Quebec City Travel Guide
For travelers keen on a European getaway without a flight across the Atlantic, Quebec City offers the charms of a French or Swiss destination. What's more, you'll hear enough French in Quebec City to get a taste of that European language barrier. A much smaller city than Montreal—which has four million residents—Quebec City's intimate, old town-chic atmosphere is extremely appealing to travelers. It's a metropolis that's more akin to Geneva, Switzerland or Nice, France than to London or New York City. Known for its history and architecture, Quebec City is beyond picturesque and feels authentically Québecois. Here, everything you need to know about the capital of Canada's French-speaking province, from the culinary scene and points of interest to the best events in this idyllic city.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
From a weather perspective, you're going to be chilly in Quebec City in the winter (with temperatures firmly in the 20s or below). Nonetheless, it's a picturesque time to visit. The summer and fall months are much more temperate. Spring is still cold with a fair amount of precipitation.
Quebec City's annual Carnaval de Quebec is held in February. The festival dates back to the late 1800s and is one of Quebec City's biggest attractions.
In January, the Hôtel de Glace opens, which is not only a spectacle but the perfect time to spend a night at the Ice Hotel.
In April, Quebec City hosts a charming book fair, which is locally referred to as Salon International du Livre de Québec.
Quebec is known for hosting both food and comedy festivals—with both Montreal and Quebec City offering events for gourmands and comedy enthusiasts. Quebec's gourmet festivals are in May (Festival Québec Exquis!) and November (Québec Gourmet Table) and their ComediHa! Fest-Québec is in August.
Things to Know
When we say Quebec City is known for their architecture, we mean it. It's the only walled city (on this continent) north of Mexico.
Just like many classic European destinations, Quebec City has an important river that runs through the metropolis: the St. Lawrence River.
They speak both French and English in Quebec, though keep in mind that French dominates some parts of the city. The French spoken in Quebec City and Montreal—often referred to as Québecois French—is slightly different from French spoken in France.
Old Quebec is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quebec City is known for its charming, European-esque cobblestone streets and the renowned Château Frontenac, which is now a Fairmont hotel.
Currency: Canadian Dollar
(Check the current exchange rate)
Calling Code: +1
How to Get Around
Buses: The local bus transportation network in Quebec City is called the Réseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC). This is the main form of public transportation in Quebec City and is well-run. One ride costs $3.50 (cash) or $3.20 (with ticket) and a one-day pass is $8.85.
Taxis: You can find taxis at the airport and major hotels in Quebec City. You can also call a local taxi company like Taxi Laurier.
Car service: Uber is available in Quebec City.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Old Quebec: Called Vieux-Québec in French, this historic neighborhood of Quebec is encircled by nearly three miles of fortifications. Visitors love the stone walls, rolling hills on which locals laze in the summer, and of course, the crowning jewel of Vieux-Québec, Château Frontenac.
Saint-Jean-Baptiste: A Boho-chic neighborhood with hipster vibes, Saint-Jean has art galleries and cafes lining its cobblestone streets. The neighborhood is also home to the legendary Breakneck Stairs — the city's oldest staircase, built in 1635 and comprising 59 steep stairs.
Montcalm: This neighborhood is home to attractions like Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, but it's also fairly residential. You'll find charming art galleries and nice restaurants in Montcalm, as well as the must-visit Avenue Cartier.
Saint-Roch: One of the haute downtown districts in Quebec City, Saint-Roch has been revitalized over the last decade. Tourists now flock to Saint-Roch for their excellent boutique shopping, charming cafes, and must-try restaurants like Le Clocher Penché.
Winter: Spoilers—winter in Quebec City is cold. You'll see lows under 10 F in January and February, and winter highs of 33 F. You should expect December, January, February, and March temperatures to hover in the 20s (Fahrenheit) with a fair bit of snowfall each month.
Spring: Spring thaws Quebec City, but temperatures aren't necessarily warm. You'll still get temperatures in the 30s in April and 40s in May. However, the highs can reach up to 60 in May. You'll see a significant amount of precipitation in the spring.
Summer: With temperatures climbing to the high 70s, summer is lovely in Quebec City. The city still sees rain in the summer, but the warmth lasts through the end of August and is a welcome treat for locals and tourists alike.
Fall: September and October are a delight in Quebec City, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s and turning leaves lining the cobblestone streets. By November, temperatures dip as low as 29 F.