AOL Travel
Print

Best Things To Do in Quebec City

AOL PICK from our Editors
History buffs may pass out with glee at the bounty of delights Québec City has to offer, from great museums and historical sites, to guided walks around the walls of the old city, or simply taking a leisurely stroll through the old Upper and Lower Towns or through the Old Port where history literally echoes beneath your feet. Of course, you don’t have to love the past to appreciate this vibrant city’s present. The best Québec City things to do include treats for all interests. Fine dining is a big allure, as is art, wellness and spa treatments, romantic excursions, family adventures and outdoor sports and activities all year long in this beautiful, picturesque setting.

Plains of Abraham (Battlefields National Park)

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town)
Just outside the city walls is Battlefields Park, a huge public green space and national urban park that’s a hub of activity, much like Central Park is to New York. A good place to start is the Discovery Pavilion and Centre Infotouriste (Tourist Information Centre) at the park’s main entrance. Outdoor concerts are held here sometimes, and sports enthusiasts will appreciate miles of tranquil trails with spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River, ideal for walking, rollerblading and cross-country skiing. The park is the  site of the 1759 battle of the Plains of Abraham, wherein British conquered the French. Access to Battlefields Park is free, but admission fees apply to some of the various attractions, tours and historical museums housed within it, like the ancient Martello fortification towers.

More Details on

Plains of Abraham (Battlefields National Park) »

La Citadelle

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town)
Who doesn’t love a good fortress? Especially when it’s built right into Quebec City’s walls, and also an official residence of the governor general (who, in case you’re not up on your Canadian politics is the Queen of England’s Canadian representative). Built by the Brits in the 19th century to protect the colony from invasion, this star-shaped landmark sits like a cherry on Québec City’s sundae, atop the cliff known as Cap Diamant. La Citadelle also houses members of the Canadian Armed Forces, a French-speaking battalion. Come summertime, don’t miss the traditional daily changing of the guard ceremony. Le Musée Royal 22e Régiment museum is also worth checking out.

More Details on

La Citadelle  

Circus School

Neighborhood: Saint-Roch
With Cirque du Soleil on its resumé, it’s no secret that the province of Québec is a circus arts mecca, an art form intrinsic to Québec culture. So if you’ve ever wanted to run away and join the circus, now’s your chance: Québec City’s dynamic circus school, l’École de cirque de Québec, lets you do just that—if only for a day. In addition to its yearly classes and workshops, the school offers children’s parties, three-hour initiation workshops and a weekly Saturday night flying trapeze evening. Or, if you prefer to watch, the school has regular showcases, cabarets and performances by its students and professionals.

More Details on

Circus School  

Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation)

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town)
Located right beside Place Royale (the main square of Lower Town), this massive museum is one of Québec City’s crown jewels in terms of its international reputation. Varied programming explores the human adventure in contemporary civilization. And with 10 exhibits on view at any given time, many of them interactive, it’s really more of a cultural complex. Permanent exhibits include People of Québec…Then and Now. The “hands-on room” is definitely worth checking out, not only for kids but the whole family. Like Québec City itself, the building’s striking architectural design effectively combines historical and modern structures.

More Details on

Museum of Civilization (Musée de la Civilisation) »

Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town)
When is a church not just a church? When it’s Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The famous Upper Town landmark on rue St.-Jean was built in 1842 and rebuilt in 1881 after fire gutted the original structure. Like much Quebec architecture of the time, its 240-foot spire in particular is clearly inspired by famous castles and churches in France. Step inside and be wowed by the church’s 36 intricate stained-glass windows, its historical organ and ornate décor that features seven varieties of Italian marble.

Place Royale

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town)
Another neighbourhood, another church and Place Royale’s pièce de résistance—a 17th century stone behemoth called Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. While still open for business and Sunday mass, this beautiful landmark is but one of many treats to be found in this vibrant Lower Town plaza. Visitors will find shops and cafés galore, and a museum facility—aptly named Centre d’Interpretation de Place-Royale (Royal Plaza Interpretation Centre)—dedicated to explaining Place Royale’s history as the seed of New France. It’s a great show for kids and for all of us. The exhibits succeed at putting history into perspective by demonstrating how people actually lived. After that, it’s cool to see the revitalized area still bustling.

More Details on

Place Royale »

Sugaring Off

Maple syrup is as essential to Quebecois culture as poutine and hockey—after all, 7,300 maple growers make about 75 percent of the world's maple syrup, amounting to 80 million or so litres a year. A typically Quebecois treat is maple syrup taffy, a delicacy made by pouring hot syrup onto cold snow. As such, Québec’s ultimate early-springtime ritual (peaking in March and April) is sugaring off parties thrown at various cabanes a sucre (sugar shacks) throughout the province, many in the Québec City area. The farmers tap the sap from their trees, dance around, sing folk songs, go on sleigh rides and basically personify every cliché in the book—much to the delight of the groups who flock to their sugar shacks to join the party, learn how syrup is made, and feast on traditional delicacies of pork, ham, baked beans and maple syrup taffy. Many sugar shacks are family-run operations, like Cabane a sucre Leclerc on Île d'Orléans, the Chemin du Roy, and La Sucrerie Blouin. Visit their websites for more information, or for a full listing of recommended sugar shacks, check out (http://www.bonjourquebec.com).

More Details on

Sugaring Off  

Dufferin Terrace

Neighborhood: Haute-Ville (Upper Town)
If a scenic promenade piques your fancy, winter or summer, Terrasse Dufferin aims to please. This famous riverside walkway right outside the iconic Fairmont Chateau Frontenac hotel provides stunning views for its entire 425-metre boardwalk. This being Québec City, after all, it also oozes with history—cozy up to a statue of explorer Samuel de Champlain as you walk where he once did. Best of all, though, is the quirky, colourful action that always electrifies Terrasse Dufferin. Vendors sell snacks and souvenirs, and during warm weather street performers dance around, juggle and entertain passersby with their kooky Québecois charm.

More Details on

Dufferin Terrace »

Museum of Fine Arts

Neighborhood: Basse-Ville (Lower Town)
Nestled in Battlefields Park, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec features international contemporary art and Québec art dating to the 17th century. With more than 35,000 works by some 4,000 artists (including Inuit art) its permanent collection is impressive and a wonderful way to connect to Québec’s history. Activities include art camps, workshops and lots of fun cultural programs for locals and visitors alike. Interestingly, four of its galleries are housed in a beautifully-restored annex building that was once Québec City’s prison. Bonus: the onsite restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy a gourmet lunch.

More Details on

Museum of Fine Arts  

Île d'Orléans

Just a few kilometers down the river is Île d'Orléans, a quaint island of 7,000 locals and six mini villages (accessible by boat or bridge) that’s become an agro-tourism destination. Renowned for its fish, apples, wines, chocolates, strawberries, ciders and cheeses, Île d'Orléans' main industry is agriculture, and much of its farming holds true to the old-fashioned way of life of Québec's ancestors. The island was settled by the French in the 17th century. The best times to visit are between July and October for fresh produce, some of which you can even pick yourself. Island tours are available through the tourism bureau, which is the best place to check out first upon arrival.

More Details on

Île d'Orléans »
See All Quebec City Things To Do »
ADVERTISEMENT