Québec City is a bustling metropolis and the perfect mixture of history, religion, and culture. This is the only region in North America where English is not the most commonly spoken language, and the preservation of the French language and culture is an incredible representation of the traditional and authentic heritage that is present in this eastern Canada province. Exploring Québec City transports visitors to historic Europe - a main reason why this a tourist favourite.
Old Québec is a designated World Heritage treasure by UNESCO, meaning this region was declared to have 'outstanding universal value' for its cultural, historical and natural preservation. This living history lesson is a mix of architecture, history, art and culture. This traditional European-style destination is bustling with horse-drawn carriages, street entertainers, singers and artists. The entertainment continues as travellers spend much of their time visiting the many museums, religious landmarks and military sites like the Citadel. Take a trip to this destination and experience the architectural treasure and symbol of European colonial history that is Old Quebec.
The St. Lawrence River is an iconic symbol of Québec. Cutting directly through the region, the river is a gateway to America and has been crucial to the city's economy for over 400 years. Just a glimpse at the harbour and trade activities and the number of cruise ships that dock in the Vieux-Port de Québec—otherwise known as the Old Port in Québec City—proves its economic significance. Take time to explore the public market and bike path that run alongside the St. Lawrence River for an expansive view of this massive landmark.
Montmorency Falls is an immense natural wonder that is 83 m high and can be seen from all the way across the St. Lawrence River in Lévis. Take a trip to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency where you can feel the spray and experience the full force of the falls for yourself. Visitors can enjoy the falls in many ways, whether by taking a scenic route by cable car over the falls, hiking the many circuits, or if you are extra adventurous, crossing the cove on a zip line. The Montmorency Falls are accessible year-round and just as magnificent a site in the winter when the spray freezes.
The Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine has been referred to as the 'place of miracles' for the past 350 years. The shrine is North America's oldest pilgrimage site and is well worth a visit whatever your religious beliefs. An attraction that garners some one million visitors a year, the Neo-Romanesque basilica is home to a golden statue of Saint Anne along with numerous artistic masterpieces including paintings, mosaics, stained-glass windows and several sculptures. This religious and historic site is an exemplary landmark in Québec City.
Chemin du Roy is Canada's oldest highway and has linked Québec City and Montreal since 1737. Unlike other destinations, but common to Canada, this highway is exceptionally scenic and passes through beautiful rustic landscapes along the St. Lawrence River. Translated and referred to as 'the Kings Road', this 280 km long tourist route presents the rich heritage and history of New France as it passes through beautiful villages featuring manors, museums, ancestral homes and other unique historic treasures. Sick of traveling by car? Nearly the entire Chemin du Roy is part of Quebec's 'Route verte' bike path network, allowing tourists to enjoy the scenery while cycling through it.
The summer is a perfect time to visit Québec City, with its mild days and fairly cool nights. While July is usually the warmest month of the year when temperatures can reach up to 30°C, overall, May through August is a very pleasant time to visit. However, do not let the cold winter months scare you off—Québec City is home to a variety of winter sports for tourists to test out. This fun, four-season destination is enjoyable year round as long as you are aware of the weather and pack appropriately.
As one of the oldest settlements in North America, Québec City's 400 years of history can be spotted at every turn. Part of that history is the preservation of the French language. While English is widely understood, French is the dominant language, and any French you can speak will be appreciated by the locals. It is important for visitors to be able to speak and understand at least a few phrases of French.
While serious crime in Québec City is rare, this is a prime tourist destination, so pick-pocketing can be common during crowded summer months. It is always important to be aware of your surroundings when you are travelling in a foreign country in order to avoid being pickpocketed.
Most international visitors, including those from Australia, do not require a visa and can stay in Canada for up to six months with a valid passport.
Get the most out of your Canadian holiday to Québec City by being protected with travel insurance. Whether you are pick-pocketed while visiting Montmorency Falls Park or you are injured while biking on Chemin du Roy, having international travel insurance will save you time and money if anything goes wrong during your travels.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Dhinakaran Gajavarathan; cropped from original.