Sitting along the St. Lawrence River directly opposite Quebec City is the beautiful city of Lévis. It is a small city with a village-like feel to it, making it a fantastic place to visit.
Lévis is connected to Quebec City by ferry, as well as by two bridges. It is often favoured by day trippers, though the city has much to offer all on its own.
There are a few must sees in the city for anyone that is staying here or across the river.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Lévis:
1. Enjoy the views
Take a ferry along the St. Lawrence River and enjoy the spectacular views. Not only will you see views of Lévis itself, but also of Quebec City.
Ferries operate year-round, leaving both city terminals every 20 to 30 minutes. If you want to enjoy the views in the evening, ferries leave Lévis every hour on the hour.
Don’t forget to bring a camera to take photos of Old Quebec City as you pass by. Whether you ride the ferry in the day or the evening, you will be sure to be awed.
2. Visit a historic train yard
The Charny district is home to Joffre Yard, which features a historic roundhouse. The roundhouse is a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
The district is also home to Charny railway station, which is one of the oldest railway station in Lévis. It is still in operation today, being a stop on the Montreal-Quebec line.
Via Rail operates shuttle buses from the station to Gare du Palais in Quebec City, as it is a major stop on the Montreal – Gaspé line.
3. Go back in time
Lévis is home to one of Canada’s oldest parishes, Saint-Nicolas. The history of the area dates back to 1694.
Visit the district and go back in time as you walk along the streets and look at the historic buildings. The district sits right along the river, so it also offers great views of Quebec City.
Saint-Nicolas was named in honour of Nicolas de Myre; the historic 4th-century Christian saint.
4. Walk across the river
Not literally, but across the Quebec Bridge. The bridge boasts a pedestrian walkway, so you can walk across the river from one city to the other.
The bridge is 987 metres long, 29 metres wide and 104 metres high. It also happens to be the world’s longest cantilever bridge span.
If you would prefer not to walk, there are also three highway lanes on the bridge. This is, of course, the faster way to cross the river, but walking is so much more rewarding.
5. Discover the St. Lawrence
The Route des Navigateurs showcases the history that the St. Lawrence River has had not only in the city, but the entire province. The route runs along the edge of the river for a total of 470 kilometres.
A portion of the Route des Navigateurs passes through Lévis, so you can discover the river and its history without having to leave the city.
The route is marked by blue signposts, leading you along the way. There are also some lovely city parks along it, like Parc de L’Anse-Tibbits, Parc de L’Anse-Benson and Parc et Marina de la Chaudiere.
6. Stare at a waterfall
Not far from the city centre is Chaudiere Falls, which can be found just off of Route 75 near Charny. The waterfall sits along the Chaudiere River amongst some beautiful scenery.
Stare at the waterfall and be mesmerised by its beauty. There are viewpoints to enjoy it from, which are also great for photographers to snap photos of the falls and its natural surroundings.
You can easily spend a few hours here, as the surrounding park has some nature trails. There is even a suspension bridge.
7. Explore a fort
There are three in Lévis, which lie along the St. Lawrence River. They were built in a strategic way so that one long wall did not have to be constructed.
Fort No. 1 was built by the British Army between 1865 and 1872. Today it is a National Historic Site of Canada and is known as the Lévis Forts.
Explore the star-shaped fort and learn about the military life at the fort. Get a guided-tour of the tunnels, casemates and underground chambers, or wander around the outdoor area to see the terreplain, rolling bridge and caponier.
8. Visit a mansion
Not just any mansion, but the former home of Alphonse Desjardins; founder of the Desjardins Group. His former mansion is now dedicated to his memory.
Maison Alphonse-Desjardins is visited by nearly 200,000 people each year. The mansion, turned museum, is open all year and is completely free to enter.
Go on a guided-tour of the house to learn about the history of the Desjardins family. It is also possible to visit the mansion and explore on your own.
9. Look at art
Louise-Carrier Gallery is situated in a historic Anglican church. The gallery is named after renowned local portraitist Louise Carrier.
Parts of the gallery are within the artist’s former home, which is adjacent to the church. Over 200,000 people visit the gallery each year to look at some incredible artwork.
The gallery features work by artists from in and around Lévis. In addition to having a permanent collection, the Louise-Carrier Gallery also hosts numerous exhibitions.
10. Slash around in a fountain
Day or night, the Fontaine du Quai Paquet is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day. You can also walk though it and have fun splashing around.
The 2,400 square metre fountain features 160 jets that rise to nine metres in height. The jets rise at different levels throughout the day, on five to 20 minute intervals.
Surrounding the fountain is a promenade and green areas. After splashing around, relax on the grass or have a seat on a bench and watch the jets rise.
11. Look at polar bears
Directly across the river in Quebec City is the Aquarium du Québec. Walk or drive across the Quebec Bridge to look at polar bears through an underwater glass viewing station.
In addition to polar bears, the Aquarium du Québec is also home to a plethora of other marine life, including starfish, harbour seals and walruses. In fact, there are around 10,000 animals living at the aquarium.
Sign up to get up close and personal with some of the animals, or just wander around and see the marine life in its natural habitat. Touch a stingray, handle amphibians or watch walruses play.
12. Tour a historic neighbourhood
Le quartier St-Romuald sits right along the St. Lawrence River. It is a charming area that dates back over 8,000 years and is a fantastic place for a walking tour.
Walk along the streets and take a tour of the historic neighbourhood, seeing some of its beautiful historic buildings. There are some picturesque homes, as well as a lovely church.
On your tour, be sure to stop in one of the bars or restaurants, many of which are within historic buildings. There are also some great local shops in the area.
13. Take a cooking class
Learn how to cook traditional Quebec cuisine in a century-old home. Madame Germaine offers cooking classes that will teach you how to cook not only local dishes, but also many others.
Take a cooking class at her home and learn how to make an authentic three-course Quebec meal. Or opt for her Chinese, Indian or Vietnamese cooking class.
Fees include all ingredients, the class and written recipes. Plus, you get to enjoy the meal after you have cooked it!
14. Go shopping
Like most other cities in the world, Lévis is home to a large shopping mall that will please any shopaholic. Walk around Les Galeries Chagnon and shop for clothing, accessories or other souvenirs.
The mall is home to predominately Canadian or even Quebec brands, like Reitmans, Tristan and la Vie en Rose. It also houses a few fast food counters and a massive Walmart.
For something more local, head to the Marché de Lévis. Food is the main focus here, although many local artisans have kiosks at the market.
15. Visit a shipyard
Chantier maritime A.C. Davie is a historic shipyard that has been designated a National Historic site. Visit the shipyard and relive an important part of the city’s maritime history.
The shipyard is now a museum with both indoor and outdoor exhibits. One of the most famous things within the shipyard is the yacht Jeffy Jan II, which has sailed the St. Lawrence River since 1939.
Also on display at the Chantier maritime A.C. Davie is an interactive museum that features the remains of a Canadian built tow plane, which is the first of its kind. There are is also a fantastic collection of miniature engravings.