2 Days in Quebec City
So you’ve got a couple of days to make the most of this fabulous, French-speaking Canadian city. So, what are the top things to do in Quebec City and how much can you fit into 2 days? Basically, that’s what I want to cover in this blog post. We spent 2 days in Quebec City and these are the sights and activities we managed to fit in during our stay. So take a look and find out all the great things to do in Quebec City.
Quebec City Funicular Railway
Firstly, we started by wandering into the heart of Old Quebec and heading straight for the funicular railway. We stayed really close to the Old City in an apartment at Les Lofts St Paul so we could walk everywhere. It’s a lovely place and the perfect location for exploring the city so do check out my review on this link.
The funicular railway links Basse-Ville (Lower Town), where we started, with the Haute-Ville (Upper Town). It’s a fun way to make the journey and also easier than walking. Just buy your ticket inside the small shop at the bottom of the funicular and then up you go. It was quite uncrowded when we visited and there was no queue for tickets. It’s a small shop though so it wouldn’t take many people to fill it up.
Of course, you can always walk up if you prefer. Look for the steps to the right of the funicular and then follow the path around to the left once you reach the top. We walked back down but I think the funicular is definitely the easy way up as it’s quite steep.
The funicular started operation in 1879 so you’ll be travelling on a piece of Quebecois history. Although the funicular remains in full working order today, it has undergone a number of changes over the years. It was electrified in 1907 for instance, and revamped with more modern technology in 1998.
Old Quebec Funicular: Practical Information
Hours: 7.30 am to 10.30 pm
Tickets: $3.50 Cash Only
Children under 46 inches tall are free
Official Website: https://www.funiculaire.ca/copie-de-accueil
Haute-Ville (Upper Town)
Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in fact, it’s not hard to see why. Once you’ve ridden up the funicular you’ll find yourself in Haute-Ville or Upper Town which gives you some fabulous views across the harbour and lower town.
The walkways along the front overlooking the river are nicely manicured and so are perfect for strolling on a sunny day. Unfortunately, when we visited it was rather cold and windy but we still enjoyed it.
Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent landmarks in Haute-Ville is the Chateau Frontenac. Indeed, you can see this hotel from pretty much anywhere in Quebec City because it dominates the skyline. It was actually built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad as was much of Canada it would seem.
Chateau Frontenac is a working luxury hotel so you can stay there during your visit to Quebec City if you like. Alternatively, either just take a peek inside or relax with a drink or meal in one of the restaurants.
Afterwards, walk further along the promenade. Then you will come to this white stairway. These stairs lead up to the Governor’s Walkway which was built in 1958 as part of the 350th anniversary of Quebec celebrations.
Climb the 310 steps and then continue along the walkway for fabulous views across the St Lawrence River. If you walk all the way to the end then you’ll come to the Citadelle of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham.
Citadelle of Quebec City
As you emerge at the end of the Governor’s Walkway, you’ll see the Plains of Abraham stretching in front of you to the left and also the Citadelle of Quebec on your right. Take a moment to stand on the bandstand for some more amazing views across the St Lawrence River and then take a closer look at La Citadelle.
It is actually a current military establishment and is also the secondary official home for both the Queen and the Governor-General. So very much still in current use. It stands in a prominent and strategic place on Cap Diamant, the promontory on which Quebec City is built.
Plains of Abraham
From here you can see the Plains of Abraham which is also an important historical site. It’s named after the farmer who originally owned the land and it’s famous because it is where the battle of the Plains of Abraham took place in 1759.
The battle between the French and British was a significant moment in the fight for Canada. Ultimately the British were successful and the French then conceded their claim to Canada. In fact, the battle was part of a longer conflict, the seven years war which spanned the globe.
Plains of Abraham Museum
It’s an interesting story and you can find out all the details at the Plains of Abraham Museum. This small museum is packed with information on the conflict and there is also a useful audiovisual display in the small theatre.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the displays of uniforms and the maps detailing the battle. As can be seen on the map below, the conflict stretched along the Lawrence River.
You can also see scale models, replica weapons and information on the living conditions of the soldiers. Additionally, there are many smaller artefacts which give insight into the lives of those fighting. It’s well worth a visit.
Practical Information: Plains of Abraham Museum
9 am to 5.30 pm daily
Over 65s and 13-17-year-olds $10.25
Under 4s are free
A Family Ticket is also available for 2 adults and 2 children for $29.75
Quebec City Glass Clock
This glass clock, also known as the Jura Clock was a gift from the people of Jura in Switzerland to Quebec City. The clock was designed by Richard Mille as part of the 400th birthday celebrations and it stands outside the Hotel de Ville.
As you can see, the clock features a lot of glass so my photo has many reflections on it. In fact, the clock has many different parts from various materials such as aluminium, brass, ceramic, stainless steel, titanium, and there is even a ruby.
It’s an especially beautiful clock, a real masterpiece of Swiss clock making. I think it’s particularly fascinating as you can see all the working parts through the glass.
Monument des Frères éducateurs
There is no shortage of statues to see in Quebec City and I particularly liked this one. It is called the monument to the educating brothers and you can find it on the corner between Pierre-Olivier-Chauveau and Sainte-Anne streets.
The monument commemorates 11 communities of religious brothers who were dedicated to providing education. The bronze sculpture is the work of Jules Lasalle a Canadian artist from Montreal.
Indeed, you could easily spend a whole day wandering around Old Quebec City looking for fabulous sculptures and works of art. It’s a particularly beautiful city.
Quebec City Walls
One thing I do like to do is walk along the city walls. I feel like I’m literally walking through history. In fact, the fortifications in Quebec City are particularly special because they’re the only remaining fortified city walls in North America. As can be seen in the photo above the fortifications include the city gates. There are four gates altogether.
There is no fee to walk on the fortifications. So just climb the steps and start walking. If you walk the entire wall then you’ll cover just under 5km. Along the way, you’ll get views over the river as well as the old town. If the weather’s nice it’s a really great walk. It was a bit rainy and overcast when we did it but we still enjoyed it.
Artillery Park Heritage Park
Interpretive Centre in the Arsenal Foundry
We discovered the Artillery Park Heritage Site while we walked along the fortifications. It’s set over three different buildings which are all related to Canadian military history.
Inside the Arsenal Foundry building, you can see an exhibition on the fortifications. You can also see a rather impressive scale model of Quebec City which was constructed in the early 19th century.
You can also view a short film about the history of the city and there are lots of informative displays to read. I always like a museum or exhibition which is set in a historic building like this as it adds to the atmosphere. The Arsenal foundry made ammunitions for the Canadian army from the late 19th century.
Dauphine Redoubt & Officer’s Quarters
After exploring the interpretive centre, you take a short walk across the road to the Dauphine Redoubt and Officer’s quarters. Here you can explore several floors of displays showing life in the house.
You can see the contrast between the opulent settings in the upper storey rooms and the more basic lifestyles shown in the lower rooms. The interpretive displays really bring history to life. It’s a fascinating glimpse into life in the Canadian military at the time.
Artillery Park: Practical Information
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm (until 6 pm in July & August)
Under 18s are free
This site is covered by the Parks Canada Discovery Pass
Official Website: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/qc/fortifications
We always like to take a stroll along the waterways when we visit a city. Fortunately, our rental apartment was opposite the harbour so we set off one morning to explore. It makes a nice walk although the large factory building you can see in the background means it’s not as picturesque as it could be. We enjoyed viewing the boat though.
Another pleasant walk is along the banks of the St Lawrence River. Heading in the opposite direction from the harbour area we walked past the cruise port and on along the river. We saw several cruise ships dock in Quebec City during our stay so it’s obviously a popular destination for cruises. Amazing how the river is deep enough for these large cruise ships.
As you leave the central city area along the river you have to walk past an industrial area. However, don’t be put off, if you continue a while you will come to this walkway right alongside the river bank. We walked for quite a way before turning back but you could walk much further if you want to. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any way to make it a circular walk as the high cliffs of the plateau continue for some way on the other side.
Quebec City Railway Station
We arrived in Quebec City on the train so we got a good view of the railway station, the Gare du Palais. It’s an impressive building inside and out and well worth a visit even if you don’t arrive by train. You can also take a bus from here.
The station was built in 1915 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. I think it has a definite French look to it and I also see similarities to the Chateau Frontenac.