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How to Spend One Incredible Day in Quebec City

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Everything You Need to Know About Quebec City

Are you passing through Quebec City on your way to road tripping to see Quebec’s Falls colours or just passing through on a flight stopover?

Quebec City is charming and full of history and great bars and restaurants. We were only there for 1 day and we fell in love with the gorgeous old buildings and beautiful waterfront.

There is loads to do and see in Quebec, such as visiting Old Quebec and learning about the history of the city and of course checking out the fairytale-like the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac – the most photographed hotel in the WORLD!

If you love the outdoors there is something for you in Quebec City too, whether it’s bike riding around the city, or going ziplining at Montmorency Falls.

So now that you know that there is plenty to do in Quebec, how do you plan the perfect 1 day Quebec City Itinerary? I’m here to help! This guide will give you a complete 1 day Quebec City Itinerary and also give you a packing list, ideas of places to eat and also accommodation options.

Quebec City Fall Colours

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Where is Quebec City

Quebec City is located in the province of Quebec in the North-East of Canada. The map below shows the must-see spots which are included in the One Day in Quebec City Itinerary in this blog post.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

How to Get to Quebec City

Quebec City has its very own international airport called the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport. The easiest way to reach Quebec City from anywhere in the world, is to catch a flight.

Some average flight times (non-stop) are below:

From Vancouver: 5 hours
From Toronto: 1.5 hours
From Montreal: 1 hour
From Calgary: 4 hours

Photo of a cruise by Montmorency Falls on a Viator Tour
Credit: Viator

Day Tour from Montreal: If you are visiting Montreal and want to spend a day exploring Quebec City, I recommend joining this day tour through Viator which will take you to Montmorency Falls along with a few of Quebec City’s historic landmarks and a cruise along the St. Lawrence River.

Day trip from Montreal to Quebec City Reviews
Credit: Viator

Viator is a tour company that we often use whenever we want to book a day tour or unique experience while on a trip.

How to get from Quebec City Airport to Downtown

To get to Downtown Quebec City from the airport, you can either rent a car at the airport or take a taxi. Alternatively, you can catch public transport. There are a couple of buses – bus route 76 and bus route 80 which will take you Downtown. You will find more information on these routes here.

A bit about Quebec City

Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. It was founded in 1608 by a French explorer named Samuel de Champlain which explains its French influence.

Quebec City is also one of the only North American City ( along with Campeche in Mexico) which has preserved its defensive works and walls around Old Quebec which makes it unique and makes you feel like you have stepped into a European city, rather than a Canadian one.

Quebec City

Is One Day in Quebec City Enough?

We spent 1 day / 2 nights in Quebec City and felt like we had enough time to see the main must-see spots in the city while also being able to relax and enjoy the restaurant scene.

1 day is perfect if you just want to visit the main sights in Quebec City. I think that 2 days would also be a really great amount of time to spend in Quebec City so that you don’t feel as rushed.

When is the Best Time of the Year to Visit

Quebec City has something special to offer in every season.

During Fall, you will get to see the gorgeous colours both in the city and out of the city. It’s super easy to venture out of the city on a day hiking tour to see the incredible fall colours in one of the National Parks.

In Winter, Quebec City is blanketed in snow and it turns into a really magical city. The snow combined with the old style buildings and lights is like something out of a movie!

Quebec City in the Fall

Spring brings Quebec City to life as more and more people begin to enjoy the sun and the outdoors again. Flowers bloom all over the city’s parks and gardens and there are plenty of fun activities to keep you busy such as trying the classic Maple on a Stick or going for a bike ride around the city.

Summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors by going mountain biking or ziplining and soak up the sun by enjoying some of the city’s outdoor restaurant terraces.

Best Accommodation in Quebec City

There are loads of great accommodation options in Quebec City! We stayed at Hotel Quebec Best Western PLUS Centre-Ville which was a really lovely hotel with a great pool! Some other really great accommodation options are:

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Photo of Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
Credit: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (via

I couldn’t not put this one first on the list. I think it would be an absolutely dream to stay at this hotel. It looks like a castle straight out of a fairytale. The hotel has an indoor pool, a hot tub, steam rooms, a fitness centre AND an onsite spa! I can only imagine how relaxed I would feel after staying there.

Unique and Sunny Top Floor Old Quebec Gem

Photo of Unique and Sunny Top Floor Old Quebec Gem
Credit: Unique and Sunny Top Floor Old Quebec Gem (via

This 2 bedroom, top floor apartment is located only 300m from the Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec. You will feel like a local living in luxury because the fitout of this place is so pretty! It is also only 800m from Old Quebec so you are within walking distance to EVERYTHING!

Hotel 71 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts

photo of room at Hotel 71 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Credit: Hotel 71 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts (via

Hotel 71 is located in the heart of Quebec’s Old Port in a gorgeous 19th century building. It has the cosiest of rooms with stunning views of the city and serves a buffet style continental breakfast. It is in the perfect location to explore charming shops, cafes, gourmet restaurants just outside its doors.

Auberge Internationale de Quebec – HI CANADA (Hostel)

Photo of HI Hotel in Quebec City
Credit: Auberge Internationale de Quebec HI Canada (via

The HI Hostel in Quebec City is located smack bang in the middle of Old Quebec so that have super easy access to literally anywhere! The hostel has a choice of dorm rooms and private rooms and they serve a delicious breakfast. The HI is perfect for anyone wanting to meet like-minded travellers and be close to great bars, restaurants and sights.

Quebec City 1 Day Itinerary

Figuring out what you should spend your time doing and seeing in any city is hard but especially if you only have 1 day. Here is the perfect 1 day itinerary to help you cross off all the major sights in Quebec City off your bucket list.

Morning – Château Frontenac and Breakfast

If you aren’t staying at the Château Frontenac, you should still definitely visit it, even if you just see it from the outside because it is one super impressive hotel! The Fairmont Hotels are always really gorgeous but the Château Frontenac in Quebec City is on another level.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City

Once you take some photos, you can grab a Starbucks Quebec City Souvenir mug at the Starbucks connected to the hotel. I collect these everywhere I go so we stopped here to get one along with a hot chocolate to warm up.

For breakfast, you could also grab a quick bite to eat from Starbucks or you could visit the delicious breakfast buffet at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.

There is a great tour through Viator that you can do to see and learn all about the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.

Book a 1 hour tour of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac here!

Late Morning – Dufferin Terrace and La Citadelle de Quebec

Go for a walk along Dufferin Terrace and visit La Citadelle de Québec.

Dufferin Terrace is the place where Fort Saint’Louis used to stand in the 1600s. You can look through a glass protected wall to see underneath the terrace where the archaeological crypts of the Saint-Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site sits.

This spot is an easy stroll from the Fairmont Hotel. It is right next to the St Laurence River so you can enjoy stunning views out to the river.

Continuing from Dufferin Terrace, walk along the pier towards La Citadelle de Québec. The Citadel is an important part of the city’s history. It’s the biggest military fort in North America that’s still in use by soldiers. You can book a tour to see inside the Citadel and witness the changing of the guard.

We didn’t do a tour when we were there but we still were able to enjoy the insane views out towards the river and the Château Frontenac.

Afternoon – Petit-Champlain District and Lunch

This street has existed since the beginning of Quebec City in 1608 and has been named the most charming street in Canada. It started out simply as a street where people lived but today it is filled with loads of boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.

Walking up this street will make you feel as though you have stepped straight into a fairy tale.

Once you are done with shopping and admiring the beautiful fairy tale-like architecture, this is a great opportunity to grab some lunch from one of the bistros on the street such as Bistrot Le Pape Georges or L’Orygine.

Late Afternoon – Notre-Dame De Quebec Basilica Cathedral and Boat Sightseeing Cruise

The Old Town has lots of other fascinating sights to visit such as the Notre-Dame De Quebec Basilica Cathedral.

Providing there aren’t any private events going on (there was a wedding when we were there), you can go inside the cathedral and admire the stained glass windows, organs and incredible architecture.

Quebec City Guided Sightseeing Cruise
Credit: Viator

By late afternoon, your feet will probably be sore and ready to rest. This is the perfect time to book a boat cruise which will take you from Old Quebec to the Montmorency Falls and Île d’Orléans. You will also get incredible views from the water of the Château Frontenac and learn more about Quebec City’s history.

The cruises leave around 3 times a day and are 1.5 hours long with one leaving at 4pm which will get you back to the city just in time for dinner!

Book tickets ahead of time for your Quebec City Sightseeing Cruise here so that you don’t miss out!

Evening – Dinner and Drinks

It’s been a fun filled but exhausting day of exploring Quebec City and all you feel now is a delicious meal and a nice cold bevvy before heading back to your hotel. Some restaurants to check out are:

  • Chez Boulay: Bistro Boréal
  • Bistro Hortus
  • La Bûche
  • Le Champlain
  • Le Continental

If you have 2 days in Quebec City

Half Day Trip to Montmorency Falls-min
Credit: Viator

If you have some extra time in Quebec City, I recommend checking out Montmorency Falls because they are super impressive!

To get there, you can ether drive or join a tour and once you are there, there are few different things to do besides simply admiring the falls, such as ziplining or getting a cable car over the falls.

Quebec City Packing List

Your packing list for Quebec City will depend on what time of year you decide to visit. We visited Quebec City during Fall and so it was a little on the colder side so we had warm jackets, beanies, gloves and rain coats with us.

What is One Must-Do Activity or Sight to See in Quebec City

This question is going to vary depending on who you ask because it is all down to personal preference, however, for me, the one most do sight to see in Quebec City is Old Quebec. Walking through the Old Town really gives you a sense of what Quebec City is all about and you don’t feel like you are in just another city.

Commonly Asked Questions

Do I need a Car in Quebec City?

Quebec City is a great city to walk or bike ride around. We had a rental car but we left it parked in our hotel and walked around the city. I recommend booking a hotel in the centre of the city such as this one or the HI Hostel.

If you don’t feel like walking around the city, other options are the Hop on Hop off Bus which goes to all of the main sights in the city or to join a bus sightseeing tour.

Does it Snow in Quebec City?

During Winter, Quebec City gets pretty cold! Snow usually begins falling in December and ends in February but sticking around until March or April.

Quebec City is known to be one of the most magical places to spend Christmas in, along with Leavenworth in Washington State.

Do people only speak French in Quebec City?

We found that in Quebec City, most people could speak English as well as French as opposed to the smaller towns in Quebec where a lot of people could not speak English.

Where to Find the Best Falls Colours in Quebec

Couple sitting at viewpoint in Quebec looking out at the Fall Colors

Quebec is famous for having insanely epic Fall foliage! The best way to see the colours is to rent a car and go on a road trip to some of the national parks.

The hikes that we did on our road trip through Quebec absolutely blew our mind! The colours were insane and we had all of the viewpoints to ourselves. I can’t recommend this road trip more!

If you are heading to Quebec, you might also find the following guides helpful:

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