One of the most beautiful cities in North America (Canada), Québec City reigns as a focal point of French culture. The hilltop French-speaking city has a strong defensive position, set on a rocky spur with 100-meter cliffs and protected on two sides by rivers. As the capital of Québec Province, Québec City is an important commercial center. But it hasn’t lost sight of the past. With its narrow streets, walled fortifications, and centuries-old buildings, Québec is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Canada then the best times to visit Québec City are June through September and December through February. During the summer and winter months, the city’s social calendar is booked solid with festivals.
Top Places to Visit in Quebec City
1. Château Frontenac
The Canadian Pacific Railway built this iconic hotel in 1894, and it has endured as the historic city’s most impressive landmark. Château Frontenac sits above Quartier Petit-Champlain and Basse-Ville, its wide Terrasse Dufferin providing excellent views of the St. Lawrence River. This elevated vantage was the original site of Fort St.-Louis, and a historic site allows you to see the ruins underneath the promenade. Next to the hotel, the Jardins du Gouverneur honor Generals Montcalm and Wolfe.
2. Musee de la Civilisation
A museum comprised of three separate locations, Musee de la Civilisation delves into the many facets of human history and the establishment of French America. The main museum, near the Old Port, is a modern structure from architect Moshe Safdie. A second museum is on Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain founded a fur-trading colony in 1608, and the third is in the hilltop seminary.
Ramparts, thick walls, and ditches surround the star-shaped Citadel in Québec. It sits atop Cap Diamant, allowing wide views over the St. Lawrence River and surrounding region. The British completed the massive fortress in 1832, but continued to strengthen the defensive position until 1850. The complex encompasses a military museum, restored powder magazine, and the summer residence of Canada’s Governor General. The 22nd Canadian Regiment is stationed at the Citadel and performs a summer Changing of the Guard ceremony.
4. Quartier Petit-Champlain
Once the bustling capital of New France, the narrow streets and low buildings of Quartier Petit-Champlain now house artisan boutiques, Québec-cuisine restaurants, and the odd souvenir shop. It is one of the most scenic areas of the city, and the pedestrian-only streets make it a lovely area to stroll.
5. Place Royale
It was at this spot, in 1608, that Samuel de Champlain founded a fur trading post that soon grew into the capital of French America. Historic buildings, most notably the petite church Notre-Dame des Victoires that dates to 1688, flank a cobbled square.
6. Grande Allée
Beyond the city walls, Grand Allée forms the spine of the city. The district near Parliament Hill is of greatest interest to visitors. Here, a bevy of restaurants, patios, and entertainment venues bring local and visiting crowds. The street’s grandiose 19th-century buildings were once home to the city’s upper class. Other Québec City attractions on Grand Allée include the Grande Allée Drill Hall, Battlefields Park, and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.
7. Basilica of Ste-Anne de Beaupre
Ste Anne is the patron saint of Québec and is credited with many miracles of healing the sick and disabled. Located northeast of Québec in Beaupre, this Catholic basilica is a destination for a half-million pilgrims each year. The present-day church dates to 1926, but the first chapel was built here in the 17th century.
8. Parliament Hill
The spaciously laid out district, immediately southwest of the old Upper Town, is the seat of Québec’s provincial government. The Parliament, completed in 1877 but later extended, could have been modeled on any number of Parisian public buildings. The Salle de l’Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly) and Salle du Conseil Législatif (Legislative Council) are open to the public. Both are fine old chambers, sumptuously furnished. Tickets should be obtained in advance. Nearby, find the Grand Théâtre (a venue for plays, concerts, and symphony performances) as well as the large Palais des Congrès shopping and entertainment complex.
9. Carnaval de Québec
Québec’s winter carnival, Carnaval de Québec, is held amid the snow and ice of late January and early February. The festival covers a wide range of activities, both during the day and into the evening. Some traditional events at Carnaval de Québec include dogsled races, canoe races on the St. Lawrence River, skating, sledding, family oriented games, evening dancing, and parades.