Getting around Quebec

Quebec City has a close and personal vibe, making it feel like a big village more than a big metropolis. The city’s small-scale transportation options reflect this mentality.

Weather plays a role in how residents navigate the city. In summer, the hilly streets and the abundance of stairs make it possible to exercise. In winter, when roads, sidewalks and rooftops fill with snow and ice, walking can feel like an obstacle course. Buses are a warm alternative and a go-to choice for commuters all year round.

Parts of Quebec City are under construction for a tram slated to open in 2028 – and it’s a bit controversial among locals. (Personally, that excites me a lot.) In the meantime, here are the best ways to get around Quebec City like a local.

Your shoes are made for walking, your eyes for looking

The layout of the city makes it easy for able-bodied travelers to get around on foot. This is, in my opinion, the best way to explore Quebec City. In the Old Town, houses and buildings are adorned with interesting embellishments and design details, rewarding slow strollers who stop to admire the streetscape. Never look down when walking around because you’re sure to miss something intriguing. The historic architecture can be breathtaking at times and you may find yourself overwhelmed with the desire to take photos from all angles. I highly recommend taking photos – just be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking blindly down the street and inadvertently blocking traffic.

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Be careful when walking in Quebec City in winter

December tends to be a rainy month in Quebec, which means layers of ice start to build up on roofs, sidewalks and streets. Soon the snow arrives (this is Canada, after all), and the art of walking upright becomes more difficult, especially given the hilly nature of the streets of Old Quebec. Quebecers, however, are tough and consider walking in winter as an ideal exercise: you will see them in the street with puffy winter jackets, snow pants and spiked boots. When the air is particularly chilly or the snow is whipping, many will also don ski goggles. As someone who has fallen and dislocated a shoulder, I highly recommend wearing crampons in the winter. (I now own boots with them built in.)

The delightful funicular that connects Terrasse Dufferin in Old Quebec to Petit-Champlain in Old Lower Town is fully accessible © Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Is Quebec City wheelchair accessible?

Quebec City can be a challenge if you have mobility issues, especially Old Quebec, where shops and restaurants often have stairs and ramps are rare. But don’t let that put you off: Quebecers want you to enjoy their city as much as they do, and they’ll often help you when you need help. The fully accessible funicular is a fun way to travel from Petit-Champlain to Terrasse Dufferin (and the iconic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac). Ask your travel companion to go inside and ask to use the elevators and the staff will be happy to help you.

Buses are the easiest way to get around the city for people with reduced mobility, as they can be lowered to accommodate wheelchairs and others who need help boarding.

A bus picking up passengers in the fall on Grande Allée, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Wheelchair accessible and family-friendly, the RTC bus network offers a convenient way to get around Quebec City © Marc Bruxelle / Getty Images

Buy your bus tickets and passes in advance

The RTC bus system in Quebec is decent, with services throughout the city center and the suburbs; in recent years the city has also added service to the airport. Buses are one of the best ways for people with reduced mobility to get around the city, as many can be lowered to accommodate wheelchairs. Parents with strollers and young children also find this feature useful. Cyclists who need a break from pedaling can place their bikes on the bus rack at the front and take a spin.

One-way cost is CA$3.50 (US$2.75) and exact change is required. You can also buy passes in advance: a day pass costs CA$8.85 (US$6.95) and an unlimited weekend pass (which starts on Friday to 5:30 p.m.) CA$16 (US$12.50). You can also download the RTC Payment application (available for iOS and Android) and buy your tickets digitally. Children ages 6-11 travel free when accompanied by an adult (up to three children per adult). Stops are displayed on a screen at the front of the bus and announced as well.

A lone cyclist about to cross Porte Saint-Louis in the old town, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
With miles of new reserved lanes and a new self-service e-bike program, Quebec City is becoming more bike-friendly © Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

Ride like you’re training for the Tour de France

Quebec City is becoming more welcoming to cyclists and there are beautiful bike paths in the city that wind around the marina and along the St. Lawrence River. The City of Quebec recently set up a shared electric bicycle system, àVélo, available from mid-May to the end of October.

The CTMA boat operator has also set up a ferry this year that will allow cyclists and pedestrians to go up the river from Old Quebec to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, starting in early June.

Download the Coop app to hail a taxi in the blink of an eye

Taking a cab is a go-to option when heading to restaurants or music venues in areas far from your hotel, or when you’ve partied harder than your legs can handle. You can call the Taxi Coop switchboard and order a ride, but the Taxi Coop app (for iOS or Android) makes your life easier. Simply set up your account, order a taxi to your location, and watch on the app as your taxi is heading your way. You can pay by credit card through the app, or by handing cash or your card directly to the driver. During busy times of the year or in bad weather, finding a taxi can be a challenge.

Uber is also available in Quebec. Many locals prefer the ride-sharing service to a taxi, as Uber drivers can sometimes be faster.

A woman walks with an umbrella by shops on a steep street in the old town during heavy rain, Quebec, Quebec, Canada
With its narrow, steep streets and wandering pedestrians, Old Quebec can be a challenge when looking for parking. Nearby garages are a safer bet © Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

How to find a parking space in Quebec

Driving in the Old Town can be frustrating at the height of tourist season as people tend to walk down the street without looking and street parking can be a challenge. When you find a parking space on the street, simply enter the parking space number into the machine, pay, and go on with your day. Downloading the Copilote app (for iOS or Android) will be a useful way to top up, as many locations are only available in two-hour increments. If there are spaces available after 9:00 p.m., take them because parking is free at night until 8:00 a.m.

You may have an easier time with parking lots and lots. The garage on rue Dauphin before boulevard Honoré-Mercier is your best option near Old Quebec. There is a smaller parking lot in front of the Musée de la Civilization on Dalhousie Street. Quai André also offers a few paying car parks.

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