Quebec City’s compact city center is built on two levels, called Lower and Upper Town, right next to the St. Lawrence River. Boasting a unique architecture inspired by Northern France and featuring many historical sites, it almost seems as if it was designed to be photographed. In fact, the city’s unique beauty combined with the fact that it is still surrounded by historic fortifications, made it worthy to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. No matter which itinerary you choose, a leisurely stroll in the city center offers picture-perfect postcard views at every turn, with natural landscapes, monuments, points of interest, cobblestone streets, and even horse-drawn carriages. Although some of these sights are meticulously groomed to impress tourists, they have a historic quality and charm that leave few people indifferent—even locals. The following sites offer some of the city’s most famous views, and others that deserve to be discovered.
Observatoire de la Capitale
The Observatoire is the place to get an overview of Quebec City’s geography at a glance. Offering a stunning 360° view from the top floor of the city’s tallest building, this place also teaches the history of the city through various multimedia tools. Guided tours and activities for children are also offered.
Promenade des Gouverneurs
This walkway suspended from the cliff, connecting the terrace in front of Château Frontenac to the Plaines d’Abraham, is one of the most romantic walks you can take, especially in the evening, while the city sparkles on the horizon. The wooden pathway has lots of steps (308 total), but it’s a small price to pay to enjoy the unforgettable scenery that unfolds along the way.
Several stairways connect the Upper and Lower Towns, but the Escalier Casse-Cou is probably the most well known. Linking Côte de la Montagne to the picturesque Petit Champlain, it earned its name — “breakneck stairs” — because of its steepness (which isn’t as scary as it sounds). It’s a must-do for tourists, but even locals succumb to the romantic viewpoint it provides over the cliff, the historical buildings and the cobblestone streets of the Old Port.
Station des Cageux
At the very end of Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain, Station des Cageux is a dock that features an observation tower, offering a clear view of the St. Lawrence River, the south shore of Québec City and the two bridges that mark the western entrance to the city. A small interpretation center also serves as a dining room or indoor resting station, while a gourmet café provides light lunches and refreshments.