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25 Fun & Best Things to Do in Montreal, Canada

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Montreal is a destination that is overlooked by some, but it should not be missed. This Canadian city is perhaps the most European city in North America, and it’s right in our backyard at just about thirty-five miles from the U.S. border. Read on for our best suggestions for attractions and things to do in Montreal, and start planning your trip.

It’s unique, inviting, historic, and has many things to do. Montreal has things to do for every type of traveler and all interests. You’ll love visiting this French-speaking destination and find it a lively, welcoming city that’s easy to access and get around.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of Montreal’s best things to do. There is plenty to do to fill an active weekend getaway or even an entire week.

Exploring Montreal is something you’ll never forget, and you may even find that visiting once isn’t enough – you’ll want to go back time and time again.

TL;DR

  • Most Significant Landmark – Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
  • Best Park – Parc Jean-Drapeau
  • Free activity – Explore the shops, restaurants, museums, and history of Old Montreal
  • Activity for Kids – Space for Life museums
  • Activity for Adults – Taking a Montreal food tour or wine tour
  • Place to stayRitz Carlton Montreal

Things to Do in Montreal, Canada

1. Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

Interior of Notre Dame Basilica Montreal
Anthony / Adobe Stock

Address: 110 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 1T1

Nearly 11 million people visit the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal each year; it’s one of the most-visited monuments in North America. It’s no wonder – whether you’re religious or not, you’ll be amazed at the immense beauty of this Gothic Revival church.

Although some people think this church is a replica of Notre Dame in Paris (mostly based on the name), that’s actually incorrect. They’re not alike and are designed in different architectural styles altogether, even though they’re both spectacularly beautiful.

Both the interior and the exterior of this building are breathtaking. Although the majority of Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal was built between 1824 and 1829 and was dedicated in 1829, the interior and exterior took much longer to complete, with the finishing touches still added as late as 1891.

Unlike some other churches, the interior is quite colorful. There are hundreds of intricate wood and stone carvings to view, and the stained glass windows depict the religious history of Montreal.

The Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal is open to the public most days, with some exceptions. Mass is held daily at various times, so be aware that you may walk in during a service and be sure to be respectful. The church also offers a ticketed, award-winning, four-act, multimedia light show called AURA most evenings that’s impressive and is well worth the ticket price.

See Related: Strasbourg Cathedral

2. Old Montreal

A quiet street in the early morning in Old Montreal
ProDesign Studio / Shutterstock

Old Montreal, also known as Vieux-Montreal in French, is a historic neighborhood on the eastern side of the city by the Old Port. About 5,000 people live in this part of town, but it’s also the site of historic buildings like Montreal City Hall, Bonsecours Market, churches, the 1888 New York Life Building, the Old Royal Bank Building, the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, and more.

Montreal was founded by French settlers in 1642. They called it Fort Ville-Marie then, and the city just grew and grew from there. This is one of North America’s oldest urban areas and a wonderful place to step back in time to explore.

To get the most out of this part of Montreal, you might take a walking tour to learn about the buildings and stories surrounding you. This Explore Old Montreal Small-Group Walking Tour for the Curious will give you an excellent overview of the area in just two hours.

Old Montreal is also the best place to stay when visiting Montreal if you want to enjoy the old town charm and also be near many of the city’s most popular attractions.

There are quite a few highly-rated, exceptional, historic hotels in this area to consider, like Le Petit Hotel Montreal, Hotel William Gray, and Hotel Gault, to name a few.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in December on a Budget

3. Use the Underground City to Get Around

Escalators and various levels and stores in the Underground City in Montreal
Bohemian Baltimore / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Montreal’s Underground City in downtown Montreal is not nearly as old as the two entries listed above, but it’s certainly a part of this city’s unique history and culture, and you should take the time to check it out. Officially known as RÉSO, this network of interconnected office towers, hotels, shopping areas, residences, educational institutions, performing arts venues, and more were built to connect everything in 1962.

The Underground City is an interesting solution for a city with notoriously cold winters. Although some of the networks are underground, some are at street level, too. Over half a million people use it in the winter months to get around without ever having to step outside.

All told, there are twenty miles of tunnels within a 4.6-square-mile area. According to official figures, connected by the Underground City, you’ll find over 2,000 stores, 1,600 housing units, 200 restaurants, 40 banks, 10 metro stations, 2 bus stations, 7 hotels, and 4 universities.

While the people of Montreal tend to think of the Underground City as a giant mall and a utilitarian passageway, it’s awe-inspiring from an urban planning standpoint. After all, it’s the largest underground complex of any kind in the whole world.

It’s easy to walk aimlessly when visiting the Underground City if you don’t have some guidance, so if you wish to learn a bit about what you’re viewing, you might consider a tour. This Montreal: Underground City Tour will teach and show you a lot in just two hours.

And yes, I get it; going underground isn’t for everybody. So why not see Montreal from high on a helicopter tour of the city?

4. Lachine Canal National Historic Site

Two kayakers paddle along the Lachine Canal in Montreal on a fall day
Glass and Nature / Shutterstock

The Lachine Canal is a waterway that has played an important part in Montreal’s history. Built between 1821 and 1825, this nine-mile-long canal was in operation until 1970; it became obsolete once the St. Lawrence Seaway became the preferred route for ships. It reopened to pleasure boating in 2002, and today it’s a popular area for recreation.

The Lachine Canal National Historic Site includes the entire canal itself plus small strips of land on either side for its entire length, and a path runs parallel to it from beginning to end.

You’ll find interpretive displays about the canal and the city’s history, picnic areas, kayak and bike rental kiosks, water fountains, and bathrooms along the way. It’s a great place to spend a Montreal summer afternoon; bring a picnic, or go for a run or bike ride.

See Related: Best Canals in Amsterdam You Need to See

5. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal
Firefighter Montreal / Adobe Stock

Address: 3800 Queen Mary Road, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3V 1H6

If you liked visiting Notre Dame Basilica, you might as well visit Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal while in Montreal. This hilltop Catholic church is a minor basilica and national shrine completed in 1967 after being under construction for six decades.

It’s Canada’s largest church, and its dome is one of the largest in the world. The exterior is Renaissance Revival style; people who prefer more modern design will like the Art Deco-inspired interior.

Two million people visit this Saint Joseph’s Oratory each year. This church is open to the public daily, and visitors are welcome. There’s a gift shop and a museum of sacred art, and mass is offered daily in French and English.

You can catch a Carillon recital at mid-day and in the late afternoon most days of the week; check Saint Joseph’s website for days and times. Also, the extensive gardens surrounding this church are beautifully landscaped and cared for – be sure to plan some time to explore them.

6. McCord Stewart Museum

The McCord Stewart Museum in Montreal - exterior
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 690 Sherbrooke St West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 1E9

The McCord Stewart Museum, also known as the McCord Museum of Canadian History, was founded in 1921 by David Ross McCord to display his collection of items. Over the past century, it has grown immensely; today, it has a collection of 1.4 million objects, images, and manuscripts.

This is an excellent museum for anyone interested in learning about Canadian history. This public research museum in downtown Montreal focuses on Canada’s history.

So it includes in its displays and collections various archaeological artifacts, historic costumes and textiles, painting, prints, drawings, textual archives, decorative items, and photographs that capture the rich history of this northern nation.

See Related: Best Museums in the U.S. to Visit

7. Montreal Science Centre

Montreal Science Center exterior
EQRoy / Shutterstock

Address: 2 de la Commune Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2Y 4B2

For visitors with little ones interested in science, the Montreal Science Centre is a wonderful place to spend some time. This museum opened in 2000 and is full of fun, educational, hands-on activities for the whole family.

There are permanent exhibits about the human body, water, wind, inventors, nature, motion, and creativity, and there are always new, temporary exhibits to explore. Further, an IMAX theater at the Montreal Science Centre shows educational films that are usually related to one of the center’s temporary exhibits.

If you’re looking for things to do in Montreal with kids, this is your answer. Your kiddos will have so much fun here that they won’t want to leave!

8. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Exterior shot of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Cachou17 / TripAdvisor

Address: 1380 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1J5

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the largest art museum in all of Canada, and if you love art, you can easily get lost inside it for hours. Founded in 1860, this museum’s displayed collection is spread across five pavilions.

The permanent collection includes 45,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other creations by famous Canadian, European, American, African, and Asian artists, as well as by lesser-known artists from around the world.

There are six major collections in this museum: International Contemporary Art, Early to Modern International Art, Quebec and Canadian Art, Decorative Arts and Design, Arts of One World, and Graphic Arts.

There’s also a lovely sculpture garden with twenty-two sculptures outside that’s worth checking out. Focus on one of the above-listed collections, or try to jam as much of it as possible into one visit. There’s something for every artistic taste and interest at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US

9. MAC Montreal

Exterior shot of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal
Jeangagnon / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: niveau galerie commercial, Pl. Ville-Marie local 11220, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3B 3Y1

MAC Montreal, or en francais, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, was founded in 1964 and was Canada’s first museum devoted to contemporary art. It’s been in downtown Montreal’s Place des Arts complex since 1992.

The museum’s collection includes over 7,000 works by 1,500 different artists – 1,200 of whom are still alive. As you might guess, MAC Montreal focuses on Canadian contemporary artists and includes works from artists worldwide.

This contemporary art museum is great for fans of all types of artistic mediums. Across its 163,000 square feet of gallery space, you can view paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, installation art, and even video.

There are four large rooms for temporary exhibitions, so if you like MAC Montreal on your first visit when you return in the future, you’ll have a different experience. Anyone interested in art will enjoy this museum.

See Related: Habitat 67 in Montreal: World’s Most Incredible Thesis Project

10. Montreal Museum of Archeology and History

Exterior shot of one of the buildings of the Pointe a Calliere Museum in Montreal
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 350 Place Royale, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 3Y5

This museum, also known as the Pointe à Callière Museum, is located in Old Montreal and focuses on the archeology and history of Canada and Montreal. It was founded in 1992 as part of the celebration of the 350th birthday of the city, and it’s one of Montreal’s most popular museums for visitors of all ages.

Permanent exhibits at the Montreal Museum of Archelogy and History include information and artifacts from all periods of the city’s history, and the museum has won dozens of national and international awards. It’s easy to see why.

In addition to exhibits about Montreal and Canada, the Pointe à Callière Museum also hosts temporary exhibits about civilizations and historical events around the world. Further, the museum complex is made up of three archaeological sites, which gives visitors the bonus of learning about history while being truly surrounded.

11. Montreal Holocaust Museum

Exterior shot of the Montreal Holocaust Museum
Virginiewenglenski / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 51 Chem. de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3W 1M6

The Montreal Holocaust Museum was founded in 1979. It’s Canada’s only museum dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the Holocaust. The museum’s collection is primarily artifacts donated by local Holocaust survivors and their families and numbers around 13,000 items.

The main permanent exhibition features 418 artifacts, 372 photographs, and ten video stations. It covers the time before the war, Jewish life during the Holocaust, and the lives of survivors who rebuilt their lives in Canada.

This museum also holds the largest oral history collection of Holocaust survivors’ stories nationwide and recorded over 800 oral histories since the project began in 1994. The Montreal Holocaust Museum is both educational and heartbreaking, and it’s a true must-see for anyone interested in learning more about this terrible genocide and period in world history.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

12. Redpath Museum

Exterior shot of the Redpath Museum in Montreal
Armineaghayan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 859 Sherbrooke Sreet West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 0C4

The Redpath Museum is a natural history museum on the campus of McGill University. It was built in 1892 as a gift from sugar baron Peter Redpath and it’s been named for him ever since. Although it’s not as large as some other natural history museums, it’s just as impressive, and you’ll love its exhibits on ethnology, biology, mineralogy and geology, and paleontology.

The collections in each of these areas are vast and diverse, and anyone interested in dinosaurs will be impressed by the fossil specimens here. Further, the building itself is also quite beautiful; it’s the oldest building in Canada that was built specifically to be a museum, and its gorgeous, recognizable Greek Revival facade has appeared in countless films and commercials.

13. Space for Life

View of Montreal Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (2013) in Space for Life (Espace pour la vie)
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

Space for Life is a museum district within Montreal that is home to Montreal’s four nature-based museums. It’s a fantastic place to explore for people of all ages, but kids will really love it.

Here, you’ll find the Montreal Biodome, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, the Montreal Insectarium, and the Montreal Botanical Garden – all within steps of each other. You can easily spend an entire day visiting these four attractions, or you can choose one or two that interest you most. Even then, you can spend many hours really digging in!

Montreal Biodome

Aerial shot of the Montreal Biodome indoor zoo
PtitLutin (photograph); Roger Taillibert (architect) / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5

Address: 4777 Pierre-de Coubertin Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1V 1B3

The Montreal Biodome is fun and educational. This unique structure is located in Montreal Olympic Park and was a track cycling and judo facility in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. After the Olympics were over, it was converted into this indoor zoo museum accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).

Visitors to the Montreal Biodome pass through replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas: a South American tropical forest, a North American Laurentian forest, a St. Lawrence River estuary, and an Arctic and Antarctic subpolar region. Animals from each ecosystem live in the exhibits, and interpretive signs and programs teach about these animals and their environments.

This museum is impressive, and you’ll be amazed at how much they fit into this building. It’s a wonderful place to learn about nature, and it’s also great to see a building repurposed.

Montreal Insectarium

Beautiful butterfly in insectarium montreal
Han / Adobe Stock

Address: 4581 Sherbrooke Street East, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1X 2B2

Do you like bugs? If you do, you’ll love the Montreal Insectarium; even if you don’t, this is a great place to learn more about them and overcome your fears.

This insect zoo is the largest of its kind in North America and one of the world’s largest insect museums. It opened in 1990 and is home to 160,000 insects of ninety-five different species from all over the planet.

Learn about insect habitats in The Alcove, view over 3,000 naturalized specimens in The Dome, or try a face-to-face encounter with insects by viewing them in the Insectarium’s vivariums. If you want to get closer to the bugs, walk through The Great Vivarium, where insects are free or partly confined.

You’ll learn a lot during your visit, and your time at the Montreal Insectarium is certainly something you won’t soon forget.

Montreal Botanical Garden

Botanical garden in Montreal
Christian / Adobe Stock

Address: 4101 Sherbrooke Stree East, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H1X 2B2

After spending time indoors at the Montreal Biodome and the Montreal Insectarium, it’s time to head out into nature to enjoy the lush greenery of the Montreal Botanical Garden. This 190-acre garden opened in 1931 and you’ll find over 22,000 species of plants within it. This is one of Montreal’s most popular attractions; it receives over 700,000 visitors annually.

You could easily spend all day in this spectacular botanical garden, especially on a sunny day. There are over twenty gardens within it, including an aquatic garden, an alpine garden, a food garden, a wellness garden, a medicinal plants garden, a toxic plants garden, Chinese and Japanese gardens, and more.

There are also ten different greenhouses with even more interesting and unique plants. If you prefer the woods, stroll amongst the trees in the arboretum.

Tired of looking at plants? Then simply relax on a bench, breathe the fresh area, and enjoy the quiet and beauty around you. This botanical garden is one of the best places in Montreal to relax. It’s hard to believe that you’re in the middle of a major city. You’ll love it.

See Related: Botanical Gardens in California to Visit

Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

Exterior shot of Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal
999Vince / TripAdvisor

Address: 4801 Pierre-de-Coubertin Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1V 3V4

After you’ve spent some time learning about the plants, animals, and insects that live on our planet, you might stop by the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium to contemplate the stars and other planets in the sky above. This planetarium opened in 2013 and is the successor to the Montreal Planetarium, which opened in 1966 and operated until 2011. This newer planetarium has two separate theaters as well as exhibits about outer space and astronomy.

Planetarium shows happen on an ongoing basis, and visitors can choose between several programs presented in French and English. A visit to the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is the perfect way to finish up a busy day of learning about nature at Space for Life – just be careful you don’t fall asleep during the show! The seats in the planetarium lean recline and are very comfortable, and it’s dark in there, too!

14. Shop the Boutiques in Mile End

A quiet street in the Mile End neighborhood of Montreal
Alain Rouiller / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Some of the best shopping in Montreal is in the Mile End neighborhood. This area is full of unique boutiques and vintage stores that the high-end shopper and the bargain hunter will enjoy.

Even window shoppers will love this area because, besides the many adorable shops, this neighborhood is known for interesting street art, pleasant cafes, inviting art galleries, and shaded walkways.

Mile End has been known as the artists’ and musicians’ neighborhood in Montreal since the 1980s, and most visitors and residents love the laid-back, creative vibe found here.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

15. Shop at Jean-Talon and Atwater Markets

Close up shot of fresh vegtable in Atwater Market at Montreal, Canada
Kit Leong / Adobe Stock

Addresses: Jean-Talon Market: 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2S 3S3 & Atwater Market: 138 Atwater Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4C 2H6

If you’re looking to do some shopping that’s more food focused, then you should head to Atwater or Jean-Talon Markets. Both of these markets allow visitors to learn about local culinary culture through the offerings of local vendors, and you can fill your belly while you explore.

The Jean-Talon Market is one of North America’s largest and oldest open-air markets. It’s huge and features over 150 food stalls that sell everything from fruits and vegetables to meats and fish to chocolate and ice cream to specialty items. It opened in 1933, and today, it’s still going strong.

The Atwater Market is much smaller than Jean-Talon Market, but it still has plenty to offer its patrons. It opened in 1933 and is known for its famous tall clock tower and Art Deco style. It’s located on the Lachine Canal bike path, and since it’s open year-round, it’s a great place to stop for cyclists for a rest and a mid-ride treat at any time of year.

16. Shop Along Rue Sainte-Catherine

Rue Sainte-Catherine Street nameplates and main street sign
Franklin De Souza / Shutterstock

Rue Sainte-Catherine is Quebec’s main shopping boulevard. This street is packed to the gills with fashion and accessories-focused stores of every kind and major shopping malls.

At nine miles long, it’s one of North America’s largest contiguous shopping districts, and you’ll never run out of stores to browse and explore in this part of town.

From Saint-Laurent Boulevard West, you’ll find the most large-scale shopping opportunities. Alternatively, you’ll find smaller boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, and theaters eastbound from there. If you love shopping, you could easily spend your entire Montreal trip wandering along Rue Saint-Catherine if that’s how you spend your time.

Many visitors choose to stay in the downtown area of Montreal near Rue Sainte-Catherine. There are quite a few excellent hotels in this part of town that will give you easy access to all of this area’s great shopping and restaurants.

Le Mount Stephen is a popular choice, as is the Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, the Ritz Carlton Montreal, and the Hotel Le Germain Montreal; all four are close to everything and offer luxury accommodations experiences.

If you prefer staying in vacation rentals, there are plenty of those downtown, too, like this Two Bedroom Apartment with Courtyard View for a well-rated and reasonably priced example.

17. Visit the Christmas Markets

Snow globes sold at a Christmas market in Montreal
tako_kr / Shutterstock

Although Montreal isn’t truly a European city, it emulates one in many ways, and one of the most recognizable ways it does so is through its Christmas markets. The tradition of the Christmas market is not a common one in North America, but in Montreal, it is oh-so-welcome and quaint. Shopping or browsing at these markets is something you must do in Montreal around Christmastime.

There are many artisans and craftspeople in Montreal, and the Montreal Christmas markets are the perfect place to check out what they offer. Each market has its style and personality, so you might a swell visit several if you can. Some are more craft-focused; others offer more edible sweets and treats.

There are dozens of markets to consider, all with different dates each year, so you’ll have to research to see what’s available and happening during your visit.

Still, some of the most popular include holiday events at Atwater and Jean-Talon markets, the Salon des Métiers d’Arts craft fair, and the Montreal Christmas Village, for starters. There are so many great things to browse and buy at these markets you’d be wise to set a budget before diving in.

Christmas Markets in Europe to Visit

18. Explore the Old Port of Montreal

Aerial view of old port of Montreal in Canada
Montreal Firefighter / Adobe Stock

The Old Port of Montreal is located in Old Montreal. It stretches a little over a mile along the Saint Lawrence River and historians tell us that fur trappers used it as a trading post as far back as 1611.

The Old Port of Montreal served as Montreal’s primary port until 1976, when it became too small for modern ships. At that time, port activities were moved across town to the present Port of Montreal, now to the south on a wider part of the Saint Lawrence River instead.

This port area was redeveloped in the 1990s; today, over six million people visit it yearly. Today, it’s a great place to stroll, bike, or rollerblade along the river, visit the urban beach installed in 2012, and spend some relaxing quality time outdoors with your travel companions.

Old Montreal and the Old Port area are great places to stay while visiting Montreal. Quite a few vacation rentals in this part of town are affordable or interesting, or both.

This sleek modern apartment, for example, sleeps two, offers breathtaking views, and is priced low for two. Or, you could stay on the water in this 4,500 square foot boat with up to twenty guests in thirteen bedrooms!

19. Explore Mount Royal Park

A quiet boardwalk path through the woods at sunrise in Mont Royal Park Montreal
Hossain Siddiqui / Adobe Stock

Address: 1260 Remembrance Road, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3H 1A2

Mount Royal is a mountain in the middle of the city, just west of downtown Montreal. Most historians believe that the city was named for it, as the French word for mountain is montagne, and the French word for royal is royale; slide them together, and you have a word that sounds like Montreal.

The area around this three-peaked mountain is Mount Royal Park, which was originally designed by the father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. With many alterations to his original design, the park was officially opened in 1876.

Today, this part consists of forested areas, open spaces, a small artificial lake, a snow tube and sledding hill, a sculpture garden, and an interpretive center. It covers 692 acres and has extensive cross-country skiing and hiking trails to explore throughout the park.

This is a lovely place to spend a morning or afternoon at any time of the year, and you’ll quickly see why this park is so popular among Montreal locals.

See Related: National Parks in the USA to Visit

20. Stroll in Le Plateau Mont-Royal

Colorful Victorian houses in Le plateau Mont Royal borough in Montreal, Quebec
Delphotostock / Adobe Stock

Adjacent to Mount Royal Park is Le Plateau Mont-Royal, a large neighborhood located on the plateau on the eastern side of the mountain. It overlooks downtown and is densely populated with about 100,000 residents.

Like the Mile End neighborhood described above, this neighborhood has always been known as a center of the arts, with many artists, musicians, creative organizations, and writers living and working there. There are also a number of artistic institutions in this neighborhood, including the National Theatre School of Canada, the Quebec Conservatory of Music in Montreal, Les Grand Ballets Canadiens, and others.

Le Plateau Mont-Royal is a very nice area for simply walking around and taking it all in. It will give you the opportunity to feel like a local, if only for a little while.

Because many French immigrants lived here at the beginning of this century, it’s been nicknamed Little Paris by some. You’ll love this lively and inviting neighborhood if you’re looking for free things to do in Montreal.

21. Parc Jean-Drapeau

Aerial view of Montreal Biosphere environment museum at Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal
R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock.com

Parc Jean-Drapeau is one of Montreal’s largest parks. It’s interesting because it comprises two islands in the St. Lawrence River near Old Montreal.

One of the islands, Saint Helen’s Island, is natural; the other, Notre Dame Island, is artificial. These two islands were the site of the 1967 World’s Fair, and many of the structures built for that exposition still stand.

There are quite a few attractions in this park’s 520 acres, including the La Ronde Amusement Park, the Montreal Casino, an environmental museum called the Montreal Biosphere (not to be confused with the Montreal Biodome), the Victorian-era Saint Helen’s Island Fort, and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a Formula One race track.

It’s also the site of Montreal’s largest outdoor concert venue, which hosts large-scale performances during the summer months. In addition to the attractions mentioned earlier, Parc Jean-Drapeau has bike paths, hiking trails, athletic fields, and picnic areas for residents and visitors to enjoy.

This park has a little bit of everything, so it’s popular with everyone. You’ll like it, too.

See Related: Best Girls Trip Destinations Around the World

22. Ice Fishing at the Ice Fishing Village

Aerial view of the Montreal Ice Fishing Village in Old Port Montreal in winter
Firefighter Montreal / Adobe Stock

If you’re in Montreal in winter, why not try ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River? The Ice Fishing Centre in the Old Port is the perfect learning place.

You can rent a two, three, or four to six-person tent for a five-hour block, and equipment is available for rent, too. Adults will need a Quebec fishing license; kids won’t need one.

You don’t have to worry about falling through the ice. At the peak of the winter, the ice is ten feet thick here. Your tent rental includes hole drilling, so don’t worry about that.

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some pike, perch, or walleye to take home for dinner. Ice fishing in Montreal’s ice fishing village is a unique experience that the whole family will enjoy.

23. Try a Montreal Food Tour

Montreal foods on a cutting board shown as part of a food tour of the city
Secret Food tours / Viator

Montreal has an incredible food scene, and many people who visit don’t even realize it. However, if you’re a foodie, you’re going to want to take full advantage of this fact and you’re going to want to try as many of the tasty things that this city has to offer as possible.

The food in Montreal is French, but with a North American twist, which makes it unique. You’ll also find that the food prices, even at high-end restaurants, are often much more affordable than in cities in the United States of comparable size.

After you’ve visited Atwater and Jean-Talon Markets, described above, to get a feel for the foods popular with Montreal locals, one of the best ways to take things a step further and deeper is to take a city food tour. This Montreal Walking Tasting Tour with Secret Food Tours is a top option; it often sells out, so be sure to book ahead of time! Other options include this Mile End Montreal Food Tour and the Jewish Neighborhood Food Tour. Heck, why not try them all?

24. Check Out Montreal’s Wine Scene

Two glasses of wine on a table near a window in Montreal
oltrelautostrada / Adobe Stock

In recent years, Montreal’s wine scene has caught up with its food scene, and today you can find and enjoy excellent wines from all over the world in many of Montreal’s restaurants.

Natural wines, rare wines, and offbeat wines are all popular ways to accompany meals in this city, and you can taste some of the best wines in the world in Montreal if you know where to go.

In addition to restaurants with great wine lists, there are also several wine bars – like Cul-Sec, Pullman, and Vin Papillon – that are worth checking out, too. And yes, if you’re more interested in beer than wine, worry not; Montreal has plenty of that too!

25. Compare Montreal Bagels

Variety of fresh Montreal style bagels close up
Elenathewise / AdobeStock

You might not know this, but Montreal has its kind of bagels, which’re unlike New York bagels. They’re smaller, thinner, sweeter, and denser than their well-known cousin, and they’re baked in a wood-fired oven instead of being boiled. Furthermore, Montrealers don’t put cream cheese on them – they eat them plain – although you certainly can if you’d like.

There are a number of bagel shops in Montreal and it might be fun to try a few. Most locals like St-Viateur Bagel best, but Fairmount Bagel, Le Trou, Brossard Bagel, and Bagels on Greene are also quite good, and there are many others for you to try around the city, too.

Want to take your bagel experience a step further? This Montreal Bagel Making Workshop will teach you how to make Montreal-style bagels from scratch and will be a fun and memorable adventure.

FAQ

When is the best time of year to visit Montreal?

Montreal is an excellent destination at any time of the year. Most visitors choose to visit this city in the spring, summer, or fall to enjoy warm temperatures, but winter is also a great time to visit. Thanks to the Underground City and the fact that there are many things to do indoors in Montreal, you’ll have a great time no matter when you decide to go.

Will I need to rent a car to experience Montreal fully?

It’s probably wise not to rent a car for your visit to Montreal! This city is hard to navigate by car, and finding parking can be challenging. Montreal has a fantastic public transportation system. You can get anywhere you wish to go between the metro and the bus system.

You can buy tickets for single rides or multi-use passes, including day and weekend passes that are quite affordable. Public transportation in Montreal is clean, safe, reliable, and vast, and you’d be wise to use it to your advantage during your visit.

What are some events worth checking out in Montreal?

There’s always something happening in Montreal! This town loves events and celebrations. If you’re interested in music, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is not to be missed; it happens every July.

The Montreal Fireworks Festival is another popular summer event that’s been happening since 1985. Art lovers will enjoy the Montreal Mural Festival in June, and foodies will have a blast on the first Friday of each month from May to October at First Fridays at Olympic Stadium, a gathering of over forty food trucks each month.

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