What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
Montreal is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.
A multicultural centre whose French accent mingles with those of some 80 other ethnic communities, Montreal charms the visitor with its combination of Old-World charm and North American energy.
The downtown centre teems with life at the foot of the mountain, while the city's history is deeply rooted in the old neighborhoods near the river. And you don't need a rental car to discover its charms: Montreal can be easily visited on foot.
Discover Montreal through its 5 most beautiful neighbourhoods.
The historic neighbourhood of Old Montreal, on the edge of the St. Lawrence River just south of the downtown core, used to be surrounded by fortifying walls. This is the site where the city was founded in 1642.
Old Montreal still conserves its European feel, with cobblestone streets, historic buildings, public squares and monuments.
The historic Old Port , one of Old Montreal's most popular attractions, is made up of a series of piers linked by a park-lined boardwalk. The area is vibrant all year round, offering a wide variety of activities, boutiques, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and museums.
A neo-gothic masterpiece, Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica is one of the crown jewels of Quebec's rich religious heritage.
Built between 1824 and 1829, the church is reputed for its grand polychrome interior and the fine craftsmanship of its fittings. Don't miss the 1891 Casavant organ, one of the most outstanding in the Americas.
As of March 2017, visitors can experience the beauty of the Basilica's grandiose architecture in an extraordinary new way with “Aura”, a unique multimedia show combining light and orchestral music created by renowned Montreal studio Moment Factory. The experience takes place in two parts: path of lights revealing the Basilica’s wealth of exquisite works, followed by an immersive multimedia spectacle (23 minutes). Total runtime is approximately 45 minutes.
In high season, showings Monday-Friday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. (schedule differs in low season). We strongly recommend buying your tickets online to be sure of getting in. Visit www.aurabasiliquemontreal.com for more information.
The Basilica is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Rue Saint Paul is the most popular and the most iconic of Old Montreal streets, and the oldest street in Montreal. It was the city's main thoroughfare in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Lined with architecturally stunning 19th century buildings, much of Saint Paul is still paved with cobblestones. Its former warehouses have been transformed into art galleries, restaurants and boutiques.
This famous square is named after Jacques-Cartier, who dropped anchor in the nearby river in 1535.
The heart of Old Montreal, Place Jacques Cartier is alive with street artists, flower stalls and a multitude of restaurants and cafes that now occupy the early 19th century buildings.
The piers of the Old Port offer a wide variety of popular activities, including:
This sightseeing cruise of the St. Lawrence River offers spectacular views of Montreal and its surroundings.
Several departures throughout the day; dinner cruises also available.
Guaranteed departures from Jacques-Cartier Pier from the end of May until early September.
The Montreal Science Centre
This is the perfect place to discover, understand and explore the world of science and technology through fun and educational exhibitions of exceptional quality. You are sure to enjoy the many interactive displays.
The museum features several permanent exhibition halls, a temporary exhibition hall and even an Imax cinema.
Open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Imax cinema opens daily at 10 a.m.
Old Port Zipline
The very first urban zipline circuit in Canada allows you to explore Montreal from a bird’s eye view! Fly over the famous île Bonsecours in Montreal’s Old Port, one the city’s busiest tourist areas, for a thrill like no other!
See website for detailed opening hours for 2023.
If you are looking for an exhilarating adventure, step aboard a Saute-Moutons jet boat for a spectacular ride through the wildest stretches of the Lachine Rapids that will leave you wet and wanting more! Not for the faint of heart!
Daily from May to September, several departures a day.
La Grande Roue
Take a seat in the tallest Ferris wheel in Canada for spectacular panoramic views of Old Montreal, from 60 metres in the air. This unforgettable experience can be enjoyed year-round in the comfort of a climate-controlled gondola that is heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer. A unique activity in a picturesque setting on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. In the evening, colourful lights creating a romantic and festive atmosphere. The site also houses two restaurants: Bistro de la Grande Roue and Café de la Grande Roue.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Downtown Montreal is situated on the southern slope of Mount Royal. The downtown area is home to most of the city's skyscrapers, giving it a more “North American” look than the other neighbourhoods.
The famous Saint Catherine Street , a busy 15-kilometre commercial avenue, is widely considered to be the heart of downtown Montreal.
MARY, QUEEN OF THE WORLD CATHEDRAL
Built in the late 19th century, this unique cathedral is a scale model of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. It even contains a magnificent reproduction of Bernini’s Baldacchino.
Throughout the cathedral, artwork depicts the history of the Catholic Church in Montreal.
Open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Corner of René-Lévesque Ouest and Mansfield.
THE UNDERGROUND CITY
Montreal's "underground city" is a vast underground pedestrian complex comprised of 33 kilometres of tunnels linking shopping malls, office buildings, universities and hotels, situated underneath the downtown area.
It is the largest underground complex in the world and contains almost 12% of all of the businesses in the area.
The underground city can be enjoyed in all kinds of weather, and is easily accessible by public transit, with a number of Metro stations, two commuter train stations and a regional bus terminal.
MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
One of Canada's most prestigious arts institutions, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is also the oldest art museum in the country.
The museum houses collections containing more than 35,000 works from around the world, from Antiquity to today, including a magnificent collection of Inuit and Canadian art.
Exhibitions may vary throughout the year.
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
THE LATIN QUARTIER
The Latin Quarter is found near the intersection of St-Denis and St-Catherine streets (Berri-UQAM Metro Station).
This neighbourhood steeped in culture and learning is home to Théâtre St-Denis, the National Film Board of Canada, the Grande Bibliothèque public library, the Cinémathèque Québécoise, Université du Québec à Montréal and Cégep du Vieux-Montréal. It is a vibrant student district, filled with sidewalk cafes and restaurants and specialty boutiques.
One of Montreal's most popular districts, the Plateau Mont-Royal, takes its name from its location on flat terrain north of the terraces of Rue Sherbrooke and east of Mount Royal. The area's main thoroughfare is Avenue du Mont-Royal .
For years, the Plateau has been known as a "trendy" neighbourhood, and it is also the area of choice for new arrivals from France.
The Plateau Mont-Royal offers a variety of cafés, bookstores and trendy boutiques. It is the perfect place to "hang out", go out for dinner, take a walk or stop for a drink at one of its many bars.
Boulevard Saint-Laurent, between Rue Sherbrooke and Avenue Mont-Royal, is Montreal's geographic meridian, separating East from West. It is commonly known as "The Main".
Saint-Laurent is a trendy street with numerous bars, restaurants and shops. It is also a multicultural hub: a large number of immigrants settled in the area from the beginning of the 19th century, opening their businesses and restaurants on "The Main".
Carré Saint-Louis is a magnificent little park on Rue Saint-Denis, between Sherbrooke and Avenue des Pins.
Victorian style residences line the streets facing the park, where well-off French-Canadian families lived in the 1800s. The square was also a popular location for a number of Quebec poets and artists.
*Sherbrooke Metro station
MOUNT ROYAL PARK
Mount Royal Park is a vast green space in the heart of the city where Montrealers come to enjoy the outdoors. The park is home to a lake (Beaver Lake), many forest trails, two lookouts and a chalet.
The Mountain is one of Montreal's distinguishing features, setting it apart from other major North American cities, an ever-present backdrop to city life.
The Kondiaronk scenic lookout in front of the chalet offers spectacular views of downtown Montreal, with the St. Lawrence River and the hills of Monteregie in the distance.
Every Sunday from May to September, a large, impromptu drum circle known as the "Tam-Tams" takes place around the Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier Monument (Avenue du Parc, between Mont-Royal and Ave. des Pins). This lively event has been a real tradition for Montrealers since the 1970s. People come to play music, dance, have a picnic or just hang out, from around noon until the sun goes down. Arrive early if you want to have a place to sit down.
THE GAY VILLAGE
The Gay Village (known simply as "The Village") is Montreal's gay district, and one of the largest in the world. It is situated close to downtown, just east of the Latin Quarter.
Its clubs and bars are some of the most popular in the city, and partygoers can often dance to the music of some of the finest DJs in the world.
The village is also an important cultural hub with a number of theatres and several television and radio stations.
A memorable and colourful place to visit!
The Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is an architectural jewel, an emblem of Montreal and a National Historic Site of Canada. Located near Mont Royal Park, the grandiose and peaceful site attracts close to 2 million visitors and pilgrims each year. As an added bonus, you will have a superb view of the city. Museum, cafeteria, gift shop, guided tours and parking on site.
Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A popular oasis in the heart of the city, the Jardin botanique de Montréal is recognized as one of the world’s largest and finest botanical gardens. It offers a colourful program of events, exhibitions and activities all year long in addition to its extensive collection of 22,000 plant species and 10 exhibition greenhouses. The Insectarium, on the same site as the Botanical Garden, offers a look into the fascinating universe of insects.
Open Sunday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. with more restricted hours in low season.
The Biodome is home to more than 4,500 animals of more than 200 species and more than 800 plant species. Like the Botanical Garden, it is part of Montreal's Space for Life (Espace Vie). Embark on an immersive sensory journey through the five ecosystems of the Americas and discover the plants and animals that live there. Explore the Tropical Rainforest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Labrador Coast and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. A one-of-a-kind experience!
Open Tuesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Quebec's largest amusement park with many high-adrenaline rides as well as gentler attractions for younger visitors. Numerous shows, entertainment and restaurants on site. Festive atmosphere.
Open from mid-May to the end of October, every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. in high season with more restricted hours in low season.
Situated in Montreal's Southwest borough, close to the Lachine Canal, this public market has been in operation since 1933. It is known for its many butcher shops, cheesemongers, horticultural producers and market gardeners.
Grab a tasty meal and eat it on the banks of the canal (Satay Brothers and Rustique offer interesting take-out options) or rent a bicycle and explore the historic Lachine Canal bike path.
You can also enjoy a cocktail aboard a canal boat-turned-bar afloat in the Lachine Canal! The one-of-a-kind Canal Lounge is moored just steps from the market (22 Atwater Ave.).
The market is open all year round. It opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday-Sunday.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
ST-VIATEUR BAGEL & CAFÉ MONT-ROYAL ($)
Montreal is widely considered to have the best bagels in the world. Each Montreal bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood fired oven. At St-Viateur Bagel & Café, you will get to enjoy the world-famous St-Viateur bagel, hand-made in the finest traditional by one of Montreal's oldest bagel bakeries, in operation since 1957.
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Another Montreal institution, Schwartz's Deli is world-famous for its succulent smoked meat sandwiches.Founded in 1928 by a Jewish immigrant from Romania, the Hebrew deli regularly draws long lineups of customers eager to grab a quick and tasty meal. It's a must-try!
Open Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
LA BANQUISE ($)
You can't visit Quebec without trying our famous “poutine”, a staple across the province since the 1950s. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish generally made of French fries and fresh cheese curds covered in gravy. There are also many variations made with other types of sauce and different garnishes such as meat, vegetables, etc. La Banquise is one of the best poutine restaurants in the province, with over 30 types of poutine to choose from.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
OLIVE + GOURMANDO ($$-$$$)
Olive + Gourmando is said to have the best panini in town. This bakery and sandwich shop uses only the best quality ingredients for its breakfast and lunch menus. In addition to sandwiches, you will find a mouth-watering selection of soups, salads, fresh-baked pastries and specialty coffees.
Open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
AU PIED DE COCHON ($$$)
For a dining experience unlike any you have had, visit Au Pied de Cochon, the wildly popular restaurant of celebrated Quebec chef Martin Picard. People come here to eat good, festive, rich and unusual food in a casual and friendly atmosphere. You will not find a fine dining experience or a stylish décor: this is simply the city's most original restaurant, serving lavish portions of unique dishes such as foie gras poutine and lobster French fries.
Open Wednesday-Sunday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
L'AUBERGE SAINT-GABRIEL ($$$)
Built by a French soldier in 1688, Auberge Saint-Gabriel was the first inn in North America to receive a liquor license, in 1754… One could say that the building is a testimony to the history of a nation! Another interesting fact: two of its three current owners are none other than Garou and Guy Laliberté. The Auberge's restaurant is one of the trendiest spots in Montreal to enjoy fine Quebec dining and tasty market cuisine in an elegant and welcoming atmosphere.
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5 p.m.
CLUB CHASSE ET PÊCHE ($$$)
With a solid reputation in Montreal, Club Chasse et Pêche always lives up to its high standards. You will enjoy unique dishes prepared using the finest ingredients, served in a charming retro-modern decor straight out of a late 19th-century English gentlemen's club.
Open Wennesday-Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
BOUILLON BILK ($$$$)
At Bouillon Bilk, whose specialty is neither soup nor bouillon, you will be served spectacular dishes that are both delicious and beautiful to look at. The menu is short (6 starters, 5 main courses, 6 desserts), but it will transport your taste buds to creative and delightful lands.
Open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 and every evening from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If you are looking for an unforgettable culinary experience, you need to go to Toqué! Chef Normand Laprise and his team will welcome you to their legendary establishment for a gastronomical experience that you won't soon forget. The menu features products from local artisans, carefully prepared with flare and creativity.
Open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. and for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
*** Hours may vary ***
Montreal abounds in good places to taste excellent craft beers. Here are some of our favorite microbreweries in the city:
Where to sleep ?
- Fairmont Reine Élizabeth
- Delta Montreal
- Hôtel le Germain Montréal
- Alt Hotel Montréal
- Hotel Place d'Armes
- Best Western Ville-Marie
- Auberge de la Fontaine
- Hotel 10
- Hotel Saint-Laurent Montreal
- Hyatt Place Montreal Centre-Ville
- Les Suites Labelle
- Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel
- Novotel Montreal Airport
- Hôtel Le Roberval
- Hotel St-Denis
Les Franco de Montréal
Dates: mid-June 2023
This large annual music festival features over 1,000 artists, musicians, renowned singers, rising stars and promising talent from 20 countries in a celebration of the diversity and rhythms of French music from around the world, attracting over half a million visitors each year.
Grand Prix du Canada
Dates: mid-June 2023
The best drivers in the world meet at the demanding Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit to battle out an important stage of the Formula 1 World Championship.
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec
Dates: late June / early August 2023
This renowned fireworks festival was first held in 1985 at La Ronde, Quebec's largest amusement park, built for the 1967 Universal Exposition. The pyromusical arts at their best! Saturdays and Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Dates: Late June / early July 2023
Ranked as the world's largest jazz festival by Guinness World Records since 2004, it is no surprise that the Montreal Jazz fest is able to attract the greats of the jazz world. The lineup is incredible!
Montréal en Arts
Dates: early July 2023
This Montréal festival of contemporary art features over 75 local artists exhibiting and selling their work. There are also participatory activities, activities for children and live performances. St. Catherine Street between St. Hubert and Papineau.
Dates: early August 2023
Osheaga is a popular independent music and arts festival that takes place each year in Jean-Drapeau Park on île Ste-Hélène. 6 stages present shows featuring emerging artists and international headliners.
Just for Laughs Festival Just
Dates: mid-July 2023
Montreal is apparently the funniest city in the world! Come see for yourself at the largest international comedy festival in the world. It features galas, club shows, solo shows, outdoor street performances, parades, as well as film and TV show screenings.
When to visit
- Very Favourable
- Very Favourable