What to See in Quebec: Unveiling the Best Sights & Activities (2024)

What to See in Quebec: Unveiling the Best Sights & Activities (2024)


Nestled along the shores of the majestic St. Lawrence River, Quebec City charms visitors with its rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. As the heart of French Canada, Quebec City offers an unparalleled window into centuries of tradition infused with European charm.

Yet the city is so much more than its cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages. Venture beyond the city walls and discover the wild forests, thundering waterfalls, and picturesque islands waiting nearby. Foodies indulge in poutine and sugar shacks, culture vultures marvel at world-class museums and galleries, and outdoor enthusiasts hike, bike, and paddle their way across this diverse landscape.

This complete guide unveils What to See in Quebec City and what its surroundings have to offer. Learn where to find hidden gems, insider tips from locals, and unique activities you won’t find in any guidebook. From first-time visitors to seasoned travelers, Quebec City rewards those who take the time to stray from the beaten path.

Do read the People Also Ask (FAQs) about this topic.

Key Takeaway

CategoryKey Takeaways
Historic SitesOld Quebec (Vieux-Quebec), Place Royale, Notre-Dame Basilica, Chateau Frontenac, Terrasse Dufferin, Petit Champlain neighborhood, Plains of Abraham
Museums & GalleriesMusée de la civilisation, Morrin Cultural Centre, Musée de l’Amérique francophone, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
Outdoor ActivitiesLaurentian Mountains, Lac-Beauport, Wendake Aboriginal Reserve, Charlevoix Region (whale watching, Isle-aux-Coudres), hiking, biking, skiing
Festivals & EventsQuebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City Summer Festival, Festival d’été de Québec, New France Festival
CuisinePoutine, tourtière, pâté chinois, sugar shacks (cabanes à sucre), seafood
Insider TipsStay outside Old Quebec, visit free museums on certain days, take public transit, catch sunsets from Terrasse Pierre-Dugua-De Mons
What to See in Quebec – Key Takeaways

What to See in Quebec – Best Sights & Activities

Let’s Explore the different spots in Quebec that consist of Historic sites, Museums and galleries, Outdoor activities, Festivals and Events, Cuisine, and other Hidden gems. Let’s Start with Quebec Historic Sites:-

Unveiling the Historic Core

Quebec's Historic Sites - What to See in Quebec
Quebec’s historic sites narrate tales of centuries past, from the iconic Château Frontenac overlooking Old Quebec to the well-preserved architecture of Place Royale. Other places to visit are Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica Cathedral and Terrasse Dufferin in Quebec. Immerse yourself in the province’s captivating history as you wander through these time-honored landmarks.

No trip to Quebec City is complete without exploring the historic Old City (Vieux-Québec), a UNESCO World Heritage Treasure boasting 400 years of history. Stroll along the only fortified city walls in North America, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Pass through the St-Louis and St-Jean gates to step back in time as the cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and European architecture transport you to a long-forgotten era.

Must-see highlights include:

  • Place Royale: The site where explorer Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608. Gaze out over the St. Lawrence River and soak in centuries of history.
  • Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral: one of the continent’s oldest Christian churches, built in 1647. Marvel at the stunning stained glass windows and ornate carvings inside this iconic cathedral.
  • Le Château Frontenac: Quebec City’s most famous landmark, this imposing hotel opened in 1893 and continues to dominate the skyline. Stop in for afternoon tea or dinner with stunning vistas.
  • Terrasse Dufferin: A wide boardwalk with panoramic views over the St. Lawrence River. The perfect spot for photos or resting weary feet after a day of exploring.

Venture into the winding streets of the Petit Champlain neighborhood in Lower Town (Basse-Ville), the first permanent settlement area in the city with charming local shops, cafes, and restaurants. Then climb the iconic Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Stairs) for glorious city views.

Beyond the Fortified Walls

Quebec's Beyond Fortified Walls - What to See in Quebec
Discover the captivating allure of Quebec’s Beyond Fortified Walls, featuring gems like the serene Joan of Arc Garden, the historic Quebec Martello Towers, and the artistic wonders showcased in the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. A journey beyond the walls unveils a cultural tapestry rich in history, nature, and artistry.

While the historic Old City rightfully claims the spotlight, some of Quebec City’s most interesting sites are located beyond the fortified walls.

On the Plains of Abraham, a scene of the pivotal 1759 battle between British and French forces, discover a lush urban park perfect for picnics, along with historical sites like the Joan of Arc Garden and the Quebec Martello Towers. Don’t miss the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Canada’s oldest art museum, showcasing works from Monet, Picasso, and more.

Just steps from the Plains sits the stately Parliament Building, home to the National Assembly of Quebec and the Quebec City Summer Festival site each July. Marvel at over 22 acres of immaculate gardens and striking architecture. Continue to the Citadelle of Quebec, a still-active military base, for tours of the fortified walls and changing of the guard ceremonies.

Nature’s Paradise: Exploring Quebec’s Great Outdoors

Quebec’s Great Outdoors - What to See in Quebec
Embark on an adventure through Quebec’s Great Outdoors, where the majestic Laurentian Mountains beckon with scenic beauty, the Wendake Aboriginal Reserve shares its rich indigenous culture, the Charlevoix Region unfolds picturesque landscapes, and Lac-Beauport invites tranquility with its serene waters. Nature enthusiasts find a haven in these diverse outdoor wonders, each offering a unique blend of experiences in Quebec.

While most visitors flock to Old Quebec, getting out into nature offers an entirely different perspective on this diverse region. Only 15 minutes from downtown whisks you into stunning wilderness for hiking, biking, whale watching, and more.

Laurentian Mountains

The Laurentians offer year-round activities including:

  • Downhill skiing and snowboarding at top resorts like Le Massif, Stoneham Mountain, and Mont-Sainte-Anne.
  • Stunning fall foliage hikes and gondola rides for bird’s eye mountain views.
  • Scenic summer drives like the Route des Sommets, stop at breathtaking viewpoints and charming towns like Saint-Sauveur along the way.
  • Excellent mountain biking trails range from beginner to advanced.


This pristine lake north of the city is a four-season playground. Visitors come to:

  • Relax on sandy beaches and swim in clear waters in summer
  • Hike and bike scenic trails year-round
  • Ice fish, skate, or dogsled across the frozen lake in winter

Nearby Mont-Sainte-Anne offers downhill skiing and summer hiking atop stunning ridges with valley views.

If you love going to beaches then you must check out these beaches in Florida with Glass Pebble.

Wendake Aboriginal Reserve

Step into the fascinating world of the Huron-Wendat Nation at this Aboriginal village only 15 minutes from downtown. Learn about indigenous history and culture through:

  • Longhouses with traditional exhibits
  • Actors recreating historic Huron village life
  • Traditional cuisine at restaurant La Traite
  • Storytelling, drumming, and dancing at the Onhoüa Chetek8e performance site

Charlevoix Region

This scenic area northeast of the city offers breathtaking nature and charming villages. Highlights include:

  • Whale-watching tours to glimpse mighty blue whales feeding and playing. Charlevoix has some of the best whale watching in North America from May through October.
  • Isle-aux-Coudres – Make a day trip to explore this tranquil island’s museums, windmills, cideries, and stunning St. Lawrence shoreline.
  • Les Palisades de Charlevoix – These one billion-year-old cliffs tower over the St. Lawrence River reaching heights of over 1400 feet. Hike or bike along the cliff tops and stop at stellar viewpoints.

Cultural Delights: Museums, Festivals, and Cuisine

Quebec’s Museums, Festivals, and Cuisine - What to See in Quebec
Embark on a cultural odyssey in Quebec through the corridors of Musée de l’Amérique francophone, revel in the winter wonder of Quebec Winter Carnival’s festive charm, savor the delectable Tourtiere Pie, and dance to the rhythm of summer at the Festival d’été de Quebec. Experience the rich mosaic of Quebec’s museums, festivals, and cuisine, where history, celebration, and flavors converge.

Beyond the great outdoors, Quebec City is enticed with world-class museums and galleries, colorful festivals, and mouthwatering cuisine.

Museums and Galleries

  • Musée de la civilization – Explore centuries of Quebecois history and culture through exhibits covering the French regime, Aboriginal peoples, and more.
  • Morrin Cultural Centre – Visit the city’s former 19th-century prison, now a dynamic cultural hub with libraries, galleries, and gardens.
  • Musée de l’Amérique francophone – Discover the history of French settlers in North America through interactive exhibits and artifacts. Right now this is permanently closed as per Google.
  • Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec – One of Canada’s most renowned art museums with works from Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and Quebec artists.


Summertime brings abundant festivals and events to Quebec City’s streets, including:

  • Quebec City Summer Festival – For 17 days each July, hundreds of artists perform at over 1,000 shows throughout downtown, making this one of the largest festivals in the world.
  • Festival d’été de Quebec – This major 11-day music festival every July sees hundreds of artists performing on outdoor stages. Genres range from rock, hip-hop, and pop to folk, jazz, and world music.
  • New France Festival – Experience Quebec’s French colonial past come to life for a week each August, with historic reenactments, activities, and over 200 costumed actors.

Winter Fêtes

Once the snow flies, Quebec City embraces winter with joie de vivre!

  • Quebec Winter Carnival (Carnival de Québec) – Featuring ice canoe races, snow sculpture contests, parades, and more, this massive event has thrilled visitors since 1955.
  • Igloofest – Over 20 DJs perform during this popular outdoor electronic music festival held every winter.


Quebec cuisine skillfully blends hearty French fare with regional ingredients like maple syrup, wild game, and seafood. Try beloved specialties like:

  • Poutine – French fries piled with cheese curds and gravy, a Quebec original.
  • Tourtière – Savory meat pie, often served around Christmas.
  • Pâté chinois – Shepherd’s pie made with ground beef, sweet corn, and mashed potatoes.
  • Sugar shacks (cabanes à sucre) – Sample maple products like syrup, taffy, and liqueur at these time-honored seasonal institutions just outside the city.
  • Fresh seafood like snow crab, lobster, scallops, and sea bass arrive daily from the frigid Atlantic waters.

Insider Tips and Hidden Gems

Avoid the crowds and dive deeper into Quebec City’s local flavor with these insider tips:


  • The Réseau de transport de Québec bus system offers reliable, extensive service around greater Quebec City. Purchase day passes for unlimited travel.
  • Vieux-Québec is very walkable, so explore the small streets on foot rather than driving to avoid traffic headaches.


  • Old Quebec hotels ooze historic charm but come at a premium. Consider renting vacation apartments (gîtes) instead for more space and kitchen access at affordable rates.
  • Nearby Lévis offers convenient accommodations with stunning views across the St. Lawrence. The ferry provides easy access to downtown attractions.


  • Visit free museums like the Morrin Centre on Tuesday and major museum hours on Sunday for discounted rates.
  • Grab picnic provisions at weekend markets and farmers’ markets to save on dining out.

Hidden Gems

  • Wander the narrow Sous-le-Cap tunnels underneath Lower Town, once used to transport supplies between the port and Upper Town.
  • Catch spectacular sunsets and city views from the Terrasse Pierre-Dugua-De Mons park atop Cap Diamant.
  • Stroll through the serene gardens and 17th-century stone chapel at the Ursuline Monastery, the continent’s oldest girl’s school.
  • Board the tiny 19th-century Duchesnay funicular, Canada’s very first cable car dating to 1884, for a historic ride connecting Lower and Upper towns.

Unique Experiences

Make memorable moments with these quintessential Quebec City experiences:

  • Dogsled or snowshoe through the boreal forest with an indigenous guide to learn about traditional Huron-Wendat lifestyles.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth on a chocolate walking tour, stopping at shops like Érico, Parlour, and Choco Musee.
  • Book tickets to the renowned Orchestra Symphonique de Québec at the Palais Montcalm concert hall and get dressed up for a magical performance.
  • Take a short flightseeing plane or helicopter tour for stunning aerial city and mountain views.

Conclusion: Unforgettable Quebec City

With its timeless beauty, vibrant spirit, and diversity of experiences, Quebec City offers something for every traveler. Stroll the cobblestone streets and 17th-century ramparts before venturing into the great outdoors replete with roaring rivers, boreal forests, and whale-dotted seascapes.

Sample poutine and craft beer by day, then catch live music and dance the night away during world-famous festivals. Discover acclaimed museums and galleries, then replenish spirits strolling through peaceful gardens and parks.

From winter snow sports to summer lakeside adventures, Quebec City shines in every season. Stay in cozy heritage hotels or budget-friendly vacation rentals, then feast on French-Canadian classics using fresh local ingredients.

With so many layers to uncover, many visitors find this historic gem on the St. Lawrence River become a favorite place to return to time and again. Let Quebec City’s friendly culture, natural splendor, and enduring allure unveil itself before you and create memories to last a lifetime.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about Quebec:

Q) What is Quebec most famous for?

A) Quebec is most famous for its historic European-style walled city, French culture and language, Winter Carnival, sugar shacks, and poutine.

Q) Is Québec City worth seeing?

A) Yes, Quebec City is worth visiting for its beautiful historic Old City, European charm, museums, restaurants, and access to nature and outdoor activities.

Q) How many days is enough for Quebec?

A) Most people recommend at least 3 full days to see the top highlights of Quebec City, with 5-7 days ideal to also explore the surrounding regions at a relaxed pace.

Q) What is the specialty of Quebec?

A) Quebec is renowned for poutine, maple products like syrup and sugar shacks, French cuisine with local ingredients, ice wine, and incredible seafood from the Atlantic like snow crab.

Q) Why is Quebec worth visiting?

A) Quebec offers a unique clash of Europe and North America with 400 years of history and culture, stunning natural beauty, world-class festivals, outdoor activities, culinary delights, and a vibrant French-speaking society.

Q) What food is famous in Quebec?

A) Famous Quebec foods include poutine, tourtière meat pie, pâté chinois, maple syrup, sugar shack treats, and seafood like lobster.

Q) What’s better to visit Montreal or Quebec?

A) Montreal offers a bigger city experience with diverse multicultural neighborhoods and an amazing arts scene, while Quebec City charms with historic architecture and easier access to nature. It depends on your interests!

Q) What is the best month to visit Quebec City?

A) July-October is a high season with pleasant weather and tons of festivals and events. But December-early March is magical for winter sports, Carnival, and holiday charm.

Q) What is the prettiest city in Quebec?

A) Quebec City is considered one of the prettiest cities in Quebec and all of Canada with its picturesque Old Town, striking location on the St. Lawrence River, and surrounding natural beauty.

Q) What are 3 interesting facts about Quebec?

A) Three fascinating facts are:

  1. Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico
  2. Montreal bagels and poutine were invented here
  3. Quebec produces over 70% of the world’s maple syrup.

Q) What is the most interesting fact about Quebec?

A) A cool fact is that Quebec City has the world’s only hotel inside a castle – the famous Chateau Frontenac.

Q) What is beautiful about Quebec?

A) The 17th-18th century architecture of Old Quebec is stunningly beautiful. Also the natural scenery like the St. Lawrence River, waterfalls, forests, and mountain landscapes surrounding the city.

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