For the long weekend in July, we planned a trip to explore Quebec City. The last time either of us had been to QC was over 10 years ago for our mandatory grade 7 trips. This time we were excited to be able to appreciate it as adults.
We stayed in a cute little Airbnb on Grande Allée, which was the perfect walking distance from Old QC. Airbnb was cheaper than the big name name hotels and provided us with a kitchen and a traditional Quebec style exterior staircase. When choosing a place, remember QC is extremely hilly and can be tiring in the summer heat. If you prefer less walking then consider a boutique hotel closer inside of Old QC.
Our first day we spent exploring many of the sights Old QC has to offer.
We started with walking the gorgeous streets and soaking in the early French Canadian architecture of Old QC. We walked down Grande Allée to Rue Saint Louis and stopped at Aux Anciens Canadiens for their famous Onion Soup. We actually visited this place twice, because the soup was so excellent and hearty, paired with great service (rare in QC). After lunch we continued walking to the Terrasse Dufferin.
On the Terrasse Dufferin there are beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River and the iconic Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. We spent our time enjoying the views and of course snapping a couple photos. We went inside the Chateau Frontenac and explored all the different sections of the hotel. The hotel is packed with artifacts and historical murals. More interesting than the history, we found a wall of personal stories shared by employees describing interesting professional and personal experiences working at the Chateau (Be warned, a few of these stories may make you emotional).
Afterwards, we proceeded down to the end of the Terrasse Dufferin and up toward a view point called Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons Terrace. Here you can see another gorgeous view of the River, the Chateau Frontenac and Terrasse Dufferin from a higher elevation. Lots of steps, so ensure you are wearing proper shoes.
Next we explored La Citadelle which is a historic but still active military base. Unless you are a war history buff, we recommend skipping the paid tour inside of the military base. You can catch the Changing of Guards ceremony for free if you’re there at the right time. La Citadelle is on the Plains of Abraham, a beautiful historic park on a escarpment, a great opportunity for a hike or bike ride.
For dinner we went down to the Old Port, which had charming streets and was perfect for an evening stroll sloping towards the waterfront. This area has beautiful antique stores, art galleries and sidewalk cafés. For dinner we went to a restaurant called Chez Muffy (previously known as Le Panache). This is a high end Farm to Fork restaurant with delicious food, we highly recommend it! The dining room is a restored stone barn on the waterfront attached to a beautiful boutique hotel with live music in the lobby at night.
On Day 2 we took another walk down into Old QC, this time exploring the quaint little streets side streets that can be easily missed, you can admire all the florals and architecture these streets have to offer. We then went to the Notre Dame Basilica Church which was stunning, popped out heads into some of the shops, checked out the Montmorency Park National Historic Site and then headed down to Little Champlain District (this is where the adorable umbrella street is, seen in our photos).
For lunch, we went to the ever popular Chix Shack and had poutines and milkshakes (so good – they also had a vegan poutine option)! This is a great spot for a traditional QC poutine. The price is high for a poutine, but you can share it. This restaurant will have a long wait around mid day, to avoid the rush we would recommend arriving right when they open!
After another day of exploring we headed to the Serbia Station Spa, a 20 minute Uber from Old QC. Here we spent the afternoon relaxing by the hot and cold pools, relaxation rooms, steam rooms, day beds and getting a massage. We found this spa to be surprisingly great for a very reasonable price! If you have time, try eating in their healthy cafe and meditate in the Yoga house all on the same property.
For dinner we went to the trendy Avenue Cartier which has lots of bustling restaurants, patios and famous banner ad light posts. We went to Bistro B (amazing scallops and tofu dishes) but we would also recommend Pizzadelic right across the street. The Bistro service was average, and we began to notice a pattern about the customer service in QC.
On our last full day we woke up early and took the Bus to Montmorency Falls from Grand Théâtre station, a quick 40 minute ride right to the top of the Falls. The local bus goes there and is very affordable. This is a public transit route that will make a lot of stops, but stay on until the end and you will arrive at the stunning waterfalls.
The bus arrives at a park and suspension bridge overlooking the falls. Then walk around to the steps that take you to the bottom of the Falls, the steps are definitely a good work out (we saw lots of locals actually working out on these steps). If you go to the bottom of the Falls you will get wet, so bring a rain coat if you want to get to the base.
We were amazed that they had such a large and beautiful waterfall so close to the City!
We went back to Aux Anciens Canadiens for lunch, they had an amazing $20 deal which got you an appetizer, main, dessert and a glass of beer or wine. We enjoyed another delicious meal and highly recommend the maple syrup pie for dessert!
We had our last dinner on Grande Allée which has a variety of sidewalk restaurants and cafés. This strip of restaurant can be considered a tourist trap as well, but with the rain starting we decided to give it a try. We ate at Bistro L’Atelier which had delicious food, yummy caesars, a cool atmosphere but the service was lack luster at best.
Overall we had a great time exploring another Province in Canada! We’re inspired to see what else Canada has to offer. Often we are looking abroad and overlook beautiful places so close to home. We agreed to maximize each summer by experiencing another local gem each year.
Thanks for reading,