The picturesque city of Montreal in Canada’s Quebec region is set on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and an area with great charm and history. Although relatively small, it is also a city that is packed full of culture. There is a tremendous amount of things to do in Montreal with something for everyone. Simply strolling the cobbled streets and taking in the French colonial architecture is a terrific experience in itself, but read on for a few tips for what to do in Montreal which will reveal the true heart and soul of this fun, friendly and very beautiful part of Canada.
Discover Old Montreal
The main attraction of this fabulous French-speaking city is the Old Town. The scenic Rue St. Paul street is lined with inviting art galleries, cafes and shops so be sure to spend some time strolling down this lovely street. Elsewhere, there are historical squares surrounded by impressive architecture and charming parkland and cafes found along Rue de la Commune which are ideal for people-watching. There is a very European feel here, and it is a hotspot for culture, but it can be one of the more popular tourist areas and therefore slightly more expensive so keep this in mind when visiting. You cannot come to Montreal without visiting the breathtaking Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal which towers over Old Town and the intriguing guides around the church are highly worth the admission fee.
For Nature Lovers
Nature lovers will adore the Montreal Botanical Gardens as the 190-acre area is teaming with over 22,000 species of flora within 10 huge greenhouses each with a different theme. There is also a handful of lovely outdoor gardens which are perfect for leisurely strolls and a coffee. This can provide the perfect escape from the busy and chaotic downtown area, and there is enough here to keep you entertained for a full afternoon. In addition to the astonishing variety of flora on display, the Montreal Botanical Gardens also features an Insectarium with over 250,000 specimens of insects. This makes it one of the biggest insect museums in all of North America!
A Peaceful Retreat
Another great way to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Montreal is to head to Parc du Mont-Royal. The 761-foot hill provides astonishing views over central Montreal from the top, but, be warned that it can be a challenge to walk up the steps to the top! The park is a wonderful spot for chilling out and people watching as it is visited by dog walkers, cyclists, joggers and other people looking to escape the city. If visiting in the summer, be sure to hire a rowboat out on Beaver Lake for a peaceful and serene experience.
Catch A Game
If you were to ask any of the locals for things to do then it is highly likely that one of the first suggestions will be to go and see the Habs at the Bell Centre. The Montreal Canadiens NHL team are an important part of the city’s cultural fabric and there is always an electric atmosphere at any home game which will provide an authentic Canadian experience. Whether or not you are a hockey fan, this is always a terrific experience and one which will give you a glimpse into how the locals live.
For Art Lovers
The Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Montreal features an incredible variety of drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints and just about any other art form that you can think of dating back thousands of years. This will provide a great overview of art from around the globe with highlights including Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt. This is one of the most prominent museums in all of Canada with over 1.3 million visitors each year and it is easy to see why. In addition to the magnificent collection and intriguing temporary exhibitions, the Museum of Fine Arts is also located on the legendary Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street.
As you can clearly see, there are all kinds of things to do in Montreal with something for every type of visitor. This is a very beautiful and historic part of Canada, but if you delve slightly below the surface then you will also quickly discover that this is a cultural hub with a thriving art, food and sports scene which gives real life and character to this French-speaking city. The above are a few of the major highlights not to be missed.