Last updated on August 20th, 2022
Quebec City is a romantic city filled with history and European charm. Its iconic skyline features the world-famous Chateau Frontenac, sitting at the top of Old Quebec. The capital of Quebec, with small town feels, this beautiful city might capture a piece of your heart like it did mine, especially if you visit in the fall. For years, I heard stories of how beautiful Quebec City is, and I can tell you they were right!
One of the oldest cities in Canada, visiting Old Quebec is like stepping back through time. Wander down cobblestone streets, admire 400-year-old buildings, and enjoy quiet cafes. Experience modern Quebec City by dining at delicious restaurants or visiting a tall waterfall. This 3-day Quebec City itinerary will show you some of the best things to do in Quebec City, including the new and old parts of the city.
How Many Days Do You Need in Quebec City?
Deciding how many days in Quebec City will depend on whether you plan to visit only Quebec City or combine it with other parts of Quebec. You should spend at least three days in Quebec City. If you want to expand your journey outside of Quebec City, to visit both Montreal and Quebec City or Quebec City and Charlevoix, you should spend at least 5-7 days.
This itinerary is perfect for any time that you will spend a weekend in Quebec City or longer. Quebec City is great for a long weekend getaway.
When to Visit Quebec City – The Best Time to Visit
Quebec City offers a different experience in each season (spring, summer, fall, and winter). Spring has cooler temperatures, but everything is slowly waking up from winter. In summer, everything is warm and alive. Fall has comfortable cooler temperatures and fall colours. Winter in Quebec City is known for its famous ice hotels.
While a good place to visit in all seasons, the city is particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves turn shades of red, yellow, and orange. My experience with Quebec City was during autumn, and this is a perfect Quebec City itinerary for fall. I visited in mid-October, and the weather and fall colours were unforgettable. October is a great month to visit.
Whatever season you choose to visit, enjoy your time in Quebec City.
3-Day Quebec City Itinerary
This Quebec City itinerary focuses primarily on Old Quebec, plus a day trip from Quebec City. You will have two days in Old Quebec and one day for a day trip.
Day 1 in Quebec City: Old Quebec
Arrive in Quebec City and get ready to be charmed. Today will take you to the historic neighbourhood of Old Quebec in Quebec City. If you only have one day in Quebec City, this is the 1-day Quebec City itinerary for you.
Plan to visit as many items as you prefer today and finish the rest on Day 3 of this Quebec City itinerary. During my visit to Old Quebec, I split this activity list into two parts, seeing everything over two days.
Take a self-guided walking tour of Old Quebec, plus stroll down the best streets in Old Quebec City. This Quebec City itinerary combines both of these articles of mine to put together a perfect fall weekend itinerary. Read both articles for more details about these attractions and streets mentioned in this guide. Begin with a tour of Quebec City’s historic streets.
Rue Saint Paul – historic street lined with restaurants and shops
Cote du Colonel-Dambourges – cobblestone lined road with small houses
Rue Sous le Cap – a beautiful street along the base of Cap Diament cliff
Rue du Sault-au-Matelot – cobblestone lined road with art galleries and shops
Place des Canotiers
Place des Canotiers is a beautifully landscaped plaza along the St.Lawrence River in the lower part of Old Quebec City. This public square was built on a former parking lot and opened in 2017 to celebrate 150 years of Canadian Confederation. Place des Canotiers features gardens, multiple species of trees and shrubs, and over 50 fountain jets.
During my visit to the plaza, I ran through the fountain and had fun getting splashed by the water. A perfect place for a walk or a jog, make sure you stop by Place des Canotiers on your old Quebec City itinerary.
Rue Saint Pierre – historic road featuring the city’s former financial district
Place Royale is a historic area and the heart of Old Quebec City. Formed between Côte de the Mountain, Saint-Pierre Street, and Rue du Petit-Champlain, Place Royale contains many buildings from the history of Canada. The buildings built in this historic area are known as the first habitation of Quebec, making them part of the oldest permanent French settlement in America. Place Royale will make you feel like you have been transported back in time and to Europe.
One of the most notable buildings in Place Royale is Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, one of Canada’s oldest churches, built where Samuel Champlain’s second house once stood. Spend some time wandering through the streets and exploring the neighbourhood; you won’t want to miss anything. Make sure to stop at Rue du Petit-Champlain, the famous shopping street in Quebec City.
During my visit, the streets filled with the sound of music for a musician playing, and I could not stop admiring all of the beautiful historic architecture. I paused for a while at a cafe to take everything in and enjoy a hot chocolate. Place Royale is one of the best parts of Quebec City and a must-visit place.
Tip: While in Place Royale, relax and stop by Cafe La Maison Smith. They have delicious pastries and hot beverages, with an adorable patio, perfect for a break from your self-guided walking tour through Old Quebec City.
Rue Sous-le-Fort – at the base of Funicular with boutique shops and restaurants
Rue du Cul-de-Sac – the famous umbrella street
Rue du Petit Champlain – the famous shopping street and most beautiful street
Montmorency Park National Historic Site
Montmorency Park is a National Historic Site in Old Quebec overlooking the St.Lawrence River. The park is named after the Duke of Montmorency and features cannons, statues, and a great view of Le Chateau Frontenac from afar.
Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral
Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral is a 17th-century Roman Catholic church in Old Quebec City. The oldest church in Canada, Notre Dame, is a National Historic Site of Canada.
The cathedral has been rebuilt twice after being destroyed by fires throughout its 350+ year history. Notre Dame is an important piece of New France history and a beautiful example of neoclassical architecture. Choose to see the interior church or only the exterior during your visit.
Place D’Armes is a public urban park in Quebec City, near the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The park features a neo-gothic fountain at its center and is surrounded by flowerbeds, making it a great spot to relax on a park bench.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
One of the most recognized buildings worldwide, the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is a historic luxury hotel in Old Quebec City. Opening in 1893 and standing 262 ft tall, the Chateau Frontenac provides scenic views of the St.Lawrence River. The lobby interior is just as stunning as the exterior of the building. Upon walking into the lobby, you will feel like you’ve been teleported back in time to Europe. The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is an iconic landmark of Quebec City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-visit for your Quebec City itinerary.
Stay at the Chateau Frontenac for a memorable stay in Quebec City, any time of year. If you don’t plan to stay at the hotel, you can plan to visit the cocktail bar 1608 Bar for a drink or light bite.
Tip: Step inside the lobby during your visit, even if you aren’t staying or dining at the hotel. Just be cool about it.
Dufferin Terrace is a scenic wooden boardwalk beside the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and features beautiful views of the St.Lawrence River. It is a great spot to take some photos with the famous Chateau.
At the start of Dufferin Terrace is the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec, which will transport you to lower Old Quebec to the famous Rue du Petit-Champlain. At the end of the boardwalk is a set of stairs that will lead you to the Citadelle of Quebec. Below Dufferin Terrace, you will find the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux National Historic Site.
Dufferin Terrace is a good place for watching the sunset. Enjoy the view from one of the gazebos or benches along the 50 m boardwalk. Some of my favourite photos of my trip to Quebec City are the ones of me at Dufferin Terrace.
Rue des Remparts – connecting upper and lower Old Quebec, offering views of St.Lawrence and lower Quebec
Rue Couillard – adorable street with colourful buildings
Rue Saint-Jean – a popular street lined with restaurants and shops
Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site of Canada
The Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site of Canada is part of the city wall along the western side of Old Quebec. The wall extends 4.6 km until it reaches the Citadelle. There are gates at Saint-Jean and Saint-Louis that you can walk through, connecting you to modern Quebec City. And don’t forget to check out the view from the top of the gates, overlooking Old Quebec.
Rue Sainte Anne – cobblestone street with historic buildings
Rue Donnacona – a street lined with tiny stone houses
Rue Saint Louis – is one of the oldest streets and contains a fortification gate
Avenue Saint-Denis – a beautiful street lined with luxury homes
Pierre-Dugua-De-Mons Terrace is a small park and lookout point between Dufferin Terrace and Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine. It takes its name after the man who instructed Samuel de Champlain to colonize New France. Plan to enjoy a stroll along the terrace, admiring the panoramic views of the St.Lawrence River, Old Quebec, and Chateau Frontenac.
Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine
Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine is a small park with scenic views overlooking the St.Lawrence River and Old Quebec. This beautiful greenspace provides one of the best views of Quebec City. Whether you come only for the stunning view or bring a picnic to enjoy while sitting on the grass, Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine is known for its postcard-perfect views and is not to be skipped on your Old Quebec itinerary.
La Citadelle de Quebec
La Citadelle de Quebec is a military base near the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, the oldest military building in Canada. As part of the Fortification of Quebec, the Citadelle is one of only two North American cities remaining with standing fortifications; the other one is in Mexico.
A unique sight in Canada, La Citadelle de Quebec, is visited by almost 200,000 visitors annually. Within the Citadelle, you will find a museum dedicated to the Royal 22e Regiment and Candian Forces. You can explore the fortress by booking a 1-hr guided tour.
I did not tour inside the fortress during my visit due to time. It was impressive to see the exterior of the Citadelle. Whether you book a guided tour or visit only outside the walls, it is worth adding to your Quebec City itinerary.
Plains of Abraham
The Plains of Abraham is a historic battlefield park in Quebec City, known as the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The elevated park spans 240 acres west of the Citadelle of Quebec along the St.Lawrence River. The Plains of Abraham park has been transformed and is enjoyed by over 4 million annually as a place for relaxation, concerts, sports, and festivals.
To visit, you can walk, ride a bus, or drive. During my visit, I walked and drove around the Plains of Abraham. The park is massive, so I found this to be the best way to see more of the park in less time.
Day 2 in Quebec City: Day Trip from Quebec City
Today you will take a day trip in and around the Quebec City area.
Self-Guided Quebec City and Area Tour
While there are lots to do in the city, taking a day trip from Quebec City is a great addition to any Quebec City itinerary and will allow you to see more of this beautiful region of Quebec during your stay. You will need a vehicle to reach these places, except for Montmorency Falls. These day trip locations will take you northeast out of the city. Choose to do some or all of them in the order that best suits you.
What to See and Do on a Quebec Day Trip – Self-Guided Tour
Visiting Montmorency Falls from Quebec City is a perfect addition to your day trip. Just outside of the city, in Montmorency Falls Park, it is easy to reach this beautiful tall waterfall.
If you don’t have a car, that’s okay because Montmorency Falls is accessible by bus. To learn more about Montmorency Falls, parking, and ways to get there, read my guide: How to Get to Montmorency Falls from Quebec City.
Île d’Orléans is a small island on the other side of the St.Lawrence River east of downtown Quebec City. Known as the garden of Quebec, the island produces a variety of local produce and products, including apples, berries, potatoes, and maple syrup. Drive around the island, especially the southern side, for local shops and views of Quebec City from afar.
Tip: Do not leave Île d’Orléans without purchasing some local products; the island is known for producing high-quality and delicious local products. I bought a jar of honey, which was one of the most delicious jars I’ve ever had. I also purchased Quebec jams and caramel spreads to bring home as souvenirs.
Canyon Sainte-Anne is a stunning gorge created by the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord River near Beaupré, Quebec. Within the canyon is a breathtaking 243 ft waterfall. The park features trails on both sides of the canyon, three suspension bridges, a restaurant, and an Air Canyon ride. A 30-50 minute drive from Quebec City, Canyon Sainte-Anne makes for a perfect day trip to escape the city and enjoy Quebec’s unforgettable wilderness.
During my visit to Canyon Sainte-Anne, I hiked along the waterfall and rode the Air Canyon ride. The ride was so much fun that I ended up riding it twice.
Note: Canyon Sainte-Anne is open May-October, so you will not be able to visit during November-April and can exclude this from your winter or spring itinerary.
Day 3 in Quebec City: Old Quebec
Today is day three and the last day of this 3-day Quebec City itinerary. Plan to finish up any remaining items from day one.
Once done, you have finished this 3-Day Quebec City itinerary. Here are more ideas for what to do in Quebec City:
Other Things to Do in Quebec City
- Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec – a fine arts museum dedicated to Quebec art
- Museum of Civilization – a popular museum showcasing the history of society
- Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec – a cable car connecting upper and lower Old Quebec
- Quebec City Old Port – a riverfront marina and cruise port
Is Quebec City Safe?
Quebec City is considered one of the safest cities to live in and visit in Canada, even at night. With a low crime rate, crimes like muggings or pickpocketing are rare. As with any city, observe your surroundings and don’t flaunt valuables. During my visit, I felt very safe in Quebec City, even at night, walking back to my accommodations after a day of exploring.
Is Quebec City Expensive?
In general, Quebec City is somewhere in the middle on pricing. Within the city, you will find luxury and affordable options available, from accommodation to food. It can be more expensive than other Canadian cities to visit, but it is also one of the most affordable places to live in Canada.
Getting Around Quebec City
You can get around in Quebec City by walking, driving, riding a bus, rideshare, or taking a taxi. Quebec City, especially Old Quebec City, is very walkable as most attractions are somewhat close together. If you have a vehicle, plan to park it in one spot and walk or bus around town for the rest of the day.
To use public transportation, the bus system in Quebec City is well-connected. Fares on the RTC bus system are $3.50 per ride, with buses running daily. You can also purchase day passes, weekend passes, and 5-day passes for the bus.
During my visit, I used a combination of walking and driving. I drove as part of a road trip from Ontario.
How to Get to Quebec City
To reach Quebec City, you can train, bus, drive or fly. If flying, you will arrive at Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) on the west of the city. The VIA Rail train arrives in Sainte-Foy outside the city. Buses arrive at the bus terminal near the old port.
To arrive from Toronto, it takes approximately 8 hours to drive, 10 hours by train, or a 1.5-hour flight. From Montreal, it takes around 3 hours to drive or bus to Quebec City or under an hour to fly. During my visit to Quebec City, I arrived via car as part of a road trip from Ontario.
How to Get to Downtown Quebec City from the Airport
Quebec City has one main airport, the Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB). To reach downtown from the airport (YQB), bus, taxi, or drive a rental vehicle.
To get to downtown Quebec City by bus, you will ride either route 76 or 80. Route 76 and 80 run daily every 30 minutes between 5 am and 11 pm. If you ride route 80, it will take you directly downtown. If you ride route 76, you will transfer. The ride lasts approximately 1 hour and costs $3.50, paid via coins.
The taxi to downtown is a flat fare of $35.10.
What Language Do They Speak in Quebec City?
They speak French and English in Quebec City, but French is primary. While French is not required to visit Quebec City, it will help and add to your travels to learn basic phrases before you go and speak French when you can.
During my trip, locals did their best to speak English to me, and I did my best to speak French with them. I am better at reading French versus speaking, so menus are easier for me than conversations. I welcome every opportunity to practice my French.
You will find that some restaurants have a French and English menu available.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Quebec City
- The best time of year to visit is either summer or winter, although each season has unique experiences available.
- The currency in Quebec is the Canadian dollar.
- Quebec has a drinking age of 18 years old.
- Tap water is safe to drink in Quebec City.
I hope this information helps you plan your 3-day Quebec City itinerary for fall or any season.