Montreal is a beautiful Canadian city, the second most populous in the country and the first in Quebec, the French-speaking part of Canada. It can also be considered its cultural capital, while Toronto, which is the official one, has an important economic role between business and affairs.
Full of green areas and attractions just waiting to be seen, Montreal is perfect for a trip at any time of the year. Even in winter, when temperatures are freezing, it has a charm all its own.
Things to Do in Montreal
1. Place Jacques-Cartier
We start the list of 10 things to see starting from the city center, its heart. One of the richest and most attractive areas is full of clubs and restaurants both on the square itself and in the alleys. Here they perform a large number of street artists, musicians, and performers of all kinds every day. In short, life certainly is not lacking!
Also, it is the perfect reference point for getting around the city. In fact, a short distance, there are the metro stations Champ-de-Mars and Place-d’Armes.
2. Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal
This basilica is an imposing religious building of Catholic worship located in the historic district of Vieux-Montreal, just a 5-minute walk from Place Jacques-Cartier.
Built between 1824 and 1829, the church is in the neo-Gothic style. But what will make your stay impressive is the interior, with a blue ceiling decorated with “stars” and spectacular stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible.
Small curiosity: in the evening, usually around 18:00, you can watch the spectacular AURA project, a light show, and installations which are held inside the cathedral, and that will leave you speechless. Through this show, you will learn more about the church and the history of the Catholic religion.
3. Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
At the Place des Festivals, in the entertainment district, there is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Easily accessible from Place Jacques-Cartier on foot or by public transport.
This is one of the museums worth seeing if you have a bit ‘of time available. Furthermore, founded in 1964, it is the first museum of contemporary art in the city.
Over 300 works are exhibited at the MAC, although the museum has almost 8,000 works. Here, in addition to works by international artists, you can learn more about the artists of Quebec and Canada.
4. The old port of Montreal
You absolutely cannot miss its old port, a completely pedestrian stretch of about 2.5 kilometers on the San Lorenzo River.
Along the harbor, winding four different docks (the French term is quasi): starting from the north, the Quai de l’Horloge, Quai Jacques-Cartier, the Quai King Edward, and finally the Quai Alexandra.
This is an area suitable for everyone, young and old, thanks to the many activities that can be done.
There is a large park for children and several food trucks for a quick lunch break. But of all the attractions, surely stand the Center des sciences de Montréal and the Grande Roue de Montréal, the magnificent Ferris wheel from which to admire the whole city!
Also, many boats and excursions leave the port every day to show you Montreal from a different perspective!
5. Jean-Talon market
To get in touch with the city’s daily life and its inhabitants, you cannot miss a visit to the covered market of Jean-Talon, one of the oldest public markets in the city and one of the largest markets in North America!
It is located in the heart of the Little Italy district and was inaugurated in May 1933, initially with the name of Marché du Nord.
Here, thanks to the many local products, you can experience a journey within the journey, also starting a discovery of the city’s culinary tradition. Among the shops and stalls, you will find many products ranging from fruit and vegetables to butchers and fishmongers, from baked goods to more international food. Obviously, there are restaurants and places to sample local dishes. The Market by Jean-Talon has always been a meeting point and meeting place for families and merchants, locals, and tourists.
6. Montreal Botanical Garden and The Montreal Tower
To the north of the city, far from the historic center, there is a huge green area where you can visit the botanical gardens and the Montreal Tower Observatory.
The tower is located inside the Parc Olympique complex; it is 165 meters high and has an inclination angle of 45 °, making it the tallest inclined tower in the world from which to enjoy a beautiful 360 ° view of the whole city. A must-see.
Also in this wide area, there is the beautiful Jardin Botanique de Montréal, the third-largest in the world (after those of London and those of Berlin), a place away from city traffic, where you will be amazed at every turn! 22,000 species and varieties of plants are preserved here on a total area of about 75 hectares, on which you will find 10 exhibition greenhouses, an Arboretum and 20 different thematic gardens, such as the Jardin de Chine, the Aquatic Garden, the Flowery Brook, the Flowery Brook, and the Jardin des Premières-Nations.
7. Montreal neighborhoods
As you move from one neighborhood to another, you will notice a cosmopolitan and open city. In addition to the Old Montreal district, or the historic center, there is a whole world to discover!
Speaking of the Jean-Talon market, we have already mentioned Little Italy, a residential neighborhood full of cafes and clubs, inhabited mainly by Italian-American families, here for several generations. The main point is the Jean-Talon Market, the market we have already told you about.
You cannot miss China Town, where you will enter a world with typical oriental characters, with many Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean restaurants and shops. You will immediately notice its entrance because of the giant red door with Chinese ideograms. The door in question is located behind the central station of Place-d’Armes, near Old Montreal.
Instead, the Latin Quarter is the liveliest and youngest in the whole city, and its heart is Place des Arts, where the MAC museum is located. Here there are always shows, festivals, and many events.
Not far away, you will also find The Village, the neighborhood of the LGBT community, one of the most famous in Canada. And there are many others, take a day to find out as much as possible! In summer, the main street Rue Sainte-Catherine becomes completely pedestrian; the premises set up outdoor tables. Another important street is Rue Amherst, famous for its beautiful boutiques and antique shops!
8. Île Sainte-Hélène and Biosphere, Environmental Museum
We leave the mainland to discover the island of Sant’Elena, on the San Lorenzo River, divided by the Le Moyne canal from the Isle of Notre Dame. Along with the latter, it is part of the Parc Jean Drapeau, a beautiful green area to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and the Archipelago of Hochelaga.
But the real attraction of the island is the Biosphere, a huge glass sphere-shaped building that houses the Environmental Museum. This unusual structure dates back to 1967, the year Montreal hosted the Universal Exposition, and which, pursued, was precisely used as a museum. The Biosphere Environmental Museum aims to raise awareness of the environment and bring people to commit themselves to conserve it. Here you will find several exhibitions and guided activities to find out much more about the subject.
9. Réso, Underground city
If you are in Montreal, especially in winter, you cannot miss a visit to Réso, the underground city! That’s right; you got it right. Under Montreal, there is a second city, which is one reason it is also called the “double city.”
It is nothing more than an urban solution to allow you to move safely, even in winter when the temperatures are really very rigid, and it isn’t easy to be outdoors.
This underground city covers an area of approximately 12 square kilometers, with over 32 kilometers of passages. There are 120 entrances, 60 commercial and residential complexes, and of course, there are restaurants, hotels, shops, and boutiques. And to get there, there are 7 metro stations. Truly, it is a city within a city.
10. Parc du Mont-Royal
Just 4 kilometers from the historic center and Place Jacques-Cartier, to the west of the city, this wonderful park occupies a large part of Monte Royal, extending over 200 hectares.
From here you can also admire one of the most suggestive views of the city! Designed in 1876 by architect Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for being the co-advocate of Central Park in New York, this park is Montreal’s largest green lung.
The activities to do are really many, both in summer and in winter! Between panoramic terraces in the city, such as the Belvédère Camillien-Houde and the Belvédère Kondiaronk (the most famous), and a beautiful artificial lake, the Beaver Lake Park Bench, in winter you will also find ski and cross-country ski tracks, as well as to an ice rink.
It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon among nature and with the family, among trekking routes, children’s play areas, picnic areas, walks, and lots of relaxation.