Quebec City is a dynamic destination for all kinds of travelers, even if you’ve only got 24 hours to get to know the neighborhoods and monuments. Here’s a cultural guide to how you can make the most of your day trip or layover in Canada’s most historic city.
Morning exploration of Vieux-Québec
Quebec City is celebrated for its historical architecture, and exploring the city’s oldest neighborhood means heading straight into the heart of it. For many travelers, the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and Basse-Ville (Lower Town) are the main reasons why they visit the city in the first place. With cobblestoned streets, trendy boutiques and restaurants, street performers, and artists hawking their creative wares in narrow laneways, you’ll quickly find yourself immersed in the most charming aspects of the city.
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Quebec City’s gay village lies in Haute Ville, and it is home to different churches, convents, and monuments that add to its historic appeal. While you’re in the area, you’ll also want to check out the Quartier Petit Champlain, which is often identified as being the oldest commercial district in North America.
Lunch break at the Marché du Vieux-Porte
While you’re in Quebec City, you’ll want to get a sense of the local cuisine, regional produce, and culinary quirks. There’s no place better to explore the foodie side of the city than in the lively Marché du Vieux-Porte, where you can find fresh fruit and veggies, deli products, maple syrup, ice wine, and more. You can either eat at the market or head over to the Plains of Abraham for a picnic lunch.
The Plains of Abraham now consists of a recreational park, where locals stroll, jog, and walk their dogs, but it’s also one of the most important historic sites in Canada. In 1759, this was the site where British troops defeated the French in a brief half-hour battle that was instrumental in the course of North American history.
Marché du Vieux-Port, 160 Quai Saint-André, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 692 2517
Plains of Abraham, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 648 3506
Afternoon history lesson and a visit to Montmorency Falls
While you’re in Quebec City, you won’t want to miss seeing at least one of its well-known museums or historic sites. There are plenty of options, including the Musée de la Civilisation, which is one of the most visited museums in Canada; to get your art fix, you can head to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. There are also important sites such as La Citadelle, the Musée des Ursulines de Québec, the Basilique Cathedrale – Notre-Dame-de-Québec, and the Château Frontenac.
If you’re in the city for just a short time, it’s best to choose one of the sites and immerse yourself in it rather than trying to fit several of them into your schedule, especially because you won’t want to miss the opportunity to head over to the towering Montmorency Falls. At 83 meters (272 feet) high, the falls are 30 meters (98 feet) higher than Niagara Falls in Ontario. They are accessible by car (or by bike during the warmer months), just minutes from downtown Quebec City, and it’s a great way to get a sense of the local geography while you’re here.
Musée de la Civilisation, 85 Rue Dalhousie, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 643 2158
For the best 360-degree panoramic views of Quebec City, you won’t want to miss out on the Observatoire de la Capitale located on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building. The Observatoire is open year-round, from 10 am to 6 pm during high season (June to September), and from 10 am to 5 pm the rest of the year. If you’re traveling as a group, you can get early morning or evening access upon reservation. Don’t forget your camera!
Traditional Quebecois cuisine for dinner
After a full day of exploring Quebec City’s historical and geographical offerings, it’s time for a hearty dinner at one of the city’s world-class restaurants. Luckily, there are plenty of options! Try Aux Anciens Canadiens, which sits in the oldest building in Quebec City (dating back to 1677), for some authentic Quebecois cuisine, or Le Sainte-Amour, which is considered to be the most romantic restaurant in the city. On the other hand, Toast! has a more adventurous menu than the more traditional fare you’ll find in most of the other restaurants.
Aux Anciens Canadiens, 34 Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 692-1627
Le Saint-Amour, 48 rue Sainte-Ursule, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 694 0667
Toast!, 17 Rue du Sault au Matelot, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 692 1334
The next morning
Before you head out of Quebec City and to your next destination, you can end your stay with a classic brunch at one of the city’s hot spots. Try the Le Clocher Penché in Saint-Roche, which has held the status of being one of the city’s top restaurants for over a decade, or Le Champlain, the main restaurant of the iconic Château Frontenac.
Le Clocher Penché, 203 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 640 0597
Le Champlain, 1 Rue des Carrières, Quebec City, QC, Canada, +1 418 692 3861
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