Welcome to Montreal! This vibrant and diverse city is filled with exciting things to do and see. Whether you're looking to explore the city's rich culture, sample delicious food, or take in the stunning views, Montreal has something for everyone. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the best (and lesser known) attractions and activities that Montreal has to offer – in a time crunch! From historical sites to outdoor adventures, there's something for everyone in this vibrant city. So, let's get started and explore the wonderful city of Montreal… start the clock!
The Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal is a truly breathtaking experience. Not only is the architecture and design of the Basilica stunning, but the historical and cultural significance of the building makes it an absolute must-visit destination. This iconic Catholic church is a central part of Montreal’s history – it was the first Gothic Revival style church in Canada, and has been standing since the late 19th century. Inside, you will find magnificent works of art, as well as a stunningly beautiful interior that will take your breath away. Due to the incredible acoustics of the building, there are also regular concerts and events held at the Basilica. Admission includes a twenty minute tour, or you can take a one-hour tour that gives more in-depth historical information and access to private areas, including the second balcony and crypt. No matter when you visit, there will be something to do and experience.
Old Montreal is a beautiful and vibrant neighbourhood that offers visitors a unique experience (and great photo ops). With its cobbled streets, horse-drawn carriages, and quaint shops, you can easily spend one full day exploring all that this area has to offer. It is known for its charming architecture, including historic churches, and is also home to many popular restaurants, cafés, and bars. The Old Port area is also a great place to explore, with its beautiful views of the water and the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Additionally, it is home to the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Montreal Science Centre, making it a great destination for those interested in history and culture.
The McCord Stewart Museum
The McCord Stewart Museum in Montreal is an incredible place to explore the history of Canada and its relationship with the Indigenous people of the area. The Indigenous Cultures collection is composed of over 16,000 archaeological and historical objects covering nearly 12,000 years of history. Eloquent examples of the material culture of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living primarily in Canada but also in regions of the United States, Siberia and Greenland, these items reflect the great diversity and richness of Indigenous cultures. It also offers a variety of educational programs, such as workshops and lectures, that help visitors gain a more comprehensive understanding of the history and culture of the area. Visitors can also explore the museum’s interactive multimedia displays to learn more about the history of Montreal and its people. The museum also regularly hosts special exhibitions, concerts, and other events to help bring its collections to life. It’s easy to work up an appetite wandering the many amazing museums in the city. It’s a good thing Montreal has so many…
Montreal is overflowing with amazing eateries, making it hard to narrow it down (especially in 48 hours!) but we’ll name-drop a few worth visiting. Poutine is one of the quintessential French Canadian dishes, originating in Quebec in the 1950’s. La Banquise (994 Rue Rachel E) is one of, if not the most popular poutineries in Montreal. They have a drool-worthy poutine for every palate (try “La Royale” – pulled pork, apples & bacon, or “La Panoramix” – smoked meat, mushrooms, sour cream). You may encounter some pretty long lines during peak tourist season in the summer. If you can’t wait, try Chez Claudette (351 Laurier Ave E) for just-as-incredible poutine and less waiting time if you’re in a time crunch. Schwartz’s Deli (3895 St Laurent Blvd) is another Montreal landmark, and is the only deli in Canada that predates 1930 that’s still in operation – and booming! We absolutely recommend lining up for a smoked meat sandwich. For something really special and unique, make a reservation at Île Flottante – Floating Island en français (176 Saint Viateur West Street). This popular spot features seasonal tasting menus in refined, french dishes that are so beautiful you’ll almost not want to ruin them. Oh, and the bagels! Do not leave Montreal without having a bagel, it might even be against provincial law.
Located in McGill University, Redpath Museum (859 Sherbrooke St W) houses a wide variety of collections from around the world. Open in 1882, this museum of natural history was one of the first of its kind in North America. It contains more than four million specimens and artifacts, including fossils, minerals, and archaeological items (ex. Egyptian artifacts and mummies brought to Montréal in 1859!). There are also a number of interactive displays and activities to help visitors learn more about the world around them. Visitors can explore the museum's collections through a variety of topics, such as zoology, geology, and palaeontology. If you’re looking to nerd-out, you have to spend some time exploring this treasure trove.
The Underground City
Whether you’re visiting in the winter and are hoping to escape the cold, or just love exploring, listen up: Montreal is home to the world's largest pedestrian network, known as the RÉSO. The RÉSO is an interconnected system of shopping malls, office complexes, restaurants, theatres, and other attractions located beneath Montreal's downtown core. Spanning over 20 miles of underground tunnels, the RÉSO connects many of Montreal's most popular destinations. It is an impressive feat of engineering and a great way to explore the city without ever having to step outside. The RÉSO is truly a unique experience and an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Montreal, even if it’s just getting from point A to point B!
The Pointe-à-Callière Museum
Pointe-à-Callière Museum is an incredible place to visit and learn about Montreal's history. Founded on Montreal’s 350th birthday in 1992, and conveniently located in the heart of Old Montreal, the museum's exhibitions showcase thousands of years of history, from the city's Indigenous past to its contemporary culture. The museum offers a range of interactive activities, including guided tours, a virtual reality experience, and an archaeological crypt. These interactive experiences make it a great place for visitors to explore and learn about Montreal's past in an engaging and informative way.
Wandering The City for Art
Montreal is known for its vibrant and creative street art scene. From the iconic murals of the Plateau to the graffiti of the Mile End, the city is full of vibrant and interesting artwork. The graffiti and murals in Montreal often reflect the city’s multiculturalism and are a source of pride for many Montreal locals. Street art can be found throughout the city and is a great way to experience art in a unique and often unexpected way. Whether you’re looking for a specific piece or just want to explore the city’s art scene, Montreal’s street art is worth discovering. Get out your camera, you’re bound to find some inspiring pieces in the most surprising places.