Quebec province flag

Things to do when visiting Montreal and Quebec City

The French province of Quebec is known for being very unique and distinct from the rest of Canada.

What makes them unique is that they are more French than English! This can be seen from the architecture to the road signs and even the language spoken by the locals.

Two must-go cities while you’re there will be Montreal and Quebec City.

We visited a couple of years back and found a couple of things that you have to do while you’re visiting the cities.

Mile End, Montreal

A card describing the Mile End street
Map of Mile End street

Mile end is a hip and trendy neighbourhood in Montreal!

If you’re looking for art supplies or inspiration, this is the place to visit. Most of these shops are locally owned and they have many unique art pieces.

Crafts in a shop in Mile End.
A poster of Montreal in the shop on Mile End.
A poster of Montreal, in a shop in Mile End, Montreal.

We wandered into many small boutiques that sold colourful art pieces. It will take an entire afternoon visiting every shop there!

Boucle and Papier. A boutique shop located in Mile End, Montreal.
Boucle & Papier storefront at Mile End street.
Walking along Mile End, Montreal.
Walking along Mile End, Montreal.

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Visit the Just for Laughs Festival, Montreal

Just for Laughs festival at Montreal

For the past 37 years, the popular Just for Laughs TV show regularly holds a festival in Montreal.

The festival features up and coming comedians and talk show hosts from around the world. Tickets to the individual performances by these stars available for purchase online.

Be sure to purchase early as they sell out fast!

Performer performing fire acrobats

However, even if you’re not interested in the paid performances, there are also plenty of attractions outside the theatre!

When we visited, there were buskers performing acrobats with a fire stick! It was breathtaking and attracted a huge crowd to his show.

Taste the famous Fairmount Bagel and its surrounding delicacies, Montreal

The famous Fairmount Bagel.

While you’re in Montreal, remember to visit the famous Fairmount Bagel shop. We had to queue for a long time on a random weekday afternoon just to get our hands on those delicious bagels!

A store attendant taking our bagels for us.

The bagels are all freshly made and when we got them, they were still piping hot!

Once you’re done with your bagels, explore the street and get yourself some piping hot gnocchi at the cart nearby.

Gnocchi from a road-side cart.
Kem Coba ice cream parlour.

Kem Coba is a famous ice-cream parlour that lives on the same street! We’d highly recommend trying their 2-flavoured gelatos. It tasted extra delicious during a hot summer day.

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Walk along Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec City

The entire Rue Saint-Jean can be split into 2, separated by the Boulevard Honoré-Mercier.

To the west of the boulevard, it’s quieter with fewer people. There are many boutique shops and we spent an entire afternoon just walking along this stretch of the street.

Along Rue Saint Jean.
Along Rue Saint Jean.

Walking anywhere in Quebec City makes you feel as though you’ve teleported into Europe. This is because most of the houses are built in traditional French architecture.

If you’ve noticed in our pictures, you can spot tiny windows on the roofs of many Quebec City/Montreal houses. They are called the Dormer.

They are iconic features of a French house, used to increase liveable space in the house. We learnt this interesting fact during a historical walking tour.

As you cross the boulevard, it’s a lot more crowded. There are a lot more tourists and most of the shops mainly cater to this crowd.

Visit the Quebec City Old Port area

The old port used to be one of the biggest ports in the world back in the 19th century. It was crucial to both the city’s and Canada’s development back the days.

Today, while it does not fulfil the same functions as it used to, many tourist attractions are built around it.

The streets are very walkable and there are no cars allowed on most streets within the area! You can easily spend an entire afternoon here around the Old Port area.

While you’re there, try out some local Canadian treats like the Maple Ice Cream and the freshly made Maple candy!

Maple Ice Cream!

These tasty treats are aplenty along the streets of Rue du Petit Champlain.

The crowded streets of Rue du Petit Champlain

There are many stores here selling unique local souvenirs. It’s a perfect place to buy gifts for your loved ones back at home!

Maple candy, a popular Canadian candy that's made up of maple syrup.
Freshly made Maple Candy, made from locally sourced maple syrup.

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How to travel between Montreal and Quebec City

Train

Via Rail connects the 2 cities conveniently! The train stations are located in the city centre of both cities and therefore you do not need to spend extra commute time.

From our accommodations in both cities, we were able to comfortably walk to the stations!

You can purchase your tickets from their website directly.

Cost: CAD$38, USD$30
Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Bus

If you prefer taking the bus as compared to the train, the Orleans Express has got you covered.

They provide regular bus service between Montreal and Quebec City daily. Prices are slightly higher as compared to the train, but is still very affordable.

The travel times are also about the same at 3 hours and 15 minutes. Between the 2 options, we’d say just choose the one that has a schedule you’re comfortable with!

Cost: CAD$58.70, USD$47
Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Flight

You can also travel between the cities by plane. However, it is not our preferred option as it is very expensive and you need to spend additional time travelling to the airports.

Flights typically cost CAD$300 for a return trip which is 10 times that of the train. From the airports to their respective city centres take about 15 minutes by car.

Cost: CAD$300, USD$240
Time: 55 minutes

Final thoughts

The french province of Quebec left a strong impression in our hearts. It was very different from the rest of North America that we’ve experienced.

The stark contrast between the two largest cities in the province is also very evident. Montreal is larger and more modernised. English as a spoken language is also more common.

Quebec City on the other hand, is a small quaint city that feels more like France than a city in North America.

Both cities are absolutely worth a visit if you’re in the north east region!


While you’re in Canada, look towards the west for out of this world nature views!

Banff and Jasper National Park are some of the most famous parks in the world with their breathtaking views.

Visit our post here to find out more on how you can plan your own road trip in the parks!

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