Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and Quebec City is one of its most unique areas. As the capital of the only French-speaking province in the whole country, it has a charm that cannot be rivaled. Whether you are planning a trip to the city from afar or are just a quick road trip away, Quebec City is more than worth the journey.
In addition to the well-known tourist destinations in this provincial capital, such as Place Royal and Plains of Abraham, there are many stunning hidden gems. These range from beautiful parks to bustling hidden streets. In order to get a taste of this one-of-a kind-city, it is these hidden gems that you need to explore. To get you started on your exploration, we created this list of things to do in Quebec City that you won’t find in generic tourist guides.
What is Quebec City best known for?
Apart from its world-famous fries-and-gravy dish poutine, Quebec City is best known for the area known as Old Quebec. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Old Quebec is full of rich history and old-world charm.
Lined with cobbled streets and independent shops, bars and restaurants, it has a homely feel to it while simultaneously boasting a vibrant atmosphere and lively energy. What makes Old Quebec particularly impressive is the fact that it is encased within fortified walls, and is the only remaining walled city north of Mexico City.
Its rich history makes for an architect’s paradise that, through its impressive old buildings will leave you with the impression that you have been transported to another time and place. Old Quebec is the true heart of Quebec City. If you want to get a true taste of all that Quebec has to offer and experience in full, Old Quebec is a must-visit destination.
What are the must-see hidden gems of Quebec city?
There is much more to Quebec City than Old Quebec. Away from the beaten path of mainstream destinations, there is a plethora of interesting places to visit, and cool and unusual things to do in Quebec City.
The best hidden gems in Quebec City are:
- Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier
- Château Frontenac
- Morrin Centre
- Three Crow Glass Studio
- The murals of Quebec city
One of the most alluring aspects of Quebec City is the seamless integration of urban and rural landscapes. While much of the city is built up of impressive buildings that rival even New York, there is also a lot of area dedicated to park space, allowing for an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the center of town.
Since Canada is such a vast body of land, it has the luxury of being able to maintain a lot of green space, meaning that there are different parks that you can visit during your stay. If you do not want to visit the more mainstream parks such as the Plains of Abraham or Parliament Hill, Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier is the perfect alternative.
This beautiful park runs along the Saint Lawrence river over a distance of 2.6 km, and covers 17 hectares of land, so that you can easily spend a whole day getting lost in its peaceful tranquility. Whether you are looking for a picturesque running route or hiking trails for your morning exercise, Parc de la Plage-Jacques-Cartier is worth exploring.
If impressive buildings are what you are after, look no further than Château Frontenac. The Château is so much more than the hote and it attracts thousands of visitors every year, who are in awe of the beauty of this old building. Opened in 1893, Château Frontenac has housed a host of celebrities, including Queen Elizabeth II, Celine Dion, and Charlie Chaplin.
Rich in history, it is the most photographed hotel in the entire world. It is also located along the St Lawrence River, making it the ideal place to snap pictures of some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Canada. If you are interested in architecture or are simply impressed by impressive buildings with breathtaking views, Château Frontenac is a must visit. You should include a visit to Old Port in your itinerary for the best pictures of this one-of-a-kind hotel.
Located in the not-so-secret neighborhood of Old Quebec, the Morrin Centre nonetheless qualifies as a hidden gem. When most people visit Old Quebec they get sucked in by its touristy elements and only want to walk along the beautiful streets, pay for overpriced walking tours, and make merry in the many bars and restaurants in the area.
If you are looking for something a little different while also soaking up all the history and culture that Old Quebec has to offer, the Morrin Centre is the place for you. This hidden gem was built over 200 years ago, as the site of Quebec City’s first ever prison, and has since been transformed into a series of beautiful libraries.
The shell of the prison remains, with bars on windows and cells still standing today, but within these once-tortuous walls live books that tell the stories of the past. In addition to exploring the libraries at your own pace, you can join a guided tour that will help you learn about the history of the building and everything you could possibly want to know about the prison.
If you are not the kind of person who enjoys walking around and sightseeing on your vacation and would prefer to do something a little bit more hands-on, you will be pleased to know that Quebec City also offers a lot of immersive activities designed to keep you busy and entertained for the duration of your trip. A good example is Three Crow Glass Studio.
This one-of-a-kind hidden gem allows visitors to watch handmade glass-blown ornaments being created right in front of their eyes. In addition, if you would like to try your hand at a bit of glass blowing yourself, they run classes for beginners where you can make a one-of-a-kind piece to take home.
Although Quebec City offers a lot of traditional art experiences through its art galleries and art museums, if you are looking for a display of art that is truly raw and grand and showcases some of the city’s artistic talent, we recommend checking out the murals of Quebec City.
There are 20 murals in total throughout the city, all of which have their own individual significance and story. They date back to a tradition that originated in Mexico in the 1920s and slowly made its way up through the USA and into Canada. The first mural to be painted in Quebec was completed in 1999.
Each individual mural aims to depict the history and character of the part of the city it is in. You can therefore get a good sense of not only the history of the city through these murals, but also a sense of what the city means to its people. The murals provide valuable insights into the culture of Quebec City.
A walking tour or a self-guided tour of all the murals is a great way to see different places in Quebec City. It can also be a more interesting way to discover the city than simply visiting a museum, as it provides you with the bigger picture of what makes Quebec City so special.
Where to stay in Quebec City
Whether you are looking for quieter national parks to embark on lovely walking trails or are interested in the hidden history of the city, you need to choose the right hotel. In other words, a hotel that is conveniently located and offers great service such as the Best Western Plus.
Located in Downtown Quebec City, it is well-connected and all the Quebec City attractions that you might want to visit are within reach of the hotel. To help you wind down, we have a pool and a gourmet restaurant and bar.