What follows are some of the tips I’ve suggested to friends and family over the years, for their first time visit to Québec City. Collected here, I hope they help make your trip an enjoyable one!
1. Always make sure you keep plenty of loose change on hand. And an assortment of low denomination bills to pay for a coffee, snacks, or for tips. Not all shops or restaurants will take your credit card, and many will not take Traveller’s Cheques either.
2. It’s also helpful to make sure you Google where all the ICE—International Currency Exchanges—are located along with their opening times.
3. Get lost. Yes, I mean it. It’s amazing what you discover, on foot, by just wandering where ever. And here, in this small and compact city, it’s hard to wander too far from a bus route, or a local taxi, and people are always helpful in redirecting you.
4. Try where possible to have your coffee locally, as you’ll get a better cup of good coffee (IMHO) than a regular Starbucks. But, if Starbucks is your thing, there’s usually one in every Mall. For a listing of my favourites coffee stops, check out: The Best Coffee Shops in Québec City.
5. Buy a daily or weekly bus pass (check out the RTC website). Not only will this save you a great deal of money, but you can hop on and off buses all day long. Oh, and there’s an App for that too—Nomade (look for the camel!) I use it all the time.
6. Don’t miss out on taking in a local baseball game, the Capitales de Québec are often top of the league by the end of the season, and go on a Friday, and catch the after-game fireworks too.
7. Whatever time of year you visit, one of the must-see places to go for a walk and smell the flowers is the University Laval gardens, our equivalent of a Botanical Garden. Set in 26 hectares there’s plenty to see and do.
8. Of course some of the best places to visit and see here, in Québec City, are not only free, but all within walking distances of one another. Start at the Chateau Frontenac, and take a walk along the Terrasse Dufferin for spectacular views of the St-Lawrance river, the city of Levis—on the south shore—and up toward the La Citadelle de Québec, home to the 22nd Regiment and the Governor General of Canada. And if you make it up all those stairs, you can go rambling on the Plains of Abraham.
9. Whether you are an art lover or not, a trip to the Musèe National des beaux-arts du Québec is a must for any number of reasons, and not just the art. Roof-top gardens, great views, and a fabulous restaurant are added bonuses to viewing the art. And there’s always any number of exhibits going on through-out the year. Check to see what activities are going on.
10. Amid all the culture and the history, there’s also good food, and if you’re looking for wine and or gifts to take back with you after your trip, then make sure you head to the île d’Orléans, and tour all the many farm shops and outlets on offer. Oh, and there’s also all that great scenery.
11. If you have a car, and are heading towards the Island for a day out, take the time to stop by the Montmorency Falls on your way. Whether you chose to go up in a gondola or not, the views from the top of the falls is as spectacular as the falls themselves, and not to be missed. And don’t forget to go buy yourself a jar of local honey while you’re there!