Montreal is the second largest city to be seen in Canada and one of the country’s main economic and cultural engines. Although when we visited it we did not have good weather, the truth is that we found it a city with a lot of personality. You will not lack things to do in Montreal: from getting lost in the historical center to falling in love with the little houses of Plateau-Mont Royal. In this post we tell you 30 things to do in Montreal.
Exploring Montreal’s old town, a must do in Montreal
Vieux-Montreal is the ancient heart of the city and is bounded by the walls that were there in the 18th century. Some of its streets are still cobbled and the buildings of European architecture have been preserved. It is a super pleasant area to walk around, with many restaurants and stores. Without a doubt, strolling through the old town should be the first thing you do in Montreal to get acquainted with the city. Don’t miss the market with the big central dome, it was a symbol of the city.
Walking on St. Paul Street
The oldest street in Montreal will transport you to Europe for a moment. The Rue St. Paul was inaugurated in 1673 and still has a classic atmosphere that makes you fall in love. The street is paved with European-style buildings that make it one of the most photogenic corners of Montreal.
Visit the Basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal
Don’t miss out on the city’s main religious building. The Basilica of Notre Dame was built in 1832, inspired by the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, in the neo-Gothic style. Its interior decoration is full of religious works: wood carvings, paintings, sculptures and its impressive stained glass windows.
Walk through the Old Port of Montreal
As the name indicates, it was once a port. But now it is an outdoor area designed for entertainment. It is two kilometers long on the bank of the Saint-Laurent River with an open-air market, a huge waterwheel and an adventure park, areas for picnics and even an urban beach for the summer months.
During the cold months it is a bit dreary, but with the heat it comes alive and becomes one of the most entertaining visits to make in Montreal.
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Photographing the Clock Tower
The great protagonist of the old port is the clock tower. It is a white tower of 45 meters that serves as a memorial to the Canadian sailors who left their lives in the First World War. The walk that leads to the tower is beautiful, especially in summer with the trees full of leaves. In the background you can see the Jacques Cartier Bridge, so it is a very characteristic picture of the city.
Crossing the Jacques Cartier Bridge
One of the icons of Montreal is this steel bridge that crosses to the island of St. Helena. It was inaugurated in 1930 with a different name, but it was renamed to honor the explorer who discovered Canada. Beyond being a bridge for easy transportation, it has a cool lighting system with different colors and effects. Don’t miss it at night!
Spend a fun day at La Ronde
La Ronde is ideal for a summer day. It is the amusement park par excellence of the city, since it is very close to the center. There are all kinds of attractions, from the calmest and most familiar to the strongest. There is a great variety of roller coasters. They also do circus shows to entertain the whole family. The entrance costs 64CAD (40 euros).
Doing sport in the Formula 1 circuit
A must see in Montreal for sport lovers is this Formula 1 Gilles-Villeneuve street circuit. The track is not only used for the race, but anyone can go for a run or train on a bike over the 4 kilometers. Keep in mind that the circuit is only open from April to November, the rest of the year is covered with snow!
Enter the Montreal World Trade Center, a very nice place to see in Montreal
This building is a complex of offices, the InterContinental Hotel and a shopping center with restaurants. It is a concept of urban renewal of an old construction. It perfectly mixes classic and modern touches in its large central courtyard.
There are some stores and restaurants, but with quite high prices. What is most striking is the large central fountain. The water acts as a mirror and reflects the statue and the facade of the building.
Discover Underground City
It may seem that there is nothing to do in Montreal in winter because of the cold. But that’s why they invented this series of subway galleries. They are full of stores, hence the name subway city. A very good idea to be able to walk around Montreal without freezing during the winters.
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Give color to the day at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal, a very original building to see in Montréal
Visiting a congress hall sounds like a somewhat strange tourist plan. But the one in Montréal is in the center of the city and has a surprising interior. The whole facade is made of colored tinted glass that gives a lot of life to the building and makes it an ideal place to take cool pictures.
Try an ice cream at La Diperie
This ice cream shop is made for those who say we eat through our eyes. It’s clear that, no matter how cold it is or how much you don’t like the sweet, if you see a La Diperie ice cream you’ll want it immediately. They are cones dipped in chocolate, caramel and other sauces with toppings for all tastes: chocolate shavings, mini pretzels, nuts, cookie pieces and a long etcetera.
Back to childhood at Barbie Expo
One of the most curious things to do in Montreal is to visit an exhibition of Barbies. And it’s not just any exhibition, it’s the largest collection of Barbies in the world. There are hundreds of dolls ordered by time, country of origin and even designers of their clothes. Don’t leave without becoming Barbie or Ken, there is a box of the famous oversized dolls for you to enter and have your picture taken. Admission is free.
Go up to the Mont-Royal park and be amazed by the views
This park is the lung of Montreal. It is enormous and with many ramps, which makes them ideal to practice sport. Do not leave the park without arriving at the Chateau de Mont-Royal, at the highest point. There is a lookout point with great views of the whole city. It is worth climbing the stairs.
Look at the boutique windows in Mile End, Montreal’s SoHo
For those who love shopping, the Mile End neighborhood is a must-see stop in Montreal. It is full of small fashion boutiques and art galleries. There are also very cool places to make a brunch.
Buy bagels in St. Viateur
Another local delicacy is bagels. The most famous ones in Montreal are from the St. Viateur bakery. They have several places where they sell the bagels loose, without filling. But there are also several refrigerators with ideal accessories for the bagel: cream cheese, butter or smoked salmon
Getting lost in Le Plateau Mont-Royal
If we had to choose a neighborhood to live in Montreal, it would be Le Plateau Mont-Royal. It is full of show houses. The colorful facades with the stairs to enter seem to be taken from a movie.
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Fall in love with St. Louis Square, the most beautiful square to see in Montreal
The whole area of Le Plateau Mont-Royal is beautiful, but this square is the jewel of the neighborhood. It has a whole side full of townhouses with the doors and windows in different colors. You won’t be able to resist taking the camera out.
Taste the poutine at La Banquise
The most typical dish of the province of Quebec is the poutine. It is very forceful: fried potatoes with meat sauce and cheese on top. If you don’t have enough with that, you can add other ingredients like bacon or sausages, but you better choose another option from the menu if you have high cholesterol! A popular stop in Montreal to try the poutine is La Banquise Resto, although you can find it in any restaurant.
Going down the poutine by walking in La Fontaine Park
One of the things to do in Montreal that the locals like to do is to take advantage of the good weather in La Fontaine Park. It has tennis courts, baseball fields and even a swimming pool that turns into an ice-skating rink in the winter. An ideal place to take a walk in Montreal.
Experience the Gay Village nightlife
Montreal is promoting gay tourism a lot. That’s why one of the liveliest areas of the city is the Gay Village. It’s a neighborhood that’s mainly lively at night, when everyone goes out for a drink.
Surround yourself in plants in the Botanical Gardens of Montreal
One of the most beautiful things to do in Montreal is to walk among plants from all over the world. It is one of the largest and most complete botanical gardens in the world, with more than 20,000 plant species. In the coldest months you can only see the greenhouses, where there are orchids or cactus. There are even some super fun flower sculptures. If you visit Montreal in the summer you can also enjoy the Chinese and Japanese garden outdoors. The entrance fee is 19,75CAD (12 ?).
Observe various ecosystems in Biodome
Montreal hosted the 1976 Olympic Games and the Olympic Park is still preserved. The old velodrome fell into disuse, but in 1992 it was inaugurated with a new and very original functionality. This building in the shape of a sphere is now a museum that combines a zoo, an aquarium and a botanical garden. Inside, four different ecosystems are recreated to experience how they coexist in the same space.
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Climbing the Montreal Tower
The most curious construction is the highest leaning tower in the world. Although it is not as famous as the one in Pisa, its 165 meters high with 45 degrees of inclination make it very special. You can go up to the belvedere on a funicular where you can fit up to 50 people, all in a big way! On clear days, you can see up to 80 kilometers from the top.
Walk around the Eaton Montreal Shopping Center
In the center of the city you can find this covered shopping center. It is a normal and ordinary place, with five floors and international brand stores. But it has a particularity, inside there is a museum. This is the Musée Grévin, where you can see wax figures of famous people.
Enter the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
It is the most important art museum in the city and one of the best in Canada. Its collection of paintings, sculptures and objects such as painted boxes from around the world will not leave you indifferent. The entrance costs 23CAD (15 ?), although there is a fee of 15CAD (10 ?) for children under 30 years old.
Go up to Place Ville Marie Observatory, the highest viewpoint in Montreal
Can you imagine seeing Montreal elevated to 185 meters? You can do it in the viewpoint that there is in the commercial center Place Ville Marie. In addition, there is an interactive exhibition about the daily life of the city’s inhabitants. The entrance costs 21,85CAD (14 ?).
Buy fresh products at Jean-Talon Market
We love to visit markets around the world. We believe that it is a meeting place that summarizes very well the culture of each place. In this market north of Montreal you will find all kinds of fruits, vegetables and typical products like maple syrup.
See St. Joseph’s Oratory, the largest church in the country
The largest church in Canada is in Montreal. The sanctuary dedicated to St. Joseph holds up to 10,000 people, so you can get an idea of its size. The construction was inspired by the Italian Renaissance and was completed in 1967. Its impressive dome of almost 100 meters high will leave you amazed.
Watch a game of the Canadiens at the Bell Centre, something fun to do in Montreal if you like sports
We ended up with the list of things to do in Montreal with the star sport in Canada: ice hockey. If you have the opportunity you can go to the Bell Centre to watch a game of the Montreal Canadiens, the city’s team. They are the team that has won the NHL, the United States and Canadian field hockey league, the most times.