Québec City is a beautiful, charming city full of incredible restaurants, luxurious hotels and independent boutiques – the perfect city break with a French flavor.

But all these high-end luxuries don't rule the regional capital out for budget travelers. It's all a matter of what you know, be it the perfect neighborhoods to stay, budget eats and drinks, or top attractions that won't wound your wallet. Here's everything you need to know about visiting Québec City on a budget.

Umbrellas suspended above Rue du Cul-de-Sac in Québec.
The best way to get around Vieux Québec is by foot © mkzdillon / Shutterstock

Daily costs (in CAD)

  • Hostel room: $25–$45 (dorm bed)
  • Basic hotel room for two: from $170
  • Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): from $160
  • Public transport ticket: $3.75 for 1 ride, $9.25 for a day pass, $16.75 for a weekend pass, $32.50 for 5 days
  • Coffee: $3–5
  • Poutine: $8–20
  • Dinner for two: $50–110
  • Beer/pint at the bar: $8–10

1. Explore the city on a walking tour

Québec City was built long before cars were invented, so you can park your vehicle for the whole trip or not bring one at all. Instead, pack comfortable shoes and walk along the lovely cobblestone streets of Québec City’s old town. A free walking tour can teach you about the significance of this historic city, though don’t forget to tip the excellent guide at the end. While in Vieux Québec, don’t miss Rue de Trésor, where you can gawk at local artists’ work.

Outside Vieux Québec, the city has plenty of gorgeous parks that won’t cost you anything. There’s Parc des Champs-de-Bataille which includes the Plaines d’Abraham – learn about a bloody battle in 1759 that forged the linguistic identity of Canada as we know it today. Other great parks include Parc Chauveau, a 120-hectare wilderness within the city limits, and Domaine de Maizerets, with its arboretum and butterfly house.

2. Time your museum visits to save

In a place with such an eventful history as Québec City, it’d be a shame to miss out on learning how this UNESCO-recognized fortress came to be. Fortunately, there are deals to be found at several museums that tell the history of French Canada and the Indigenous Peoples who’ve inhabited this land for centuries.

Many of the city’s museums are free on the first Sunday of every month, and others aren’t budget-busting – Musée du Civilization, one of the most popular museums in Canada, costs $19 for visitors aged 18 to 34 and $24 for those aged 35 to 64.

Father and daughter having breakfast at hotel restaurant.
Look out for prix fixe specials at lunchtime in Québec City © Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

3. Dine on local specialties

Walking around Vieux Québec and looking at menu prices can be intimidating, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to eat Québec’s prized cuisine. Go to Paillard and grab a croissant or pick up a 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 over the city.

Of course, you can’t leave Québec without getting poutine, which shouldn’t cost you too much. Chez Gaston is a local favorite, but Chez Ashton — Québec City’s version of McDonald’s — will do it anytime (it’s open 24 hours).

Another great strategy for eating on a budget in Québec City is to look for lunch prix-fixe specials. Le Lapin Sauté, one of the city’s best restaurants, does a great one.

4. Drink with the locals

Again, get out of the old town to find lower prices and head to local neighborhoods like Saint-Roch or Saint-Jean-Baptiste for a wander, a meal and a drink. Some great options include Nina Pizza, Le Bureau de Poste for food and Noctem Brasserie or L’Anti for a night out.

Ice skating in Place D'Youville during winter
Winter is a magical time to visit Québec City and it's more affordable compared to summer © Vicky Gosselin / Getty Images

5. Visit during the winter

In the summer, Québec City’s old town is teeming with visitors snapping photos of everything in sight. Aside from general busyness, peak season can also lead to higher prices, especially for accommodation.

Instead, go to Québec City in the winter. Fluffy white snow covering the streets is majestic, and the cold isn’t so bad when you’re warming up with a hot cup of chocolat chaud or Caribou — a red wine drink mixed with whisky and maple syrup. 

If you go during summer or shoulder seasons, you can still get a taste of Québec winter by skating on a 750-m (2460-ft) skating rink in the Méga Parc mall for $6 or $11 with skates rental.

6. Dive into literature

Quebeckers love their books, and the capital city does a great job celebrating literature. You can visit a Victorian library with 20,000 English-language books at the Centre Morrin — all for just $5. Maison de la Littérature, housed in a Methodist church built in 1848, is free to peruse. 

7. Take public transport

Québec City is not a car city, and you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches if you don’t drive around its tiny streets and across its busy bridges – opt for the bus instead.

A single ride is $3.75 with cash or $3.40 with a ticket, and a day pass will cost you $9.25. Québec City also has an e-bike-sharing program, àVélo, which gives you a boost when you pedal. Take a trip around one of the city’s many trails, including bike paths along Boulevard Champlain and the St-Charles River.

Speaking of the river, ferries across to the town of Lévis are like a mini-cruise that gives perfect views of the walled city and it costs just $3.95 each way.

Another fun way to get around is via Québec City’s funicular (fun is right there in the name!) that takes you down from Dufferin Terrace to the Old Port for $5 per ride (cash only). 

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

8. Take to the water

In the summer, Québec City’s residents flock to the Baie de Beauport — a beautiful sandy beach with plenty to do, from sailboat rentals to volleyball. Another beach at Parc de la Plage Jacques Cartier isn’t as sandy, but it’s perfect for a meander and photos of the Pierre Laporte Bridge. Or, if you just want to submerge your feet, you can hang out at Festibière, a bar with Adirondack chairs on top of a shallow pool.

9. Go to a festival

Going to a music festival might sound like the opposite of an affordable activity, but taxpayer dollars in Québec help fund the arts, which keeps prices down. For instance, Festival d’Été lasts 12 days and hosts top international artists like Rage Against The Machine, Maroon 5, Luke Combs and Halsey — all for $140 total. Quebec’s Magic Festival in May has 500 hours of free shows over seven days and continues to host events through the summer.

This article was first published July 2022 and updated February 2024

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