North America has some pretty old cities, but arriving in Quebec City is like stepping into another age. Massive fortified walls, palatial hotels, and crooked stone streets smack of an ancient European settlement, not an urban space carved from the rugged Canadian landscape. However, it’s all here, packed into a charming and welcoming stretch of the St Lawrence River.
Quebec is known for its beauty, but don’t underestimate its culture. From the galleries and cathedrals to a rich culinary heritage celebrated through hundreds of noteworthy cafes and restaurants, there’s so much to learn about the exceptionally unique Quebecois history. Here are nine great sites to get you started.
1. Old Quebec
Perhaps the closest you’ll get to European charm and “old country” pace in North America, Quebec’s compact and cobbled old town should be on every traveler’s list. It’s easy to see how it earned the UNESCO World Heritage nod, from the fiercely guarded traditions played out in costumed guided tours and rustic auberges, to the web of narrow streets and passages that wrap around the stone buildings. Enjoy the horse-drawn carriages, street performers, and open air gallery on the Rue du Trésor, then trace a path up to the Terrace Dufferin for a panoramic view of the rushing St Lawrence River.