No city mixes the charm of Old Europe with the New World’s modernity quite like Montreal. Cultural capital of Quebec and second largest city in Canada, the cosmopolitan city has so much to offer that it can be hard to pinpoint the must-dos on a weekend getaway in Montreal. I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks there for the making of a documentary and managed to thouroughly explore the city in my free time so without further ado, here are 11 of the best things to do in Montreal!
Warning: The Québécois’ friendliness and the city’s overall welcoming atmosphere might make you want to come back for more.
Go back in time in Vieux Montréal
Wander the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, the historical district, long enough and you’ll forget that you’re actually in North America. Its French-inspired eclectic architecture makes for some of the city’s most charming streets. Make sure to stop by the Chateau Ramezay, Marché Bonsecours
Sit down in Place d’Armes
Place d’Armes is one of the most notorious squares in the city among tourists and locals alike. It’s a great place to relax
Contemplate the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal
Right off Place d’Armes, at the corner of Saint Sulpice Street, the Notre-Dame Basilica was built in 1657 in the Gothic Revival style. Admission costs $8 but it is worth stepping in to witness the stunning deep blue vaults decorated with golden starts and the hundreds of wooden carvings and religious statues.
Go up Mont-Royal
The one place you cannot miss in Montreal. Overlooking the city, Montreal actually owes its name to Mont-Royal. Hike up the hill at sunrise or sunset for the best views! And yes, I mean hike. Unless you go by bus, wear a good pair of shoes and be ready to go up many stairs… The view will only be better for it!
Cross Jacques-Cartier Bridge
Did you know that Jacques Cartier is considered to be the founder of Canada?! Unlike the navigator, we might not discover and map new rivers but if you cross the bridge that bears his name, you’ll get a magnificent view over not only Montreal but also the Jean-Drapeau parc and neighboring residential area Longueuil.
Take a Break at Jean-Drapeau
I mean, if you’re going to cross the bridge, you might as well stop at Saint Helen’s Island. Between the entertainment parc, the Biosphere, a museum shaped like a globe dedicated to the environment, and hectares of pure nature to walk around, there’s something for everyone. Once you’re deep enough in the parc, it’s really hard to believe you’re minutes away from the heart of Montreal!
Explore the Old Port
Le Vieux Port is my favorite neighborhood in Montreal. Its charming old streets, the port in itself and ever-changing projects surrounding it make it a great family attraction. Expect open-air activities and exhibitions in the summer.
Take a walk in Plateau Mont-Royal
At the foot of Mont-Royal is located Plateau Mont-Royal, a colorful trendy neighborhood. The residential area features very interesting architecture, small boutiques and coffee shops. If you have spear time and feel spendy, head to Mile End for some shopping.
Get lost in the Montreal Botanical Garden
Montreal’s Botanical Garden is considered one of the most important in the world. Its greenhouses are home to exotic plants from around the world and are accessible year-round. It is, however, the thematical outdoor gardens that I find most impressive. General admission costs $20.50 and the garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am until 5 pm.
If like me, you visit Montreal in the summer, it might be hard to picture the city under the snow. But you better believe it gets cold though. So cold in fact that the Montréalais built a whole city underground with shops, tunnels, and supermarkets. Exploring the Underground Montreal is
You didn’t really think you were going to leave Québec without trying Poutine?! Even if you go in summer and it’s 35°C, you have to give it a go. Granted, it’s a little heavy on the stomach but delicious none the less! I mean imagine a mix of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy… Need I say more?
As always, I would love to read your thoughts about the city and what your must-do activities are in Montreal in the comments!
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