Thinking of visiting our neighbors to the north? Here’s how I spent 4 days in the beautiful city of Quebec City, Canada. It’s like a little slice of France in North America.
The flight up from New York’s JFK airport is an easy 1.5 hours. Upon arrival at the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, going through customs was quick. The first thing I suggest you do is to visit the Scotiabank ATM found at the end of the arrivals hall before you get to the door leading to the taxi stand.
TIP: Be sure to contact your local bank before you leave home to let them know you’ll be traveling and find out about any fees associated with withdrawing money from a foreign ATM. I have an account with Charles Schwab Bank that I use exclusively for travel because it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and reimburses me for any ATM fees.
There was no line at the taxi stand and the ride to our hotel in Vieux Quebec was roughly half-hour and cost $34.50 CAD. We stayed at the Hotel Champlain on rue Sainte-Anne. This is a mid-priced 3-star boutique hotel in a great location. The hotel was recently renovated in 2016 so the furnishings feel modern while still maintaining charm. We stayed in their Deluxe room with King bed, which was a large room with wonderful views of the city (check out the sunset below). If you book directly on their website, you will get buffet breakfast included with your room price. We had a lovely stay and would highly recommend staying here.
On our second day, we booked a whale watching tour on the Croisieres AML’s Grand Fleuve. We booked this excursion via Viator.com and it included free pickup & drop-off from our hotel. Alternatively, you can meet the bus at Place d’Armes for the 3-hour drive up to Baie Sainte-Catherine where we boarded the ship for our cruise. Along the way, we stopped at a fabulous cheese farm. We brought our own snacks for the morning, but we made note of what we wanted to buy for the return drive. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee you’ll see many (if any) whales but it was beautiful nonetheless. The whales were a bit shy the day we went out to see them, so we only were able to see partial bumps in the water as you can see from my attempts to capture them on camera.
TIP: I will caution you that it gets quite cold out on the water (even the middle of July), so be prepared with extra layers. I wound up wearing a tank, long-sleeve tee, merino sweater, windbreaker, scarf, and sneakers. There are indoor sections of the ship if you need to warm up for a while, but I would recommend coming prepared to be on the outer decks to catch the best views of these fleeting creatures.
The next day we booked the Quebec City Walking Tour operated by Tours Voir Quebec. The tour starts in the Upper Town and winds its way to the Lower Town over the course of the 2-hour walk (though our tour extended to 2.5 hours). We had the knowledgeable and insightful Genevieve as our guide, who spoke with much enthusiasm of her native city. I highly recommend this tour as you learn a great deal about the history of the city and its people. The city is very walkable, and we got around everywhere using our feet.
On our last day Quebec City, we visited La Citadelle de Québec. The citadel is the city’s fort which was built in the 1670s and still serves as an active military base. There is a fee of $16 CAD for adults to enter, discounts are available for seniors and children. During the summer months, you can view a changing of the guard ceremony, reminiscent of London, included in your ticket. There’s a free walking tour you can take of the grounds, as well as a museum you can visit to learn more about the Canadian army’s history.
TIP: If visiting during the summer, arrive when they open at 9am to visit the museum first. At 10am, the changing of the guard ceremony commences. The free walking tours kick off right after the ceremony wraps up and they last an hour.
In the afternoon, we walked down to the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec, the city’s indoor market at the Old Port. It’s a great spot to buy seasonal fruits, produce, and locally-made products like cheese, wine, and a variety of maple syrup confections. The strawberries were in season and looked delicious. We ate lunch here and bought a few treats as souvenirs.
Be sure to take some time to visit the promenade, Terrasse Dufferin, along the St. Lawrence River and relax while eating a delicious gelato. We had a fantastic time in this lovely city and I would love to return.
Have you ever been to Quebec City? Leave a comment below and let me know what you liked the most.