Ile d'Orleans, Quebec: A Day Trip From Quebec City
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If you’re visiting the charming Quebec City in Canada, you don’t want to miss its island neighbor, Ile d’Orleans. This 20-mile-long island sits in the St Lawrence River somewhat between Quebec City and Levis. Known for its farming culture, Ile d’Orleans has more to offer than just this. Take a day trip from Quebec City to explore the island!
Ile d’Orleans was one of the first parts of the Quebec province that was colonized by the French. Much of the French Canadian ancestry can actually be traced back to this very island. Plan a trip around Ile d’Orleans to see for yourself what this authentic Quebecois, historic island has to offer.
While most of the island is still farmland, it is worth a drive around so you can enjoy the delicious and peaceful parts. The wine and food here are some of the best you'll find in Quebec, which makes it worth visiting if you ask me.
How Long To Drive Around Ile d’Orleans?
It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Quebec City to Ile d’Orleans, making it the perfect day trip from the city. Once here, if you drive nonstop, it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive around the entire island. But if you plan on making some stops, it will take a bit longer.
You can definitely make a fun day excursion out of your trip to Ile d’Orleans. There are several places worth stopping for, whether it be to eat some delicious food, sip on some cider, find the best views, or grab some chocolate treats for yourself.
We spent around 4 hours enjoying all this Quebecois island has to offer. We ventured over in the afternoon, started our trip around the island, made some pit stops, and stayed the evening to have dinner.
It’s a good idea to make sure you have plenty of gas before you head to Ile d’Orleans. There are several gas stations along the route, but it’s better to play it safe. There is a small population on the island, and most businesses are locally owned and operated, so the chance of a gas station or store being closed is increased.
8 Best Things to Do on Ile d’Orleans
The best things to do on Ile d’Orleans, Quebec consist of eating and sipping on wine. But what’s there to complain about? Some of the best wine in Canada comes from this very island, so if you’re a wine lover, you should definitely visit some of the wineries and taste the local wines.
There are also a few restaurants on the island that I recommend stopping at if you’re hungry or just want to try some local food. If you are arriving on the island from Quebec City, the following places are in order if you turn left onto the main road, Chemin Royal. Here are my favorites stops, the best things to do on Ile d’Orleans:
1. Cassis Monna & Filles | Wine Store
Taste delicious Quebecois wines produced at this vineyard. I recommend this winery specifically because they specialize in blackcurrant wines! And if you’ve never tried one before, this is the perfect place to do so. Blackcurrants grow incredibly well on Ile d’Orleans and they’ve figured out how to perfectly turn them into wine.
And don’t forget to snag a couple of bottles to take home and enjoy after your trip. They also sell vodka, homemade jams and syrups, soap tea, and more. Make sure you try some ice cream as well; it’s sold in the top story of the shop.
2. Cabane a sucre Familiale | Maple Syrup Factory
Get ready to try the freshest, most delicious maple syrup ever. You simply cannot visit Quebec without trying some locally made maple syrup, and what better place to do so than on Ile d’Orleans? This family-run restaurant specializes in everything maple.
Try some maple taffy, made by pouring hot maple syrup over snow to create a lollipop-type dessert. Enjoy some maple baked beans, a Quebecois traditional food you must also try. You can even learn about the process of making maple syrup with a free tour!
3. Microbrasserie de Ile d'Orléans | Brewery
Along with wine, you have to try some locally brewed ciders on Ile d’Orleans. The best place to do so is at Microbrasserie de Ile d'Orléans. This is where we stayed to enjoy dinner and it did not disappoint.
The food here is so fresh and delicious, and the poutine is one of my favorites because they make their own in-house beer gravy *starts drooling.* But seriously, if you’re looking for a place to have a nice dinner on Ile d’Orleans, stop here.
4. Les Fromages de Ile d’Orleans | Cheese Shop
If you’re going to enjoy local wines, you should definitely try local cheese as well! This is a popular food made on Ile d’Orleans and one you can’t go without. I mean, it’s cheese. Let’s dive in.
There is an extensive array of cheeses to choose from, so I recommend trying at least two or three. They also sell other food products, like pates and jams. If you’re lucky, they’ll offer you a cheese tasting, but be aware that this is not always available. Their cheeses are still worth buying for yourself though.
5. The Observation Tower | The Best Views
Looking for incredible views of the island and the St Lawrence River? This is the place to go! This three-story observation tower is free to visit and offers stunning views of the expansive farming island below you.
The best views will be during spring and summer, but I recommend stopping here no matter what time of year you are visiting. However, be prepared for cold winds if you’re visiting in winter.
6. La Seigneurie de Ile d’Orleans | Botanical Garden
If you’re visiting Quebec in the spring or summer, you should definitely stop at La Seigneurie de Ile d’Orleans. This botanical garden looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale. This is a lovely place to enjoy nature and soak in the fresh air with beautiful flowers all around you.
There is a main garden as well as a lavender field. Before you visit, make sure the plants will be in bloom. The lavender field has a relatively short season, but if you catch it, be ready for its beauty and fresh smell.
7. Chocolaterie de Ile d’Orleans | Chocolate Shop
If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely need to stop here. These homemade chocolates are everything you could want; there are so many options and various flavors, you will no doubt find a chocolate perfect for your taste.
If you have room in your suitcase, buy some extra chocolates to take home with you so you can remember your lovely trip to Quebec while enjoying delicious chocolates.
8. Cafe Boutique La Maison Smith | Coffee Shop
Need a coffee pick-me-up while you’re out exploring Ile d’Orleans? Head to Cafe Boutique La Maison Smith. The coffee here is some of the best I’ve ever tried, and don’t get me started on the pastry selection.
They even have sandwiches, which are delicious, so grab a latte and bite to eat before you head out for more adventures on Ile d’Orleans. If you like a sweet coffee, then try the maple or creme brulee latte!
4 Best Tours of Ile d’Orleans
Another great way to experience the food, history, and culture of Ile d’Orleans is by booking a tour. There are several different options, including tours with a local guide, e-bike tours, wine-tasting tours, and taste of Ile d’Orleans tours. Here are the best:
Learn about the history from a local guide on this half-day tour to Montmorency Falls and Ile d’Orleans. This tour is split between three locations, so you won’t be spending a lot of time on Ile d’Orleans, but it is a great way to see more of Quebec, especially if you’re visiting for a short time.
You’ll get to visit Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, Montmorency Falls, and end with a quick tour of Ile d’Orleans with the chance to buy sweets at the chocolaterie. You will have a knowledgeable guide who can share local history, facts about each place you visit, and local recommendations.
This self-guided tour is a great option for those who enjoy a little more adventure. Pick up your bike rentals from Quebec Aventure Tours where you will receive local recommendations and a map to follow if you please. This is an adventurous, alternative way to explore Ile d’Orleans.
They will help you get situated on your e-bike before you head out to explore so you know exactly how it works. Make sure you have comfortable tennis shoes, warm clothes, and a windbreaker or jacket. It can get chilly, especially as you’re biking.
3. Wine Tour
Fancy tasting wines across the island? This guided wine-tasting tour will take you to three wineries on Ile d’Orleans. You’ll learn all about the wine production process as you tour the vineyards as well as taste the wines from each.
This tour starts in Quebec City and provides transportation to and from the island. In a small group, you’ll learn so much about wine, the history of Ile d’Orleans, and more surprising facts from your local guide.
This is a guided version of an e-bike tour around Ile d’Orleans, Quebec. With your small group, you’ll make your way around the island and stop at various local businesses along the way, getting the chance to indulge in locally-grown produce, ice cream, chocolate, and wines.
If biking sounds like your preferred method of travel around the island, but you don’t want to get lost or miss out on the best stops, this guided e-bike tour is perfect for you!
Do you need a car on Ile d’Orleans?
If you plan on visiting without a tour, yes, you will need a car to get around Ile d’Orleans. The easiest way to get here is to drive 20 minutes from Quebec City and have your car to travel around conveniently. If you take yourself, you can plan the day just how you please, stopping for however long you want, wherever you want.
However, there is a great alternative if you don’t wish to drive to Ile d’Orleans, or you don’t have access to a car. Book a tour and experience the island with a local guide. This is a great option for those who want to make the most out of a quick trip to Ile d’Orleans, and it’s fun to learn more about the island from a local guide.
Is Ile d’Orleans walkable?
There is one main road, Chemin Royal, that circles the outer edge of Ile d’Orleans with no walking pathways. While you could theoretically walk on this main road, I highly recommend not doing so. You can drive your own car or rent one for the day if possible.
Or opt for a guided tour that includes transportation to and from Ile d’Orleans. It is worth going to see and especially tasting local foods and learning about its unique history that makes it an authentic Quebecois destination.
Exploring Ile d’Orleans
This island in the St Lawrence River makes a perfect day trip from Quebec City. Experience a different side of Quebec, Canada, and step into the land of farming, wine, and agriculture. Try local foods such as the wines produced on the island, fresh cheeses, chocolates, or ciders.
While Ile d’Orleans is small, it is well worth exploring, even if only for a couple of hours. Don’t forget to stop at the Observation Tower for the best views on the island, and enjoy the botanical garden at La Seigneurie de Ile d’Orleans in the spring and summer.
Just 20 minutes outside of Quebec City, don’t miss out on this gem of a little island. Ile d’Orleans, the historical farming island of the Quebec province, is waiting to be explored by you!
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