You are here

Things to Do in Montreal

Montreal

Montreal is one of Canada’s most unique and inspiring cities. The largest city in the French-speaking Quebec province, it’s a vibrant place with a creative spirit. In addition to its vibe and multiculturalism, what makes the city stand out against many others in Canada is its historic quarter, filled with elegant old architecture. Remember that almost everyone here is bilingual, so it won’t hurt to brush up on your French before you go. Read on to discover my list of the top things to do in Montreal…

Mount Royal, Montreal

Mount Royal, Montreal

Admire the Views From Mount Royal

For one of the best views in the entire city, head up to the Mount Royal, a large sprawling city park on top of a hill. Littered with leafy walkways, lakes, playgrounds and grassy areas, there’s something for everyone. Besides the views, one of the highlights is the grand Saint Joseph’s Oratory. In winter, you can enjoy skating ponds and sledging, while in summer you can indulge in picnics and sunbathing.

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Explore the Streets of Old Montreal

One of the most atmospheric parts of the city is Old Montreal, the historic quarter that sits along the port area. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s crisscrossed by charming cobbled streets and filled with quaint leafy squares, lined with cafes. You almost feel as if you’re in France. One of my favourite areas of the city to explore, some of the top things to see here include the grand Notre-Dame Basilica and the Pointe a Calliere museum of archaeology and history. It’s also a great place for a spot of souvenir shopping to pick up that obligatory bottle of maple syrup and moose mug.

Underground Montreal

Underground Montreal

Shop in the Underground City to Escape the Cold

Of course, the best time to visit the city is in the spring or summer, but if you do find yourself here during the winter, the city has an ingenious way to stay warm. In the centre of Montreal, all the buildings and metro stations are connected by underground tunnels, just like an underground city. Instead of being dark and dreary however, the tunnels are cosy and bright, opening out into underground plazas filled with shops, cafes and restaurants.

Chinese dumplings in Montreal

Chinese dumplings in Montreal

Dine on Dumplings in Chinatown

Montreal is home to a thriving Chinatown, filled with exotic shops, restaurants and cafes. One of my favourite things to do here is to stop for a bite of lunch. I particularly love the restaurants serving up freshly steamed dumplings in traditional bamboo steamers, but you’ll also find cafes peddling flavoured bubble teas, noodle houses and bakeries selling everything from Chinese pork buns and sesame balls to dragon beard candy.

Montreal Biodome

Montreal Biodome

Experience Several Climates in One Day at the Montreal Biodome

One of the highlights of any visit to Montreal is a visit to the Montreal Biodome, especially for those with children. A treat for nature lovers, it allows visitors to walk through an array of different ecosystems, from those steamy and tropical to frosty sub polar regions. With living plants and animals, it feels very close to the real thing. The Biodome is currently undergoing a major renovation and is due to reopen in the spring of 2020.

Grande Roue de Montreal

Grande Roue de Montreal

Go for a Ride on the Grande Roue de Montreal

This giant ferris wheel occupies an enviable position on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, offering spectacular views over the city and its surrounds. At 60 metres high, the Grande Roue is the largest observation wheel in Canada. It’s a great spot to visit at the beginning of your visit to Montreal, so you can get your bearings and learn the layout of the city.

Quartier des Spectacles

Quartier des Spectacles

See a Performance in the Quartier des Spectacles

The city’s Quartier des Spectacles is one of the most vibrant areas of the city and is at the heart of Montreal’s cultural scene. Throughout the year, it’s home to various festivals and is filled with performance halls, concert venues, theatres and cinemas. Make the most of your time here by booking to see a performance, whether you want to see established artists or discover emerging talent. 

Montreal Musee d'Art Contemporain

Montreal Musee d'Art Contemporain

Browse the Works at the Musee d’Art Contemporain

Located in the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musee d’Art Contemporain houses a collection of around 8,000 modern works by both national Canadian and international artists. An energetic and exciting space, it features everything from paintings and sculptures to photos and installations.

Montreal Botanical Gardens

Montreal Botanical Gardens

Get Close to Nature at the Magical Montreal Botanical Gardens

One of the world’s most famous and important botanical gardens, the Montreal Botanical Gardens cover a whopping 75 hectares. Featuring 10 exhibition greenhouses, pavilions and around 20 thematic gardens, it’s home to around 22,000 different plant species. It’s the perfect place to explore during the summer, go for a walk or simply relax. One of the parts I like best are the cultural spaces, such as the romantic Chinese and Japanese gardens with their elegant Japanese bridges and calming ponds.

Canadian Poutine

Canadian Poutine

Sample Some Poutine

Poutine is one of Quebec’s most traditional dishes, making Montreal a great place to try it. The dish basically consists of a plate of French fries, topped with cheese curds and steaming hot gravy. There are many excellent places to try it in the city, from the rough and ready takeaway spots and the very traditional poutine restaurants to modern vegan poutine cafes.

Written by Esme Fox

Esme Fox is a professional travel writer who grew up in the UK, the Philippines and Uganda. She is now based in Barcelona and writes about Spain for places such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Tweet me @EsmeFox

More articles from this author >

Feeling Inspired? Chat to our Lovely Travel Consultants Today!

Flight Centre’s Travel Consultants really know their stuff when it comes to creating bespoke itineraries. Get in touch below, and let us tailor-make it easy