Port Quebec is the oldest port in Canada and the second largest after Montreal. In 2017 the port had a record year of welcoming 201,000 cruise ship passengers – a record 33% increase from the previous year. The cruise ship terminal is called “Ross Gaudreault” and is located right at the Upper Town of the Old City. The passenger facilities at the terminal include luggage storage service, Wi Fi, a restaurant, toilets and seating space. There is a convenient stop by bus number 11 right outside of the port and there are taxis that can take you to the airport at a fixed price of CAD 34.25. The terminal is a pleasant short walk from the Upper Town and it’s 25 min driving, 17km away from the airport.
When 4 or 5 cruise ships are docked at the terminal, additional ships dock at the new wharf “Quai Paquet” – a short ferry ride from the main facilities at the port.
The local currency is Canadian dollar (CAD) and exchanging money is easy and straight-forward. There are banks and ATMs at every corner. Visitors seem to just withdraw cash from ATMs, because some banks would require you to open an account with them to exchange your foreign currency and there are not many exchange shops. Before exchanging, make sure you check for commission and other fees. Check if your bank works with any of the Canadian banks, this way you can avoid getting charged fees to getting cash in different currency. All major credit cards are widely accepted, and you can also use your debit card, but make sure you have notified your bank you would be abroad.
The opening hours in Quebec City are quite standard, most shops and shopping malls would work all week from 9.30 am to 6 pm, with extended hours Thursdays and Fridays. Some outlets have extended summer hours. Banks and post offices are open 9 am to 5 pm, some of them are open until midday Saturday as well and are mostly closed on Sundays. There are several national and international bank holidays as well, so make sure you are aware of those before travelling.
Although English and French are official languages of Canada, French is predominant in Quebec City, but everyone would also speak English, so you would have no issues being understood.
The tipping culture in Canada is like the one in the USA. Tipping between 15 and 20% is considered normal and the service is excellent as most people working in the service industry receive low wages and rely heavily on tips. Tip between 15 and 20 % at a restaurant if you have received good service – if the service was not at par, talk to the manager, he would 99% resolve the matter for you. Tipping at counter service isn’t expected. Tip housekeepers and bellboys at hotels about 1-2 Canadian dollars per day/per bag. Tip bartenders from 0.50 to 2 CAD per drink, depending on the venue and tip taxi drivers, spa staff and tour guides 10-15% as well.
The local time in Quebec City is GMT – 4 hours and the dialling code is 00 1 418.
Things To Do
The most famous landmark of this incredible city is Chateau Frontenac. Designed by Bruce Price and built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the nowadays historic hotel opened in 1893. It’s one of the first completed Grand Railway hotels, and it has been expanded three times since. You don’t have to be a guest to visit the hotel and its impressive lobby, functioning also as an exhibition hall for historical artefacts, some of them 400 years old.
Place Royale is a small, charming, full of history plaza in the heart of the city’s lower town along the St Lawrence River. It is considered the place where French America was born. This is where Samuel de Champlain founded his “abitation” in 1608, the first French Establishment. Since then, and until 19th century, the square was the main marketplace and business activities centre of the city. This is also where criminals were executed. Today the little square is surrounded by 17 and 18th century buildings, with a dominating bust of King Louis XIV, first placed there in 1686, with a restored version of it placed in 1928. Don’t miss the oldest stone church in North America – Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church. Built in 1688, right above the spot of the first settlement, the church is also famous for its paintings and the fortress-shaped altar. Don’t miss also the Fresque des Quebecois – a mural, tracing back 400 years of the history of Quebec City.
Musee de la Civilisation is the most popular museum of the city, a unique establishment, putting exhibiting the Human Adventure as its core purpose. There are permanent, temporary and virtual exhibitions, dedicated to humanity and civilization. The museum is unique by its visitor-oriented approach, the exhibitions stimulate wonderment and encourage discovery.
A few minutes from Quebec is the Parc de la Chute–Montmorency. Its named after the Montmorency waterfall, a 83m/ 272 feet – 30m higher than the Niagara Falls, it dominates the landscape. It can be accessed by foot, cable car, from the suspension bridge right above it, or, for the more adventurous, a zipline or via ferrata. The site is open year-round and is beautifully illuminated at night.
There are a few more places to visit if you are interested in finding out more about the culture and history of Quebec City. Visit the Musee des Beaux – Arts to see the splendid collection of 38,000 works, produced in Quebec, or by Quebec artists, reflecting the history of Quebec art from the 17th century to nowadays. The Citadelle de Quebec, described as a living fortress, is the largest British fortress, built in North America and is now open to the public. At Morrin Centre you can familiarise yourself with the historic contribution and culture of local English-speakers to the city of Quebec. The Maison the la Literature is a unique centre, celebrating everything that relates to literature. There is a permanent exhibition of Quebec literature with writing carrels, a comic book workshop, a writer’s residence and a variety of events throughout the year. Get a glimpse of the life of the Huron-Wendat culture and history at the Onhoua Chetek8e Traidtional Huron site – this is an authentically reconstructed village in Quebec City, showing a window their traditions and way of life.
You shouldn’t leave without seeing two of the beautiful historic churches of Quebec. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre is one of the five national shrines of Canada and has been credited by the Catholic Church with many miracles of curing sick and disabled. There are many artistic masterpieces in the church as well – paintings, mosaics, stained-glass windows, stone and wooden sculptures. The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec is the first stone church of the city, built in 1647. It is now the primatial church of Quebec, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec and the oldest in the Americas north of the Spanish colonies in Florida and New Mexico.
Last and not least, if your time permits, do what locals do on a nice, sunny day off – head outdoors! There are some lovely, historic outdoor spaces that have turned into entertainment, sports and cultural hubs of the City of Quebec. One of the is the Plains of Abraham – this space is to Quebec City what Central park is to New York – an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city, on the banks of St Lawrence River. This is the site of many historical milestones, including the Battle of the Plains of Abraham on 13th September 1759. Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier, only 30 min from the city offers stunning views of mountainous plateaus and deep valleys. This is the home of the spectacular glacial valley Jacques-Cartier. For some fresh air, calm and serenity closer to the city, head over to Samuel-De Champlain Promenade – a relatively new park on the bank on St. Lawerence River, suitable for walking, cycling or travelling by car and admiring the shoreline. For that great photo opportunity, take the Levis Ferry and see Quebec City from the river. In summer admire the Old Quebec City and Chateau Frontenac and in winter capture the ice forming and moving with your camera.
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