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Things to Do in Quebec - page 2

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Montreal Place d'Armes
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10 Tours and Activities

Nestled in the heart of historic Old-Montreal, Place d’Armes is the second oldest public site in Montreal. The Sulpicians, who played a major role in the founding of the city and built the still-existing Saint-Sulpice Seminary on the southern side of the square, called it Place de la Fabrique as it was used as a hay and wood market. The name was, however, changed to Place d’Armes in 1721 when it became the stage of various military events.

Place d’Armes more or less kept it actual size and allure since the completion of Notre-Dame Basilica in 1830, with the notable exception that it is now flanked by the city’s first high rise buildings -representing major periods of Montreal's development- the New York Life Insurance Building as well as the Art deco gem and Empire State Building lookalike Aldred Building.

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Upper Town (Haute-Ville)
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Looking out across the St Lawrence River from its clifftop location on Cap Diamant, Quebec City’s Upper Town (Haute-Ville) is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Vieux Quebec. Famous for its French and British-built fortifications, many of Upper Town’s perfectly preserved buildings date back to 19th century, and some even go as far back as the 1600s.

The jewel in Upper Town’s crown has to be the iconic Château Frontenac hotel. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company in 1893 as a way of enticing railway passengers to Quebec City, today the chateau is a National Historic Site of Canada that’s said to be one of the world’s most photographed hotels. If you’re not staying overnight, you can always enjoy a drink at one of hotel bars which look out to the Laurentian Mountains in the distance. Stuffed with boutiques, restaurants and hotels, Upper Town’s narrow cobblestone streets are where most visitors spend the majority of their time while in Quebec City.

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Quebec Lower Town (Basse-Ville)
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Wedged between the St Lawrence River and Cap Diamant, Quebec City’s Lower Town (Basse-Ville) is part of the Vieux Quebec UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to the city’s oldest buildings, there’s plenty to see in Basse-Ville, including the oldest shopping street in North America (Rue du Petit Champlain), and one of Canada’s narrowest streets (Sous-Les-Cap).

A popular place for a wander, and Quebec City’s oldest residential area, Lower Town’s century-old dwellings play host to boutiques and bistros, antique stores and galleries. In summer, street performers entertain outside bustling sidewalk cafes, while in winter the snowy streets are decked with fairy lights and ice statues. Place Royale is a popular visit while in Basse-Ville. This square is where the Father of New France, Samuel de Champlain, first built a French colony on the shores of St Lawrence.

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Citadel of Quebec (Citadelle de Quebec)
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The Citadel of Quebec, a massive star-shaped fort, towers above the St Lawrence River on Cape Diamond (Cap Diamant), the rock bluff along the water. Though the Citadel never actually was in a battle, it continues to house about 200 members of the Royal 22e Régiment, the only fully French speaking battalion in the Canadian Forces. Thus, the Citadel is North America's largest fortified group of buildings still occupied by troops.

Upon visiting The Citadel of Quebec, you will get the the low-down on the spectacular architecture as well as see exhibits on military life from colonial times to today. The changing of the guard takes place daily at 10am in summer. The beating of the retreat, with soldiers banging on their drums at shift's end, happens every Friday at 7pm from July 6 until early September.

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Dorchester Square (Le Square Dorchester)
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Dorchester Square is a leafy and large urban park in downtown Montreal surrounded by boutiques and skyscrapers; it is bordered by René-Lévesque Boulevard to the south, Peel Street to the west, Metcalfe Street to the east, and Dominion Street to the north. The elegantly manicured alleys are shadowed by mature trees and lead to four statues, each representing a segment of Canadian history (Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Boer War Memorial, which is the the only equestrian statue in Montreal, Lion of Belfort, and Robert Burns Statue). From spring to autumn, it almost bursts to the seams with smartly dressed office workers enjoying fresh air during their lunch break.

But what is currently known as Dominion Square used to be, in fact, two different squares: Dorchester Square and Place du Canada, which were both inaugurated in 1878. The recent reunification of the two created a new area just over 21,000 m2 (2.1 hectares), making it a focal point for pedestrian traffic in the district.

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Saint-Roch
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A working-class area and shipbuilding site since the early 1800s, up until a decade ago the Saint-Roch district of Quebec City was an industrial wasteland. Today, it’s the hippest district in the city that’s full of 19th-century factories-turned-nightlife hangouts, alternative stores, tech startups, and bistros. Even the 150-year-old Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier church has been given a second life as Espace Hypérion, a creative performance center.

Most of the action in Saint-Roch takes places on the main commercial street, rue Saint-Joseph, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into renovations over the past 10 years. Spanning 15 square blocks, even the quarter’s new name is up-to-the-minute: the “Nouvo” in Nouvo Saint-Roch is text speak for “nouveau.” And in the east streets of Saint-Roch, on the pillars beneath the Dufferin-Montmorency expressway, look out for giant, colorful murals featuring everything from oversized church doors to chess boards.

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Montreal Tower (La Tour de Montréal)
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Welcome to the tallest inclined tower in the world! At 165 meters high (575 feet) and at a 45-degree angle (Pisa Tower only has a five-degree angle, by comparison!), the iconic tower certainly knows how to catch the eye. It was built for the Montreal Summer Olympics back in 1976 and even though it is a notorious white elephant to Montrealers, it is also one of the city’s most popular attractions. Understandably so – no other place offer such sweeping views of Montreal, the Laurentians mountain range, the St. Lawrence River and plains as well as Mont-Royal Mountain. On clear days, visitors can see up to 50 miles! The outdoor, glass-encased funicular alone is worth the detour, since it is the only one in the world to operate on a curved structure, relying on a sophisticated hydraulic system to complete the ascent.

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Pointe-à-Callière
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Located in the beautiful historic neighborhood of Old Montreal, Pointe-à-Callière is an archaeology and history museum dedicated to Montreal’s and Canada’s tortuous past. The museum was built on what is believed to be the birthplace of Montreal; archaeological studies have shown evidence of over 1,000 years of human activity in this very location. Pointe-à-Callière opened in 1992 for the city of Montreal’s 350th anniversary celebrations, and, after 10 years of extensive digs, became one of the largest archaeological collections in the country. Guided tours and information sessions are available every day at no extra charge. Visitors will a disability should not that the museum is entirely wheelchair accessible except for sections in the archaeological crypt below ground level.

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More Things to Do in Quebec

Montreal Champ de Mars

Montreal Champ de Mars

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La Fontaine Park (Parc La Fontaine)

La Fontaine Park (Parc La Fontaine)

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Eighty-four acres of pure bliss – that is what locals are going to describe La Fontaine Park. Right in the hustle and bustle of the city stands a lavish green park, which features two linked ponds with a fountain and waterfall, an open-air theatre venue, a cultural centre, a dog park, playing fields, bike paths, barbecues and tennis courts. It remains one of the most popular parks among Montrealers, year-round.

But La Fontaine Park wasn’t always this urban forest; it is located on the grounds of what used to be the old Logan farm, which was sold in 1845 to the Government of Canada and used for military practice until the 1900s. This part of Montreal was still very much rural back then, and the soldiers used the surrounding wilderness to train. At one point, the military left, and the park got its first landscaping makeover – it was the first phase of the development of the city's large nature parks.

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Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church (Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires)

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church (Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires)

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Built in 1687, in the historic Lower Town of Quebec City, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is one of the oldest churches in North America. Lying atop the ruins of the city’s first outpost, which was built by the Father of New France, Samuel de Champlain, in 1608, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires dominates Place Royale square. Over the centuries, this Roman Catholic church has seen its fair share of battles between the French and British. And after the Battle of Quebec in 1690, the church was given its Notre Dame moniker in recognition of the Virgin Mary protecting the city from danger. However, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church was almost completely destroyed by a later British bombardment during the 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Restored in 1816, the church was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988 because of its beauty and history. A working church with regular Sunday services, a particularly special time to visit is on January 3.

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Montreal Biosphere (la Biosphère)

Montreal Biosphere (la Biosphère)

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A lasting structure and symbol of Expo 67, the Biosphere is a unique architectural treasure of Montreal and the masterpiece of architect Buckminster Fuller.

Since 1995, it has been home to exhibitions, permanent and temporary, that are geared toward educating people about major environmental issues. Its interactive exhibits help those of all ages better understand the profound effects of climate change and provides information on how to make a lighter footprint on this Earth.

Such exhibits as "+1 Degree Celsius: What Difference Does it Make?" uses an interactive digital Earth globe and short films to demonstrate the science behind climate change.

Another exhibit, "Finding Balance", looks at how our consumer habits shape the environment while a temporary exhibit, "Water Wonders!", takes a fun spin on all things H2O with games and experiments for guests to tackle.

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Quebec City Old Port (Vieux-Port)

Quebec City Old Port (Vieux-Port)

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One of the most charming areas of Quebec City, the Old Port (Vieux-Port) was once a bustling commercial hub for European ships bringing supplies and settlers to the new colony. Today, it’s still bustling, but now the port reverberates with visitors wandering the quays, enjoying picturesque views of the Old City, the St. Lawrence River, and the Laurentian Mountains.

The Quebec City Old Port is also where you’ll find the impressive Musee de la Civilization, spacious and rich with multimedia exhibits on Canadian culture. Also here is the Marché du Vieux-Port (Old-Port Market), where the local farmers and producers come to sell their fresh products. Perhaps the most enchanting of all the city’s many small squares – and a must-see – is the Place Royale, home to the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church, the oldest church in Quebec, and the Centre d’Interpretation de Place-Royal, which has exhibitions detailing the city’s 400-plus-year history.

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Atwater Market (Marché Atwater)

Atwater Market (Marché Atwater)

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Open since 1933, Atwater Market is an important part of Montreal’s culinary heritage. While the city has a number of great markets, this one is considered to be more upscale than the norm. Here you’ll be able to get a true taste of the city, as the market features artisans and purveyors selling only the freshest foods, ingredients and products. Spread across two spacious floors -- as well as outdoor stalls when the weather is warm -- you’ll need a few hours to really see (and sample!) all that’s offered.

Keep an eye out for hard-to-find and specialty items, including ethnic specialties and rare spices. If you’re looking for fresh meats, upstairs you’ll find about 10 butchers. In their onsite wine store you can peruse many local varietals, while a large array of flower shops allows you to explore the colorful side of Montreal.

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Montreal Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin)

Montreal Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin)

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Located just south of artsy, boho-chic Plateau Mont-Royal, the Latin Quarter has been a center of student life since the 18th century. Now home to one of the largest universities in the country, its name doesn’t exactly come as a surprise; the neighborhood is filled with students, bookstores and inexpensive cafés with exceptional people watching opportunities. It is known for its many theatres, artistic atmosphere, lively restaurants, microbreweries and whisky bars, as well as independently-owned boutiques.

The best thing about the Latin Quarter is undeniably its eclectic crowd and its joie de vivre: both the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy, the local and the ethnic, the artistic and the intellectual mingle on the streets, be it during a summer festival or while queuing to get hot chocolate. Definitely a multi-layer neighborhood if there ever was one! One of the main attraction of the area, outside its buzzing nightlife, is the Grande bibliothèque du Québec.

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Lachine Canal (Canal de Lachine)

Lachine Canal (Canal de Lachine)

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Running from Old Montreal to Lake St. Louis in western Montreal, Canal de Lachine is a 14.5 kilometer-long (9 miles) inland waterway that was mainly used for commercial shipping. It was built to allow ships to bypass the treacherous Lachine Rapids, which were not navigable. Work on the canal started in 1821, and it opened for navigation in 1825. The opening not only made Montreal one of the most important ports in North America and a significant trade center for wood, iron and steel, but it also helped develop the neighborhoods surrounding the canal like Petite-Bourgogne, Saint-Henri, Griffintown and Pointe St-Charles – in fact, Montreal’s population quadrupled over the 50 years following the canal’s construction.

Although the canal is now obsolete for commercial navigation, it is possible to visit its historic docks, the most popular ones being located in Old-Montreal.

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Grevin Museum (Musée Grévin Montréal)

Grevin Museum (Musée Grévin Montréal)

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Talk about a museum that takes the art of make believe to a whole new level! Mingle with the (wax versions) likes of Celine Dion, Queen Elizabeth II, Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga, Ghandi and more at the newly opened Grevin Wax Museum in downtown Montreal. The museum is spread over eight different rooms or “worlds,” starting with the Palace of the Seasons, which takes visitors on a magic journey inspired by the beauty of the four seasons.

The New France room focuses on 16th century explorers in the company of the French navigator Jacques Cartier, while the Paris-Québec room presents famous personalities who made their mark on both sides of the Atlantic. The Sports Temple might as well be called the Hockey Temple since it features a hockey rink and several wax statues of celebrated hockey players. The Hotel Grévin room takes visitors throughout a series of hotel rooms, each with a distinct ambiance and guests.

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McCord Museum

McCord Museum

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