Quebec City is one of Canada’s most picturesque and historic cities. It’s absolutely worth visiting Quebec City at any time of year. But if delving into the city’s amazing history is one of your main motivations, go for a Quebec City summer. That’s when leisurely strolling around the city is most pleasant and historic sites are open to the public.
From beautiful to educational, Quebec City has it all. Here are 8 essential experiences to make the most of your summer visit to Quebec City. Whether it’s your first visit or your hundredth, you’re sure to find something new to do on this list.
Stroll through Petit-Champlain and the lower city
Rue Petit-Champlain in lower Quebec City, also known as Basse-Ville, is consistently named among the most beautiful streets in Canada. There and in the surrounding neighbourhood known as Quartier Petit-Champlain, you can stroll through some of North America’s oldest streets. Many of the buildings here date back more than 400 years!
Take the Funiculaire
Quebec City is built against a cliff face overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Its position made it a critically important point of defence in its early history. Getting from Basse-Ville to the upper city could therefore be an enormous chore. Instead of slogging up steep hills or driving narrow and winding roads, take the Funiculaire de Vieux-Québec. For a small fee, you can ride this cable car-style railway. It travels at a 45-degree angle for more than 85 metres (or 280 feet) up the cliff face. It’s both a time-saver and a fantastic view!
Tour the Château Frontenac
Quebec City’s Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in the world. It’s also a very luxurious and popular place to stay, especially since it appeared in Goblin, a South Korean television drama. Even if a sojourn at the Château Frontenac is outside your budget, you can still take a look inside. Guided tours can be booked via the link on the hotel’s website, available here.
Visit the underground remains of a castle
In the summer, Quebec’s national historic sites come alive. Underneath the Château Frontenac and Dufferin Terrace, you can descend into the remains of Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux. French and British governors lived and conducted business within these walls for more than 200 years. Explore the floor plan and many artifacts. Little ones can even dig for artifacts of their own and complete activities in the Parks Canada Xplorers booklet. Once they do, they’ll receive a collectible medallion to take home!
Climb North America’s only remaining city walls
The fortified walls that surround Quebec City are the only ones remaining in any city on the continent north of Mexico. They’re so well-maintained that you can climb onto them to walk around the city and between the gates. Walking along the walls is free, but you can also learn more about their history by visiting the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site. The Artillery Park is packed with information about how the city and its walls came to be. This is an Xplorers site, too. Kids can learn about life as a soldier, how different types of cannons protect the city, and more. When they do, they’ll earn another Xplorers medal for their collection.
Find art around every corner
You don’t need to spend a dime to find art in Quebec City: just wander through its streets. From detailed murals to street buskers, architecture, and pop-up art installations, you’ll find something wonderful around every corner!
Have a drink at Quebec City’s only authentic Irish pub
Quebec City has a rich Irish heritage. Many Irish settlers landed here during the Great Famine of the 1840s. A result of this still exists within the city walls at the Pub St-Patrick on Rue Saint-Jean. This is the city’s only authentic Irish pub. Even a brief visit will convince you of the many great times and deep conversations that have happened within its walls.
Take a trip to Jacques Cartier’s landing place
This one’s for the completionists or people who don’t mind trekking out of the way. Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site marks an important place in Québécois history. Here, outside the old city on the banks of the St. Charles River, Jacques Cartier and his crew were moored and forced to overwinter from 1535 to 1536. He established relations with the nearby Iroquois villages and learned from them how to avoid scurvy to survive the winter. The park has a sculpture commemorating that fateful winter among beautiful walking paths. This is the third site in Quebec City where young Xplorers can complete activities to earn souvenir medals from Parks Canada.