Québec City won Travel and Leisure magazine’s top spot for cities in Canada to visit as part of the publication’s World’s Best Awards, a reader/user generated survey. Respondents commented on how the city brings together Old and New World charm. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, Québec City exudes a French flair. The only fortified city north of Mexico, Old Québec (officially the Upper City, Haute-Ville, within the fortifications), has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the Lower City, Basse-Ville, is actually the oldest part of town since it was here that Samuel de Champlain built his first settlement. Both areas with their narrow streets, historic buildings, and cafés are great for strolls. Here are some top things to do and see in Québec.
Stroll the Terrasse Dufferin
In Québec’s Upper City, walk along the Terrasse Dufferin, a promenade with river views that’s outside the palatial hotel Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. In summer along this promenade, jugglers, musicians, mimes, and other street performers entertain passers-by.
Visit La Citadelle de Québec
La Citadelle, (Citadel), Old Québec’s fortress, built between 1820 and 1850, is the largest British fortress built in North America. See the French powder magazine, built in 1750, and the military prison, built in 1842, on a guided tour. The museum offers the opportunity to learn about 100 years of the Royal 22nd regiment. Watch the changing of the guard at 10 a.m. daily through Canada’s Labour Day, September 5. For tales from the past, take in an evening ghost tour, available on weekends through October 31, 2016. Some tours are in English and some are in French.
Take a Carriage Ride
Little kids (and older ones) are charmed by the horse-drawn carriage rides through the Old City, available at the Place d’Armes. Some routes include the Old Port area in the Lower City.
Tour Parc des Champs-de-Bataille (Battlefield Park)
Just outside the city walls is Battlefield Park, the Plains of Abraham is the site where the British defeated the French in a 1759 battle. The park stretches for 267 acres along the river and the Joan of Arc Garden features colorful flowers and, of course, a statue. In good weather, join the locals who stroll, bike, inline skate, and picnic here. Summer also brings lawn concerts and other special events.
Walk the Breakneck Stairs or Board the Funicular.
To get to the Lower City, head down L’escalier du Casse-Cou (the Breakneck Stairway), which is really not that difficult to maneuver as long as you go slowly. The oldest staircase in the city, it was built in 1635. You can also take the funicular, which, for young kids, descends at a just-exciting-enough 45-degree angle.
Shop Quartier Petit Champlain
Both the Breakneck Stairs and the funicular bring you to the Quartier Petit Chanplain. Boutiques, galleries, and bistros line picturesque, cobblestone main shopping street, Rue du Petit-Champlain.
Explore the Musée de la Civilisation (Museum of Civilization)
“This is Our Story” explores the history and modern lives of 11 Aboriginal nations living in Québec through their words, as well as images and artifacts. At Uprising X 25 ponder 25 events that since the fall of the Berlin Wall have changed our times, things such as gay marriage, the occupation of Tiananmen Square and Greek anti-austerity protests (through March 12, 2017). Through amazing photography, “Nanotech: The Invisible Revolution” reveals the tiny, nearly invisible things we rely on in electronics, medical treatments and even cosmetics (through April 2, 2017).