Within predominantly English speaking Canada, Quebec is the unique French-speaking province. The city with the same name was founded by French explorer Samuel de Champlain and because of Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City became the birthplace of French Canada. The cobblestone streets and friendly walking areas give off European vibes, but Quebec City is authentically Canadian. Spend 24 hours in Quebec and discover Quebec must-see attractions, a rich history and the famous maple syrup within this little piece of Europe in Canada!
Best Time to Visit Quebec City
Any time of year is good to visit Quebec because there are always things to do in Quebec city! The best time to visit Quebec depends on your preferences.
From June to August is the most popular time to visit Quebec city. The streets are bursting with life from the local art shows, installations, festivals and visitors from around the world. The weather is favorable, especially if you’re spending one day in Quebec city and want to make the best out of it.
From September to October is the best time to visit because the crowds of summer tone down, but it’s still not as cold. Quebec City is beautiful during this time as the fall’s colors take over the foliage.
The city gets cold From October to March. Everyone knows of the cold Canadian winter, but the residents don’t let the weather stop them. If you visit Quebec city during this time, you’ll be surprised at the number of things you can do. You can visit the Winter Carnival in February or many Christmas markets and enjoy the winter wonderland!
From March to June is technically spring. The weather is very unpredictable but the lines for bars, clubs, and restaurants are non-existent. The accommodation is the cheapest during this time.
A Few Facts About Quebec City
- Quebec city produces most of the world’s maple syrup – Canada produces 70% of the world’s maple syrup, and over 90% of that arrives from Quebec city
- Quebec is the birthplace of poutine – the french fries with cheese curds and gravy meal is a popular meal all over North America.
- Quebec city holds the Guinness world record for the most photographed hotel – The Chateau Frontenac
Top Things to do in Quebec City
Whether you’re here on a day trip from Montreal or wish to stay longer, there are plenty of things to see in Quebec City. Spending one day in Quebec city gives you just enough time to get to know the best of what the city has to offer. Here are our suggestions on top things to see in Quebec city at any time of the year.
Start Your Day in The Historic District of Old Quebec
Start your day refreshed with a cup of coffee at Cafe la Maison Smith located at Place Royale. Spend your night in a fairytale hotel Le Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. The inside is just as beautiful as the outside! If you choose to stay elsewhere, still stop by the hotel to take a few photos. It is absolutely breathtaking!
Walk around the fortified historic district, you might recognize it from the movie “Catch Me If You Can”. The old town is one of the few places in Canada that truly resembles a European city. Walk around the cobblestone streets and visit the quaint little shops. This is by far one of the best free things to do in Quebec City.
People Watch at Place-Royale
In the historic center visit the town plaza famous as a social center dating back to the city’s founding times. You’ll find the small shops that were once homes with plaques describing the lives of the families that used to live in the houses. If you happen to visit Quebec during Christmas time, you’ll find a true Christmas spirit in this little plaza.
Just a minute walk from Place-Royal you can find the Quebec city mural, one of the unique things to see in Quebec. Make sure to stop by Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, one of the oldest churches in North America. The church has a gift shop where you can pick up some souvenirs. This activity is also one of the best free things to do in Quebec City.
Try Some Local Food
When in Quebec, you have to indulge in the poutine. For authentic poutine head to the snack bar, Saint-Jean located next to the Hilton Quebec. There are plenty of other traditional things to try such as tourtière, a meat pie usually eaten for Christmas. You might not be able to get the true home-cooked version but you can still try good tourtière at Buffet de l’Antiquaire, which is located close to the place-royale. Since you’re only spending 24 hours in Quebec, it might be your best bet. You can’t leave Quebec without trying the maple syrup. You can do so at La Petite Cabane A Sucre, and you can buy some to take home to your friends and family.
Learn at Musée de la Civilisation
Just next to the maple syrup shop and a short walk from Place-Royale, you’ll find the Museum Of Civilization, one of the best things to do in Quebec City. The museum shows the history of society in Quebec combined with interactive exhibits. There are a variety of topics explored, such as Quebec culinary history or indigenous history. If you prefer art, you can replace the visit to the Museum of Civilization with the visit to the Quebec Museum of Arts or Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Both museums are closed on Mondays, so if you’re one day in Quebec happens to be a Monday, just head straight to the next stop.
Explore La Citadelle de Québec
The military installation contains the oldest military building in Canada. This National Historic Site of Canada is of great importance to Quebec City. The first occupants were the British, followed by the Royal Canadian Artillery but since 1920 the Citadelle is home to the Royal 22e Regiment, the only French-language military unit in Canadian forces. Visit the Citadelle to see the Changing of The Guard or just explore the on-site museum to learn about its history. Check out the virtual exhibition right here
Stop by The Parliament Building
A quick walk from La Citadelle and you’ll find the beautiful Parliament Building. Built from 1877 to 1886 this building features the famous motto “Je me souviens” (I remember), found on all Québec license plates, as designed by architect Eugène-Étienne Taché. Make sure to visit the National Assembly Library where you can find books dating back to 1473. The gallery on the ground floor is full of portraits of Speakers of the National Assembly. The guided tours are free and offered in English and French. You can learn all about the history and architecture of the parliament, just make sure to reserve your tour before you arrive. A long day of sightseeing can sure exhaust your energy so to recover within a beautiful ambiance and with some good food visit the popular restaurant Taniere!
Enjoy an Evening Stroll at The Terrasse Dufferin
Overlooking the St. Lawrence River and a great photo opportunity with views of the famous Le Chateau Frontenac. Stroll along the wooden planks before you decide for a lunch spot. Watch the street artists perform or head to the underground cellar. If you get tired, relax at one of the gazebos and soak in the view. For those looking for things to do in Quebec City with kids, in the winter, there is a toboggan available where you can enjoy sledding. The views are spectacular at night, perfect to finish off your one day in Quebec in style!
See a Live Show
Explore Quebec city at night, there are many options for different preferences. If you have the time and energy visit the Bar le Temps Partiel that often features a local band or a DJ. The type of music varies but it is more on the alternative side. Try the L’aviatic Club for a great cocktail. Le Boudoir Lounge is a great choice for a variety of people as there are rooms with different types of music. For those looking to dance late in the night, the castle-like Chez Dagobert Nightclub is a fantastic choice. The first floor is mostly live music while the other two have dance floors, TVs and video games. A fantastic hostel we recommend near this area is the Auberge Internationale de Quebec.
Where to Stay in Quebec City, Canada
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
1 Rue des Carrieres, G1R 4P5 Quebec City
Just looking at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is enough to convince you to stay here. Not only is the most photographed hotel in the world but it is a literal castle. The inside is just as glamourous as the outside with a grand staircase on the entrance, European decor and modern add-ons such as a newly built pool. The views are just as spectacular and in its central location, you are close to everything. Perfect for 24 hours in Quebec City.
Monastère des Augustines
77, rue des Remparts, G1R 0C3 Quebec City
For those of you looking for a unique experience, Monastère des Augustines, the former monastery offers one but doesn’t sacrifice the comfort of a hotel. You will see some nuns in the hotel and pass through a museum area to get your room, which is an experience for itself, especially if you’re short on time and want to experience the most on your one day in Quebec City. The hotel itself has one of the most comfortable beds in the world!
Auberge Internationale de Quebec
19 Ste-Ursule, G1R 4E1 Quebec City
Located close to the famous nightclub, Auberge Internationale de Quebec is ideal for those looking to be close to the nightlife, in the central location and meet new people. The hostel has a rooftop terrace, shared dorms, and private rooms. It is definitely the best value for your money and in the best area of Quebec. Book ahead for best deals so you don’t have to worry about accommodation and enjoy everything on your Quebec itinerary.
Best Day Trips From Quebec City
Saguenay St. Lawrence Marine Park
Three hours north of Quebec City lies one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Spend the day observing beluga whales, seals and other marine animals in their natural habitat. Sail along the park and discover the gorgeous shore as well the Saguenay Fjord with cliffs reaching 300 meters. Paddle or kayak with your family and explore the gorgeous scenery and lively fauna. There is no admission fee for Saguenay St. Lawerence Marine Park.
This beautiful island is also known as “The Garden of Quebec” and the most popular day trip from Quebec City. Explore Marché du Vieux-Port where you can try apple crepes and all kinds of chocolate and wine. With the cute farms, wineries, and shops, this island is a Quebec must see! Each parish offers something unique to it so it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring, eating, drinking and enjoying the colorful scenery.
Aventures Nord-Bec Stoneham
This is the best day trip from Quebec City for those in search of a true adventure. This place is famous for dog sledding! After a brief introduction to sledding, you are sent to enjoy the scenic winter route! After your adventure, you can visit the facilities, see where the dogs live, how they’re cared for and ins and outs of the operation. If you’re lucky there might even be puppies.
You can rent winter clothing from the company in case you forget or simply don’t have adequate clothing for the freezing temperature.
Extra Tips For Visiting Quebec City:
Montmorency Falls – If you have time left in your one day in Quebec City (or if you decide to extend your trip) drive just outside of the city for the spectacular waterfalls. There is a staircase that can take you close to the falls.
Catch a horse-drawn carriage – Quebec City is a very walkable city, but if you get a chance ride on one of the horse-drawn carriages through the old town, especially if you’re there with your partner.
Learn some French – People speak fluent English in Quebec City, but even if you say a few words in French, you’ll give off a great impression from the start, and make your one day in Quebec City even better.
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