Thinking about a weekend getaway? Québec City is the perfect destination all-year-round! The charming city is only an hour and a half flight or eight hour drive from Toronto, making it the ideal city to explore in 48 hours. Québec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America, and is recognized as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Beyond its beauty, you will discover a warm and welcoming culture, exquisite cuisine, untouched nature and an abundance of historic treasures to scout. If you’re planning a trip Quebec City here are a few of my favourite things to do.
Indulge in Local Cuisine
Québec City is truly a foodie destination. From 24-hour diners to farm-to-table dining, you’ll feast on a diverse assortment of cuisine from all corners of the globe. If it’s your first time visiting the city, be sure to try some of the local dishes that highlight tastes from First Nations, Boreal and French Cuisine. Some fan favourites are tourtiere, creton, and pouding chomeur.
An excellent way to discover the flavours of Quebec City is to head out on a food tour. Local Quebec City Food Tours offers three different walking tours that cover different neighborhoods in the city.
I did the St-Roch Food Tour which took us to five different stops including two microbreweries. Each stop was well-organized with a table waiting for us upon arrival. We tried many delicious items such as poutine, smoked salmon, sea buckthorn juice and fresh cheese while learning about the history behind each establishment.
The tour was a lot of fun and a great way to burn some calories while discovering local artisans who are passionate about the food and drinks they serve. Be sure to book your tour well in advance as they tend to book up quickly in the summer months.
Visit a Brewery
The province of Quebec has nearly 150 breweries with 20 of them being in Quebec City. There are also many beer bars to discover that feature local and national taps along with impressive bottle lists. My two favourites were Le Projet and Bar Le Sacrilege — both open past 2 am on weekends.
If the weather is nice, there are plenty of spacious patios to enjoy a beer on. I especially loved the patio at Noctem — it was the perfect spot to people-watch (obviously my favourite past-time).
The brewpubs in Quebec serve food that is much better than your average pub grub. You can find a lot of light and healthy options that pair well with your beers. I especially loved the warm salad from Noctem, and Neapolitan Pizza from Nina.
The best beers I had were at Korrigane, Noctem Artisans Brasseurs, and La Barberie, but there are many other places to stumble upon. If you happen to be in Quebec in August, be sure to check the Festibière de Québec.
Eat a Sh**load of Poutine
If you haven’t had poutine from Quebec then you haven’t really had TRUE poutine!
Sure, you’ve probably had some decent wannabe poutines in your life but they can’t compare to Quebec poutine. The reason their poutine is the absolute best is because they use fresh cheese curds (and because poutine was originated in Quebec).
Want to know how to detect fresh curds? They will squeak. This squeaky-factor means that they are at their prime eating stage. You can pick up bags of the freshly made curds all over Quebec, but you won’t find them in the fridge. The curds are sold at room temperature, solidifying how very fresh they are. Once you put them in the fridge they’ll start to lose that squeak-factor resulting in the lackluster poutines you’ had in your lifetime.
Most places in Quebec use fresh curds and so the rivalry of best poutine status comes down to the fries, gravy and amount of curds upon poutine. I only tried three different poutine places when I was there but the best one was definitely from Korrigane. They had really good fries, light and flavourful gravy and curds for days!
If you want to eat poutine at every meal, no one will judge you.
Visit the Countryside
Get up early and drive out to Île d’Orléans — a quaint island located in the middle of the St. Laurent River. On the way, make a pit-stop at Montmorency Falls, a stunning 83-metre-high waterfall surrounded by lush greenery.
In my opinion, it is best visited in the spring, summer or fall months. I say this because 90% of the island is made up of farmland, so if you’re interested in visiting some of the acreage, then it’s best to witness it when it’s not covered in snow.
There are many little shops to stop at around the island that sell wonderful artisan products. For jams and jellies, Tigidou is a must-visit. All of the fruits and wild plants that go into their products are picked right there on the island. Owner and jam-maker, Vincent, creates some unique flavour combinations such as wasabi-strawberry and apple caramel espresso — all available to try at the tasting bar.
Cassis Monna & Filles specialize in everything gadelle noire (black currant). Their history stems from five generations of liquorists so perfecting black currant wine is certainly their forte.
They grow a variety of black currants that are harvested over two weeks in August. The ripe and juicy fruits are then used to make their popular liquors as well as by-products such as black currant ketchup, black currant syrup, black currant onion confit and much more.
There are many gems to be discovered on the island, from wineries to charming bed and breakfasts, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your time in this serene part of Quebec.
Explore Old Quebec
Most people have probably seen a photo of Old Quebec (Vieux-Quebec), but photos don’t do it any justice. To appreciate the beauty and charm, you’ll need to walk through the historic streets.
The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, embracing over 400 years of history within its walls. It is the only walled city within North America and sits on top steep cliffs that overlook the St. Lawrence River. The upper and lower districts are connected by winding streets, steep staircases, and the Funicular, and contain some of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
With architecture dating back to the 17th-century, entering the old town really feels like you’ve been transported back in time. The narrow cobblestone streets and stone buildings, paired with the Citadelle, and the most photographed hotel in the world, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, offer up a slice of Europe without having to leave Canada.
Many say that Old Quebec has a romantic feel to it, and I can see how this is true, but I can also attest that as a solo traveler, I found myself swept up in an abundance of non-cuddling activities to keep me occupied. There are many museums and historic sites to visit, plus a huge shopping area, plenty of cafes and bistros and if you’re into photography, you’ll spend hours capturing all of the stunning views.
Stay at an Artsy Hotel
Forget the expensive hotels in Old Quebec and stay outside of the touristy area by booking a hotel in Montcalm also known as the arts district. The area is about a 10 minute walk from Old Quebec and has many cute cafes, restaurants and shops, and most notably, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
I stayed at the C3 Hotel Art De Vivre which is a modern and stylish hotel located in the arts district. The hotel is housed in a beautifully restored 19th century building and features local art pieces, raw materials and funky objects throughout the space.
The hotel features 24 different rooms that all have their own creative touches. Mine was very rustic with brick walls, wooden floors, neutral colours and a pop of gold with the mirror and armchair — I honestly wish my room at home looked like this!
If you head up to the top floor you can access the rooftop patio which is available for all guests to enjoy. There are some great views from the patio as well as a small fire pit to roast marshmallows on in the early evenings.
The hotel truly has everything you need for a pleasant stay and the hotel staff were more than helpful when it came to directions and recommendations.
Stray away from the big chain hotels and relax at one of the most charming hotels in Quebec City!
Other tips & recommendations:
- French is the official language of Quebec but you don’t have to worry about packing your translation dictionary. Most people speak English, but it is courteous to know at least some of the basic words like Hello (Bonjour!) and Thank You (Merci)
- You can drink until 3 am at most bars in Quebec. (Toronto needs to take note)
- According to a new report by CEOWORLD magazine, Quebec City is the third safest city in the world. I definitely felt very safe walking around the city but as always, be aware of your surroundings
- Wear comfortable shoes! With cobblestone streets in the Old Town and lots of hilly areas, you’ll want to make sure your feet are prepared
- Don’t let the chilly winter temperatures scare you; Quebec City is quite magical in the winter and hosts the Quebec Winter Carnival aka “Carnaval” — the largest winter festival in the world!
- There is no shortage of super cute cafes throughout the city. Make sure to stop in one for a coffee or tea — my favourite was Maelstrom
I hope this gives you a glimpse into the wonderful city and some of the great things to discover! Thank you so much to Quebec Tourism for hosting me and as always, reviews and opinions are my own.