Located at the confluence of the St. Charles and St. Lawrence Rivers, Quebec City welcomes over 4 million visitors each year. Strategically important early on as a gateway to the Great Lakes, it remains the only walled city in North America. It is also one of the oldest cities in North America, but the strong French influence means that you may feel like you have been transported to Europe as soon as you arrive.
How to get to Quebec City
Cruise ships arrive at either Le Vieux Port (the Old Port) or Le Basse Ville (the Old City), both of which provide easy access by foot to many of Quebec City’s major sights. If you arrive at the Old Port, taxis are also readily available to take you to the Old City.
One Day in Quebec City
Quebec’s Old City is divided into a Lower Town and Upper Town and a funicular connects the two. Start your visit in the Lower Town by strolling through the Quartier Petit Champlain, a delightful pedestrian mall lined with cafes and boutiques. Then head to the Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain founded the city back in 1608. There, you can visit the Notre Dame de Victoires church and the Centre d’interprétation de la Place-Royale. The Centre is an interactive exhibition, including a huge model of Quebec City in 1635, a costume workshop and a 3-D film exploring the city’s 400-year-old history. A few blocks away, you will also find the Musee de la civilization, which offers a wealth of information about the history and heritage of the entire region. Those interested in maritime history may also enjoy a visit to the Naval Museum of Quebec.
Take a break for lunch – perhaps at one of the many restaurants along St. Michel Street – and then continue your exploration of Quebec City in the Upper Town. Stop first at the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral-Basilica to see its many works of art and then check out the view from nearby Dufferin Terrace. If you haven’t had your fill of French-American history yet, swing by the Museum of French America as well.
From Dufferin Terrace, you can join a guided tour of the old city walls that encircle the city. If you prefer to go solo, simply follow the 3 mile long trail that runs around the fortifications.
Other possible stops include the Parliament Building, the Chateau Frontenac, and the Citadelle de Quebec, all of which offer guided tours. Art lovers should visit the Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec, with over 20,000 works of art on display, while military buffs will enjoy the Musee du Fort, which contains a variety of military artifacts and memorabilia. The Musee d’ Art Inuit is a one of a kind stop, showcasing Eskimo and Inuit art
Finally, if you didn’t have a chance to peek around the Old Port when you arrived, save some time to explore this historic site on your way back to the ship.
The official currency is the Canadian dollar and ATMs are located throughout the city. While French is the primary language spoken in Quebec City, English may be understood by many, if not spoken.