8 Common Travel Mistakes in Québec

  • 01 of 08

    Assuming that Hotel Rooms will be too Expensive

    Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    The stately Chateau Frontenac is the architectural icon of Québec City. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage tourism in the early days of trains, it shares status in Canada with the Chateau Lake Louise and the Banff Springs Hotel, both in Alberta.

    But ask a local, and they will tell you Chateau Frontenac isn't automatically everyone's top choice for a stay. The best available nightly rate in summer is about $400 CAD.

    Within the shadow of this impressive building, there are perfectly fine two- and three-star hotels that will cost a small fraction of the rates at the Chateau. You'll be in the same wonderful historic district, enjoying the same French Canadian hospitality.

    The same is true in Montreal, which offers a variety of budget hotel options.


    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Thinking that Québec is too far away

    Montreal is relatively close to the northeastern United States.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    The fact that you enter another country and find most natives speaking French as their primary language might make you feel far from home, but reality is another matter.

    Montreal is a relatively short distance north of the border with Vermont, and Québec City is about three hours north of Montreal by train. Both cities are within three hours of flight time with direct flights from major U.S. cities such as New York, Boston,and Chicago.

    Québec City bills itself as Europe without the jet lag. Many U.S. visitors don't change time zones when they visit. 


    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Failing to Budget for Culinary Experiences

    Montreal is one of North America's great culinary destinations.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    Montreal has become a must-visit city for so-called foodies, but you don't have to possess culinary expertise to appreciate what's offered in the way of restaurants and open-air markets.

    Some restaurants forego a traditional menu, offering instead nightly specials that are rooted in whatever fresh produce or meats were available that day.

    Food costs here can sometimes exceed expectations, but sampling the local favorites is part of the overall experience. Failing to budget for a few of these experiences will result in a blown budget or opting out of some wonderful dining. 

    A local favorite that won't cost a lot is poutine, a mixture of cheese curds, french fries, gravy and other selected ingredients. It might not sound great at first, but it is a Montreal dining experience you can have on a budget. And you'll be surprised how good it tastes.

    But if you go to Montreal on a strict budget, you can take advantage of a vibrant street food scene. About 350 food trucks operate in the city, and they can be the source of a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack. Don't forget to consider a Montreal picnic.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Assuming the Language Barrier Will Devalue Your Visit

    Montreal is a bilingual city.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    French is the official language of Québec, and even most English Canadians who are raised here are fluent in French.

    The same is often true for French Canadians who work in travel destinations such as Montreal and Québec City. The ability to speak English is a baseline requirement for employment in hotels and other travel-related businesses.

    Unless you venture deep into rural Québec, chances are slim that you'll encounter troublesome language barriers. 

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Neglecting Visits to the Countryside

    Montmorency Falls Park is a short distance from Quebec City.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    Although there are more English speakers in the large cities, don't neglect the rural areas. Recreational activities and scenic beauty can be found throughout the province.

    Just a few miles outside of Québec City is the Île d'Orléans, famous for its farms and country inns. From the island, you'll see Montmorency Falls Park in the distance, with a natural waterfall higher than Niagara. 

    Further away are the popular skiing resorts in the Laurentian Mountains, which are an extension of the Adirondacks of upstate New York.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Missing Entertainment and Attractions that are Free

    Montreal city festivals must include free attractions and performances.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    My first night in Montreal, I visited an open-air high-wire exhibition that was staged in a city park. There is no admission charge. I imagined that this was unusual good fortune, but Montreal residents told me actually it's fairly common for an exhibition of some sort to be staged in the city during the warmer months. This one coincided with the Montreal Jazz Festival.

    Montreal is renowned for its street festivals -- if you're there in June-August, it's quite likely the city's festival district will be alive with open-air concerts. These are great opportunities to sample culture and meet local people. Some events will require tickets, but every festival organizer is required to provide some free entertainment as a condition of obtaining a license.


    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Ignoring Mass Transit Options

    Montreal offers efficient mass transportation options.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    Montreal and Québec City offer a strong network of public buses that can be an excellent means for orienting yourself during the early hours of your stay. Montreal also maintains an efficient subway system that can be used inexpensively.

    With some help from Tourisme Montreal, you can map out a route in Montreal that will showcase the major neighborhoods of the city.

    In Québec City, the old city (Vieux-Québec) is best explored on foot, but there is a public transportation worth trying if you're a photographer. Take the ferry across to Levis for a nice view of the city skyline and sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River. The round trip ticket is about $7. 

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Disregarding Exchange Rates

    Favorable exchange rates amount to significant discounts.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    At this writing, the Canadian dollar is at historic lows against the U.S. dollar. That situation makes cities such as Montreal and Québec City incredible bargains. During the drop in question, prices for the same hotel rooms, meals and attractions went down 18 percent in a single year.

    Naturally, it doesn't always work out that favorably. But it pays to check the exchange rates in the weeks prior to your departure. 

    Back to Québec on a Budget index