Who knows a city better than the people who live there? Really no one.
When Corynne and I asked the barista at Cantook what he recommends for us to fill our weekend with, he sat down with us and wrote a list:
La Buvette Scott This is the restaurant he suggested we visit. It has a menu that changes weekly and many of the reviews online are wonderful. If a local includes only one restaurant on his list of recommendations, you better go. Calling ahead is your best bet if you want to guarantee yourself a table, the restaurant is pretty small on the inside. Please send me pictures of all the delicious food when you go? I’m in need of a good charcuterie plate.
Le Cercle This is definitely something that I was excited to learn about. Its a bar, and eatery, and has live shows every night. I believe it even has an art gallery here too? The barista told us the weekend we were there had some awesome shows lined up, but if you want to see who is playing for your trip you can check out their site here. Looking at their website is so inspiring, it just makes me want to create- I love places like that!
Ferry rides Obviously, Quebec City in on a river. So there is the incredible option to have a relaxing ferry ride. I would say it probably seems like a great place for a picnic? Or if you have a morning to fill before heading out and about in the city. It sounds like the most relaxing way to appreciate the city while also saving your poor feet from walking all over!
Plains d’Abraham This a beautiful and massive park, located on the site of the famous battle between France and England in 1759. This area is full of flowers, walking paths and vistas. I highly recommend getting a coffee and some pastries to go and setting up breakfast in this park. The gorgeous morning air will wake you up just as much as the amazing coffee.
3rd Avenue, Limoilou Now you’ve heard me rave about Saint Roch, but Limoilou is another one of Quebec City’s incredible neighborhoods. We were told to check out 3rd avenue, which has some super flippin adorable shops and restaurants available. The 1st avenue is going to get you some nice historic views and the 2nd features the incredibly adorable spiral staircases.
Rue Cartier Corynne and I managed this one by accident while looking for an ATM. Suddenly there were massive lampshades everywhere? And really cute shops and restaurants? This street, close to Mont Calm, is a great area to explore for a few hours and have a few great photo ops.
I’m currently debating whether or not I want to write this post. When I was planning my trip I felt like I kept reading about this little island trying to prepare things to do. That’s not really how it works. This island really made me feel free, I didn’t have reservations nor did I have to ask anyone to move so I could get the perfect shot. Corynne and I just drove and looked and listened.
We went to the island twice. It’s a lot bigger than I expected, so it takes about two hours to go around the island without stopping. There are hand painted signs telling you that countless people are selling chocolates, wine, berries and jam. We drove around half one day and then half the next day, which is hard to describe since it’s just one road. The second day we came back at a sunset-y time, which was beautiful. we drove around and stopped once, we tried to find like the best one spot to stop, but I almost feel like it was so much better seeing it all roll past me while an amazing album played.
We stopped at a gas station and then suddenly, Corynne said she wanted to stop at this beautiful statue of a man playing a guitar. As we parked and stopped, it was a moment that I felt was so impactful. The trip was definitely impactful outside of this moment, it was the first trip Corynne and I had taken as adults. We grew up together and it just felt very much like a movie-ending moment. The sky was beautiful, we had cameras and laughs and the air smelled so fresh.
We stopped. We needed to get food and gas and to pack the car. But we stopped and we looked at the world and it was a beautiful experience.
Maelstrøm: As I walked in here, I felt very cool, which seems kind of weird to say. I just wanted to take my laptop out and hang out while editing something. It has that kind of vibe. I ordered acold brew and tonic, which i was a bit wary of since I don’t love tonic water. I really enjoyed it though, and I did leave so I could keep walking about the city, I would come back for the great atmosphere. This place also has a really incredible bar that they break out after all the edgy customers stop editing and start unwinding. I love a coffee shop that has so many options. This is definitely a great one. This baby is tucked away in Saint-Roch, not on the main street but on a quiet side street.
181, rue Saint-Vallier Est • Québec City, Québec • G1K 3P2 • 418.523.0700
Open Mon to Sat: 7:00 am to 1:00 am, Sun: 7:00 am to 12:00 am
(photos of coffee with cantook bag)
Cantook: I had such an incredible time at this location. I really just popped in because I had read that it had amazing coffee and I wanted to buy some beans. It is definitely artisanal, lots of wood and stone with covers of a several cool coffee mags all over the walls. The barista recognized my bad french accent and asked how our trip was. We asked for a recommendation, and he told us if we waited just a bit he would write us a list! When the line died down and he didnt have to make amazing drinks for customers, he came over and told us if we finished the first list, we can come back for a second.
575 Rue Saint-Jean, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7:30am to 8pm, Thurs – Fri 7:30am to 9pm, Sat – Sun 8:30am to 5pm
Cafe Nektar: This location is perfect for when you’re popping in and out of all the great stores on Rue Saint-Joseph, and you just need a quick bite. offers iced chai, right in the center of saint roch, I accidentally ordered two ice lattes? Oops. The baristas were nice ever though it was busy. There is seating inside but I opted to venture onto the many available seats on Rue Saint-Joseph. Pro tip: people watch here.
235 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7am to 8pm, Thurs – Fri 7am to 9pm, Sat – Sun 8am to 7pm
(photo with ice coffee, downtownish area)
Cafe Saint-Henri: Also located in the Saint-Roch neighborhood (oh no!), this cafe started in Montreal and has made it’s way to Quebec city. I found it as I was looking for donuts, as one does on a sunday, and I found that many reviews said this had no doubt the best donut in quebec city. So, best donuts, great coffee, and free wifi? I’m sorry, why did I not try and rent this place out as my airbnb? I ate my donut faster than I expected, so feel free to look at their delicious instagrams.
849 Rue Saint-Joseph Est, Québec, QC G1K 3C8
Open: Mon – Wed 7am to 9pm, Thurs – Fri 7am to 10pm, Sat – Sun 8am to 9pm
Le bruloir: This one is actually located in Montreal, but I felt like I could sneak it in here and you guys wouldn’t mind!
A few months ago I mentioned going to Canada, and I actually did not think it would happen. Until my friend Corynne texted me with some dates, I asked off work, and now I’m sitting in an amazing airbnb, packing from a very wonderful weekend. While Corynne and I were planning the trip, we had general ideas of what we wanted to see in this city. Instead of having a strict itinerary, we just floated around knowing we had three full days to experience this.
We arrived late Thursday night after driving 18 hours from Northern Kentucky to Quebec City. Our airbnb was incredibly welcoming and allowed us to rest up so we could walk around for hours the next day.
Friday Morning: We walked toward Brugels, both of us are serious breakfast lovers so trying somewhere that offered Montreal style bagels was a must. We sat and talked about our life goals and growing up, while also really enjoying the amazing homemade jam and bagels. Guys, they really are different that the United States! This is located in Montcalm, a lifestyle and art focused neighborhood.
After breakfast, we headed to the Plains d’Abraham. This a super beautiful garden thats peppered with museums, beautiful vistas and a lot of history. While enter this area Corynne and I kept exchanging looks like, “Oh yeah. This is why people love this city.”
This expansive park can lead you straight down to Rue Saint- Jean. It’s kind of like where you really notice Vieux Quebec is starting. This area is full of artists on the street, historic buildings and churches, horses with carriages, and occasionally many tourists.
Still following the flow of both the streets and the people walking along them, you can find yourself near the charming streets of Petit Champion. It was incredibly quaint. When we weren’t taking pictures of the village-esqe houses, we were stopping on terraces for tea and coffee so we could people watch. If I had forgotten that we were in a french city, this area would have reminded me.
Friday Afternoon: After seeing all the classic charm that Vieux Quebec could offer us, we steered toward Saint-Roch. Guys, this neighborhood!! It has this wonderful grungy, but also very fresh vibe to it. We ate lunch at Le Projet, it was a beautiful bar full of natural light and reaaaally good beer. I asked the waitress for a beer recommendation and she brought me one of their twenty four beers.
After lunch we walked along Rue Saint-Jean, which is the main street of the Saint-Roch area. This street has everything you could want, including a clothing boutique/taco bar. We spent some more time here later this weekend.
Friday Night: Since Corynne and I had such an incredible airbnb, we decided to cook dinner and sit in our temporary home. The Canadian grocery store that I went to was not nearly as complicated as some of the french grocery stores I have experienced.
Saturday Morning: Today we headed out early to go to the Chutes des Montmoncy. We drove to the big waterfall, I would recommend going and seeing it but definitely in the morning. Then you’ll skip the massive crowds and get better majestic photos. Another place close by is the National Park, they have a ton of trails online ranked by difficulty so you can plan accordingly. We stuck with just the waterfall though. After the waterfall, we headed to the Ile d’orleans, a beautiful island full of fruit stands, friendly restaurants, and vistas for dayssss. We actually returned here later this weekend.
Saturday Night: Since we knew someone in Montreal, we decided to head there for the evening. Man oh man, I had done research. I had plans, but nothing could have prepared me to how much bigger of a city Montreal is! In the one night that we were there: the metro was free for an event, there were fireworks competitions, a $40 tattoo and $3 succulent sale (yes, that was one event), the Just For Laughs comedy festival, and we also saw a few art installations across the city. IN ONE NIGHT. I will tell you about this night in a later post, but that is just a taste of the city.
Sunday Morning: Quebec City has a heavily Catholic background and it’s filled with many beautiful churches. Corynne headed off to mass this morning, while I went off to Saint Roch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect on a Sunday. In Switzerland, this usually meant the hours were very different. In Quebec it seemed that everyone was still out and bustling. I stopped by Maelstrom, a cool coffee bar, then strolled while looking at all the incredible buildings. I cannot stress enough how much you guys need to schedule time for strolling. It’s so important!!
I also picked up lunch and a sweater at Deux 22, a taco bar and boutique. The clothes here were super adorable, but I did have to stick to the sales rack when picking out a sweater. It was a pretty penny, but worth it to say “oh I got this at a taco/bar/clothing boutique in Canada!”
Sunday Night: When it was getting closer to sunset, Corynne and I headed to Ile d’Orleans again. We had dinner while looking out at the water, imagining what it would be like to live here permanently and if the beauty would wear off. Before we drove off the island, we stopped one last time to get out and take photos. It was the perfect lighting, the perfect weather, and the perfect end to a wonderful trip.
Guys, I cannot wait to head back to this city! Next week we have a Quebec Coffee guide coming, ya know I love my coffee. Have you been in Quebec City? Let me know what you loved about it!
When you have a full time job, rent, and a weekly schedule that you’re used to, it can be hard to break the routine. So I was planning an extremely safe trip Canada several months in advance when my friend asked if we could go in three weeks.
I mean, of course I said yes. Then I realized what that meant: I had to figure out when i could get off work, which cool airbnbs are left, how long does it take to drive, what festivals are going on! I was lucky to have started doing research, but still.
We made it happen though. So welcome to September, the month of CANADA.
Look forward to a post about road trips! What to bring for snacks and drinks, the best music and podcasts, the views and how I think Canada is nailing safe driving.
The importance of stopping and taking a moment to enjoy yourself while on a trip, and how an island here helped us do just that. Bonus Track: This one comes with a playlist!!
My weekend itinerary, the neighborhoods I think are the best and too many photos of our Airbnb. And of course a million facts and tiny stories about Canada, Quebec City, Montreal, friendly travelers, being brave with language borders, and what food you have to eat here.