Québec City is small enough that you can get around with a good map and a guidebook, but a tour is tremendously helpful for getting background information about the city’s history and culture, for grasping the lay of the land, and in the case of bus tours, for seeing those attractions that are a bit of a hike or require wheels to reach.
Below are some agencies and organizations that have proved to be reliable. Arrange tours by calling the companies directly or by stopping by the large tourist center at the Place d’Armes in Upper Town.
Buses are convenient if extensive, walking is difficult, especially in hilly Upper Town. Among the established tour operators, Dupont, which also goes by the name Old Québec Tours (www.tourdupont.com; tel800/267-8687 or 418/664-0460), operates the city’s only open-air double-decker bus. Passes allow for on-off access to 11 stops. The company also leads multiple day tours that differ by the season. Summer tours head north into the Charlevoix region for whale-watching excursion, a 10-hour day that includes a 3-hour cruise among the belugas. Winter tours head to Montmorency Falls and Île d’Orléans.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours
A romantic, if expensive, way to see the city at a genial pace is in a horse-drawn carriage, called a calèche. Carriages will pick you up or can be hired from locations throughout the city, including at Place d’Armes. A 40-minute ride costs C$90, plus tip, for four people maximum. Carriages operate year-round, rain or shine. Companies include Calèches du Vieux-Québec (www.calecheduvieuxquebec.com; tel 418/683-9222) and Calèches Québec (www.calechesquebec.com; tel 418/692-0068), which also has horse-drawn trams.
Croisières AML (www.croisieresaml.com; tel 800/563-4643 or 418/692-1159 in late-spring to mid-fall season) offers a variety of cruises. Its Louis Jolliet is a three-decked, 1930s ferry boat–turned–excursion vessel, which carries 1,000 passengers and is stocked with bilingual guides, full dining facilities, and a bar. The company offers brunch and dinner cruises, as well as jaunts that take in the fireworks. The boats dock at quai Chouinard, at 10 rue Dalhousie, in Vieux-Port.
Similar cruises are offered by Croisières le Coudrier (www.croisierescoudrier.qc.ca; tel 888/600-5554 or 418/692-0107). Their boats have a signature look—like a glass capsule—designed for panoramic views.
Times and points of departure for walking tours change, so get up-to-date information at any tourist office. Many tours leave from the Place d’Armes in Upper Town, just in front of the Château Frontenac.
Tours Voir Québec (www.toursvoirquebec.com; tel 866/694-2001 or 418/694-2001) specializes in English-only guided tours of the Old City. “The Grand Tour,” which is available year-round, is a 2-hour stroll that covers the architecture, events, and cultural history of the city. Tours are limited to 15 people. Cost is C$23 adults, C$20 students (ISIC, or International Student Identify Card, required), C$11 children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and under. Foodies will want to note the many different “Food Tours,” which stop at about seven different places, sampling local goodies such as cheese, ice cider, pâté, and chocolate. Cost is C$43 per adult. Private tours may also be arranged.
One way to split the difference between being out on your own and being on a guided tour is to use Map Old Québec (www.oldquebecmap.com), a website that offers a beautifully designed map and MP3 files. The audio files are free and a map can be ordered online for C$5 or purchased for C$3 at a few dozen stores around town. Used together you can listen and learn at your own pace.
Tourisme Québec’s Official Tourist Guide lists additional tour companies that use limousines, bikes, helicopters, and hot air balloons as forms of transit and offer tours with themes ranging from Maple leaf peeping to ghosts and phantoms from the region’s past.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.