Quebec City, the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer. Situated on the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and the oldest city with a predominantly French-speaking population. So if you’re looking for a cultural getaway without traversing the Atlantic, Quebec is an easy option!
From New York, there is a daily direct flight on Delta Airlines to Quebec City. The flight is only about an hour, however the timing options are limited and ticket prices can be a bit pricey. So, if you have some extra time, you could combine your visit with a trip to neighboring Montreal which is only a couple hours’ drive away and offers cheaper and more regularly scheduled flights.
Where to Stay
The iconic Fairmont Chateaux Frontenac dominates the skyline of the old city. With 611 rooms and suites, the castle-like hotel was built in the late 19th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a stopover for railway guests. The property has 4 distinct dining options, an indoor pool, fitness center and small spa. Guests looking for an even more VIP experience can book rooms on one of the Fairmont Gold concierge floors, which offer access to a dedicated lounge that has a private check-in/concierge desk, complimentary continental breakfast, coffee and tea throughout the day, and a daily cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres and an honor bar. Fairmont Gold rooms are also on higher floors so they offer sweeping river and city views. We had a gorgeous corner room in one of the turrets that felt straight out of a Harry Potter novel.
What to Do
- Learn about Old Town’s history with a historic walking tour – Tours Voir Quebec offers a very affordable 2.5 hour morning tour that departs directly across from the Fairmont. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the complex history of Quebec City, including influences from French, English and Canadian rule, which are easily visible today in the architecture of the city.
- Cruise the St. Lawrence River – A great way to gain a new perspective of the city, the 90 minute cruises offered by AML also include narration on the history of Quebec as well as views of the surrounding area.
- Shop around Vieux Quebec
- Watch street performers along the Terrasse Dufferin
- Visit la Citadelle de Quebec – A short walk from the hotel along the Terrasse Dufferin, you can tour the fortress and watch the Changing of the Guard (daily at 10 am in the summer).
Where to Eat
- Le Champlain – After a travel day, I always like to enjoy a nice dinner on-site at the hotel if they have an appealing option. Le Champlain, the landmark restaurant in the Frontenac hotel, did not disappoint. With beautiful views of the sunset, we were served a fantastic meal complete with amuse-bouche. Don’t miss the wine room on the way out which has complimentary cheese and ice cider tastings.
- Chez Muffy – Located at the Relais & Chateaux property, Auberge Saint-Antoine, Chez Muffy is set within a historic maritime warehouse dating to the early 1800s. The intimate atmosphere perfectly complements the local farmhouse cuisine, which is almost too beautiful to eat.
- L’Escale – Casual lunch spot / creperie in the main shopping area of Old Town.
While I visited in the summer, I think Quebec would also be magical in the fall (hello foliage!) and the winter. I’d especially love to return for the Winter Carnival.