Québec City at its Best
Québec and Charlevoix Itinerary: The Best in 7 Days
Partner content: Tourisme Charlevoix
From the incredible architectural heritage to the call of the nearby mountains, lakes, and forests, the Québec City area can keep visitors busy for weeks. But even with less time, you can still see the best it has to offer. Just follow the guide!
Day 1 - Explore Old Québec’s Upper Town on Foot
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography Zoom
What better place to start than Québec City’s historic district? This UNESCO World Heritage site has points of interest around every corner, so head out on foot to see the unique blend of past and present in this historical neighbourhood.
Perched high above the St. Lawrence River, Château Frontenac is said to be the “most photographed hotel in the world.” Step inside to see the sumptuous furnishings, browse the shops, or enjoy the fine dining. Outside, a leisurely stroll along Dufferin Terrace is the perfect way to admire the river and catch performances by street entertainers.
Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
Next stop: the church of the first Catholic parish in the Americas north of the Spanish colonies. Be sure to visit the funeral chapel of Saint François de Laval, where you’ll find the only Holy Door outside of Europe.
As the only walled city still standing north of Mexico, Québec City is an Instagrammer’s paradise. Get some of the best viewpoints in town atop the fortifications between the St. Louis and St. Jean Gates or delve into the secrets of the city’s walls with a guided tour. If you get hungry, take a break in a restaurant that serves delicious traditional meals.
The Québec City Citadelle—the biggest colonial fortress from the days of British North America—is still an active military base. In summer, attend the changing of the guard at 10 a.m., a tradition proudly upheld by the Royal 22e Régiment (and another great photo op).
This handsome historic building is home to Québec’s National Assembly. Take a stroll through the extensive gardens before popping inside to explore the impressive interior. A fine example of Second Empire architecture.
Plains of Abraham
This historical battle site no longer resounds to the burst of gunfire, but to the bursts of laughter of playing children and strolling families. After a relaxing time in this beautiful urban park, treat yourself to a meal at one of the many gourmet restaurants in Old Québec.
Day 2 – Get the Lowdown on the Lower Town
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography Zoom
The first building erected by the French stood right here, in Place Royale. Today, the French and British architectural styles of this historic square serve as the backdrop for a host of activities in every season.
This pedestrian street is by far the most picturesque in town. It’s lined on either side with antique buildings where local artisans present their wares: blown glass, jewellery, gourmet fare, designer clothes, and more!
Place des Canotiers
Place des Canotiers is a beautiful riverside area below the Château Frontenac where you can go for a stroll, cool down by the fountain, or just admire the view of the St. Lawrence. That should give you time to think about where you’d like to have your next delicious meal!
Musée de la civilisation
This blockbuster museum presents crowd‑pleasing exhibitions on art, culture, and society, including a permanent exhibition where you can learn more about French Canadian culture.
The Old Port is known for its antique dealers, art galleries, and excellent restaurants, so it’s a great place to go exploring in the late afternoon or early evening. For pre‑dinner drinks, head to Cour arrière, the patio bar where you can dip your feet in the water as you sample a selection of craft beer.
Day 3 - Nature and Country Living 15 minutes from Québec City
Credit: Jeff Frenette Photography Zoom
At 83 metres (272 feet) high—a full 30 metres (nearly 100 feet) taller than Niagara—the roaring Montmorency Falls always make a big impression. Take the stairs or the gondola all the way to the top, or get your fill of thrills on the double zipline or the via ferrata.
Blessed with a fertile soil, this little island haven is full of rolling farms and country charms. You’ll love the beautiful centuries-old villages! As you make your way around the island, be sure to stop at the many farm stands and shops where you can meet local producers and sample the fruits of their labours.
Day 4 - Onward to Charlevoix
Credit: Caroline Perron Zoom
On to Charlevoix County! But on the way, stop to stretch your legs along the trails and suspension bridges that span Canyon Sainte-Anne, a very special rock formation that’s 1.2 billion years old.
Magnificent, breathtaking, sublime… words simply can’t do justice to Charlevoix, a stretch of villages set among hills and valleys bordering the St. Lawrence River. Artists are drawn here by the dozen, adding culture to the mix of delicious local products and wild expanses just waiting to be explored.
Baie‑Saint‑Paul has long been a source of inspiration for artists and artisans. Is it the town’s picturesque setting in a river valley? Or the bohemian soul of the place so evident in the shops and cafés? You be the judge. On Rue Saint‑Jean‑Baptiste, the colourful shops and art galleries are full of unique pieces, making them perfect for a leisurely bit of shopping.
Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul
Spend an afternoon contemplating the works of Canadian and international artists at the town’s contemporary art museum, then head over to a sunny patio to relax and savour a pint of local craft beer.
Foodies take note: Flavour Trail is a great gourmet adventure that will take you from Petite-Rivière-Saint-François to Baie Sainte-Catherine. From sparkling cider to exquisite chocolate, you’ll keep those hunger pangs deliciously at bay. Highlights include the Domaine de la Vallée du Bras winery, the Famille Migneron de Charlevoix cheeseworks, and 2 very special farms: Centre de l’Émeu and Ferme Basque.
Day 5 - A Day on Isle-Aux-Coudres
Credit: André-Olivier Lyra Zoom
The Isle-aux-Coudres–Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive Ferry
Isle-aux-Coudres is a peaceful, bucolic island where you’ll want to slow down and savour the moment. Just hop on the free ferry, fill your lungs with fresh sea air, and admire the view as you sail over to a little slice of heaven on earth.
Vélo Coudres Bike Rental Shop
There’s no better way to visit Isle‑aux‑Coudres than on a bike. Choose one that suits your style: hybrid, commuter, electric, or even tandem. The 23‑km route is one long, enchanting vista. A quick stop at the shop and you’ll be on your way!
The Isle-aux-Coudres mills ground to a halt in 1948 and stood silent until 1982. Today the watermill (est. 1825), windmill (est. 1836), and miller’s home—now an interpretation centre—are all celebrated pieces of Charlevoix’s heritage.
Cidrerie et Vergers Pedneault
The legendary hospitality of the “Marsouins”—the name for Isle-aux-Coudres islanders—is alive and well at the Pedneault orchards and cider house. The family turns apples, pears, cherries, and plums from their orchard into all manner of delicious goodies, from honeys and jams to ciders and mistelles.
Day 6 - Exploring the Mountain Road
Credit: Parc des Hautes Gorges Zoom
Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park
Head out in a kayak, on a boat tour, or along hiking trails to explore one of Mother Nature’s great masterpieces. Whether you see it by land or by river, this gorgeous park will leave you speechless.
Domaine Le Pic-Bois
This hunting and fishing lodge in the Charlevoix Forest is just the place for an authentic wilderness experience. Track black bears and beavers with professional, experienced guides who will make you feel right at home.
Day 7 - Back to Québec City
Credit: Robert Chiasson Zoom
Observatoire de l’Astroblème de Charlevoix
Before you leave Charlevoix, visit the Astroblème Observatory to learn about the region’s meteoric origins from a scientific tour guide. You’ll also get to see samples of meteorites.
St. Lawrence Route Panoramic Road
Route 362 from La Malbaie to Baie-Saint-Paul is one of the prettiest and most scenic routes in North America. Enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and the St. Lawrence River as you travel from hilltop village to riverside town. There are plenty of tempting stops along the way: the Miellerie du Cratère honey house, Alpagas Charlevoix alpaca shop, Maritime Museum, and more!
This grandiose pilgrimage site is a thing to behold, both inside and out. One of only 5 national sanctuaries in Québec, it makes for a one‑of‑a‑kind layover on your trip back to Québec City. A must!
An Evening on the St. Lawrence River
Spend an evening aboard a ship, dining in a festive atmosphere and admiring the view of the city at night. It’s the perfect ending to a memorable holiday.
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