Visiting Quebec City in the Fall might just be the perfect time to see this breathtaking city, to walk the historic streets, and admire the colonial Nouvelle-France architecture.
Quebec City is, of course, perfect for visiting at any time of the year – in summer with long days and lively nights, in winter when the city is blanketed in deep snow or spring when the city awakes from its slumber invigorated – but in Fall, when the trees turn vivid red and orange and the nights shorten, is perhaps my favorite time to visit.
There are just so many beautiful things to do in Quebec City. So many!
Not only do most tourists avoid this time of year – leaving you with empty streets, off-season rates and plenty of friendly locals who now want to chat with you – but Quebec City in the fall offer’s plenty of events, charm and indeed magic making it the most romantic time to visit.
The capital of the Canadian province of Quebec, the Old Town of Quebec is famed not only located on a commanding clifftop position overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, but also for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the only city in North America (outside Mexico and the Caribbean) with its original city walls.
Bundle up, Quebec City in the fall is going to be brisk, but utterly unforgettable and transfixing…
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20 Beautiful Things To Do In Quebec City In Fall: An Enchanting Fairytale 🍁
#1. Wander The Magical Petit Champlain Streets And Palace Royale
Narrow streets, unique boutiques, ornate decorations, and charming bistros – the lower town district of Petit Champlain has a romantic atmosphere that would put many European villages to shame.
The home of the original New France colony, many of the buildings here are original, and some, in fact, are still operating fur trading posts…though more catering to wealthy tourists these days than to send back to France. The charm here is irresistible in the Fall as the streets are quiet, decorations are out in full force, and the roads are not yet covered in mushy snow.
Often named North America’s most beautiful street and a truly marvelous attraction in Quebec City!
#2. Learn and Eat On A Combo Historical and Food Tour of the Old Quebec City
Combine Quebec’s two selling points – history and food – with this fascinating food tour. We go on a lot of food tours, but we can still confidently say that this is one of the best we’ve ever been on (a bold claim, but we’re going with it). The stops are varied and complement each other entirely to build a comprehensive, immersive experience that takes you through about six restaurants in both Upper and Lower Quebec.
From a charcuterie platter in a converted factory to a flambeed lobster bisque and a spectacular beef bourguignon, after sampling these delights, you’ll understand why Quebec is so famous for its food. In between the food, you’ll visit historical sights and learn to discover religion in the city, the birthplace of New France, and the old Jesuit College. Top-quality food, informative guides, and beautiful sights in Fall; the perfect tour.
#3. Sip Hot Chocolate And Gorge On Poutine
During the Fall in Quebec City, the temperatures dip, and locals and tourists alike take comfort in rich food and drinks.
The ever-present hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream (chocolate chaud) is perfect for sitting in a cozy cafe and staring out the window. At the same time, Poutine – the infamous Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curd, and brown gravy – fills you up and makes you feel like everything is right in the world. Rumour has it that it tastes even better in Montreal, however…
Quebecers are divided by Poutine, with some thinking the dish which originates here is a blight on their culture while others embrace it as a core part of their identity. Available all over Quebec City from upscale establishments to fast-food locations, Poutine is a food you just cannot miss in Quebec.
As is chocolate chaud, but then … is there ever not a perfect time or place for hot chocolate!
#4. Walk Through History On A Quebec Old City Walking Tour
Beautiful historic cities like this one often truly come into their own in Fall. The golden light, the russet leaves, and the brisk chill in the air show off the picturesque buildings and parks. You feel like you’re in a rom-com (but a really good one!). What better thing to do in Quebec City in the Fall, then, than a walking tour? It’s a great way to learn more about the city’s top attractions as an engaging guide shares the stories behind this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some of the places you could see include one of the oldest stone churches in Canada, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, that marks the place where Quebec began; the active military spot of Citadelle of Quebec; and the old fortifications creating a wall around the city. Do this at the beginning of your visit, so you get your bearings in this city.
#5. Embrace The Early Quebec City Christmas Spirit!
OK, technically, this should come up as a reason to visit Quebec City in the winter – but Quebec City embraces Christmas like no other, and as soon as daylight savings ends and the clocks turn back Christmas decorations are swiftly out in full display across the city.
Even if you are a bit of a Grinch, it’s hard not to fall in love with the twinkly lights, the scent of pine in the air, and soft French Christmas carols pumping through the silent night air.
What’s more, if you visit after November 23rd the annual Quebec City German Christmas Markets are out in the old-town which provide a unique and warm atmosphere with plenty of delicious German treats (such as bratwurst, mulled wine, and gingerbread) in case the delightful French food of Quebec was not enough already!
Be careful; however, you might just be tempted to stay all the way through till Christmas.
#6. Stay Cool With A Tour Of Hotel de Glace – and a Cocktail!
Ice hotels aren’t only for Lapland, guys. In fact, we’re sure Quebec City would like you to know that they have one, too – the only one in North America. It’s about 20 minutes outside of the city but well worth a visit. Every year it gets rebuilt with a new theme. 2019’s theme was Hotel Gardens and was developed by approximately 50 artists and sculptors, taking inspiration from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, among others.
While we’d find it a bit chilly to stay here, you can enjoy a walking tour to learn more about how it gets made every year. The high ceilings, curved walls, and dramatic décor are spectacular, and you’ll find yourself gawping in wonder more than once! After the tour, sample a cocktail in one of their ice glasses. Don’t forget to layer up for this unique experience at Hotel de Glace!
If Frozen and other animated travel movies inspire your wanderlust, this place is for you…
#7. Indulge In A Luxury Stay at The Hotel Fairmont Château Frontenac
Ideally located inside the Old Quebec city walls, the iconic Fairmont Château Frontenac is the only answer to the question of where to stay in Quebec City! One of the most photographed hotels in the world, a luxury stay at the Hotel Château Frontenac enhances your time in Quebec by continuing the travel experience back to your hotel room with unparalleled views of the historical city, and it’s unique architecture.
The hotel has a rich and dynamic history complimented by modern innovations, fine dining, and a recent multi-million dollar renovation. A landmark hotel that is just as much a destination as Quebec city itself, there are 611 guest rooms and suites that sell-out in high season, but since you are visiting Quebec City in Fall, they slash room rates to increase occupancy.
There is never a better (or cheaper) time to stay at the Fairmont Château Frontenac – take a look at their lowest prices and discounted room rates now!
#8. Explore Under The Sea at the Aquarium du Quebec
If you’re in Quebec City in Fall, the chances are you might encounter a rainy day or two. While the city can be very romantic in the rain, you won’t want to be outside all the time – the Aquarium du Quebec is the ideal indoor activity in these cases. It’s a magical underwater world that’s home to 10,000 marine creatures, including fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. They also have an attractive picnic area if the sun comes out, which is very pretty when the colors are changing in the Fall.
Like all suitable aquariums, the Aquarium du Quebec offers a very interactive experience. You can go to the touch tanks to stroke starfish and coral. The seals and walruses are also endlessly fascinating to watch, as they always seem so chilled out! Lots of visitors also rave about the slightly eerie and serene jellyfish exhibit – these floating creatures seem so otherworldly. Improvements are taking place on the polar bear exhibit point to this being another highlight in the future.
#9. Marvel At The Light Show Of The Old Port in Quebec City
While the boats are all pulled out of the water in anticipation of the coming ice, the Fall in Quebec City means it is the perfect time to see the Aurora Borealis permanent lighting installation on the Old Post grain silos.
Not quite as good as seeing the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi Lapland…but close!
A nightly show inspired by the colors of the northern lights projected on this impressive architectural structure by permanent lighting from sunset until 11.30 pm. An innovative way to brighten up Quebec City in the darkness, the Old Port of Quebec is also a great place to wander around with a romantic partner (with plenty of spots for stolen kisses) or to appreciate the beautiful view across to the historic Quebec city.
#10. See The Countryside In Fall With a Trip To Montmorency Fall and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre
If you’re in Quebec in Fall, you absolutely must head out to the gorgeous surrounding countryside. Canada has some of the best natural scenery in the world, and this is the perfect time of year to enjoy it. You can combine a trip to the striking Montmorency Falls with a visit to the place of miracles, the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. You can take Avenue Royale along the picturesque Beaupre Coast, enjoying the views of the sea and fields from the window.
Montmorency Falls is 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls – 83 meters of thundering water throwing up spray. It’s an exhilarating place to be. If you feel like it, head up to the top and ride the cable car down for more spectacular views. The Basilica – originally a shrine in the 17th century – has seen many reported miracles curing the sick. Whether or not that’s true, it’s a beautiful piece of architecture, particularly the Blue Chapel in the basement.
#11. Walk The Walk On The Governors Promenade
No trip to Quebec City in the Fall would be complete without walking the Governor’s Promenade, a giant boardwalk reminiscent of a sailing ship of old that connects the Dufferin Terrace in front of Château Frontenac to the Plains of Abraham Park along the cliff-top.
The promenade is elevated above the St. Lawrence River and weaves it’s way around the famed Citadel walls to provide a new panoramic view at every turn while enjoying the fall colors of Quebec City. Free, fun, and easy – the Quebec City Promenade is the perfect place for a relaxing walk in nature.
Be warned, however, if you’re single, this could just as well be called lover’s mile as countless couples can be seen courting here in North America’s most romantic city.
#12. Drink Your Way Around Quebec’s Craft Breweries On A Beer-Tasting Tour
What better on a crisp, fall day than a glass of beer? In Quebec City, you can take this to a whole new level with a tour of the hip breweries in the rapidly-evolving St. Roch district. The beer and brewery industry might be new, but it’s one of Quebec’s quickest-growing; exploring this gives you an insight into modern culture here. The craft breweries offer about three samples each after you are guided around their production, learning about the various techniques to brewing.
If you’re alarmed about consuming that much beer, please don’t be! There are snacks provided to soak up the booze. The tour guides are passionate about beer and their city and create a warm and friendly atmosphere on the tour. Don’t be surprised if you end up with new friends as well as new beer knowledge.
#13. Take In A Breath of Fresh Air On The Plains of Abraham
Designated Canada’s first national historic park, the Plains of Abraham, part of the National Battlefields Park, has been the destination of choice for outdoor recreation in Quebec for over 100 years.
The location of the 1759 battle between the French and British Empire, today the park is utterly tranquil and the perfect place to enjoy the fall colors of Quebec in peace. A great place to hike, bike, or run – with plenty of paths designed with each in mind, you can see everybody out enjoying this fabulous urban space right on the edge of the old city!
#14. Wonder At Nature On A Whale Watching Cruise
As we might have mentioned (err, once or twice?!), the natural world in Canada is second to none. When you’re in Quebec City, you’re on the doorstep to much of what it has to offer, including the opportunity to see magnificent whales in action at the St. Lawrence Estuary in the beautiful Charlevoix region.
It’s a couple of hours from the city, but the scenery along the way will keep you engaged throughout the entire whale watching cruise. Once you get on the boat, the views back to the shoreline are equally as gorgeous. Experienced skippers tell you more about the whales and their ecosystem, and get you as close as possible to these enormous creatures. If you’re lucky enough to see the whales, it’s something you’ll never forget.
#15. Wine, Dine, And Shop On Rue Saint-Jean
One of the oldest streets in Quebec – and a gateway to the city – An amble down Rue Saint-Jean is the perfect way to discover the cities culture and heritage through your taste buds.
Home to many of the top Quebec city restaurants, this is a must on anyone’s itinerary. Starting at Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, the oldest Catholic parish in North America, you will always find something to do on Rue Saint-Jean including interesting shops, pubs, bistros, cafes, concert halls and historic buildings.
It’s a long street, with plenty to explore, but be sure to stop frequently to escape the fall weather and warm up inside. A unique atmosphere where modern and old Quebec collide, there is never a dull moment here.
#16. Discover A Place Of Healing At Le Monastere des Augustines
Hidden from sight for years, this serene monastery is now a museum and wellness hotel. The latter perhaps was a logical development from this religious community’s history as the organization that founded the first hospital north of Mexico on this continent. With beautiful, clean lines, antique furniture, and art from the monastery, the space is immediately soothing.
The museum tells the history of the Augustinian nuns in Quebec through artifacts, religious texts, and informative displays. Opt for a guided tour if you want to learn about this fascinating past in more detail – you can even choose between French and English! The on-site restaurant, where you can have lunch, offers delicious, organic meals made with locally sourced ingredients.
#17. Discover All Of The Best Photo Spots In Quebec City
Quebec City truly has to be one of the most beautiful cities on Earth with its exquisite fusion of modern and new buildings across the cityscape inspired by French, American, and British design (at varying times).
Fall in Quebec City provides the perfect opportunity for amateur photographers to get those picture-perfect snaps of the old town without tourists. Even those just looking for a perfect Instagram shot will have no issue as the crisp sky, vivid sunsets, and beautiful fall colors lend themselves to unforgettable pictures that are sure to make everyone back home jealous.
You can take a ferry across the river to Levi for one of the best shots of the city, though for my money, the lookout on the edge of the Citadel just behind the old town is the best place to photos…especially at sunset.
Head up at night (don’t worry Quebec is one of the safest cities in North America) for a romantic spot to view the city lights, stars and, well all of Quebec City!
#18. Enjoy A Different Perspective With A Sea-Kayaking Excursion
If you like your city breaks action-packed, then this is the ideal afternoon activity for you. You can explore the St Lawrence River and Orleans Island from the alternative perspective of a sea-kayak, combining learning and exercise (win). It’s only three hours, so no danger of getting too tired out (depending on your fitness level), and it’s a great way to get out in the fresh air. The coast always looks spectacular decked out in fall colors, and an experienced guide will tell you all about the places you’re passing.
Don’t worry if you’re not an adrenaline junkie; this is a very low-impact sport that’s easy to pick up. You’ll be instructed on techniques and safety before you head out. Then you can simply enjoy the experience and take lots of photos.
#19. Travel Through Time At The Musee du Fort Multimedia Experience
OK, we know that you usually don’t hear ‘military museum’ and ‘sound and light show’ in the same sentence, but quirky Quebec City always likes to surprise us. In the heart of Old Quebec, you’ll find Musee du Fort, a building next to the famous Chateau Frontenac that takes you on a journey through time. It uses an astounding model of Quebec City, approximately 400-square-foot, and special effects to bring the stories of this fortified city’s battles and sieges alive.
Key figures and moments are outlined during the 30-minute show, and you leave with a better understanding of the tremendous military importance of the city. When you buy a ticket, you have a 7-day window to use it, so it’s ideal for Quebec City in Fall, as you can wait for a rainy day during your visit.
#20. Check Out The Jam-Packed Quebec City Fall Events Calendar
Quebec City is not only beautiful in the Fall, but also super full! Of course, there are all the events leading up to Quebec City Christmas.
There are also plenty of other great things to do including the festive Great Colour Adventure held at the Mont-Sainte-Anne ski-resort outside of town (you might need a rental car to reach it) in September and October with pumpkin hunts, Oktoberfest, kids races, bouncy castles, mountain biking, and plenty more.
Great for friends, families, and couples who want to enjoy the fall colors. And if you love events, why not consider any of the hundreds of events taking place in Ottawa every year. Plus, so, so, so many things to do.
Through-out the month of October, ghosts and mysterious characters take over the Plains of Abraham with plenty of Halloween events for the young (and young at heart) taking place through-out the day and night. For the more cultured, the world-class Quebec City Film Festival takes place every year in September as well.
Hundreds more events are going on in Fall in Quebec – big & small – so be sure to check with your hotel in Quebec City at check-in!
Getting to Quebec City in Canada: All flights are into Jean-Lesage International Airport, which is very small but well organized and modern.
Bizarrely there is no public transport to or from the airport (minus one bus for staff early in the morning and late at night), so your best bet is to take a ride-share car, cheaper and endorsed by the airport, or a taxi which should be around $35-$40 CAD with a fixed rate. You could also save yourself some time and money if you are going to be exploring more than the Quebec Old Town with a Quebec City Airport car rental.
There are also multiple trains daily from the beautiful Gare-du-Palais, which is a short 15-minute uphill walk to the old town. Check with Via Canada in advance for the best ticket prices.
Hotels in Quebec City in Fall are unlikely to sell out, but you will always find the best deals on Quebec Hotels by booking in advance and online. Most can be canceled if things change. Take a look now at some of the best deals on hotels over your dates.
Trust me, with this many things to do in Quebec City, you do not want to be stuck in a bad hotel and not being able to relax after a long day…
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Further Things To Consider Before Any Adventure
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!
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