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One Day in Quebec City: the Perfect Daytrip

Spending one day in Quebec City will give you a quick sense of the charm, history, and culture of the city. Basically, it’s like the equivalent of taking one lick of an ice-cream cone, enough to know you need to come back for a longer period of time! Let’s talk about how to spend 24 hours in Quebec City.

Morning in Old Quebec

The Historic District of Old Quebec is the best jumping off point. This is where the colony of New France originated, and a good place to learn about the history of “Québec”.

The best way to begin is a free walking tour, but if you prefer to explore solo, start on Dufferin Terrace, with Château Frontenac looming in the background. From here you have beautiful views of Old Quebec’s upper and lower towns.

Walking Along Terrasse Dufferin - Quebec City - in Winter - Francis Gagnon - Destination Quebec Cite
Photo: Francis Gagnon – Destination Québec Cité

Did you know you can plan a guided tour of the famous “castle”?

Stop by Au 1884 for a chocolate-dipped ice cream in summer or rich velvety chocolat chaud in winter. Boutiques with Quebec-made products (which are perfect souvenirs) can be found on Côte de la Fabrique and rue Saint-Jean in Uppertown.

How to Catch Some Cool Views of Quebec City?

Looking for an original activity during your trip to Quebec City?

– Scope out some amazing views thanks for a helicopter ride over the old town that’s bound to have you squealing with excitement!

– Hop aboard for a view of Old Quebec City from the water, a great way to catch the breeze in summer and change your perspective.

– Looking for a more sporty approach to visiting the old capital? Rent a fat bike and explore on your own the charms of the cobblestone streets.

Take the Funiculaire du Vieux-Quebec up or walk down Côte de la Montagne for more artisanal shops on rue du Petit-Champlain and rue Sous-le-Fort.

In summer, visit umbrella alley (rue Cul-de-sac), and admire the ephemeral art installations of Passages Insolites. In winter, soak up the festive atmosphere, visit the giant Christmas tree in Place-Royale and warm up around an outdoor fire pit.

Place Royal at Christmas - © Stephane Audet, Destination Québec Cité
© Stephane Audet, Destination Québec Cité

Lunch for Your One Day Quebec Itinerary

A Quebec City 1 day itinerary is not complete without a stop for poutine. It’s the national dish of Quebec! It does not matter what time of year you visit; poutine is always a good idea.

In Old Quebec, Chic Shack is number one for gourmet poutine and burgers. To try traditional poutine, eat at Chez Ashton or Chez Samy. If you prefer French Onion soup, go to Pub l’Oncle Antoine or Q-de-Sac for affordably delicious bowls.

Poutine - Typical and Main Dish - in Quebec

Afternoon of Your Quebec 24-Hour Adventures

In the afternoon, branch out into one of the neighbourhoods outside the old city walls. It’s a great way to get a feel for life in Quebec City.

In the lower city, Vieux-Port (Old Port) is filled with antique shops and art galleries. In summer the art installations of Passages Insolites are scattered throughout the neighbourhood. Walk along the Saint-Lawrence River and the marina. If you enjoy museums, spend a couple of hours at Musée de la Civilisation.

In Uppertown or Haute ville, if you follow rue Saint-Jean past the fortification walls and across boulevard Honoré-Mercier, you’ll find yourself in Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Bibliothèque Claire-Martin is a pretty library inside an old church, and down the street J.A. Moisan is one of the oldest grocery stores in Canada. Érico’s has a little chocolate museum and serves the best hot chocolate in the city.

Beer lovers should head to Saint-Roch for an afternoon of tastings at Noctem, Korrigane, and La Barberie. Stop by La Place to buy Quebec craft beers and wines to take home as souvenirs, relax in a cafe, and shop in the boutiques.

Follow rue Saint-Louis past the fortification walls and Parliament to the neighbourhood of Montcalm. It’s home to Musée national des beaux-arts de Québec (MNBAQ), Grand Théâtre de Québec, and the Observation Tower, which offers spectacular views of the city.

The Plains of Abraham is a large park with Martello towers and a fascinating little museum. Avenue Cartier is the heartbeat of the ’hood, with boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars.

St-Jean street - in Old Quebec City - Mélanie Jean
Photo credit: Mélanie Jean

Dinner in the Capital of Quebec, a Last Foodie Stop on Your Day Tour

If you’re visiting Quebec City on a Monday or Tuesday, it is important to know that many restaurants are closed, but not all. There are some delicious restaurants in Old Quebec, but most of the best restaurants are found in local neighbourhoods.

Saint-Roch, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Montcalm, Limoilou, and Saint-Sauveur are the best ’hoods for dinner, no matter your budget. Bureau de Poste in Saint-Roch is perfect for budget travellers, and Korrigane has a great food menu.

In Saint-Sauveur, Chez Tao! And Kraken Cru are favourites. Nina Pizza Napolitaine is always a good idea in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, as well as Buvette Scott and Le Hobbit.

In Limoilou, go to Miyagi for sushi, or make reservations for La Planque or ARVI. In Montcalm, go to Le Mezzé, Zeus or Bistro B.

My all-time favourite restaurants in the city are Hono Izakaya, Clocher Penché, and brunch at Chez Muffy on Sundays.

Chez Muffy restaurant - in Auberge Saint-Antoine
Photo credit: Melanie Jean

Evening in the City

When the sun goes down, don’t hide in your hotel, go out!

In Old Quebec, visit pubs like Saint-Patrick or meet local characters at Bar Ste-Angèle. Go bar hopping on rue Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean-Baptiste or on rue Saint-Joseph Est in Saint-Roch.

JJacques is a speakeasy in Saint-Roch that’s known for serving oysters and seafood towers, and Justine is a speakeasy in Vieux-Port known for live music and delicious cocktails.

If bars are not your thing, ride the Québec-Lévis ferry for a great view of the Quebec City skyline at night. Wandering around the old city is also highly recommended as the streets are quiet in the evening.

View of Quebec City at Night - From the Ferry - Dana Andreea Gheorghe - From Unsplash
Photo: Dana Andreea Gheorghe from Unsplash

Visiting Quebec City in one day can be a lot of fun. Thankfully, Quebec City is very walkable, making it easy to see a lot in one day. Thinking of your trip as a tasting platter, a chance to sample the city.

I’ve also got a 2-day itinerary in Quebec City if you decide to make it a weekend!

Make notes on places you want to revisit, or places you didn’t have time to see but want to see next time. Most of all, relax, keep an open mind, and arrive ready to have fun!

Here are some other great tips in town to make the best of your day trip to Quebec:

Looking for Cool Tours While in Quebec City?

Look no further! We’ve noted the best ones for you right here:

Looking to craft your own tour? Get this amazing ebook about île d’Orléans to create your own itinerary!

For a whole lot of other awesome tours in Quebec province, check out this article: 46 Ultimate Best Quebec Guided Tours You Should Book Now in the Province.

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Quebec City / Quebec Destinations / Trip Planner / What to See and Do

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