Quebec City, Canada, sits atop a UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by fortified ramparts with the Saint Lawrence River far below. Being the capital of Quebec and the oldest French-speaking community in North America, this historic gem is a popular getaway for travelers looking for a close-to-home slice of Europe. It's located near the U.S. border, just above Maine and about 397 miles (639 kilometers) by road from bustling Boston. There are no direct flights between the two cities, but flying is still the quickest travel option. However, you can also take a car, bus, or train if you have more time.
|Bus||11 hours, 30 minutes||from $60||Minding a budget|
|Train||19 hours, 30 minutes||from $150||Stopping along the way|
|Plane||4 hours||from $100||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Car||6 hours, 30 minutes||397 miles (639 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Boston to Quebec City?
The bus is the least expensive option and relatively easy to use, as long as you don't mind a long (11-and-a-half-hour) journey. Greyhound offers a seven-hour, 30-minute service from Boston South Station to Gare d'autocars de Montréal. From there, you can transfer to one of the hourly buses connecting to Quebec City via the three-hour,15-minute Orléans Express. However, the Orléans Express typically departs from Gare Centrale CN Central Station, a 30-minute walk or 16-minute Metro ride from where the Greyhound drops off. The Orléans Express will get you to Gare du Palais near Old Quebec, where many hotels are located. The entire journey takes about 11 hours, 30 minutes and costs $30 minimum per ticket ($60 or more for both).
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Boston to Quebec City?
According to KAYAK, there are no direct routes between Boston and Quebec City, but you can still fly via Porter Airlines, British Airways, or Royal Air Maroc with a stop in between. Porter Airlines is the most popular and all-around cheapest. It typically stops at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport for a short layover before continuing to Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. The flight can take as little as four hours, including the quick stopover, and costs between $100 and $400 depending on how far in advance you book and what time of year you fly. March and April tend to be the cheapest.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Driving is the second fastest travel option. The most direct route cuts through New England along I-91 and I-93, crosses the U.S.-Canada border at the top of Vermont, then skirts Montréal and continues into Quebec City via the famous Trans-Canada Highway. It takes between six and seven hours to drive the distance.
While the route isn't especially scenic, it does offer easy access to White Mountain National Forest along the way. Keep in mind that you'll need to present your passport at the border crossing.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
Riding the train isn't the cheapest or the fastest way to get to Quebec City—it's the most time consuming option, actually, because it goes through New York City, which is quite a ways off-route—but it's a good compromise between often-uncomfortable bus rides and pricey plane tickets nonetheless. It offers great views of Quebec City's historic Old Town, too. From Boston South Station, you board the Amtrak to New York's Penn Station (make sure you don't take the Northeast Regional route, which is 30 minutes slower than the normal three-hour-45-minute service and is double the price, too).
From Penn Station, there's another Amtrak that goes to Saint-Lambert on the outskirts of Montréal, a 10-hour-45-minute ride. Then, you can get a three-hour Via Rail train to Quebec City. Altogether, with ticket prices averaging $50 each, you should expect to pay at least $150 for the 19-and-a-half-hour journey. It's a good option for making stops in New York City and Montréal along the way, but because it's so expensive and time consuming, most hop on a flight or drive themselves instead.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Quebec City?
Canadian winters are long, especially on the East Coast, so if you plan to spend much of your trip outside, you should go when the weather is nicest, between June and September. Still, though, the city is full of activities (and pretty scenery) during the winter, too. Public transportation connects the two cities year-round, but if you're driving, it may be best to avoid the snowy season. Winter storms can sometimes hold up Greyhounds and air travel, too.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Quebec City?
U.S. citizens can visit Canada for up to 180 days (six months) without a visa.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport is a 20-minute drive from the city center. You can get downtown via Routes 76 and 80 of the Réseau de transport de la Capitale bus, which costs about $2 per ride and takes less than 30 minutes. The buses drop off in Sainte-Foy and the Les Saules terminus, respectively. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or an Uber.
What Is There to Do in Quebec City?
Quebec City is brimming with history and international flair. First, you'll want to take in the little slice of Europe that Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) offers. The entire neighborhood is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with more than 400 years of history (including one of the oldest shopping streets on the continent, Petit-Champlain). Overlooking all of it is the stunning Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a 19th-century castle-like hotel. During the summer, you can get your nature fix at Montmorency Falls, a massive waterfall surrounded by picnic-worthy green space.