For a first visit in Montréal or to carry on with your discovery of our beautiful city, here is a selection of sites and activities of interest.
Enjoy your stay to the fullest!
Mount Royal’s lookout
Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (the same landscape architect who crafted New York’s Central Park), the “mountain” park at the heart of the city is the city’s most iconic landmark — and the most popular place to snap a Montréal selfie. Reach the viewpoint at the top of Mount Royal Park by walking up the stairs or with a guided tour. In the chalet at the summit, visitors will find washrooms and a small canteen for refreshments. Give yourself a breezy two hours!
Les tam-tams du mont Royal
Until late September each year
Every Sunday, this free, drumming tradition takes place in the surrounding vast green spaces of Mount Royal Park.
Find the Tam-Tams on the east side of Mount Royal Park
Spree on St-Catherine Street
As one of the longest commercial strips in Canada, St-Catherine’s Street is the perfect place for retail rehabilitation. You’ll find a variety of boutiques of all kinds.
Emblematic Montréal Cuisine
Part of the joie de vivre culture of Montréal includes chowing down on great grub. Sink your teeth into a juicy smoked-meat sandwich. Discover why Montréal locals fervently adore their wood-fired oven baked bagels. (Clue: the bagels are dipped in honey water before baking). Sample our notorious poutine.
Montréal’s festivals are renowned internationally. No matter the season, time or weather, Montreal hosts more than 100 festivals all year long, ranging from music to fashion and beyond. Most of them are held at Place des Festivals. During your summer stay, Francofolies will be taking place. Come en enjoy Montréal’s truly unique festival vibe!
Since 1989, FrancoFolies de Montréal has been the true reflection of a thriving French-speaking music world! Nearly 70 indoor shows and 180 free outdoor concerts attest to the effervescent quality, diversity and energy of a music-rich, fun-filled program!
Old Montréal and Old Port
A first-timer’s visit to Montréal is not complete without meandering through the charming cobblestone streets of the city’s old district. With juxtaposed architecture dating back as far as 1685, visitors have the opportunity to see — quite literally — how the city first began developing. Stop at Basilica Notre-Dame for a glimpse at the incredible stained glass art (and for a moment of stillness). Then head to historic Place Jacques-Cartier and install yourself on a terrace, where you’ll be perfectly positioned to watch street performers and portrait artists.
Maybe the wind in your hair is what you need after a busy day of networking? A superb scenic spot is Montréal’s harbour front, where you can gaze at the majestic St. Lawrence River, check out giant cruise ships or observe the many marine comings-and-goings, including sailboats, motorboats and pedal boats. There’s lot of stuff on dry land too: bright bistros with terraces, boutiques and high-end spas, if you need to get the knots worked out.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory
It’s not everyday that you can visit one of the most popular catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a Montréal masterpiece — the pièce de résistance among a city of one thousand stunning churches. The oratory is home to a magnificent Rudolf von Beckerath organ, which is ranked among the ten most prestigious in the world. Also, the basilica’s huge dome reaches 97 meters making it second only in height to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Temporary exhibitions are available throughout the year. Ride the metro to Côte-des-Neiges station and then walk the divine staircase to the oratory.
Montréal Underground – RÉSO
Montréal contains a vast network of pedestrian walkways — 32 kilometres (20 miles) of connecting passageways, to be exact — beneath street level. Referred to as RÉSO (“network” in French), the system connects the city’s convention centre, ten major hotels, restaurants and a handful of shopping malls.
Montréal’s Public Markets
We’re a city that loves to eat. We’ve got our characteristic local food — such as poutine and smoked meat — but one of the best ways to savour the city is to visit one of the local public markets. Sampling seasonal products is always free! Jean-Talon Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in North America. It is located in the heart of the Little Italy neighbourhood and open year round. For a smaller version, but as tasty, the Atwater Market established in the southwest of the city, is famous for its tall clock tower and art deco architectural style. Open year round, it boast an interior space with many butchers and other specialty stores. The market’s location along the Lachine Canal bike path makes it popular with summer bike riders who stop here for an ice cream cone or a quick lunch.
The Plateau Mont-Royal
The colourful spiral staircases of “Le Plateau” neighbourhood present an iconic image of Montréal. In this quartier you’ll find a predominantly French-speaking community featuring an eclectic mix of artists, international students and young professionals, spiced with a healthy dose of other cultures and languages to raise the diversity quotient that much higher. For a glimpse of the Plateau, walk along Avenue Mont-Royal. Or, if it’s a sunny day, we recommend doing as the locals do: grab a picnic and lounge beneath the leafy trees in peaceful Parc Lafontaine.
The Olympic Stadium’s surroundings
Montréal’s eastside neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is home to a handful of awesome attractions — all within walking distance to each other. Firstly, the Olympic Stadium is a grandiose remnant from the history-making 1976 summer games, and arguably the most recognizable architectural structure in the entire city. At the soaring inclined tower of the stadium (even taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa), visitors can ride an elevator for a bird’s eye view of the cityscape. Also in the neighbourhood are the internationally-lauded Montréal Botanical Gardens, which feature seasonal installations such as the much-loved Chinese lantern festival in the autumn months. Last but not least, the kids will go wild for the critters at the Biodome, where five ecosystems are home to over 250 different species of animals.
Montréal is a creative city. Artistic-inclined visitors will relish the multiple museums and galleries, home to both historic and modern works. As one of the most important institutions in North America, Montréal’s Museum of Fine Arts is the premier stop for any art aficionado. The multiple rooms contain painting, sculpture, graphic art, photography and decorative art objects, and the gallery prides itself on world-class temporary exhibits. For a more modern approach, visit Canada’s leading museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art. The Musée d’art contemporain features a permanent collection, however the curators truly flex their “modern” muscles with the numerous multimedia events. Finally, the Phi Centre showcases art in all its glorious forms.
The Notre Dame Basilica
This place of divinity is a thing of rare beauty. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by Irish Protestant architect James O’Donnell (he converted to Catholicism just before his death to be buried there), and built between 1824 and 1829, it is a symphony of sculpted wood, soaring gold-painted ceilings and intricate detail. A massive 7,000-pipe organ dominates the back wall. Utterly breathtaking!