Are you looking for a Quebec City itinerary?
The charming old French architecture, the fresh river breeze, the singing words of the French language. No, it’s not only in Paris that you can experience these. This article will help you plan the perfect two days in Quebec City.
Although fairly young compared to Europe, Quebec City is full of history that is well worth exploring while offering a wide variety of entertainment.
As a local from Quebec City I’d like to help you set up your itinerary with these must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats!
2 Days in Quebec City
Day 1 of Your Quebec City Itinerary
First, to get a better understanding of the duality of French/English occurring in Quebec, what’s better than having a glimpse at the history.
Quebec City is the cradle of civilization in Canada. Therefore it’s rich in events. To be honest, there are so many twists and turns in Quebec being a French civilization and then passing on to England, it’s almost a soap-opera.
What the general Quebec teenager will pick up from the history classes we have in school is the following: the Wolffe (English) and his gang rock climbed Plaines D’Abraham’s cliff during the night, while Montcalm and the boys (French) had drinks all night at the tavern. Early morning comes, the French are drunk as a skunk and realize the English are standing on the Plaines. The French can’t shoot straight and lose the battle. Basically, the Nouvelle-France was lost over a hangover.
1. Plaines d’Abraham
Quebec, as we know it today, started on the Plaines d’Abraham. Once a deadly battlefield, the Plaines are now a national park where visitors can learn about the last battle, and a festival location, where multiple outdoor shows are held all-summer-long.
If you are seeking a rewarding view, the best access would be by the Cap Blanc stairway. Beware though; a rewarding view comes at a price! The stairway is known to be the longest in Quebec, featuring a whopping 398 stair.
The staircase was first built in 1868 to allow people from the lower town to access the ammunition factories then located on the Plaines d’Abraham. Fear not, the staircase has been rebuilt multiple times since then.
On the other hand, if you don’t really care about the scenic perspective and would prefer to save time, you can access the Plaines from Grande-Allée boulevard.
It is best to stroll the Plaines at the beginning of the day, as it can get quite hot in the afternoon.
2. The Citadelle
After you have learned about the last battle, get closer to the action and visit the Citadelle of Quebec, which is right next door.
The Citadelle is an active military installation and the secondary official residence of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor-General of Canada. It contains the oldest military building in Canada and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City.
Quebec is one of only two cities in North America still surrounded by fortifications, the other being Campeche, Mexico.
You can see the changing of the guard here and visit the museum.
It takes about two hours to visit this attraction, which brings us to lunchtime.
3. Lunch on Rue Saint-Jean
After such an exciting itinerary in Quebec, we must eat.
You are in luck, some of the best restaurants are located just nearby. Reach St-Louis Street, make a left turn on Auteuil and then head for St-Jean. While you are at it, admire the Porte Saint-Jean (Saint John Gate).
Walk through the gate and be prepared to enter another era (with wifi).
My recommendation for lunch would be to go for the infamous poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy). It is best to have it as lunch instead of dinner because it tends to be on the heavy side.
If the outside temperature is over 30ᵒC (86F) don’t choose the poutine, go for a lighter choice.
On St-Jean street (Rue Saint-Jean), there are multiple restaurants. If you are into poutine, I suggest either Les Trois Garçons (the three guys) or the Pub d’Orsay. Both are excellent choices and will have you fed until dinner.
Don’t ask for dessert; your next stop will provide that (if you are visiting in summer).
4. Terrasse Dufferin
If you took the above recommendation, you are on your way to Terrasse Dufferin.
The terrace is an absolute must for anyone seeking to take an Instagram worthy picture of the Chateau Frontenac.
The Chateau is a beautiful historic hotel and a famous landmark in Quebec city. If you want to splurge and are looking for a unique place to stay, consider booking a stay at this gorgeous hotel.
During summer, you will find ice cream and other local vendors on Terrasse Dufferin.
In my opinion, the view here is at its best at sunrise. But not everybody is willing to get up at the crack of dawn just to see the sun rising over the river, so visiting after lunch is a good option too.
5. Petit Champlain
At this point in our Quebec City itinerary, it’s an excellent time to stroll along the Petit Champlain and admire what closely resembles Montmartre in Paris.
To reach the Petit Champlain, you can either use the stairs, L’Escalier Casse-Cou (literally break-neck staircase), but if you’ve had enough stairs for your entire life with the Plaines d’Abraham, for 3,50$ (CAD) you can take the funicular. Make sure you bring cash to pay for this.
The view on the funicular is picturesque, but it goes quite fast. Therefore, have your camera ready on fast shutter speed if you plan to take pictures.
The streets here are narrow and similar to Montmartre, especially during summer.
Wander around the neighborhood or stop at a patio for an apéro (a pre-dinner drink). But whatever you do, make sure you take a look at the fresco on Notre-Dame Street, telling Quebec’s story.
After the apéro, the Petit Champlain neighborhood is an excellent location for fine dining.
An exceptional choice would be the restaurant La Tanière, which offers a complete gastronomic experience.
For a more budget-conscious option, yet gastronomic, the Cochon Dingue is part of a group of restaurants, very well-known in Quebec city for the quality of the food and the unique atmosphere.
A Quebec City itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the most famous nightclub in the city.
If you’re into clubbing and nightlife, Dagobert is THE place to be.
It’s a large, castle-themed nightspot with multiple floors, music events, dancing & light shows.
Day 2 of Your Quebec City Itinerary
Let’s start the second day of your two days in Quebec City with a relaxed brunch, especially if you’ve spent the night dancing at Dagobert.
Now, I have two very different locations to recommend, with different atmospheres and vibes.
The Paris Grill, (which is part of the same group as the Cochon Dingue) offers a very trendy menu, with urban vibes and a casual atmosphere. It is located downtown which means architecturally it’s not as exciting, but the food is delicious and the staff is super friendly.
The second option is Le Lapin Sauté, which takes you back to the Petit Champlain neighborhood. Located in a historical building, it offers quite an upscale menu with rabbit and duck for brunch. The location is very picturesque, and you’ll be closer to the port, where your next adventure starts.
2. Take a Cruise Along the Saint Lawrence River
The afternoon begins on the St-Lawrence for a short 1.5h cruise.
Be prepared to be swept off your feet! From the old Quebec City, you will cruise on the St-Lawrence to see Orleans Island, famous for its strawberries and apples.
The cruise finally takes you past Montmorency Falls, which are awe-inspiring waterfalls! The waterfalls are 83 m (272 feet) tall, which is a full 30 m (99 feet) higher than Niagara Falls.
If you are interested in going back to the waterfall on your own, take note that there are a whopping 487 stairs to reach the top (and a funicular).
The cruise only costs around US$ 30 and offers views of a unique landscape while having the opportunity to learn about the east part of Quebec city.
Tip: Are you a bit of an adrenaline junky? Then you might want to go to the waterfalls before or after the cruise, as there is a cool zipline across Montmorency Falls!
All this fresh air might leave you hungry, so grab a late lunch.
The best place to do so is at the Bassin Louise. You’ll find a traditional market here, which is perfect for grabbing a bite.
Local crowd-pleasers such as the Orleans Island strawberries, Lac-Brome ducks, maple syrup, and other delicacies can be bought here.
Although it’s always better when we can enjoy the sun, on our two days in Quebec city, it might rain for a few hours.
If that happens, fear not! Quebec city has numerous great museums, such as the Museum of Civilization, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of French America, and many others.
Choose one or two and you’ll easily fill a rainy afternoon.
Final Tips to Make the Most out of Your 2 Days in Quebec
Although most people are fluent enough in English, it is best to learn some basic sentences in French.
Quebec people are ready to go above and beyond for anybody willing to say: “Bonjour, comment ça va? Je ne parle pas très bien français.” (Hello, how are you? I don’t speak French very well).
Public transportation isn’t the best in Quebec. You’ll have a hard time getting buses from your hotel to the places you want to visit. I’d, therefore, recommend renting a car, especially if you are staying further from the old town.
If you want to get maple syrup, please, don’t buy it at a souvenir shop. Find a grocery store such as an IGA, Provigo, Super C, or Metro and just get the can. You’ll get more bang for your buck, and it’ll likely be of better quality.
I hope this article has inspired you and prepared you for a perfect 2 days in Quebec City. Feel free to get in touch, I’ll be happy to teach you Quebec swearing, to make you look like a local! 😉
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