Quebec City travel is steeped in history and European in flavor. The old town is the only fortified city north of Mexico in North America and is a World Heritage Site.
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Quebec City - Overview
Quebec City - the official capital of the province of Quebec - offers an experience unlike any other in North America. Quebec City’s Old Town itself is a work of art: Cobblestone walkways, well-preserved 17th-century architecture, café culture and the only North American fortress walls that still exist north of Mexico - all of which have given the entire city status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quebec City Location / Getting to Quebec City
Quebec City is on the Saint Lawrence River in the province of Quebec, about a three-hour drive east of Montreal, just under nine hours from Toronto and Boston and just over nine hours from NYC.
Québec City Jean Lessage International Airport has 10 airlines flying to and from many North American, South American and European destinations.
Weather & Climate / When to Visit Quebec City
The most popular time to visit Québec City is during the summer months. Though the nights can be cool throughout the summer, the days are usually warm and rather sunny. From June to August, daily maximum temperatures range from 68°F/20°C to 77°F/25°C.
The so-called Indian summer arrives early in Québec City, lasting 2-3 weeks from mid/late September to early/ mid-October.
Winter in Québec City sees plenty of snow - up to 14 feet (3.5 meters) of it, with snow falling sometimes into May. Temperatures drop well below freezing from late November to early April. The average temperature in January varies from -8° C/18° F during the day to -17° C/1° F at night, but it can drop much lower, and the wind chill can make the cold extremely unpleasant.
Much of the pleasure derived from a visit to Quebec City comes from merely wandering the old, cobblestone streets of Lower Town and drinking in the history, so much of which is evident in the city's architecture. Strolling along the shops, galleries and bistros of old Quebec City can easily fill a day. Other places to check out:
- Musée de la Civilisation
- Chateau Frontenac: Historic hotel that hovers majestically over the old town.
- Battlefields Park (the Plains of Abraham): Site of the famous battle between the French and British armies
- The Citadelle
- Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec
- The Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré shrine near Mont Sainte-Anne
Getting around Quebec City
Getting around Old Quebec City, the part that the majority of tourists visit, is best done on foot. Streets are narrow and crowded not to mention parking is expensive and at a premium.
If you're heading out of Old Quebec, you can rent a car, take a taxi or bus or rent a bike.
The only way to get to and from the Quebec International Airport is by taxi or rental car.
A calèche (horse-drawn carriage) tour is generally overpriced and controversy surrounds this practice in many cities.
Quebec City Events and Festivals
Quebec City's most famous festival, the Quebec Winter Carnival takes place at the peak of winter at the end of January / beginning of February and is the world's biggest winter carnival, drawing tens of thousands of visitors.
The Quebec City Summer Festival takes place every July. Summer in Quebec also sees the New France Festival celebrate Quebec's heritage.
Good to Know about Quebec City
Restaurant, tourist shop, and hotel staff in Quebec City may seem a bit haughty and less friendly than their counterparts in other major tourist towns. Don't take their attitude to heart - many of the people you encounter will be friendly and helpful.
Visitors should also note that the streets in Old Quebec are quite steep and proper walking shoes are essential to enjoying the old town to its fullest.
Where to Stay in Quebec City
The Chateau Frontenac sits majestically over old Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River and has been beautifully restored over the years to highlight the exquisite 19th-century architecture. Even if you don't stay at the Chateau, pop by for a look around, cocktail or tour.
For a truly unique experience, try the Ice Hotel, which opens from January - April (dates depend on weather).
Although Quebec is officially bilingual, don't be intimidated if you don't speak French. Visitors who speak only English will not have a problem getting by in Quebec City, although English is less prevalent here than in Montreal. If you do get off the beaten path, you will encounter people who speak only French, so some French travel phrases are a must.