10 Best Fun Things to Do in Quebec City
Founded in the 17th century, Old Quebec City has a fascinating history best experienced with a leisurely stroll through Old Town where you will walk through 400 years of history. The city was first the capital of New France and after 1760, it was a British colony. One of the many things that make Old Quebec City interesting is that it is the only North American city to have preserved its ramparts, bastions, gates, and defensive works which still surround the city. So slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and head out to explore this historic city. Along the way, here are ten things not to miss.
1) Strike A Pose
One of the most iconic hotels in the world, Chateau Frontenac overlooks the city like a glittering crown jewel. For more than 125 years, this famous hotel has been perched atop Cape Diamond overlooking the Saint Lawrence River and the Dufferin Terrace. On a tour of the hotel, visitors will learn that it was built by William Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and opened in 1893. Many famous people have stayed at the Chateau from the late Queen Elizabeth II to Celine Dion, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Paul McCartney, to name a few luminaries. One of the most popular things to do here is to strike a pose and take photos using this magnificent hotel as the backdrop.
2) Sunset Serenade
One of the most popular things to do is to take in the view from Dufferin Terrace. This is one of the best spots for scenic views of the St. Lawrence River. Summer is one of the best times to visit the terrace because musicians and street entertainers perform on the wooden promenade that turns into a tobogganing run in the winter. For those that like to explore, head to the far end of the terrace and take the stairs to the governors’ promenade. Originally this area was where the St. Louis Fort was built in 1620, the year that Champlain, founded Quebec City.
3) Discover the Treasures In A Crypt
While at Dufferin Terrace don’t miss the chance to visit an authentic archaeological crypt, the only one in North America. The crypt stands as a testament to the rich history of this fine city. Visitors will see the remnants of four forts and two governor’s residences that were erected here over hundreds of years. A 45-minute tour that includes many recently excavated artifacts gives visitors a glimpse of what life was like here between 1620 and 1834.
If you want to feel like you have been mysteriously whisked away to Europe head to one of North America’s most beautiful streets, Petit-Champlain, which is beautiful any time of year. Browse through one-of-a-kind boutiques, and meet local artists while shopping for some of the best Quebec-made souvenirs. From December through February, this street is festooned with holiday decorations making it a winter wonderland of delight, especially after it snows.
5) Relax @ the Square
Place Royale is the spot, where Samuel de Champlain built the first permanent French settlement in North America in 1608. A walk along the cobblestone streets and past buildings that date to the 17th and 18th centuries reflects the successive French and British influences on this city. Don’t miss the Notre-Dame-des-Victories, the oldest stone church in North America, constructed in 1688. Take a moment to absorb the ambiance of the square by taking a table on the patio at Maison Smith to soak up the charm of your surroundings.
6) A Divine Experience
The Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral is an opulent neoclassic beauty with asymmetrical towers and stained glass that make it an architectural marvel. It is the site of the first and only Holy Door outside Europe, and one of only seven in the world. Holy Doors symbolize a passage between what one leaves behind and what one walks toward. When the door is open, anyone may pass through it, regardless of their religious affiliation. Those wishing to do so must first follow the Pilgrim’s Garden Path to the Holy Door.
7) Walk the Ramparts
A walk along the ramparts, the best-preserved fortifications in North America is an unforgettable experience. One way to reach them is to go through the Saint-Louis Gate where you will have a view of Parliament Hill. The views of Old Quebec City are picture-perfect. The Saint-Jean Gate also gives access to the ramparts. The fortified wall surrounding Old Quebec is the reason why it was named a World Heritage Center by UNESCO.
8) See the Gibraltar of the Americas
For history and military buffs, the Citadelle de Quebec, Britain’s biggest fortress in North America is a must because it gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the defenses of the city. Known as “the Gibraltar of the Americas” these star-shaped walls enclose 300-plus years of history as well as breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River. Don’t miss the museum that has many artifacts and displays documenting the rich history of the Royal 22 Regiment.
9) Explore the Old Port
The charming streets that surround the Old Port, considered by many to be the most atmospheric part of the city was made for strolling. Here you can go on a treasure hunt for antiques, browse art galleries, and people-watch while dining in sidewalk cafes.
10) Tickle Your Taste Buds
There are so many mouthwatering culinary treats to try in Old Quebec City. It is a place that celebrates the richness of life and history through its food. From poutine, crepes, maple taffy, pea soup, and Tourtière (Quebecois meat pie) to sugar pie, smoked meat, Sagamite (a First Nation’s dish of hominy and root veggies), salmon, and baked beans, you will never go hungry. There are plenty of microbreweries, cider breweries, vineyards, and liqueur producers that will help to quench your thirst.
These are just some of the appealing delights of Quebec City for you to discover on your next trip.