The Lowdown on Quebec City
Quebec City is about the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re in Europe, without actually leaving North American soil. From the centuries-old architecture to the ever-present French heritage and pride, the province’s capital and 2nd largest city is a pleasant, picturesque retreat from the more bustling metropolises of the northeast. Although Quebec City is an ideal destination for a romantic weekend, if you’re pressed for time, you can get a pretty good taste for the town in a 24-hour period.
Auberge internationale de Quebec
The local HI hostel in Quebec City, this is probably the top hit that you’ll find if you Google “Quebec Ciy Hostel”…and rightfully so. Auberge boasts a few interconnected old homes that house a large number of backpackers, with a variety of lodging accommodations. The location is as good as it gets: right between the sites of the Old Town, and the pubs of Rue St-Jean.
L’Affaire est Ketchup and Aux Anciens Canadiens
Do L’Affaire for dinner and Aux Anciens for lunch (the hostel serves breakfast). L’Affaire est Ketchup is cheap relative to some of the pricier French spots in Quebec, with twice the personality! Although just a small hole-in-the-wall in the St. Roch neighborhood run by youthful restauranteurs, you’ll be amazed at the dishes they cook up on with only 2 electric stoves. Aux Anciens Canadaiens may be touristy, but you won’t find a better lunch deal on decent Quebecois cuisine while walking around the Old Town. $20 will get you a multi-course meal, with beer and maple pie (the best part) for dessert included.
Quebec City is not famed for its nightlife (though down the road in Montreal is a completely different story), but for a good night of pub-hopping, Rue St-Jean is your street. Le Sacrilege is a fav with the locals, and offers a large selection of beer and a cozy, walled patio out back. For a slightly rowdier experience, La Ninkasi offers multiple floors of tomfoolery, a comparable beer selection, with karaoke on the ground floor on select nights.
La Citadelle – To this day the citadel is still an active garrison of the Royal 22nd The tour not only provides insight into the military and defensive purposes of Quebec’s citadel, but Quebec history as a whole. For just over an hour of your time and $10, it’s well worth it.
Chateau de Frontenac – This hotel is the defining feature in Quebec City’s skyline. You can’t come here without taking a picture of this 19th century architectural behemoth (usually from at least 4 different angles). I will always encourage travelers to hunt for cheaper accommodations, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a stroll through the main lobby for a closer look at this luxury hotel.
Exploring the Old Town – From the shops and restaurants of Petit-Champlain to the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec, a self-guided tour of Old Town can be accomplished on foot in 2 to 3 hours. Take advantage of the city’s walkability.
And buy yourself some Quebec Nordiques paraphernalia – Sure, the team’s been gone longer than they existed in Quebec (16 years vs. 20 years and counting), but despite the fact that their former NHL has been playing as the Colorado Avalanche, you can still find their gear everywhere.
1 Day in Quebec City
- Hostel = $33 (savings!)
- Food = $50 for dinner, $25 for lunch (splurge!)
- Alcohol = $20
- The Sites = $10 for La Citadelle, Free for exploring the Old Town and Chateau de Frontenac
- Nordiques shirt / Souvenir = $25
- Total = $163