Established as a French settlement in 1608, Québec City has a strong historic legacy. Much of it is centered in charming Old Québec.
Walking through the fortifications of this UNESCO World Heritage site feels like you’re entering a European-style village setting. This area is divided into two sections — Upper Town and Lower Town — linked by nearly 30 sets of stairways, or simply by riding on the Old Québec Funicular (C$3; funiculaire-quebec.com).
Start off at Cafe-Boulangerie Paillard (1097 Rue Saint-Jean, paillard.ca), for something sweet. Then take in a guided tour of La Citadelle de Québec (admission C$16/adults, C$13/students and seniors, C$6/ages 7-17; 1 Cote de la Citadelle, lacitadelle.qc.ca). The star-shaped fortification — located on Cape Diamond, the area’s highest point, overlooking the St. Lawrence River (lacitadelle.qc.ca) — was built as a defensive fortress by the British during the mid-1800s. Today it serves as both a museum and an active garrison of Canada’s Royal 22e Regiment.
Another prime landmark is Château Frontenac (1 Rue des Carrières, fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec), a striking luxury hotel originally built in 1893 whose guest list has included celebrities and world leaders. Admire the lobby inside; even taking a walk around the grounds is lovely.
For more picturesque locales, hop on the funicular, which has a route from Terrasse Dufferin, a terrace that wraps around the Château Frontenac, to the Petit-Champlain district (quartierpetitchamplain.com). The narrow streets are as charming as a postcard, lined with bistros, art galleries and boutiques.