Exploring Quebec City on a Budget: Best Free and Affordable Things to Do

Quebec City, the capital of Quebec province in Canada, is a charming and historic city that offers a wealth of free and low-cost activities for visitors to enjoy. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and natural beauty, Quebec City is a popular destination for travelers from around the world.

In this blog post, we will highlight some of the top free and low-cost activities in Quebec City, including walking around Old Quebec, visiting the Plains of Abraham, exploring the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, checking out the Marché du Vieux-Port, enjoying the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, attending one of the many festivals throughout the year, visiting the Musée de la Civilisation, exploring the Citadelle of Quebec, and taking a ferry to Lévis.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or simply enjoying the local sights and sounds, Quebec City has something for everyone. So let’s dive in and discover the top free and low-cost activities in this beautiful city!

Here are 10 budget travel ideas for Quebec City:

  1. Walk around Old Quebec: Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a lot of history and charm. Take a self-guided walking tour and see the beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks.
  2. Visit the Plains of Abraham: The Plains of Abraham is a beautiful park with over 100 years of history. The park is the site of the famous battle between the French and English armies in 1759. Today, it’s a great place to go for a walk, have a picnic, or attend a free concert.
  3. Explore the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec: The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec has a large collection of Quebecois and Canadian art. Admission is free for people under 30, and there is a suggested donation for everyone else.
  4. Visit the Observatoire de la Capitale: The Observatoire de la Capitale is a great place to go for panoramic views of Quebec City. Admission is affordable, and you can see views from the 31st floor.
  5. Check out the Marché du Vieux-Port: The Marché du Vieux-Port is a farmer’s market located near the Old Port of Quebec. You can find fresh produce, artisanal products, and delicious snacks. There are often free samples to try!
  6. Enjoy the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency: The Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is a stunning waterfall that is 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls. You can hike up to the top for free, or take the cable car for a small fee.
  7. Attend a Festival: Quebec City has many festivals throughout the year, including the Festival d’été de Québec, the Quebec Winter Carnival, and the New France Festival. Check the calendar of events and attend some of these festivities.
  8. Visit the Musée de la Civilisation: The Musée de la Civilisation explores the history of Quebec and its culture. Admission is affordable, and there are many interactive exhibits to explore.
  9. Take a Ferry to Lévis: You can take a ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the city of Lévis. The ride is short and affordable, and you can enjoy beautiful views of Quebec City from the water.
  10. Explore the Citadelle of Quebec: The Citadelle of Quebec is a military fortification that has been in use since the 17th century. You can take a guided tour or explore the grounds on your own. Admission is affordable, and there are often military demonstrations to watch.

1. Walk around Old Quebec

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Walking around Old Quebec is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Quebec City. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known for its picturesque streets, historic architecture, and charming atmosphere.

Old Quebec is divided into two main parts: the Upper Town (Haute-Ville) and the Lower Town (Basse-Ville). The Upper Town is situated on a hill and is surrounded by fortified walls. It’s home to many of the city’s historic buildings, including the Chateau Frontenac, the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral, and the Quebec City Courthouse. The Lower Town, on the other hand, is located at the base of the hill and is known for its narrow streets, quaint boutiques, and bustling port.

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One of the best ways to explore Old Quebec is on foot. You can start your walking tour at the famous Chateau Frontenac and then stroll down Dufferin Terrace, a boardwalk that overlooks the St. Lawrence River. From there, you can explore the picturesque streets of the Upper Town, stopping to admire the architecture and take in the views.

One of the highlights of Old Quebec is the Place Royale, which is considered to be the birthplace of French civilization in North America. This charming square is surrounded by historic buildings and is home to the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, which dates back to the 17th century.

As you make your way down to the Lower Town, you can take the Breakneck Stairs, a set of stairs that connect the Upper and Lower Towns. In the Lower Town, you can explore the Quartier Petit-Champlain, a pedestrian-only street lined with boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The area is known for its European charm and is a great place to wander and take in the sights and sounds of the city.

Overall, walking around Old Quebec is a fantastic way to experience the history, culture, and charm of Quebec City. With its narrow streets, historic architecture, and stunning views, it’s a place that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits.

Bonus-Tip: Self-guided walking tour

Bring your smartphone along with you for a self-guided walking tour game in Quebec City’s. An ideal way to explore the city’s most iconic landmarks.

2. Visit the Plains of Abraham

The Plains of Abraham is a historic park located in the heart of Quebec City. This park is not only one of the city’s largest green spaces, but it’s also one of its most significant historical sites. The park is known for its stunning views, walking trails, and important role in Canadian history.

The Plains of Abraham is named after Abraham Martin, a Frenchman who settled in Quebec City in the 17th century. The park is situated on a plateau overlooking the St. Lawrence River, and it was the site of the famous Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. This battle marked a turning point in the Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain and ultimately led to the British conquest of Quebec.

Today, the Plains of Abraham is a popular destination for visitors to Quebec City. The park is home to several walking trails that offer stunning views of the city and the St. Lawrence River. The park also has several monuments and historical markers that provide insight into the area’s rich history. One of the most significant monuments is the Wolfe-Montcalm Monument, which commemorates the commanders of the British and French forces during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

In addition to its historical significance, the Plains of Abraham is also a great place to enjoy outdoor activities. The park has several sports fields, including soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and tennis courts. There’s also a large playground for children, as well as a dog park for pet owners.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, you can simply enjoy a picnic in the park or take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails. The park is also home to several events throughout the year, including outdoor concerts, festivals, and sporting events.

In conclusion, visiting the Plains of Abraham is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Quebec City. With its stunning views, rich history, and variety of activities, the park is a great destination for visitors of all ages.

3. Explore the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec

The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is a must-visit attraction for art lovers visiting Quebec City. This museum is located in the heart of the city and is home to an impressive collection of artwork from Quebec and around the world.

The museum is divided into several different galleries, each with its own unique focus. The permanent collection includes over 38,000 works of art, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces. The collection is particularly strong in Canadian and Quebecois art, with works by many of the country’s most important artists, including Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and Jean-Paul Riopelle.

In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also hosts several temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions showcase a wide range of art styles and mediums, from traditional paintings and sculptures to multimedia installations and performance art.

One of the highlights of the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is its stunning architecture. The museum is housed in two separate buildings: the Gérard Morisset Pavilion, which dates back to the 1930s and features a classic art deco style, and the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion, which opened in 2016 and boasts a striking contemporary design. Both buildings are connected by an underground passageway, which allows visitors to easily explore both spaces.

The museum also offers several programs and activities for visitors of all ages. These include guided tours, workshops, and educational programs designed to help visitors better understand and appreciate the artwork on display.

Overall, exploring the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec is a fantastic way to experience the rich culture and artistic heritage of Quebec City. With its impressive collection, stunning architecture, and variety of programs and activities, the museum is a destination that’s not to be missed.

4. Visit the Observatoire de la Capitale

The Observatoire de la Capitale is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in getting a bird’s eye view of Quebec City. Located in the heart of the city, the observatory is housed on the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building, which is one of the tallest buildings in Quebec City.

Visitors to the observatory can enjoy panoramic views of the city from every angle. The observatory offers both indoor and outdoor viewing areas, which are open year-round. Visitors can use telescopes and binoculars to get a closer look at the city’s landmarks and attractions.

In addition to the stunning views, the Observatoire de la Capitale also offers several exhibits and interactive displays that provide insight into the history and culture of Quebec City. These exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the city’s architecture, geography, and cultural heritage.

One of the highlights of the observatory is the audio guide, which is available in several languages. This guide provides detailed information about the city’s landmarks and attractions, as well as its history and culture.

The observatory also hosts several events and activities throughout the year. These include guided tours, workshops, and special exhibits that showcase different aspects of Quebec City’s culture and history.

Overall, visiting the Observatoire de la Capitale is a fantastic way to experience Quebec City from a new perspective. With its stunning views, informative exhibits, and variety of events and activities, the observatory is a must-see attraction for visitors to the city.

5. Check out the Marché du Vieux-Port

The Marché du Vieux-Port, also known as the Old Port Market, is a vibrant and bustling market located in the heart of Quebec City’s Old Port district. The market has been a fixture in the city for over 200 years, and it’s still a popular destination for both locals and visitors alike.

The market is open year-round, and it offers a wide range of fresh and locally sourced produce, meat, cheese, and baked goods. Visitors can also find a variety of artisanal crafts, souvenirs, and other unique items at the market. The market features over 100 vendors, each offering their own unique products and specialties.

One of the highlights of the Marché du Vieux-Port is its lively and festive atmosphere. The market is a hub of activity, with live music, street performers, and other entertainment on offer throughout the day. Visitors can sample local specialties, such as maple syrup and poutine, and enjoy a range of other food and drink options at the market’s cafes and restaurants.

In addition to its regular market offerings, the Marché du Vieux-Port also hosts several special events and activities throughout the year. These include seasonal festivals, cooking workshops, and other cultural events that celebrate Quebecois food, culture, and heritage.

Overall, the Marché du Vieux-Port is a fantastic destination for anyone looking to experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of Quebec City. With its wide range of fresh and locally sourced products, vibrant atmosphere, and variety of special events, the market is a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring the city.

6. Enjoy the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency

The Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, also known as Montmorency Falls Park, is a natural wonder located just outside of Quebec City. The park is centered around the impressive Montmorency Falls, which stand at a height of 83 meters, making them taller than Niagara Falls.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a range of activities and attractions, including hiking trails, ziplines, and a suspension bridge that crosses the top of the falls. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including eagles, beavers, and black bears.

One of the most popular activities at the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is taking the cable car to the top of the falls. From here, visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the falls and the surrounding countryside. The park also features several lookout points that offer different perspectives on the falls, as well as a visitor center that provides information about the history and geology of the area.

For those looking for a more active experience, the park has several hiking trails that wind through the surrounding forest and offer breathtaking views of the falls from different angles. The park also offers ziplining and rappelling experiences that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the falls themselves.

In addition to its natural attractions, the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is also home to several historical landmarks, including a 17th-century mill and a military fort that dates back to the 18th century. These landmarks offer insight into the rich cultural and historical heritage of Quebec City and the surrounding region.

Overall, enjoying the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency is a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Quebec City. With its stunning waterfalls, hiking trails, and historical landmarks, the park is a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring the area.

7. Attend a Festival

Quebec City is known for its vibrant and diverse festival scene, with a wide range of events taking place throughout the year. Whether you’re interested in music, culture, or outdoor activities, there’s sure to be a festival that caters to your interests in Quebec City.

One of the biggest and most popular festivals in Quebec City is the Festival d’été de Québec, which takes place in July each year. This 11-day music festival features over 300 shows across 10 indoor and outdoor stages, with performances by both local and international artists. From rock and pop to jazz and classical music, there’s something for everyone at the Festival d’été de Québec.

Another major festival in Quebec City is the Quebec Winter Carnival, which takes place in February and is one of the largest winter carnivals in the world. The festival features a wide range of activities, including ice skating, snow sculptures, and parades, as well as live music, food, and drink. The carnival is a celebration of Quebecois culture and heritage, with traditional activities such as ice canoe races and a lumberjack competition.

For those interested in history, the New France Festival is a must-visit event. This festival takes place in August and celebrates the heritage and culture of New France, the French colony that once existed in North America. Visitors can enjoy historical reenactments, music and dance performances, and a variety of other activities that provide insight into Quebec City’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Other festivals in Quebec City include the Festibière de Québec, a craft beer festival; the Festival de cinéma de la ville de Québec, a film festival; and the ComediHa! Fest-Québec, a comedy festival. With so many events taking place throughout the year, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in Quebec City.

Overall, attending a festival in Quebec City is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture, experience live music and performances, and enjoy a range of unique activities and attractions. With its diverse festival scene, there’s something for everyone in Quebec City, no matter what your interests may be.

8. Visit the Musée de la Civilisation

The Musée de la Civilisation is a museum located in the heart of Quebec City that showcases the history, culture, and traditions of Quebec and other civilizations around the world. The museum features a wide range of exhibits and collections, with interactive displays and multimedia presentations that engage visitors of all ages.

One of the highlights of the Musée de la Civilisation is the permanent exhibit, “People of Québec…Then and Now”. This exhibit traces the history of Quebec from its earliest Indigenous peoples to the present day, with a focus on the cultural and social changes that have shaped the region over time. Visitors can explore a variety of artifacts, multimedia installations, and interactive displays that bring the history and culture of Quebec to life.

The Musée de la Civilisation also features a range of temporary exhibits that explore different themes and topics related to culture and society. Past exhibits have included “Egyptian Magic”, which showcased the culture and mythology of ancient Egypt, and “Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages”, which explored the science and history of glaciers and ice sheets.

In addition to its exhibits, the Musée de la Civilisation also hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year, including workshops, lectures, and cultural performances. Visitors can participate in hands-on activities, such as making traditional crafts or trying on historical costumes, or attend talks by experts in fields such as archaeology, anthropology, and art history.

Overall, visiting the Musée de la Civilisation is a fascinating and immersive way to learn about the history, culture, and traditions of Quebec and other civilizations around the world. With its engaging exhibits, interactive displays, and diverse range of events and activities, the museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in exploring the rich cultural heritage of Quebec City and beyond.

9. Take a Ferry to Lévis

One of the best ways to experience the stunning views and natural beauty of Quebec City is to take a ferry to Lévis, a small city located just across the St. Lawrence River. The ferry ride itself is a scenic experience, with panoramic views of Quebec City’s skyline, the river, and the surrounding mountains.

The ferry runs regularly throughout the day and evening, with departures from the Old Port of Quebec City. The journey takes approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the weather and the current of the river. Once you arrive in Lévis, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a range of attractions and activities that showcase the region’s natural and cultural heritage.

One of the main attractions in Lévis is the Promenade Samuel-De Champlain, a waterfront park that stretches along the riverbank and offers stunning views of Quebec City’s skyline. The park features walking trails, picnic areas, and a range of outdoor activities, including cycling and rollerblading.

Another popular attraction in Lévis is the Musée de la Civilisation à Lévis, which features exhibits and collections that explore the history and culture of the region. The museum showcases a range of artifacts, multimedia presentations, and interactive displays that provide insight into the lives of the people who have lived in the area over the centuries.

Visitors to Lévis can also enjoy a range of dining and shopping options, with a variety of cafes, restaurants, and boutiques located throughout the city. The city is known for its charming streets and historic architecture, with many buildings dating back to the 19th century.

Overall, taking a ferry to Lévis is a fantastic way to experience the beauty and culture of Quebec City and its surrounding region. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural attractions, or simply enjoying a relaxing day on the river, Lévis has something for everyone.

10. Explore the Citadelle of Quebec

The Citadelle of Quebec is a historic fortification located in the heart of Quebec City, and it is one of the most iconic landmarks of the city. The Citadelle was built in the 19th century as a strategic military fortress, and it is still an active military installation today. Visitors can explore the site and learn about its history through a range of tours and exhibits.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Citadelle is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place daily during the summer months. The ceremony features the ceremonial changing of the guard, along with music and a parade. Visitors can also explore the various buildings and structures that make up the Citadelle, including the Governor General’s residence, the Royal 22nd Regiment Museum, and the powder magazine.

The Royal 22nd Regiment Museum is one of the main attractions of the Citadelle. The museum showcases the history and culture of the Royal 22nd Regiment, which is one of the three permanent regiments of the Canadian Armed Forces. The museum features exhibits and artifacts that trace the history of the regiment, from its formation during World War I to its role in modern-day peacekeeping missions.

Another highlight of a visit to the Citadelle is the opportunity to walk along its walls and enjoy the stunning views of Quebec City and the St. Lawrence River. The Citadelle offers panoramic views of the city’s skyline, as well as its historic buildings and landmarks.

Visitors to the Citadelle can also participate in a range of tours and educational programs, including guided tours of the site and special events and activities. The Citadelle is a popular destination for school groups and families, as well as history buffs and military enthusiasts.

Overall, exploring the Citadelle of Quebec is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Quebec City. With its rich history, stunning views, and range of attractions and activities, the Citadelle offers something for everyone.


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