can take an Uber ride, drive there yourself (only 10 minutes away), or book a seat on the next Bike Tour to Montmorency Falls from Quebec City and get a first-hand look at the region’s incredible nature right along the St. Lawrence River, until reaching the cascading Montmorency Falls. 

It’s also an excellent spot for picnics and hiking, so If you’re in Quebec City, you definitely shouldn’t miss seeing these magnificent falls and enjoying one of the most fun things to do in Québec City!

Spot the minke whales on a whale-watching tour

Some of the most common whales to swim in the Québec region include Minke, Humpback, Fin, and Blue Whales.

With dozens of whale-watching tours ready to whisk you away to see these giant mammals swim around the St. Lawrence River, whale-watching is a fun activity that allows you to experience these animals up close and personal.

The St. Lawrence River is a special place where many whales come to feed, especially between May and October. You can see different types of whales, such as the giant blue whale and belugas, just to mention a few.

Enjoy a day out on the water, where the guides tell you cool facts about whales and help you spot them while basking in the gorgeous natural surroundings.

It’s one of the best day trips from Québec, so don’t miss out! 

Breath in the pure air at Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier 

Looking for a nature escape? Check out the beautiful Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier.

This national park is known for its tall, forest-covered mountains that beautifully change throughout the seasons and its expansive river. There are tons of activities to enjoy in this national park. 

From hiking, fishing, or canoeing in the warmer months to snowshoeing and skiing in the winter – there’s always an activity to enjoy.

It’s a perfect spot for adventure and to relax in nature’s beauty, so it’s worth mentioning on this list!

Best Things To Do in Old Québec City – FAQ

What is the prettiest street in Old Quebec city?

The prettiest street in Old Québec City is known by many as Petit-Champlain street, located in the lower part of Old Québec City, and is definitely one of the prettiest streets I’ve seen.

However, in my experience, there are a few other streets in Old Québec worth seeing, and in my opinion some of the prettiest streets in Old Québec City, such as Rue du Cul-de-Sac (umbrella alley), Rue Notre-Dame, Av. St.-Denis, Rue Sainte-Anne, and the alley nearby filled with painters and crafters.

How many days do you need to see Old Quebec city?

In the past, I’ve spent anywhere from 3 to half a day in old Québec City.

If this is your first time visiting, I recommend staying 2-3 days, especially if you want to explore a few amazing day trips near Québec City that are very much worth it.

If you’ve been there before, a day trip is great. You can have lunch and roam the streets, falling in love with the architecture and narrow streets again.

Which is better Old Montreal or Old Quebec city?

I’ve been to both Old Montréal and Old Québec City, and though both are beautiful and worth a visit, I have to say that Old Québec City has a bit more charm.

Old Québec City has the grand Fairmont, tons of stunning French/British architecture, beautiful cobblestone roads and some of the prettiest streets you’ll walk through, towering views over the St. Lawrence River from the Dufferin Terrace, lower and upper Old Québec City, the funicular, the surrounding nature, and Montmorency Falls not too far away.

I could keep going, but Old Québec City is incredibly enchanting. If you’re looking for an Old Europe feel, both Old Montreal and Old Québec have it, but Old Québec has it just a bit more.

Take the train from Québec City to Montréal, and be sure to prepare an epic trip to Montréal if you’re in the province!

What is the difference between Québec City and Old Quebec City?

Québec City is the whole city, whereas Old Québec City is just a neighborhood or historic district within Québec City.

In this post, I shared the best things to see/do while visiting Old Québec City, as this is the area that most visitors like to stay in and explore the most.

Concluding thoughts on the Best 16 Things To Do in Old Québec City

Québec City is a treasure trove of history, beauty, and vibrant culture. It offers a wide range of activities that cater to all types of travelers.

Whether it’s enjoying a serene walk along the St. Lawrence River, marveling at the architectural grandeur of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, or diving into the rich history at the Citadel, I hope my guide has helped you discover the best things to do in old Québec City!

Please feel free to share below where you think you’ll be going when you visit Québec City and don’t forget to download the 8 Must-Try Foods To Eat in Quebec City so you won’t miss any of the city’s most popular dishes and snacks on your visit.

What’s one experience from this list you wouldn’t want to miss? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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