Trying to figure out your Quebec City itinerary? This post has recommendations for 1-3 days as well as tips for visiting!
To be honest, I fell absolutely in love with Quebec City so if I had my way, I’d recommend you spend a month there! It’s such a charming city, I could see mysel
Can You Do Quebec City as a Day Trip?
I’m assuming you’re asking as a day trip from Montréal since that would be the closest city. (If you’re talking Ottawa or Toronto – definitely not!) My answer is: kind of. It really depends on what you want to do in Québec City and how quickly you want to travel.
Technically, you can visit in a day as long as you don’t mind having 6 hours of transport over all as Montréal and Québec City are about 3 hours apart. I found this day tour option which is great if you’re not driving and want to squeeze it in. It includes Place Royale, the Plains of Abraham, Quartier Petit Champlain, Montmorency Falls, and some free time in Old Québec, and it overall should be 12 hours start to finish.
I think this is a nice enough option and gives you a good overview of the city, but if you can, I’d say you’ll enjoy the city more with 2 or 3 days. It’s a very cute city, so I don’t recommend rushing through it!
Our Quebec Itinerary: 3D/3N
The way our overall itinerary worked had us in Québec City for 3 nights in total – arriving from Montréal during the afternoon on Day 1 and leaving earlier in the morning on Day 4 for Ottawa (a 5+ hour drive). Depending on your trip or how you’re getting around, this Québec itinerary could easily be altered to be for 2 full days and 1 night, arriving early in the morning on Day 1 and leaving at the end of the day on Day 2. Up to you! But here’s exactly how our trip went so you can copy or adapt as you need to.
Day 1: Arrive in Québec City
We arrived to Québec earlier in the afternoon. Once we got checked into our hotel, freshened up, and attempted to make dinner reservations (no luck), we were ready to stretch our legs a bit around golden hour.
Get dropped off in front of Fairmont Chateau
A good starting point for some wandering is the Fairmont Chateau Le Frontenac. Alyshia plugged this into Uber and we walked around from there. (Obviously if you’re staying here, you’ve already saved yourself 15 minutes). The hotel is kind of the focal point of Old Québec and really adds to the feeling of being in some cute European city! Despite its castle-like architecture, it’s always been used as a hotel since its construction in 1893. In fact, it’s got a history all its own separate from any sort of royalty as it’s part of Canada’s grand railway hotels.
Inspiration for Chateau Le Frontenac comes from the Loire Valley in France, and its name comes from Louise de Buade, Count of Fontenac, the Governor General of New France during the late 1600s. In its time, it’s hosted the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as well as was seen in the Hitchcock film, I Confess, and, for my fellow K-drama fans, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.
If you’re curious about the interiors and aren’t staying here, then you can always eat at one of its restaurants or book a 1-hr small group tour.
Wander around Old Québec near Place d’Armes
Pretty much as soon as we exited into Old Québec, I fell in love! I’m pretty sure Alyshia heard me squeal “cute” more times than she’ll ever need to again.
But it’s true! From the Fairmont, you’re looking at a small square that wraps around Place d’Armes and looks straight out of a storybook! We started walking a bit towards the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec entrance as it’s a bit of a boardwalk and gives you views over the river to the town of Levis. We then basically walk around a bit hoping to find somewhere that had an opening and looked good.
Dinner at Restaurant Pub D’Orsay
We lucked out when we passed by Restaurant Pub D’Orsay at the corner between Rue des Jardins and Rue de Buade. They were one of the places we tried to book a reservation at only for it to be full. Not only did they have an opening for two, they had them right outside with a view of the Notre Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. And on top of that we came about 5 minutes before a big family group came, whoo hoo!
Anyway, the food at D’Orsay is always delicious. Being in the most French city in Canada, we, of course, ordered French onion soup to start! Then I split off to Spain ordering seafood paella while Alyshia got clams. Deliciousness all around.
By the time we finished, it was getting dark and most shops were close. We walked around a little more and even stopped into a cute little Christmas shop before heading back to our hotel. (And subsequently binge-watching half of season 2 of “Outer Banks” lol).
Day 2: Île d’Orléans
We spent most of day 2 driving around (although there still wound up being a decent amount of walking)! It actually came at a perfect time since we’d just walked a billion steps all over Montréal, so the thought of mostly sitting down sounded perfect to me. If you go past Old Québec, you can find Montmorency Falls and the very scenic Île d’Orléans.
Breakfast at Bugel de Fabrique
First things first – a little breakfast. I walked over to Bügel de Fabrique, which was all of 2 minutes on foot from our hotel and picked us up some bagels and coffee. The shop has been around since 1987 and I imagine pretty popular with locals. It was busy when I went in, and they’ve got a ton of bagel and bagel sandwich options! I do recommend looking up the menu online because it’s only in French in the shop and, lol, my French is not good enough to know bagel types and breakfast terms.
Drive to Montmorency Falls (2ish hours)
Anyhow, once we ate and were ready to go, we drove over to Montmorency Falls! At first we kinda thought we’d just drive by, stop to take a pic, and continue on to Île d’Orléans but that’s definitely not the case. Its actually more of a park around the falls, so you can only access if you buy a ticket in. There are 3 different parking lots, two above the falls and one down below, so in all you get 3 different viewpoints. I’d give myself an hour to two hours depending on how much you want to do. If you want to do the full walk, I’d park down below so you start out climbing up the stairs and end going down.
We didn’t know any of this, so we parked at the main entrance, walked across the bridge and the first few levels of the stairs. Then we went back and drove to the bottom parking lot to see from there before moving on.
Drive around Île d’Orléans
Now time for a scenic drive! Île d’Orléans reminds me a bit of my little day trip to Mayne Island from Vancouver. Canada really has the cutest islands, especially in the summer! It’s very small and is basically just one loop around with one bridge across.
The island was one of the first areas colonized by the French and many French Canadians can trace their family history back here. As a result it has a number of wineries, fromageries, and homes from the 17th century. I’m not sure how it is in the winter, but when we drove around in the summer we were treated to pretty views and lots of cute shops and farmer’s stands.
Lunch at Bistro du Hangar
We were hungry after the unexpected time spent at Montmorency Falls, so we went looking for lunch. Our first place, Restaurant de Plage, was closed, so we drove a bit to Bistro du Hangar. It’s a very casual eatery with good poutine and wings!
Walk around a bit
You’ll notice driving in and around that Île d’Orléans is full of the cutest storefronts and houses. Bistro du Hangar is in a particularly cute area that’s perfect for walking around after you’ve finished lunch. We strolled down to the Quai de Saint-Jean, which has some nice views of the water. If you want to relax, you can actually bring along a chair to sit out and enjoy the peace!
Pick up some strawberries (or whatever produce is in season when you visit)
We continued our drive around the island, stopping off randomly when we saw somewhere cute! I did want to make sure I picked up some strawberries before we left, and the spot we wound up stopping at was Ferme Laval Gagnon. They even had a huge strawberry painted on the side, which we thought was cute! There was a bunch of produce and other goods for sale when we stopped in. I picked up some cute illustrated cards with my strawberries.
If you want to get more into the food of the island, there’s this tasting tour which goes way more into it than we did.
Grab ice cream and a drink at Cassis Monna & Filles
We still had some time to kill before our dinner reservation back in Old Québec, so we popped into Cassis Monna & Filles. They’re a family-owned business that specializes in black currant alcohol. They have a really lovely outdoor seating area with an ice cream shop on top and a wine and alcohol shop on the bottom. Alyshia got some sangria, and I got some black currant ice cream.
There are actually a lot of wineries around the island, so if you want you could turn this day trip into a bit of a winery tour!
Dinner at Don Vegan
Day 2 finished off with the adventure of driving to Don Vegan and eating some delicious food. No joke, do not recommend trying to drive in Old Québec if you can help it. Alyshia had to take over to find parking because I was getting too stressed lol.
Anyhow, Don Vegan is Québec City’s very first 100% vegan restaurant, and they offer quite a range of dishes and cocktails. We split the panko cauliflower as our appetizers while I got the carbonada spaghetti and Alyshia got the burrito bowl for our main course.
We were pretty exhausted by the time we finished dinner, so we headed back to our hotel! I ate my strawberries for dessert, and we finished the rest of Outer Banks season 2.
Day 3: All Around Québec City
Our last full day in Québec City! This day was all about properly visiting Old Québec and a whole lotta walking. Besides getting breakfast, sugar pie, and going back into the historic center, we didn’t have any specific plans and just sort of went where we felt like going. It led to some very cute discoveries as this entire city is full of charm!
Breakfast at a Cafe Le Cousins
Wanting to find somewhere to sit inside for breakfast, we plugged in cafes into Google Maps and started walking. We did stop in this bookstore along the way but alas it was all French. Cafe Le Cousins seemed like it had proper food, so we went in there. I wouldn’t say it’s a total cafe vibe; it’s more cafe/bakery, so people are coming in and out and not really sitting down to eat. Good food though! Alyshia got the quiche, and I got this apple/brie croissant sandwich and, of course, coffee while we mapped out our route for the morning.
Walk to Plains d’Abraham / Garden of Joan of Arc
From there we head over to the Plaines d’Abraham. It’s a pretty large area and is made famous because of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. Part of the American French and Indian War and the European Seven Years’ War, it’s notable for being the place where the British defeated the French.
We didn’t go too much into the park as there’s not a whole lot to see beyond the landscapes and views, but we did stop in to the very pretty Joan of Arc garden and walked along the northern perimeter.
Stop into St-Huberts for sugar pie
If you’re walking along Wilfrid-Laurier Ave, you’ll want to turn right onto Pl. George-V Ouest and then left onto Grand Allée Estate to find Rotisserie St-Hubert right at the corner. It might not be on the menu, but ask for the sugar pie and enjoy pure sweet goodness.
Sugar pie is one of the must-eats anywhere Québec province, and St-Huberts has at least one location everywhere. It comes from Northern France and Belgium and is, as you might expect, made with a lot of sugar. YUM!
Walk over to Parliament Gardens
From there, head over to Québec City’s parliament building and gardens. It’s been used for the National Assembly of Quebec and has been around since 1886. I think you can do a tour of the interior, but we just walked the gardens. On the one side they have all the “founders” of Canada, so I put Alyshia’s history classes to use and asked her who they all were.
Walk along Rue Saint-Louis
From here you can just walk along Rue Saint-Louis. It’ll bring you past the old city citadel and along a lot of pretty house and storefronts. Don’t forget to turn down the smaller roads and alleys like Rue Donnaconna for charming views.
Walk down to Dufferin Terrace
We saw all these cool view of the Chateau that we hadn’t seen in person yet, so we found ourselves walking down to a boardwalk like area past where we’d gone on our first night. If you plug in Dufferin Terrace into Google Maps, that’ll take you to the right place. If it seems a little crowded at first, just keep walking and it empties out very quickly! Sit under one of the fun green and white vintage-styled gazebos, photograph the best view of the castle, and enjoy the people watching.
Walk over to Rue de Baude and Rue Port Dauphin/Fort St
Another cool view and on your way to the next stop of the day is between Rue de Buade and Rue Port Dauphin/Fort St by the Louis S. St Laurent Building.
Walk down Cote de la Montagne to Escalier Casse-Cou
From here walk down Cote de laa Montagne, through the Prescott Gate and to the top of the Escalier Casse-Cou, the oldest staircase in the city. This will bring you to probably one of the cutest streets in all of Québec City, which is saying a lot!
Stroll around Rue du petit Champlain
If you take the funicular down, this is where it’ll drop you off as well. It literally looks like it belongs in some old European fairytale, and I’m sure in the winter it looks straight out of a Christmas card. It’s a mix of stores and restaurants and just one straight path through to the road and St. Lawrence River.
Dinner at Le Lapin Sauté
We stopped off to eat at Le Lapin Sauté, which, yes, translate to The Sautéed Rabbit. As you might guess, most of their dishes are rabbit-based and absolutely delicious. Opt for a seat outside! We split their Québec cheeses and white wine fondue as an appetizer while I ordered the duck sauce and rabbit leg cassoulet and Alyshia ordered the hot-duck Européen-style with homemade sauerkrout. Nearby is also the mural, Fresque du Petit-Champlain, which is supposed to show the history of Cap-Blanc, the working-class neighborhood of the city.
Walk down to Umbrella Alley
After we finished, we walked the rest of the street before turning and going up the Umbrella Alley. This whole area has different art pieces including some random cars flipped upside down and figures swinging from the roofs. Looks like they changed out the colors of the umbrella sometimes, though I’m not sure how often. When we went, the umbrellas were blue.
As a bonus, you get another cool view of the Chateau from below. To me, this is when it looked the most like Hogwarts!
Walk to Place Royale and Notre-Dame-des-Victoires
Also in this same area is Place Royale and Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. This is the oldest stone church in the whole continent, and Place Royale was built all the way back in 1688. This is the exact where Samuel de Champlain established Québec City, building the first permanent settlement for the French.
Finish with the Quebec City Mural
Our last stop of the day was this stunning mural called the Fresque des Québécois. It’s suppose to illustrate the European story of the city with different historical figures woven into the different seasons. There’s a plaque nearby that tells you who each person is suppose to do. The mural itself was painted by 12 different artists over 9 weeks in 1999.
And there you have it – tips for your own Quebec Itinerary for 1 – 3 days! Let me know if we missed anything (don’t need much temptation to head back)!
Quick Tips for Visiting
Where to Stay in Quebec City
If you want to be as central as possible and don’t have a car, I’d recommend staying in Old Québec. Nothing compares to the most famous luxury option, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which is situated inside the castle you’ll see everywhere. Some other nice options include Monsieur Jean, Hôtel des Coutellier, or Hôtel Le Germain. For a more affordable options, try Hotel Manoir Morgan.
Outside of Historic Part
Since we drove it made way more sense for us to stay a little ways outside of Old Québec. The best option I found with free parking was Hotel Le Boc. It’s a former monastery and I think also is partially residential. Some very cute places a bit closer are Le Widor, C3- Hotel Art De Vivre, Gite du Quartier des Arts, and L’Arvidienne Couette et Café.
Getting into Québec City
Since I’d driven my car to Canada, we drove from Montréal to Québec City. The drive is really easy and straightforward, and took us about 3 hours.
For those flying in, the airport you want is the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. It’s about 25-30 minutes from Old Québec. From there you can take Bus 76 (see stops here) or Bus 80 (see stops here), which will both take you to the city center. Otherwise both Uber and Eva rideshare apps work for the airport, and, of course, you can always book a private transfer ahead of time.
We did a combination of driving, walking, and the occasional Uber! If you don’t want to visit Montmorency Falls or Île d’Orléans, you really don’t need a car at all as I wouldn’t recommend driving in any part of Old Québec.
When you do need to call an Uber, just allow like 10-15 minutes for it to arrive!
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