Most public buildings in Québec City – including tourist offices, major museums and attractions – are accessible for people in wheelchairs. Many restaurants and hotels also have facilities for the mobility-impaired but not in the Old Town, where very few buildings (including places to stay) have elevators.
RTC city bus line 11 and high-frequency Métrobus lines 800, 801, 802, 803, 804 and 807 are wheelchair accessible. The 'Accessibility' section of the RTC website (www.rtcquebec.ca) has more details.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Transport Adapté du Québec Métro Inc This outfit has 20 wheelchair-adapted minibuses that carry passengers to sections of Québec City not served by public RTC buses. You must make reservations at least eight hours in advance of your trip.
Transport Accessible du Québec Wheelchair-adapted vans available here. Make reservations at least 24 hours in advance.
Nonprofit organization Kéroul is dedicated to making travel more accessible to people with limited mobility and has detailed information about accessible travel on its website, offers packages for travelers with disabilities going to Québec and Ontario, and publishes the excellent guide Le Québec pour Tous/Québec for All, listing 188 hotels, restaurants and attractions with partial or full accessibility in Québec City.
Keep an eye out for the Tourist & Leisure Companion Sticker (TLCS), which indicates free access to facilities for those traveling with people with a disability or mental illness. The website www.vatl.org has a full list of participating sites throughout Québec.
Access to Travel (www.accesstotravel.gc.ca) provides details of accessible transportation across Canada.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Violent crime is almost nonexistent – especially involving foreigners. Even so, as in all cities, it's best to stay alert for petty theft and use hotel safes where available.
- Cars with foreign registration are occasionally targeted for smash-and-grab theft. As elsewhere, don’t leave valuables in the car.
- Take special care at pedestrian crosswalks, especially if there is no arrêt (stop) sign.
- It is illegal in Canada to carry pepper spray or mace. Some women recommend carrying a whistle to deal with attackers or potential dangers. If you are sexually assaulted, call 911 or the local Sexual Assault Center for referrals to hospitals that have sexual-assault care centers.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Canada's country code||1|
|International access code||011|
|Emergencies (fire, police & ambulance)||911|
- At first encounters, be it in a shop or entering a restaurant, greet staff in French. You don't have to speak the language fluently nor will anyone expect you to continue en français once they ascertain how little you know, but a simple bonjour ('hello') or bon soir ('good evening') on arrival will go a long way. Québécois fought long and hard to retain their native language in La Belle Province; respect that.
- In winter when someone is about to enter wherever it is you are exiting, let them in first; they're a lot colder than you are.
- A rule respected (and enforced) in Québec in winter is to remove your shoes and place them in the tray (plateau) provided in homes, some cafes and even the odd boutique hotel. Winter footwear is covered in grit, mud and salt, which will soil and can harm carpets and wooden floors.
- A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a good idea. There is a wide variety of policies available, so check the small print.
- If you need to make a claim regarding a loss or theft of possessions, you will need to produce a police report and proof of value of items lost or stolen.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Wi-fi is widely available at tourist offices, hotels, cafes and many restaurants throughout Québec City. Except in a very few high-end hotels, it's free of charge.
For info on free wi-fi hot spots in Québec City and elsewhere in Québec province, visit Zap Québec (www.zapquebec.org).
If you’re not traveling with a computer, many hotels have a desktop or laptop available for guests.
Québec City's gay community is tiny but well established, with its own Pride festival, the Fête Arc-en-Ciel, in early September, and a handful of popular nightspots along Rue St-Jean in the St-Jean Baptiste district.
Québec City tends to be a bit more conservative than big brother Montréal, and open displays of affection between same-sex couples may attract more attention.
Fugues (www.fugues.com) is a free gay and lesbian entertainment guide with listings for the entire province of Québec, including Québec City.
- Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph (www.qctonline.com) English newsweekly (and North America’s oldest newspaper).
- Le Soleil (www.lesoleil.com) French daily.
- Le Journal de Québec (www.journaldequebec.com) French daily.
You'll find ATMs everywhere in Québec City, and credit cards are widely accepted.
Québec City has scads of ATMs linked to the international Cirrus, Plus and Maestro networks, not only in banks but also in pubs, convenience stores and hotels. Many charge a small fee per use, and your own bank may levy an extra fee – it’s best to check before leaving home.
Canadian coins come in 1¢ (penny), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), $1 (slang: loonie) and $2 (slang: toonie) pieces. The last penny coin was minted in 2012 and is rare. The price for a cash transaction may be rounded up or down to the nearest 5¢.
Paper currency comes in $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green) and $50 (red) denominations. The $100 (brown) bill is less common. Many stores refuse to take larger bills for fear of counterfeiting.
Main shopping streets like Ave Honoré-Mercier, Rue St-Jean and Rue St-Joseph Est have plenty of banks. There are also foreign-exchange desks at the main tourist office, the airport and the train and bus stations.
Tipping is standard practice. Most credit-card machines calculate tips based on the percentage you specify or allow you to tip an amount of your choice. If tipping cash, leave the tip on the table or hand it directly to staff.
- Restaurant waitstaff 15%–20%
- Bar staff $1 per drink
- Hotel bellhop $1–$2 per bag
- Hotel room cleaners From $2 daily (depending on room size and messiness)
- Taxis 10%–15%
Banks 10am–3pm Monday to Friday (later on Thursday).
Bars & Pubs 11:30am–midnight or later; those not serving food may not open until 5pm or later.
Museums Most open 10am and close at 5pm or 6pm. Some close Monday but stay open late one day a week (typically Wednesday or Thursday).
Restaurants Generally open 11:30am–2:30pm and 5:30pm–11pm; cafes serving breakfast open between 7am–9am.
Shops Almost always open 9:30am–5:30pm Monday to Wednesday, to 9pm Thursday and Friday, to 5pm Saturday and sometimes noon–5pm Sunday.
Standard 1st-class airmail letters or postcards up to 30g cost 90¢ within Canada, $1.27 to the US and $2.65 to all other destinations. For general information, contact Canada Post (www.canadapost.ca/cpc/en).
In Québec City, the post office in the Old Upper Town is conveniently located near the main tourist sites and offers the biggest selection of postal services, including a philatelic counter.
Banks, schools and government offices close on Canadian public holidays, while museums and other services go on a restricted schedule. This is also a busy time to travel.
School students break for summer holidays in late June and return to school in early September. University students get even more time off, breaking from May to early or mid-September. Most people take their big annual vacation during this summer period. Schools also break in late February or early March for the semaine de relâche (winter break); ski areas near Montréal and Québec City may get more crowded during this period.
The main public holidays are:
New Year’s Day January 1
Good Friday & Easter Monday Late March to mid-April
Victoria Day May 24 or nearest Monday
National Aboriginal Day June 21 (unofficial)
St-Jean-Baptiste Day June 24
Canada Day July 1
Labour Day First Monday in September
Canadian Thanksgiving Second Monday in October
Remembrance Day November 11
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26
- Smoking Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed spaces such as restaurants, bars and clubs and, as of 2016, restaurant and bar patios as well.
Taxes & Refunds
Québec has two taxes: a 5% federal goods and services tax (GST) and the 9.975% Québec sales tax (QST). In addition, an accommodations tax of 3.5% of the room price per night applies. Taxes are not generally included in prices given; they're added on afterward.
Claiming Tax Refunds
You might be eligible for a rebate on some taxes. If you've booked your accommodations in conjunction with a rental car, plane ticket or other service (ie if it all appears on the same bill from a 'tour operator'), you should be eligible to get 50% of the tax refunded from your accommodations. Fill out the GST/HST Refund Application for Tour Packages form, available from the Canada Revenue Agency (www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html).
The area code for Québec City is 418 (and occasionally 581). When you dial, even local numbers, you will need to punch in the three-digit area code as well.
Toll-free numbers begin with 800, 866, 877 or 888 and must be preceded with 1. Some numbers are good throughout North America, others only within Canada or one particular province.
Dialing the operator (0) or the emergency number (911) is free of charge from both public and private phones. For directory assistance, dial 411. Fees apply.
With the advent of cell phones, public phones have become a rarity. When you do find them, they will either be coin-operated (local calls cost 50¢) or accept phonecards and credit cards.
Buy local prepaid SIM cards for use with international phones.
The only foreign cell phones that will work in North America are triband models operating on GSM 1900. If you don’t have one of these, your best bet is to buy an inexpensive phone with prepaid minutes and a rechargeable SIM card at a consumer electronics store such as the chain Best Buy (www.bestbuy.ca).
US residents traveling with their phone may have service (though they’ll pay roaming fees). Get in touch with your cell-phone provider for details.
Bell Canada’s prepaid cards, in denominations of $5, $10 and $20, work from public and private phones. There are also plenty of local phonecards offering better rates than Bell’s, sold at convenience stores, newsstands and websites such as Calling Card Plus (www.callingcardplus.com) and Vox Global (https://vox.ca).
Québec City is on Eastern Time (EST/EDT), as is Montréal and New York City – five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Canada switches to daylight-saving time (one hour later than Standard Time) from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.
Train schedules, film screenings and schedules in French use the 24-hour clock (eg 6:30pm becomes 18:30), while English schedules use the 12-hour clock.
By European standards Québec City – indeed most of Québec and Canada – is paradise for those who need to go on the go. There are free, clean public toilets/bathrooms everywhere and water fountains for drinking and refilling water bottles too.
Centre Infotouriste Québec City The main tourist office, in the heart of the Old Town. It has scads of brochures and maps, and helpful staff.
Frontenac Kiosk In summer this kiosk offers tourist information for (and entry to) the Fortifications of Québec and St-Louis Forts & Châteaux national historic sites.
Musée des Plaines d'Abraham Reception in the museum's lower-ground floor provides information on the Plains of Abraham and Battlefields Park.
Travel with Children
Québec City is certainly about history, architecture and food. While much of the Old Town, including accommodations and restaurants, is geared toward adults, there are also good things to do with younger ones in the central core, while around the edges are sights fully designed for kids' enjoyment.
Fun with History
Youngsters go giddy over the ubiquitous street performers and guides in period costume, the uniformed soldiers beating the retreat at the Citadelle and the antique cannons sprinkled around Battlefields Park. Walking the Fortifications or rampaging down the pedestrian-friendly Terrasse Dufferin, with its river views and buskers, always delights children. Place d'Armes and Place-Royale are also good for street performers. A slow tour of the Old Town in a calèche (horse-drawn carriage) appeals to the whole family.
In winter children will be mesmerized by the Glissade de la Terrasse toboggan run on Terrasse Dufferin, the ice palace, ice slides, snow tubing and dogsledding at Winter Carnival, the whimsically decorated rooms at the Ice Hotel and the outdoor ice-skating rinks at Place d’Youville and the Plains of Abraham.
The Érico chocolate shop in St-Jean Baptiste also has a museum devoted to all things chocolaty. Get a history lesson, see the kitchen, sample a chunk and try to resist the shop. Make sure you try the hot chocolate.
Outside the center, Aquarium du Québec has walrus, seals, polar bears and thousands of smaller species.
Volunteering provides the opportunity to interact with local folks and the land in ways you never would just passing through. Many organizations charge a fee, which varies depending on the program's length and the type of food and lodging it provides. The fees usually do not cover travel to Canada. Travelers should always investigate a volunteer opportunity themselves to assess the standards and suitability of the project.
World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.ca) Involves working on an organic farm, usually in exchange for free room and board; the website lists up to 150 hosts in Québec.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Canada officially uses the metric system, and use of metric units is especially widespread in Québec compared to other Canadian provinces. All distances are stated in kilometers, and measurements such as height and weight are more likely to be expressed in kilograms, meters and centimeters here than elsewhere in Canada. Even so, you'll still see plenty of French-language references to imperial units, such as the pieds carrés (square feet) used in many real-estate listings or the quart de livre (quarter pounder) on the McDonald's menu. Older Québécois seem to prefer using vergue (yard) over mètre (meter).