Explore Quebec City in 4 days
Is it possible to explore Quebec City in 4 days without a car?
My answer below.
Here we are! Third and last part of the journey in three eastern Canadian cities, Ottawa (part 1), Montreal(part 2) and Quebec City. In this article you can see all the pictures I made and read about why, in my opinion yes, is it possible to explore Quebec City in 4 days without a car.
Quebec City is the smallest of the three cities we visited during our trip; like Montreal is much more “European” than the rest of the cities in Canada; in Quebec City the french influence is definitely noticeable, not just in the language, they speak french, but also in the architecture since is one of North America’s oldest cities.
15 Quick Facts:
- Quebec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec.
- Quebec City is located at the intersection of two rivers, the St. Lawrence and the St. Charles River, in fact, the word “Kebec” means “where the river narrows”, Algonquin Native American word.
- Quebec City was founded in 1608, the 400th anniversary was celebrated in 2008.
- In the city are living 542 thousand people, is the second most populous city in the Quebec province after Montreal.
- Temperatures range: 20°C during the summer, -13°C during the winter.
- 13 kilometres from downtown Quebec City sit the Montmorency Falls. 83 metres tall waterfall, 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls.
- The average age in Quebec City is 41 years.
- 4.7% of the population speak english only, 51.8% french only and 42.6% both languages.
- Quebec City has almost achieved independence. In 1995, a referendum was held to separate Quebec from Canada. The referendum was not officially legally valid.
- Big Five wild animals: the grey wolf, blue whale, snowy owl, black bear and the moose.
- Old Quebec was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1985.
- The Winter Carnival Festival known as “Carnaval” is the largest winter festival in the world.
- In 1980, Quebec imposed a legislation that banned advertisements for toys and fast food aimed at children under 13 in print and electronic media, resulting a lowered childhood obesity rate.
- The surrounding regions of Quebec are “missing” gravity. In the Hudson Bay area the gravity lower than it is in other parts of the world. Source.
- Quality of Life Index (world): 39th. Source.
Quebec City can be a bit tricky, even if it’s pleasantly walkable and well connected with busses, it has climbs and descents, then I would exclude bikes, maybe electric bikes unless you’re in a good fit.
Busses are always the cheapest solution for long distances, 1 trip 3.10 C$, 1 day pass 8.75 C$, all prices here. The Opus card is valid but you can not use tickets from Montreal. You can buy it here for 6 C$ non-refundable.
Alternatives are Uber, Lyft or Taxi, but I would strongly recommend walking. Quebec City is full of narrow winding roads to discover, beautiful and colourful houses, buildings and churches. Get lost for a bit!
To and from the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport there is a really useful bus the number 80. Take that and save your money.
What we visited?
- Saint Roch, a colourful district with lots of murals, art shops small restaurants, cafes, bars, boutiques along Rue Saint-Joseph. As many other famous districts in the world, Saint-Roch went from a working-class neighbourhood to a blooming community filled with students, artists, and young professionals.
- Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel, I’m not joking. It has 610 rooms in total, spread over 18 floors; is located within the walls of Old Quebec, in the middle of Old Quebec town. This hotel is one of the most iconic building of the city.
- Terrasse Dufferin, a long, touristy terrace with a nice view on the St. Lawrence river and the opposite town of Lévis, on the other side.
- Place Royale, a neighborhood that combine French and British architecture influences. A small, but picturesque place, considered by locals to be the spiritual soul of Basse-Ville, in grander terms, the birthplace of French America. Also called “Royal Square”, was the town marketplace, and the centre of business and industry (17th and 18th centuries).
- Old Quebec, a wonderful district, rich in historic landmarks and museums. It includes an Upper Town and a Lower Town, connected by a really nice Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec (electric funicular cableway), or by stairs. Honestly, I thought was something like the Funicolare of Bergamo, or the Funicolare Centrale in Napoli, lately, I discovered that it was very short, 3.75 C$ are a bit too much in my opinion.
- Quebec City Mural, an enormous urban art mural in the centre of the Old Quebec called “Fresque des Québécois on Côte de la Montagne“. This mural explain the story of Québec City, with visual allusions to its unique architecture and personalities. Moreover, drawn on this wall, there are some historic figures and nearly a dozen of Québec’s leading writers and artists.
- Place des Canotiers, a really nice plaza, especially in the late afternoon, night, on the St. Lawrence River with lawns & walkways, plus a fountain & splash pad.
- Îlot-Fleurie Quartier St-Roch, in 1991, the artist Louis Fortier, decides to plant flowers and install a sculpture of his friend Irénée Lemieux in this area. Over the years, the practice of decorating this place with public art became common. The place is filled with graffiti on the columns of the highway above.
- Breakfast with a baguette at Le Pied Bleu, a special place, I suggest to try the tartar with some of they’re sauces, seriously delicious.
- Avenue Cartier, a really interesting street with lot of shops and strange street lamps.
- Plains of Abraham, an amazing historical park, an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city. This huge park is well curated, with lots of flowers, trees, little hills and trails next to the river. It is the site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place on September 1759, proved to be the deciding moment in the conflict between France and Britain over the fate of New France, influencing the later creation of Canada. The name is from Abraham Martin, a fisherman and river pilot moved to Quebec City in 1635 and received 32 acres of land from the Company of New France.
- Boulevard Champlain. From the Plains of Abraham we have followed the trail next to the river side going up to the Quartier Petit Champlain. I really nice walk.
- La Citadelle de Québec, a military installation that contains the oldest military building in Canada, and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City.
- Rue des Remparts. Have a walk along this street. It’s a peaceful area to avoid the tourists for a bit. There’s a great view on the city and the old port.
- Maison de la Littérature library, a public library and a permanent exhibition on Québec literature. This library is in the first neogothic church erected in Québec City, the Wesley Temple, built in 1848.
- Esplanade Park, an area for military parades transformed into a popular urban park. A nice city park were chill out for a little bit.
- Épicerie Européenne, a lovely gourmet grocery store that gives you the real feeling of being overseas.
- Vieux-Port, a nice place next to the Old Port to relax, have a picnic or a nice evening walk.
- Breakfast at the Saint-Suave Librairie-Café, one of the best café we found with a little library inside.
- Montmorency Falls. Yes, there are waterfalls close to Quebec City, just 40 minutes from downtown (12 km / 7.5 mi). You can have a round trip with the bus 800 or 250 from Place d’Youville streight to the falls with no extra costs for your urban ticket, 3.10 C$. Price to enter the waterfall area: 3.48 C$ if you’re a Québec Resident, 6.96 C$ regular price.
It’s worth it, also if you take the time to see the Montmorency Falls Park, there is a little trail next to the river on the top part of the falls. At the falls area there are a suspension bridge over the crest of the falls where you can walk on, the Via Ferrata circuit (climbing) and the Zipline (cross the cove attached to a rope under the falls).
- La Cité-Limoilou. Since we were at the waterfalls in the morning, we decided to pass through this little central borough north of Quebec City centre. Is the oldest borough of the city (in terms of architecture) and the most populous. Nice district with tiny and typical houses.
- Île d’Orléans. Since we visited pretty much everything in the city and it was a hot summer (August 2020), we took the opportunity to explore a little bit also the Île d’Orléans island, located in the Saint Lawrence River about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east of downtown Quebec City. This is like a microcosm of traditional Quebec.
This place has been the trickiest to visit without a car since there are no public transports connections. We took an Uber to go on the Island however, we had to walk back from that side since there were no other options. For the joy of my wife we went walking over the Pont de l’Île bridge (not really walking friendly), and then take a bus to downtown.
Île d’Orléans island is a super nice quiet countryside place. We took a wine tasting at the Vignoble Isle de Bacchus, a winery farm on a hill, in front of the St.Lawrence River. Highly recommended!
Like in Ottawa (part 1) and Montreal(part 2), I brought just one camera, the Fujifilm X-T3 and just one lens, the Fujifilm 35mm 1.4, this lens is special, compact and extremely versatile. On these APSC cameras it’s a 50mm equivalent.
In therm of settings, I’ve used the Film Simulation Acros (black and white) with yellow or red filter and post-produced the raw files from that base. No CPL, no ND filters.
Some pictures below. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below the images!
Thank you so much for reading.
Psst! I have an AirBnb discount of 95 $CAD, just in case you want to register and book your first accommodation!