The Best Things To Do In Montreal
Like many other Canadian cities, Montréal provides that awesome blend of culture, diversity and language in one beautiful setting. Centrally located for visitors in the United States and only about an hour’s flight from New York City and surrounding major destinations, Montréal blends old world and modern architecture in a stylish setting. Whether you want to walk around and try numerous cuisines from up-and-coming chefs or you prefer to indulge in a few history tours, Montréal has something for everyone.
Montréal is home to a range of fine dining and casual bistros — while providing options for all budgets and interest levels. For those who are new to the city, locals and travel experts alike recommend starting your tour in old Montreal. Like many of the older Canadian cities, Montréal features some of that iconic European architectural style as well as numerous historic touches, such as cobblestone streets and surrounding historic landmarks. As you’re exploring old Montréal you’ll notice that there is quite a bit of modern architecture that has infused itself around some of the historic landmarks, which makes it a truly interesting and eye-catching place to see during your trip to Canada.
Be sure to check out the Chateau Ramezay, which is a museum and historic site that offers visitors an up-close look at the lifestyle of nobility during the 18th-century. Once you’ve explored the Museum, head over to Nelson’s Column where you’ll get gorgeous views of the St. Lawrence River — this Column serves as a monument to distinguished Admiral Nelson after his death, which happened at the Battle of Trafalgar. Once you’re done getting your fill of history and architecture for the day, head over to the Place Jacques-Cartier, which features a number of shops, restaurants, live entertainment and even street artists. From this central location, you’ll have the opportunity to go on to see other points of interest or cultural centers in the area, as well as the famous silver dome of the Marche Bonsecours.
Montréal has no end to what you can do during a stay, whether you’re in the city for a few short hours or planning on spending a week — you will definitely get your fill of architecture, old world European charm and plenty of modern attractions on your visit.
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL…
Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal)
Old Montreal was born on the St Lawrence River and quickly grew through commerce and trade. Today, a visit to Old Montreal will experience the same narrow streets and grand squares, but the commerce of yesterday has been replaced with boutiques, cafes and art galleries. Meander through the history and absorb the architecture, then head towards Place Jacques-Cartier (which is the hub of Old Montreal) and sit for a while and enjoy the street performances. There is so much to see and do in Old Montreal, you’ll love it!
Mount Royal plays host to the aptly named Mount Royal Park, which is the outdoor playground for the local residents of Montreal; take time out to join them! Stroll the endless pathways in summer, and take in the beauty of this sprawling parkland, including the many sculptures and the glistening water of Lac des Castors (Beaver Lake). In winter, just swap the joggers for skis and snow boots and you have yourself a year-round playground!
A visit to Old Montreal is not complete without spending time at the famous Bonsecours Market. Housed in a magnificent nineteenth-century world heritage listed building, admire the architecture outside before browsing the top-quality boutiques and restaurants within. This market specialises in “Made in Quebec” creations such as fashions, jewellery and crafts. It’s a great place to get that special memento or authentic gift!
St Paul Street (Rue St-Paul)
Take time out to explore the oldest street in Montreal – St Paul Street (Rue St-Paul). Built in the late 1600’s, you can walk the same cobblestone pathways as the people from a by-gone era, and as you meander through the boutique shops, you might even pick up the perfect memento for your trip! Sit for a while and people watch as you have a meal or a coffee at a local café, then head to one of the nearby attractions such as the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel!
Serving Montreal since 1933, the Jean-Talon Market has evolved over time and is now what is commonly called, a Farmers Market. The market specialises in high quality local produce, so take a walk around and try the free samples – what a way to experience the local fare! While you’re meandering through the stalls, look closely at the displays – they are so innovative that they are favourites with photographers! And then, once you have everything you need, sit for a while and people-watch as the locals go about their day.
Notre Dame Basilica
In the centre of the city, make sure you visit and experience the Notre Dame Basilica. As you enter the Basilica, you will be in awe of the grandeur of the interior. Three centuries of history will emerge as you take in the sculptures, statues and panelling, that tell stories of, and represent, birth, life and death. Make the visit special with a guided tour and experience this working Basilica has to offer – you can even take a seat at the organ with the organist!
Montreal Tower Observatory
Visit the Montreal Tower Observatory for the quirkiest way possible to get spectacular views of the city! This tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world, and it tilts a massive 45 degrees – the Leaning Tower of Pisa is only 5 degrees! The two-minute trip to the top is just the start of this amazing experience – once you get to the top, get your bearings of the city and beyond, taking in the Laurentians Mountain Range, the St Lawrence River and the many city sights which surround it.
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