Where to Stay in Quebec City, Canada

SD › Best Places to Stay in Quebec City
Updated: December 1, 2022
By Santorini Dave

5-star hotel in Quebec City.

The historic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City.

Where to Stay in Québec City

Set high on the banks of the St Lawrence River, Québec City is one of North America’s most beautiful cities, an authentically French-Canadian metropolis. It overflows with history – museums, old manoirs, and churches abound – but it’s the thrill of experiencing a café au lait in a Parisian-style café without crossing the Atlantic that appeals to most visitors.

Québec is one of the oldest European settlements in North America, founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. Today the tourist focus of the city – and most of its hotels – is Vieux-Québec, aka Old Québec, the birthplace of French North America. This encompasses what’s known as “Haute-Ville”, the upper town encircled by the old city walls and dominated by the iconic hotel Château Frontenac, a cache of historic streets, and numerous museums. We’ve also included the section of Basse-Ville (Lower Town) around Place Royale and Petit-Champlain, one of the oldest shopping streets in Canada. Basse-Ville also includes the Old Port, the area of the city along the St Lawrence with a few historic attractions of its own. Just outside Old Québec’s walls are the Plains of Abraham and Parliament Hill, eventually blurring into the Montcalm district, best known for the excellent Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec and the Grande-Allée, lined with some of the city’s best restaurants. To the north lies the bohemian neighborhood of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a student quarter best known for its cheaper restaurants and great nightlife. Further northwest, Saint-Roch is where most Québécois work today, a non-touristy business district that’s also a great place for authentic eats.

• Old Québec is relatively compact, so walking is the best way to get around. For sights further out, local buses are pretty reliable. You can also rent àVélo e-bikes at 10 different stations.

• Although most of the hotels are in Old Québec, basing oneself outside the city walls can be more affordable – hotel and B&B rates are generally lower, there are more apartment rentals, and parking is definitely easier and cheaper.

• Québec City is one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations and is a growing cruise ship port – reserve all accommodation well in advance, especially in the summer (or during Carnaval in February).

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but with more time, these areas just outside the city are also worth checking out:

Lévis: A small, attractive town just across the St Lawrence River from Québec City – the primary appeal here is the stunning view back to Old Québec. With a little more time, it’s worth lingering to soak up the historic atmosphere and wider views from the Terrasse de Lévis, on top of the cliffs. The ferry to Lévis (2–3 hourly) leaves from the waterfront near Place de Paris. Our favorite places to stay here are the Auberge de la Visitation, Au Manoir de Levis, Le Plumard, and Gîte Kezako.

Wendake: Northwest of Québec City proper lies Wendake, the only Huron reservation in Canada. The main appeal for visitors is the Musée Huron-Wendat, which showcases Huron-Wendat culture, plus Onhoüa Chetek8e, a replica of a 17th-century Huron village. The best place to stay here is the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations.

l’Île-d’Orléans: This island in St Lawrence just northeast of Québec City is a rustic throwback to 18th-century French Canada, littered with old stone churches, cottages, and seigneurial manors. Agri-tourism – fruit farms, maple shacks, and wineries – provides extra allure. Our favorite places among the simple gîtes and B&Bs here are the Au Vieux Foyer, Auberge L’Ile Flottante, Gîte Au Toit Rouge, and Bed and Breakfast Panorama.

Best Places to Stay in Québec City

Best Neighborhoods in Québec City for…

  • Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Old Québec
    Unsurprisingly, staying in Old Québec makes the most sense if you’re aiming to soak up the historic atmosphere, shop, or hit the main sights: the cathedral, Citadelle, old walls and fortifications, Terrasse Dufferin, Château Frontenac, Place Royale, and Petit-Champlain. It’s definitely touristy, but there’s always something happening and there are plenty of decent restaurants and cafés to enjoy. Remember, though, accommodation beyond the walls is likely to be a little cheaper and won’t cost that much in terms of extra travel time.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhood: Old Québec
    Again, it’s hard to beat Old Québec when it comes to European charm – intimate, old-fashioned French restaurants and beautiful streets – especially in winter when it’s all covered in snow. There are plenty of charming B&Bs here as well as stylish hotels (starting with fairytale Château Frontenac itself) and lots of chances to sip hot chocolate together whilst perusing the shops along Petit-Champlain or admiring the views from Terrasse Dufferin.
  • Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife: Saint-Jean-Baptiste & Saint-Roch
    Though nightlife in Québec City can’t compare to Montréal, Rue St-Jean in Saint-Jean-Baptiste is a good place to start. In addition to classic French-Canadian bars such as Bateau De Nuit, Le Sacrilège, and Fou-Bar, there’s an obligatory (and pretty decent) Irish pub, Nelligan’s, and lauded LGBT hangouts such as Le Drague.

    Saint-Roch is also worth checking out, though it’s mostly locals here. One of our favorite spots is La Barberie, a top microbrewery (or “microbrasserie”), though there’s also plenty of action along the neighborhood’s Rue Saint-Joseph and excellent local and touring shows (mostly in French) at Théâtre de la Bordée.

  • Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Saint-Roch
    You’ll eat well anywhere in central Québec, but Saint-Roch is our pick for real foodies. The choice is diverse, with contemporary innovators standing alongside very authentic French-Canadian bistros (L’Affaire est Ketchup and La Gueule de Bois) and cafés (like La Boîte à Pain), all primarily frequented by a local crowd. Japanese food is big – we recommend local favorites Tora-ya Ramen and Honō Izakaya – while JJacques is an excellent oyster and cocktail bar. Le Clocher Penché is our favorite French restaurant for a splurge.
  • Best Neighborhood for Shopping: Old Québec/Saint-Roch
    Though it increasingly serves the cruise ship crowd, Petit-Champlain remains one of the best places to shop in Québec City, with boutiques featuring everything from locally-made boots and moccasins to jewelry, sweet maple syrup, clothing by local designers, and Québec-branded souvenirs. The art market along Rue du Trésor is squarely aimed at tourists, but it’s worth browsing for drawings and paintings of the city.

    For a more local shopping scene, head to Saint-Roch to find stores like toy specialist Benjo and several designer boutiques on Rue Saint-Joseph, as well as artisanal chocolates from Champagne Chocolatier, bookstores, skate shops, and vintage clothing stores.

  • Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: Saint-Sauveur
    To really escape the tourists and experience a slice of normal Québécois life, visit the Saint‑Sauveur neighborhood, west of Saint-Roch along Rue Saint-Vallier Ouest. “Saint-So” has a laid-back vibe, with a smattering of quirky shops, local restaurants, and bars. We recommend checking out Diner Saint-Sauveur, Le Philtre Café, and the La Boîte à Fripes vintage clothing store. La Baraque à Frites is justly famous in Québec for its fried chicken. There are no good hotels here, though there are good apartment rentals, and the neighborhood is easily accessible from Saint-Roch.
  • Unsafe Areas of Québec City
    Central Québec City – including all the neighborhoods listed here – is generally quite safe, though the usual precautions should be taken at night.

The 6 Best Neighborhoods in Québec City for Tourists

1. Old Québec

Hotel in Old Quebec City.

The Hôtel du Vieux-Québec in Old Quebec.

Old Québec is the historic core of Québec City, comprising the Upper Town (“Haute-Ville”) and Lower Town (“Basse-Ville”) along the St Lawrence River, though we’ve covered most of Basse-Ville in the Old Port section. Enclosed by 2.85 miles (4.6 km) of fortifications, Old Québec is peppered with historic sights and dominated by Château Frontenac, the fairytale castle that still serves as the city’s top hotel. The most enjoyable thing to do here is to simply wander the narrow streets, soaking up the historic atmosphere and architecture, though there are plenty of indie boutiques, cafés, and sights to explore. Highlights include the views of the St Lawrence River from Dufferin Terrace, the 19th-century Citadelle fortress, Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, 17th-century Monastère des Augustines, Rue du Trésor art market, and the city ramparts themselves, largely intact and walkable. Connected to the upper town via the old Québec Funicular or Escalier Casse-Cou (“Breakneck Steps”), the streets of the Petit-Champlain district and Place Royale are the prettiest in the city, dating back to the early 17th-century French settlement: Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is the oldest stone church in North America.

2. Parliament Hill & Plains of Abraham

Just outside the walls of Old Québec lies Parliament Hill. It’s home to several government centers, notably the Parliament Building itself, completed in 1886 and one of Canada’s finest structures (it was inspired by the Louvre in Paris). Nearby, on the top floor of the tallest building in the city (the brutalist Édifice Marie-Guyart at 433ft/132m), the Observatoire de la Capitale offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the whole region. The adjacent Plains of Abraham serves as the city’s leafy Central Park, though it was the site of the pivotal Battle of Québec in 1759 which saw Wolfe’s British troops decisively defeat Montcalm’s French army and effectively end French control in North America. The park’s Musée des Plaines d’Abraham chronicles the event. The area’s main drag is the Grande Allée, filled with sidewalk restaurants and cafés along with plenty of bars that fuel a lively nightlife.

3. Old Port (Basse-Ville)

Québec City’s Old Port stretches out along the St. Lawrence River and is home to a marina, cruise ship terminal, and plenty of picturesque little streets, just below Old Québec proper. Being squeezed up against the cliffs of the old town, it’s a long and thin neighborhood, with a strange blend of historic cobblestoned lanes with featureless, more modern avenues. The Musée de la Civilisation is here, one of the city’s finest museums (with exhibitions on Québec history), as is the curious Îlot des Palais, the city’s first brewery, and the tiny Musée naval de Québec, a poignant memorial to the province’s naval heroes. It’s also possible to take a variety of river trips from the wharves of the Old Port which are especially spectacular in winter, when huge chunks of ice float downstream.

4. Saint-Jean-Baptiste

West of Old Québec lies the historic neighborhood of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, regarded as the city’s bohemian quarter. Though there’s not a lot to see in terms of sights, the restaurant and bar scene is especially good, and the main drag, Rue Saint‑Jean, is loaded with character and brightly painted homes. It’s another district perfect for aimless wandering, taking in the bakeries, chocolate shops, bookstores, record shops, and indie boutiques. Highlights include Épicerie J.A. Moisan, a grocer and café since 1871, and Érico, a chocolate shop with on-site Musée du Chocolat. The district’s primary architectural feature is the handsome Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a church completed in 1882 in grand Second Empire style.

5. Montcalm

Montcalm lies between Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Plains of Abraham, allowing access not only to the city’s biggest park, but also its premier art museum, the Musée national des beaux‑arts du Québec. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along Grande Allée, as well as on Avenue Cartier, the neighborhood’s plush main drag, adorned with monumental lampshades that serve as giant art installations. The strip is a fun place to stroll, taking in the boutiques and the independent Cinéma Cartier. Nearby lie Grand Théâtre de Québec and Théâtre Périscope, 2 of the city’s top entertainment venues.

6. Saint-Roch

Trendy Saint-Roch is Québec City’s workaday neighborhood, about as far from Old Québec as you can get. Once the most deprived area in the city, it’s been booming since the early 2000s. Like Saint-Jean-Baptiste, major sights are lacking, but it’s worth checking out for the culinary and bar scenes alone. The main pedestrian drag is Rue Saint‑Joseph Est, lined with restaurants, furniture and décor stores, brew pubs, and vintage boutiques. The main church, twin-towered Église Saint-Roch, is the largest in Québec City.

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.