The Breakneck Stairs that lead to the Petit-Champlain District , L'escalier du Casse-Cou qui mène au Petit-Champlain

How much can you see in three-and-a-half days in Quebec City?

Mind you, just so we’re clear on that – three-and-a-half days is NOT enough to see everything worth seeing in Québec City and the area.

From its centuries-old stone buildings that look like they were transported straight from France, to its many museums, this charming city of about half a million has a lot to offer to visitors.

Unfortunately, we only had a long weekend for this visit, but if you have more time, do yourself a favor and spend a few more days in this capital of the Canadian province of Québec.

It’s an about six-hour drive from Boston, another old city worth seeing, but it’s very different than any American cities you will see, including the also-French New Orleans.

We saw the following attractions in Québec City. You can decide whether you want to put them on your to-see list as well.

Day One

Les Tours du Vieux Québec

Whenever we’re visiting a city for the first time, we like to do a bus tour, just to get a general overview and feel of the city. In every city there might be streets and areas that buses don’t go to, of course, and that applies to Québec City as well, but Les Tours du Vieux Québec does a pretty impressive loop on their Ligne Rouge.

It’s is a hop-on-hop-off type of tour, with 12 stops, but buses leave only about every 30 minutes, so you’ll have to time your visits to local museums just right, so that you don’t have to wait.

We did the whole loop the first day, and it was a lot of fun getting this general overview of Québec City from the upper deck!

Rue Saint-Jean from the upper deck of the Les Tours du Vieux Québec bus
Rue Saint-Jean from the upper deck of the Les Tours du Vieux Québec bus

Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec

Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec is a type of elevator scaling up and sliding down the hill by the famous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac on the top, and the colorful pedestrian-only Rue du Petit Champlain.

The Funiculaire was built in 1879, and modernized in 1998. The ride isn’t long, but the kids liked the view onto the river, and if you don’t want to face the stairs, it’s a fairly cheap ($2.25 CAN) option to get you up or down the hill.

Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec scaling the hill
Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec scaling the hill

Lunch at Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir is located on rue Saint-Jean, a bit to the west beyond the walls of the Old Québec. It was recommended by the concierge at the place where we stayed, and since it was on our way, we decided to stop and try some poutine, of course.

(For those of you who don’t know what poutine is, it’s a traditional Quebecois dish of french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. It’s probably incredibly unhealthy, but it’s also very yummy, when made well.)

All in all, Le Comptoir is a funky little restaurant, with nice, urban décor.

What did we order at Le Le Comptoir? Why, poutine, of course!
What did we order at Le Le Comptoir? Why, poutine, of course!

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste

While you’re on rue Saint-Jean, you walk a bit further west, to 755 rue Saint-Jean. The building at that address looks like a church, and it used to be a church – an Anglican St. Matthew’s church to be exact. In 1979 the building was purchased by City of Quebec to accommodate a library. If the library, known in French as Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste, is open, go inside and look at the beautiful stain glass windows!

Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an Anglican Church turned into a library
Bibliothèque Saint-Jean-Baptiste, an Anglican Church turned into a library

Observatoire de la Capitale

The Observatoire de la Capitale is located on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building, and is the highest vantage point in Québec City. You can get an impressive panoramic view from its floor to ceiling windows into every direction.

The Observatoire also offers touch screen stations pointing out the most important buildings, wall displays illustrating the city’s history, and audio stations where you can listen to narratives about the area’s history “told” by historical figures.

view of the Old Quebec from the Observatoire de la Capitale
view of the Old Quebec from the Observatoire de la Capitale

Érico Chocolaterie et Pâtisserie Créative – Érico Creative Chocolate Shop and Chocolate Museum

Either on the way to the Observatoire or on the way back to the Old Québec, stop at the Érico Chocolaterie et Pâtisserie Créative, located at 634 Rue Saint-Jean. You can get there some pretty yummy (though pricey) chocolates and ice cream, but make sure you also walk around their one-room Chocolate Museum.

My daughter loved the “feel without seeing” displays and trying to guess what she was touching, and the chocolate whisk used by the Mayans to whip up chocolate into liquid form.

reproduction of a Mayan whisk used to whip chocolate into liquid form
reproduction of a Mayan whisk used to whip chocolate into liquid form

Day Two

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec is located quite a bit to the west from the Old Québec. If you’re staying within the city walls, it will take you at least 20 minutes by foot to get there. You can drive there and park, of course, or you can try public transportation, and use the trip planner Trajecto.

The museum features mostly modern art, but also has some pieces from the period under British rule (1763-1867) and Native Canadian (Inuit) displays.

It’s not a huge museum, compared to some famous art museums you might have seen if you traveled to London, New York City, or even Boston, but it’s worth visiting.

Make sure you don’t miss the “prison” wing – the Charles Baillairgé Pavillion was the Québec City jail for more than a century and was incorporated into the museum in 1991.

Also, the new addition to the museum, that will allow it to show a larger percentage of its collections, is scheduled to open in 2016.

one of the amazing pieces at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec - Alfred Pellan's "Jardin Bleu" (Blue Garden)
one of the amazing pieces at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec – Alfred Pellan’s “Jardin Bleu” (Blue Garden)

Musée de la place Royale

Musée de la place Royale, located at the original site of a trading post established in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, offers a glimpse into the history of New France from its founding in 1608 through today.

Don’t miss “Facing Champlain” – a 3D movie which in a quite artistic way offers an overview of myths surrounding the founder of Québec City – Samuel de Champlain.

The museum also has a small, but fun dress-up section for kids on the ground level.

my daughter trying on a reproduction of an old shoulder yoke for carrying water
my daughter trying on a reproduction of an old shoulder yoke for carrying water

Traverse Québec – Lévis

Traverse Québec – Lévis is a short ferry ride that connects Québec City and Lévis, located on the opposite bank of the St. Lawrence River.

My daughter declared that was the most fun thing she did that day, and my son had a lot of fun playing with my iPhone during the trip, making slow-mo and time-lapse videos.

Word of advice: take the ferry either in the morning, when the Old Québec will be illuminated by the morning sun, or in the evening, when you can see the city lights. Otherwise your photos might be not quite as attractive.

view of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac from the Quebec City – Lévis ferry
view of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac from the Quebec City – Lévis ferry

Day Three

Walk around the Old Québec and beyond

Québec City is such a charming place you have to set aside some time to just walk around, even if you did the sightseeing bus tour.

From the quaint shops on the Rue Petit Champlain that looks a bit like the Diagon Alley from Harry Potter movies, to the Hôtel du Parlement (the Parliament building), with vegetables growing in front, the city offers plenty of interesting photo ops.

pedestrian only Rue Petit Champlain has a bit of a feel of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter movies
pedestrian only Rue Petit Champlain has a bit of a feel of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter movies
vegetable garden in front of Hôtel du Parlement (the Parliament building)
vegetable garden in front of Hôtel du Parlement (the Parliament building)
the oldest house in Québec, built in 1675)
the oldest house in Québec, built in 1675)

Musée de la civilisation à Québec (Museum of Civilization)

The Musée de la civilisation à Québec (Museum of Civilization) is an interesting place, with very cutting edge modern exhibits on shantytown cities, as well as a fun dressing room and play area for the kids.

While we visited, it also featured “Frame x Frame” on animation, together with a hands-on room where you could spend quite a bit of time making your own stop-motion feature.

My daughter liked the dressing area the most, of course. My son declared the “Earth Unveiled” section, together with its simulator of scale 7 Earthquake room was the most interesting.

playing with a Native Canadian toy made of bones and sinew at the Musée de la civilisation à Québec
playing with a Native Canadian toy made of bones and sinew at the Musée de la civilisation à Québec

Musée de l’Amérique francophone

Musée de l’Amérique francophone was nearly deserted when we visited. It’s not a large museum, but if you like history, it offers a very interesting and artistically designed glimpse into the life at the colony founded in 1540s, located at the site of the Old Quebec, nearly 60 years before Quebec City was founded.

The museum is located on the site of the Séminaire de Québec, and before you get to the exhibit area, you have to walk through the seminar chapel, deconsecrated in 1992.

chapel of the Séminaire de Québec, deconsecrated in 1992
chapel of the Séminaire de Québec, deconsecrated in 1992

Late lunch at Baguette Et Chocolat

Baguette & Chocolat at 36 Cote de la Fabrique isn’t by any means the most famous or the most delicious place in the city, but that’s where we stopped when kids started whining for ice cream, and we noticed they had an ice cream display just by the entrance.

When we went inside, it turned out they also have a deli and make crêpes. My son had two of them. I had one, and can tell you that they are BIG.

Crêpe with nutella, caramel and strawberry-vanilla ice cream at the Baguette & Chocolat at 36 Cote de la Fabrique
Crêpe with nutella, caramel and strawberry-vanilla ice cream at the Baguette & Chocolat at 36 Cote de la Fabrique

Day Four (morning)

Aquarium du Québec

In the morning of Day Four, on the way home, we stopped at the Aquarium du Québec, something that all of us enjoyed very much.

The aquarium website says you can get close to the aquarium on bus routes 13, 25 and 400 (during summer only). We parked in the parking lot right outside the front entrance.

In addition to fresh and salt water tanks, the Aquarium also houses seals, sea lions, polar bears, and polar foxes. We spent quite a bit of time there.

Personally, I found the jellyfish mesmerizing. The kids liked everything, from the playground, and watching the polar foxes play, to touching the sting rays.

a giant Nautilus Pompilius at the Aquarium du Quebec
a giant Nautilus Pompilius at the Aquarium du Quebec

What did we miss?

I was hoping to see the 3D display at the Maison historique Chevalier, but it was closed when we visited.

We also didn’t have enough time to go east to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, the Huron-Wendat Museum,  the geological museum Le Musée de géologie René-Bureau de l’Université Laval, or the botanical garden Jardin botanique Roger-Van den Hende at Universite Laval.

I was also hoping to walk down the in the evening and see the artistic giant lampshades on Cartier Avenue aglow.

Obviously, we’ll have to go to Québec City again some time. I certainly wouldn’t mind!

Even with visiting historical and art museums, both my kids declared they liked Québec City very much, even more than Madrid, Spain, which rather surprised me.

Office du tourisme de Québec / Québec City Tourism

In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Office du tourisme de Québec / Québec City Tourism who provided our whole family not only with passports to the city attractions but also tickets to the bus tour.

Thank you!

As is customary to say in these cases, all opinions are our own, but I can honestly say we had a fabulous long weekend!

You can create your own discount passport at the Discount Passport web site.

The Office du tourisme de Québec / Québec City Tourism is also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Give them some love by following them!

Where to Stay in Quebec City

We stayed at Le 760 Honore Mercier Apartment 604 when we visited Quebec City (click on the link to see our review of this place). You can book it, as we did, through Booking.com.

Or, you can stay at one of the other hotels, B&Bs, hostels, or apartments available in that great city. There are plenty to choose from.

Québec City Pinterest Board

If you’re planning a trip to Québec City, feel free to repin my Québec City Pinterest board where I included all of the attractions mentioned above, plus a whole lot of blog posts by other travel bloggers. Enjoy!

quebecitypin

Invitation to #WeekendWanderlust Link Up

#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather from A Brit and a Southerner, Jessi & Tara from Outbound Adventurer, Ashley from A Southern Gypsy, Justin and Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren, and yours truly, is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things.

The hosts organize each week a link up through which travel bloggers from around the world can promote their posts, in exchange for a promise to give some attention to other travel bloggers. (One of the rules for linking up is to comment on three linked up posts.)

If the link up is still open, feel free to add a link to one of your posts below, then comment on three linked up posts. And I welcome comments as well, of course!

#WeekendWanderlust link up logo
#WeekendWanderlust link up logo

 


42 thoughts on “How much can you see in three-and-a-half days in Quebec City?”

    1. Thank you for reading, Ruth! Three days generally just scratch the surface, but yes, if that’s all you get, there’s no way around it. I do wish I had a day or two more, though.

    1. Thank you for reading, Anna! Montreal has a more urban vibe, in my opinion. Quebec City is more European and charming, I think. A very nice place. I hope you’ll get to see it some day.

  1. What a great trip you had! We ate at Le Comptoir too. :-) I had the pea soup…SO good! You have to try Le Hobbit next time…almost across the street from Le Comptoir. It was one of the best meals we ever had. We had a great time and we look forward to going back. Great overview of the city, Jolanta.
    Kelly recently posted…With a Grateful Heart, We RememberMy Profile

    1. Thank you for reading, Kelly! I’m like you liked this overview, but then again, Quebec City is a great place. I’m glad we finally managed to visit it again. Maybe next time we go we’ll try Le Hobbit. :)

    1. Thank you for reading, Lesley! Yes, poutine is deadly, isn’t it. How can you not love fries, with gravy, and cheese melted on top!

    1. Thank you for reading, Bethaney! Quebec City deserves its own trip, I have to say, plus depending on how long you’ll be in Montreal, you may be too busy sightseeing in Montreal. There’s plenty to do there as well.

  2. Nice article, sometimes 3-4 day trips are the best! It’s definitely on our list of places to visit. My son had gone on a school trip and I heard all about the famous poutine so its nice to see a picture of that!

    1. Thank you for reading, Kath! You definitely should see Quebec City if you’re into history. The third oldest city in North America! C’mon, you have to!

    1. Thank you for reading, Sarah! We had so many places to see and so little time, but yet we still found time to play on the playgrounds a bit as well. :) It was a fun weekend.

  3. Andrew and I visited Quebec City before our daughter was born, it was a long time ago. It’s time to head back soon. You certainly got loads of activity done in your short time. That poutine looks so good! We also like doing a bus tour first thing, to get acclimated to the streets. Thanks for the fun jaunt to Quebec Coty!
    Brenda recently posted…Travel Cinque Terre with a localMy Profile

  4. Jolanta, this is a great trip report with attractions for every taste. we visited a couple of times and (while we paid respects to the Montmarency falls) have not visited many of the attractions you point out. Three and a half day is more than we get in each city when we travel. everyone is having different travel style (a blog post idea?:) and I am just always itching to see what else is out there:)
    Victoria @celebratetheweekend recently posted…Family Visit to Central Park with TV and Movie Sites Tour. Photo Essay and Travel TipsMy Profile

    1. Thank you for reading, Victoria! We try to get at least a couple of days in each city when we travel, especially if it’s our first time, or we know we won’t go there any time soon.

    1. Thank you for reading, Tonya! Third oldest city in North America! Lots of history in Quebec City, so if you like history you definitely have to visit.

    1. Thank you for reading, Katja! We’ve never been to Vancouver, and haven’t taken our kids to Montreal yet. Quebec City IS a great place to visit as well.

    1. Thank you for reading, Lauren! Yes, Quebec City is lovely. I just wish we had time to see the falls, like you did.

  5. We went to Quebec City this weekend for about 2.5 days and loved it. Most of our time was filled with the Winter Carnival and winter sports but we had one day to walk around Old Quebec and we were so charmed (even though it was bitter cold)! Unfortunately it was a Monday and the museums were closed but I’m sure we will go back again someday.
    Tamara recently posted…Summer Family Road Trip Travel Gear GuideMy Profile

  6. We have a wedding to attend in Boston next summer, and I was thinking of tacking on a roadtrip to Quebec. Even though I didn’t know what exactly there was to see, it’s always intrigued me. Now that I’ve read your write up, I’m super excited to go. It’s so old. It’s so French. Chocolate and crepes, too. I’m sold.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Farewell to FAO SchwarzMy Profile

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