The Top Things to Do and See in Old Montreal
A historic neighborhood dating back to the early 1600s, Old Montreal is a vibrant area that seamlessly bridges the city’s past and present. Here are the top things to do in the district.
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Montreal’s oldest neighborhood – aptly called Old Montreal – is also one of its liveliest. Spanning several blocks near the waterfront of the Saint Lawrence River, Old Montreal is home to historical sites dating back to the 17th century that showcase the city’s indigenous and colonial past. The district also offers a taste of Montreal’s contemporary cultural standing, from art and food to health. With markets, historical landmarks, museums and architectural gems, there are many things to see and do in this cobblestone quarter. Below are Culture Trip’s top things to do in Old Montreal. Did you know you can now travel with Culture Trip? Book now and join one of our premium small-group tours to discover the world like never before.
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Place d’Armes is a historical public square in the heart of Old Montreal and the second-oldest public site in the city. Today, it is a popular spot where tourists can enjoy talented buskers and admire some of Montreal’s most impressive architecture , which borders the square. On Place d’Armes’ north side, you’ll find the old Bank of Montreal, while on the western side are the Art Deco Aldred Building and the New York Life Building. On the south side is the famous Notre-Dame Basilica, where Canadian superstar Céline Dion was married.
Montreal City Hall
Montreal City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) is an impressive building. Built between 1872 and 1878 by architects Henri-Maurice Perrault and Alexander Cowper Hutchison and inspired by the Hôtel de Ville Tours in France, the building embodies the Second Empire style. Located next to Vauquelin Square and its beautiful fountain, Montreal City Hall is no longer home to the mayor’s office – which moved to the neighboring Lucien-Saulnier Building – but is still a landmark worth visiting.
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Bar, Market, Restaurant, Canadian
Building, Historical Landmark
Not only is Saint-Paul Street the oldest street in Montreal, it is also one of the most picturesque in the city. Paved in 1672, the cobblestone artery is home to many historic greystone buildings, which are emblematic of Montreal. While walking down Saint-Paul Street, you’ll encounter all manner of shops, galleries and restaurants. It is also a pleasure just to stroll down the narrow street, which runs parallel to the Old Port waterfront. Eventually, you’ll hit Place Jacques-Cartier, a square named after the eponymous explorer who claimed Canada for France in 1535.
Located at the intersection of de la Commune Street and Place d’Youville, Pointe-à-Callière is a history and archaeology museum dedicated to Old Montreal. The museum is, in a way, all about intersections. The building’s modern architecture seamlessly blends with the historical artefacts inside its walls, and its collections demonstrate how French and English colonists interacted and co-existed with First Nations people. The award-winning museum is also located on archaeological ruins, which were discovered during the its construction in the early 1990s and left intact. Today, the ruins form a permanent display through which visitors can walk.
History is palpable at the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, which was built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier church destroyed in a fire, and is among the oldest chapels in Montreal. Because of its location near the Old Port and its historical relevance to sailors as a pilgrimage site, the chapel is commonly known as the Sailors’ Church. The site is also the home of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, which honors the woman who was Montreal’s first teacher and the founder of the original Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. A lookout at the top of the chapel provides a stunning view of the Old Port.
Old Port of Montreal
The Old Port of Montreal (Vieux-Port) was used as early as 1611 by French fur traders. Though Montreal’s major port operations were moved in the 1970s, the Old Port still has an important purpose, drawing 6 million tourists annually for a plethora of reasons. Here, you can catch a bite to eat, walk, cycle, rollerblade and rent a paddleboat or quadricycle. Other attractions in the Old Port include the Montreal Science Centre, a wintertime skating rink, a Ferris wheel and a zip line.
Centre d’Histoire de Montréal
With three floors and several exhibitions, the Centre d’Histoire de Montréal is a museum in which you can spend hours learning about the city’s eventful history. It opened in the 1980s and is housed in an old fire station at Place d’Youville, which was in use from 1904 to 1972. The museum’s collections trace Montreal’s long history and include many artefacts, images and testimonies. Particular highlights include its excellent Montreal Expo 67 collection and fascinating information about the city’s metro system and underground city.
Art Gallery, Museum, Theater
Found in the heart of Old Montreal, the Phi Centre is a multidisciplinary art center that proves that for all of Montreal’s history, the city is also at the cutting edge of culture and art. Inside the historic building that the Phi Centre is housed in, visitors can find an art gallery, theater and performance space, a cinema and production facilities. These spaces host a variety of interactive exhibitions, highlighting artists working in the spheres of augmented and virtual reality, video mapping and simulation, among others. Along with its sister gallery, the free Phi Foundation, the Phi Centre brings global trends in art and culture to the forefront in Montreal.
Building, Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Place Jacques-Cartier is a historical square that leads from Montreal City Hall down to the Old Port. The stretch of cobblestone street is closed off to cars in the summer months while it hosts various events, street performers, artisans and artists. At the north end of Place Jacques-Cartier stands Montreal’s oldest public monument, Nelson’s Column, which was erected in 1809 to commemorate British officer Horatio Nelson. The square is also flanked by various restaurants and is a lovely spot to sit and take in Montreal’s oldest quarter.
One of Montreal’s most acclaimed architectural structures is undoubtedly the Notre-Dame Basilica. The 19th-century church, which rises from Place d’Armes, is stately from the outside, but its claim to fame is its vibrant interior. Decorated by Montreal architect Victor Bourgeau in the late 1800s, the basilica’s inside is brilliantly colorful, with blue-and-gold vaulted ceilings, ornately decorated carvings and vivid touches in every corner. From an architectural perspective, the Notre-Dame Basilica is also notable as being the first Gothic Revival-style church in Canada.
Historical Landmark, Building
Jutting into the Saint Lawrence River, the Grand Quay is a newly refurbished feature in the Old Port, which was not open to the public until 2018. The multifunctional quay serves as a cruise terminal as well as a public space, where residents and tourists can take in views of the waterway and its surroundings. The Grand Quay is one of the best vantage points to see Habitat 67, a cube-like housing complex famously designed by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67, the world’s fair hosted by Montreal in 1967.
Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau
Royal Bank Tower
Once the tallest building in all of Canada, the 1920s Royal Bank Tower is still an incredible sight to behold. The Neoclassical building is thankfully more accessible to the public than ever, as it now houses a café and co-working space in its opulent lobby and a chic nightclub in its historical bank vaults. Located on Saint-Jacques Street, the Royal Bank Tower is also known for its gilded front entrance and luxurious bronze elevators.
Built in 1688 and converted into an inn in 1754, L’Auberge Saint-Gabriel was the first establishment in Canada to receive a liquor license. To this day, the historic building continues to welcome guests for dining and imbibing and is a popular destination for weddings and events. Inside the establishment’s thick stone walls, visitors will find a restaurant that serves dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, as well as a terrace, banquet rooms and the Velvet Speakeasy, where people dance late into the night.
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Best things to do in Old Montreal
Discover hidden gems among the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, our ground zero for some of the best attractions and activities
Visiting Old Montreal is a one-stop-shop for some of the best things to do in this city, and walking through the neighbourhood alone is one of the city’s best attractions . The near-400-year history of the area reveals itself as you wander through its cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, and shadows of its towering structures that once served as some of the most important facilities of the Port of Montreal.
The distinct charm of this area can be chalked up to its charismatic architecture, ease of walkability and the diversity of bars , restaurants , museums and boutiques that line its streets in all directions. Any given walkthrough will help remind you that Montreal once stood as the economic heart of Canada, painting a beautiful portrait of the wealthy financial institutions once backed by Scottish and British merchants. There’s so much more than meets the eye: Here is a list of a few of the most fun and fascinating things to do in Old Montreal.
RECOMMENDED: Complete guide to the best things to do in Montreal 50 best restaurants in Montreal Best things to do with kids in Montreal
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The 25 best things to do in Old Montreal
1. Grab a cup of third wave coffee
The historic area of Montreal has played a big part in the local third wave coffee scene, as independent cafés serving the city’s best coffee have set up shop in high-ceilinged industrial spaces, former banks (otherwise known as the most romantic coffee shop in Montreal) and even in a high-end clothing store. The rapid growth and evolution of third wave coffee looks good on Montreal.
2. Take in the view
Scaling the 192 steps of the Old Port Clock Tower can offer a glorious view of the entire harbour, as well as an impressive glance at the city skyline and the Saint-Lawrence River. This replica of the Big Ben in London was an important feature of the port due to its function as a clock (what else?), but also served as a memorial to the sailors who lost their lives at sea during wartime.
3. Spoil yourself
On the western edge of the Old Port located at the mouth of the Lachine Canal lies Bota Bota, a spa installed on an anchored boat in the shadow of Silo No. 5, a massive grain silo that is also part of ongoing discussion for redevelopment. This renowned spa (one of the best spas in the city) offers a variety of packages for those interested in going for a soak or just soaking in the sun, all with a spectacular view of the historic district and an on-site restaurant for your convenience.
4. Hit the streets
If you’re new to the city, we recommend booking a walking tour with a professional tour agency to really get to know the ins and outs of the area. But a self-guided tour from one neighbourhood to the next is also an easy thing to pull off in one of the most walkable cities in the world—by foot or by bixi bike.
5. Take a spin
One of the Old Port’s newest attractions is the 60-metre tall Ferris wheel that remains open year-round thanks to its temperature-controlled cabins. A true feat of engineering, the Grande Roue de Montréal stands as Canada’s largest observation wheel and offers another opportunity to view the city and its surroundings from an aerial perspective. There are discounts for families, as well as a yearly pass for true fanatics.
6. Learn about the history of the city
If you’re on the hunt to learn more about the city and its foundation, look no further than museums such as Pointe-à-Callière, which provides an archeological insight into Montreal’s past, or the sociohistorical Centre d’Histoire de Montreal, now serving its final year in a former firefighter station across from Place d’Youville. There’s also Chateau Ramezay, located across from the Montreal City Hall and adjacent to Place Jacques-Cartier, which offers several portrayals of the city’s history as well as a wonderful French colonial garden in its backyard.
7. Discover the visual arts scene
For a more artistic perspective, head over to the Phi Centre (or any number of the stellar art galleries in town) to catch one of its interactive exhibits, concerts or film screenings, or swing by the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art (you’ll know which one it is by the red, third-storey window). Yoko Ono’s GROWING FREEDOM is at centre stage this summer as the city celebrates the 50 th anniversary of the famous bed-in at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where John Lennon composed the anti-war song Give Peace a Chance . Admission here’s free, a luxury that’s best not squandered.
8. Shop ‘til you drop
Saint-Paul Street, with its dozens of trendy restaurants and stunning lofts, prestigious art galleries and boutiques—including the lovely Maison Pepin—all act as the main thoroughfare and is where most tourists find themselves as they stroll the dimly lit streets in warm, summer evenings. You'll also find some of the best shopping in Montreal here.
9. Eat your way through the historic quarter
No one would argue that Montreal is a gastronomic heaven, and this is especially evident in Old Montreal. Grab lunch and an espresso at Olive & Gourmando, or dine at foodie destinations such as Le Bremner, Caffe Un Po' Di Piu, or the newly opened Monarque, all shining examples of the culinary delights found in this once-industrial district’s restaurants . If brunch is your thing, you're also in the right place, and those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss all of the patisserie shops with desserts that are simply to die for.
10. Sip one in style
Old Montreal’s got a particular concentration of some of the city’s best rooftop bars . Whether it be for lunch or to indulge yourself with a happy hour treat, climb (or take the elevator) to the roof of one of the many hotels as you people-watch and enjoy the sights from above.
11. Catch a show
English-speaking tourists will be comforted to know that there is at least one last refuge for public theater at the Centaur Theatre which offers a rotating schedule of affordable plays. Minutes away from the theatre is McGill Street, on the western edge of Old Montreal, which is lined with choice retail, Michelin star-level establishments and even traces of the ancient fortifications of the city.
12. Sneak off into some hidden addresses
Montreal has a long history as North America’s sin city, dating to the Prohibition Era and well beyond. When it’s time to grab one at a cocktail bar , follow the locals as they disappear into hidden, underground speakeasies or street-level restaurant/bars .
13. Watch a majestic light show
What about churches, you say? While you will undoubtedly find yourself outside the Basilica of Notre-Dame, it’s what awaits you indoors that continues to impress the masses. We can pretty much guarantee that you’ve never seen a Roman Catholic church like the Notre-Dame Basilica. Provided you have the time, it’s worthwhile to purchase tickets for the Aura lightshow which plays nightly for $25.
14. Navigate the underground
If you found yourself intrigued by the old financial district, enter the World Trade Centre off Saint-Jacques Street to be dazzled by the 11 unique facades, a gorgeous Greek pool, a chunk of the Berlin Wall and even some traces of the old city walls, all under a spectacular glass canopy. This also connects to the RÉSO, or the Underground City, which can be quite convenient for winter travelers.
15. Get playful
Who can forget the playfulness of Place Jacques-Cartier, a gathering place for street performers and artists whose friendly faces greet you as you walk by, on your way to marvel at the Beaux-Arts style City Hall or heading south to the river’s edge. And don't forget the restaurants !
16. Wander along the river
As Old Montreal continues to explode in popularity, countless renovation projects are underway as more commercial spaces are opening, paving the way for more worthwhile experiences. Just south of de la Commune Street lies an expansive park that stretches the length of the Old Port, connecting the city to an integral piece of Canadian history. Visitors can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the port by visiting the newly reconstructed Grand Quai, discovering the educational events at museums like the IMAX and Montreal Science Centre, or stroll the lengthy boardwalk from end to end.
17. Feast your eyes
With the City of Montreal being the official home of the Cirque du Soleil, each time a new show goes on tour it opens here first. Look for the tent in the Old Port to take in Guy Laliberté’s newest creation.
18. Feed your adventurous side
Word to the wise for families: Those with an appetite for adventure will find themselves with plenty of options on the eastern end of the Old Port where you’ll find a zipline, a pirate ship theme park and a labyrinth-style escape room all within a few metres of each other. While these are all paid activities, they stand as great options for energetic kids who tire easily with standard sightseeing stuff.
19. Glide on ice
Lucky enough to be in a city of four seasons, the city is transformed as the weather changes and new activities abound. In winter, the small body of water in the shadow of the Grand Roue Ferris wheel freezes over and becomes the Natrel Skating Rink, open to those who feel like skating under the lights of the neighbourhood. There are several festive events and thematic nights throughout the winter season such as fireworks and live music.
20. Turn up the heat
Perhaps the largest international outdoor winter music festival in the world, Igloofest has become synonymous with the start of each winter season as electronic DJs descend on Montreal to raise the temperature (and the volume) on the piers. Taking place over three weekends every January and February, this is one ice-cold party you don’t want to miss. Just make sure to dress warm, but in something you can remove parts of—once you start dancing, things can get a bit heated.
21. Dance it off
Old Montreal has blossomed over the last decade as one of the central hubs of the city’s nightlife . There are loads of happening nightclubs here, all of which are guaranteed to be packed full of partygoers on Thursdays through Saturdays. Most venues focus on electronic dance music, but you may get lucky with reggaeton or hip-hop nights, depending on where you go.
22. Hunt down this curio
The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, now commonly referred to as the Sailor’s Church, is not to be missed if you’re here for curious destinations (or on a religious pilgrimage). Nearby, on Saint-Louis Street, you can still find examples of original wooden houses built outside the old city walls which remain standing in defiance of innumerable odds over the last few centuries.
23. Find what’s fresh
At the southern end of McGill Street lies the Marché des Éclusiers, a small marketplace and outdoor bar area dedicated to highlighting the best Quebec products on the market. The area focuses on creating a communal space where producers and consumers alike discover eco-responsible and sustainable food options in an informal, laid-back waterfront setting.
24. Marvel at the artwork
On the eastern end of this heritage district, marvel at the spectacular Marché Bonsecours, built in 1844 and currently used primarily as a space to learn about (and purchase) indigenous works of art. It also serves as the site of the international World Press Photo exhibit every fall which features award-winning visual journalists’ work from the year prior.
25. Lie on the sandy shores
Perhaps the most leisurely activity on offer in the Old Port area is grabbing a sunny spot on Montreal-based landscape architect Claude Cormier’s Clock Tower Beach. Open during peak summer months, this stretch of sand on the edge of the harbour offers ideal tanning conditions and yoga classes ($10) to boot. It’s also a great spot to catch the fireworks ($5) a few times per summer. The only catch is that swimming isn’t available here.
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15 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Old Montréal
Written by Michael Law and Lana Law Updated May 11, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
Authors Michael and Lana Law love Old Montréal and visit annually.
One of North America's most remarkable concentrations of 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century buildings, Old Montréal is the delightful Parisian-style quarter between the harbor and the banking district.
Lovingly restored in recent decades, the area is very popular with tourists and locals alike. Simply wandering the curving cobblestone streets, with 19th-century buildings as your historical backdrop, is the most popular thing to do here. The whole area is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, with interesting shops and restaurants tucked in hidden areas.
Old Montréal is best explored on foot, starting from the Champ de Mars Metro Station. City Hall and Place Jacques-Cartier are just south of the station, with Rue St. Paul and Rue Notre-Dame leading to more historic sites, high-end restaurants, and luxury shops.
Montreal is an easy weekend getaway from Toronto . Flights leave every hour for the short one-hour hop.
Plan to spend at least a day in this area, and discover the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Old Montréal.
1. Explore the Old Port of Montreal (Vieux-Port de Montréal)
2. notre-dame basilica, 3. stroll along rue saint-paul, 4. take a break in place jacques-cartier, 5. rue bonsecours and bonsecours market (marché bonsecours), 6. pointe-à-callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire, 7. place d'armes, 8. dining in old montréal, 9. la grande roue de montreal, 10. montreal science centre, 11. clock tower, 12. mtl zipline, 13. city hall, 14. go shopping, 15. place d'youville, map of attractions & things to do in old montréal.
Extending along the river, close to Marché Bonsecours, is the site of the old port (vieux-port). It was restored at great cost and now enjoys a role as an entertainment and leisure center. Special attractions include an IMAX cinema, a Clock Tower reminiscent of Big Ben, a giant Ferris wheel, and the Montréal Science Centre .
This area is a pleasant place to wander about and as you stroll, be sure to check out the 10 different works of public art. If you've packed lunch or want to grab a bite to go at the local cafes, picnic tables are available.
If you are traveling with small children, an excellent playground is located on Clock Tower Quay near Hanger 16.
In winter, skaters take to an open-air rink. From the old port, a magnificent view is obtained of the impressive Montréal skyline. Boat tours, including the short but fun 1.5-hour Montreal Historic Discoverers Cruise run from the quays.
One of the most impressive sights in Old Montréal is the spectacular interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica . Located on Place d'Armes, this is Montréal's oldest Catholic parish church, founded in 1656. Its twin towers (69 meters) are impressive, but the amazing interior of the 1829 building is the true highlight. Resplendent woodcarving is the work of Victor Bourgeau, and stained glass illustrates the history of Montréal.
The Sacré Coeur altar (1982), in the chapel of the same name, consists of 32 bronze panels by Charles Daudelin. The great organ is a Casavant, and recitals held in the church throughout the year are very popular.
A Walking Tour of Old Montreal , which covers all of the major highlights in the area, includes free admission to the basilica. These tours, offered from spring until fall, are a great way to see the sights and learn the history. Options include 1.5 or three-hour tours.
Address: 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, Quebec
Rue Saint-Paul is Montréal's oldest street, originally completed in March 1672 as the road between the fort and the Hôtel Dieu, the old hospital. Nowadays it is lined with all kinds of shops and restaurants.
In recent years, the city has made substantial improvements to this street and several others. Sections of Rue Saint-Paul are pedestrian-only areas and during the day, this area is packed with tourists.
If you want to stay in Old Montreal, this is the best place to find a hotel. Set in a historic building, the Hotel Nelligan , with one of the most popular rooftop terraces for dining in summer, is a great option along this street. Excellent dining options can also be found all along this street.
Rue Saint-Paul gets its name as much from Paul de Chomedey, the city's devout founder, as from St. Paul the Apostle.
In the heart of Old Montreal, running from the Old Port to Rue Notre-Dame , Place Jacques-Cartier is a welcoming, open space with benches for resting and leafy trees for a bit of shade in the summer. Restaurants and retail outlets in 19th-century townhouses and mansions line both sides of the square, and at the top is Nelson's Column.
This is a pleasant place to take a break from sightseeing and soak up the atmosphere. The square is busy during the day and into the evening.
Many of Montréal's historic tourist attractions and things to do are nearby, including City Hall , the Old Palace of Justice , and the elegant 1705 mansion Chateau Ramezay Museum . Bonsecours Market is just beyond here, along Rue Saint-Paul.
The delightful Rue Bonsecours, off Rue Notre-Dame, is one of Vieux-Montréal's oldest streets. It exhibits a whole range of the French architectural styles featured in the 17th- to the 19th-century townscape of New France.
Bonsecours Market ( Marché Bonsecours) served as the town hall before becoming Montréal's vegetable market from 1878 to 1963. It's an important heritage building and one of the most eye-catching structures in Montreal.
Today, the building houses a number of interesting shops and boutiques and is a popular spot with tourists. Montréal's oldest church, the Chapel of Our Lady de Bonsecours , is at the end of the street.
Nearby, Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site was the home of the first Canadian Prime Minister from 1841 to 1871.
At the southeast corner of Place Royale in Montréal lies the Pointe-à-Callière , the "cradle of Montréal city." Place Royale was the heart of French colonial life, its market, and its parade ground until transformed in the 19th century with various government buildings.
The Musée d'archéologie et d'histoire documents the city's beginnings by taking visitors underground to the see remains of the first foundations. Two plaques and an obelisk, the work of Québécois artists, unveiled in 1894, commemorate the 1642 founding of the French settlement.
Address: 350 Place Royale, Montréal, Quebec
The busy square of Place d'Armes is very much in the city center. The twin towers of Notre-Dame Basilica front the public space, as does the historic Bank of Montreal and its small museum. The Old Seminary of Saint Sulpice, adjoining the Basilica, dates from 1685.
It is the oldest stone dwelling in a city where originally most buildings were constructed more cheaply and simply in timber. Just west of Place d'Armes, the Palais des Congrès is Montréal's futuristic conference center. It was built in 1983 over the Ville-Marie expressway and is best known for its colorful glass walls.
One of the great pleasures of a trip to Montreal is dining. In fact, many people plan their entire trips around where they are going to eat. The city has some of Canada's best restaurants, and new ones are popping up on a regular basis. You'll find a restaurant to suit every taste and occasion.
Is it a warm summer night? In this case, make a reservation on a patio in the Old City, ideally on Rue Saint-Paul . Settle in for a lovely dinner underneath the floodlit lights of 200-year-old buildings. If you find yourself here in the winter, scoot up the stairs into a warm and cozy restaurant and relax over comfort food as the snow falls softly outside the windows.
Lunch can be a quick baguette and a coffee at a small café or a multi-hour affair on a rooftop patio — the choice is yours.
Some say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in Montreal, you'll be spoiled for choice, from café au lait and a flaky croissant to fresh-baked bagels and cream cheese or custom-made omelets and crepes.
Rivaling Ferris wheels in other world-class cities, La Grande Roue de Montreal (Montreal Observation Wheel) towers over the old city. From a climate-controlled gondola, you and seven of your friends will be able to see the St. Lawrence River, Mount Royal Park, and the Olympic Stadium. Be sure to look towards Old Montreal, and the warren of streets you've been wandering in Old Montreal will suddenly make sense.
La Grande Roue de Montreal is located in the Old Port area, just down the hill from Old Montreal.
Located right on the waterfront, Montreal's Science Centre is a perfect family destination. Inside, you'll find seven permanent exhibitions covering topics ranging from organic waste right through to windmills.
One of the most interactive exhibitions is called Fabrik. Here, children eight years and older can use various implements to create innovative items. For those seven years and under, the Clic! exhibition allows children to build things using all kinds of odd-shaped items that snap together.
Address: 2 rue de la Commune Ouest, Montréal, Quebec
Those looking for views should visit the historic Clock Tower. Dating from 1919, this iconic structure is 45 meters high and performs double duty as a lighthouse.
Step inside and climb the 192 steps to the top, and you'll be rewarded with great views of the St. Lawrence River, Old Montreal, and the Jacques Cartier Bridge off in the distance. Admission is free.
At the base of the Clock Tower is a park and a man-made beach. In summer, umbrellas and chairs provide a comfortable place to enjoy the waterfront.
At night, the tower is illuminated.
If strolling the old streets and lingering by the river are too sedate for you, and you need an adrenaline hit, riding a zipline might be just the thing to do. Two ziplines are strung out over the Old Port area, and riders can literally fly from a giant tower to the landing place near the river.
MTL Zipline is open to all ages; the only limit is weight. You must be between 22 to 113 kilograms (50 to 250 pounds).
If you would rather simply observe this activity, or have a look before you try it yourself, you can catch good views of it from the Clock Tower quay, or from Rue Bonsecours beside Bonsecour Market.
Montréal's City Hall was designed by Perrault with an eye to the French Empire style of Napoleon III. Built between 1872 and 1878, it had to be restored following a fire in 1922.
Its hall of honor is resplendent with marble and bronze, and has a bust of Jacques Viger, Montréal's first mayor in 1833. It was from the balcony of City Hall that, during his visit to Canada in the summer of 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle uttered his clarion call "vive le Québec libre!" — long live free Québec. The statement drew an enthusiastic response from the crowds on Place Cartier below, but upset Canada's Federal Government.
Address: 275 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montréal, Quebec
Old Montréal is one of the best places to visit for shopping, particularly if you're looking for unique items. This area offers a full range of shopping possibilities, with everything from souvenirs to art and designer clothes. Montréal has long been one of Canada's most important cities when it comes to the fashion industry, with many top designers calling the city home.
And while high-end boutiques can be found throughout the city, in Old Montréal, small boutiques are tucked away in beautiful historic buildings, making the shopping experience seem that much more glamorous. Art galleries, many of which feature the works of Canadian artists, are one of the highlights of this district.
Souvenir and one-of-a-kind shops are also scattered throughout the area, and artists and street vendors line narrow pedestrian alleys and squares.
Place d'Youville is another popular public space in Montréal and a departure point for exploring historical sites. In summer, large leafy trees provide shade for park benches.
On the park, the Centre d'Histoire de Montréal is housed in the old red brick fire station (1903), and recounts Montréal's four centuries of history.
The Maison de Mere d'Youville (Hopital général de Montréal ) is a short distance from Place d'Youville, down Rue Saint-Pierre. Montréal's second hospital dating from 1694, it is where Marguerite d'Youville founded the Congrégation des Soeurs Grises in 1753, the charitable order of the Grey Sisters.
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On the edge of the St Lawrence River, Old Montréal is the city’s birthplace, composed of picturesque squares, grand old-world architecture and a dense concentration of camera-toting tourists. The narrow Rue St-Paul, the old main street, teems with art galleries, shops and eateries, while the broad concourse of the Old Port is lined with green parkland and cafes along Rue de la Commune. Nearby Chinatown is a small, wonderful dose of Pacific Rim cosmopolitanism in eastern Canada.
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Discover a neighborhood: Old Montreal
Things to do
Montreal is a city of many neighborhoods, each unique in their own right. But to really get a feel for this cosmopolitan city, why not start at the beginning: beautiful and historic Old Montreal.
Discover a captivating blend of European style and avant-garde creativity as you wander the cobblestone streets. Get lost in the abundance of architecture, art, culture, and more. Ride a bike through the winding streets, or visit a modern fashion boutique on your way to a centuries-old landmark. Old Montreal is an incredible mixture of new and old. Here’s a quick guide to help you experience the best of both.
Walking through Montreal's past
Begin your tour of the charming old city in the east end, where the beautiful Second Empire-style architecture of City Hall maintains a commanding presence (hot tip: check out the big sunny esplanade at the back of the building). Just across the street, venture into Chateau Ramezay External Link Title , a historic site and museum that offers a peek at the life of Montreal's 18th century nobility. Not far from there, you can admire a sweeping view of the St. Lawrence River from Nelson's Column, a monument to British Navy General Admiral Horatio Nelson built following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Set aside some time to walk down Place Jacques-Cartier External Link Title , exploring this wide public square filled with restaurants, shops, live music, and street artists. The silver-domed March? Bonsecours External Link Title , Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, and the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum are all nearby, and are worth a visit for more insight into the history and heritage of Montreal.
Fresh attractions and photogenic landmarks
Head south to the shoreline of the St. Lawrence to get a sense of Montreal's relationship to the water, past and present. In the Old Port, stroll along the boardwalk to Clock Tower Beach and the Terrasses Bonsecours External Link Title , very popular hang-out spots in warmer weather. Every winter, thousands of people don snow suits and fill the nearby harbour for Igloofest, an outdoor electronic music festival.
As you walk west, you can check out the Montreal Science Centre External Link Title and IMAX theatre, or stop for a massage at the unique ferryboat-turned-temple-of-transcendence Bota Bota External Link Title spa. From there, use your camera's zoom lens to look across the water for great views of the helter-skelter cubed homes of Habitat 67 External Link Title and the iconic grain Silo #5, a powerful reminder of the city's industrial past.
In warmer weather, cruise ships and pleasure crafts keep Montreal's waterfront buzzing; in any season, a walk along the pier front gives a postcard-perfect view of the city skyline.
The city's history, on display
One of the absolute must-stops in Old Montreal is the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica External Link Title . A crown jewel in Montreal's religious heritage, the basilica is located at Place d'Armes, where you'll also find a plaza featuring a statue of Montreal's founder, Paul de Chomedey. With its soaring, gold-painted ceilings, ornate wood carvings, and massive pipe organ, the Basilica is nothing short of breathtaking.
From there, continue west to the Pointe-?-Calli?re Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History External Link Title . It was built on the exact birthplace of the entire City of Montreal, and acts as a highlight reel of the city's history dating back to the 14th century, using archeological relics, exhibits, and displays. If you haven't yet had your fill of history, head to the Centre d'histoire de Montreal External Link Title , a museum located in an early 1900s firehouse near the site of Canada's first parliamentary building.
Back to the present, with art and design
Of course, Old Montreal isn't stuck in the past. Pop into the PHI Centre External Link Title art complex and the nearby DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art External Link Title gallery to see cutting edge work from around the world. If you don't mind a bit of a detour, head west to the Darling Foundry External Link Title visual art centre. The centre's thought-provoking and alternative modern-day exhibitions make it worth the walk.
If you'd rather explore without a particular destination in mind, head to Saint-Paul Street. This picturesque little street is full of things to see. It's home to a captivating mix of centuries-old buildings, avant-garde art galleries and designer boutiques, and really embodies what Montreal is: a city that cherishes its past while embracing its future.
For more details on Old Montreal, or to start planning your trip, check out the Tourism Montreal website.
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The Best of Old Montreal: Things To Do, Sights, and Food
Old Montreal is the first place you need to go when you visit Montreal. It’s got that charming, old European city feel is full of iconic landmarks and lesser known finds. There are so many things to do in Old Montreal, from exploring on your own to enjoying a museum or tour, or trying some of the local cuisine.
If you’re visiting Montreal for the first time and only have a few days, check out my Montreal itinerary to make the most of your visit. The first day is spent exploring Old Montreal! This blog post is perfect for you if you’re looking to spend a couple of days in Old Montreal, or if you have been before and want discover more of the area. There are some places in the Old Montreal Sights section that I’m confident you’ve never heard of!
Sights and Photography Locations | Museums, Tours, and Activities | Food and Cafés
I’ve been to Old Montreal several times, and every time I have done or seen something different. Sure, the most classic of the things to do in Old Montreal is explore St. Paul’s street, but there’s so much more to the area than that. Given more time to explore or a repeat visit, you’re going to find that Old Montreal is full of awesome places.
Tips for Visiting Old Montreal
Here are a few things to know before you visit Old Montreal!
Walk everywhere: Old Montreal is the perfect place for walking. Many of the main streets are actually pedestrian only. The area is relatively small and very walkable and easy to navigate. Leave your car, and take the metro to Old Montreal.
Take the metro to Old Montreal: Montreal’s metro consists of three lines. The orange line services Old Montreal. Stops Champ-de-Mars, Place-d’Armes, and, though a little ways out, Square-Victoria–OACI will all bring you within a couple minutes walk of Old Montreal. Choose your stop based on where you want to go first. If you’re not sure yet, get off at Place-d’Armes. It’s the most central to Old Montreal.
Bring cash: there are some vendors, particularly smaller food vendors, that only accept cash in Old Montreal. It’s good to have a little bit of cash on hand, but otherwise most sit-down restaurants do accept debit and credit.
Public washrooms: There are two public washrooms in Old Montreal, at either end of the greenspace by the water front. Most museums also have washrooms that you can use once inside. Cafés and businesses may require you to make purchases.
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Things to do in Old Montreal
Old Montreal is one of the most beautiful areas of Montreal, and no matter how many times you’ve been there are always more things to do in Old Montreal and more places to find. There might be a few familiar places listed here if you’ve been before… but I’m confident that some of them will be new to you!
Old Montreal Sights and Photography Locations
The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower at Old Montreal’s port is one of the most recognizable landmarks along the water. This summer from May 31 – September 2 (2019) you can climb to the top of the clock tower for free from 11AM to 7PM for beautiful views of the St Lawrence river.
The Clock Tower itself makes a great photography subject! Walk along the paths nearby to enjoy different vantage points.
Outside and in, La Basilique Notre-Dame is a must-see on your visit to Old Montreal. If you’re looking to take photos, enter without or without a guided tour for $8 (adult). The guided tour lasts 20 minutes, and it’s a great way to learn more about the space and the important historical events that have taken place here.
BAnQ Vieux Montreal
I couldn’t believe my ears when a clerk that works here told me that only a few dozen people a day come through this beautiful library. BAnQ Vieux-Montreal is a research and archive library, and considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It’s free to enter any time during regular business hours.
Please note that this is primarily a functioning research library. There will be people working during your visit, so be respectful and silent!
The heart of Old Montreal, Place Jacques-Cartier opens on to the Old Port at one end and the regal City Hall stands tall at the other end. Whenever a festival is on in Old Montreal, this is the hub. Come summer, the patios are beautiful and covered in flavours.
Note: There’s construction going on here right now (updated summer 2019). The bottom quarter of the square is not accessible, but the top part is.
Bonsecours Market is a shopping market located in Old Montreal, along St Paul Street. It has the domed roof that you recognize in skyline photos of Old Montreal. The building is also beautiful from the ground, with a magnificent entry-way comprised of tall pillars.
There are usually beautiful flower boxes out front, too. Get the best view of Bonsecours Market from the sky by going for a drink at the rooftop patio of Auberge du Vieux-Port , or on a visit to Marguerite-Bourgeoys museum.
World Trade Centre
The World Trade Centre might not sound like one of the most exciting things to do in Old Montreal but believe me, if beautiful places and photography are your thing this building is for you. The lobby has beautiful, angled windows that throw light throughout the building and there’s a fountain further back with amazing reflections.
Tip: There’s a piece of the Berlin Wall hidden in plain sight! The concrete, graffiti slab you see in the photo below is an important piece of history, gifted to Montreal on it’s 350th birthday.
Montreal Conference Centre
The Montreal Conference Centre has all the rainbow-tinted glass you could ever want. This multi-story building has an entire facade of different coloured panels of glass on one side (making it really easy to find). For fun, colourful, and creative photos, stop by earlier in the day when sunlight is projecting colours around the inside of the building.
Easily Old Montreal’s most beautiful street, Rue Saint-Paul has been a definite need-to-see location for years. Note: Rue Saint-Paul is undergoing major renovations in 2019. Like, major. The splendour of Rue Saint-Paul is temporarily gone so if you’re visiting right now… here are some substitute streets with charm: Rue Saint-Urbain and Rue Sainte-Hélène. No, they’re not quite as cute and colourful as Rue Saint-Paul, but you will enjoy some old buildings and cobblestones!
Le Grand Roue
This is quickly becoming Montreal’s prime photo spot. Fortunately, in my experience, people are super respectful of letting everyone get the photograph they’re hoping. Le Grand Roue is a Ferris wheel in the Old Port, and you can ride it year round. It makes a stunning backdrop for photos summer and winter in Old Montreal .
Château Ramezay Gardens
I walked right past these gardens a few times, without ever knowing that they were there. The Château Ramezay gardens are fully enclosed by a tall stone wall, so they’re easy to miss. Once inside, these small but beautiful gardens are the perfect place to escape busy streets and relax for a moment. They’re extraordinarily well-maintened, and the overgrown walls make an incredible portrait photography background.
Old Montreal Museums, Tours, and Activities
If this is your first visit to Montreal, then I recommend using my 3 Days in Montreal Itinerary: Day 1 – Old Montreal to start your tr ip! It includes the highlights that will give you the best first-time visitor experience of Old Montreal. Use this list of things to do in Montreal if you’re on a longer trip, or are revisiting Montreal.
Historical Walking Tour
If you love history, then you’re definitely going to want to go on an Old Montreal Historical Walking Tour. Old Montreal is separated in to East and West sections. This walking tour (which I absolutely loved) takes you through both. There are all kinds of fun and fascinating stories through out Old Montreal that you can’t begin to guess at. Even if you’ve done sightseeing on your own using the Old Montreal Map + Guide, I highly recommend the historical walking tour to really get familiar with Montreal’s stories.
Catch an interesting hour or two at Marguerite-Bourgeouys museum, and take in great views from the highest lookout in Old Montreal in the tower while you’re there. Marguerite-Bourgeous was Montreal’s first teacher, and a Saint after her death. The museum includes an audio guide, so you can listen and learn about this remarkable woman’s story. There museum is inside a building that was once a church, and there’s even a crypt below that you can visit.
Open daily May 1 to October 31, 10AM to 6PM. Closed Mondays the rest of the year. $12 entrance fee for adults.
Paddle Boat or Skate
Enjoy Old Montreal from the water by renting a paddle boat in the summer or going skating beneath Le Grand Roue in the winter. One of my all time favourite things to do in Old Montreal is skate at Natrel Skating rink in the river. I haven’t gone out on a paddle boat in the summer myself yet, but I saw them beneath Le Grand Roue on my last visit and can’t wait to do it myself!
Old Montreal Food Tour
I went on the Mile End Montreal for tour with Local Food Tours, and they also have an Old Montreal food tour . While I haven’t done this tour myself, I can vouch for Local Food Tours being a great experience. They’ve chosen some really unique and interesting locations for their Old Montreal tour that are sure to delight!
The Château Ramezay is a museum and historic building in Old Montreal, across from Montreal City Hall. It was built in 1705 to be the residence for the governor of Montreal at that time. Today, it’s Quebec’s oldest museum and you can visit to learn what life was like in the early 1700’s. I love that the guided are dressed up appropriate for the time-period!
Montreal City Hall
If you’re looking to add a little more history to your trip, visit Montreal City Hall during the summer months. Guided tours are available daily until 4PM. Note: Montreal City Hall is closed to the public in summer 2019 for renovations.
Pointe-à-Callière Museum is a great addition to your day if you love history. This is a museum of archaeology and history, home to artefacts from First Nations of the Montreal area. The museum will take you through the history of the British and French arriving in Montreal. The permanent exhibit is the main attraction, and there are also visiting exhibits a few times a year.
Relax and unwind at Montreal’s waterfront spa, Bota-Bota. The primary spa experience is a Scandinavian-style thermal experience consisting of heat, cold, and relaxation. Spa, body, and facial treatments are also available. Most notably, Both-Bota has a beautiful and unique view of Old Montreal. The upper deck looks out over the water. Combine the layover treatment (3 hour access to the pools) with a facial or massage.
Bank of Montreal Museum
I’ll be transparent and say the word “museum” is a bit of a stretch – but, it’s always free! This is an exhibit, located in a stunning neoclassical building. Think traditional, out-of-a-movie banks, and you’ve got it. There’s a short exhibit located inside that gives a history of how the Bank of Montreal came to be what it is today. It’s worth visiting for the architecture alone, because banks certainly aren’t build like this anymore.
Old Montreal Food and Cafés
While you’re out and about exploring Old Montreal, you will need to refuel! Here are some of my favourite restaurants and cafés in the area. Bonus: they’re all super beautiful.
Tommy Café: this beautiful, 3 story café is set in the former British Empire building. It’s got all the natural light, wooden furniture, and hanging plants of your café dreams.
Collective Crew: once a bank, now a glorious co-working space, Collective Crew is the perfect place for lunch, coffee, and good-quality wifi if you’re travelling for work.
Xavier Artisan: this café is in the same square as Basilica Notre-Dame, making it the perfect place to stop and rest your legs between time spent exploring Old Montreal.
Restaurants and Food
Ikanos: for a delicious, 3 course meal table d’hôte style for only $24 visit Ikanos on McGill street. It’s an incredibly good deal on some delicious food.
Montreal Poutine : off of Place Jacques Cartier, Montreal Poutine is my Montreal go-to for this Canadian favourite. Try it at least once!
Hà Restaurant: for traditional Vietnamese food in the heart of Old Montreal, head to Hà restaurant. It’s open for lunch and dinner and is known for it’s cocktails.
Venice MTL: want a lighter, beach-like feel? Venice MTL serves tacos, salads, and poke bowls perfect for keeping it healthy while travelling. Gluten free and vegetarian foods are on the menu!
3 Replies to “The Best of Old Montreal: Things To Do, Sights, and Food”
Beautiful pictures, Old Montreal looks amazing! I can’t believe that library only gets a few visits a day!
Don’t forget the beautiful Botanical Garden and the Biodome! These attractions are likely the most incredible locations. Botanical Garden changes all year round and they have just finish the biodome refurbishment.
The Botanical Gardens are not in Old Montreal but you are right that they are amazing and a must visit!
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My tips for visiting Old Montreal this summer
There are so many things to do in Old Montreal and so many sights to see that it can be hard for neophytes to know which way to go. With its cobblestone streets filled with history and its European sophistication, the area is definitely a crowd-pleaser!
To help you enjoy your time there as much as possible, I put together a walking itinerary that I think will be helpful for first-timers in the city; it includes must-see stops as well as picturesque streets you don’t want to miss.
Old Montreal itinerary and things to do
Stroll along the cobblestones of charming St-Paul Street. It’s one Montreal’s second oldest, with the earliest cobblestones dating back to 1672; for many years served as the city’s main thoroughfare.
Much to my dismay, there seems to be an overabundance of tourist shops on either sides of the street along Place Jacques Cartier; but venture out a little further and as a result you’ll find high-end dining, classy cafés and quiet leafy squares all to yourself.
Not to mention the beautiful Notre-Dame-du-Bonsecours Chapel on the eastern end. Just be mindful of the horse carriages. You’ll inevitably walk past one along the way!
Let’s start by making something very clear: I absolutely forbid you to visit Montreal by car. Not only is it terribly unpractical (for example, try and find parking in these streets, see if you still think I lied), but it also ruins the whole Old-World experience (21st-century transportation doesn’t exactly scream 17th-century charm). Instead, do like the locals: take the métro and walk!
- Walk up Rue Saint-Urbain for a splendid view of the Basilique Notre-Dame and Place d’Armes
- Walk along Rue Saint-Paul between Rue Saint-Urbain and Rue Saint-Pierre for some of the best shops in the area
- Explore Rue des Récollets and Rue Sainte-Hélène , which are bordered by some of the oldest houses and lampposts in Montreal
- Reach the St Lawrence waterfront by walking down Avenue McGill and its stately Art Nouveau buildings
- Walk along the river and admire the cruise terminal, the view on the city and the green areas!
+ montreal travel tips
The definitive guide to montreal hotels, place jacques cartier.
Inevitably, your stroll will take you to the beautiful Place Jacques Cartier, named after one of the discoverers of Canada, where you’ll find several overpriced restaurants as well as buskers and ice cream vendors.
Despite the tacky feel (however, touristy things are touristy for a reason, right?), it’s definitely worth a visit – Place Jacques Cartier will definitely make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The architectural ensemble of New France buildings is well worth a visit.
Old Montreal food & Drink tour
Gone are the days where Old Montreal was an absolute no-go for local foodies, who were not enthused by the touristy and overpriced offering; the district has gone through a culinary rebirth over the past decade and is now home to mouth-watering restaurants and markets.
The Old Montreal Food Tour takes visitors around the cobblestone streets of North America’s most European neighbourhood, with highlights like fancy poutine, gluten-free sweets, craft beers, and many other yummy things, in addition to several of the landmarks listed in this article.
Built in the Gothic Revival style, the church is sumptuously trimmed and is rather extravagant. Starting above all with the atypical stained glass which depicts scenes related to Montreal’s religious history instead of traditional biblical scenes, and, of course, with the deep blue ceiling adorned with thousands of golden stars.
Likewise, musicophiles will also want to take a look at the 1891, 7000-pipe organ, one of the most impressive of its kind.
Entry costs just $5 in the daytime. “ And Then There Was Light “, an underrated sound and light show detailing the history of the church, takes place in the evening Tuesday through Saturday.
How to plan a romantic weekend in Montreal
The old port of montreal.
This part of Montreal isn’t well-known by tourists, and even by locals; as a result, most visitors forget that Montreal is actually an island. The Old Port area is filled with history, a lovely waterfront, and obviously stunning and privileged views of the St. Lawrence River. Moreoever, it’s a great place for a romantic stroll, admire famous Habitat 67 architectural complex and maybe (probably) grab an ice cream.
Old Port Montreal: 15+ things you can’t miss
Old montreal museums.
While the leading art museums are located in the downtown core of Montreal, on the other hand and quite fittingly the historical ones are almost exclusively scattered across the old town. From the precise spot where the first building was built in Montreal inside Pointe à Callière to the multisensorial exhibits over at the Science Centre and historic Château Ramezay , the choice is yours.
Down Saint-Claude Street is the gigantic 150-year-old Bonsecours Market , the oldest and largest public market in Montreal.
Even though its mission changed a bit throughout the years (for instance, it now houses upscale cafés and boutiques instead of potatoes and pork chops), it’s still a major piece of French-Canadian architecture which consequently shouldn’t be neglected.
Is modern art up your sleeve? Montreal is home to a state-of-the-art gallery – Fondation Phi , namely – that regularly hosts and creates contemporary, thought-provoking exhibits with a strong focus on virtual reality.
Beautiful Airbnbs in Montreal to consider for your trip
Old montreal guided tour.
Montreal is a very walkable city and, as such, there is no shortage of walking tours in these parts. Just take your pick, in accordance with your own interests: history, heritage, architecture, even ghosts!
- History walking tour of Old Montreal
- Ghost walking tour
- Private walking tour
- Haunted Montreal pub crawl
The best spas in Montreal
If your legs can no longer endure the hilly streets, then perhaps you should consider a brief (or lengthy, depending on your schedule) stop at one of the city’s best and most-loved spas.
Spa Scandinave features outstanding Nordic in a contemporary setting, but Bota Bota is a little more whimsical as it is located on a permanently docked boat lulled by the rhythm of the St. Lawrence River.
Where to eat & sleep
Hôtel Place d’Armes
Le petit hôtel
Olive + Gourmando
Un Po’ Di Piu
Crew Collective Café
49th Parallel Coffee
Get the book!
Find out where I go in Montreal for a romantic date, for little-known artsy museums, for designer splurges, and for Instagram-friendly cafés. Inside this eBook you will find 40+ pages full of preciously handpicked, highly curated Montreal travel tips with underrated attractions, off-the-beaten path itinerary ideas, and neighbourhood highlights that locals love!
Marie-Eve is a native Montrealer trying to balance a deep love for her hometown and an unquenchable thirst for travel and discovery. She has been to more than 36 countries, lived abroad in both France and the U.K., and is always on the lookout for authentic experiences wherever she travels -- especially if it involves wine.
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What to Do in Old Montréal if You Have Just One Day
An enormous joie de vivre pervades Montréal . It’s the largest city of the Québec province and the most French region of North America. Modern in every regard, Montréal has a beautifully preserved historic district dating back to its founding in 1642, skyscrapers in unexpected shapes and colors, and sprawling neighborhoods of artists’ lofts, boutiques, and cafes. But if you only have one day, center yourself in cobblestoned Vieux-Montréal (Old Montréal) around the sites and atmosphere of the oldest and most historic part of the city. Montréal was born here in 1642, at Pointe-à-Callière by the St. Lawrence River, and this neighborhood’s architectural heritage has been substantially preserved. Restored 18th- and 19th-century structures now hold shops, boutique hotels, galleries, cafes, bars, and apartments. The area’s southern boundary is Vieux-Port (Old Port), a waterfront promenade that provides welcome breathing room for walkers, cyclists, and picnickers. Vieux-Montréal extends north to rue St-Antoine, once the “Wall Street” of Québec. To start, take the Metro to the Place-d’Armes station .
Much of the foot traffic of Vieux-Montréal passes through this small, handsome plaza at the intersection of rues Notre-Dame and St-Sulpice. Standing in the center is a monument to city founder Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve (1612–76).
The plaza marks the spot where settlers defeated Iroquois warriors in bloody hand-to-hand fighting, with de Maisonneuve himself locked in combat with the Iroquois chief. De Maisonneuve won and lived here another 23 years.
The buildings that surround the plaza are representative of Montréal’s architectural growth over the years. At the far southwestern corner is a Sulpician residence of the 17th century. At the northern and southern ends are the 19th-century Banque de Montréal and Basilique Notre-Dame (your next stop). And on the east side is the Art Deco Édifice Aldred of the 20th century. The 23-story Aldred was built in 1931 and clearly resembles New York’s Empire State Building, which was completed the same year.
This magnificent structure ( 110 rue Notre-Dame ouest ) was designed in 1824 by James O’Donnell, an Irish-American Protestant architect who was so profoundly moved by the experience that he converted to Catholicism. The impact is understandable. Of Montréal’s hundreds of churches, Notre-Dame has the most stunning interior, with a wealth of exquisite details, including carved rare woods that have been delicately gilded and painted, a vaulted ceiling (studded with 24-karat gold stars), a 12-ton bell, and Limoges stained-glass windows depicting moments from the city’s history.
O’Donnell bucked a trend toward neoclassicism when he designed this Gothic Revival masterpiece, whose exterior is reminiscent of Notre-Dame in Paris. Consider coming back at night for the light show, Aura , which gives the space a wildly different look. Twenty-minute guided tours of the basilica are included with the entrance fee; a more expansive 60-minute tour is also available.
Walk east on rue Notre-Dame, one of the grand streets of the old city and home to the Montréal government. An important navigational note: Street numbers will get lower as you approach boulevard St-Laurent, which is the north-south thoroughfare that divides Montréal into its east and west halves. Numbers will start to rise again as you move onto the eastern side of rue Notre-Dame.
One block after Place d’Armes is the Palais de Justice , on your left at 1 Notre-Dame est. The courthouse was built in the 1970s and took over operations from the Vieux Palais de Justice two blocks farther east, at 155 rue Notre-Dame est. That courthouse was completed in 1856, with the dome and the top floor added in 1891. (You’ll be able to spot the differences.)
The next building, at 275 rue Notre-Dame est, is the turreted Hôtel de Ville (City Hall; pictured above). This ornate building has been Montréal’s official City Hall since 1878. It was here, in 1967, that French president Charles de Gaulle delighted Québec separatists by shouting from the balcony, “ Vive le Québec libre !” ("Long live free Québec!")
Across the street, at 280 rue Notre-Dame est, is Château Ramezay , built in 1705 as a grand home to the city’s royal French governors. It’s now a museum. A more modern landmark will come into view, too: Looking farther east on rue Notre-Dame, you’ll see the Molson beer factory in the distance.
The old city’s main pedestrian plaza ( between rues Notre-Dame and de la Commune ) first opened in 1804 as a marketplace. Today it’s a shopping and dining magnet for visitors year-round. In summer, performers fill the air with music, and outdoor cafes serve as perfect spots for people-watching.
The 17th-century houses that line the wide promenade have steeply pitched roofs designed to shed heavy winter snows. Small windows with double casements let in light while keeping out wintry breezes. If you’re traveling with kids , you may want to head straight from here to the attractions of the Old Port, at the southern end of this plaza.
You can have lunch right in Place Jacques-Cartier at Jardin Nelson . The restaurant has a porch adjacent to the plaza, but the best spot on the premises is the appealing tree-shaded garden court. Here, live jazz is played every afternoon and evening . A gigantic 24-page menu runs from tacos and tartares to crepes and pizzas.
Built in 1847 and first used as the Parliament of United Canada, the Bonsecours market ( 350 rue St-Paul est, at the foot of rue St-Claude ) is now home to restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques featuring Québécois products. The building's massive dome once served as a landmark for seafarers sailing into the harbor. Nowadays the dome lights up at night.
Take a stroll on this main walking street of Vieux-Montréal, lined on both sides with shops, bistros, and bars. Many decent art galleries have sprung up alongside the loud souvenir shops, and some recommended restaurants are here, too. If you’re done walking, head south a few blocks to the sights of the Old Port. Looking to treat yourself? If you didn't have lunch earlier, you can swing by the Hôtel Bonaparte ( 447 rue St-François-Xavier ) for the two-course-plus-coffee lunch at the hotel's elegant restaurant, where adroit service pairs with high-style French cuisine.
A first visit to Montréal should include a stop at this continually modernized museum complex ( 350 Place Royale ) devoted to archaeology and history. Evidence of the area’s many inhabitants—from Québec’s earliest native peoples to French trappers to Scottish merchants—has been unearthed during archaeological digs here, the site of Montréal’s original colony. Visitors tour the exposed ruins of the earlier city by winding through a subterranean complex. If you work up an appetite traversing the centuries, take a three-minute walk to the extremely popular and earthy bakery/café Olive et Gourmando ( 351 rue St-Paul ouest ). It offers up croissants, scones, and hearty fare such as Cuban sandwiches and the Cha-Cha-Chia bowl with berry chia pudding, quinoa, and nut butter muesli.
Montréal’s Old Port has been central to the city's commercial and economic status over the last 200 years. Now the converted waterfront and its piers (or quays, as French speakers call them) are a playground year-round.
The gigantic Grande Roue de Montréal Ferris wheel was installed here in 2017; it operates year-round. From June to September, a miniature electric train scoots around the area (passengers may board near the Ferris wheel). You can also take a ride on the zip line, sign up for a cruise along the St. Lawrence, or explore hands-on exhibits at the Centre des Sciences de Montréal . In cold months, a spacious ice skating rink becomes the focal point.
For more help planning a trip to the area, pick up or download a copy of Frommer's Montréal Day by Day .
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Old Montreal Visitors Guide
Old Montreal is a part of downtown Montreal that has been preserved in much of its original state, with the oldest buildings dating back to the 1600's. This historic neighborhood is a safe and vibrant community and tourist attraction , with hotels, restaurants, shops, residences and commercial spaces.
Like Quebec City , Old Montreal is European in character. Cobblestone streets, a café culture and historic 17th- and 18th-century architecture all contribute to the quaint charm that is unique amongst cities in North America.
Old Montreal sits between the St Lawrence River and downtown Montreal. It covers about one square km (or 0.4 square miles). Its boundaries are roughly Rue Saint-Antoine, the St. Lawrence River, Rue Berri, and Rue McGill. The best way to get around once there is most definitely on foot.
Getting to Old Montreal
- Three metro stations, all on the "orange" line, service Old Montreal: Square-Victoria, Place-d'Armes, Champ-de-Mars. See a Montreal Metro Map.
- Bringing your car to Old Montreal is a bit of a nuisance, as the cobblestone streets are narrow and parking may be difficult to find.
History of Old Montreal
The city of Montreal has a history dating back to 1642 when settlers from France landed at the edge of the St. Lawrence River and began to build a model Catholic community. The town became a major trading and military post—at one time surrounded by fortifying walls—and housed Canada's parliament for a few years in the 1800s. This waterside community is today's Old Montreal.
What to Do in Old Montreal
Visitors can appreciate Old Montreal by merely wandering the streets and stumbling upon its delightful nooks and crannies. Nevertheless, visitors should also make a point of seeing some of its more famous attractions (stop by the tourist bureau at 174 Notre-Dame St. East corner of Place Jacques-Cartier and pick up a free map).
The Old Montreal website has a well laid out and thorough self-guided walking tour of Old Montreal , complete with photos and maps.
Old Montreal Museums and Historical Highlights
TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre
- Point-a-Calliere Museum is a wonderful museum that explores the history of Montreal through archaeological studies and artifacts.
- Notre Dame Basilica, completed in 1829 has a unique light and sound show that recounts a history of Old Montreal and the church.
- Centre d'histoire de Montréal is set in a historic fire hall and focuses on the history of Montreal.
- Château Ramezay Museum explores the history of Quebec and Montreal through paintings and artifacts in a former governor's residence. Lovely cafe and gardens.
Old Montreal Public Spaces
TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre
- Place Jacques-Cartier is a public square in true European tradition where people gather to sit on patios, browse the wares of local artists and craftspeople and otherwise mingle.
- Montreal's Old Port sits on the St. Lawrence River, stretching along Rue de la Commune. This area makes for a nice waterside stroll and offers green space where kids can burn off some energy. In winter and during the Montreal High Lights Festival, a large outdoor skating rink is free to the public.
Shopping in Old Montreal
Galleries, boutiques and art, jewelry, houseware, and gourmet shops are abundant in Old Montreal. There are some tourist shops crammed with trinkets, but even those, at least, are set in beautiful, historic buildings. In the summer, vendors and artists set up their wares on the streets and in Place Jacques-Cartier . Many of these vendors sell the same pictures—one you'll see is of a typical Montreal spiral staircase. Try looking around a while and buying at the end of your visit to ensure you find a fair price and get something you really like.
Places to Eat in Old Montreal
There's no shortage of cafés and restaurants in Old Montreal but beware the tourist traps. Here are some of the better places to eat in Old Montreal:
- Le Jardin Nelson is famous for its crepes and boasts a lush, multilevel outside terrace set amidst the partial walls of a 19th-century building. Live jazz.
- Olive + gourmando - Cozy and busy. Homemade pastries and superb soups and sandwiches.
- Les 3 Brasseurs - Not especially French but good microbrew beer and bar food.
- Club Chasse et Pêche - Rich, intimate interior. Pricey but delicious and creative.
- Chez l’Épicier - Well-known restaurant and chef. Gourmet food shop. Try lunch if on a budget.
- Canadian Maple Delights - Bistro and shop. Maple pastries, ice cream and more.
Hotels in Old Montreal
You won't find large, chain hotels in Old Montreal. Most accommodation is boutique hotels. Visitors may find better bargains at a downtown Montreal hotel, which will be just a walk or short cab ride away. Some of the more popular Old Montreal hotels are:
- Auberge du Vieux-Port is a riverfront hotel in a heritage building. If you don't stay there, at least go for a drink on the rooftop terrace.
- Hotel Place d'Armes offers modern, stylish rooms and an award-winning restaurant.
- Hotel St. Paul is a luxury boutique hotel noted for its restaurant.
When to Visit Old Montreal
Montreal winters are long and cold, so from after Christmas until the May long weekend, Old Montreal is quiet. In fact, some restaurants and businesses shut down for winter. This low period results in lots of travel bargains. Warmer months, especially July when many popular festivals occur, are definitely the preferred—and more expensive—times to travel.
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10 Montréal “musts” for first-time visitors
Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.
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This article was updated on November 10, 2022.
To simplify your initial Montréal visit, we’ve compiled a simple list of crowd-pleasin’ attractions. Think of it as a “ greatest hits ” list of what to see and do in a diverse and exciting city.
In no particular order, here are 10 activities and attractions that first-time Montréal visitors might want to put on their “must see” list.
Climb Mount Royal (the lookout)
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (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.
Spree on Sainte-Catherine Street
As one of the longest commercial strips in Canada, Sainte-Catherine Street is the perfect place for retail rehabilitation. You’ll find international fashion mainstays such as Zara, Victoria’s Secret and H&M. But don’t miss the regional retailers, such as Montréal-made leather goods at M0851 , the coolest kicks at Little Burgundy and a plethora of options at beloved department store Simons .
Eat 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 at world-famous Schwartz’s deli. Discover why Montréal locals fervently adore their bagels at the wood-fire bakeries on Fairmount or St-Viateur . (Clue: the bagels are dipped in honey water before baking). Sample our notorious poutine at La Banquise . Finally, quench your thirst with a locally produced beverage, such as Rise kombucha or 1642 Cola .
Head back in time (in Old Montréal)
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 Notre-Dame Basilica 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 — and where the sangria floweth freely.
Ascend To Saint Joseph’s Oratory
Saint Joseph is often viewed as the saint of everyday life. It’s not everyday, however, 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 contains a vast network of pedestrian walkways — 32 kilometres (20 miles) of connecting passageways, to be exact — beneath street level. During the winter months, approximately 500,000 people circulate on this network daily, using the passages to connect with offices, trains, shops and restaurants. Referred to as RÉSO (“network” en français ), the system connects the city’s convention centre, 10 major hotels and a handful of shopping malls (such as the Centre Eaton de Montréal ). Grab a PDF map and get started on a truly “sub” urban adventure.
Montréalers love to eat. Sure we’ve got our characteristic local food (see above), but one of the best ways to savour the city is to visit one of the local public markets . With a wide range of regional products from across Québec, Marché Jean-Talon — located in the heart of Little Italy — is the largest and most culturally diverse market in Montréal. For a smaller yet equally delicious option, the art deco-style Marché Atwater offers an array of specialty products and delicatessen treats. (Plus it’s located beside the picturesque Lachine Canal.) Wherever you go, be sure to sample seasonal treats such as maple syrup in the spring, strawberries in the summer and Macintosh apples in the autumn.
Hit a new plateau
The colourful spiral staircases of the 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, stopping for a recharge at Café Névé , and then a meal at stylish bistro Chez Victoire . 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 La Fontaine .
Go East (for a feast of attractions)
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 Garden , 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 Biodôme , where five ecosystems are home to over 250 different species of animals.
Find your art beat
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, the Montreal 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 de Montréal (MAC) 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 — check out the event schedule for a listing of live performances.
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No Trip To Montreal is complete without a visit to Old Montreal
Old Montreal is the once walled city, the mother city which is located in the borough of Ville Marie. This is where it all began for the city of Montreal back in 1642. The old city centre is steeped in history of interest for those native to Montreal as well as for tourists. You will really enjoy the charming Old European atmosphere as you stroll the streets of the historic neighbourhood.
The founder of Montreal was Sieur Maisonneuve after he, Jeanne Mance and their other companions landed. Back then they called the area Ville Marie. Now you can visit the very spot where they first landed. How will you find it? Look for the obelisk that was erected in 1893.
When walking down the streets of Old Montreal you can very easily see the architectural influences on the buildings from the different time periods. The oldest building in Montreal is the Old Sulpician Seminary. The seminary, which still stands, was built in 1685 and was home to the Sulpicians, responsible for building Montreal's first parish.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame is another example of architectural differences within the Old Montreal. This basilica was built in the style of Gothic revival, with its two towers and architectural detail this basilica is a glorious feast for the soul and for the eyes.
There is also the Old Port with its IMAX theatre where you can enjoy movie screening with a difference. The IMAX theatre offers a truly 3d experience. The screen is so large and the graphics so good that it truly feels as though you are in the centre of the movie.
When walking around the city not only will you see lots of historical landmarks but you will also find many museums, art galleries, restaurants and coffee shops to stop and have a leisurely lunch or quick coffee before making your way to the next historical site.
A great way to explore this part of the city is with our step-by-step self guided walking tour of Old Montreal . If you'd prefer a fully guided tour, the following is a great option.
Facts For Your Visit
Address: Montreal, Quebec
Official Website: Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal)
Accommodations near Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal):
How to get to Old Montreal (Vieux Montreal) by Metro
Old Montreal can be accessed by any of the 3 Metro stations above. Victoria Square is at the western edge, Place-d'Armes is closest to the central section and Champ-de-Mars is closest to the eastern edge. Walk south (towards the river) from any of the 3 stations to explore Old Montreal.
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One Day in Montreal Itinerary – Visit Montreal in a day
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Montreal is a stunning Canadian city, located in the French province of Quebec. The beauty of Montreal lies in its cobblestone streets, old port, and the beautiful French remnants. Old Montreal is the oldest part of the city. It has a historical square which is surrounded by the famous basilica, the old port and stunning colorful lanes. We created this ideal one day in Montreal Itinerary and travel guide for you to plan your day. We have captured the best of the city’s old town charm, the downtown area, shops and more so that you can the best of Montreal in a day.
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Montreal is one of the oldest cities to be incorporated in Canada (1604). The name “Montreal” is derived from the hill located in the city, called Mount Royal (or Mont Real). Most of Canada’s recent political history can be traced to Montreal and Quebec, so definitely visiting the museums or the city hall should be on your list. If you are short on time, you can head to the old Montreal part of the city, to re-live some of the French heritage and history.
Get a sightseeing bus tour of Montreal city – make the most of your 1-2 days in Montreal.
Only in Montreal for half a day? Book this afternoon tour of Montreal (5 hour) and make the most of your visit.
Beautiful Heritage. Just beautiful heritage, so French and so elegant.
We started our exploration of Montreal with the older part of the city. Yes, Old Montreal it is.
Start the day at Old Montreal or Vieux Montreal
We arrived in Montreal via Air Canada in the early hours. We took a cab ride to Old Montreal to start exploring the city. The cab fare costs us $30 CAD and we reached Notre Dame Basilica in about 20 minutes. There is metro service available to the Basilica from the airport as well. The closest metro station to all sightseeing spots in Old Montreal is Place d’Armes station.
The beautiful French quarters, the cobblestone lanes and the iconic Notre-Dame Basilica are all located in Old Montreal. This part of the city dates back to the 17th century. In here, you will discover the old port of Montreal located along the Saint Lawrence River, the Montreal Science Centre and the historic Clock Tower.
Take a walking tour of Old Montreal and explore this historic part of the city
Visit the iconic Notre Dame Basilica
Notre Dame Basilica is one of the popular Canadian landmarks and also a National Historic Site of Canada . The Basilica is dedicated to Mother Mary. The Basilica’s Gothic architecture is one of the splendid sights in the world. The structure is constructed of stone and the interior is decorated with golden stars and deep blue colored ceilings. It is filled with hundreds of intricate wooden carvings and religious statues.
The interiors of the church are stunning with stained glass windows.
The Notre Dame Basilica is open for masses. There is an entry fee for visitors, which is $8.00 CAD. The basilica conducts a light and sound show called the “Aura”. The show is 45 minutes long and it highlights the Basilica’s heritage. It is offered in the evenings, from Tuesday through Saturday (6:00 pm and 8:00 pm) and Sundays (7:00 pm and 9:00 pm). Tickets are priced at $24.50 CAD for adults ($22.20 CAD for seniors and $14.80 CAD for children and young adults).
Location : Old Montreal – 110 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal
Price: For mass – free, Without mass – $8 CAD, Light show – $15 – 25 CAD
Place d’ Armes – Site of Montreal’s founder
Right opposite to the Notre Dame Basilica is Place d’Armes. In the centre of Place d’Armes, lies a monument in memory of Paul de Chomedey, the founder of Montreal. This monument is called Maisonneuve Monument. Its commemorates Chomedey’s defense of the young French settlement against the Iroquois. (The Iroquois or Haudenosaunee are a historically powerful and important northeast Native American confederacy).
Place d’ Armes square is surrounded by other buildings of importance as well like the Saint-Sulpice Seminary (built in 1657), the monument of George III (built in 1773), New York Life Building (built in 1887), Montreal’s first high-rise; the Bank of Montreal head office (built 1859), Canada’s first bank; the Art Deco Aldred Building (built in 1931) and the International style 500 Place D’Armes (built in 1968)
Location : Old Montreal
Admire the Montreal City Hall
Montreal City Hall is located in Old Montreal. It is a five-storey city hall, which is the seat of local government in Montreal. Montréal City Hall has a long history – from the stunning architecture, to the fire survival signs to the French President General de Gaulle’s famous slogan “Vive le Québec libre!” (Long live free Québec) in 1967, the Montreal City is an iconic landmark and a testimony to the changing landscape and formation of Montreal today.
You can either admire the building from outside or take a guided tour with a walking tour of Old Montreal.
Location : Old Montreal – 275 Notre-Dame St. East, Montreal
Price: Free for touring the City Hall
Learn about Montreal’s History – Pointe-à-Callière Museum
Pointe-à-Callière Museum is a museum of archaeology and history in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada. You can visit this museum to learn about the city’s past. This museum was founded in 1992 as part of celebrations to mark Montreal’s 350th birthday.
Location : 350 Place Royale, Montreal
Price: $8 – 22 CAD
Explore Old Port Montreal
The Old Port of Montreal (or Vieux-Port de Montréal ) is the historic port of Montreal, Canada. It stretches for over two kilometres along the St-Lawrence River in Old Montreal. French fur traders have used this port as a trading post as early as 1611. In 2005, the Old Port of Montreal changed its name to The Quays of the Old Port of Montreal.
Take a sightseeing cruise on Saint Lawrence River
Currently, Old Port Montreal or Vieux Port de Montreal attracts millions of visitors each year. Activities like water adventures, spa, shopping, walking tours, boating, photo-shoot are common in the Old Port area.
We loved walking in these areas ~ old French architecture, stories of by-gone days and beauty all around.
This picture below was taken from Old Port. Its called the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (Our Lady of Good Help). It is one of the oldest churches in Montreal, built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel.
Location : Old Port Montreal
Price: Free to access
Wander through Saint-Paul Street (Rue Saint Paul)
For years, Saint-Paul Street was Montréal’s main street. Its a beautiful street with many 19th century warehouses recently renovated to serve as boutiques, artists’ studios, homes. The street is lined with flags and French art and architectural buildings. This street (rue saint Paul) is paved with cobblestone all along.
You will also find souvenir stores and tons of restaurants at the Rue Sainte Paul, Old Montreal.
Located about 25 minutes from Old Montreal is Downtown Montreal. We walked through old lanes and reached Downtown in 25 minutes. (Its a 12 minute cab ride, if you do not wish to walk)
Just like any other major Canadian city, downtown Montreal had high rise buildings, manicured lanes, shopping centers, some churches and some monuments.
Montreal Olympic Park and Olympic House in Downtown
Montreal was home to Summer Olympics in 1976. There is an entire street that is built to commemorate the Olympics.
The Olympic Park was built to host the 1976 Summer Olympics. Today you can visit the Olympics Stadium and admire Montreal’s city-scape from the park’s inclined tower. The inclined tower is one of the highest in the world.
The Olympic Park grounds today are more of a recreational and tourist attraction with sports and entertainment shows, offered to its visitors.
Here is a picture of us by the Olympic House in Downtown, commemorating its Olympic heritage. You can see the sky-rise buildings too (like the Bean or the Cloud Gate in Chicago 🙂 )
Location : Downtown Montreal
Go Shopping at Complexe Desjardins
Shopping complex, Complexe Desjardins, is located in Downtown Montreal. This picture is of the shopping mall from inside the building. The day we visited Montreal, Jazz festival – Rio Tinto was going on.
We had an amazing lunch – beer and poutine at Rotisserie St-Hubert. Its located near Complexe Desjardins.
Location : 150 Saint-Catherine St W, Montreal
Hike Mount Royal
Mount Royal is a hill located in the city of Montreal. Mount Royal was once a volcanic mountain, which is now dormant. The city of Montreal’s name is derived from this hill, ‘mont real’ or ‘mount royal’.
It takes about 9 minutes to reach Mont Royal from Downtown Montreal by car (or a 45 minute walk). Mont Real is located to the west side of Downtown.
The location and the history of Montreal dates back to 1535, when the first European Jacques Cartier arrived in Mont Real, guided by the people of the village of Hochelaga. He named the hill in honour of his patron, Francis I of France and called this mountain Mount Royal. It is also believed that Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve made a pilgrimage to the top of the mountain in the 17th century. His statue is located in Place D Armes (in Old Montreal).
There are tons of activities to indulge in, at the Mount Royal Park. You can hike up the hill, it takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit (or look out) and from there you can see breathtaking views of Montreal. There is a staircase of 550 steps to reach the top (one way).
If you have additional time on your hand, you can bike around, picnic or just soak the sun and enjoy.
Location : Mont Royal Lookout – 1576 Voie Camillien-Houde, Montréal
We kept this item on the list for the evening, as you can see the beautiful city lights before you head for dinner.
Multi cuisine Dining Options by Mont Royal
There are quite a few dining options near Mont Royal. Depending on your budget, we have included a few options here (more options for Food in Montreal below – under the Travel Tips section)
- Maison Boulud ($$$) – French restaurant, located in posh Ritz Carlton.
- Lola Rosa Café ($$) – Home style restaurant, vegetarian options only
- Le Filet ($$$) – Seafood restaurant
- Ma Poule Mouillée ($) – Budget and casual style restaurant, offering Portuguese food
Other Montreal Trip Ideas
Here are some more sightseeing trip ideas and additional things to do in Montreal Itinerary.
- The Biosphere Environmental Museum – The Biosphere is an environment museum,located at Parc Jean-Drapeau, on Saint Helen’s Island. This site is the former pavilion of the United States for the 1967 World Fair (Expo 67 in Montreal). The museum’s geodesic dome is a stunning piece of architecture. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday. There is an entry fee of $15 CAD for an adult access. The museum is great for environment related educational tour.
- Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin botanique de Montréal) – Montreal Botanical Garden is a large botanical garden in Montreal. The entire area comprises of 75 hectares of thematic gardens and greenhouses. In the gardens, there are a diverse array of plants on display. Get entrance tickets to the Montreal Botanical Gardens
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is an art museum in Montreal. It is the city’s largest museum. It is located on the historic Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Wednesdays – open till 09:00 pm). Entry fee ranges from $10-12 CAD. Book your Montreal Museum of Arts tour/exhibition show
- Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine, located on Mount Royal’s West Summit. It is Canada’s largest church.
Take Day Trips from Montreal to nearby cities
If you are extending your stay in Montreal, venture outside the city to explore more of Canada. Here are some day trips from Montreal options for you
- Quebec City – One of the oldest European settlements in Canada, is the capital of Quebec – Quebec City. Everything here looks and feels European. It is an ideal day trip from Montreal as it is located only an hour away and is filled with history and the legislative buildings.
Take a day tour to Quebec City and Montmorency Falls from Montreal
- Ottawa – Located very close to Montreal is also the capital city of Canada – Ottawa. You can easily explore the capital city’s highlights in a day and then return back to Montreal by evening. There are tours and trains, buses to take you to Ottawa from Montreal. Some of the key sightseeing spots include the Parliament hill, Rideau Canal, etc.
- Mont Tremblant – And into the mountains we go – Mont Tremblant is perfect for a quick day trip outside the city and into the lap of nature. It takes 1.50 hour to reach Mont Tremblant, one way. You can hike or enjoy the day at a mountain resort. During winters, ski and snow activities are very common here.
- The Laurentians – The Laurentians will transport you to the Swiss Alps in the blink of an eye. Stunning mountain ranges, resort town vibes and tons of outdoor activities to keep you busy for a day trip, head to the Laurentians.
- Eastern Townships – Located only about 2 hours away from Montreal, is the land of Eastern Townships. Almost in a world of its own, with beautiful buildings (and architecture), greenery and activities, Eastern Townships is an off beat day trip option from Montreal. You can go golfing, wine tasting, food tours, slow travel, and relaxation.
Travel Tips for Montreal
Here are some useful travel tips to prepare for your trip to Montreal Canada
Getting to Montreal
Montreal is very well connected to all the major cities of the world. The city is served by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, which is very well-connected to all the major destinations. Air Canada headquarters are in Montreal.
Montreal is easily accessible via road and railways. It is very affordable and convenient to travel to Montreal from other major cities of Canada or North America in general. It is roughly 5.50 hours to reach Montreal from Toronto , Ottawa is 2.50 hours away or Quebec city (2.75 hours) or even from the United States.
Travel Documents for Montreal Canada
Travelers with a US/EU passport are eligible to come to Canada, without a tourist visa. They are, however, required to get a travel authorization prior to landing or arriving in Canada. Travel authorization or the eTA, as it’s called, can be applied online. It takes only a few minutes and you will receive the document via email. Please apply for the travel authorization before arriving in Canada.
For visitors requiring a tourist visa, you will have to apply for a visa before arriving in Canada (not a visa on arrival). It is usually applied in your country of residence, with proof of funds and travel plans (or itinerary, hotel reservations to be shown) submitted with your application. Processing times vary by country.
Travel Medical Insurance for Montreal
Tourist visa applications and travelers to Canada must have travel medical insurance.
Get travel insurance quotes for your trip here
Currency in Montreal Canada
Canadian Dollars (CAD) are the mode of exchange in Montreal, Canada. Credit cards are widely used as well. Debit or ABM machines can be easily found in the city to withdraw cash.
Language – Montreal speaks French
Canada is a bilingual nation and this is quite prominent in the province of Quebec. Most street or road signs will be in French. This is true for café and restaurant menus as well. So it will be nice to brush up on some French terms.
- Hello – Bonjour
- Yes /No – Oui / Non /Si
- Excuse me – Excusez-moi
- Thank you – merci beaucoup
- Welcome – Bienvenue
- You are welcome – Je vous en prie
- Good bye – Au revior
- Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous anglais?
We didn’t face any difficulty in navigating the city, without French language, as most people were able to help us with broken English.
Where to stay in Montreal Canada?
We highly recommend staying in a central location for your 1-2 days in Montreal Itinerary. Consider staying in Downtown Montreal or in Old Montreal. These areas are close to most of the sightseeing spots, shopping and restaurants.
- A 4 star hotel, close to sightseeing areas in Old Montreal
- Good hospitality and friendly staff
- Free breakfast. Has an indoor pool
- Book your stay here – SpringHill Suites by Marriott
- 3 star boutique hotel
- Great location, access to sightseeing spots
- Book your stay here – LHotel Montreal
- A 3 star hotel in Downtown Montreal
- Convenient location
- Free parking in Downtown Montreal
- Book your stay here – Courtyard by Marriott Montreal Downtown
We recommend using HotelsCombined.com to find accommodation. It is our favorite hotels website for quickly comparing the prices of multiple hotel booking sites at once.
What to eat in Montreal? Best Montreal food to try
Montreal is a gastronomic heaven. There are TONS of dishes and food to try in Montreal. Take a food tour to experience what Montreal has to offer . Here are some of Montreal’s finest foods to relish.
- Bagels – Yes! You can try bagels and eat them at breakfast, lunch, brunch, snack or dinner. Montreal bagel is a unique style of handmade and wood-fired baked bagel made with malt, eggs, and honey. Try them at St-Viateur Bagel Shop (they are open 24 hour and is a popular bagel shop in Montreal). Find more about them here
- Poutine – Poutine is a dish made of French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy. The dish emerged Québec area and has been cuisine of the province of Quebec. And they are LOADED and DELICIOUS. Try them at Montréal poutine or Poutineville.
- Montreal Smoked Meat – Montreal smoked meat is quite popular and is prepared in a very unique way. Try that in Schwartz Deli
- Maple Syrup – Try it in a donut form at Leche Desserts, or bring some home with you for your oatmeal or waffles.
- Sea food – Try sea food especially oysters at La Boite Aux Huîtres
- Try rotisserie chicken at Roitsserie Romados (Portuguese)
- Pork Buns at Satay Brothers (Oriental)
- Pho or other Vietnamese food at Pho Bac 97 (Vietnamese)
Best time to visit Montreal
Montreal experiences all types of weather. Here is a quick snapshot of seasons in Montreal
- December to March – Winter months. Temperature can drop to -15 or so in winters. Montreal receives snow in winter.
- April to August – Summer and warmer months. Early April you might see floods in the city as snow is slowly melting. But May to August are prime tourist season as the weather is warm and nice for strolls and city exploration.
- September to November – We always recommend visiting in the shoulder season (or off season). The weather during this time is mild, it could get chilly in the evenings, it is not a bad time to explore the city. During this time, hotel vacancies are common so you can score a good hotel and a flight deal to Montreal.
Christmas in Montreal
Christmas are a magical time in Canada in general. So you will LOVE Montreal for the Christmas season. Montreal gets snow in December, so you experience a WHITE snowy Christmas. There are tons of activities in Montreal during Christmas
- There are Christmas or Santa Parade across the city
- Snow activities like ice skating (at Old Montreal or Olympic Stadium), snowshoeing through Jean-Drapeau or hike at the Mont Royal
- Watch Christmas Lights in Downtown Montreal and the City Hall
- Christmas Fireworks at Montreal Old Port
- Seasonal Shopping at the Montreal Underground City – It is a pedestrian network right under the heart of the city links metro stations to shopping plazas for over 32 kilometres. You can take a stroll and shop underground, away from the freezing snow.
- Experience Diners across the city, especially with seasonal Christmas menus.
Hope you found this post on Montreal Itinerary and travel guide useful. It is one of the beautiful cities in Canada and definite MUST visit in your trip to North America.
Additional Montreal and Canada Resources
- Winter Packing Guide – Canada
- Get the most Instagram-worthy spots in Montreal
- Travel Guide to Calgary Canada
- Travel Itinerary and Guide to Vancouver Canada
- Guide to Banff National Park Canada
- See winter and Christmas activities in Banff
Last Update: January 03 2020
PIN- One Day in Montreal Itinerary – Visit Montreal in a day
Mayuri is the founder & editor of ToSomePlaceNew. An Indian-Canadian globetrotter, she has traveled to over 100 cities and 35+ countries. Mayuri has a graduate degree in History and is an MBA. She loves traveling the world, capturing historical nuances, and discussing that over a cup of coffee with her husband, Salil. She currently resides in Edmonton, Canada, and plots travel plans to Europe, the Americas, and beyond.
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I love visiting Old Montreal. I always feel like I am strolling the streets somewhere in Europe. Did you go into the Notre Dame Basilica? Isn’t it so gorgeous!
Yes, we did. It was so serene and beautiful. We actually spent hours in the Place d Arms Square and the Old Port – wandering around.
I can’t believe I’m a Canadian and I’ve never been to Montreal! When I go I will definitely be stopping by these spots, especially downtown Montreal!
Montreal is a great domestic destination. I hope you get to visit very soon!
I’m really skeptical when I see articles titled as “One-day guide” but this one was really great and you did a great job describing the city in just one day!
I’m going to Montreal in August! Thanks for sharing the your trip. For sure it help me 🙂
This is a great itinerary for one day in Montreal. You’ve given me some great ideas for if I ever visit there! Thank you!
Haven’t been to Montreal in a while but I loved it there! I wish I was old enough to appreciate some of the finer things about the city. I definitely will be going back someday!
When you visit Montreal, there are many beautiful and amazing views. Thank you for sharing your vacation experiences and knowledge.
Thanks so much!
Thanks for the hints
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Old Montreal : 25+ Best Things To Do In 2023 | Local Tips
So you want to time travel in montreal… take a look at our list below for suggestions on what to do while you visit old montreal..
Mile End – Montreal’s Best Neighbourhood to take a Food Tour
Take the Mile End Montreal Food Tour and discover the most creative neighbourhood in Montreal. Includes: 6+ food stops including the #1 classic St. Viateur bagel.
-★★★★★- Five Star rating with over 2000+ reviews on TripAdvisor
Learn More about this tour
Old Montreal Attractions: Things to Do, Restaurants, Museums and… a Few Secret Places!
It’s easy to think Old Montreal is all about the past… cobblestone everywhere, narrow streets, old buildings and layers of history. They all work together to transport you in time to Montreal’s European roots, but, today’s artists and designers have taken this historic canvas and turned it into a playground for the modern imagination. Full of delicious restaurants, museums and so much more – take a look at our list below for suggestions on what to do while you visit Old Montreal.
For similar recommendations all around the city, check out these 17+ Super Exciting Things to Do in Montreal for Summer 20 22
Eat your way through the restaurant scene
If you’re really hungry check out these 17 Delicious Old Montreal Restaurants You Must Try 2022 or choose from some of our favourites below
Mélisse is the perfect spot to dine at any time of day, what started as a brunch spot has now opened its doors for dinner, too. A light airy atmosphere, minimalist decor, and a breezy terrace make it an oasis in the heart of the city. The food is fresh , simple and well thought out so stop by for a coffee and croissant, or a full delicious meal, whenever you need a rest . At this Old Montreal stop, you can feel new again.
2. Place Carmin
Place Carmin Is a French bistro in Old Montreal. Is a great new hot spot for late night food and drinks as the kitchen will serve food and take orders until 11pm. During the day Place Carmin, is very bright, roomy and inviting. The beautiful terrace at the front of the restaurant will come in handy once the temperature rises.
3. Cafe Un Po Di Piu
Located in the heart of Montreal’s Old Port, Un po di Più serves delicious Italian-inspired dishes, exclusively Italian wines and fresh handmade pastas.Imagine an Italian-style bar.
Let someone else be the guide on a private evening food tour
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the choices, especially when it comes to restaurants, take a food tour and you don’t have to decide!
4. Private Old Montreal Evening Food & Drink Tour
The Old Montreal Evening Food Tour is the best way to experience, taste, and learn about Old Montreal . The tour stops at 3 different tasting locations. Between the food tastings, your knowledgeable guide takes you to famous Montreal landmarks and dives into the history of the area. Spend time learning about Old Montreal while tickling your tastebuds with the Old Montreal evening Food Tour. You can book this exclusive tour directly online every Tuesday and Wednesday at 6pm.
Old Montreal Food Tour on localfoodtours.com @instagram
Discover an exciting pop-up space (only in Summer)
These ephemeral spaces have been taking over the city throughout the last few years. As people develop a thirst for new experiences and community gathering spaces, that means Old Montreal now has its own.
6. Nouvelle Vague
From the people behind Mile End’s Aire Commune, this summer comes the Nouvelle Vague, open May 30, 2019. Details are scarce at the moment, but if their past success is any indication – this pop up co-working space will be a gathering place that allows new ideas to emerge in the open air, fuelled by a spirit of festivity.
Get cultured at an art gallery
Montreal is known as a city full of artists. Mingle with them, and discover works from around the world, at these galleries that just might make you fall in love.
7. Discover new horizons at the Phi Centre
The Phi Centre is home to exciting innovation that blends art, music, film and technology to become a hub for creating and sharing innovative ideas. They present immersive exhibitions that are like nothing you’ve seen before. Step into a VR film or feel the vibrations of mind bending audio.. . The art venue regularly hosts concerts, film screenings and other events, so there’s always something new to discover. You can even dance the night away , express yourself, and have your imagination expanded all at the same time.
8. Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain
Also founded by Phoebe Greenberg, the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain (previously known as DHC/ART), is an absolute must.
Pay tribute at one of the area’s breathtaking churches
What is a visit to Old Montreal, a city full of religious history, without stopping by one of its majestic churches? Today’s artists have even given them an all new cultural significance…
9. Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel
Have you ever heard Leonard Cohen’s song Suzanne ? When Cohen sings “And the sun pours down like honey/On our lady of the harbour,” he’s talking about the Montreal sun shining down on Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel ’s rooftop statue, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. You can come get a firsthand experience of Suzanne’s shenanigans, take an audio tour of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum and connect with Montreal’s past on the archeological site.
10. Notre Dame Basilica
Well revered as one of the most magnificent and famous churches in Old Montreal, the Notre Dame Basilica , built in 1656, it is the city’s oldest Catholic church . Now, playing throughout 2021, Aura makes the church even more stunning. Projecting lights throughout the building using state of the art technology, the light show highlights the spectacular architecture in ways you’ve never seen it before and takes the audience on a sumptuous multimedia journey.
basiliquenotredame.ca / aurabasiliquemontreal.com
Browse the shops for Old Montreal local artisanal goods
You’ll find shops selling everything from fine art to souvenirs as you wander around the streets of Old Montreal, but there’s one place to go if you want to be at the heart of all the retail…
11. Marche Bonsecours
The grand and historic building of Marche Bonsecours is home year round to countless boutiques, galleries and restaurants. You’ll be able to find work from local craftspeople , and definitely something to take home for your loved ones if you’re from out of town. If you are from here, there’s always something new to find even in your own community!
Treat yourself to a day at a Old Montreal spa
We know you’re going to need a foot rub after all that walking.
12. Bota Bota
Bota Bota is a ferry-turned-spa and the perfect place to unwind with its Old Montreal backdrop and peaceful setting on the water . Its five decks have every luxurious treatment you could want including: 2 saunas, a eucalyptus steam bath, gardens, outdoor hot tubs, massage stations, a relaxation area, and even a restaurant… all of them accompanied by gorgeous waterfront views!
Bonus! Indulge yourself with the Old Montreal Food, Drink & Spa Experience
How about pairing two of the best experiences in Old Montreal into one ultimate package ? The Old Montreal Food, Drink & Spa Experience will undoubtedly have you feeling like a VIP, giving you seats at some of the area’s best tables and a chance to skip the line at Bota Bota, the oasis on the water. After immersing yourself in the city’s food, history and culture on a food tour, there’s no better way to end the day than by immersing yourself in a warm outdoor pool looking out at the city’s skyline.
Learn more about the Old Montreal Food, Drink & Spa Experience!
Make a pit stop at the best Old Montreal local cafés
Perk up with a hot cup of coffee and hide away from the elements at these darling café spots, nestled into the beautiful architecture of the area.
Tommy blends modern style with historic architecture in their bright and elegant two-tier interior. They’re stylish, but they also make one of the best coffees in the city … and you can bite into their warm and gooey grilled cheese or avocado toast with an egg if you need more than a drink for breakfast . Ideal as a study spot, for a quick stop or a full meal, there’s no wonder Tommy is a local Old Montreal favourite.
14. Olive et gourmando
Reviewed by foodies nationwide, Olive et gourmando is one of the best lunch places in town. As a boutique cafe and bakery, they serve delicious sandwiches, fresh salads and scrumptious baked goods such as croissants and brownies, and they do it well. It’s so popular among locals and visitors alike that you might just have to wait in line, but in the cozy boutique atmosphere you’ll hardly notice the time.
15. Crew Collective & Cafe
At Crew Collective & Cafe , you can dine, sip coffee and stay a while… you’ll want to in a space like this! Located at the old 20’s era Royal Bank headquarters, this is not your average cafe: it boasts 50 foot vaulted ceilings , seating for 100 and an abundance of additional coworking space for its members. Live your Gatzby-era dreams and stop by this sumptuous cafe for the best coffee and the best wifi in the area.
Take in some Old Montreal iconic views
The views never stop in this beautiful area, but we’re sure you wont want to miss these vantage points and favourite photo opportunities.
16. Terrasse Nelligan
This Old Port restaurant offers sweeping views of Old Montreal, the Saint-Lawrence River and puts you eye-to-eye with architectural icons such as the Notre-Dame Basilica . Five stories up the Nelligan Hotel, this rooftop terrace beckons to patrons with the delicious scent of meat and fresh fish cooking on the outdoor grill, and keeps it fresh with some delicious summery drinks.
17. Habitat 67
Designed for Expo 67, Habitat 67 is an architectural marvel . Originally designed to introduce the outdoor space and multilevel environments that come with suburban homes to affordable urban housing , it is made of 354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms. While the demand to live in the stunning property drove prices up, taking in its weirdness, scale, and vision of the future are all free from the banks of Old Port.
Explore Old Montreal with the whole family
Visiting galleries, restaurants and churches all day can become a bit tiresome for the young and young at heart, but these recommendations will give your sightseeing a much needed sense of adventure.
For more kid-friendly activities around the city, here’s 17+ Amazing Things to do in Montreal with Kids year round.
18. La Grande Roue de Montréal
Hop aboard one of the enclosed gondolas of the 60 meter tall observation wheel and take in breathtaking views of the city, the river and the mountains! As the lights twinkle in the evening it’s particularly magical , making it a perfect experience for capping off a long day of fun, no matter what the weather.
Expand your mind at these Old Montreal museums
In a location full of history, it’s no surprise there’s lots to learn! You can also choose from these 11+ Montreal Museums to Visit while exploring the rest of the city.
19. Montreal Science Centre
The Montreal Science Centre is another exciting family-friendly adventure. With hands-on exhibits that let you explore the environment, biology, culture and technology in all new ways. There’s also IMAX 3D movie theatre screening breathtaking nature documentaries . No matter what your age is, you’re sure to learn something new – a day at the Science Centre is never dull!
20. Pointe-à-Callière Museum
It’s a museum about Montreal ‘s history and archeology, but Pointe-à-Callière is far from boring. They’ve got a wide range of exhibitions: from the beginnings of Montreal, to local pirates (perfect for kids), contemporary culture, a hands on archeological adventure – and so much more to discover!
21. Chateau Ramezay
Chateau Ramezay is a historic site and museum that’ll allow you to get in contact with the city’s past on a more personal level . The building itself is full of history, from its inception in 1705 as a residence for then Governor of Montréal, Claude de Ramezay, to its occupation during the American Revolution. Now, the builiding has spent its last 120 years of as a museum , so they know what they’re doing. Come by and step on into the past.
Shop a little, or a lot (Old Montreal shopping)
Full of designer boutiques, even hitting the mall can be a cultural and artistic event here in Old Montreal.
Rooney , a clothing and accessory boutique, seeks to provide its patrons with the best of the latest trends , from both well known and independent up-and-coming designers. That means a more intimate shopping experience: the items you take home aren’t just another consumer good, they’re a quality product with a story. Come shop here worry-free, Rooney’s collection promises to be right on fashion’s cutting edge.
23. Michel Brisson
This high end men’s clothing store could actually double as an art gallery. That’s because the collections you’ll find at Michel Brisson are so meticulously chosen that just perusing through the items transports you into the minds and worlds of some of the best international designers .
24. Denis Gagnon
Denis Gagnon clothing is an architectural marvel in itself. His designs are at the forefront of fashion, stemming not from trends but from his imagination. Taking a precise and delicate approach to leather , famously Gagnon’s favourite material, the clothes may not be in the average shopper’s price range. They are instead works of art , hanging on racks in the minimalist boutique (along with the clothes of a few other designers) the way paintings hang on the walls of a gallery.
25. Le Petit Dep – Old Montréal
There are plenty of dépanneurs (convenience stores) all around Montreal, but this one’s unique. Le Petit Dep is a charming little boutique full of local goods . You can get their homemade salads, sandwiches and soups, bring home a jar of local syrups, honeys, oils and more, snack on quality local cookies, chocolates, and pastries, cool off with an ice cream from Les Givrées, and have a coffee or beer from a local microbrewery. There’s even more to discover, but you’ll have to check out the store to explore the rest!
Discover the rest of this wonderful city!
As incredible as Old Montreal is, the rest of the city is also vibrant, buzzing with life and full of amazing things to discover… check out our other neighbourhood guides for the Plateau , Mile End , Mile Ex and Little Italy to continue your Montreal adventure!
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Book one of our tours:.
Mile End Montreal Original Food Tour
6+ food stops including the #1 classic St. Viateur bagel. Come hungry enough for a hearty and satisfying lunch!
3 hours and a 1.7-km walk - 11 AM, 11:30 AM and 12 PM, Tuesday to Sunday - $76.95 CAD + tax & fee (children's prices available)
Old Montréal Food & Drink Tour
6+ food stops, including 4 sit-down restaurants and 1 brewpub. Enjoy Montréal's french cuisine at it's best!
3 hours and a 2.3-km (1.4-mile) - 11 AM and more, Monday - Saturday - Adult $98.95 CAD + tax & fees
Montreal Brewpub Experience Craft Beer Tour
6 craft beer tastings at 3 brewpubs + paired with poutine, and local charcuteries, cheese, nachos, and chocolate.
3 hour long walking tour - 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 or 4:00 PM on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays - Adult $72.95 CAD + tax & fee
Evening Mile End Food Tour
All food tastings! 5 food stops incl. a craft beer + the classic St. Viateur bagel
2 hours 15 minutes and a 1.3-km (0.7-mile) walk - 4:30 p.m. and more - $52 CAD [$40 USD] + tax & fee (children's prices available)
Old Montreal Evening Food & Drink Tour
3 unique tasting locations
[Tour available by private request only] - [Tour available by private request only] - Starting at 128,95 CAD + ticketing fees, tips and taxes
Old Montreal Bachelorette Party Food & Drink Tour
5+ food stops, including 3 sit-down restaurants and 1 brewpub. Enjoy Montréal's french cuisine at it's best!
3 hours and a 2.3-km (1.4-mile) walk - 11 AM and more, everyday - Adult $89 per participant
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- Purchase a ticket
- Book a private group tour
- Offer a gift certificate
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The Best Neighbourhoods To Stay in Montreal
Montreal, the vibrant and culturally rich city in Quebec , Canada, offers a blend of historic charm and modern excitement for tourists. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec and is situated on an island (also named Montreal), near the merger between the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The French influence in Canada is very prevalent in this city. Montreal’s official language is French, but residents are known to be fluent in both French and English. This can be very convenient for English-speaking travelers who want to experience some Canadian-French culture. The city itself is defined by historic-looking architecture, beautiful landmarks, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. This includes the many festivals hosted in the city from Montreal International Jazz Festival to the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit, including recommendations on where to stay in Montreal.
Neighborhoods To Explore
Old montreal (vieux-montréal).
The Old Montreal neighborhood features cobblestone streets, historic architecture, art galleries, and lively street performances. Must-see spots around here include Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Port of Montreal, and Place Jacques-Cartier. Travelers who want to explore historic landmarks and architecture should stay here.
Plateau Mont-Royal is an eclectic neighborhood with a unique personality. In this neighborhood, you will be met with a bohemian atmosphere, colorful houses, trendy shops, and a plethora of cafes. Places to visit while staying here include Mount Royal Park, Saint-Laurent Boulevard, and Mile End district.
Downtown Montreal has the big city, and modern vibe that a lot of travelers could be looking for. The neighborhoods include skyscrapers, shopping districts, entertainment venues, and cultural institutions. If you decide to stay here, you should consider checking out the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Crescent Street, and Quartier des Spectacles.
The Village (Le Village)
The Village is a lively LGBTQ+ community with vibrant nightlife and a welcoming atmosphere. Some must-see spots around the area would be the rainbow balls on Sainte-Catherine Street and Beaudry Metro station.
Griffintown is a hipster neighborhood with an easily recognizable style. It is made up of an industrial-chic vibe, trendy restaurants, and a mix of historic and modern architecture. Any artsy travelers, or simply travelers that want to experience a day as such, would thrive in this neighborhood. Some picture-perfect spots in the area include Lachine Canal and Arsenal Contemporary Art.
Where To Stay in Montreal
If you have decided to stay in Old Montreal, you are in for a culture-filled trip. This area is home to some charming boutique hotels. Some of the best hotels in the area to check out include Hotel Nelligan , L e Saint-Sulpice Hotel , or Auberge du Vieux-Port .
You are in for a memorable experience staying at Plateau Mont-Royal. This area is home to the artistic and bohemian side of Montreal, surrounded by cafes and art studios. The best hotels around include Hotel 10 , L e Relais Lyonnais or Hotel Kutu ma .
Get a real big-city experience in downtown Montreal. Here you can stay at fabulous establishments like The Queen Elizabeth (which features a Barbie Dream Suite for Barbie lovers willing to splurge), Hotel Bonave nture Montreal or Hotel Le Crystal . These hotels’ locations offer convenient access to major attractions, shopping and entertainment options.
The Village is the spot for the most carefree and accepting feel during your stay in Montreal. You can also stay here to be close to the vibrant nightlife, LGBTQ+ friendly environment, and close proximity to downtown. Book your stay at Hotel Place Dupuis Montreal Downtown , Hotel Lord Berri , or W Montrea l for a relaxing sleep after a full night.
Deciding to stay in Griffintown is a guaranteed ticket to a cool, new destination. The perfect hotels to book in this area are ALT Hotel Montreal Griffintown , L e Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel or H ôtel Monville . These spots make for the best hotel stays if you want to explore the city’s emerging trends, enjoy modern accommodations and easy access to cultural sites.
Tips for a Great Stay
Public Transportation: Montreal has an efficient metro system and a network of buses. Consider purchasing a multi-day transit pass for easy exploration.
Language: While French is the official language, many Montrealers are bilingual. You can usually get by with English, but it’s appreciated if you try some basic French phrases. Try giving a language learning app a go for a few days before your arrival.
Cuisine: Indulge in Montreal’s diverse culinary scene. Don’t miss trying poutine, bagels and local specialties like smoked meat sandwiches.
Festivals: Check the events calendar for festivals happening during your visit. Montreal hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, celebrating music, art, and more.
Weather: Be prepared for varying weather, especially during winter. Layers are key, and a good pair of comfortable walking shoes will serve you well. Always prepare clothing for a potentially rainy day.
Montreal is a city that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity, offering a unique experience for every traveler. Now that you know where to stay in Montreal, enjoy your stay in this dynamic and welcoming Canadian metropolis.
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Kick Back And Relax At One Of Old Montreal’s Best Locales
There are so many things to do in Old Montreal to fully enjoy one of North America’s most incredible concentrations of 17th, 18th, and 19th century buildings.
This Parisian-style area is located between the harbour and the banking district, and it’s one of the most popular stops for tourists. With the curving cobblestone streets and a rich historical backdrop, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways, and see where you end up; there are so many interesting little cafes and shops. Follow this list for some of the best experiences Old Montreal has to offer!
10 Fantastic Places Anyone Passing Through Old Montreal Must Visit
1) bonsecours market.
A quintessential part of Old Montreal, Marché Bonsecours was built in 1844. Currently, it’s used as a facility to educate people about indigenous art. It also serves as a gallery, so you can purchase works there as well.
Every fall, they have the international World Press Photo exhibit, where you can check out award-winning visual journalists’ work from the previous year.
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2) Bota Bota
This upscale spa is called a ‘floating spa’ because it used to be a river ferry. How cool is that? You can do yoga here, eat healthy food, and get whatever kind of treatment you like at their deluxe spa. Plus, the view is second-to-none.
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3) Centre d’Histoire de Montréal
The museum here is very well maintained, and the staff are polite and knowledgeable. On top of that, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to learn more about the city and its foundation. You’ll get archeological insight into Montreal’s past, as well as portrayals of the city’s history. Don’t forget to visit the French colonial garden – it’s gorgeous!
4) Clock Tower
The clock tower is a great stop to make in Old Montreal. It’s interesting, full of history, and lights up really well at night. You can go for a stroll, a jog, or even just walk your dog around and enjoy the sights. The clock apparently goes off at 11:30 PM, if you’re wondering.
You can also visit the Clock Tower Beach if you’re in Old Montreal during the right time of year.
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5) Marche Bonsecours
Things to do in Montreal must include a stop at Marche Bonsecours. On top of the amazing people watching you can do in this area, it’s also great for shopping, fair prices, and friendly people.
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6) Notre-Dame Basilica
One of the most awe-inspiring locations in Old Montreal… and in Montreal in general, is the interior of the Notre-Dame Basilica. Montreal’s oldest Catholic parish church was founded in 1656, however it’s been restored and is absolutely breathtaking inside.
The interior of this building with its intricate detail and old feel makes it a clear must on your list of things to do in Montreal.
7) Phi Centre
This multipurpose venue holds events of all types for arts and culture. You can attend concerts, film screenings, plays and even original exhibits all at this spot that needs to be on your things to do in Montreal.
8) Place Carmin
With great reviews, service, food, and wine, this modern French restaurant is popular for a reason. Just look at that dish! There’s outdoor and indoor dining, and the staff are also very modern and considerate. They take the utmost care to address food allergies and make recommendations, however they recommend you’re very clear about any sensitivities you have.
Bonus: Prices are actually quite fair in comparison to other French restaurants.
9) Place d’Armes
The second oldest public site in the city, Place d’Armes is a historical public area in the heart of Old Montreal. This is where you’ll find the Notre-Dame Basilica, which is Montreal’s oldest Catholic church.
This busy square is right at city centre, and is also the oldest stone dwelling in a city where most buildings were made cheaply of wood.
This archeological site features Public Markets that will take you back to 18th century France. Many locals who visit this say that the event and the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History ignites their love for Montreal in all new ways. However, visitors love it just as much.
The effort that they put into the costumes and the events is second-to-none! This is a must-see in your list of things to do in Montreal.
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10 Things To Do In Montreal When You're Bored On A Sunday
Posted: November 19, 2023 | Last updated: November 19, 2023
Sometimes it can feel like everything is closed on the chillest day of the week, but in Montreal, Sundays are anything but mundane. From solo self-care dates to sipping coffee in hidden cafés , and exploring underrated Montreal museums , there’s a side to the city that still comes alive on the last day of the weekend.
Here are some bucket list activities that will turn your lazy Sunday into an all-day adventure.
Watch a movie in a Cineplex VIP theatre
Price: Varies depending on the movie
When: See website for viewing schedule
Where: Cinéma Cineplex Forum et VIP, 2313, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, #101, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Sunday movies are always a go-to, but why not take it to a whole new VIP level? Montreal now offers several theatres with VIP services, which include plush, oversized, reclining seats, attentive staff members catering to your needs, and a menu of gourmet food and refreshing drinks right to your seat.
More at cineplex.com
Visit the Barbie Expo at Les Cours Mont-Royal
When: Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: Les Cours Mont-Royal, 1455, rue Peel, Level 3, Montreal QC
Why You Need To Go: It's safe to say that Barbie-mania took the world by storm this year with the release of her blockbuster hit film, but Montreal has had a special place for the world's most famous doll for years. The Barbie Expo, a captivating display of creativity and craftsmanship, is located in the heart of Montreal and features an array of Barbie dolls adorned in exquisite costumes and accessories, honouring fellow fashion icons, movie stars, and cultures from around the world. Each doll is a miniature masterpiece, taking you on a journey of fashion, art, and imagination as you gaze into each of the showcases.
More at expobarbie.ca
Sip and play at a Randolph board game café
When: See website for reservations
Address: See website for various locations
Why You Need To Go: Go from bored to board game Randolph Board Game Cafe. Home to hundreds, if not thousands, of board games for every skill and skill level, the staff are well-versed on each of the games and their rules, so you can find your new favourite or hone in on the classics. Order from a menu of tasty bites and delicious drinks to feed more than just your need for fun. Randolph encourages not your competitive spirit, but the spirit of quality time together.
More at randolph.ca
Learn about local history at a Montreal museum
Price: $17 to $26
When: Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 350, Place Royale, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Built atop genuine archaeological ruins, Pointe-à-Callière Museum offers a unique perspective on Montreal's evolution from its prehistoric roots to the modern city that it is today. The museum's exhibits bring the past to life, displaying artifacts, interactive displays, and multimedia presentations. Along with its permanent exhibits, it welcomes three to four temporary exhibits each year, honing in on a specific moment in history and culture.
More at pacmusee.qc.ca
Why You Need To Go: Thrift shopping is definitely something to do with some dedicated time, which makes Sunday the perfect day to do it. The city is home an eclectic array of thrift stores, vintage boutiques, and consignment shops for you to pick up some stellar pieces from... and with such incredible style in Montreal, you know you're in for some treasures. Not only is it an eco-friendly way to shop , you can fill your closet at a fraction of the price than traditional stores.
See our recommendations
Take a bagel making workshop
Price: $80 per person
Address: 5612, rue Cartier, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: One of the city's most famous exports is our Montreal bagels , known for their sweet taste and doughy texture. But instead of using Sunday to head to your favourite bakery, book yourself a bagel-making class. At The Bagel Class, you'll learn the art of crafting these iconic treats from scratch and under the guidance of expert bakers, you'll knead, shape, and bake your own bagels, mastering the traditional Montreal method.
The Bagel Class website
Go for brunch
Why You Need To Go: Nothing is as classic on a Sunday as going for brunch . For Montrealers, it isn't just a meal... it's an absolute way of life. The city is filled with incredible spots, serving brunch takes from all over the world, so you aren't just catching up with friends over eggs, coffee, and mimosas — you're getting a taste of the city's multicultural restaurant scene.
Check out our recommendations
Become part of the art at Oasis Immersion
Price: $33.92 for adults, $28.74 for students
When: Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Address: 301, rue Saint-Antoine O., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: For the perfect chilled-out Sunday, Oasis Immersion offers a unique sanctuary for those seeking total body and sensory activation. This immersive experience takes you through virtual landscapes, from lush rainforests to celestial realms, promoting relaxation and mindfulness. It's the largest permanent indoor immersive installation in Canada and you can currently get tickets to Van Gogh Distortion, Sweet Folie, and transformé.
More at oasis.im
Visit this historic house in Old Montreal
When: Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 280, rue Notre-Dame Est, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: A visit to Château Ramezay is the perfect thing to do if you're looking for something new to do on a Sunday. Located in Old Montreal, this historic gem, offers a stunning journey through time. Wander through the exquisitely preserved rooms, adorned with period grandiose furnishings and intricate artifacts, and let the history of early Montreal come to life.
More at chateauramezay.qc.ca
Try go-karting at Action 500
Price: Starting at $33 per person
When: Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Address: 5592, rue Hochelaga, Montreal, QC; 1865, route Transcanadienne, Dorval, QC
Why You Need To Go: If you have the need for speed and are looking to let out some adrenaline energy, then sounds like go-karting is the perfect activity for you. Montreal Action 500 Karting is an indoor karting venue that offers thrill-seekers the chance to unleash their inner racer on a challenging track. Perfect for beginners, experts or anyone just looking to feel the wind in their hair.
More at action500.com
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Quebec earmarks up to $7M to bring Los Angeles Kings to provincial capital for visit
Opposition parties say province shouldn't be spending that kind of money on hockey.
The Los Angeles Kings will showcase part of their training camp and play two pre-season games at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City next year.
The team will stay in Old Quebec from Oct. 2 to Oct. 6, and this, thanks to a provincial government subsidy worth between $5 and $7 million.
Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard announced the plan during a news conference Tuesday, arguing the government often backs comparable events such as the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal or Mosaïcultures, a horticulture exhibit that has cropped up in different cities.
Girard said the hockey event will cost up to $10 million total, but it will generate revenue.
"I have the benefit of seeing all the subsidies that the government grants to sports and cultural events, and I can confirm that we are in the right order of magnitude," he said.
Gestev, the organizer of the event and the recipient of the subsidy, is a property of Quebecor.
Martin Tremblay, head of Gestev and chief operating officer of Quebecor's sports and entertainment division, said it was the Quebec government that launched the initiative.
Tremblay said it is a privilege to host an organization like the Kings for the last week of training camp.
The province's opposition parties were quick to call a penalty.
"The CAQ is passing the puck to the NHL rather than to the people who are struggling. Yes, I love hockey. But not at this price," said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, spokesperson for Québec Solidaire, on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The CAQ says it lacks money for public sector workers, but it gives up to $7 million to NHL millionaires, he added.
"Quebecers really like hockey, but they would also like to have a government with a sense of priorities," he said.
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Joël Arseneau, a member of the Parti Québécois, said Quebec is cutting important expenses like essential regional air service support while spending millions of dollars on bringing a hockey team to Quebec City for a few days.
Liberal member Gregory Kelley said food banks are asking for $8 million while the government is ready to give $7 million to the NHL.
"Thousands of Quebecers are hungry,'' Kelly wrote on X. "That's more important than two hockey games."
But Kings president Luc Robitaille said, "we will be very proud to play here next fall. Fans will be able to see our star players up close and watch our young prospects fight for a spot on our team in 2024-2025."
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Phillip Danault from Victoriaville, Que., and Pierre-Luc Dubois from Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., both play for the Kings.
The Kings will face the Boston Bruins in the first pre-season game on Oct. 3, before taking on the 2023 Stanley Cup finalists, the Florida Panthers, two days later.
The NHL has not presented a pre-season game at Videotron Centre since 2018, when the Montreal Canadiens faced the Washington Capitals.
The arena opened its doors in 2015 with the goal of attracting an NHL franchise. For now, this building is the home of the Quebec Remparts in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 18,000-seat arena was built for $370 million, jointly paid for by Quebec City and the provincial government.
The Quebec Nordiques, the city's former NHL team, moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche, winning the Stanley Cup in its inaugural season.
with files from Radio-Canada and The Canadian Press
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