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.
In the evening, you can attend a sound and light show inside the church, highlighting the Basilica’s historical, cultural and architectural legacy.
110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest / www.basiliquenotredame.ca / Place-d’Armes Metro Station
Rue Saint-PaulRue 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.
Place Jacques-CartierThis 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:
Bateau-Mouche Cruise: 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.
1-800-361-9952 / www.bateaumouche.ca
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.
514-496-4724 / www.montrealsciencecentre.com
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!
514-284-9607 / www.jetboatingmontreal.com
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.
Corner of Blvd. René-Lévesque West and Rue 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 ArtsOne 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 41,000 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 exhibitons throughout the year.
1380 Rue Sherbrooke West / www.mbam.qc.ca / Peel Metro Station
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.
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-LaurentBoulevard 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 also the setting for the annual Just for Laughs Festival.
It is a vibrant student district, filled with cafes/patios, restaurants, specialty boutiques and… the offices of Authentik Canada (352, rue Emery – 3rd floor / in the Quartier Latin cinema building). Stop and say hi when you're in the area :-)
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
ST-VIATEUR BAGEL & CAFÉ MONT-ROYAL ($)
Montreal is widely considered to have the best bagels in the world. Each Montreal bagel is hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and cooked in a wood fired oven. At St-Viateur Bagel & Café, you will get to enjoy the world-famous St-Viateur bagel, hand-made in the finest traditional by one of Montreal's oldest bagel bakeries, in operation since 1957.
1127 Mont-Royal Est / 514-528-6361 / www.bouillonbilk.com
SCHWARTZ'S ($)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!
3895 Blvd. St-Laurent 514-842-4813 / schwartzsdeli.com
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 28 types of poutine to choose from.
994 Rue Rachel Est 514-525-2415 / labanquise.com
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.
351 Rue St-Paul Ouest / 514-350-1083 / oliveetgourmando.com
LES 400 COUPS ($$$)
This Old Montreal restaurant offers a stimulating and enriching culinary experience. The restaurant proposes a refined & accessible cuisine which promotes our local talent and local ingredients. The team is composed of passionate individuals who share their love for gastronomy, wine and service.
400 Rue Notre-Dame Est 514-985-0400
AU PIED DE COCHON ($$$)
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.
536 Avenue Duluth Est / 514-281-1114 / aupieddecochon.ca
CLUB CHASSE ET PÊCHE ($$$)With a solid reputation in Montreal, Club Chasse et Pêche always lives up to its high standards.
You will enjoy unique dishes prepared using the finest ingredients, served in a charming retro-modern decor straight out of a late 19th-century English gentlemen's club.
423 Rue Saint-Claude / 514-861-1112 / / www.leclubchasseetpeche.com
BOUILLON BILK ($$$$)
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.
1595 Blvd. Saint-Laurent 514-845-1595 / www.bouillonbilk.com
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.
900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle 514-499-2084 / www.restaurant-toque.com
- Very Favourable