Quebec on a budget

Quebec City is a luxurious place to visit with its chic hotels, chic bistros and attractive boutiques, but the French-Canadian capital is also accessible on a budget. If you save money by not spending in Old Town, you’ll find plenty to do, from epic bike rides to ice skating to specialty Quebec cuisine, especially poutine.

Here’s how to travel to Quebec on a small budget.

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The best way to get around Old Quebec is on foot © mkzdillon / Shutterstock

To go for a walk

Quebec City was built long before cars were invented, so you can park your vehicle for the entire trip or bring none at all. Instead, strap on your shoes and stroll through the pretty cobbled streets of Old Quebec. A free walking tour can teach the importance of this historic city, but don’t forget to tip. During your stay in Old Quebec, do not miss the rue de Trésor, where you can admire the works of local artists.

Outside of Old Quebec, the city is full of beautiful parks that won’t cost you anything. There is the Parc des Champs-de-Bataille which includes the Plains of Abraham, where a bloody battle in 1759 forged the linguistic identity of Canada as we know it today. Other large parks include Parc Chauveau, a 120-hectare wilderness area within the city limits, and Domaine de Maizerets, a park with an arboretum and butterfly house.

Museums

In a city as steeped in history as Quebec, it would be a shame not to know how this UNESCO-recognized fortress was born. Luckily, there are bargains to be found at several museums that tell the story of French Canada and that of the Indigenous peoples who inhabited this land for centuries.

Many of the city’s museums are free on the first Sunday of every month, and others aren’t too expensive. The Fort Museum, which has a huge scale model of what the city looked like in 1750, costs $9 for adults, while the Museum of Civilization, one of Canada’s most popular museums, costs $15 for adults. visitors aged 18 to 34.

Father and daughter having breakfast in hotel restaurant.
Look for fixed price lunchtime specials in Quebec City © Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

Eat local specialties

Wandering around Old Quebec and looking at menu prices can be daunting, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to eat Quebec’s prized cuisine. Go to Paillard and grab a croissant or baguette from any bakery (they’re all good) and some local cheese, sausages and wine for a picnic. Then, take your food and a blanket up to the Pierre-Dugua-de-Mons terrace, which has probably the best view of the city.

Of course, you can’t leave Quebec without getting some poutine, which shouldn’t cost you too much. Snacks at Gaston is a local favorite, but At Ashton’s — the Quebec version of McDonald’s — will do anytime (it’s 24 hours).

Another great strategy for eating on a budget in Quebec is to seek out lunch Fixed price specials. Le Lapin Sauté, one of the best restaurants in town, is one.

Drink with the locals

Again, venture out of the old town to find lower prices and head to local neighborhoods like Saint-Roch or Saint-Jean-Baptiste for a stroll, a meal, and a drink. Some great options include Nina’s Pizza, The post office and Noctem Brasserie Where Anti for a night.

Ice skating at Place D'Youville in winter
Winter is a magical time to visit Quebec and it’s more affordable than summer © Vicky Gosselin / Getty Images

Avoid high season

In the summer, Old Quebec City teems with visitors snapping photos of everything they see. Besides general activity, high season can also lead to higher prices, especially for accommodation. Rather go to Quebec in winter. The fluffy white snow everywhere is majestic, and the cold isn’t so bad when you’re warming up with a hot cup of hot chocolate or Caribou – a red wine drink mixed with whiskey and maple syrup.

If you go during the summer or shoulder seasons, you can still experience the Quebec winter by skating on a 2,460-foot rink located in the Mega Park mall for $6 or $11 with skate rental.

Bookworm around town

Quebecers love their books and the capital does a great job of celebrating literature. You can visit a Victorian library with 20,000 books in English at the Morrin Centre, all for free. House of Literaturehoused in a Methodist church built in 1848, is also free to roam.

Take public transport

Quebec City is not a car town, and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches if you don’t drive its busy little streets and bridges. Take a bus to get around. A single ride is $3.50, or a day pass will cost you less than $9. Quebec also has a self-service electric bicycle program, by bike, that gives you a boost when you pedal, so criss-cross one of the city’s many trails, including the bike paths along Champlain Boulevard and the St-Charles River.

Speaking of the river, ferries to the city of Lévis are like a perfect mini-cruise for photos of the walled city and cost just $3.85 each way.

Another fun way to get around is to use the Quebec funicular (the fun is in the name!) which takes you from Dufferin Terrace to the Old Port for $4 each way.

A crowd of people sitting in a shallow pool in Adirondack chairs, with a bar in the background
The best way to cool off: sit on Adirondack chairs with your feet in a swimming pool © Pierre-Nic Lessard / Destination Québec Cité

Getting wet

In the summer, Quebec residents flock to Baie de Beauport, a beautiful sandy beach where there’s plenty to do, from yacht rentals to volleyball. Another beach at Jacques Cartier Beach Park isn’t as sandy, but it’s perfect for a meander and photos of the Pierre Laporte Bridge. Or, if you just want to immerse your feet, you can hang out at beerfesta bar with Adirondack chairs above a shallow pool.

Go to a festival

Going to a music festival may seem like the opposite of an affordable activity, but Quebec tax dollars help fund the arts, which keeps prices low. For example, although it is sold out this year, summer festival lasts 12 days and features top international artists like Rage Against The Machine, Maroon 5, Luke Combs and Halsey – all for $130 in total. Or from Quebec Magic Festival in May has 500 hours of free shows over 7 days and continues to organize events throughout the summer.

Daily costs (in CDN)

  • Hostel room: $10 to $50 (dorm bed)
  • Basic hotel room for two: from $130
  • Independent apartment (including Airbnb): from $90
  • Public transport ticket: $3.50 for 1 trip, $8.85 for a day pass, $16 for a weekend pass, $31 for 5 days
  • Coffee: $3 to $5
  • Poutine: $6 to $20
  • Dinner for two: $40 to $100
  • Beer/pint at the bar: $8 to $10

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