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Useful information for excursions in Québec
In the following, you will find information about the cruise port, the most beautiful sights and a lot of useful information for shore excursions in and around Québec.
The most beautiful sights in Québec
Québec is the capital of the province of Québec. The city is located in the north of the Saint Lawrence River and has about 520,000 inhabitants. Québec is one of the few regions where the official language is French as well as English. Because of the many European houses, the city is considered one of the most European cities in North America. It is also one of the oldest cities in North America and thus an important witness of Canadian history. Québec has a beautiful old town, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. The majestic Château Frontenac Hotel and the impressive Citadel are also located in the Old Town. Discover this beautiful city on a short walk through the narrow streets of the old town and along the many stone buildings from the colonial period. Or discover one of the many bistros and boutiques in the cobblestone streets of the Petit Champlain quarter.
Fortifications: City wall & Citadel
Québec is completely surrounded by a historic city wall, whose origin dates back to the 18th century and was once part of the city’s defense system to protect the city from attackers. Walk along the 4.5 km long wall and enjoy the magnificent view over the picturesque city and the Saint Lawrence River. If you keep right along the walls, you will reach the Citadel, which is a star-shaped fortress built in 1812. Parts of the old barracks and the residence of the Governor General are now open to the public. As a special highlight you can watch the traditional Changing of the Guard in the Citadel, which takes place daily at 10 am during the summer months. It is interesting to know that the Québec Citadel was never attacked.
The Old Town: Upper & Lower Town
Québec’s old city, also called Vieux Québec, is divided into a Lower Town (Basse-Ville) and an Upper Town (Haute-Ville). The charming Old Town is the main tourist attraction of the city and is now protected by UNESCO.
Situated right next to the old port, in the lower eastern part of the city, Basse-Ville offers a lot to discover. Stroll along the narrow streets and explore the historic architecture of the old town with the Place Royale. This small square is where Québec City was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. Contemporary witness is the oldest stone church in North America. Also worth seeing is a massive mural of 100 square meters, which vividly reflects the 400-year history of the province of Québec.
The Petit Champlain neighborhood, named after the city’s founder, is the oldest preserved business district in all of North America. Numerous shops, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants invite you to linger. A special attraction is the Breakneck Steps, the so-called neck-breaker stairs, which are also the oldest stairs in Québec.
Majestically rising above the lower town is the European-style upper town of Haute-Ville, which is enclosed by the old town wall. The famous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac luxury hotel, or Château Frontenac for short, towers high above the city and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world. The castle-like building is considered the main attraction and landmark of the City of Québec. It was opened in 1893 by the architect Bruce Price for the guests of the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway.
Situated high above the Saint Lawrence River, the Dufferin Terrace up here offers a great view of the city. The 430-metre-long terrace can also be reached via the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec funicular station at its northern end.
The upper town is best explored during an extensive walk to admire the other sights such as the City Hall (Hotel de Ville), the Ursuline Convent, the Augustinian Monastery, the Séminaire de Québec with the Latin Quarter and the Hôtel-Dieu hospital.
The Abraham Plain
The huge green area, not far from the city center, was once the brutal scene of the battle between French and British troops in 1759. The former battlefield is now a beautiful park with numerous walking and hiking trails. The Abraham Plain, for example, is now a peaceful tourist attraction and in summer is the venue for numerous sporting and cultural events.
Québec has many museums, but the most famous are the Musée de la Civilisation and the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. These museums are the most popular with tourists. The Musée de la Civilisation vividly illustrates the cultural and civilisation history of Québec, its Native Americans and European settlement. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is an art museum that houses approximately 38,000 works of art. Many of the artworks are by local Québec artists.
Only 12 kilometers northeast of downtown Québec, Montmorency Falls Park is home to the park and waterfall of the same name. It is one of the most popular attractions in the region, both in summer and winter. From an impressive 83 meters high, the water of Montmorency Falls shoots down the slope and is much higher than the famous Niagara Falls. From below you have the possibility to take a gondola to the top to enjoy the great view from above. Once at the top you can get very close to the waterfall via steep stairs and suspension bridges. For the more adventurous, a rapid rope slide takes you back down again.
Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is located on the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River, about 30 km northeast of the provincial capital Québec City. It is the oldest Catholic church in North America and one of the most important pilgrimage sites on the North American continent. More than half a million pilgrims come there every year. The famous basilica is about 350 years old and is one of the most beautiful places of worship in North America. The imposing medieval-style twin-tower church has 240 colorful stained glass windows and impressive mosaics. Its beauty extends from the outside to the inside of the church and is spread over three floors. The church complex also includes a replica of the Scala Sancta, the “Holy Staircase” from Rome, which many pilgrims climb on their knees.
Located only about five kilometers northeast of Québec and accessible by a short drive over a bridge, this island offers a whole new perspective on the region. The island of Orléans lies at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River and is the second largest island in the river after Île de Montréal. The island, 35 kilometres long and nine kilometres wide, enchants its visitors with its extensive fertile farmland full of vineyards, apple orchards and strawberry fields. The island was originally an island of farmers and ship pilots. Today, if you drive along the ring road through the various villages of the island, you will pass numerous stalls of local farmers and have the opportunity to taste the local specialities of the region. The offer ranges from ice wine producers to wine tasting and visits to so-called “sugar huts” where maple syrup is produced.
Map of the cruise port in Québec
The Port of Quebec is one of the most important ports of call in Canada. There are several berths where your cruise ship can dock:
The most frequented cruise piers are Pier 21 & Pier 22, both located at the Ross Gaudreault Cruise Terminal. Here you are almost directly in the city center and only a short walk away from the beautiful Petit-Champlain district.
Larger ships are also often moored at Pier 30, which is located in the industrial port of Québec City. This port is also well located, so that you can easily reach the old town with a short walk. Occasionally a shuttle service to the city center is offered. Not far from the berth there is also a market hall where you should definitely stop by. Here you will find various fresh products from the region. This berth is becoming increasingly important as a new large cruise terminal is currently being built here, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The berth will then be able to easily handle ships with more than 4000 passengers on board.
On particularly busy cruise days, your ship may need to move to Pier 103, which is located a little further away, near Battlefields Park, about 3 km from downtown. Usually a shuttle will be offered when your ship moors here.
A new berth, which is only a short ferry trip (Traverse Québec-Levis) from Québec City and was first used as a cruise ship berth in 2017, is Pier 81 at Quai Paquet on the opposite side of the river in Levis. The berth features beautifully illuminated water features and a breathtaking panoramic view of Québec’s old town.
Things to know for shore excursions in Québec
Cruise companies and routes
Many international cruise companies have a call of port in Québec: Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Holland America Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, Silversea, Phoenix Travel, Celebrity Cruises, AIDA Cruises, TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will find their way to Québec, with AIDA Cruises ceasing to offer trips to the USA and Canada from 2021.
In most cases, cruise ships depart from Miami, Montreal or Boston and make a stopover in Québec. It is often the first Canadian port of call on the routes to Canada. Most routes are therefore North America East Coast cruises.
Entry and visa
If you enter Canada, you will primarily need a passport, which should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry. You will also need the “eTA” (Electronic Travel Authorization). This is an electronic visa, which must be applied for at least 3 days before entry. You can apply for this visa online. Children also need this visa and a children’s passport, which should also be valid for at least 6 months. The visa costs approximately 7 Canadian dollars (CAD) per person.
For more detailed information, we recommend that you obtain information on all valid entry regulations directly from your cruise line and the Federal Foreign Office in good time before your trip.
The national currency in Quebec is the Canadian dollar (CAD). Change your cash before you travel to Canada or exchange your money at an exchange office. Please note that there may be charges. Furthermore, credit cards are widely used in Canada and are accepted as a valid means of payment.
Taxi and public transport
There are many different ways to explore Québec. Use the sophisticated RTC bus network to get from A to B. The different buses stop at many different places. Therefore, you have the option to reach any place of interest by bus.
You can also use various taxis as means of transport. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can also use the well-known Uber. You can easily call this via app and it will take you to the places you want to go. If you prefer to explore Québec on your own, the perfect option is to rent a car yourself.
The best time to travel, and also the high season for cruise ships to travel to Québec is from May to October. The warmest months are from June to August, where the average temperature is around 22-23 degrees. October is probably the best time to visit Québec, because this is when the so-called “Indian Summer” begins, which makes the trees of the region shine in the most beautiful autumnal colors. Please note that there can be frequent rainfall. Especially affected are the months from May to July.
Port operator and touristic organisation website
- Port operator:
- Official website:
- Online-Travel Guide:
Impressions from Québec
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