When to visit
- Very Favourable
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.
Discover Montreal through its 5 most beautiful neighbourhoods:
1 - OLD MONTREAL
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. Total runtime is approximately 45 minutes.
Showings Tuesday-Thursday at 6 p.m., Friday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. 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., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest / 514-842-2925
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 mid-June 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 four 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.
2 Rue de la Commune Ouest / 514-496-4724
Saute-Moutons Jet Boating
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! Open every day from May to mid-October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2 - DOWNTOWN
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 Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
1085 Rue de la Cathédrale
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 as well as the largest collection of Japanese incense boxes in the world.
It also hosts a number of significant temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest / 514-285-2000
3 - 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.
4 - PLATEAU MONT-ROYAL
One of the most popular districts of Montreal, 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 main thoroughfare is Avenue du Mont-Royal .
In 1997, Utne Reader rated The Plateau one of the 15 "hippest" neighbourhoods in North America; 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
5 - THE LATIN QUARTER AND THE GAY VILLAGE
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 cafes/patios, restaurants and specialty boutiques.
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!
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
1- ST-VIATEUR BAGEL & CAFÉ MONT-ROYAL ($)
Montreal is widely considered to have the best bagels in the world. Each Montreal bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood fired oven. At St-Viateur Bagel & Café, you will get to enjoy the world-famous St-Viateur bagel, hand-made in the finest traditional by one of Montreal's oldest bagel bakeries, in operation since 1957. Daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
1127, Mont-Royal Est / 514-528-6361
2- SCHWARTZ ($)
Another Montreal institution, Schwartz's Deli is world-famous for its smoked meat sandwiches. Its signature dish is a smoked meat sandwich served on rye bread with yellow mustard. Founded in 1928 by a Jewish immigrant from Romania, the Hebrew deli regularly draws long lineups of customers eager to grab a quick and tasty meal. It's a must-try! Open Sunday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
3895, Boul. St-Laurent / 514-842-4813
3- LA BANQUISE ($)
You can't visit Quebec without trying our famous “poutine”, a staple across the province since the 1950s. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish generally made of French fries and fresh cheese curds covered in gravy. There are also many variations made with other types of sauce and different garnishes such as meat, vegetables, etc. La Banquise is one of the best poutine restaurants in Quebec, with over 30 types of poutine to choose from. Open 24/7!
994, Rue Rachel Est / 514-525-2415
4- AU PIED DE COCHON ($$$)
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 midnight.
536, Avenue Duluth Est / 514-281-1114
5- BOUILLON BILK ($$$$)
At Bouillon Bilk, whose specialty is neither soup nor bouillon, you will be served spectacular dishes that are both delicious and beautiful to look at. The menu is short (6 starters, 5 main courses, 6 desserts), but it will transport your taste buds to creative and delightful lands. Open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 and every evening from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
1595, Boul. Saint-Laurent / 514-845-1595
6- TOQUÉ! ($$$$)
If you are looking for an unforgettable culinary experience, you need to go to Toqué! Chef Normand Laprise and his team will welcome you to their legendary establishment for a gastronomical experience that you won't soon forget. The menu features products from local artisans, carefully prepared with flare and creativity. Open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
900, Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle / 514-499-2084
7- OLIVE + GOURMANDO ($$-$$$)
Olive + Gourmando is said to have the best panini in town. This bakery and sandwich shop uses only the best quality ingredients for its breakfast and lunch menus. In addition to sandwiches, you will find a mouth-watering selection of soups, salads, fresh-baked pastries and specialty coffees. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
351, Rue St-Paul Ouest / 514-350-1083
8- AUBERGE SAINT-GABRIEL ($$$)
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 for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
426, Rue Saint-Gabriel / 514-878-3561
9- CLUB CHASSE ET PÊCHE ($$$)
With a solid reputation in Montreal, Club Chasse et Pêche always lives up to its high standards. You will enjoy unique dishes prepared using the finest ingredients, served in a charming retro-modern decor straight out of a late 19th-century English gentlemen's club. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
423, Rue Saint-Claude / 514-861-1112
10- LES 400 COUPS ($$$)
This Old Montreal restaurant offers a stimulating and enriching culinary experience. The restaurant proposes a refined & accessible cuisine which promotes our local talent and local ingredients. The team is composed of passionate individuals who share their love for gastronomy, wine and service. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
400, Rue Notre-Dame Est / 514-985-0400
Where to sleep ?
Les FrancoFolies de Montréal
Date: June 7 to 16, 2018
Description: 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
Date: June 8 to 10, 2018
Description: 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.
Loto-Québec International Fireworks Festival
Date: July 7 to August 8, 2018
Description: The International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks fest 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! Saturday July 7, 14, 21 and 28 and Wednesday July 11 and 18 and August 1 and 8. 10 p.m.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Date: June 28 to July 7, 2018
Description: 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!
- Very Favourable