Whether you’re a nature lover or a city dweller, the fun doesn’t stop all-year-round in Québec City. Known for its unique and vibrant culture, there are a variety of things to do in Québec City that will keep you entertained and outdoors this summer.
Planning a trip to Québec’s beautiful capital city? We’ve rounded up a few suggestions on how to make your trip even more enjoyable this summer:
Take a Stroll Through Old Québec City
When it comes to visiting Québec City, add Old Québec City on your list of things to do. A historic neighbourhood that was established in 1985, it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Prepare to do some walking through the narrow streets of Old Quebec with delightful surprises at every corner.
Le Château Frontenac & Dufferin Terrace:
Overlooking the St. Lawrence River and Dufferin Terrace, the iconic Le Château Frontenac is the most photographed hotel in the world! The hotel is famously known for hosting celebrities, including Celine Dion and Paul McCartney. It also made an appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “I Confess” in 1953.
You’ll also want to take a few photos at Dufferin Terrace. It offers incredible views of Île d’Orléans, the St. Lawrence River and Québec City’s Lower Town. Filled with street performers in the summer, the boardwalk is the perfect option of free things to do in Québec City.
For All Things Art:
For art lovers and those looking for unique souvenirs, you’ll want to head to Rue du Trésor. Previously a street where colonists went to pay annual taxes, it has now become an outdoor art gallery. Take a stroll down the narrow street to see a variety of artists display their artwork along the walls.
Old Port is also a popular spot for art enthusiasts. You’ll get lost for hours perusing through the many antique stores and art galleries. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, unwind at a cafe or grab a snack and enjoy views of St. Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains. If you feel like being on the water, enjoy a cruise from Quebec City. The city was named the “Top Cruise Destination in the U.S. & Canada” in 2019.
Place-Royale, Rue du Petit Champlain & Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec:
To see where it all began for Québec, you need to head to Place-Royale. It’s known as the famous cobblestone town square in the heart of the city. Located in Québec City’s Lower Town, this square was previously known as the town’s main business centre and marketplace. Nowadays, it is known as a lively spot filled with street performers and tourists. It’s a great place to grab a snack at a cafe or do a bit of shopping.
If you’ve seen photos of Old Québec City, chances are you’ve come across a picture of Rue du Petit Champlain. A charming little street, the buildings are filled with original character. A pedestrian friendly street, it’s filled with people looking to grab a bite to eat, or looking for one-of-a-kind shops. Known as one of North America’s oldest commercial streets, it’s something you should cross off your Québec City bucket list.
If you’re looking for a unique perspective of the city (and to save your feet from walking up and around), Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec (Old Québec Funicular) is one of the things to do in Québec City. The cable-car ride climbs at a 45-degree angle and travels 64 metres – linking the Upper Town to the Lower Town of the city. Offering an incredible viewpoint of Lower Town and the St. Lawrence River, you’ll find yourself at Dufferin Terrace once you’ve reached the top. Open 7 days a week, it costs $3.50 per person for one way and children under 117 centimetres ride for free.
Visit Montmorency Falls Park
From high flying activities to seeing the city’s best waterfall, Montmorency Falls Park is one of the unique things to do in Québec City during the summer. The park is open year-round and is located only a few minutes from downtown of the city.
Of course if you’re visiting the park, you’ll want to check out the waterfall that it’s named after. The waterfall is 83 metres tall, which actually makes it higher than Niagara Falls! 30 metres, to be exact! There are different ways to get to the waterfall, including taking the cable car to the top or walking the 480+ stairs up to the cliffside. If you’re planning to take the cable car during high season, it costs $12.18 per adult for a single ride or $14.35 for a roundtrip. While you’re up there, don’t forget to check out the suspension bridge for an incredible view of the waterfall from above!
For Adrenaline Junkies:
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, take on the 300 metre zip line that crosses the cove of the Montmorency Falls. Experience the zip line with a friend or if you’re really daring, do it solo. The zip line is open daily in the summer from 10AM to 5PM and costs $27 per adult and $20.25 per child (17 years old and under).
For a more daring experience, the Via Ferrata de la Chute offers three routes for climbing across a cliff face. Open to all ages, it has an introductory route for beginners and two intermediate routes. One of the intermediate routes even includes a zip line for double the fun! Similar to the zip line, the Via Ferrata is open daily in the summer and prices start from $33 per adult.
Local Tip: To save your group some time, book your activity ahead on the official website under ‘Activities’. Plus, the site offers some tips on what to wear and how to prepare for your activity ahead of time.
For the Foodies:
For the foodies out there, the park has one of the best brunch restaurants in Québec City. The Manoir Montmorency is a classic brunch spot in the city where you can indulge on cold-cut platters, local cheeses, and more at their extensive Sunday brunch. During the summer, you’ll want to grab a table on the terrace and enjoy the panoramic views, while enjoying the restaurant’s flavourful menu. The mouthwatering food offerings include a classic poutine or smoked duck and candied tomato penne.
For those on-the-go, Le 1759 is good ol’ street food with incredible views of the St. Lawrence River and Île d’Orléans. And if you’re looking to cool down on a hot summer day, enjoy a frozen treat at the dairy bar on the observation deck near the Manoir!
Stroll Through The Park:
If you’re hoping to spend an afternoon at the park, there are a handful of trails that range from 0.5 to 3 kilometres in length and vary in difficulty. The Cottage Trail is the most accessible trail, which starts at Manoir Montmorency and can lead you to the suspension bridge – overseeing the waterfall. To get up close to the waterfall, walk the Promenade de la Chute trail where you might even get splashed by the waterfall. If you’re up for a challenge, walk up the panoramic staircase, which is 487 steps from the bottom of the park.
Enjoy The Outdoors At Summer Festivals & Events
Summer is the perfect time for visiting Québec City – thanks to the variety of festivals throughout the city!
For music fans, Festival d’été de Québec is an annual 11-day music festival in downtown Québec City that starts on the first Thursday of July. Some of music’s biggest artists have been a part of the lineup at this annual event, including Imagine Dragons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mariah Carey and more!
To quench your thirst, Festibière de Québec and Bordeaux fête le vin à Québec take place mid-August. At Festibière de Québec, enjoy your favourite brews with around 75 exhibitors from all over showing off their latest beers, ciders, food trucks, and more. For the wine connoisseurs out there, Bordeaux fête le vin à Québec offers delicious pairings of Bordeaux wines and mouth-watering cuisine from the province.
Free Events in the City:
Step right up to free circus shows at Place Jean-Beliveau! It’s one of the great free things to do in Québec City during the entire summer. You’ll marvel at the 9 different circus acts during 55-minute performances – rain or shine – with incredible staging and seats up to 2,000 people. From July 16 to August 4, you can check out the free shows at 9PM on Tuesday through Sunday. The timing shifts a little from August 6 to September 1 with shows starting at 8:30PM.
And, who doesn’t love fireworks? From July 31 to August 24, sit under the stars and enjoy a free fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday evening – starting at 9PM – thanks to Les Grands Feux Loto-Québec. Located at the bank of the St. Lawrence River, the show is first come, first serve, so arrive earlier to get a great viewing spot!
Go For a Scenic Hike Or Bike Ride Through the City
With over 400 kilometres of bike paths throughout the city, cycling is a great way to explore Québec City. Rent a bike and go on a self-guided tour that passes by several landmarks. Or, join a guided sightseeing tour with companies like Cyclo Services or Location EchoSports.
From downtown, take the Corridor de la Rivière-Saint-Charles, which is a 9 kilometre route along the banks of Rivière-Saint-Charles. If you’re a novice biker, this is a great place to start, since the route is separate from traffic. For a longer route that passes by Montmorency Falls Park and Aquarium du Québec, the Corridor du Littoral is a 50 kilometre bike route along the St. Lawrence River.
If you prefer to explore the city on foot, there are a variety of hiking trails throughout with unforgettable views. Mont-Sainte-Anne and Jacques-Cartier National Park are some recommended locations to throw on your hiking shoes. At Mont-Sainte-Anne, there are over 42 kilometres of hiking trails that suit all levels of experience. You’ll get panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River or the Jean-Larose waterfalls. You can even take a gondola up the summit for breathtaking views! Jacques-Cartier National Park is home to a beautiful glacial valley – the Jacques-Cartier Valley. There are more than 100 kilometres of hiking trails where you’ll come across churning rivers and beautiful yellow birch trees in the forest.
If you’re travelling with kids, Québec City is a very family-friendly destination with lots of activities to keep them occupied.
Take the family to the Aquarium du Québec where there are approximately 10,000 marine animals to discover. From fish to reptiles to polar bears and seals, kids will love learning about all the different species! During the summer, the aquarium is open daily from 9AM to 5PM and costs $20.50 for adults and $10.25 for children (3 to 7). Children under the age of 2 get in for free.
Amusement parks are also a great option for the family. Méga Parc is an indoor entertainment experience with 18 rides, arcades, an indoor skating rink and a Ferris Wheel. Enjoy classic rides like bumper cars, or scream on intense rides like the free-falling Piston.
Put your thinking cap on when you visit Super labyrinthe Inukshuk, which is a twelve-sided maze with 260 one-way doors. You’ll race to the centre of the maze, but to get there, you’ll have to answer a series of questions. It’s not your typical maze and takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
To cool off from the heat, head to Village Vacances Valcartier, which is a popular waterpark – only 20 minutes from the city. It boasts over 35 waterslides, a massive wave pool and more for an afternoon of fun.
For History Buffs
Québec City is filled with over 400 years of history, which makes it the perfect destination for heritage lovers!
The Citadelle de Québec has been a national historic site since 1980 and is located within Old Québec City. Discover Québec’s rich military past with over 300 years of history by taking a guided tour. Inside the walls of the Citadelle are the Dalhousie Gate, Canada’s oldest French military building and the residence of the Governor General of Canada. During the summer, you’ll enjoy the Changing of the Guard and Beating of the Retreat ceremonies.
Built from 1877 to 1886, Hôtel du Parlement (Parliament Building) is easily the most important historical building in Québec City. As the oldest historical building, it serves as the home to Parliament of Québec. Explore the National Assembly Chamber, Legislative Chamber and President’s Gallery during a free 30-minute tour – in both English and French. The architecture was inspired by the the Louvre Palace in Paris. It also has 26 bronze statues paying tribute to the men and women who had an impact on Québec’s political history.
The Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site is North America’s only remaining fortified city. Through a guided tour, you can learn more about Québec’s impressive military history. Plus, take in the best views of the city while walking by the fortification walls.
Churches & Musée de la civilisation:
When it comes to history and architecture, you can’t help but marvel at Québec City’s many churches. The Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral is Canada’s oldest church and where four of New France’s governors rest. Not only is the architecture astonishing, but visitors will also enjoy the various works of art around the church. To see North America’s oldest stone church, you’ll want to visit Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Old Québec City.
Fun Fact: A popular tourist destination, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church was a filming location for Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2002 film, “Catch Me If You Can”.
To learn more about Québec’s culture and history, the Musée de la civilisation should be on your list of things to do in Québec City. This family-friendly museum has over 14 million visitors a year, which makes it one of Canada’s most visited museums! The museum encourages visitors to learn more through interaction with engaging workshops, which include role-playing, interactive reconstructions and more.
Where to Stay
It’s clear that there are an abundance of activities and sights to see while visiting Québec City in the summer! Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or longer, CanadaStays has the perfect vacation rental to help you feel at home! Stay in a condo close to the main attractions, or a beautiful chalet outside of the city.