Enjoy the ambience of Old Québec when you walk its narrow cobblestone streets, admire its traditional French architecture and visit its boutiques and bistros. The old city rises from the Place-Royale on the banks of the St. Lawrence River all the way up to Château Frontenac at the top of the Cap Diamant promontory.
Old Québec is the only walled city in North America and is carefully preserved as a World Heritage Site. Covering 333 acres (135 hectares) the quarter is divided into two parts: the Lower Town (Basse-Ville) and the Upper Town (Haute-Ville). The district contains many of Québec’s oldest and most significant buildings, many of which date from before 1850.
Walk along the streets of the Lower Town. Check out the museums and old buildings of the Old Port (Vieux-Port), and go shopping for antiques along Rue Saint-Paul. Sit down for a meal at one of the bistros lining the pedestrian-only Rue du Petit-Champlain. To get to the Upper Town, take a ride on the cable railway or climb the adjacent stairway on the north end of this street.
The Upper Town sits on the promontory of Cap Diamant, high above the St. Lawrence River, and is dotted with fortifications. Walk the circuit past the walls, towers, bastions and gates that once kept invading American armies at bay. Take pictures of the turreted Château Frontenac, the grand hotel dominating Québec’s skyline.
Explore historic sites such as the Citadelle of Québec, a star-shaped fortress. This massive structure houses a regiment of the Canadian Army, which regularly performs a Changing of the Guard ceremony. Walk along Dufferin Terrace, a long promenade. Take a seat on a bench and watch the boats glide by on the river below.
Old Québec is best navigated on foot or by bike. You can also explore the district by using the small Écolobus, a cheap, electric city bus that moves between the Upper and Lower towns. Alternatively, take a taxi or rent a car. Note that parking is metered and limited and some of the streets are narrow and crowded.