Last Updated on January 16, 2021 by Pamela
Getting around Québec City may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re arriving by plane, train, or automobile (Can you guess what we did there? Damn, we miss John Candy), getting around Québec City can be fairly easy.
That being said, some modes of transportation may take a little pre-planning. For example, driving around Old Québec City in summer can be quite challenging, so it may be best to park your vehicle in a parking garage and either walk or rely on public transportation.
Thankfully, there are plenty of transportation options throughout Québec City!
Let’s look into the various ways of getting around Québec City.
WALKING AROUND QUÉBEC CITY
One of the best ways to experience Québec City is on foot, taking time to wander down quiet streets, stopping to relax, admire buildings, or sit on a patio. Walking is truly the best way to experience the Historic District of Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In summer, the city is truly pedestrian-friendly as some streets are shut down during the weekends. Of course, this can make things a little difficult if you’re driving around the city, but we’ll address that below.
Consider going on a walking tour (if you prefer a private guide, we highly recommend Steeve Gaudreault or one of these other tour guides) to get a feel for the city, then continue exploring on your own.
Accessibility can be quite difficult in Old Québec City, as well as several other neighbourhoods. This is partially due to the age of the buildings, many of which have narrow doorways and stairs.
That doesn’t mean everything is off-limits in Old Québec City, there are some hotels and businesses with accessibility and several with friendly staff willing to help.
DRIVING IN QUÉBEC CITY
Getting Around Québec City by car can be a tad frustrating at times, especially if you’re driving around the historic neighbourhoods. If you’re staying in a hotel in the old city, parking will likely be a challenge (especially in summer).
Don’t get us started on the one-way streets! If you don’t like using Google Maps, then we suggest picking up a Québec City street map to help you get around.
Metered parking is available throughout the city, including Old Québec City. The majority of parking meters operate Monday to Saturday, from 9 am – 9 pm, and on Sundays from 10 am – 9 pm.
In Old Québec City and Petit-Champlain, most of the meters are good for two hours of parking and cost $2.50 CAD per hour. You can pay at the meter by credit card or coin, or you can download the Copilote app from iTunes and pay through the app (it does have an English setting).
- After parking, make a note of the number on the small pole marking the space. There will be a pay station nearby, which can be used in both French and English.
- In Old Québec City, you can use metered parking for a maximum of 2 hours.
- Some parts of Québec City (and on rue Dauphine in Old Québec) you will find meters that are good for 3 – 5 hours.
- Before parking in a metered space make sure there are no orange signs stating that space is closed.
- If you are parking on the street after the hours of operation, it’s FREE.
Pay it forward! Save your parking slip. If you’ve paid for more time than needed, stick the slip to the pole near your space and treat the next person to some free parking time.
Parking Lots in Québec City
There are several parking lots within the city of Québec. In Old Québec, some hotels will use parking lots/garages for guest parking, which means they fill up quickly during high season.
Our recommendation is to drop your luggage off at your hotel, then park in a garage outside the old city walls. You’ll find more spaces, and sometimes the parking will be a little bit cheaper. Québec City is a walking city, you won’t need your car unless you want to venture out to Île d’Orleans or into the city’s suburbs.
Parkopedia has a list of public parking spaces and costs here.
Turning at traffic lights
Drivers wishing to turn left at a traffic light have the right of way when the traffic light flashes green or displays a green arrow. This can be confusing at times as most Canadian cities only use the green arrows to signify that drivers can turn left. Do not panic. Nobody wants to get into an accident when travelling.
Be sure to read signs carefully at traffic stops are there are some roads which do not allow right turns on a red.
When driving in Québec City you will see dedicated bus lanes with signs posted as to what times of day these lanes are restricted. If you need to drive into a bus lane to turn right, that is fine as long as you do so safely, however, if you drive in the lane to try to avoid traffic, there is a heavy fine. Do not stop or park in bus lanes.
TAKING A TAXI
If you’re arriving in Québec City by plane, there is a good chance you’ll need to take a taxi into the city and to your hotel. The good news is that there is a flat rate of $35 CAD for trips to Old Québec City (and nearby neighbourhoods).
In terms of getting around Québec City, a taxi comes in handy after a night of drinking or if you are not a fan of public buses. Uber is also an option.
The taxi starting tariff is generally $3.45 CAD, and the cost per kilometre is $1.70 CAD.
Taxi Coop (418.525.5191) is recommended. Service is good, and they have English-speaking dispatchers. Other options include Taxi Coop Sainte-Foy-Sillery (418.653.7777) and Taxi Laurier (418.651.2727).
RIDING THE BUS
The public bus system in Québec City is good with stops throughout the city, including stops in Old Québec and near popular tourist attractions. All buses are operated by Réseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC). While it is possible to search their website for bus routes and times, we highly recommend downloading the RTC Nomade app from iTunes, which gives real-time bus information.
Fares & Passes
A single fare (one-way ticket) costs $3.50 CAD. If you purchase a single ticket in advance from one of these retailers the fare is reduced to $3.10 CAD for adults, $2.60 CAD for seniors and children under 18 years of age.
1-day Pass is recommended if you plan to take three or more buses in a single day. The pass costs $8.75 CAD and can be purchased at the same retailers as the single fare tickets.
Unlimited Weekend passes start on Friday at 5:30 pm. A great value if you want to take the bus to places like Montmorency Falls, Wendake and other points of interest outside Québec City’s downtown core. The cost of this pass is $16 CAD per person.
5-day Pass is ideal if you’re staying for a week and plan to explore local neighbourhoods. The cost for this pass is $30 CAD for adults, and $25 for students, seniors and children under 18 years of age.
Children 5 years old and under ride for FREE on all RTC buses when accompanied by an adult.
Note: Many buses are wheelchair accessible, but to make sure you get one look to the app and look for a wheelchair symbol beside the bus number. Several drivers speak a little English, especially those driving downtown near tourist sights and neighbourhoods.
FERRY TO LÉVIS
We love riding the Québec-Lévis ferry, not just for the views of Québec City, but because Levis is fun to explore. Not many tourists take the time to visit Lévis, which is a shame as there are fabulous walking tours, cafés, restaurants, architecture, and more.
If you’re looking for a beautiful view of the Québec City skyline, the view from the ferry is one of the best, especially in autumn!
CYCLING AROUND QUÉBEC CITY
Québec City Tourism’s website offers quite a bit of information on bike paths in Québec City, including downloadable maps. Check out their site here.
SHUTTLES TO AREAS OUTSIDE QUÉBEC CITY
Unless you’re driving to Québec City or plan to rent a car, it can be challenging to get to areas outside the city – which is a shame! Thankfully many attractions on the outskirts, or outside the city, offer shuttle service from Old Québec City.
**It should be noted that these shuttles are not free of charge. All prices are one-way fares**
• Wendake: Operates a shuttle from end-May to mid-October. Cost is $10 CAD for adults, $5 CAD for children 5-12 years old. Learn more here.