I went to Québec City and felt like I'd jetted off to Europe without leaving North America

Insider's reporter visited Europe and Québec City. She found that the two destinations had a lot in common.
Business Insider's reporter visited Europe and Québec City. She found that the two destinations had a lot in common.Joey Hadden/Business Insider
  • I went to Québec City, Canada, in August 2022. It's a historic French city with a European feel.

  • Then, I visited four European countries for the first time: Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

  • After visiting Europe, I thought Québec City felt much like it, with similar streets and buildings.

With narrow, cobblestone streets, European-inspired architecture, and a primarily French-speaking population, Québec City, Canada, feels like a European paradise.

I spent 24 hours in the 400-year-old French-Canadian city in August 2022. Back then, I hadn't explored enough of Europe to decide if Québec City felt like other countries across the Atlantic.

But after visiting Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in October 2022, I understood the comparison.

Perched on a hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River, Québec City is 400 years old, making it the oldest city in Canada.

Québec in the 1800s and 2022.
Québec in the 1800s and 2022.The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images; Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The city was founded by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, according to the city's website.

Québec City is on the eastern edge of the Canadian province of Québec.

Arrows point to Québec City and New York City.
Arrows point to Québec City and New York City.Google Maps

I traveled by train from Montreal to Quebéc City, but a flight from my home in NYC would take less than two hours — a lot shorter than a trip to Europe. My direct flight from NYC to Berlin was nearly eight hours long when I visited in October 2022.

I spent most of my time there in Old Québec, a neighborhood with preserved French and British colonial architecture, according to the city's website.

A street in Old Québec.
A street in Old Québec.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

I spotted many of these simple, rectangular buildings with decorative shutters during my visit.

I wandered down old Québec's photogenic streets and spotted rows of colorful colonial-style buildings.

Quaint, colorful streets in Québec and Switzerland.
Quaint, colorful streets in Québec and Switzerland.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

A few months later, in Zurich, I saw blocks I thought looked similar to those in Québec City.

Many of the streets in Old Québec were made of cobblestone.

Cobblestone streets in Old Québec
Cobblestone streets in Old Québec.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

They looked like the roads I saw in all four European countries I visited.

During my walk through Old Québec, I also noticed most signs were written in French.

French signage in Québec City.
French signage in Québec City.Joey Hadden/Insider

That's because 85% of the population of Québec speaks French, according to the Government of Canada.

English wasn't the primary language spoken in any of the European countries I visited, either.

A sign for gondola rides in Venice, Italy.
A sign for gondola rides in Venice, Italy.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Most of the signs I saw abroad were written in German or Italian.

While some streets in Québec City were wide, others were quite narrow.

Narrow alley ways in Québec City and Rome.
Narrow alley ways in Québec City and Rome.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

Later in Rome and Venice, Italy, I stumbled upon alleys that reminded me of the narrow streets in Québec.

After my trip to Europe, I also realized my hotel in Québec City, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, was similar to those I saw abroad.

Streets near Fairmont in Quebec City
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

I thought it was the most stunning building, which makes sense as it's known as the most photographed hotel in the world, according to World Atlas.

It was a dramatic castle-like structure.

Fairmont hotel in Quebec
The hotel's exterior.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

The hotel opened in 1893 and was inspired by romantic architecture and French castles, according to the Québec City's website and the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I thought the hotel looked like a fairy tale with elaborate landscaping and old-world architecture.

Fairytale landscapes in Québec and Austria
Fairy tale landscapes in Québec and AustriaJoey Hadden/Business Insider

I had a similar feeling while strolling through gardens next to historic buildings in Vienna, Austria.

Inside, I thought my hotel room was small, but the view out the window was grand.

The author perches on the window sill in the hotel room
The author in her hotel room.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

I perched on the windowsill and marveled at the European architecture surrounding me.

I also saw Québec City Hall, which was inspired by the Second Empire.

Québec City Hall, a national historic site in Canada.
Québec City Hall, a national historic site in Canada.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

It was built in a European style with prominent rooftops, according to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

I spotted the same style of architecture in Viennese buildings like Schönbrunn Palace.

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

This architectural style is known as Second Empire Baroque, according to Britannica.

Additionally, old-world cathedrals in Québec City, like Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, reminded me of those I later saw in Europe.

Notre Dame cathedral in Québec City
Notre Dame cathedral in Québec CityJoey Hadden/Business Insider

Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral has a Neoclassical style, with towers and stained-glass detailing, according to Québec City's website.

I saw a lot of Neoclassical architecture all around Rome, too, like at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.

After visiting both Québec City and Europe, I found that they're not exactly the same, but they're pretty close.

Buildings in Quebec City
Buildings in Old Québec.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

If you're looking for a European adventure that's closer to home without the jet lag, I think Québec City is a good alternative.

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