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Quebec City Travel Guide

About Quebec City

Overlooking the majestic Saint Lawrence River, romantic Quebec City charms with sophistication, having maintained the European flavour it was bestowed when it became the cradle of Nouvelle France.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Quebec City is an urban space where the ancient resides beside the modern. The tiny cobblestone lanes of Old Quebec wind past 400 year old stone buildings that have been converted into restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Horse-drawn calèches (19th century carriages) meander through the streets against the backdrop of Château Frontenac, a grand copper-roofed hotel overlooking the city’s ancient port.

The walled Upper Town sits atop strategic Cap Diamant, affording views above the spot where the Saint Lawrence River thins. Those narrows (known as Kebec by the original Algonquin inhabitants) give the city its name.

At the foot of Cap Diamant lies Lower Town, where Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608. Today, visitors strolling around the restored Place Royale can easily imagine they're back in the 1600s.

Outside the fortified walls is a vibrant modern city with thriving art institutions housing artists, innovative dance troupes and cutting-edge theatre companies. Chic shopping centres and charming boutiques dot the residential neighbourhoods, while verdant parks and gardens lead to well-planned urban cycle paths and walkways along the river.

Its European traditions are also reflected in the wonderful selections of restaurants. Whether in the old or new city, there is a wide array of menus and flavours waiting to be discovered.

Quebec City’s fascinating history is stepped with the bloody battles and political struggles that decided the fate of Canada, and although nearly all of the city's present residents are of French descent, around a third are bilingual, offering a warm, friendly welcome to visitors in English.

During the summer festivals, when the whole town seems to be one continuous stage. The local’s joie de vivre (enjoyment of life), though, is always infectious. Catch it if you can.

Key facts

Population:
491,142 (city); 715,515 (metropolitan area) (2006)
Latitude:
46.812744
Longitude:
-71.219325

Featured Hotels

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Le Clos Saint-Louis

The lavish attention to detail in these joined mid-19th-century townhouses makes staying here a treat. Gorgeous antiques feature in the elegant parlour and dining room (where a free continental breakfast is served in low season), and they make an appearance in the 18 bedrooms as well, where area rugs soften the hardwood floors, and televisions are hidden away in armoires to preserve the romantic Victorian atmosphere. This hotel is a gem! But don't just take our word for it: thousands of travellers on the Tripadvisor website once voted it Best Hidden Gem in Canada.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

The grandest of Quebec City's hotels is the city's chief landmark, a red-brick, mock-medieval tower topped by a steep copper roof and perched on the edge of the cliff overlooking the St Lawrence. Its 611 rooms have benefited from a multimillion dollar refurbishment project; each stately and grand in appearance if occasionally a bit small, but that's made up for by the prime location, with its gastronomic Le Champlain restaurant and Le Café de la Terrasse overlooking the scenic Dufferin Terrace promenade.

Le Manoir des Ramparts

This hotel, located in the heart of Old Québec, might not win any prizes for design, but it offers very reasonable accommodation at a very decent price, and some rooms have an exceptional view of the St Lawrence River and Laurentian Mountains. Most of the 34 bedrooms have a private bathroom, television and telephone, but eight budget rooms have shared shower and toilet facilities. Continental breakfast is included in the price.

Hotel Le Cavalier du Moulin

This 19th century property in Old Québec is blessed with historic character and charm. Located just a stone's throw from many of the city's most iconic sights, some of the rooms come preserved with their original stone walls and fireplaces, and all are equipped with air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi.

Hôtel Le Germain-Dominion

The 60 loft-like rooms in this warmly minimalist boutique hotel are full of nice touches like blown-glass basins lit from beneath, chunky wooden blinds (revealing terrific views over the St Lawrence River from the upper floors) and home comforts like down duvets and bathrobes. Breakfast (included in the price) is served at large communal tables, a reception area and two meeting rooms cater to business needs and there's a complimentary cappuccino/espresso bar. The staff provide discreet, impeccable service.

Hôtel Manoir Victoria

This comfortable 4-star hotel, just up the hill from the train station, is tucked discreetly behind the main shopping street in the Old Town and is handy for exploring the sights. Low-key lighting and thick carpets give a hushed feel and the 156 well-appointed rooms and suites, done up in earth tones, are a good size. For relaxing there is a pool, sauna, fitness room and spa treatments.