If France and England had a love-child, it would be Montreal, Canada. Multifaceted and colorful, the city also has a hint of America, offering a mishmash of fun and wondrous experiences for it visitors. And, with 18th century buildings blending into its modern skyline, the city is the ultimate representation of the melding of the New and Old Worlds. Like most diverse cities, there’s surely no shortage of fun and exciting things to do in Montreal, Canada. From a booming culinary scene to architecture gems, the attractions in Montreal are plenty and nothing short of amazing.
Need some tips on what to do in Montreal, Canada? Guess what? We’ve highlighted some of the best things to do in Montreal, to help you plan the perfect escapade.
1. Go up the scenic Mount Royal
There’s no better way to kick-start a trip to Montreal than to go up the beloved Mount Royal. Not only is it a beautiful and relaxing walk, but it has no entrance fee as well, making it one of the best free things to do in Montreal. To make things even better, it is home to the Belvedere observatory, a beautiful place where you can savor striking views of the city’s downtown area as well as the mountains on the south bank.
And, with a whopping land area of 692 acres, Mount Royal is truly an expansive park that gives you a taste of nature without leaving the city’s confines. From hiking its forested pathways to cross-country skiing, you’ll love every activity, view and angle in Mount Royal.
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2. Stroll through the Montreal Botanical Gardens
They don’t call Jardin Botanique Montreal as one of the top attractions and things to do in Montreal for nothing. With 10 humongous greenhouses (each designed to a specific theme), the 190-acre botanical haven is home to over 20,000 flora species, and offers a picturesque year-round getaway from Montreal’s downtown core. Spend a couple of hours strolling leisurely through the serene bonsai trees in the place’s Japanese Garden. Alternatively, you may head to the Chinese Garden, which flaunts designs from the Ming Dynasty during the 14th to 17th centuries. And, by the way, did I mention that a visit to the Chinese Garden also lets you discover the yin and yang principles?
3. Explore Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal)
No list of the best things to do in Montreal is complete without the inclusion of Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal). Since it’s the site of the original Montreal city, Vieux-Montreal is truly the hub and epicenter of the city’s culture. And, in spite of Montreal’s rapid urbanization, not a lot has changed in this historic neighborhood. Here, you can still see horse-drawn carriages traversing cobblestone streets and meandering past impressive sites like the Bonsecours Market, Old Port and Hotel de Ville.
Plus, you’ll mingle with locals at lovely sidewalk cafes as you enjoy overlooking views of the river. For shopaholics, a visit to this neighborhood is definitely one of the best things to do in Montreal, Canada. After all, the neighborhood is a trendy shopping area, even with all the kitschy stalls and souvenir shops. And, thanks to its gorgeous architecture, you’ll feel like you’re exploring the streets of a European city at Old Montreal.
4. Swing by Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Are you an art lover who’s on the lookout for fun things to do in Montreal, Canada? Guess what? You’ll definitely want to include a pit stop to this museum to your personal list of things to do in Montreal. For more than a hundred years, the most prestigious museum in Montreal, Canada has been building its remarkable collection of fine works of art.
As you explore the museum, you’ll see a fine blend of majestic international and Canadian works. For sure, art lovers will be swept away by pieces from famous artists like Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, El Greco and Rembrandt. Additionally, the museum’s collection includes World War I artifacts, 18th century English porcelain as well as a handful gorgeous furniture pieces designed by Frank Gehry.
5. Check out the street art at Saint-Laurent
Speaking of artsy things to do in Montreal, don’t forget to take a Saint-Laurent street art tour during your urban vacation. As you walk along the Main’s stretch and its accompanying alleyways, you’ll find plenty of splashy graffiti that will add more color to your Instagram feed.
6. Go on a Montreal food tour
Craving for something tasty in Montreal? For foodies, taking a food tour is an absolute must and a shoo-in on their list of things to do in Montreal, Canada. While their culinary staples are a little greasy, there are tons of tasty goodies to sample in Montreal. And, there’s no shortage of food tours or restaurants in Montreal. Technically, the city has more restaurants per capita than the Big Apple, New York City. For a pleasurable food tour, check out the Mild End Food tour with Local Montreal Food tours.
7. Party like a rock-star in Montreal downtown
With bars closing at 3 in the morning and a legal drinking age of 18, Montreal holds a longstanding reputation for being a vibrant party town. As a matter of fact, partying is often deemed as one of the best and coolest things to do in Montreal, Canada. So, dance the night away hitting the dance floors and bass-pounding joints in Montreal downtown.
8. See Basilique Notre-Dame
Even if you’re not religious, you won’t regret including the Notre-Dame Basilica to your list of places to visit and things to do in Montreal. With its stunning chapel and ornate Gothic facade, it’s a place that will give you the urge to snap hundreds of photographs. Furthermore, you’ll find an amazingly impressive organ inside the basilica.
9. Pay homage to Saint Joseph’s Oratory
Dedicated to the patron saint of Canada, the Saint Joseph’s Oratory is one of the can’t-miss sites and things to do in Montreal. Designed wondrously in an Italian Renaissance style, this oratory is known for its fascinating copper dome that rises 318 feet high. And, once you’ve stepped inside the basilica, you’ll discover spectacular interiors adorned with elaborately carved murals and countless of votive candles that lead to the crypt.
10. Drop by Jean Talon Market
Set in Little Italy, the Jean Talon Market is often billed as one of the city’s finest public markets. And, with over 300 vendors during its peak season, it’s also one of North America’s largest markets. Available year-round, the market lets you browse an array of artisanal bakery goods, cheese, oils, spices, meat, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables and maple products. And, most of the items on the market are regional or local Quebec specialties.
11. Tour the Underground City
Looking for some unique things to do in Montreal? Why not include the “underground city” to your Montreal travel itinerary? Officially named as the RESO, the underground city is a beguiling 30-kilometer network of underground tunnels and paths connecting buildings, subway stations and shopping centers. You can enter the network from 8 different subway stations, 9 major hotels and the street. And, the network will give you access to 17 museums, a movie theater, ice hockey area, and 17 museums. Even better, it lets you explore countless of businesses and restaurants in Montreal, Canada.
12. Go on a shopping spree at Sainte Catherine Street
Wondering where to go in Montreal for great shopping finds? You’ll definitely love Sainte Catherine Street – the shopping capital of Montreal, Canada! Whether you’re looking for simple souvenirs, local boutiques or high-end designers, you’ll find it on this strip. You can walk the street for hours and indulge on a different experience at each corner. Cafes, bars and restaurants line the street, meaning it’s one of the best things to do in Montreal for everyone.
13. Feel the vibrant atmosphere at Place des Festivals
Located in the heart of Montreal, the Place des Festivals is a fun outdoor public square designed to host big crowds and large festivals. The Montreal Jazz Festival, the Just for Laughs comedy festival and a ton of other events in Montreal make use of the large space to host concerts and free shows year-round. Moreover, it is home to Canada’s largest interactive fountain with more than 230 water jets. With its year-round events and attractions, it’s easy to see why they call it as one of the best attractions and things to do in Montreal, Canada.
14. Ride the La Grande Roue de Montreal
Up for some exciting things to do in Montreal, Canada? Fashioned after the similar wheels found in Hong Kong and Chicago, this attraction is lit kaleidoscopically and designed with climate booths that run year-round. With its panoramic views, the 60-meter observation wheel offers a romantic escape for locals and a fun attraction for tourists.
15. Wander around Montreal Biodome
Traveling with your little ones, and searching for fun things to do in Montreal, Canada? The Montreal Biodome is originally the site of judo and cycling events during the Summer Olympics in 1976. Today, the biodome houses a quartet of distinct ecosystems – the Saint Lawrence marine system, a Laurentian forest, a tropical rainforest and a polar environment. Inside Montreal Biodome, you’ll find more than 4,000 animals and 400 plant species from around the world. Along with the Planetarium, Montreal Insectarium and Botanical Garden, it’s part of Canada’s largest natural science museum complex.
16. Sample the craft beers in Montreal, Canada
Locals in Montreal take the art of micro-brewing pretty seriously, so it’s no wonder most of its brewpubs are packed continuously. If you prefer to have an expert tour you around, take a craft guided tour in Montreal. Trust me, it’s certainly one of the must-try things to do in Montreal, Canada for beer aficionados.
17. Spend the entire day at La Ronde
Looking for family-friendly things to do in Montreal, Canada? Open from May to late October, La Ronde is truly a great way to spend a day with the family in Montreal. Built for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, La Ronde offers a wide range of rides and activities for the whole family.
18. Do some sightseeing in Place Jacques-Cartier
Planning on doing some sightseeing in Montreal, Canada? I suggest that you do include the Place Jacques-Square to your itinerary and list of things to do in Montreal. Vibrant and photogenic, the Place Jacques-Cartier is an energetic public square, surrounded by restaurants, gardens and historic architecture. During summertime, the place is a vehicle-free zone, and offers a breathtaking view of the city’s oldest public monuments, Nelson’s Column, and Montreal’s City Hall.
19. Watch Cirque du Soleil
You can’t leave Montreal without watching a live performance from the Montreal-based and legendary circus company known as Cirque de Soleil. From its storytelling and comedy to acrobatics and costumes, the show will absolutely blow your mind, and give you a show for the ages.
20. Visit the Museum of Archaeology and History
One of the best things to do in Montreal, for history buffs, is to explore the Museum of Archaeology and History. While visiting the museum, you’ll discover an archaeological find revealing the foundations of Montreal’s original settlement. You may follow Montreal’s development from its fledging colony era and up to the modern times. In summer, the museum hosts a number of festivals and period fairs.
21. Walk the famed Jacques Cartier Bridge
Don’t forget to include this bridge to your list of must-visit attractions in Montreal. Not only is the bridge an architectural treasure, but it also has the money shot for stunning panoramas of Montreal, Canada.
22. Pay a visit to the Montreal Holocaust Museum
While not as exciting as some of the top things to do in Montreal, it’s still a museum that should be on your itinerary. After all, this museum has a powerful mission to tell the story of the Jewish communities after, during and before the Holocaust. It offers temporary and permanent exhibits alike, featuring objects and testimonies from Holocaust survivors to inform visitors about genocide. The museum is, by far, a moving and humbling experience, especially when you watch the videos and narrations from the survivors.
23. Check out the Barbie Expo
Barbie Expo may be one of the quirky attractions in Montreal, Canada. That is if you’re not a fan of Barbie. Billing itself as the world’s largest permanent collection of Barbie dolls, this whimsical exhibit displays more than a thousand Barbies. Most of the dolls here have been dressed by well-known designers, such as Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Vera Wang, Armani and Christian Dior. There’s even a bizarrely wonderful fashion show, with an audience full of Barbie dolls and of course, Barbie models on the catwalk.
What’s more, there are celebrity-themed Barbies like Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. On top of it all, the expo has Barbies designed beautifully after movie characters, such as the cast of “The Twilight Saga” and “The Wizard of OZ”.
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