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How to Spend 2 Days in Quebec City

Quebec City has been at the top of my list of places to visit in Canada for years, and I’ve finally been able to check it off.  Well, check it off, and then erase it, and then write it back on the list for next year because I can’t wait to go back.  I booked his 2-day trip in a matter of minutes — which is kind of how I roll when it comes to making those “spoken about in passing” type of trips.  Don’t you dare mention to me that maybe we should head to Los Angeles on the next long weekend because I will get back to you in 2 hours with a list of the cheapest flights and best travel days. If you mention L.A. travel, you best be prepared to travel.

So the story goes: my husband had a business trip planned for the end of October, and had previously mentioned to me that QC would be a fun place for me to come along.

Well, one day I just so happened upon a seat sale through Porter Airlines and then just so happened to book my trip.  It was such a good deal, I had to… right?!

Anyway, I digress.  I booked a Sunday-Tuesday mini-getaway, which worked out to be just under 48hrs. Next step was to figure out what the heck we were going to do, and –more importantly — where we were going to eat!

Needless to say, we walked, ate and drank our way through this gorgeous European inspired city, and 2 days is just not enough time to enjoy it all (there is so much wine and cheese to try!). That being said, if you have a shortened trip, here is what I recommend to do with 48hrs in Quebec City.

1- Stroll through Old Québec

Lower Quebec Old Quebec

Old Quebec is the part of the city that most people recognize in photos (hello, Chateau Frontenac) and it is the most european-ish with its cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, café and gastro pubs on every corner.  Having lived in Europe for a short stint, this is what I miss most: the social common of meeting a friend for a coffee on your way to work, grabbing a snack or a drink in the evening, eating and drinking as a leisurely activity. The colorful storefronts and kitschy tourism stores add to the appeal.

Old Town in Quebec City

There is also a lot of public art. I personally don’t get most of it, but some of the murals and professional graffiti really caught my eye. Shopping isn’t scarce if that’s your thing, but we mainly stuck to walking and taking in the sights and ambiance of the walled Old Quebec.  We also had our first meal at a Saprisiti – a funky bistro that was absolutely packed at 10:30 pm with late rush diners, serving a mouth-watering prosciutto wrapped asparagus and one of the better Napoleon pizzas I’ve had in a while (and in case you didn’t know, I LOVE pizza).

2- Book a Food Tour

Tope 6 food stops in St. Roch, Quebec

This is one of my favorite things to do when traveling to places known for their cuisine. With less than 72hrs to explore, a food tour is the easiest way to hit multiple foodie stops and get cultured while you’re doing it. Quebec City Food Tours operates in the Saint-Roch area of QC — an up-and-coming area with dozens of “must-eat” restaurants and bars.  The food tour is an incredible deal for the cost ($49 per person) because you hit 6 stops over the course of 3 hours and I guarantee you won’t leave hungry.  The tour hosts are fun and spirited, spewing off unique facts and history tidbits of the city that you are unlikely to read in a guide-book. The most memorable stops for me were #1, 3 and 5. First stop was cheese, cheese, and more cheese at Le Fromagerie des Grondines where our tastes included a pesto grilled cheese sandy that there are no words to describe because I am still drooling over it. Number 3 was a new hot spot called Noctem where we enjoyed a weisen style beer and a trout gravlax dish. Number 5 was the gravy-soaked poutine institution of AshTon. Squeaky cheese curds for the win!! The other stops included a vegan restaurant, a tea shop and a chocolate boutique.  It was wonderfully balanced with smaller bites in between the larger, heavier portions, and the three hours flew by with the fantastic storytelling done by our guide.  I can’t give away all the details — you’ll have to try it out for yourself! Click here for more info or to book!

3 – Have a Drink at the Chateau Frontenac

Unless you have money to burn, eating a full meal at the world-famous Chateau might not be in the cards for you.  (If it is, power to ya!) A lovely compromise – but still on the expensive end of a budget — is to enjoy a cocktail at 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar. 1608 is a very eclectic yet posh space ( hello, fur covered sofas with antlers) with killer views of the St. Lawrence river.  Add in the turning fall leaves and it’s a scene worthy of a postcard. Actually, it is totally on hundreds of postcards.  We found a seat at the bar and ordered some fancy-pants cocktails, and sat for an hour to warm up from the bitter QC wind and people watch.  I kind of felt like a celebrity, lol.

Chateau Frontenac Quebec Ctity

Bar at the Chateau Frontenac

The hubby had a classic cocktail: Right Word.  I had something insanely delicious that I DON’T REMEMBER THE NAME OF. Ugh. It’s bourbon based with St. Germain and reminds me of a Paper Plane, but better. If anyone knows, tell me so I can try and re-create it at home!

4- Catch a Show at Palais Montcalm

Music Hall in Quebec City

The Palais Montcalm is a stunning theatre just outside one of the main entranceways to Old Town. Known for showcasing some pretty incredible talent, we were lucky to be there for the Quebec Drum Fest. Well, I was really just a tag along, but I got to see some very cool headliners in the drumming world.  Centrally located and beautiful inside and out, seeing an intimate show of an artist I knew well would be a real treat.  This is Arron Spears (Usher’s drummer) playing “Caught Up”.

5- Go for a Rip on the Grand Alleé

Best Restaurant on the Grand Alleé

Considered one of the most touristy parts of Quebec City, the Grand Alleé has its own charm. This section of street just west of the Old Quebec is lined with bars and trendy nightclubs, and one dance club that was a blast from the past for my husband, lol. We made a dinner reservation at L’Atelier, a cocktail and tartar bar. Since becoming obsessed with poke on our Hawaiian Honeymoon, I now seek out rare salmon and tuna dishes – this had both — and a cocktail called the Absolut Douchebag — so I was sold. We had a beer at the pub next door to get a feel for the strip and then enjoyed a fantastic meal of charcuterie and salmon tartar at L’Atelier. The interior of this place is mesmerizing. The main designs all include some aspect of gears… gears on the wall, gears turning inside the bar, a geared pulley system moving up and down between the four, yes four, floors of seating.  We finished the night with me doing some random shot that was smoking like dry ice. I think it was called a sucker punch. It was disgusting but looked really cool, lol. Then, like any adults on a mini-getaway who’ve just had an amazing dinner and lots of wine, we promptly walked back to our hotel and went to sleep. Seriously, lights out by 10 pm.

 

6- Brunch

Bugel la fabrique du bagel

Oh, brunch.  Brunch. Is. My. Jam.  I don’t need to explain this too much, but what I will say is I like exploring and finding off-the-beaten-path type places as a nice break from the super trendy and touristy spots. Bügel – La Fabrique du Bagel was that place for us in Quebec City. Located in the Montcalm neighborhood, this bagel restaurant was a delightful surprise. Recommended by our guide from the Quebec City Food Tours, it was described as the brunch place for locals. Bonus points – the theme is inspired by Lord of the Rings (huge nerd alert). The prices were cheap (compared to in Old Quebec) and the bagels were beyond fresh. Quebec bagels are no joke — there is a sweetness to them that store-bought bagels don’t have. They are best eaten fresh and we had ours with fresh jam, eggs, and some magical vegetable spread. This simple breakfast is up there for me in great holiday brunches.

 

If you are interested in visiting any of the places I’ve mentioned in this post, here’s how they are spread out in the city — which is 100% walkable!

best restaurants in quebec city

We took taxis to a few places that were actually only a ten-minute walk away. Though Quebec City is cooooolllld this time of year so sometimes the cab is totally warranted.  Make sure to pack smart and bundle up; the wind is piercing. Good thing there is lots of comfort food 😉

chez ashton poutine quebec city

 

Thanks for reading! Check out my other city eats recommendations here.

{Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary passes for this awesome excursion, but that in no way affects my opinion or review. Just thought you should know ?}

Comments

  1. Ooh heard great things about Quebec and this just makes me want to go more 🙂 Going to Canada in September so defo fancy checking a few of these places out myself. Thanks for sharing and cute blog!

  2. I love the vibe of Quebec, it looks so old world and European inspired indeed. I’d be a sucker for Bügel too, that looks so tasty! I’d go back for seconds.

  3. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve been to Quebec. I remember 1 & 2 being absolute musts for me. I love how you included a map. I found QC to be very walkable, but I’m still afraid to visit in winter!

  4. I’ve been intrigued with Quebec for several years and this post just made me lust it even more. Great overview of what to do in a short time. Agree, food tours are a great way to get to see the city. Hopefully will get there in 2017.

  5. I hadn’t realized how beautiful the country of Canada is. I need to add this to my bucket list. I would have to drive there which would be part of the adventure.

  6. Boy you got a lot done in just 2 days. That food tour looks awesome. I’ve been wanting to visit both Quebec and Montreal. This is a good cheat sheet to keep.

  7. Would love a stroll on that quaint cobblestoned street in old Quebec…hoping to make it there myself within a year. Really appreciated your detailed description, photos, and walking map! They’ll definitely come in handy!

  8. Being from New Jersey, I can be kind of a snob about bagels. But I will trust that it’s worth the trip outside the Old City, at least now I know where to get my breakfast carb bomb when I visit! They certaintly look delicious 🙂

  9. What a great way to spend a couple of days! I’ve always wanted to go to Quebec, and you’ve highlighted all the great reasons why I NEED to see it. Beautiful European-styled architecture and fancy pants cocktails with a dash of people watching are just two of those reasons!

  10. I need to get back to Quebec City! I love your recommendations. Maybe I will wait until summer because it’s too cold there in the winter!! A food tour would be really cool!

    • It was pretty cold, lol! I would also love to visit in the summer. The food tour was so awesome! Thank you for reading 🙂

  11. Nice post! Does look very French/European, very beautiful! Will definitely visit the city when we decide to travel around Canada – thanks for the inspiration!

    • Aw, thank you so much for your kind compliments! I’m glad you enjoyed reading and hope you found some Quebec inspiration 😉

  12. So many great tips and advices – this gave us a very good impression of Quebec and especially your culinary tips made me really hungry now 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your experiences – always happy travelling Hendrik & Birdie

    • Thank you so much for reading! I hope one day you get a chance to visit this piece of Canadian culture 🙂

  13. Lovely photos!! Btw love the tagline of your blog – I definitely always travel light and bright lipstick and eyeliner are my makeup staples!

  14. That was a very delicious trip! Quebec is on our bucket list now. Thank you for sharing the list of the best places to eat in Quebec. The bagel place looks particulary mouthwatering.

    • Oh, it was! You should absolutely visit if you get the chance – it is a wonderful place! Thank you for reading 🙂

  15. Love this post! I’ve always wanted to visit Quebec and we are thinking of squeezing it in this summer while back east. You sound like me, I always hijack my hubby’s business trips. Any opportunity to travel I take.

  16. I’m a city girl so I love this! All the food & cocktails look amazing, I love to see people treating themselves especially on holiday! I’m heading back to North America next year, so I may just have to put Quebec on the list, thanks for these great recommendations!

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