10 Best Day Trips from Quebec City
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Quebec City is a charming place to visit in Canada’s Quebec province. Known for its marvelous Château Frontenac, traditional French-Canadian cuisine, warm hospitality, and vibrant culture, Quebec City is a wonderful place to explore.
Located about three hours from Montreal, Quebec City itself has so much to explore, as well as the surrounding areas. If you find yourself with time to spare while in Quebec City, the perfect way to spend the day is on a fun day trip.
From hiking to small towns, waterfalls to national parks, these are the best day trips from Quebec City. There is so much to see and explore in this Canadian province, where will you be heading first?
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Best Day Trips From Quebec City
This hidden gem is a peaceful contrast to the busier streets of Quebec City. About 45 minutes outside of the city center is Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, also known as Beaupre. This small town sits at the base of Mont-Sainte-Anne, a beloved ski resort frequently visited in the winter.
While it can get fairly busy in the winter with many people vacationing here for easy ski access, Beaupre is worth visiting year-round. In fact, if you visit outside of winter, you’ll save money on accommodation and get to see the very quiet and peaceful side of this small Quebecois city.
Another great perk to visiting Beaupre is the proximity to hiking. While the town itself is home to local restaurants, cozy coffee shops, and the famous Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, there is hiking to enjoy on Mont-Sainte-Anne when it’s not covered in snow.
If you’re in Quebec, you should stop by Montreal for a day! This is the most populated city in Quebec and the second most populated in Canada. Just 60 miles from the US border, Montreal has a ton of fun activities to offer its visitors.
Montreal has a very lively art and music scene, with many festivals year-round, such as the Festival Montréal en Lumière. You’ll also find a gastronomic capital in Montreal with a plethora of traditional Quebecois foods to try, as well as cuisines from all around the world.
Did you know that Montreal is also the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil? If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, this is the place to do so. This circus-style show is a breathtaking array of acrobatics, dance, and more.
3. Ile d’Orleans
Don’t miss out on this island in the St Lawrence River! Known for its agricultural importance and locally produced wines, Ile d’Orleans is about 20 miles long and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive around. However, there are multiple places worth stopping at along the way.
Plan your trip to Ile d’Orleans and enjoy wine tasting, local ciders, the best poutine in Quebec, mouth-watering chocolates, and more on this historical Quebecois island. There are even day tours to Ile d’Orleans if you don’t want to drive here from Quebec City.
4. Montmorency Falls
Admire epic views of Montmorency Falls just 15 minutes outside of Quebec City. While it won’t take all day to enjoy this natural beauty, you do not want to miss it while you’re in Quebec.
Montmorency Falls is actually taller than Niagra Falls! There are a couple of ways you can enjoy this massive waterfall; take the cable car up and enjoy the views on the ride up, or drive up to the observation deck.
From the observation, there is a short walk to the falls with multiple viewpoints along the way. There is even a zipline you can purchase tickets for. This is a must for thrill seekers!
If you’re planning on making your way from Quebec City to Montreal, or vice versa, you should definitely make a stop in Trois-Rivieres. The second settlement in New France after Quebec City itself, Trois-Rivieres offers museums, the beautiful Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap, a historic downtown district, parks, and great restaurants.
Stop by for a few hours and explore on foot. Make your way through downtown, explore a museum, or go on a self-guided city tour of Trois-Rivières, and dine in town at a local restaurant. Or plan on spending a night, and treat yourself to a relaxing stay at Auberge Godefroy.
6. Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier
This is one of the best day trips from Quebec City for those looking for a nature retreat. Located 30 minutes outside of Quebec City, Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier is a beautiful spot to enjoy the scenery and plan a day of hiking. You can even book a hiking tour with transportation.
It’s home to an incredible glacial valley as well as the Jacques Cartier River. With over 60 miles (100 km) of hiking trails, this national park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. You can also enjoy other adventure activities here, such as biking, kayaking, and even snowshoeing in the winter.
7. Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area
Another nature retreat for those seeking one can be found in Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area. This wildlife refuge is about 50 minutes outside of Quebec City and offers serene, wide-open outdoor space to enjoy.
Go for a hike, at this peaceful park situated on the shore of the St Lawrence River, or pack a picnic to enjoy. This is a very popular place for birdwatchers, but even if you don’t participate in that activity, this wildlife area is a beautiful place to visit.
This is just past Beaupre, so you can plan a little road trip excursion to both Beaupre and Cap Tourmente if you're feeling like it.
8. Charlevoix Train
This seasonal train service offers multiple different rides to choose from. It leaves right from Quebec City so this is the best day trip for those without access to a car. Hop on the Charlevoix Train and enjoy the scenery along the St Lawrence River as you make your way to Baie-Saint-Paul or further onto La Malbaie.
There are tickets you can purchase for a day trip; this will give you a few hours of free time at your destination. Or there are overnight tickets that allow you to spend the night in one of the destinations and explore at your leisure.
Along the train route, there are several more stops. You can choose to get off and explore, or stay on the train to have more time in your final destination. You can even add a tasting to your train journey for a unique experience along the St Lawrence River.
Stroll down the streets of Sherbrooke for a fun day trip from Quebec City. This city offers a nice mix of urban life, nature, and relaxation. Treat yourself to a spa day at one of the many spas in town, such as Strom Spa Nordique Sherbrooke.
Go for a riverside stroll along the Magog River Gorge for a peaceful outing. Or go for a lovely afternoon tea at Uplands Cultural & Heritage Centre. Sherbrooke offers the urban amenities of Quebec City but with a quieter, more relaxing vibe.
10. Whale Watching Excursion
Yes, there’s a possibility to go whale watching near Quebec City! Book this full-day whale-watching excursion for an incredible adventure on Baie-Sainte-Catherine. The tour leaves right from downtown, so this is definitely one of the best day trips from Quebec City for those without a car.
On the tour, you’ll get the chance to admire up to 13 different whale species with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Along with seeing these majestic animals, the setting of the fjord itself is one to write home about. If you’re looking for a breathtaking experience near Quebec City, this whale-watching tour is definitely the one for you.
What to Do in Quebec City
While the places above make for the best day trips from Quebec City, there are several things within the city itself that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on. If you even have a few hours to explore, on foot or by car, these are the best things to do in Quebec City.
1. Chateau Frontenac
You can’t visit Quebec City without admiring the Chateau Frontenac Hotel. This iconic hotel is an architectural marvel and gives the city an even more magical feeling. You can book a stay at the Chateau for the full Quebec City experience, but even if you don’t you should definitely pay a visit or book a guided tour.
2. Parliament Building
Who’s looking for a nice photo opportunity? The Parliament Building is a historical building that doubles as a fantastic photo backdrop. This is a short walk from the Chateau so it’s easy to tack onto a day trip to Quebec City. But make sure you’re wearing plenty of layers if you visit in the winter!
3. City Mural & Place Royale
Two must-sees in Quebec City, Place Royale and City Mural are located conveniently close to each other. The City Mural covers the entire side of a building with a fantastic, intricate mural of life in the city and the Quebecois culture. There is shopping here, as well as cafes, restaurants, and Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.
4. Museum of Civilization
Where the modern world meets ancient history, the Museum of Civilization is hands down one of the best museums in the city. If you’re wanting to visit a museum in Quebec City, let it be the Museum of Civilization. I’m not into history museums, but this one kept me very interested. The exhibits are so informative and intriguing.
5. Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
If you enjoy art of any kind, you should pay a visit to Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec. There are thousands of pieces to admire here, from contemporary to authentic Quebec designs. This incredible art museum comprises four buildings, one of which was originally built to be a prison.
6. Get Cozy in a Coffee Shop
If you need to rest from all your city exploring, head to one of the best coffee shops in Quebec City for a delicious pick-me-up. Grab a latte and a fresh pastry to refuel yourself for more adventures around the town. I was blown away by how amazing the coffee selection is in Quebec City.
7. Observatoire de la Capitale
The best views of Quebec City and the St Lawrence River are found in the Observatoire de la Capitale. Head to the 31st floor for epic, sweeping views of the city below you. You won’t find them quite like this anywhere else in the city.
One thing there is no shortage of in Quebec City is shopping. From fun souvenir shops to luxury clothing stores to bookstores, the city has a shop for everyone to enjoy. My favorite shopping area is on Rue Saint-Jean and Cote de la Fabrique. It’s near the Chateau and there are cafes and restaurants to enjoy here too.
9. St. Louis Gate
On the way from Chateau Frontenac to the Parliament Building, you’ll come across St. Louis Gate. It’s a fun photo opportunity, and it adds to the old European feel of the city. The St. Louis Gate is part of the fortified city wall that was originally built to protect Old Quebec.
Other Popular Activities in Quebec City:
Where to Eat in Quebec City
1. Le Billig
The best crepes you can find in Quebec City are from Le Billig. And trust me, there are plenty of delicious creperies in the city, but hands down, this is the best. With the perfect variety of savory and sweet crepes and an excellent wine list to choose from, enjoy a meal at Le Billig for a true Quebecois experience.
2. Chez Tao
If you’re a fan of Asian cuisine, you need to enjoy a meal at Chez Tao. They have a nice selection of vegetarian options which is a bonus. They are well known for their cocktails, which are very unique and served in fun glasses. Each cocktail has its own glass, and you can even buy it if you want!
3. Don Vegan
Vegans, non-vegans, everybody, needs to try Don Vegan. If you are vegan, you’re in luck. This is a true gem in Quebec City. And if you’re not vegan, you’ll be surprised by how tasty everything is. You won’t even blink an eye at the fact. The food here is so, so good and their cocktails are a plus too.
You cannot visit Quebec City without eating some poutine. And while there are so many places to find this delectable dish, you can’t go wrong with Poutineville. This Quebecois chain serves a fun variety of different takes on poutine. You can stick to the classic, switch it up with a Mexican twist, or go for a veggie option.
5. Cafe La Maison Smith St-Jean
Yes, it’s a cafe, but they offer many food items as well. And everything is so delicious! If you’re wanting a full meal, try the grilled cheese from Cafe La Maison Smith St-Jean. I still think about how amazing it was, and it’s made even better paired with one of their signature lattes.
How many days are enough for Quebec City?
You can explore Quebec City in three to four days and see some amazing parts, but I highly recommend staying longer if you can. Stay a few extra days to soak in the French-Canadian life, and plan fun excursions with the best day trips from Quebec City.
There are so many restaurants to indulge in here, as well as museums to explore, monuments to admire, and beautiful architecture to enjoy. Stay in Quebec City for a long while and explore all the province has to offer outside of the city.
Is the drive from Quebec City to Montreal Scenic?
There are many places to stop along the way on the drive from Quebec City to Montreal. If you have the time, you should plan to take two or three days to leisurely enjoy the journey. While the trip itself is not very long, just under 3 hours of driving, there are places worth stopping in, such as Trois-Rivieres.
Travel Essentials for the Best Day Trips from Quebec City:
Day & Weekend Trips From Quebec City
Whether you’re exploring the city itself, or going on one of the best day trips from Quebec City, this province of Canada has so much to offer. Dine on traditional Quebec foods like poutine and crepes, sip on local wines on Ile d’Orleans, admire the massive beauties of whales in the Saguenay Fjord, or enjoy a scenic train ride along the St Lawrence River.
This French-Canadian province offers charm, cuisine, artistic culture, and a slice of France in North America. Quebec City is a great base for exploring the rest of the region. You can even plan a dog-friendly trip to Quebec for a dog-some adventure!
Where will you be heading first on your Quebec travels? Save this for inspiration when you have extra time; these are the best day trips from Quebec City!
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