As the namesake of the city, it’d be rude not to go up Mont-Royal on a visit to the city. What was once a part of an ancient volcano complex, this mini-mountain is located on the west side of Downtown Montreal. Walk up this natural landmark for unparalleled views of the city. Pro tip: this is best to do first thing in the morning to watch sun slowly make its way over the nearby skyscrapers. If you’re keen to make the most of the great outdoors, spend a few hours exploring its many walking tracks and parkland. If you just want to make the most of a beautiful day, take some food with you and enjoy a lakeside picnic in Mont Royal Park.
Walk on St Paul Street
As soon as you turn the corner onto Rue Saint-Paul, you’ll feel like you’ve left Canada and walked into Europe. As the oldest street in one of North America’s oldest cities, St Paul Street is the heart and soul of Old-Montreal. Follow your feet along this cobblestone street to discover tonnes of restaurants, bars and galleries that line it. Take some time to explore the Marché Bonsecours, the boutique market located inside an iconic neoclassical domed building. Grab a plate of poutine at one of St-Paul’s many eateries, or order a café au lait and people watch at an outdoor table. Soak up the European atmosphere at the fabulous Rue Saint-Paul.
Visit one of the local markets
Speaking of European atmosphere, is there anything more French than buying your groceries fresh at the markets every day? Do as the locals do and visit one of the local farmers' markets. Our pick for the best ones in the city? Jean-Talon and Atwater. Located in the Little Italy District, the Jean-Talon market is the bigger of the two. Bursting with life and colour, this is the place to come if you’re looking for a variety of fresh flowers and produce. While Atwater is a little smaller, its charming architecture – complete with 1930s Art Deco-style tower – is worth the visit.
Learn more about animal life at Biodome
If you love animals and are fascinated by nature, you’ve got to visit the Montreal Biodome. Located at Montreal’s Olympic Park, this former velodrome of the 1976 Olympic Games has been converted into one of the coolest museums in Montreal. Featuring massive replicas of the different ecosystems of the Americas, learn more about the natural world as you walk through it. Also home to a Planetarium and Insectarium, learn about astronomy and biology in these immersive exhibitions. While it’s easy to spend an entire day exploring this place, remember to check out the Biodome’s Jardin Botanique. This incredible botanical garden is considered one of the best in the world and makes for a great selfie backdrop.
Stroll in Plateau Mont-Royal
Hands-down the most photogenic neighbourhood in Montreal, stroll down the picturesque streets of Plateau Mont-Royal. Something like the Canadian equivalent of Brooklyn – but a little more high-end – its charming streets are dotted with amazing places to eat and drink. From foie gras poutine to a smoked meat sandwich, you’ll find the best of the city’s culinary scene in this quarter. If you’re a fan of art and architecture, strolling down this street will give you life. With its rows of charming terraces and Parisian-inspired building, you’ll find yourself snapping every street corner. Also, keep your eyes peeled for some incredible murals, as the city’s best graffiti artists often use the blank walls of Plateau Mont-Royal as canvases. We’re not complaining.
Things to do in Montreal
Music & Arts
A three-day music festival held in the picturesque Parc Jean-Drapeau on Ile Ste-Hélène, Osheaga is one of the highlights of Montreal’s summer music festivals. Check out the best in rock, pop, hip-hop and indie music on the first weekend of August this year.
Music & Culture
One of the most innovative festivals in Canada, MUTEK is a unique blend of music, technology and the creative arts. With over 150 multi-sensory events and adventures are scheduled over a five-day period, MUTEK showcases artists and innovators at the forefront of electronic music, digital creativity and technology. You can catch MUTEK in August this year at the Quartier des Spectacles.
An annual celebration for Montreal’s LGBTQI community, Montreal Pride is a massive 11-day event held at different locations all over the city. While the highlight of this event is the Pride Parade, the program also includes conferences and seminars, a sports tournament, large free outdoor concerts each night, a food fair on Sainte-Catherine Street and a “grandiose” Community Day.
Said to be the coldest music festival in the world, Igloofest is an outdoor music festival that happens smack bag in the middle of Canadian winter. Held at Montreal’s Old Port and happening over a two-week period, thousands of party-goers come in their ski gear and onesies for their chance to take out the festival’s ‘one-piece’ contest.
Les FrancoFolies de Montréal
A nod to Montreal’s French origins, Les FrancoFolies de Montréal is a massive French music festival that attracts half a million visitors each year. Featuring more than 1000 French language musicians and performers from around the world, catch this festival in downtown Montreal in mid-August.
Top 5 Festivals in Montreal
A mix of the best of the Montreal nightlife and cultural sensibilities, this city is pumping year-round with a variety of events and festivals. From electronic beats to French folk songs, here are our picks for the top five festivals to catch in Montreal.
Even if you’re not super-into science, you’ll geek out at the Montreal Biodome. Located at the city’s Olympic Park, this former velodrome of the 1976 Olympic Games has been converted into one of the coolest museums in Montreal. Walk through replicas of the four different ecosystems of the Americas in this amazing facility.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Founded by a group of local art collectors and patrons in 1860, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is now considered one of the city’s most prestigious galleries. With a collection of over 41,000 artworks spanning the breadth of history, discover some of the famous paintings, sculptures and decorative art pieces at this beautiful museum.
If you want to learn more about Canadian history, this is the place to go. With an emphasis on celebrating the history, people and communities of Montreal, the McCord Museum has an extensive collection of objects and artefacts. Featuring costume and textile pieces, fine art pieces and decorative artworks, uncover the story of Montreal at McCord Museum.
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
Situated in the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d'art contemporain (MAC) is a cornerstone of cultural life in Montreal. Since its establishment in 1964, this contemporary art museum has been exhibiting some of the best contemporary art from Canada and around the globe. Check out its extensive collection of works, including immersive installations and digital and sound pieces.
Built on important archaeological sites of the region’s indigenous people, Pointe-à-Callière Museum is the most-visited museum in Montreal. Telling the story of the city of Montreal, this archaeology museum features multimedia shows and exhibits on local and international topics, including the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
Top 5 Museums & Galleries in Montreal
From fine art to human history, there’s so much to discover about Montreal. Dig up as much history and culture as you can at some of the best Montreal museums. Here are our picks for five of our favourites.
If there’s one thing you’ve got to eat in Montreal, it’s poutine. One of the best things to come out of Quebec, this dish sees fries and covered in gravy and cheese curds. Hot tip for those who came to party: poutine is the ultimate hangover food. You’re welcome.
Best eaten at 1365 Ontario St E, Montreal, QC H2L 1S1
Smoked meat sandwich
When it comes to smoked meat, no one does it better than Montreal. This kosher-style deli meat is made by spicing, salting and curing beef brisket. Once it’s aged to perfection, thick slabs of this special meat are piled onto rye and slathered with yellow mustard. Delicious.
Best eaten at Lester’s Deli, 1057 Bernard Ave, Outremont, QC H2V 1V1
Nothing is more North American than a bagel. Hands-down the best way to start your day, head over to Fairmount for the ultimate Montreal bagel. Hand-formed, rolled, bathed in honey water and baked in a woodfire oven, you’ll be coming back here for breakfast every day.
Best eaten at Fairmount, 1127 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC H2J 1X9
This French-Canadian city does hotdogs a little differently to the rest of North America: instead of frying them, Montreal steams them. Topped with mustard, relish, onions and sauerkraut, the steamé is an ode to the city’s European origins.
Best eaten at Chez Ma Tante, 3180 Rue Fleury E, Montreal, QC
What is actually the Quebecois version of a Shepherd’s Pie, the name pays homage to the Chinese cooks who once fed the Canadian railway workers. Made with ground beef and corn, then topped with mashed potatoes, pick up a plate of this hearty dish at La Binerie Mont-Royal.
Best eaten at La Binerie Mont-Royal, 367 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC H2T 1R1
Food in Montreal
With its blend of European and North American styles, Montreal has the best of both worlds when it comes to food. From its famous poutine to its smoked meat sandwiches, here are five quintessential Montreal foods you need to try.