Ile d'Orleans and Montmorency Falls make for the perfect Quebec City day trip. Visiting these two spots will give you a nice break from the city (and crowds) and it's only 20 minutes away. See the complete itinerary and my favorite stops on Ile d'Orleans!
Quebec City makes for a wonderful visit with its European feel, quaint streets, beautiful architecture, and pretty views. It's also become extremely popular with tourists and is a stop for many cruise lines...cue crazy crowds in the blink of an eye.
If you find yourself itching to get away from the tourists on a particularly busy day or just want to see another side of Quebec, I have the perfect Quebec City day trip for you!
Ile d'Orleans and Montmorency Falls are a quick 20 minute drive from the city center and are right next to each other. It makes for an extremely easy Quebec City day trip.
All you have to do is rent a car for the day and follow my guide below. I found an Enterprise right in the city center and a 15 minute walk from our hotel (Hôtel des Coutellier - highly recommend). It also happened to be right by my favorite coffee shop in Quebec City, Cantook!
If you've never rented a car or driven overseas, this is a great place to start. The traffic isn't bad in Quebec City, it's incredibly easy to navigate, and the drivers aren't crazy. It was $60 to rent the car for the entire day and I loved having the freedom to make my own timeline.
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Part 1 of your Quebec City Day Trip - MONTMORENCY FALLS
Our first stop was to see the Quebec City waterfalls, Montmorency Falls. It's a breathtaking sight at a whopping 272 feet (100 feet taller than Niagara Falls). Montmorency Falls is on the way to Ile d'Orelans and a straight shot from the city center, so it's an easy add on to your Quebec City day trip to Ile d'Orleans.
Parking was 12 CAD and easy to find. Montmorency Falls can a be a quick stop or you can add on several activities like zip-lining or taking a cable car over the falls.
There are several view points including a suspension bridge at the drop off of the waterfall. You can can feel the power from the water flowing below you, it was pretty awesome...though I wouldn't recommend this for anyone that's scared of heights.
PART 2 OF YOUR QUEBEC CITY DAY TRIP - Ile d'orleans
Once you've gotten your fill of the Quebec City waterfalls, hop back in the car and head over the suspension bridge connecting the mainland to Ile d'Orleans. Once on the island, follow the "?" road sign to the tourism office.
Ask for the free map listing the shops and restaurants along the main road. There is only one main road on the island, Route 368 (also called Chemin Royal), which makes it incredibly easy to navigate with zero fear of getting lost or missing a stop.
Route 368 hugs the coast of the island and is roughly 47 miles. The perfect length for a leisurely drive with plenty of time to stop at every shop and restaurant if you so wished.
Ile d'Orleans is known as the "Garden of Quebec" and is a refreshing escape from the city. Essentially rural, lots of green and gorgeous views of the mainland, quaint homes and B&Bs, and an overall slow and peaceful feel.
Ile d'Orleans is made of 6 townships, has 7,500 residents, is twice the size of Manhattan, and supplies much of Quebec City (including the Marché du Vieux-Port in the city center) with its products including: strawberries, apples, wine, iced cider, jams, and maple syrup.
You will also find several small boutiques and art galleries. The island really is small enough that you can pull off the main road at anything that strikes your fancy. Many of the shops have samples of their product for you to try (some are free and some have a small fee for a full tasting).
The only decision you really have to make is if you want to do your drive clockwise or counterclockwise. I went clockwise and was happy with the decision because the views were the best at the end of the drive and I personally would rather end with the best.
Ile d'Orleans Recommended Stops
I recommend the below stops to ensure you experience the best of the island:
Cassis Monna & Filles: producing different varieties of black currants and selling products from black currant wines and liquors, to jams, syrups, and more. This shop has a back porch with nice views and offers a restaurant, wine tasting cellar, and gelato. I highly recommend trying the different flavors of cassis gelato and their homemade sangria (with creme de cassis of course).
Isle de Bacchus: another must try product on the island is ice wine. A dessert wine that is produced from grapes that have frozen on the vine. This property is 300 years old and offers wine cellar tastings as well as tours of the property.
Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau: a popular apple orchard that produces ice cider (same concept as ice wine), sparkling cider, apple butter, ice apple jelly, etc. You can schedule a tour of the property, pick apples (August through October), or do a tasting of their ciders.
La Ferme d'Oc: known for their foie gras with beautiful grounds and a picnic area by the food shack La Roulotte du Coin. Try the duck poutine and lavender lemonade!
Les Fromages: grab some cheese from this shop as many of their cheeses are almost impossible to find outside the island.
La Seigneurie: gorgeous lavender fields!
La Boulange: some say this is not only the best bakery on Ile d'Olreans, but makes the best croissants in all of Quebec! You can sit inside or on the beautiful wraparound deck while enjoying your pastries, coffee, artisan pizza, or gourmet sandwich. Beware, this place is extremely popular with tourists and locals. If you don't want to wait in a long line, try to go during off-peak hours.
La Confiturerie Tigidou: adorable rustic farmhouse selling delicious organic homemade jams and butters. They offer free tastings and sell coffee and tea, homemade scones with their clotted cream and choice of jam, or an insane scone dessert which consists of ice cream between a scone with jam and dark maple syrup! My favorite flavors where the raspberry and strawberry jam, espresso caramel apple butter, and strawberry mint syrup.
Chocolaterie d'Orleans: if you aren't in a sugar laden coma yet, choose from over 20 flavors of ice cream in a beautiful Victorian home. Get the chocolate dipped cone (several different flavor options including maple syrup). Buy some chocolates to take home as its top quality. They import their chocolate from Belgium and use only the finest ingredients.
Vignoble Ste-Petronille: enjoy gorgeous views of the mainland and Montmorency Falls at the vineyards of VSP. They have a beautiful patio and picnic area where you can purchase a glass or bottle of wine or try a tasting.
And there you have it, a relaxing and nature filled day trip from Quebec City! I loved taking a break from the city (and tourists), enjoying the peaceful landscape of Ile d'Orleans and experiencing a waterfall 100 feet taller than Niagra Falls. Ile d'Orleans also doesn't require a lot of preplanning. The island is small enough that you can really just wing it and enjoy the views along they way.
Quebec City Hotel Recommendations:
- Le Capitole Hôtel
- Hotel 71 by Preferred Hotels & Resorts
- Auberge Saint-Antoine Relais & Châteaux
- Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac *because this is the most famous hotel in Quebec City, a lot of tourists visit during the day to take a look*