Montreal is a vibrant mega city full of art, culture, architectural masterpieces and good food. The city is well planned and laid out, with a highly efficient public transportation system and a network of bike routes, giving Montreal a more European flavor than the rest of Canada. There’s so much to do here, this article won’t be enough to cover all the magnificent activities and attractions this great city has to offer. So, let’s get started!
1. Head up to Mont Royal
When you’re in Montreal, be sure to include a trip to Mont Royal, the 760-ft. high hill Montreal was named after. Parc du Mont-Royal was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, co-creator of New York’s Central Park. The park offers spectacular views of the entire city, with the Chalet du Mont Royal serving as a wonderful lookout spot. The park is famous for its diverse flora and fauna, and is one of Montreal’s best known and best loved spots.
2. Step back in time and visit Old Montreal
I’m a sucker for all things vintage, and Old Montreal is one fine glimpse into the past. Vieux- Montréal is the site of the original city of Montreal and is a cultural mecca, being the hub and hive of all things artsy. Cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes and horse-drawn carriages will greet you as you set foot in this beautiful part of the city seemingly untouched by time.
Have a drink at one of the many cafes overlooking the river, or enjoy some performance art in the summertime. Most notable is the Hôtel de Ville or the old Town Hall, with its grand architecture and historic past.
3. Say a prayer at Montreal’s grand basilicas
Your Montreal trip wouldn’t be complete without dropping by the Basilique Notre-Dame, one of the city’s most visited attractions. The iconic church is home to a 7,000 pipe organ that’s estimated to be a hundred years old and is located at the rear chapel. It also houses the gigantic 11-ton Jean-Baptiste bell. When you hear those bells toll, better head on inside the church to see the beautiful ornate wood carvings, stained glass windows, centuries old statues and high vaulted ceilings.
There’s also the Basilique-Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary Queen of the World Cathedral), which is a small scale replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Don’t let the word “small scale” fool you, because this church sits proudly right smack in the middle of towering skyscrapers and can hold its own due to the 294 ft. high dome.
4. Experience Nature in the City
If you’re a nature lover or if you want your kids to experience nature up close and personal, go to the Montreal Biodome for a fun nature adventure. The Biodome is split into four ecosystems: a tropical rainforest, a Laurentian forest, a polar environment and the St. Lawrence marine habitat. The most awesome part of this adventure is you get to experience the changes in temperatures as you stroll through the entirety of the Biodome and enter each separate ecosystem. There are monkeys, bats, capybaras, puffins, marine wildlife and penguins!
Located next to the Biodome is the 185-acre Botanical Gardens, which is home to more than 26,000 species of flora thanks to 10 massive greenhouses each tailored to a specific theme, like the tranquil Japanese Zen garden that showcases bonsai trees and the Chinese Garden which features designs from the 14th to 17th century Ming Dynasty. Don’t touch any plants in the popular poisonous plant section though, unless you want a trip to the emergency room.
5. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Being the art and cultural capital of Canada, Montreal is home to a lot of museums. The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal is the city’s most prestigious museum and has been building its collection of fine arts from renowned artists like Picasso, Rembrandt, Cézanne, El Greco and Renoir. The museum is also home to many Canadian and international masterpieces, plus a collection of artifacts from World War I.
As I said, we were bound to run out of real estate when talking about all the amazing things you can do in Montreal. A list like this should be 10x long! Anyway, other places you can go to that are worth mentioning are:
· Plateau – you should spend a day or more here. Go to every shop, every café and talk to everyone!
· Stroll the Underground – There’s a network of underground shops, restaurants and even movie theatres for when winter rolls in. A must see.
· The Food – I have to say, Montreal is a foodies’ paradise. Prepare to gain a few pounds when you visit. Don’t forget to try the smoked meat, the Montreal Bagel and their famous poutine.
· The Beer – There are tons of micro-breweries and if you love beer like the people of Montreal do, be sure to go to a few of them.
· Visit the Markets – A trip to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Atwater market and Jean-Talon market.
There you have it folks! This list is far from complete because there are a whole lot more activities, events and festivals in Montreal you just have to experience for yourself. If you want to be near the action at all times, you can opt to stay in the many hotels or condos in the heart of Montreal, so you don’t ever miss out.