Quebec - Port Guide
Where is the ship/how to get to the sights?
The ship docks right by the old town of Quebec. You simply walk off the ship and through the terminal, and you are right in the old town.
Spring/summer May-September, cruise ship season, the temperature is around 15-25 degrees Celsius. The weather can be very unpredictable and changeable throughout the spring and summer season, and can be sunny, windy, rainy, cold, cloudy and hot, all within a couple of hours. The key to the weather is to wear layers. Never leave the ship without an umbrella and rain jacket, and have two or three layers you can take on or off to be prepared for whatever the weather brings.
Sights & Sites
- Chateau Frontenac – The castle-esque hotel is the main feature of the stunning skyline of charming old town Quebec. A 15-minute walk from the ship terminal can reach it. It is gorgeous to take photos in front of, very romantic. There is a Starbucks at the base of it, which is regular priced to stop for a coffee in. There is a lovely restaurant to have afternoon tea in, which some of the tours go to. There is a large, sweeping staircase, which is very pretty to take photos in front of, but the hotel charges a large fee for the privilege. You can pop in to view the lobby, see the shops and take a tour though. Situated in the Haute-Ville (upper town).
- Funicular – The town is made up of the Haute-Ville (upper town) and the Basse-Ville (lower town). The ship is docked in the lower town where the artist quarter, square, Museum of Civilization, Tableau of Quebec, and Farmer’s Market are. You can walk up the hill from here to the Haute-Ville, or take the funicular. It costs $1.70 CAN each way, and is fun to do once for the experience. If you do it just once, I’d recommend taking it up the hill then walking back down, as it is a pretty steep climb.
- Old town – The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is delightful to wander around. My favorite tour in Quebec was a historical walking tour where I learned d a lot about the history of the city, its architecture, the influences from the different countries who claimed it over the years, and the
- Art Quarter – This is situated very close to the ship, walking to the left from the ship, along the second street back from the waterline. There are over a dozen galleries in this area, showcasing work by local as well as national and some international artists, with most of the subject matters of the paintings being Quebec herself.
- Tableau of Old Quebec – The tableau is less than 10 minutes walk from the ship, going outside, walking on the second street in from the port, on the left from the port terminal.
- Plains of Abraham – This is where the Battle of Abraham happened, and is now a large plain park area where there are festivals in summer, and also it is a very pleasant place to walk. There are historical tours that leave from the first green and white striped tent on the Terrace Dufferin outside the Hotel Frontenac to the plains to learn of the history of it and it’s stories, it also takes you to the Citadel and tours there with history of it. Cost $4.90 CAN. In summer, it is a great spot for picnics, strolling, and in line skating. In winter, cross-country skiing and sledding is available there.
- La Citadel – This is the highest point of the city and is situated just above the Terrace Duguas du Moins. The largest fortified base in North America is interesting and is available to visit on a tour from the tourist tent on the Terrace Dufferin for $4.90 (also goes to the Plains of Abraham).
- Terrace Duguas du Moins – This terrace is situated above the Terrace Dufferin. It looks over all of old Quebec, including the Chateau and the ship and river beyond. This is my favorite spot in Quebec, and has a wonderful view, and is a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the vista and skyline of Quebec.
- Montmorency Falls – The falls are situated about 17km outside the city. They are a large, dramatic cascade which is stunning and well worth a visit. There are several tours from the ship that go here, and it is also reachable by bicycle. For crew, most ships supply crew bicycles to use, for guests, there are also several places in the old city to hire bicycles if desired.
- Farmers Market – This is situated about 10-15 minutes from the ship, to the right, and along the main street inland from there. It is a covered farmer’s market with two main areas.
- Museum of Civilization – This is located only about five minutes walk from the port, to the left, on the waterfront street. It has permanent as well as temporary exhibitions, and costs $10 CAD. There is Wi-Fi in the foyer, and also in the café. It is free to go to the café and so it is the closest spot to the ship to access Wi-Fi with the purchase of something.
- Basilica-Cathedral of Notre Dame de Quebec, Place center de Ville, Haute-Ville – The reverent, elegant religious building is a feast for the eyes, whatever your own beliefs are. This peaceful, elaborate cathedral and basilica is home to one of the seven doors commissioned by the pope himself, a stunning dome, and an eerie but interesting crypt where the Christian martyrs of the region were laid to rest. notredamedequebec.org
June – In June there are food festivals in the square beside the town hall.
July 2017 – The Tall Ships were in Quebec when the ship was docked, which was wonderful to see and be part of.
August – The Opera Festival of Quebec has exceptional opera singers from Quebec performing free concerts all around the city.
August – Also August shows the Quebec Art Fayre with local artists, with jewelry, handcrafts, as well as food, and drinks specialties. This happens in tents by the regular year round Farmer’s Market.
Quebec old town has a wealth of stores, especially souvenirs. At the high part of the city, is where the most souvenir shops are located. There is a Christmas Shop, a Maple shop, many souvenir shops, as well as plenty shops of local designers of jewelry, clothes, handcrafts and paintings. The Farmer’s Market supplies edible souvenirs, and the Artist’s Quarter supplies souvenirs of your visit to Quebec to adorn your home. The shop selling Maple Syrup products, Delice D’Erable has many different products made out of maple syrup, such as maple candies, butter, ice cream, spreads, coated nuts, cookies etc. which offer very authentic French Canadian treats. Some of these such as the Maple butter cookies can be purchased in local large supermarkets for a lot cheaper (although the quality is better there).
If you only have two hours
The ship docks right next to the old town, so in 2 hours a lot can be seen and experienced. It is easy to walk to the art quarter, walk up to the Chateau Frontenac, the terrace Dufferin, up to the terrace Duguas du Moins, around the Farmer’s Market and shops and restaurants of the old town.
What is it known for?
Quebec is known as the pretty storybook French city, which is the most European in architecture and character of any city in Canada. It is easy to see the historical influences from the different countries that occupied it over the years, with the French and English buildings. It lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful place in Quebec province and is a joy to be in.
Food & Drink
Quebec is a culinary delight; with many local delicacies abound all around the town. There are copious coffee shops, which sell French style coffee and croissants, Maple café lattes, French macaroons, and café glace. The restaurants have many French and Quebecois dishes. There are French dishes such as duck, croque monsoirs and madams, galletes and rich sauces. Country cooking style Quebecoise cooking is a feature of many restaurants, especially the more established ones. You can’t visit Quebec province without trying the most signature dish, poutine. While this is certainly not good for your heart or waistline – being made up of French fries smothered with gravy and cheese curds – this cold weather comfort food does wonders for the soul and taste buds. As it has become ‘cool’ there are many places where you can try different variations on the original recipe, with ingredients such as pulled pork, chill con carne, duck, pickled gherkins and even chocolate, being added. Some ships even have their own “Poutine Bars” with the ship version of this classic to get you in the swing of it.
There is Wi-Fi in the terminal by the ship, of which the signal is intermittent depending on how many people are utilizing it. Many restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Quebec, as well as in the Museum of Civilization.
You can change money in the banks and money exchange places in Quebec with several ATMs and major bank branches, with most of the Bureau de Changes located in the upper city. Credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere, and some of the more touristic shops and larger outlets accept US dollars too.
Karen’s Top Tip
Walk around the city and enjoy it. The atmosphere, history, and beauty of Quebec are undisputable and are to be savored. If you can, take a walking tour and just enjoy being around it.
My experience here
I have been to Quebec many times. In my first visit, I went on a historical walking tour and I believe that was the most beneficial thing I could have done. I learned about the history of the city, its influences and why it is like it is. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Quebec through the years and learned a lot about it and why it has the character it does. This gave me an appreciation of Quebec and a love for it, which only grew with time.
I have spent time wandering around the old town, sitting on a bench on the Terrace Duguas du Moins appreciating the vista of the old town. I have wandered around the upper part of the town, listened to choir concerts in the cathedrals. I have sampled the local fares from several of the restaurants, coffee shops and patisseries.
Summer sees many festivals in Quebec, music – jazz, opera, local music – as well as food, art, artisanal, and history.
I enjoy the Farmer’s Market for trying more local foods, such as foie gras, duck liver pate, locally produced ciders and wine, bread, and cakes. The Museum of Civilization is interesting to learn more about Quebecoise History.
I enjoy meandering around the city enjoying the vibe of it, plus I enjoy sitting in the coffee shops sipping a Maple syrup café latte and nibbling on a freshly baked croissant enjoying the views or using the café’s Internet.
My Most Memorable Moment
My most memorable moment in Quebec was getting married here! My husband Nick and I are both in love with the city, and therefore decided to have our wedding here, when we were docked in the city. We had the actual ceremony on the ship, and then went out and had photos taken around the city. We stopped at the Chateau Frontenac, Terrace Dufferin, Governor’s Park, and the main photo stop was at the Terrace Duguas du Moins where we took the photo we wanted, which was us sitting on our favorite park bench there, looking out to the city, with the photo showing the Chateau Frontenac on one side, the city in the middle and the river with our ship on the other side. This spot will forever be our spot in this lovely city, and I drag Nick up the fairly hefty climb to it.
This is my quick 10 minute guide to the old town of Quebec City. I take you to some of the major sights and historical places of interest, giving some information and tips on what to see, do, eat and drink in this most beautiful French Canadian city.