What to see in Montreal: the 17 best attractions and things to do

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Lluis Enric Mayans
@lluisenricmayans
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Montreal, a beautiful Canadian city, second most populous in the country and before Quebec, can be considered the cultural capital, while Toronto plays an important economic role, between business and business. Full of green areas and attractions just waiting to be visited, Montreal is perfect for a trip at any time of the year, even in winter, when despite the very low temperatures, it has a charm all its own.

So let's find out together what to see in Montreal, the best attractions and things to do!



Index

  1. Place Jacques-Cartier
  2. Old Port of Montreal
  3. Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica
  4. MMFA, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
  5. MAC, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
  6. Parc du Mount Royal
  7. Jardin Botanique de Montréal
  8. Montreal Tower Observatory
  9. Biodome
  10. Jean-Talon Market
  11. Montreal Science Center
  12. La Ronde Amusement Park
  13. Île Sainte-Hélène and Biosphere Environmental Museum
  14. Réso, the underground city
  15. Oratory of San Giuseppe
  16. Chateau Ramezay
  17. Neighborhoods of Montreal
  18. Other attractions to visit
  19. 8 things to do in Montreal
  20. User questions and comments

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1 - Place Jacques-Cartier

In the center of the city, or the Old Town, is Place Jacques-Cartier, beating heart of Montreal, as well as one of the richest and most attractive areas, full of clubs and restaurants both on the square itself and in the alleys all around. Here many street artists, musicians and performers of all kinds perform every day that animate the area. In summer, however, it is set up with colorful flowers and plants that frame the historic buildings, the Bonsecours market and buildings.



It starts from here: the heart of the historic center, the perfect reference point for getting around the city. From here you can reach the area near the Old Port, or the more lively districts, such as Center-ville, also called Montreal Downtown. For a first approach, we recommend the Old Montreal Walking Tour.

2 - Vieux-Port de Montréal

You absolutely cannot miss its old port, a completely pedestrian stretch of about 2,5 km on the San Lorenzo river. Along the harbor they wind 4 different piers (the French term is quais): starting from the north, there are the Quai de l'Horloge, the Quai Jacques-Cartier, the Quai King Edward and, finally, the Quai Alexandra.

This it is an area suitable for everyone, young and old, thanks to the many activities that can be carried out. In fact, there is a large park for children and several food trucks for a quick lunch break. But of all the attractions, for sure the Center des sciences de Montréal and the magnificent Ferris wheel stand out, the Grande Roue de Montréal, from which to admire the whole city.

Also, from the port many boats and excursions leave every day that will make you see Montreal from a different perspective.

  • in Rue de la Commune O, reachable on foot from from Place Jacques-Cartier (100 m, 2 min). Champ-de-Mars metro stop - Get directions
  • Ferris wheel daily 10: 00-23: 00 / Center des Sciences Mon-Fri 9: 00-16: 00, Sat-Sun 10: 00-17: 00
  • Ferris wheel $ 25,00 (€ 17,00), reduced $ 19,50 (€ 13,30) / Center des Sciences full $ 22,00 (€ 15,00), reduced $ 17,00 (€ 11,00)

3 - Notre-Dame de Montréal Basilica

This basilica is an imposing religious building of Catholic worship which is located in the historic district of Vieux-Montreal.

Built between 1824 and 1829, the church is in a neo-Gothic style, but what will really make you speechless is the inside: the blue ceiling is decorated with "stars" and the spectacular stained glass windows depict scenes from the Bible.



AURA show: in the evening, usually around 18:00 pm, you can witness the spectacular AURA project, a show of lights and installations held inside the cathedral that leaves you speechless! In addition, through this show you can learn more about the church and the history of the Catholic religion. Find the calendar with all the events on the official website.

  • in 110 Notre-Dame St W, reachable on foot from Place Jacques-Cartier (550 m, 7 min). Place-d'Armes metro stop - Get directions
  • Church Mon-Fri 8: 00-16: 30, Sat 8: 00-16: 00, Sun 12: 30-16: 00 / AURA show generally 18:00, sometimes also with double hours, consult the official website
  • Full Cathedral $ 10,00 (€ 6,30), reduced $ 5,00 (€ 3,00) / AURA show $ 25,00 (€ 17,00)

4 - MMFA, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Montreal's main art gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1860 and is the oldest museum in the city.

It is divided into three pavilions: the one in the Beaux-Arts style of 1912, which exhibits works on the history of Quebec; the modernist one from 1991, located across the street and specializing in world art; and the Liliane and David M. Stewart pavilion, built between 2007 and 2010, located in rue Sherbrooke Ouest, dedicated to Canadian art.

In 1972 the museum suffered a major theft, where jewels, statuettes and eighteen paintings were stolen, for a loot of 2 million dollars at the time.


Download the App: by downloading the museum App you will have a free map and audio guides as well as information on organized tours and activities (consult the official website). In addition, all the museum pavilions are wheelchair accessible.


  • in 1380 Sherbrooke St W, 3 km (40 min walk) from Place jacques-Cartier. Accessible by orange metro from Champ de Mars to Lucien L'Allier (30 min) - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 10: 00-17: 00, Wed until 21:00
  • full $ 24,00 (€ 15,30), reduced $ 16,00 (€ 10,00), first Sunday of each month free

5 - MAC, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

At the Place des Festivals, in the entertainment district, is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Easily accessible from Place Jacques-Cartier both on foot and by public transport.

This it is one of the must-see museums if you have some time to spare. Also, founded in 1964, it is the first contemporary art museum in the city.

Over 300 works are exhibited at the MAC, although the museum has nearly 8.000 works. Here, in addition to works by international artists, you will learn more about the artists of Quebec and Canada.

Avoid the weekend: this museum is usually taken by storm on weekends. Better if possible to dedicate a couple of hours during the week.

  • in 185 Saint-Catherine St W. 1,4 km from Place Jacques-Cartier (19 min walk). Accessible by bus 65 or 129 to the Saint-Laurent / Sainte-Catherine stop - Get directions
  • Tue 11: 00-18: 00, Wed-Fri 11: 00-21: 00, Sat-Sun 10: 00-18: 00, closed Mon
  • full $ 10,00 (€ 6,00), reduced $ 5,00 (€ 3,00)

6 - Parc du Mount Royal

Just 4 kilometers from the historic center and Place Jacques-Cartier, west of the city, is this wonderful park that occupies a large part of Monte Royal, extending over 200 hectares. Designed in 1876 by architect Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for being the co-proponent of New York's Central Park, this park is Montreal's largest green lung and from here you can admire one of the most suggestive views over the city!

There are so many activities to do, both in summer and in winter! Between panoramic terraces overlooking 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 slopes, as well as to an ice rink. IS' the ideal place to spend an afternoon among nature and with the family, including trekking routes, play areas for children, picnic areas, walks and lots of relaxation

  • at 1260 Remembrance Rd; 7,6 km from Place Jacques-Cartier (1 h). Reachable first by orange metro 2 from Champ-de-Mars stop to Mont-Royal stop, then bus 11 to Remembrance / Chemin du Chalet station (35 min) - Get directions
  • every day 6: 00-24: 00
  • free

7 - Jardin Botanique de Montréal

These botanical gardens in Montreal are the third largest in the world and are ideal for a walk even with the family.

In the 75 hectares there are 22.000 species and varieties of plants e 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. A place away from the traffic of the city, where you will be amazed at every corner! In addition, the park offers dream scenarios among sculptures created with leaves and shrubs, imposing statues and fairy-tale settings.

  • in 4101 Sherbrooke St E. 7,3km from Place Jacques-Cartier; reachable by orange metro 2 from Champ-de-Mars stop to Berri-UQAM stop, then green metro 1 to Pie-IX station (1 km from the botanical gardens). Total travel time 50 min - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 9 am-00pm, closed Mon
  • full $ 21,00 (€ 13,40), reduced $ 10,50 (€ 6,70)

8 - Montreal Tower Observatory

To the north of the city, inside the Parc Olympique complex, you can admire and visit the Montreal tower, an architectural masterpiece. 165 meters high, it has an inclination angle of 45 °, making it so the tallest inclined tower in the world, from which to enjoy a beautiful 360 ° view over the whole city. The panorama offers spectacular views, up to 80km on clear days.

To reach the top you take a glass funicular which holds 50 people at a time and in just 2 minutes leads to the top. From above you can see the Stadium, the building that once housed the Velodrome (now Biodôme) and the Esplanade, as well as all their incredible architecture.

Combined visit: being far from the historic center, it is better to reach the tower in the morning and visit the Biodome, the Japanese Garden and the Botanical Garden on the same day, all located in the same area.

  • in 4101 Sherbrooke St E. 7,3km from Place Jacques-Cartier; reachable by orange metro 2 from Champ-de-Mars stop to Berri-UQAM stop, then green metro 1 to Pie-IX station. Total travel time 50 min - Get directions
  • Tue-Sun 9 am-00pm, closed Mon
  • full $ 24,25 full (€ 15,50), reduced $ 12,00 (€ 7,60)

9 - Biodome

Inside the Olympic Park there is this attraction capable of attracting tourists and residents: the Biodome, a former velodrome which now houses a museum dedicated to life. A real natural oasis that leads visitors to a fascinating journey through the 4 ecosystems of the American territory: the tropical forest that reproduces the forest of South America, the Laurentian Forest which is a replica of the wild nature of North America, the marine ecosystem of Saint Lawrence recalls the estuarine habitat modeled on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and finally the region sub-polar reproduces the areas of the Arctic and Antarctic.

This place is ideal for a trip with children but it is also a place suitable for all nature lovers. We recommend that you include it in your program by combining it with a visit to the Montreal Tower Observatory, the Japanese Garden and the Botanical Garden.

Here there is also an amphitheater where conferences are organized and among the missions of this place there is also the rescue of endangered species and their reintroduction into nature.

  • in 4101 Sherbrooke St E. 7,3km from Place Jacques-Cartier; reachable by orange metro 2 from Champ-de-Mars stop to Berri-UQAM stop, then green metro 1 to Pie-IX station. Total travel time 50 min - Get directions
  • currently closed. check opening hours on the website
  • $ 21,00 full (€ 13,37), $ 15 reduced (€ 6,00)

10 - Jean-Talon Market

To get in touch with the daily life of the city and its inhabitants, you cannot miss a visit to the covered market of Jean-Talon.
Located in the heart of Little Italy, it is one of the oldest public markets in the city and one of the largest markets in North America!

Here, thanks to the many local products, you can experience a journey within a journey, also starting a discovery of the culinary tradition of the city. 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 is no shortage of restaurants and places where you can taste the typical local dishes. Jean-Tolon's market is always a meeting and meeting point for families and traders, locals and tourists.

  • in 7070 Henri Julien Ave. 6 km from Place Jacques-Cartier; reachable by bus 55 from the Saint-Laurent / Saint-Jacques stop, getting off at the Saint-Laurent / Jean-Talon stop (500 m from the market), or by metro orange line 2 from the Champ-de-Mars station to the Jean-Talon station ( 450m from the market) - Get directions
  • Mon, Tue, Wed and Sat 7: 00-18: 00, Thu and Fri 7: 00-20: 00, Sun 7: 00-17: 00
  • free

11 - Montreal Science Center

In the old port area, one of the attractions that stands out is the Center des sciences de Montréal, founded in 2000 and originally known as the Sci Center. The museum then changed its name to Montreal Science Center in 2002 ed hosts interactive exhibits on science and technologyas well as an IMAX theater.

It is a place to visit even with children, even on cold days or when it rains. The center stands out for the excellent quality of its exhibits and the use of interactive devices in an innovative environment, both educational and entertainment.

  • in Rue de la Commune O, in the old port. 100 m from Place Jacques-Cartier (2 min walk). Champ-de-Mars metro stop - Get directions
  • lun-ven 9:00-16:00, sab-dom 10:00-17:00
  • full $ 22,00 (€ 15,00), reduced $ 17,00 (€ 11,00)

12 - La Ronde Amusement Park

La Ronde is the amusement park of Montreal, built as an entertainment complex for Expo 67, the 1967 World's Fair.

It occupies almost 60 hectares and inside there are 40 rides, including 10 roller coasters and among these is Le Monstre, a 40-meter-high double-track wooden roller coaster that holds the record for the highest double-track roller coaster in the world. In addition, the international fireworks competition takes place here in July and many activities are offered for Halloween.

Firework festival: the international fireworks competition, born in the summer of 1995, has become the largest and most prestigious festival in the world dedicated to fireworks. Every summer, millions of visitors gather on the quays of the St. Lawrence River to watch free shows organized by companies from around the world. For an exceptional view of the shows with the city lights in the background, book a paid seat at different points, including the quay and L'Observatoire de la Capitale.

  • in 22 Chemin Macdonald. From place Jacques Cartier orange metro from Champ de Mars stop to Berri-UQAM, then yellow metro to Jean Drapeau. From here in 15 minutes on foot you reach La Ronde - Get directions
  • variable hours based on day and season, consult the official website
  • full $ 61,00 (€ 39,00), reduced $ 32,00 (€ 20,00). Availability of passes and experiences, see the official website

13 - 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 channel from the island of Notre Dame. Together with the latter, it is part of the Parc Jean Drapeau, a beautiful green area in which to take refuge from the traffic and chaos of the city, and the archipelago of Hochelaga.

But the real attraction of the island is there Biosphere, a huge building in the shape of a glass sphere that houses the Museum of the Environment. This unusual structure dates back to 1967, the year in which Montreal hosted the Universal Exposition and which, afterwards, was used as a museum. The purpose of the Biosphere Environmental Museum is to raise awareness of the environment and get people to commit to keeping it. Here you will find various exhibitions and guided activities to find out much more on the subject.

Best place to photograph it: if you are not interested in the museum, you cannot avoid a super instagrammable photo! The best place to photograph it is to reach the entrance and continue across the bridge that leads to the island of Notre Dame, where the Gilles Villeneuve circuit is located.

  • in 160 Chemin du Tour de l'oeil, Île Sainte-Hélène. 450 meters from Place Jacques-Cartier; first reached by orange metro 2 from Champ-de-Mars stop to Berri-UQAM stop, then yellow metro 4 to Jean-Drapeau station, 350 meters from the Biosphere. Total travel time 25 min - Get directions
  • from December to May Wed-Sun 10: 00-17: 00, from June to November every day 10: 00-17: 00
  • full $ 15,00 (€ 9,50), reduced $ 10,00 (€ 6,40)

14 - Réso, the underground city

If you are in Montreal, especially in winter, you cannot miss a visit to the Réso, the underground city! That's right, you got it right, under Montreal there is a second city and this is one of the reasons why it is also called the "double city".

It is nothing more than an urban solution for allow you to move easily even in winter, when temperatures are very low and it is difficult to be outdoors.

This underground city it covers an area of ​​about 12 square kilometers, with over 32 kilometers of passages. There are 120 entrances, 60 commercial and residential complexes and obviously there is no shortage of restaurants, hotels, shops and boutiques. Really, it is a city within a city.

Admissions throughout the city, one of the main at 747 Rue du Square-Victoria 247; 1 km from Place Jacques-Cartier (13 min walk). To reach it, there are 7 metro stations - Get directions

The underground city: the Resò is actually a multilevel network of tunnels and stairways that connect shopping centers, subway stations, offices, schools, hotels, concert halls and practically everything that can be found in an urban settlement. Passing through this underground network you can also visit the exhibition spaces of the Museum of Fine Arts, connected by a tunnel that passes under Sherbrooke Street, but also reach the Museum of Contemporary Art and get to 40 theaters and cinemas. Inside Resò there is even an ice rink!

15 - Oratory of San Giuseppe

National Historic Site of Canada and the largest church in the country, St. Joseph's Oratory stands on Mount Royal Hill and has one of the largest domes in the world. Founded in 1904 by Sant'Andrea Bessette in honor of its patron saint, the Oratory has monumental dimensions, a Renaissance-style facade and contrasting Art Deco interiors.

Being the tallest building in Montreal, which rises over 30m above the summit of Mont Royal, can be seen from many kilometers away and attracts over 2 million visitors and pilgrims annually. There are 283 steps to get to the oratory and almost a hundred are made of wood for pilgrims who want to get on their knees and ask for a grace or do penance.

Curiosity: during the Christmas period in the oratory museum you can visit a collection with over 900 nativity scenes.

  • at 3800 Queen Mary Rd; 7 km from Place Jacques-Cartier, reachable by orange metro 2 from the Champ-de-Mars stop to the Snodow stop, then bus 166 to the Oratoire Saint-Joseph station. Total travel time 35 min - Get directions
  • lun-gio 8:00-17:00, ven-sab 7:30-20:30
  • full $ 4,00 (€ 2,50), reduced $ 2,00 (€ 1,30)

16 - Chateau Ramezay

Located on Notre Dame Street in Old Montreal opposite the City Hall, Ramezay Castle was built in 1705 as residence of the then governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay. This building it was the first to be proclaimed a historic monument in Quebec and is the oldest private history museum in the province.

Purchased by the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal in 1894 and converted into a historical museum, it owns a collection consisting mainly of gifts from private individuals from Montreal and estimates 30.000 objects, including manuscripts, printed works, numismatic objects, ethnological objects, works of art, paintings, prints and furniture.

It is not a castle: although it's called "Chateau", don't expect a castle, but it's still a nice building. It can be visited in less than an hour, but the "Salle de Nantes" is very interesting, covered with richly carved mahogany panels.

  • in Notre Dame Street. 250 m from Place JAcques -Cartier (4 min walk). Champ de Mars Metro Station - Get Directions
  • every day 9: 30-16: 30
  • full $ 10,44 (€ 7,00), reduced $ 5,00 (€ 3,00)

17 - Neighborhoods of Montreal

As you move from one neighborhood to another, you will notice that it is a cosmopolitan and open city. In addition to the Old Montreal neighborhood, or the historic center, there is a whole world to discover! This is the perfect place to start discovering others too; to move between the various districts you can use the subway, made up of 4 lines (green, orange, yellow and blue, one ride $ 3,50 / € 2,25) - Get directions

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. Reference Station Station Jean Talon - Get directions

It can not miss China Town, where you will enter a world with typical oriental characters, with lots of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants and shops. You will immediately notice its entrance due to the gigantic red door with Chinese ideograms. Metro Station Reference Town Station Place-d'Armes - Get directions

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. Shows, festivals and many events are always held here. Station Place-des-Arts Reference Station - Get Directions

Not far away you will finally 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 discover as much as possible! In summer, the main street Rue Sainte-Catherine becomes completely pedestrian, the locals set up outdoor tables. Another important way is Rue Amherst, famous for its beautiful boutiques and antique shops. Reference Station Beaudry Station - Get directions

Other attractions to visit

In addition to the attractions and neighborhoods of Montreal seen so far, there are other places of interest to visit if you have enough time! And among which you can also choose based on your interests.

When it's cold or raining and you prefer to stay indoors, we recommend the Redpath Museum, a natural history museum owned by McGill University ($ 10,00 / € 6,50), the Museum of Rail Transportation ($ 10,00 / € 6,50), the Museum of History and Archeology ($ 22,00 / € 13,50) and the Insectarium ($ 21,00 / € 13,00), one of the most important in the world.

During the beautiful sunny daysinstead, in addition to the Parc du Mont Royal (previously mentioned) we suggest you also visit other green areas of the city (Montreal is a very green city) such as the Maisonneuve Park and the Parc la Fontaine, where you will be surrounded by families of squirrels or do a nice ride along the Lachine Canal. And if you miss the beach, and time permits ...there is also a city beach in Montreal! It is the Plage urbaine de Verdun, where you can rent an umbrella, enjoy the sun on the beach and take a dip on the stretch of river opposite the Ile des soeurs.

8 things to do in Montreal

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  1. Alternative tours: helicopter, cruise and bike tour: if you are not afraid of heights, you cannot miss a wonderful helicopter ride over the city. Definitely do not miss a panoramic cruise on the San Lorenzo River. But to breathe the green soul of the city, do as they do, start with a bike tour of the city, the old port and the plateau
  2. Discover the dark side: Immerse yourself in ancient ghost stories by participating in the traditional Ghost Walk of the Haunted City, a thrilling experience
  3. Discover the trendy Le Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods: dive into the bohemian and slightly alternative soul of Montreal! Discover the murals and street art at Le Plateau and stop in the breweries of the small hamlet of Mile-End
  4. Stroll through the Lachine Canal: think that the name derives from the first settlers who thought it led straight to China! It is a slightly underrated green area, but ideal for picnics and bike tours
  5. Discover the gastronomy - craft beer and poutine: in Montreal there is the Molson brewery, the oldest in North America! And in general, Canadians are crazy about their craft beers to try in brewery pubs or brasseries. Another must is the Canadian Poutine, a signature dish made up of fries, cheese curd and thick meat sauce. No, it's not light at all!
  6. See a Cirque du Soleil show: born right here, in Montreal, and its headquarters are located right in the port of Montreal. Tickets cost around CAD 100 (€ 65,00), but while we're at it ...
  7. Attend the Montreal International Jazz Festival: it is the largest jazz festival in the world, with 650 concerts in 10 days and guests who over the years have seen artists such as Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Ahmad Jamal
  8. Instagrammable places: between

    Plan your stay in Montreal: flights and hotels

    Montreal really is a city full of things to do and see and if you are planning a vacation remember that the best months are from May to September, when temperatures are mild and days are often sunny. Winter is really harsh, but it's perfect if you love winter sports!

    To reach the Canadian metropolis from Italy, the flight takes between 13 and 20 hours, depending on the stopovers (compare flights from € 320,00). Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is 20 km from the city center. To move, the transport system is efficient and costs vary according to the type of ticket.

    As for the living room, the best area is the historic center (compare accommodations on Booking.com from € 65,00), where most of the attractions are concentrated and where there are metro and bus stations that allow you to reach other districts of the city.

    For lovers of nightlife, the neighborhoods and streets he knows how to mark are the Latin Quarter, around Place des Artes, Sainte-Catherine Street East where there are the most famous clubs open until the morning, Crescent Street is the English-speaking area. If you're looking for pubs, breweries and live music rather than clubs and discos, go to the Plateau district, especially along Boulevard St-Laurent.

    If you are traveling as a family, the city offers you various opportunities that will be very appreciated even by the little ones, such as the Ferris Wheel, the Botanical Garden or the Montreal Tower. Plus, there are tons of green areas! Montreal is definitely a city on a human scale, and as a child! At the same time though, it is an expensive destination, so we advise you to book flights and hotels in advance.


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