Quebec CityFew cities in the world can compete with the beauty, history, and sheer impressiveness of Quebec City.

By Amy Hogue

If you are looking for an interesting destination for a weekend trip or longer, Quebec City will deliver. Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, this Francophone city is a prime boating destination with unique boating conditions, a vibrant waterfront scene, and excellent food, drink and culture.

This is a spot that’s ideal for someone who is into Canadian history or who loves European architecture. Quebec City is home to the most intact fortified city north of Mexico and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Historic District of Old Quebec is complete with quaint cobblestone streets and boutique shops.

This sprawling historic city dates back to the early 1600s and as one might expect with a 400-year-old city located on an important transportation and shipping route, Quebec played a key role in Canadian history as a highly coveted defensible position.

Naturally, the St. Lawrence River had a constant tactical influence as the city grew from a small settlement carved from the woods to the site of the famous Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, and guarded by the Citadelle de Quebec, the oldest military building in Canada. Something you don’t see every day are the walls that completely encircle the historic district of Old Quebec, some of which are visible from the water.

Saint-Pierre-de-L'ile-d'Orleans-BridgeA view overlooking the Saint-Pierre-de-l’Ile-d’Orleans Bridge that leads to l’Ile d’Orleans. The Montmorency Waterfall is located just east of the bridge. The tidal current can make it challenging to navigate beneath the bridge, depending on the size of your boat.

Above the city, the famous Le Chateau Frontenac towers over the winding streets of Old Quebec, and has its own stories to tell of Princesses, Canadian musical icons, and historic meetings between world leaders. The hotel is a pleasant place to work off your “sea legs” and sleep in luxury in the heart of Old Quebec.

Quebec City may have once been a city of great military relevance, but today it is a vibrant waterfront community bustling with culture and entertainment, layered with history and architecture. Boaters should plan on spending at least a few days here to see the sights and get a true sense of the Quebec culture. Note, if you don’t speak French, don’t worry, most locations are bilingual.

Tidal currents make for interesting boating

The St. Lawrence River is well known for the unique boating conditions it offers at varying points of the waterway. Northeast of Quebec City at Tadoussac is where the salt-waters of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence mingle with the fresh river water to create brackish water and rapidly changing weather conditions.

St. Lawrence RiverThe St. Lawrence River at Quebec City is a playground for every type of boat, from shipping freighters to sea-doos, there is plenty of traffic here.

Tidal currents on the St. Lawrence extend from Tadoussac all the way to the city of Quebec, where the strong ebb and flood currents make boating interesting, to say the least.

At Quebec City, the St. Lawrence splits around the large island, l’Ile d’Orleans (which also makes for a pleasant destination). On the north side of the island, the Chenal de l’Ile d’Orleans runs north-east for roughly 30-kilometres, while the St. Lawrence itself continues south-east of the island. Pay attention to the buoyed channel in this area where the river splits.

In and around Quebec City, there are fairly rapid tidal currents of up to seven knots. This can cause problems for sailboats and smaller watercraft who must time their travels carefully to coincide with tide levels.

When sailing or cruising these waters, be prepared to share the water with a multitude of sailboats, motorboats, and freighters. Don’t be tempted to deviate from the shipping lane – the river may be roughly half-a-mile wide here, but without closely watching your charts you could find yourself in trouble.

In particular, it’s recommended to be careful when navigating beneath the three bridges that cross the St. Lawrence at Quebec City. North-east of the city is Saint-Pierre-de-l’Ile-d’Orleans, (spanning between the mainland and the l’Ile d’Orleans), which is known for creating challenging currents and cross-currents. 

Exploring Old Quebec (tip: bring your walking shoes)

Old QuebecSo many great spots for photos in Old Quebec! This view is one of the most photographed of this area.

When visiting Quebec by boat, you will appreciate having two marinas within walking or cycling distance of the city, where you can pop out to explore at your leisure. You’ll want to bring some comfortable footwear because if there’s one thing you’ll do a lot of in Quebec, it’s walking! As with most harbour towns, the city is almost all uphill from the water, which gives your legs a nice chance for a workout after being confined to your boat. 

There are several marinas in and around Quebec City, any of which would make for a great place to serve as your home base while you explore the area. Lying at the foot of the fortified area, the Old Port (Vieux Port) is a boater’s dream location to moor for the night or longer. 

Quebec Yacht ClubThe Quebec Yacht Club is located just west of the city but is easily accessible by bike or even on foot.

This area is home to a marina with more than 400 slips, a cruise ship terminal, and numerous shops and restaurants, all within walking distance of the water. If you love being in the thick of it all, this is the perfect place to moor and explore the region. 

The Quebec Yacht Club lies about four kilometres south-west of Old Quebec with full facilities, including fuel. Don’t be dissuaded by the distance from the city, that just means you may be more assured of a restful night’s sleep.  

No matter where you tie up for the night, you’ll want to take your time visiting Old Quebec and wandering its cobblestone streets lined with European-esque boutique shops and cozy cafes and pubs. Here you’ll find a culture that loves good food and drink, and the ‘joie de vivre’ Quebecers are known for. The walls that encircle this fortified area aren’t always obvious, but make sure you visit each of the gates that form the points of entry here. 

Getting around in town is easy if you carry your own bicycle on board, but you can also rent one from numerous shops in and around the city. The Promenade de Champlain is a lengthy cycling path that runs parallel to the water and makes for a pleasant bike ride for leisure, or to reach various shoreline points of interest.  

Exploring Quebec City

Louise Taverne
The patio at Louise Taverne is always bustling – the prime location near the Old Port area and waterfront pairs well with Francophone cuisine.

1. Dine at Louise Taverne & Bar a Vin

Named for Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise, this chic restaurant is only feet away from the Old Port and marina and is the perfect spot for an impromptu lunch or dinner after a day exploring the city. The restaurant offers hearty dishes inspired by French cuisine with a unique Quebecois twist that mirrors the warmth and energy of the restaurant’s namesake. Their menu changes frequently based on what’s in season, but is always delicious. 

The Battlements


From the battlement is phenomenal and worth the trip.

2. Visit the Citadelle du Quebec

Home to the Governor General’s residence, the Citadelle is the largest British fortress in North America. Even if you have visited similar military forts in the past, this one is worth a visit. The view from the battlement is phenomenal and worth the trip.

3. Tour the Terrasse Dufferin

Old Quebec



Art and artisans are everywhere in Old Quebec. Bring your pocketbook with you.

The Dufferin Terrace is essentially a long boardwalk that borders the south side of Le Chateau Frontenac with a fantastic view of the St. Lawrence. This walkway is more than what it seems – three glass domes found along the walkway overlook an underground kitchen that once belonged to the original Governor General’s residence that was located here for over 200 years. This museum is worth a tour to get a different perspective of what life was like 400 years ago.



4. View Montmorency Falls

If you think you’ve seen some awesome waterfalls, prepare to be surprised by Montmorency Falls. The falls can easily be seen from the water, but care should be taken in and around the bridge due to changes in currents. These falls are 150-feet taller than Niagara Falls! 

5. Take the Funiculaire 

If your legs aren’t feeling like a workout, but you still want to explore Quebec City from every vantage point, take the Funiculaire, a local attraction that’s fun, too. This vertical lift takes you up the cliff face at a 45-degree angle and straight to the Terrasse Dufferin and the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Then you can explore downhill rather than uphill. Your legs will thank you.

6. Stay at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Fairmont Le Château FrontenacThe Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is an imposing sight at night in Old Quebec.

This historic “chateau” is over 100 years old and was once the highest spot in Quebec, and still towers over the historic city to this day. Having gone through many renovations and additions over the years, the hotel remains true to its heritage and historical roots. It has been beautifully maintained and is worth a visit if only to stroll through the period rooms and specifically beneath the 400-kilogram sculpture of the St. Lawrence River that hangs on the lobby floor.

While you’re here, take the chance to dine at the famous Champlain Restaurant for fine dining, or in a more relaxed atmosphere at Le Sam Bistro.   


7. Take a guided tour (double decker)

Nothing will give you better insight into Old Quebec than a guided tour with Old Quebec Tours on the top level of a double-decker bus. At one hour, these tours are short but sweet. 

A view of Bassin Louise and the marina located here in the Old Port area. This is a great place to
moor your boat since it’s just a short walk to the heart of Old Quebec.

Bassin Louise

Related Articles

Sunday, 20 December 2020 19:47

Ontario’s best-kept secret, the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic site holds the key to boating bliss in the time of pandemic-era travel. An epic 386km long, this historic navigable network of...

Sunday, 28 June 2020 20:48

Canadians are blessed in many ways and especially when it comes to boating. We enjoy some the world’s most beautiful cruising waters and many places are as sheltered as they are scenic.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020 18:53

On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the 524-mile Canal system based on maintenance and construction projects resuming in the Capital,...

Monday, 30 September 2019 22:31

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston...

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 03:51

Presented by the Quebec Marine Association, the In-Water Boat Show is an annual event that takes places in Montréal and Québec City on two different weekends. 

Sunday, 03 August 2014 23:33

This is an important reminder that the Early Bird deadline to register for the CPS-ECP National Conference in Quebec City this October is August 15, 2014. This conference is open to CPS-ECP members....

Boat Reviews

Video Gallery



Oakley 245 CCBy Andy Adams

The multi-generational island cottagers of Georgian Bay and serious fishermen are just two of the groups most attracted to the new Oakley Boats models.

Brad Oakley has been around the boat business his entire life and he said to me that he has long admired durable, seaworthy welded aluminum boats. His company WMW Vacuum Pumpout Systems in Waubaushene, Ontario on Georgian Bay, builds highly regarded vacuum pump-out systems and Oakley’s equipment is in so many marinas that he knows a lot of people in the business.

Read More




Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42By Katherine Stone

On a beautiful summer morning in July, I hopped aboard a new-owner delivery from the Outer Harbour Marina in Toronto to the Port Credit Harbour Marina in Mississauga, with the President of Navy Point Yacht Sales, Steve McPherson. I don’t know if I have ever referred to a boat as pretty, but this adjective fits the Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42 to a tee.

The transitions and communication from interior to exterior spaces are seamless and well-thought-out with functional ergonomics. 

Read More

The Ottawa Flight LocksFollowing the War of 1812, a battle that Canada narrowly won against the United States, the boundaries of Upper Canada were held and the British army realized that the St. Lawrence River was no longer safe as a supply route. A more defensible route was needed to bring supplies from Montreal to Kingston and on into other Great Lakes settlements.

This new, more secure route revealed itself through the travel and trade of the Indigenous peoples. Surveyors learned that one of the Indigenous trade routes began at the mouth of the Cataraqui River in Kingston (Canada’s first national capital) and connected a series of lakes and rivers all the way through to where the Rideau River meets the Ottawa River in the heart of Bytown (known today as Canada’s national capital: the City of Ottawa). 

Read More


  • Prev
There are two POTWs this time. The reason? Guilt. We are picking up the first one from the internet ...
So, I’m at Mobility Cup in Nepean, across the river from Ottawa. I’ve participated in Mobility Cup ...
Emirates Team New Zealand, who introduced foiling to America’s Cup competition in 2012, is ...
Our own Ask Andrew ‘floated his Fanny down the Ganny’ in the annual boat race held on Ganaraska ...
While there’s all kinds of discussion, particularly in NZ, about the plan to defend the 37th ...
How a young woman who was encouraged by her father to enter a contest, became a member of the ...
We got this beauty from Don Snell of the Sea Spray Class in Alberta who proudly reminds us “the ...
This past June I stepped aside as Publisher of Canadian Yachting Media after a ten-year run. It was ...
This February, Sarah Douglas, Canadian Olympic Team member in the Laser Radial class, won the Laser ...
We have had Christmas tree photos in years past, but this topper says it all. Like the traditional ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Full disclosure and confession: I enjoy watching boat failures and crashes on YouTube! As long as ...
As I write this, boat yards are checking over systems, and re-familiarizing themselves with the ...
Nothing spoils a weekend aboard faster than a broken toilet. Its uncomfortable, inconvenient, ...
Everyone has their own spring ritual that often includes rooting through the basement or garage and ...
When it comes to building sizable house battery banks, you will probably need more than one ...
Most sailboat racing occurs at local sailing clubs, and usually after work hours on weekday ...
Many wires on a vessel are connected via a bolted lug. ABYC standard E-11 covers normal do and ...
I first learned about radar reflectors when I read the International Regulations for Preventing ...
Whether you’re a powerboater or a sailor, and for those of us that have our boats hauled out and ...
With the boating season getting ever closer, it’s important that you understand the language of ...

High Aspect ClothOver the last decade, sailcloth weaving equipment has evolved and allowed the production of low crimp warp oriented woven cloth of medium to heavy weights. We have had light weight warp wovens of 200g/m2 (4oz) or lighter for much longer than that, but the finer denier weaves of light sailcloth allowed that with older looms and setups. Why is this important? This new loom technology is very important because it allows sailmakers to make better warp cut woven sails for boats 25-50’ long.

Let’s start by clarifying what a crosscut sail is. The crosscut panel layout aligns the fill (short) edge of the sailcloth roll with the leech edge of the sail. Most of the sail load goes from clew to head up the leech. Secondary sail loads go from corner to corner along the foot and luff edge.

Read More



Marine Products

  • Prev
The club's first digital guide is the collaborative effort of dozens of CCA members and now ...
The days are lovely and what better way to celebrate than heading to the engine compartment. Here ...
While collapsible bimini tops offer boaters a welcome escape from direct sun, deployment and ...
Volvo Penta is launching its Assisted Docking system as a retrofit upgrade for many yacht owners ...
Don’t let offshore emergencies turn into disasters. SeaKits help to prepare you for emergencies at ...
It’s one of the best things about sailors: we hate to give up on our equipment. But if you’re like ...
Furuno has announced that Navionics cartography is now available on their GP1871F and GP1971F ...
With the boat back in the water it’s time to refresh our boating skills after a long lay-off. ...
I’ve been doing powerboat reviews for Canadian Yachting magazine for over 40 years now and I want ...
Many boaters prefer the clean appearance and greater safety of modern pull-up cleats that retract ...

Fuel EconomyI filled up last week at $1.90. Pundits are suggesting that prices will stay high throughout the summer. Radio and TV news have been flooded with ‘man on the street’ interviews that show the impact on the average driver. How will these prices affect the average boater this year? Will we see more hours spent on the docks and fewer on the water? Will fuel efficiency become a top-of –mind selling point? Will we see a shift toward electric marine engines?

Time will tell – but for the majority of us, we’ll need to weather the storm as best we can. There are a number of tips and tricks we can employ aboard to make the most of our boat’s fuel. BoatUS published an excellent article this week that I’ll break down...

Read More