Montreal is the largest city in the Québec province of Canada and offers a LOT for tourists.
With its vibrant neighbourhoods, incredible architecture, and festival scene, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular cities in the country.
We had a wonderful time here exploring many of the most popular sites.
Chief among them, trying French Onion soup in the Old Town!
So I thought it would be a great idea to show you all the awesome things to do in Montreal. Trust me, there are a lot of them!
It’s a city that’s high on many people’s bucket lists, and for good reason.
Whether you’re a culture buff, a huge foodie or simply looking for an adventure, this city has everything you need.
But first up …
You've got a couple of options when it comes to getting to Montreal. So let's break them down for you...
The closest airport to the city is Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.
It's just 20 minutes from Downtown Montreal and is one of the most important airports in Canada. Flights fly in directly from over 130 destinations in Canada, the United States, and further afield.
From the airport, you can reach the city center via the 747 Express Bus. This is by far the cheapest option or you can catch a taxi but be prepared to part with some cash.
If you're already in Canada or the United States then can either catch the train or bus to Montreal.
Amtrak is often the most popular operator if you're traveling from the U.S, whist VIA Rail serves over 450 cities in Canada so they are plenty of route options.
Depending on how long the route is, some train and bus journeys run overnight so you'll save money on accommodation too.
If you're doing a cross-country road trip around Canada like we did then you can always get to Montreal by car.
The city is easily accessed by road, and you can find some great deals on Rentalcars.com!
However, if you're traveling around the country then we highly recommend hiring a motorhome or campervan instead. This way, you can save money on accommodation!
There are lots of fantastic RV rentals in Canada so take your time and do your research.
If you're entering the country here and then planning to do a Quebec road trip (or any other road trip), you'll find plenty of awesome motorhome rentals in Montreal...
When it comes to getting around Montreal, there are a variety of options.
Although Montreal is a huge city, many of the popular neighborhoods are located quite close together, so walking is a great choice.
If you’re heading to Montreal in winter and are worried about the cold, don’t be! Just walk along the underground city network to your next destination.
You can also choose to rent a bicycle to explore the city. There are plenty of bike lanes in Montreal, and bikes are also allowed on public transport.
BIXI is the city's bike-sharing programme and it's incredibly cheap!
Montreal’s public transport network is very extensive, with a metro system and plenty of local bus routes.
The metro has 68 different stations, so it’s an easy (and cheap) way to get around the city. Local buses are also very cost-effective, with the tickets being the same price as the metro.
There are commuter trains available if you want to head out into the suburbs, but most places can be reached either by metro or bus.
If you want to catch a taxi, then Uber is your best bet.
You’ll have endless accommodation options when it comes to staying in Montreal, but here are a few options to give you an idea.
We've got a guide on how to find cheap hotel rooms too if you're looking for a bargain...
Montreal isn’t the cheapest city for travelers on a budget, but you’ll find low-priced accommodation just outside the city.
Luckily, there is a metro station nearby that takes you right into the center of Montreal.
This B&B is in a great central location, with a metro station nearby to access other areas of the city.
You’ll get a beautiful Queen room with a shared bathroom, and breakfast is included. An outdoor hot tub and garden terrace are also available for guests.
This Aparthotel offers spacious private suites fitted with a bathroom and kitchenette.
It’s located only 450 yards from Place Jacques Cartier, so is in a great location for travelers.
If you’re wanting to let off some steam or simply try something new, I have the perfect activity for you!
I just wanted to throw this in, before we get to the more cultural sites. As it’s some of the most fun we have had in a LONG time!
Axe throwing is one of the most unique activities in Montreal and you can do it at a place called Rage.
They offer 1-hour sessions where an instructor will teach you how to throw the axe, and explain how to play matches.
This is one of the coolest experiences in the city, and one not to be missed during your stay.
At the top of our list of cultural sites is a visit to the Notre Dame Basilica.
This stunning church is located within Old Montreal and attracts nearly one million people every year.
Built in the 1820s, It’s one of the oldest examples of gothic revival architecture in Canada.
The Notre Dame Basilica is still an active place of worship, so you’ll have to time your visit accordingly.
You have two choices when it comes to exploring the basilica; you can buy your ticket and explore at your own pace or you can book an ‘AURA experience’. The AURA experience is a multimedia event that immerses you with lights and music.
Taking a ride on the La Grande Roue de Montréal is a must during your stay in the city.
It’s the tallest Ferris wheel in Canada and offers panoramic views of Montreal from 60m in the air.
The La Grande Roue de Montréal is open 10 am - 11 pm, so you can time your visit with a beautiful sunset view of the city.
The cabins are also climate-controlled, so are air-conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter. So, you can head up there whenever!
Make sure this Ferris wheel is included on your itinerary as it’s one of the most popular Montreal activities.
To make sure you get a seat, you can book your entry ticket in advance!
Mount Royal is one of the most popular places to visit in Montreal and it’s not hard to see why!
The walk to the top takes about 30 minutes if you take the direct trail, or can take a couple of hours if you take a leisurely stroll around the mountain and then up.
From the top, head to a spot called Kondiaronk Belvedere; you’ll get a panoramic view of Montreal, which is especially beautiful at sunrise or sunset.
Mount Royal Park is also located here and is full of picnic sites, ice skating rinks, tennis courts, and row boating lakes.
You won’t run out of things to do in this area, so make sure you leave a couple of hours to explore.
If you don't fancy walking up to the top you can also go on an electric bike ride on Mount Royal!
Marché Jean-Talon is one of the oldest public markets in Montreal, and one of the largest in North America.
If you’re travelling on a budget, and like to cook your own food this market is the perfect place to grab fresh produce.
You’ll find an array of vendors selling local fruit and vegetables, seafood and meat, cheeses, spices, and freshly baked bread.
However, if you’re looking for a souvenir then Marché Jean-Talon also sells a variety of bags, crafts, paintings and jewellery among other items.
The sights, sounds and smells of Jean-Talon market are an assault on the senses, which is why it’s one of the top things to do in Montreal.
If there’s one thing Montreal is known for, it’s amazing coffee.
One of the top coffee shops in the city is Cafe Olimpico, which is an old-school Italian café that’s been open since the 1970s.
Not only is their coffee delicious, but there is a large outdoor terrace area to relax. Cafe Olimpico is also open day and night and is a popular place to go and watch soccer.
We made a point of stopping here on our way out of the city, and it’s got a really quirky hipster vibe.
If you still need another coffee fix then why not head to Café SAT. It’s a non-profit organisation, and every dollar you spend on coffee is invested in local artists, researchers, employers and teachers.
Another unique spot to grab a coffee is Tunnel Espresso, which serves brioche doughnuts and fried biscuits that you won’t find anywhere else in Montreal!
Traveling can be tiring, there is no doubt about it. So why not head down to Bota Bota spa-sur-l’eau for a relaxing experience?
The spa is located on a floating ship anchored in the Old Port of Montreal.
It offers saunas, eucalyptus steam baths, and outdoor whirlpool baths among other facilities, so there's plenty to do here.
However, most guests tend to visit for the hydrotherapy circuit. This involves a dry sauna or steam bath, then plunging into a pool of cold water before a relaxation period of 20 minutes.
The circuit is repeated three times to help eliminate bodily toxins!
Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau also offers a variety of treatments including body treatments, facials, massages, manicures and pedicures.
When you're heading up to Mount Royal Viewpoint, make sure you stop in at the Saint Joseph's Oratory.
It's absolutely stunning, and a sight not to be missed in Montreal!
The shrine includes a majestic basilica for close to 2,000 worshippers, with a dome that reaches a soaring 97 metres so its very impressive.
However, you'll have to tackle over 200 steps to reach the front of the church but it's totally worth it.
We can guarantee that the interior will take your breath away, as it's even more impressive than the exterior (somehow).
If you're looking for free things to do in Montreal then you NEED to check this place out.
Cité Mémoire is an art installation that was created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon.
The installation features 25 images that are projected onto buildings within Old Montreal.
These images are well-known (or sometimes, not) characters that offer first-hand accounts of how the city has evolved throughout history.
Cité Mémoire is a truly unique installation and offers you history lessons through projections, words and music.
Some of the scenes displayed by the projections include the burning of Parliament and the story of the first executioner.
If you’re wondering which Montreal attractions to visit, this needs to be at the top of your list.
Here's some more information about Cité Mémoire and what it has to offer!
If you’re a huge foodie, then heading to China Town is a must. It’s where we stopped for dinner on our first night in Montreal, and we weren’t disappointed.
This bustling part of the city was established in the 1890s and is still a much-loved area of Montreal.
Full of vibrant culture and delicious cuisine, this is one of the top food spots in the city.
Whether you’re looking for Dim Sum restaurants, Cantonese seafood or to eat your way through a bowl of noodles, there is a wide variety of establishments to choose from.
Some popular choices include Ruby Rouge, the Noodle Factory, and Restaurant Kim Fung.
Or, for a great value spot, that was VERY popular when we ate there, check out Beijing Restaurant.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth then make sure you head to Dragon Beard Candy and Pȃtisserie Harmonie too!
Canada is full of awesome foodie destinations, and if you've loved the cuisine in Montreal then you should also head to Winnipeg if you've got time!
The neighbouring province of New Brunswick also has a fantastic Maple Syrup experience!
Montreal has the largest underground pedestrian network in the world with over 33 km of tunnels.
They connect to different areas across the city and are the perfect way to get around - especially in the rain, and of course, winter.
The underground city links shops, offices, restaurants, and banks, as well as transport hubs including the bus terminals and metro stations.
Trying to get around is a bit like wandering through a maze, but luckily there are signs dotted around telling you which direction to go.
The underground city is one of the most popular attractions in Montreal so don’t miss out on this cool spot.
Wandering through this historic neighbourhood is without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Montreal.
It’s filled with culture, unique architecture and even horse-drawn carriages that walk along the cobblestone streets.
The streets themselves are crammed with galleries, museums, shops, bistros and food vendors, so you won’t run out of things to do in this special part of the city.
Old Montreal is over 400 years old, so as you can imagine there are plenty of historical sights to see.
Some of the most popular attractions include the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Old Port, Pointe-à-Callière, and Chateau Ramezay.
Best of all, this is the perfect spot to try French Onion Soup. It's a “delicacy” found both here and in the Quebec City Old Town and it tastes incredible!
We stopped at a restaurant called Modavie and would highly recommend it.
This walking tour of Old Montreal will show you all the best sites so why not check it out?
When it comes to visiting places in Montreal, it can be pretty overwhelming as there is so much to see.
However, the Montreal BioDome is a must! It’s part of the largest natural sciences museum complex in the country and is an incredibly immersive experience.
The BioDome takes you through the five different ecosystems in the Americas and is home to over 800 plant species.
However, the most special part is that it’s also home to over 2,500 animal species including penguins and golden lion tamarin monkeys.
Animal welfare is also a top priority at the Montreal BioDome with stimulating activities and spacious habitat size, so you don’t have to worry about your trip being unethical.
The guys who run the Biodome, also operate the Biosphere, and botanical gardens, so there's a lot to see!
Quartier des Spectacles is the entertainment and arts district of downtown Montreal.
One of the main attractions in this area is the Place des Arts which is the city’s major performing arts centre.
Here you’ll find musicals, operas, comedy acts, and theatre productions among many other events.
You’ll also find Salles de Gesu here which is the oldest theatre in Montreal, and Grande Bibliotheque.
Festivals take place throughout the year in this district, and if you head there in the evening the area will be lit up with lights and illuminated fountains.
If you’re a fan of the arts, then heading to Quartier des Spectacles is one of the best things to do in Montreal at night.
Montreal is home to one of the world’s largest and finest botanical gardens.
Visitors can learn about plants from every corner of the world, as the Montreal Botanical Gardens has over 22,000 plant species within its collection.
There are 10 exhibition greenhouses, and 30 thematic gardens on-site, as well as spectacular cultural gardens.
The cultural gardens allow you to transport to the likes of China and Japan, through beautiful flora and are one of the highlights of the botanical gardens.
However, the most interesting part of the gardens is the living plant sculptures.
This place is one of the most breathtaking Montreal attractions and isn’t to be missed.
Visiting the Montreal Science Center is one of the best things to do in the city, especially for families.
It’s a very interactive experience that focuses on teaching science and technology, in an educational but exciting way.
Some of the most popular exhibits include the life-sized science exhibit, Human, the Copernicus exhibition, and Mini Modo which is a fascinating interactive exhibit specifically for children.
There is also an IMAX theatre within Montreal Science centre that shows programmes including ‘Sea Lions 3D’ and ‘Great Bear Rainforest 3D’.
There’s nothing quite like watching a bear walk toward you in 3D!
Although this place is extremely popular with children, we have to say that we loved it just as much...
The Lachine Canal is 9 miles (14.5 km) long and runs through the Southwest side of Montreal. It's actually one of Canada's national historic sites so is a must-visit.
There’s a scenic park located just by the canal side which is the perfect place to take a picnic, and simply watch the world go by.
However, if you do fancy something with a bit more exertion there are plenty of activities to choose from!
Swan pedal boats and electric boats are available to hire so you explore the canal up close. It’s also a great place for kayaking too!
If that’s not for you, you can take a stroll along the path that runs along the canal. It’s the perfect place to take a walk, jog or cycle, and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
This is another ‘must do’ activity in Montreal for foodies!
Mile End is a hip, and trendy upcoming neighbourhood and is the perfect destination for a food tour.
With pizza, sushi, gyros, and bagels galore, Mile End is not a place to visit on a full belly. Trust me, you’ll regret it.
Some of the most popular ‘foodie’ spots in this area of the city include St. Viateur Bagel, Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois, and Cantine Emilia where you’ll get to taste Montreal's speciality - poutine!
This is one of the best things to do in Montreal, so make sure you have room for this activity.
You can either book a food tour with a guide, or you can do your own ‘self-guided’ food tour.
If you're looking to do a tour then this Montreal food tour will take you to all the best spots, or you can book a personalized private food tour.
Saint Laurent Boulevard is the main street that runs through the city center.
It’s the cultural melting pot of Montreal, even though historically it used to be the dividing line between the English and French speakers.
Today, it’s known for its movie theatres, art galleries, unique shops, and of course cuisine.
From Saint Laurent Boulevard you can reach Chinatown, Little Italy and Little Portugal which are all vibrant neighbourhoods with incredible restaurants.
This famous street is also known for its legendary nightlife with quirky bars, laid-back pubs, dance halls, and karaoke bars.
It’s possible to walk the whole boulevard in a day, but this is an experience you don’t want to rush so take your time.
Visiting this casino has to be one of the craziest things to do in Montreal.
The Montreal Casino is one of the world’s largest gaming establishments, with five floors of gaming!
You can try your hand at baccarat, blackjack, poker, and roulette if you’re feeling daring. There are also around 3,000 slot machines here if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed.
If you’ve had enough of gambling, there is plenty of other entertainment available including burlesque shows, dance performances, tribute nights, and free shows among other items on the program.
If you’re after something a little bit different during your travels, this may be the activity for you...
The Ecomuseum Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in Montreal, and it’s not hard to see why!
Although small, this facility is pretty impressive and the staff devote a lot of attention to individual animal care.
During your visit, you’ll get to see some of Québec’s wildlife up close including bald eagles, black bears, Canada lynx, gray wolves, and river otters among others!
The zoo also hosts an ‘adopt an animal’ campaign to help fund the running costs, so if you fancy making a further contribution this is the way to do it!
You'll want to allow a couple of hours for your visit here so take your time and enjoy the wildlife.
The Redpath Museum is one of Canada’s oldest museums and has been open since 1882.
It’s a natural history museum that exhibits the natural history of life on earth, and its collection is pretty impressive.
With over 3 million ethnographic and archaeological items that date from ancient Egypt to the 20th century, there is a lot to see!
There are two ways to explore the museum - you can either go on a self-guided tour or a tour provided by one of the staff.
The second option will cost you, and you’ll have to book it in advance but it’s a great way to learn about nature, geology, and paleontology among other aspects!
There are plenty of awesome things to do in Montreal no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
However, the climate does vary throughout the year so the best time to visit may depend on what you want to do.
In springtime, the ice has mostly melted in the city, and the temperatures start to warm up. However, May is known for its chilly temperatures, and the weather can turn cold again in an instant.
The summer months of June, July, August, and September are the busiest time to visit Montreal as the temperatures reach up to 29ºC. You’ll find Montreal often packed with tourists during this time as numerous festivals take place all over the city.
The months of October and November are a beautiful time to visit the city, as Montreal is covered in striking fall colors. Although the weather is cooler, the city is often quieter during this time of year.
The winter season in Montreal is incredibly cold but is perfect for activities such as ice skating, sledging and even ice-sculpting contests. If you head to Montreal at the end of November or December, you’ll also be able to wander around the city's stunning Christmas markets.
There are so many incredible things to do in Montreal, so this isn’t a city you want to visit on a day trip, or even just spend the night here.
To truly experience what this city has to offer, you’ll want to stay in Montreal for at least 3 to 4 days. This gives you enough time to visit the most popular attractions, without having to rush.
Montreal is one of the most expensive cities in Canada so you'll have to part with some cash during your visit!
Although there are plenty of free (and cheap) attractions in the city, accommodation can be very expensive unless you book in advance and get a good deal.
Even if you're on a shoestring budget you'll want to allow at least $120 per day, and more if you plan on doing a lot here!
There are plenty of fantastic tours in Montreal!
One of the best options is this 3.5 hour guided bus tour as you'll drive past over 200 sites including Old Montreal and Mont Royal Park!
However, you've also got this Old Montreal walking tour and this private city tour with a local.
Visiting this city should be a high priority on your Canadian bucket list, and let’s be honest we all have one!
There are so many awesome places to visit in Montreal that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Some of the highlights include Mount Royal, Old Montreal and Marché Jean-Talon.
Remember to book your entry ticket for the La Grande Roue de Montréal in advance too!
However, it’s not just the tourist attractions that make this city special.
Montreal is full of delicious food, friendly locals and plenty of culture, so is the perfect destination for travellers.
During your time in the province you should also head to Quebec city or spend some time exploring the neighboring province of Ontario.
If you're planning to explore more of Canada then here are some other guides that you may find helpful:
Read: campervan rentals in Canada!
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