Perched atop Cape Diamond (Cap Diamant) overlooking the St. Lawrence River, Upper Town (Haute-Ville) is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec). Historic fortifications, built by the French and British, enclose a series of well-preserved streets lined with buildings dating back as far as the 17th century.
Upper Town is where most Quebec City visitors spend the majority of their time. Many of the city’s top attractions are located here, including the Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, the Citadel of Quebec (La Citadelle de Québec), Chateau Frontenac hotel, and the Dufferin Terrace (Terrasse Dufferin) boardwalk, which offers sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains.
Many walking tours cover parts of Upper Town, as well as attractions in Lower Town (Basse-Ville), such as Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church and Place Royale.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Upper Town is a must for all first-time visitors to Quebec.
- Wear comfortable shoes. While Upper Town is relatively compact, it’s also got lots of steep streets and uneven cobblestone surfaces.
- Some key sights in Upper Town, including the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Québec and the Citadel of Quebec, are wheelchair accessible, though many shops and restaurants offer only stepped access.
How to Get There
Upper Town and Lower Town are connected by around 30 sets of stairways. The Old Quebec Funicular, accessible via Rue du Petit-Champlain in Lower Town and Dufferin Terrace in Upper Town, also connects the two parts of the city.
When to Get There
Quebec City receives most visitors during the summer season, when cruise ships regularly dock in port. At this time, you’ll find a wide array of attractions, historic programs, and tours to experience, but should also expect crowds. Winter, when subzero temperatures and snow are the norm, is typically quieter, except during the Quebec Winter Carnival, which takes place in February in venues throughout Upper Town.
The jewel of Upper Town is the oft-photographed Chateau Frontenac hotel. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway company in 1893 as bait to entice travelers to Quebec City, the elegant building wows with its copper turrets, dormer windows, and imposing setting atop Cape Diamond. Tours of the hotel interior are available to non-guests, and the hotel’s bar offers front-row views of the St. Lawrence River.