Walking is a great way to get around the Old Town, as the compact layout makes distances short. You will see beautiful old buildings and little vistas around every corner. You will get exercise. Do be careful of uneven cobblestones and narrow streets, though.
Côte de la Montagne is a steep, winding street that connects Upper Town and Lower Town. If you get tired, use the Funiculaire to go between the upper and lower parts of the Old Town. $2 per person will get you from near the base of the Breakneck Stairs (l'Escalier Casse-Cou) back up to the front of the Chateau Frontenac. It is well worth it if you have small children or large packages.
Many intersections are set up with separate traffic signals and cycles for cars and for pedestrians. At one point in the cycle, all traffic lights turn red and all pedestrian signals turn white, meaning that you can cross the intersection in any direction. Yet when the traffic light is green and the pedestrian signal is red, you may find cars turning in front of you. Some intersections have a pedestrian button to activate the signals, and you will never get a pedestrian cycle unless you push that button.
The bicycle network of Quebec City has been growing slowly but steadily for the last decade. Although small compared to the extensive utilitarian network of Montreal, it now offers a few recreational bike paths called Corridors with complete bidirectional and segregated bike lanes beginning downtown and ending in the countryside, generally giving splendid views of the area on the way. Most of them are part of the Route Verte system of provincial bike paths.
Corridor des Cheminots is a peaceful trail that runs from the Old Port to Val-Bélair, which continues on to the Jacques-Cartier park area. Even though it can be a challenge because of its long uphill slope, it (obviously) is a breeze on the way back.
The eastern section of Corridor du Littoral leads to Chutes Montmorency. This one-hour route (2 hours both ways) runs along the St. Lawrence River, unfortunately hidden by the Dufferin Expressway. By crossing under the expressway, you can make brief stops at the Baie de Beauport recreational park and the Battures de Beauport vista point for restrooms and views on the river. Keep some of your strength for the stairs up at Chutes Montmorency: the view is well worth it.
The western section of Corridor du Littoral leads to the award-winning Samuel-de-Champlain promenade. This time, no expressway stops you from having spectacular views on the river and you might even enjoy some nice contemporary architecture on the way. Restrooms and a cafe can be found at the end of the promenade. 1½ hour both ways.
The Parcours des Anses is in Lévis, across the river. Cross with the ferry for $3 (an experience in itself) and bike west on the south shore until you reach the Quebec Bridge and cross back on the north shore to connect with the Samuel-de-Champlain promenade and Corridor du Littoral. Crossing the Quebec Bridge is not for the faint of heart though, as it is the longest cantilever bridge in the world and the path is narrow. That said, this route is the most rewarding of all and will take you a whole afternoon to complete. Part of the route on low-traffic streets still lacks a proper bike path.
The city offers maps of its bicycle paths online They are open from April to October.
Driving in the Old Town can be tricky, since the cobblestone streets were designed for narrow 17th-century horse carts rather than 21st-century SUVs. One way streets abound throughout the Old Town, and parking is difficult to find. Be aware of parking signs and ask locals to ensure parking regulation is understood. Parking patrols are effective and unforgiving.
Outside of the Old Town, the use of a car is recommended. Right turns on red are allowed unless otherwise indicated.
During the months of November through April, snow will definitely affect driving conditions. Snow tires are required by provincial law between December 15 and March 15 for all vehicles plated in Quebec as some roads will lack snow removal, sand or salting. Vehicles plated in the US or in other provinces are not subject to this requirement.
If snowfall occurred recently, watch out for red flashing lights. It means snow removal is underway. Cars parked on the street will be fined and towed. Parking in an underground garage is advised.
The RTC (Réseau de transport de la Capitale), Quebec's public transportation system, is a system of buses and express shuttles that cover the whole city. Tickets cost $3 each, which will earn you the right to ride one direction with a transfer valid for two hours.You can get a pre-paid card loaded with up to 12 trips (in bunches of 2) from licensed stores. Daily passes (2 for 1 on weekends) and monthly passes are also sold the same stores. Free for children below the age of 6. Drivers do not carry money and cannot change bills so do carry exact change - to buy your ticket you place the money in a cash drop box at the entry of the bus. Google Transit can be used to find the best itinerary.
Four of the bus lines are frequent-service lines called Metrobus. They are served by recognizable green and grey articulated buses. 800 and 801 both start in Ste-Foy, head toward the Old Town, and end in Beauport and Charlesbourg respectively. 802 starts at Beauport to Belvedere, through Limoilou and Saint-Sauveur. 803 runs along Lebourgneuf blvd and connects with the Galeries de la Capitale terminus. They can run as often as one every three minutes during rush hour.
The Ecolobus line stops at most of the sights and hotels of the Old Town and is only $2. A short electric bus, it connects with both the ferry and Metrobuses. It runs every 20 minutes.
The STLévis, Lévis's public transit, operates within the south shore of Quebec. There is also a shuttle from St-Augustin to Quebec. These different transit companies all pass through Quebec City, which explains the different colours of buses around town.
From Quebec to Lévis, the ferry costs $7 for a car (including driver) and 3$ for pedestrians and cyclists, and takes approx 15 minutes, all year round. There are departures every 20 minutes at peak hours, 30 minutes off peak. It gives the best view in town.
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