Updated: Oct 30, 2020
Québec City, the capital city of the province Québec, is like a beautiful slice of Europe right here in North America! With history, stunning architecture, amazing food, and French flair, you will for sure fall in love with this Canadian city. While Québec City is fairly large, Vieux-Québec (Old Québec) is quaint and charming! Here are some tips for spending a weekend (or longer) in Ville de Québec:
Things To Do
Before La Citadelle de Québec was completed in 1850 (the fort that is standing today), a 17th century fort was established under French rule. Not only is La Citadelle North America's largest British fortress, it is also an active military base! Visitors can explore the Citadelle on a guided tour and they can learn about Royal 22 Régiment and the fortress at the onsite museum! Visitors also have the chance to witness the Changing of the Guard and the Beating of the Retreat (a routine for the closing of the gates and a signal for the end of the day)!
The first cathedral building was constructed on the the site of a chapel in 1647. Over time a few buildings were destroyed, rebuilt, and restored. The building burned down in 1922 and it was rebuilt based on architectural plans and photographs. There is also a collection of remains of former bishops in a crypt! The cathedral has beautiful stained-glass from Europe, a painted ceiling, and two towers (the taller one is a bell tower). While the church still holds mass every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, you are able to visit during certain hours on Tuesday through Sunday.
Terrasse Dufferin, which is next to Le Château Frontenac, offers incredible views of the St. Lawrence River and parts of the city! There are also cannons from the military fort that line the terrace. Walking down the Terrasse Dufferin at sunset is so peaceful and lovely.
Located in the Place Royale, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires was built in the late 17th century. Like Notre-Dame de Québec, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires incurred damage several times over the years and had to be restored. Several renovations have also occurred in this stunning church, which is considered one of the oldest in North America!
Note: Mass is still held in this church every Sunday.
Quartier Petit Champlain
Quartier Petit Champlain is an area in Old Town Québec City with a lot of stores and restaurants! It's truly a picturesque area; strolling around Quartier Petit Champlain feels like you're roaming streets in Europe! Even if you're traveling on a budget and would rather not shop, it's a great place for an morning/evening stroll!
Where to Stay
Le Château Frontenac, built by a railway company, opened in 1893. A few wings and a tower were added to the château-style hotel between 1899 and 1993. Le Chateau Frontenac, which is the world's most photographed hotel, has 18 floors with 611 rooms. There are two restaurants, a bar, a Starbucks, in-room dining, a pool, a spa, and a fitness center at the hotel. They also offer activities in and around the hotel, including a guided tour of the hotel! While the Frontenac is an excellent place to stay, it is a luxury hotel and a little bit pricey. If you choose to stay somewhere else, I still recommend seeing the hotel or even eating in one of the restaurants.
Québec City is absolutely beautiful and should definitely be on your list of places to visit in North America. Although it is so far north (I'm from Texas, so anything in Canada is "far north" for me 😂), it's fairly easy to reach, making it the perfect destination for a 3-day weekend. It's only a 2 hour 45 minute drive from Montreal or 3 hour 45 minute flight from Toronto. You can also catch nonstop flights to Québec from American cities, like New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. So next time you're looking for a weekend destination that has a European feel, check out Québec City!