The vibrant city of Montreal is a fun and diverse destination. Among the largest French-speaking cities in the world, its rich history has resulted in lots of wonderful attractions you absolutely cannot miss. Though Montreal is an incredibly historic place, it also hums a modern tune with its world-class design, technology community, music festivals, and vibrant nightlife. From dynamic festivals to delicious food, there are lots of amazing things to do in Montreal Canada. The beauty of this place is that every time you visit you get a completely different experience and a desire to come back for more. Read on to learn more about this amazing destination which always gives a few surprises along the way!

Short History Of Montreal

Montreal, the second largest city in Canada was incorporated as a city in the year 1832. It is located in the southwestern province of Quebec. In honor of the Virgin Mary, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded Montréal under the name “Ville-Marie”. The name Montreal was first referred to the mountain, then to the island, and over the years the city itself happened to be called Montreal. It began as a missionary settlement, soon became a fur-trading center, and then the largest metropolitan center until it was overtaken by Toronto in the 1970s. 

Best Of Montreal Attractions That You Just Cannot Miss

The below-mentioned attractions are a round-up of Montreal musts to add to your to-do list irrespective of whether you’re a tourist or a local. Here’s a list of what not to miss in Montreal.

Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal)

Original French Colonial City

Old Montreal encompassed the original French colonial city. It has some of the oldest areas of Montreal and is full of cobblestoned streets. Everything about this place is different, even the sound in Old Montreal can’t be heard anywhere else in the city. This distinctive sound comes from the clatter of horseshoes of horse-drawn carriages on cobblestone streets. This charming historic neighborhood with European influence has 17th-century buildings, shops, galleries, cafes, and Montreal’s best restaurants. There are some stunning 15th-century churches and chapels that need to be seen. Don’t miss Place Jaques-Cartier, a popular public square that is surrounded by historic buildings and gardens.

Château Ramezay

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The Château Ramezay is a museum and historic building on Notre-Dame Street in Old Montreal, opposite Montreal City Hall in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

For a history buff, a visit to the Chateau Ramezay is a must. This 18th-century building was the first building in Quebec to be classified as a historic monument. Located in Old Montreal, the Château Ramezay was once the residence of a governor of New France. It is now the oldest private history museum in the region and has fascinating exhibits covering five centuries of history. Walking through this museum takes one through multiple exhibits and stories of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin. Another interesting thing about this museum is that all staffers dress up in period-appropriate clothing. Interesting right? After you have finished exploring the inside, step outside to explore the beautiful French Colonial-style garden. 

Notre-Dame Basilica Of Montreal (Basilique Notre-Dame De Montréal)

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Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica is one of the crown jewels in Quebec’s rich religious heritage

Located in Old Montreal is the historic Notre-Dame Basilica which is a must-see spot while in Montreal. The original church on this site was built between 1672 and 1683, however, the current church was opened in 1829. Built-in the impressive Gothic Revival style, it is incredibly ornate and impressive. It is one of the most dramatic Churches on the planet because of its intricate and resplendent interior which was designed by Victor Bourgeau. The stained glass windows tell the tale of Montreal’s religious history making one feel like stepping into an 18th-century Montreal. Make sure to book an audio guide that gives more historical information. Be prepared to be amazed by the glory and magnificence of this restored basilica from the 19th century.

Pointe-À-Callière Museum Of Archaeology And History

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This place gives information about the important periods in Montreal’s history.

The word Pointe-à-Callière Museum translates to the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History in English. This is the place where one can get more information about the important periods in Montreal’s history. Established in 1992 on the very site where the city of Montreal was founded, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum celebrates centuries of history in the area, from the indigenous people to the present. It has both wonderful permanent exhibitions as well as many exciting temporary shows. This museum is home to the largest archaeological collection in the country. Its beautiful designs and architecture work inside make each display piece look picture-perfect. If you have a flair for old things, I suggest you visit the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique Montréal)

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Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the best botanical gardens in the world.

Covering an area of 190 acres, the Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the best botanical gardens in the world. It was opened in 1931 and has numerous green spaces and greenhouses that have over 22,000 species of plants. You can also visit the many themed gardens such as the First Nations Garden, the Alpine Garden, and the Japanese and Chinese gardens. Generally, June is the best time to visit the gardens, later in summer and the fall season is also a good time to visit. The Botanical Garden of Montreal has such amazing biodiversity that it is recognized as a National Historic Site. If you want to get lost amidst nature, this botanical garden is one of the best tourist places in Montreal Canada.

Lachine Canal (Lieu historique national du Canal-de-Lachine)

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Montreal Skyline in winter 2016 from Lachine Canal.

Running between the Old Port and Lale Saint-Louis, this waterway is located in the southwest of Montreal. The 14.5-kilometer Lachine Canal was dug in 1825 to get around the Lachine Rapids, however nowadays it forms part of a park that offers plenty of opportunities for trips along the canal banks. You can also rent a kayak or pedal boat to explore the canal or walk or go biking along the canal, especially around sunset, taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. One can have fun both on land and in the water. This well-known and popular tourist hotspot guarantees unlimited fun experiences, no matter whom you’re traveling with. A lot of other fun activities like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and motor boating are available right by the water.

The Street Art

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Creative graffiti street art murals

Montreal is full of vibrant neighborhoods that feature colorful street art splashed across the buildings. Streets such as Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rue Duluth, and Rue Saint-Denis, in particular, are known for their murals by professional graffiti artists. You can even explore this art through a Google Gallery. More art is added to the streets of Montreal during the annual festival called Mural Fest. One can take in the colorful street art around the city during this time as street art is at its best during the festival. This is one of the top things that you can do for free in this amazing destination.

Underground City (La Ville Souterraine)

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Underground city in Quebec region with restaurants and bakeries and people walking

Take a tour of the Underground City which is located right under the streets of Montreal. Though it isn’t just underground, Montreal’s Underground City is a network of shops, restaurants, museums, schools, hotels, and more all linked by over 20 miles of metro stations and tunnels. Around 500,000 people use it every day as this underground network connects to pretty much all the places in downtown Montreal. It is an excellent solution to Montreal’s often brutal sub-zero winters. From amenities to entertainment, this single biggest pedestrian complex in the world has all that you’re looking for.

Mount Royal Park (Parc du Mont-Royal)

tourist places in montreal canada
People enjoy a warm autumn day in the Mont Royal Park

Located in the heart of Montreal, this park is a symbol of this city’s culture and heritage. The historic Mount Royal Park was founded in 1876 and is one of the city’s largest green spaces. Covering an area of 200 hectares, it also encompasses Mount Royal, the mountain that is the highest point on the island of Montreal (at 764 feet) that has stunning views of the city’s skyline. Mount Royal Park attracts a lot of visitors year-round for its one of the best free tourist attractions here. Be it summer or winter, there are quite a few activities lined up: in winter, enjoy activities like snowshoeing, snow tubing, ice skating, and skiing. In summer, you can try your hand at biking, canoeing, hiking, or watching the many live performances.

St. Joseph’s Oratory (Oratoire Saint-Joseph)

what not to miss in montreal
St. Josephs Oratory in Winter

Located on the western side of Mount Royal is St. Joseph’s Oratory, a minor basilica dedicated to Canada’s patron saint. It dates back to the 1920s, and is the largest church in Canada. Its Renaissance-style dome is also said to be one of the largest domes in the world. It is a mecca for pilgrims who come here from all over the world to pray for their deceased loved ones or for their own healing. Brother Andre, who founded the oratory is believed to have healed countless people. There is a wall full of crutches and canes from the people who were healed by him. In 1982 he was canonized for performing miraculous acts of healing. The inside of the basilica is decorated with intricately carved murals and around 10,000 candles, which is the most beautiful of them all. 

The Many Festivals

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Les FrancoFolies de Montreal

Montreal is also a city that is famous for its many festivals celebrating everything from art and literature to cinema, dance, and food. There’s almost always something fun and exciting happening here, especially in the Quartier des Spectacles. Some of the most popular events include the Montreal International Jazz Festival which is held between June and July and the summer Just for Laughs comedy festival. Igloo Fest, a winter electronic music festival, is held in January and February, as is the Fête des Neiges (snow festival). Tam-Tams, running since 1974 is a beloved free summer festival that happens at the foot of Mont Royal every Sunday. Picnik Electronik is another music festival that happens every Sunday in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The electronic beats, dancing, drinks, and food truck adds to the festivities. Then there is the annual Mural Fest that adds more art to Montreal’s streets every year. 

The Food Tour

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Food tours are another way to try the diverse culinary scene that’s all over the city. Take advantage of the fantastic foodie scene here to treat your taste buds, either on your own or through a food tour. I assure you that you’ll never have a bad meal in Montreal. Montreal has more restaurants than almost any other city in North America and is known for its amazing range of food. The city is particularly known for its poutine, a Canadian classic, as well as its smoked meat sandwiches (found at Schwartz’s Deli), and its unique bagels (try them at either St Viateur or Fairmont). Montreal also has a wide variety of food trucks and many exciting food festivals, such as Burger Week, and La Fête des Restos.

Also Read: 13 Delightful Canadian Dishes You Have To Try In Canada

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal)

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Sherbrooke Street West with the Facade of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

One of the most prestigious museums in the city, the Museum of Fine Arts was opened in the 1860s by a group of local collectors. It is definitely one of the best cultural centers in the country and the eighth most visited museum in North America. The museum boasts five multi-story pavilions which have galleries, painting halls, and showcase rooms. It now has over 41,000 artifacts divided into five sections. These include paintings, sculptures, photographs, and decorative objects that date all the way back to antiquity. When your legs start to hurt, relax and recharge at the museum’s on-site restaurant. A gift shop and a bookstore are also located here.

Montreal Biodome (Biodôme de Montréal)

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Montreal, Canada – August 23, 2013: Montreal Olympic Stadium at dusk

The Biodome is one of Montreal’s premier attractions as this is the only place you can discover all five of America’s ecosystems under one roof. Part of the vast multi-purpose complex built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Biodome is home to five distinct ecosystems – the tropical rainforest, the Laurentian maple forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and its marine life, the Arctic world of the Labrador coast and the sub-Antarctic islands. You can see over 4,500 animals from around the world as well as 50 plant species. The Montreal Biodome is also part of a natural science museum complex (Space for Life) that also includes the city’s Botanical Garden, the Montreal Insectarium, and the Planetarium. Since its inception, Montreal Biodome has been focusing on ecosystems and the interrelationships between animals, plants, and their habitat. Its main aim is to raise public awareness about environmental issues.

Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal (Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal)

Art museum
Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal.

The Contemporary Art Museum of Montreal displays some of the best contemporary art from around the world. Here you’ll find some of the best examples of international and local contemporary art. Opened in 1964, it houses a range of paintings, installations, sculptures, and more. Though it’s a small museum, it is worth a visit, especially as French-Canadian artists are accorded special prominence. It also organizes a series of performances and events. If you’re the one interested in contemporary art, then this is the place for you.

The Markets

Must visit market
vendor in Atwater Market Montreal

Montreal is also home to a lot of lively public markets with vendors offering all kinds of goods as well as local Quebec specialties. One of the oldest is the Jean-Talon Market (Marché Jean-Talon), which is also one of the largest in North America, with over 300 stalls. Located right in the middle of a bigger business district, this market is always bustling with the activities of hundreds of visitors and vendors. You can pick souvenirs, bags, craft items, paintings, and jewelry to take back as gifts for your loved ones. You can also visit the Atwater Market (Marché Atwater) and Maisonneuve Market (Marché Maisonneuve) which is known for its flower and cheese shops. Head straight to these vibrant and bustling markets for Montreal definitely has a thing for fresh markets.

Parc Jean Drapeau

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Beautiful green park

The large Parc Jean Drapeau, located about five minutes from downtown Montreal is made up of two islands, Île Sainte-Hélène, and Île Notre-Dame. It is known for its many green spaces, hiking and skiing trails, bike paths, and gardens. The park also has Montreal’s largest outdoor concert venue, a casino, a race track, and a beach. To add to this, there are three heated outdoor pools, La Ronde amusement park, two museums, and Le Casino de Montréal, plus fun-filled activities and events for people of all ages. This is where the Canadian Grand Prix as well as some of the city’s most popular festivals take place. This green oasis is a heaven for people in love with nature and sports.

La Ronde Amusement Park

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La Ronde Amusement Park, Montreal

Located on Ile Sainte-Hélène, La Ronde is one of the largest amusement parks in Canada Initially constructed for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition. It has a mix of old-fashioned rides with fresh new carnival games. This intriguing blend makes it interesting for both parents and kids. Eye-catching old rides like, wooden roller coasters, and hand-painted carousels, and modern rides like kamikazes, slingshots, star flyers, and tilt-a-whirls are here for all to enjoy. It is open from mid-May until late October. The park is now run by Six Flags, an American amusement park corporation.

Essential Montreal Travel Tips For A Smooth Vacation

Do keep these essential travel tips in mind while planning a vacation to this Canadian metropolis:

Choose The Right Traveling Season – Although the Montreal weather is ideal for visiting all year round, it’s always best to understand the climate of Montreal and choose the season that suits you best. Spring season is cool with all the gardens and parks turning to a beautiful green. In summer temperatures are often around 21 degrees Celsius. During winter, the temperature drops to as low as -10 degrees Celsius. Summer is the season that witnesses a large number of tourists as it is the beginning of the festival season. Your experience varies depending on the season you choose.

Prepare For Winter Travel – Brave souls who love to travel in winter must make sure to pack the warmest of clothes as winters are quite severe here. You need to pack a lot of warm clothing, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and sweatshirts. The temperature is expected to fall below freezing point, so pack a snow jacket, scarves, gloves, and an umbrella. Come prepared to experience the many winter sports activities and winter festivals here.

Have Knowledge of Basic Traffic Rules – If you are planning to drive, then have some basic knowledge of the traffic rules to save yourself from hefty fines. Driving can also be a challenge with many pedestrians and cyclists on the road in summer and snowy roads in the winter. 

Learn Some French Words – Although Montrealers are both English and French-speaking people, it’s always good to know a few French words for greeting and thanking. The locals are usually warmer and friendlier if visitors make an effort to speak in French.

Apply For Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) – The most important of them all is to apply for ETA. Montreal no longer asks for a visa, so this process has to be completed before your travel date. A valid ETA allows you to travel to Canada for short stays, normally up to six months.

Get Yourself An Passeport MTL – Montreal city pass gives you access to 28 of the city’s most popular attractions like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Biodome, and the Botanical Gardens for an affordable price. You can also leverage the unlimited use of public transport with this pass.

Take Advantage of 5-to-7 Deals – If you are planning a budget trip to Montreal, keep your eyes open for 5-a-7 or cinq-a-sept deals in front of bars, restaurants, and pubs. It’s a sign of Happy Hours where there will be heavy discounts on alcoholic beverages and food. 

Download The Eventbrite App – the Eventbrite app allows you to search and buy tickets to a variety of events. From concerts to comedy shows, art exhibitions to food festivals, you can book them all here. It also gives you a curated list of events and things to do in Montreal Canada.

Enjoy Some Free Events – This city has a lot of free events and open-air festivals throughout the year. Montreal being an expensive city, it is wise to leverage the free events. Enjoy the International Jazz Festival or Just for Laughs, fireworks of the International Fireworks Competition, and more for free.

Hop On To The 747 Bus – The 747 bus connects the airport to downtown Montreal in just 40 minutes. This ride can save a lot of your money. It runs 24/7, 365 days a year including late at night. It’s available at a frequency of every 10 minutes or less during the day and every hour at night.

Also Read: 15 Of The Top Things To Do In Quebec City Canada

You can expect everything except boring from this classic modern city. Apart from the above listed, there are lots of other amazing things to do in Montreal Canada. So, if we’ve missed any, be sure to share them in the comments below.

What is the best month to visit Montreal?

The best months to visit Montreal are from March to May and again from September to November.

How many days do you need to see Montreal?

2 to 3 days is enough to tick off most things from your Montreal bucket list.

What is the main shopping street in Montreal?

Catherine or Sainte. Catherine Street is one of the largest groups of retail shops with more than 1,200 merchants’ stores.

What is Montreal famous for?

Montreal is a place where culture is more important than commerce. It is famous for its many festivals and vibrant nightlife.

What dish is Montreal famous for?

Foie Gras Poutine at Au Pied de Cochon is the city’s most iconic dish.

How many museums does Montreal have?

Montreal has over 30 museums filled with treasures from the old masters to contemporary art.

Where to Stay in Montreal for Sightseeing?

Old Montreal or Downtown are the best two places to stay in Montreal.

Is Montreal worth visiting?

With its unique melting pot of cultures and vibrant arts scenes, Montreal is definitely worth visiting


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