Montréal and Québec City Great Itineraries
Montréal and Québec City are perfect for long weekend trips, although if you’d like to see both areas, you could easily spend a week.
Essential Montréal in a Day
Start with a stroll to the peak of Mont-Royal, the city’s most enduring natural symbol. Afterward, wander south on avenue du Parc and through McGill University’s leafy campus to Downtown. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, on rue Sherbrooke, was once the bastion of the Anglo-Canadian establishment, and is worth a visit.
For a Francophone perspective, head from Mont-Royal (the mountain) along rue Mont-Royal (the street) to rue St-Denis, home to funky boutiques and a boisterous strip of bars near the Université du Québec à Montréal.
In the late afternoon, head down to Old Montréal and pop into the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal before getting in some nightlife, as in the summer months the Old City is one of the most popular places to party. There are dozens of restaurants to choose from, as well as clubs and bars.
Day Trips and Overnights from Montréal
If you have only a couple of days for a visit and you need to concentrate on one area, the Laurentians are a good choice. Less than an hour’s drive from Downtown Montréal, this resort area has recreational options (depending on the season) that include golf, hiking, and superb skiing, both Alpine and cross-country.
Pick a resort town to stay in and use that as a base for visiting some of the surrounding towns. Each town has its own style and appeal: St-Sauveur-des-Monts is lively, Morin Heights is tranquil, and Ste-Adèle is a center of gastronomy. Mont-Tremblant, a sophisticated ski and golf resort, is worth a trip, particularly for the picturesque gondola ride to the summit.
You can combine a taste of the Eastern Townships with a two-day visit to the Laurentians. After an overnight stay in the Laurentians, head back south of Montréal to the Townships, which extend to the east along the border with New England. Overnight in Granby or Bromont: Granby has a zoo, and Bromont is known for golf, skiing, and its water park.
The next day, you can shop in pretty Knowlton (look for signs to Lac Brome) and explore regional history in such towns as Valcourt. Spend a night or two in the appealing resort town of Magog, along Lac Memphrémagog, or in the quieter North Hatley, on Lac Massawippi. You’ll have good dining in either. Save some time for outdoor activities, whether it’s golfing, skiing, biking, or hiking.
Essential Québec City in a Day
It’s inspiring to start your day in Québec’s Lower Town, the earliest site of French civilization in North America. Stroll along the narrow streets of the Quartier Petit-Champlain, visit the Maison Chevalier, and browse the craft stores and boutiques. From there, head to Place Royale, making a stop at the Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, and continue on to Terrasse Dufferin. In the afternoon, when the crowds thin out, check out the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec or the Musée Canadien de l’Histoire.
Catch a gorgeous sunset from the Plains of Abraham—site of the battle that ended France’s colonial dreams in North America and marked the beginning of British rule in Canada—before dining anywhere on rue St-Jean, one of the best streets in the city for restaurants and nightlife.
Day Trips and Overnights from Québec City
If you want to get out of Québec City for a day or two, take a 20-minute drive to Île d’Orléans, a picturesque island called the "garden of Québec." In summer, you can explore this idyllic island’s boutiques, galleries, and food stands, then dine in a vineyard at Panache Mobile. Stay over in a cozy B&B, or continue on Route 138 northeast to Côte de Beaupré. Here you can visit the impressive Montmorency Falls and the ornate shrine at Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré. Don’t miss the classic Québec cuisine of roast goose, tourtière (meat pie), and sugar pie at the historical Auberge Baker on Côte-de-Beaupré.
Another option is to take the Train du Massif de Charlevoix, which departs from the spectacular Parc de la Chute-Montmorency outside Québec City. It follows the St. Lawrence shore and the dramatic mountainous landscapes of Charlevoix. You’ll visit the artistic community of Baie St-Paul, the impressive mountain Le Massif, and the cliff-top village of La Malbaie. You can do the two-segment rail trip in one day or stay overnight at the castlelike Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.
From La Malbaie, it’s an hour by car to Tadoussac, at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers, where you can hop on a boat for a whale-watching excursion.
Montréal and Québec City over a Long Weekend
Looking for an ideal four-day getaway? It’s possible to see the best of both cities without feeling rushed. Here’s one expedient itinerary: Fly into Montréal’s Trudeau International Airport on a Thursday evening, take a cab to your downtown hotel, put down your bags, and head out to grab a bite at a late-night bistro like L’Express. Spend Friday seeing the city’s top sites, hit Old Montréal in the evening for dinner and nightlife, and enjoy a leisurely brunch on Saturday morning.
Rent a car from one of the many downtown rental agencies, then pack up and drive north to Québec City, which takes about three hours. Check into a B&B or boutique hotel in the Old City and spend the rest of the day exploring sites there. Spend Sunday morning in the Old City and dedicate the afternoon to the Fortifications, or take a day trip to the Côte-de-Beaupré or Île d’Orléans. On Monday, fly out of Québec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport.