Quebec City fashions itself the "national capital" of Quebec. Much of the business here is of the administrative and bureaucratic nature, which would normally make the city quite dull. Fortunately, the city has a remarkable history, as the fortress capital of New France since the 16th century.
Orienting yourself in Quebec is fairly easy. Practically all sights of interest are in the Old Town (Vieux-Québec), which is divided in two: the walled city on top of the hill is known as Haute-Ville ("High Town"), and the neighborhood between the walled city and the river is Basse-Ville ("Low Town"). The two are connected by the aptly-named Escalier Casse-Cou ("Breakneck Stairs") and the rather easier funicular.
The Jean Lesage International Airport (airport code: YQB), in Ancienne-Lorette, is found about 30 minutes from downtown Quebec. It offers regular flights from cities such as Montreal, Toronto and New York, and also provides charters to remote areas of the province such as Kuujjuaq, Gaspé and Baie-Comeau.
Please note that there is no public transit or hotel shuttles to the airport. The taxi fare from Old Quebec to the airport is a flat fee of $30.
A passenger train station is found at the port of Quebec, 450 rue de la Gare du Palais. The Quebec VIA Rail station is a picturesque building, emulating the architectural style of the famed Chateau-Frontenac overlooking the station. The Quebec-Windsor corridor trains run regularly, with stopovers at Montreal and Toronto.
Another train station is located in Ste-Foy, 3255 chemin de la Gare, near the Quebec and Pierre-Laporte bridges. However, public transit does not run there as often as the Quebec station and requires walking for a couple minutes.
The bus station, Terminus Gare du Palais located at rue de la Gare du Palais, is also found at the old port of Quebec, next to the train station. Intercar and Orleans Express offer services province-wide.
Another bus station is located in Ste-Foy, 3001 chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois, which is easily accessible by city transit.
Quebec City is 2.5-3 hours by car from Montreal, taking either Highway 40 or 20 (north and south side of the St. Lawrence, respectively). Both drives are rather monotonous drives through endless forest dotted with farms. For a slower but more interesting tour of Quebec's heartland, drive along the Chemin du Roy, which follows the north bank of the river, instead.
Visiting the Old Town, it is best to travel within and around the walls by foot. If your feet fail you, use the funicular to go between the upper and lower parts of the Old Town. $1.50 will get you from near the base of the Breakneck Stairs (Escalier Casse-Cou) back up to the front of the Chateau Frontenac. This is well worth it if you have small children or large packages.
The Route Verte is a system of provincial bike paths that pass through parks and local attractions. The Corridor des Cheminots is a peaceful trail that runs from the Montmorency Falls to Val-Bélair, which continues on to the Jacques-Cartier park area.
Quebec's urban bike paths are not as well documented as Montreal paths, but are well-marked throughout the city. They are open from April to October.
Driving in the Old Town can be tricky, since the cobblestone streets were designed for narrow 17th-century horsecarts rather than 21st-century SUVs. One way streets abound throughout the Old Town, and parking is difficult to find.
Outside of the Old Town, the use of a car is recommended. Right turns on red are allowed unless otherwise indicated.
During the months of November through April, snow will definitely affect driving conditions. Snow tires are strongly recommended, as some roads will lack snow removal, sand or salting.
The RTC, Quebec's public transportation system, is a system of buses and express shuttles that cover the whole city. Tickets cost 2.25 CDN each, which will earn you the right to ride one direction with a transfer valid for 2 hours. There are daily passes and monthly passes available. It is also possible to ride without a ticket, the fare being 2.50. Drivers do not carry money and cannot change bills.
The Metrobus line is actually two bus lines (800 and 801) that both start in Ste-Foy, head toward the Old Town, and end in Beauport and Charlesbourg respectively. They can run as often as one every 3 minutes during rush hour along Boulevard René-Lévesque/Boulevard Laurier/chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois.
The STL, Lévis's public transit, operates within the south shore of Quebec. There is also a shuttle from St-Augustin to Quebec. These different transit companies all pass through Quebec City, which explains the different colours of buses around town.