Quebec City is the capital city of the province of Quebec and is one of the oldest European settlement in North America. Samuel de Champlain arrived here and adopted the Algonquin word, Quebec, meaning “where the river narrows”, referring to the grand St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence River begins its flow from the west end of Lake Ontario and flows through the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and drains into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Duration: 5 days, 4 nights

Quebec City has a lot of history and it is visible in every street and corner of the city, particularly in Old Quebec. The Province of Quebec has taken a lot of effort in keeping the historic, majestic buildings of the city preserved in great condition. Even the oldest settlements in the city have now been unearthed and preserved well. These old settlements are available for public viewing which take you well back in time and give you an insight on how the weearly settlers lived during those times.

With Quebec City being a large city along with the history, there is loads to see. Our trip of 5 days to the city might seem a lot of days, but we effectively had about 3 days since it also included a drive that takes at least 7 hours from Toronto.

How to get there?

Our drive which started from Whitby, Ontario took us about 9 hours to complete which included a few breaks at some spots to stretch ourselves and to share the driving effort. The drive though long, is quite smooth, taking the highway 401 West and entering the province of Quebec near Bainsville, Ontario. The 401 highway changes to A20 after entering Quebec. Google Maps gave us the best/shortest route to bypass Montreal city by taking A30 and re-enter Highway A20 near Sainte-Julie where it now becomes Trans-Canada Highway.   

Highway 401 is a nice highway with many ONroutes along the way where you can take a break for gas, washrooms, a cup of Java, a quick bite or just to stretch those tired legs. Driving west of Toronto, the first ONroute is near Port Hope and the last one is just before the Ontario-Quebec border near Bainsville, Ontario. There are about 5-6 ONroutes which are approximately equal distance apart from each other. Look out for these signs.

On highway A20, you can look out for these signs for rest areas which have washrooms or for a stretch.

As we got closer to Quebec City, we were greeted by the huge Pierre-Laporte suspension bridge which is built above the St. Lawrence River.

Also, do lookout for the Quebec Bridge running parallel to the Pierre-Laporte bridge which was built in 1919 and is also a National Historic Site.

After entering Quebec City, we drove straight to a hotel in Boischatel, QC which is close to the famous Montmorency Falls and is about 15 mins from Old Quebec. We reached the hotel early in the evening and after taking a bit of a rest, we headed out to see the falls.

Montmorency Falls

The Montmorency Falls is 83 metres high which makes it taller than the world famous Niagara Falls by about 30 metres. Though the Niagara Falls is very popular around the world, Montmorency Falls is quite grand and majestic and not one to be missed if you are in Quebec City. It is protected within the Parks de la Chute-Montmorency (Montmorency Falls Park). 

The falls are at the mouth of the Montmorency River where it drops over a cliff and merges into the St. Lawrence River. 

There are two parking spots here. One is at the top and is closer to the falls, the other is near the Bd Sainte-Anne (Route 138).

The park has provided many viewing points to see the falls in all its glory from different angles. There is also a bridge right above the falls that provides a fabulous view. You will surely admire its power and grandeur.

There are steps provided that lets you go up and down, providing different vantage points to view the falls.

If you have the time, stay till the evening when the falls are lit up and look beautiful.

On that particular night, we were also witness to the Flower Supermoon, which was an absolute treat and an icing on the cake.

We spent a couple of hours at the falls taking in the views from all possible angles. As it got dark and the supermoon rose above the horizon, the exhaustion of the day bore upon us and we decided to finally head back to the hotel to call it a day.

The “being in nature” bug bit us the next morning.

Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier is a provincial park in the Province of Quebec and is about 50 kms or about 45 mins from Boischatel, QC.

The park is located in the Laurentian Mountains along the Jacques-Cartier River valley. The river itself is calm at a few places and turbulent in others as it cuts through the valley.

The route to the park was very scenic. Since it was a nice, warm day and as per the recommendation on the Sepaq website ( to purchase right of access since there is a limit on the number of people allowed in the park on a particular day, we reserved our entry to the park for that day beforehand. The daily access costs about $9.25 per adult.

Once you are through the entrance after showing or buying your access, you would need to head to KM 10. There you will find information regarding the trails, get maps, know which ones are open etc. There are also a store, washroom, sitting areas here.

All the trails pretty much start near the KM 10 office.

Most of the larger trails were closed at the time we were there. Since it was still about mid-spring and the snow was still melting, some areas of the trail either had snow/ice or were slushy. Only two easy to moderate difficulty trails were open. We unintentionally picked the La Draveur Sud trail which happened to be an almost 15km long intermediate trail.

The first 1 km from the starting point has some steep inclines and declines but it is mostly level after that.

This trail goes through the forest and had many small waterfalls and streams along the way.

We covered only about 4.5 kms of the trail and so our round trip was about 9 kms. We did not complete it.

After leaving the park, we finally headed to Old Quebec City. We checked in at our hotel which was just outside Quebec’s fortifications.

Our hotel room had a nice wide window which provided us with gorgeous west side views of Quebec City. We could see the St. Lawrence River flowing along the Plains of Abraham.

After taking a bit of a break, we headed out for an early dinner. It was a warm Saturday evening and Quebec City was crowded but lively. Many restaurants required a reservation in advance. Walking into a restaurant without a reservation was dicey. We found a nice Thai restaurant nearby and promptly booked a reservation. The food was flavoursome.

We were generally quite exhausted after the activities of the day. So we came back to the room right after dinner and hit the sack.

Our trip was all about “what to see in Quebec City” than a “what to do in Quebec City” and in Quebec City there is a lot to see.

We headed out late in the morning and started our stroll along the Grande Allee E road towards Old Quebec.

As you move closer to the St. Louis Gate, you pass the main gates of the Plains of Abraham on the right.

And the Parliament building on the left.

You will also notice the war memorial, Croix du sacrifice just near the entrance of the Plains of Abraham.

We did not enter the Plains of Abraham this time but turned left on Boulevard Honore-Mercier to reach the Fontaine de Tourny. The fountain is right in front of the Parliament Building.

The Parliament Building is quite an imposing structure.

There are some 26 statues on the building of the important people in the history of Quebec and indigenous people of Quebec.

The location right between the stairs of the Parliament building is designated as Kilometre zero.

From here we walked towards the St. Louis Gate which is on the Rue Saint-Louis.

This is where you begin to notice the Fortifications of Quebec.

We noticed three gates as part of the fortifications, St. Louis Gate which is on Rue Saint-Louis (above), the St. John Gate which is on Rue Saint-Jean and the Kent Gate which is on Rue Dauphine.

There is also the Prescott Gate, that sort of stands separate, which is on Cote de la Montagne near the Louis S. St. Laurent Building.

The fortifications of Quebec or the ramparts are designated as Unesco World Heritage site and is the only intact fortified settlement in North America north of Mexico.

The Citadelle of Quebec on the left of St. Louis Gate and inside the Plains of Abraham is also part of the fortifications.

As soon as you cross the fortifications and continue walking on Rue Saint-Louis, we pass the Quebec Garrisons Club on the right which is a members only club and is weaved into the city’s military and civilian history.

Just near the intersection of Rue Saint-Louis and Rue Sainte-Ursule was the location of the first Quebec City town hall. There is a plaque on the building here which provides details.

Moving further on, we reach the Maillou House National Historic Site of Canada on the right just before the Restaurant Le Petit Chateau which is an example of French architecture in Canada.

The Rue Saint-Louis now turns towards Fort St right near the entrance of the grand and majestic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel. The hotel is huge and impressive and also is the most photographed structure in Quebec City.

Instead of turning left into Fort St, we continued straight. This will bring you to the Monument of Samuel-De Champlain who founded Quebec in 1608 and is also known as the Father of New France.

Walking further on and you will be on the Dufferin Terrace.

Dufferin Terrace, built in 1859 provides panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River as well as of the city. You can spend a relaxing day on the Dufferin Terrace watching talented street artists perform and listening to musicians belt out both classical and contemporary music. 

At this end of the Dufferin Terrace near the Monument of Samuel-De Champlain, you will find the Funiculaire which is an electrical cableway inaugurated in 1879.

The Funiculaire takes you down to the Rue du Petit Champlain which is an old and popular, charming commercial street in Old Quebec.

We spent a couple of hours on the Dufferin Terrace walking the whole length of it. This is also a part of the Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site where the ancient remains are preserved intact and converted to a museum.

The access to this museum was not available when we were there but there were glass enclosures on the Dufferin terrace from which you could view inside a bit. You will also notice the Wolfe-Montcalm monument close by.

The Wolfe-Montcalm monument is the oldest in Quebec city and commemorates the gallantry of James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph De Montcalm who fought and died in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. 

Dufferin Terrace is also popular for Tobogganing in winters. Almost at the other end, you will notice the Toboggan slide which is open only in winters.

We came back to the Samuel de Champlain monument and went across Fort st. Here you will see the Place d`Armes meaning “Place of Arms” which is a beautiful monument and also a fountain. It is also called the Monument of Faith.

We continued on passing the Repere Commemoratif and the Cathedrale Holy Trinity to reach Rue des Jardins. On the other side of the road is the City Hall of Quebec City.

We then turned into Rue De Buade which will bring you to the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral. There was some construction work going on around the cathedral and we did not go into the cathedral.

Behind the cathedral is the Laval University School of Architecture.

While walking, we found ourselves on Cote de la Fabrique towards Rue Saint-Jean. We turned into the Rue Coillard, then Rue Hamel to turn left on Rue des Remparts. This is a nice street with many cannons looking out towards the city or the St. Lawrence River. You keep walking on the Rue des Remparts and reach the Montmorency Park National Historic Site.

This historical significance of this place is that it was home to the parliaments of Lower Canada, Canada East and Quebec between 1791 and 1883.

Close to Montmorency Park is the Louis S St. Laurent Building.

From here, you continue on the Cote de la Montagne which slopes downwards and cross the fourth gate, the Prescott Gate. Don’t go too far though. Just after crossing the gate, you will find the historic stairs called the Breakneck Stairs that go down to the Rue du Petit Champlain or Little Champlain Street.

The Breakneck stairs are designated Quebec City's oldest stairway built in 1635. It has gone through a few restorations and renovations though over the years. Rue du Petit Champlain is designated the oldest commercial district of North America and has many boutique stores.

Right near the stairs and at beginning of the street is the Funiculaire and at the other end of the street, do look out for the nice and intricate fresco on the building representing some of the events in the history of the district.

There is another gorgeous mural depicting Quebec’s story called Quebec City Mural. To see it, as soon as you come down the Breakneck stairs, take the immediate left and then left again into Rue Notre-Dame. Here you will pass the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Catholic Church which is a nice stone church built in the 17th century.

Continue your walk on the Rue Notre-Dame to come to the Parc de la Cetiere to come to the Quebec City Mural.

After having lunch near the Rue du Petit Champlain, a short walk from here took us to the Traversiers.

Traversiers is a short ferry ride to the town of Levis on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. The ride itself takes less than 15 mins and costs about $5 per adult, one way. 

You can enjoy some gorgeous views of Old Quebec City from the ferry or from Levis as you wait for the Ferry to go back to Quebec City. We spent an hour relaxing at the park on the Levis side before returning to Quebec City.

After our short ride, we came back to the Dufferin Terrace. This time we took the stairs to climb up which is near the Prescott Gate that brought us to the Frontenac Kiosk on the Dufferin Terrace.

We strolled about on the Dufferin Terrace for about an hour and then headed back to the hotel via the board walk trail called the Governors Promenade that starts at the edge of the Dufferin Terrace near the Plessis Kiosk and brings you to the viewpoint of Saint Laurent River on the Plains of Abraham.

Our hotel was a short walk from here.

After breakfast the next morning, we walked up to all the gates around the fortification. We had only seen the St. Louis Gate the previous day. We took the Rue Turnbull where you pass the Grand Theatre de Quebec and turned right on Bd Rene Levesque E. Here we passed the Observatoire de la Capitale on the right which is the city’s tallest skyscraper giving you 360 degree view of the city. We did not climb it this time though as we had a different agenda for the day.

We took a left on the Boulevard Honore-Mercier and a right on the Rue Saint-Jean to reach the St. John Gate.

There is also the Artillery Park next to the St. John Gate.

After exploring the Artillery Park, we took Rue D`Auteuil to reach the Kent Gate.

Walking further, you come across the Esplanade Park. If you want to take a ride around the old city comfortably on a buggy along with a guide, this is where it starts.

Continuing onwards, we were back at the St. Louis Gate. We climbed onto the fortifications to walk over the gate towards the La Citadelle de Quebec.

La Citadelle de Quebec is an active military installation and the official residence of the Governor General Of Canada. It is a national historic site of Canada and allows visitors for see the museum, exhibitions and for the activities.

Prior reservation to visit the Citadelle is necessary, so be sure to book it well ahead of time and for your preferred time slot. We skipped it for next time.

We were now in the Plains of Abraham and on the right of the Citadelle is the Plains of Abraham museum. The Plains of Abraham is also Canada’s First National Historic Park.

The Plains of Abraham museum has historical artifacts and exhibits of the battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759-1760.

From the museum, we headed again to the Rue du Petit Champlain to do some shopping. We had to return to the hotel after this to drop off our shopping merchandise in the room.

After a brief rest, we stepped out again to explore the Plains of Abraham a bit. There is the Joan of Arc garden which has the Joan of Arc monument.

There are one Martello tower in the park and the other one is at the intersection of Wilfrid-Laurier Ave and Av. Tache which is close to the Joan of Arc garden.

Built between 1808 and 1812, the 3 freestanding Martello Towers were designed to serve as a gun platform for one to four guns. They overlook the St Lawrence and Charles River respectively. They are designated as National Historic site and are part of the fortifications of Quebec.

Tower 1 is inside the Plains of Abraham,

Tower 2, is at the intersection of Wilfrid Laurier Ave and Av. Tache,

and Tower 4 on Rue Lavigueur which we did not see this time.

We now started walking towards the Dufferin Terrace via the Plains of Abraham and the Citadelle.

The Citadelle itself is at an elevation and a nice place for great views towards Old Quebec.

You can even walk to the edge of the Citadelle and the Dufferin Terrace via the Plains of Abraham to reach the Pierre-Degua-De-Mons Terrace park.

There is another way to reach that edge from the Dufferin Terrace though which is also less strenuous. You can walk right up to the point where Tobogan slide is near the Dufferin Kiosk. Turn right into Pl. Terr. Dufferin, then turn left to take a small path going up that takes you to the Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons Terrace park. You can catch some amazing, panoramic views of the old city and St. Lawrence River from here. Enjoy the views.

We spent a couple of hours at this spot. As the sun set and it started to get a bit chilly, we came down to the Dufferin terrace for a stroll. It was our last night in the city and we decided to slow down and relax. The views of the city after sunset are mesmerizing and with musicians playing some nice music, it is a great place to spend your evening.

We had some nice Italian food for dinner and headed back to hotel to wind down.

Woke up lazily the next morning and checked out from the hotel. After dumping our luggage in the car, we headed out again to the Dufferin Terrace to enjoy the lively ambience and for some coffee with fresh croissants. After spending some time relaxing, we reluctantly decided that it was time to hit the road.

Quebec city is an amazing, charming city with a lot of history. We tried to cover quite a bit during this trip to explore the city’s history. There is a lot that the city has to offer in terms of the things to see and also in terms of the things that you can do. And one trip is not enough. Of course, one separate trip is definitely to be made during the winter when the city transforms into a dreamy winter wonderland.