15 Essential Things To Do In Montreal In This Lifetime

Before we start – I’m well aware that 15 things is not a whole lot. I could list every single thing to do in the city, but trust me, you don’t have that much time on your hands.

Hell, even I don’t have enough time to see and do everything. And I live here!

But if you’re new to Montreal, if you want to hit up the main sights and tick these boxes off your bucket list, I’m your gal. These are what I feel will best represent Montreal, from a culinary, cultural, historical, and architectural point of view. Mandatory travel experiences, if you will, whether you have a day or a week in the city.

Bienvenue à Montréal!

1.   Go up the Mont-Royal

The view from Mont-Royal - things to do in Montreal

That’s probably the best place to start off your journey, really. It’s a beautiful walk (or bus ride, if you’re lazy like me), it’s entirely free of charge, and the Belvedere observatory offers amazing views of downtown Montreal and the mountains over on the south bank. Great selfie spot, too.

Tip: if you’re brave enough to get up really early, try and catch the sunrise from atop Mont-Royal. Seeing the morning light slowly make its way over the skyscrapers is such a beautiful thing.

2.   Take a food tour

things to do in montreal tours 2

Montreal is nothing if not a foodie city. Our culinary classics might be of the greasy kind, but that doesn’t make it’s all we’re good at! Montrealers love to treat themselves to a night out and have a good meal. In fact, Montreal technically has more restaurants per capita than New York City!

There are many food tours to choose from in Montreal, but my personal favourite is the Mile End food tour with localmontrealtours.com.

Wear your eating pants!

3.   Eat poutine

best poutine in montreal

That’s a no-brainer, and probably on everybody’s list already. But it was worth noting nonetheless! Poutine doesn’t look very appetizing, but trust me – once you’ve had your first bite, you’ll never want to have fries any other way.

There are plenty of places where you can grab good poutine in Montreal, but here are a few of my favourites:

  • La Banquise (994 Rachel Est)
  • Poutineville (1365 Ontario)
  • Montreal Pool Room (1217 St-Laurent)
  • Frite Alors! (2 De La Commune Est)
  • Patati Patata (4177 St-Laurent)

4.   Eat a smoked meat sandwich

things to do in montreal

Another Montreal icon! There are very little things in life that are better than a good, 4 inches thick smoked meat sandwich. And although most guidebooks will tell you to go to Schwartz’s for smoked meat, frankly, I can’t be bothered with the permanent queues and the questionably sticky floors.

I much prefer Lester’s Deli in Outremont (1057 Bernard).

5.   Walk on St-Paul Street

visit old montreal

Old-Montreal has SO many things to see and do, but if you find yourself a bit short on time, a walk along Saint-Paul Street will be a great option to cram in as much of the famous European atmosphere of Montreal. There are tons of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and art galleries along the way for your enjoyment, and since Montreal is a relatively cheap city to visit and live in, prices are quite fair even for a super touristy area.

If you’re new to Old Montreal, you might want to check out my itinerary for first-timers.

6.   Visit one of the markets

things to do in montreal

Markets are a great way to interact with locals (mostly Instagrammers, as perfectly-symmetrical-photos-of-colourful-berries are hugely popular on the platform) and taste new things, especially in the summer when almost everything’s in season (if you haven’t tasted Quebec-made strawberries, you haven’t lived a full life).

I also like to tell people to keep their “souvenir money” for the markets and spend it on locally-made delicacies, like preserves, ice wines and ciders, and the seemingly infinite variety of maple products.

There are two main markets: Jean-Talon and Atwater. I have a preference for the latter because although smaller, it’s in such a lovely location, ideal for a riverside picnic afterwards.

7.   Visit Basilique Notre-Dame

notre-dame basilica montreal things to do

I’m not one to recommend visiting religious buildings unless it’s absolutely necessary – and in this case, it is. The Notre-Dame Basilica is one of the finest of its kind, with one of the most ornate gothic facades in the world, and a strikingly beautiful chapel at the back. That’s where you’ll find the impressive organ everyone talks about.

Also, that’s where Céline Dion got married. #fancy

8.  Take a coffee break

things to do in Plateau Mont-Royal

Montreal is doing fairly well in terms of independent, hipster-approved, Instagram-friendly coffee shops. There are so many new ones opening up every month I can barely keep up! If you like to start you day with a cortado or a soy latte, these places should be on your list.

You may even see me there. Come and say hello!

  • Café Myriade (1000 West Sainte‑Catherine Street, inside Club Monaco)
  • Larue & fils (244 East De Castelnau Street)
  • Réplika (252 East Rachel Street)
  • Humble Lion (904 West Sherbrooke Street)
  • Le moineau masqué (912 East Marie-Anne Street)
  • Café Parvis (433 Mayor Street)

9.   Eat a bagel

montreal bagels

Move over New York City – we’ve got this.

To be completely objective here, I really do think our bagels are best. Ours are boiled in honey-infused water before they are baked, making them much sweeter than their NYC counterparts. To taste Montreal bagels, you basically have two options:

  • St-Viateur (263 Saint Viateur Ouest)
  • Fairmount (74 Fairmount Ouest)

Whatever you do, ask for a bagel fresh out of the oven – this is when the flavours are the most intense!

10.   Browse the boutiques of the Mile End

things to do in montreal 3

Think of the Mile End as Montreal’s Soho; this is where fashion’s at. There are plenty of boutiques in the area to keep shoppers busy for an entire day, but if you only have time for a handful, here are my recommendations:

  • Boucle & Papier (stationery)
  • Frank & Oak (menswear)
  • Vestibule (womenswear and home decor)
  • Unicorn (womenswear)
  • Clark Mercantile (menswear)
  • Annex Vintage (womenswear)

11.   Learn more about animal life at Biodome

things to do in montreal

I’ve written about this before – the super interesting Space for Life in East Montreal. If you have a bit of time on your hands, I strongly recommend going there. It’s a great way to learn more about the different Canadian ecosystems, but most importantly, to hang out with adorable animals, including penguins.

12.   Stroll in Plateau Mont-Royal

plateau mont-royal

I couldn’t leave my favourite neighborhood out, now could I? You’ve probably guessed that I am extremely impartial when it comes to the Plateau, simply because I love it so much. And the best way to discover it is to simply walk around, marvel at the beautiful architecture, browse the local shops, sit at one of the many cafés and indulge in some people-watching.

13.   Taste the local craft beers

things to do in montreal tours 2

Montrealers like themselves a beer in the evening, and not just any beer. GOOD, craft beer. They take the art of microbrewing very seriously, and it’s not a coincidence most brewpubs are continuously packed. If you’d rather have an expert show you around, there’s even a Montreal craft beer guided tour.

14. Catch the newest exhibit at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

things to do in montreal 2

While the museum’s permanent collection is a fascinating glimpse into the Canadian history of arts, what really steals the show is the temporary exhibitions. Grand scale, big-ticket items, famous names, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has welcomed the works of artists like Chihuly, Rodin, Warhol, Gaultier and many more. Exhibitions are always worth the entry fee.

15. See Montreal from above

things to do in montreal

Located in the second tallest skyscraper in the city, Au Sommet (meaning: at the top) offers unobstructed views of downtown Montreal, the leafy Mont-Royal mountain, the Olympic Stadium, the River St. Lawrence, as well as the mountains of the South Shore. Considering it includes an exhaustive and interactive exhibit about Montreal and the possibility of creating your own Montreal bucket list, I’d say it’s well worth the $19 price tag.

If in doubt… Get the book!

things to do in montreal city guide

For even more things to do in Montreal as well as restaurant suggestions, local photography tips, pre-set itineraries, and exclusive discounts, get the Montreal city guide for just $9. It contains everything I know and love about Montreal!

137 Comments on 15 Essential Things To Do In Montreal In This Lifetime

  1. Jeremy Branham
    September 21, 2012 at 12:07 am (4 years ago)

    In high school, I was one of the few students that took French so I’ve had an interest in Montreal for years. I’ve been to France a couple of times but really want to see the city. A couple of weeks ago, my flight from Ireland made an unexpected stop on Montreal on the way back. So I got to see the skyline and now I really want to visit!

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      September 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm (4 years ago)

      You should really come to Montreal – it’s the best place to practice your French, because everybody speaks English too ;)

      • Shannon Dolce
        June 16, 2016 at 11:31 am (4 months ago)

        My fiance and I are spending 3 days in Montreal as part of our honeymoon and your blog has made my search for “what to do in Montreal” SO much easier! Brushing up on my French has become imperative and such a joy! Thank you for your recommendations!

      • Marie-Eve
        June 19, 2016 at 4:01 pm (4 months ago)

        Very happy to help Shannon! Have a great honeymoon!

  2. A Cook Not Mad
    September 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm (4 years ago)

    We used to go often when we lived in Ontario. There’s so much to do there and so many festivals! It’s a great city.

  3. Lisa from Gone with the Family
    September 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm (4 years ago)

    What a great list! I haven’t been to Montreal in years but I’m hoping to get there this year with at least part of my family. There’s one thing on your list that I won’t be doing though – seems I’m the sole Canadian who doesn’t like poutine! :)

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      September 23, 2012 at 11:40 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks – there are so many things to do with kids in Montreal! Montreal will take you in even with your pagan ways ;)

  4. Hogga
    September 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm (4 years ago)

    I enjoy this post… looks like I need to get in my car and get to Montreal!

  5. Ayngelina
    October 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm (4 years ago)

    I thought I had done everything but still haven’t done Dieu du Ciel, I guess I’ll have to go back…

  6. Aysegul
    January 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm (4 years ago)

    Such a lively, happy and beautiful blog. Discovered coincidently because even though I’ve been to Montreal only once I fell in love. My husband is a Torontonian and we live in Turkey at the moments but when we talk about moving to Canada, the city on our mind is Montreal:) And now I’m forwarding your blog to friends so that they can actually see that I was right to love Montreal so much.
    Thank you for the great work and enjoy London (another favorite of mine too:)

  7. Dalene
    March 26, 2013 at 3:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Okay! Finally planning a trip to Montreal – YAY!

    Looking for your advice…what would you recommend for ‘adventure’ style activities? I read somewhere that you can SURF on the St Laurence?! Any other suggestions?

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 26, 2013 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, it’s possible to surf on the St Laurent! It’s actually more rafting. More info here: http://www.raftingmontreal.com/en/ And then there’s the amusement park, La Ronde. That’s pretty much all you can do within the city, other options are over an hour away. Let me know if you want to know anything else.

  8. Faramarz
    May 16, 2013 at 6:31 am (3 years ago)

    Im heading to Montreal this long weekend, and i plan checkoff everyhthing on this list. Cant wait for that delicious looking poutine!

  9. Frank
    July 8, 2013 at 2:14 am (3 years ago)

    Nice list, especially with Mont-Royal being the highlight of any trip to Montreal (I’m also a fan of things that are free). The only thing I’m really not a fan of is the poutine. I recently kidded to someone that tourists eat more poutine in one visit to Montreal then Montrealers eat in a year. As far as eating goes, here are a few non-poutine ideas of where to eat in Montreal: http://bbqboy.net/eating-recommendations-in-montreal/
    Also, here are a few suggestions on bars with views in Old Montreal:

    Keep up the great work, you have some very good resources on our beautiful city!

  10. Bethany
    August 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm (3 years ago)

    I will be headed to Montreal with my twin sister in Oct. for our 26th birthday. Can’t wait to experience the city and plan to use your blog as our “local” guide.

  11. Steve
    September 27, 2013 at 6:44 am (3 years ago)

    I have driven through Montreal many times but have a trip in November complete tickets to a Hab’s game Saturday night. Le StSulpice…nice hotel? Can you recommend a private romantic restaurant?

  12. Cathy
    November 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm (3 years ago)

    Visiting in December 2013 with my husband and 3 kids. Looking forward to everything you mentioned. Any advice on how good I should bundle my kids? Also, is there any snowmobiling nearby?

  13. Susan
    January 15, 2014 at 12:58 am (3 years ago)

    Great post! Thanks for all the information! I will be in montreal for 4 days. But still trying to decide which is the best area to stay at? Not looking for anything so fancy, just something like a 3 star hotel. Any suggestions? thanks!

  14. TAmmy
    February 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm (3 years ago)

    Will be in montreal overnight only at the end of March. Will not arrive till 7pm and will need to check into a motel for the night. Fly out at 6am the net morning.Do you think it is worth coming into old montreal for dinner or is it too far. If so any recommendations for accomadations and to have dinner.

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      February 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm (3 years ago)

      It would be simpler to stay close to the airport, unless money isn’t an issue. Taxis from the airport to Old-Montreal are $40 each way, so if you can afford it then yes, definitely visit Old-Montreal. There is always the bus 747, but it isn’t very fast so maybe not your best bet.

  15. Becky Padmore
    March 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm (3 years ago)

    Great list, I would love to visit one day!

  16. Priscila
    March 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm (3 years ago)

    What a great entry.
    Planning to visit Montreal in a month and this is such a good help. Any ideas for the “romantic parts” of Montreal? Thanks!

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 12, 2014 at 10:23 am (3 years ago)

      Old Montreal is definitely as romantic as it gets, although if you have an artsy or epicurean side Plateau and Mile-End are pretty nice too.

  17. Patty
    March 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing such a great list! My husband and I are very excited to visit Montreal in a couple of months. I’ve lived in France for several years when I was younger, and love to speak both French and English – so this looks like an ideal city for me :) I love the combination of a French (I know it’s Quebecois) city in north America.

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      March 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Indeed we are very lucky to have a French-speaking community, it adds to much to the social web :-) Have a great time in Montreal!

  18. Rick
    March 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Here is a GREAT event:


    An annual 10 day outdoor music festival in June. With every kind of music, in downtown Montreal on many different stages with the streets closed to car traffic. Booths for beer, crepes etc etc etc and fireworks every night!

    I came upon this event by chance flying in from California a few years ago. I just booked a flight for this June 2014 to do it again.

  19. Sheila
    April 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm (3 years ago)

    My husband and I are driving to Montreal from Cleveland Ohio the end of May. We will definitely use your suggestions. In addition we would like to visit some places outside the city since we will have our car. Any suggestions? Any special events going on in the city from the 21st to 25th? Any help will be appreciated and to be sure we WILL try poutine!

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      April 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm (3 years ago)

      I definitely recommend the Eastern Townships (especially the wineries around Dunham), and if you want to try the famous Canadian sugar shacks Sucrerie de la montagne in Rigaud is amazing and open year-round. Great place for photography. If you want the ultimate Canadian postcard place, driving up to Mont-Tremblant is a great idea too. As for the events, I suggest keeping an eye on the Tourisme Montréal blog, they have a weekly list of things going on in the city coming out every Friday.

  20. Ross Tucker
    April 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm (3 years ago)

    I want to do all the things you list with my daughter this summer. Where is the best location to stay to enjoy all you mention? Maybe you can suggest a really good affordable place or two for us to look into?
    Thank you!

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      April 18, 2014 at 9:47 am (3 years ago)

      Montreal has a lot of affordable places to stay — downtown Travelodge and Delta are both great.

  21. JBarker
    April 27, 2014 at 2:36 pm (3 years ago)

    We are going to be in Montreal for two nights in early June. What are your top three “must do things in Montreal”? What romantic restaurants do you recommend?

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      April 28, 2014 at 7:36 pm (3 years ago)

      As far as romance goes, I really love Usine à spaghetti in Old-Montreal, as well as Le Bureau in Griffintown. My top three must-dos: walking through Plateau Mont-Royal along Duluth Street and quiet side streets and going to La Banquise for poutine, admiring the architecture in Old-Montreal near the Pointe-à-Callière museum, and lastly admiring the view from Mont-Royal observatory. Enjoy Montreal!

  22. Kevin Smith
    May 31, 2014 at 5:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Trying to decide between visiting Ottawa or Montreal with my family this summer. This blog went a long way to deciding it for me. The worst thing about visiting Quebec is wanting to move there after, and I can’t speak French! Why can’t Ontario look like Quebec?

    Really nice blog, an excellent promotion of a great city; it’s been a long time since I spent more than a day there.

  23. Debbie
    June 27, 2014 at 12:25 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks for your helpful list. My son has join the Canadian Forces so I’m planning on spending a few days in Montreal before his “grad”. It will be my first holiday by myself. Can you recommend a good place to stay?
    By the way, you have to come out to BC, it too is very beautiful. :)

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      July 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm (2 years ago)

      There are many great hotels in Montreal, I particularly like ALT Hotel, Le Crystal and Le Saint-Martin!

  24. Robert
    June 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm (2 years ago)

    You had me at smoked meat sandwich :)

    I find myself headed there here in a couple months and this list will definitely help out! Thanks!

  25. Patricia
    July 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm (2 years ago)

    I’ve been on the hunt for a “Things to do in Montreal” list for ages and I’ve got to say, this has been one of the most simple and amazing one that I’ve come across.

    Will be doing the majority, if not all, of the activities you listed. Thanks so much!

  26. zuza
    July 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm (2 years ago)

    My husbend and I planing too go too Montreal soon, we are so exciting. For sure we are have too try poutine!!!

  27. Ignacio
    July 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi. I was accepted as an international student in Montreal and I’ll be visiting soon for a semester.

    Is there any way I can contact you for some more advice ?

    Thanks in advance.

  28. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)
    July 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Hey!! I’ll be heading to Montreal with my boyfriend for a week at the end of August. We’ve never been and are a little overwhelmed. We have a full week, so which areas of town would you suggest we head to (perhaps to spend a day in each). We don’t want to end up taking a subway to a strictly residential area. Also, I’m a food blogger and am always looking to try the BEST of the best food (price doesn’t matter), or something unique. Any suggestions in that area?

    Thanks so much for any help you can provide!

    (Also, we speak absolutely no French).

    • Michel Tanguay
      July 29, 2014 at 2:31 am (2 years ago)

      Dear Jolene : From the boulevard St-Laurent walk east on either Prince-Arthur or Duluth street. Many restaurants to the square foot ! (that just a start, , there are so many restaurants that I Wonder how they can stay in buisiness with so much competion )
      For the high end restaurants such as Toqué or Le pied de cochon , please do some research because they might have an impressive waiting list !
      When near the center of Montréal , one need not worry about English as a second language . But say you want to venture out of the city , just be prepared that some of us speak only limited english… Our dowtown area is quite large ! One need not worry about being stuck in a far away residential getho.

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      August 4, 2014 at 11:45 am (2 years ago)

      I suggest sticking to Old-Montreal, Plateau Mont-Royal and a little bit of Petite-Patrie as well if you want to see Petite-Italie and Jean-Talon Market. Subway-wise, everything between Jean-Talon station and Square-Victoria along the orange line is quite nice.

      Montreal is a restaurant city and you definitely won’t be bored as far as food is concerned. I have a few posts up on the blog about where to eat in Montreal: http://www.amontrealerabroad.com/tag/where-to-eat-in-montreal/

  29. Molly
    August 29, 2014 at 11:48 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks so much for this awesome advice! My husband and I are celebrating our 2nd anniversary in October and will be driving there from Northwest Indiana. Can’t wait to do so many of these fun activities! I’m TOTALLY into the vintage shop idea and my hubby will love the microbrewery. :D

  30. Elsa
    November 30, 2014 at 12:27 am (2 years ago)

    I drove through Montreal in October and must confess it wasn’t very fun…at all. However–your post has given me a renewed hope that it just might be a fun city to go through again. Thanks for the inspiration and piquing my interest

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      December 4, 2014 at 8:48 am (2 years ago)

      Of course if you only drove through you haven’t had the time to see anything :-) Come back with a bit more time on your hands!

  31. Nat
    December 4, 2014 at 12:20 am (2 years ago)

    These ideas all look like so much fun! Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I find it difficult to decide what to do in a foreign (or not so foreign) city away from home. Or, sometimes I simply have no clue what’s there!

  32. Alli
    January 13, 2015 at 10:08 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks for the fab list of things to do! I did many of the things you suggested over the holidays with my sister and we had a blast! Thanks again, Marie!

  33. Maria
    January 15, 2015 at 6:05 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m so happy I came across this website. This has made me even more excited for my first time to Montreal in September.

  34. Naomi Hage
    April 7, 2015 at 7:26 am (2 years ago)

    <3 this list! I can picture myself enjoying each and everything on this list! Any suggestions for Tweens and Teens? I'm not a huge fan of amusement parks and arcades on vaca, but really would like to engage my boys during our trip to Monteal in May. Oh and any suggestion for where we can find Beavertails? It's the one item my 14 year old insists he must try!

    • Marie-Eve
      April 20, 2015 at 3:23 am (2 years ago)

      There is a beavertail shop in Old Montreal, very easy to find. I would suggest you take your boys to the Science Museum (which even adults love) or the Space For Life (insectarium, biodome, planetarium). Biking along Lachine Canal or even jet boating on the Lachine rapids are also to consider.

  35. Kristin
    April 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello Marie-eve! My friend and I are heading to Montreal this summer with our 13 year old daughters. We plan to stay about 3 days and are looking for things that will appeal to us adults as well as our mature girls. The biodome, botanical gardens, Mont-Royal, the Basilique Notre-Dame are on our list along with some shopping. Your list is great but I’m wondering if you have any more detailed insights you could share for a girls weekend….

    • Marie-Eve
      April 20, 2015 at 3:17 am (2 years ago)

      There are plenty of upscale “nail bars” that would be great for a mani party! Candy Nail Bar and Rouge come to mind. Take your girls to one of the many pâtisseries in town like Rhubarbe in trendy Plateau. You could also have brunch, like at Café Arts (very trendy), Farine et eau fraîche, Vieux Vélo, Leméac for something more classy. I hope this helps!

      • Kristin
        June 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you!!! Also, wondering if you have any hotel recommendations — doesn’t need to be fancy (and hopefully not too expensive) but something centrally located and with character would be great. One person suggested staying at the Chateau Versailles Hotel Montreal (1659 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H3H 1E3, Canada) but it looks like it might be a little removed from things? Thoughts?

      • Marie-Eve
        June 3, 2015 at 6:42 pm (1 year ago)

        The location of the hotel isn’t too bad, you’re close to the museums and most of the shopping. But it wouldn’t be my first pick – in that price range, I would opt for Novotel Montreal Centre or Espresso Hotel, which are more modern. There are amazing deals right now at the Intercontinental and Hotel Gault, which are both quite luxurious. Hotel Crystal is a must if you want to splurge. These all have character.

  36. Stella D'Ávila
    April 20, 2015 at 8:46 pm (2 years ago)

    Watch the sunset from St Joseph Oratory lookout! A must do.

    • Marie-Eve
      April 21, 2015 at 5:41 pm (2 years ago)

      Definitely! Thanks for bringing it up.

  37. Gwen
    May 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm (1 year ago)

    My family will be in Montreal in July. Your list has help me out with planning our new adventure. My son will turn 21 while we are there, please share any night life spot for him to visit.

  38. Fiona
    May 21, 2015 at 6:05 am (1 year ago)

    Going to Montreal on our way to Winsdor. Looking forward to trying out your ideas. There seems a good mixture of culture, tasting and museums. Well done! It’s perfect for me and my 12 year old daughter.
    Is public transport good? Fly in from Europe and then fly out from Toronto 3 weeks later. Is is best to hire a car from Montreal or get public transport to Toronto and hire one in and out of same airport. I know you may not personally know BUT perhaps you know someone that does. Off to a wedding!

    • Marie-Eve
      May 28, 2015 at 9:43 am (1 year ago)

      Public transportation in Montreal is very good. I would suggest you get a metro pass for the time you are here (also works on buses, no zones, just the same fare everywhere) and take the VIA Rail train to Toronto. Then hire a car if you need one for the wedding. It’s the easiest and fastest scenario :-) Enjoy Montreal! Whatever you do, don’t hire a car between Montreal and Toronto – it’s often considered to be one of the dullest drives in the world!

  39. Dina
    May 31, 2015 at 11:07 pm (1 year ago)

    Hello! We are planning a driving trip from Wisconsin to Montreal this summer with two of our three teenagers. I’m not too concerned about what you call the dullest drive from Toronto to Montreal….you must never have had to drive through the corn flats of Illinois!!!!!

    Your list makes me so excited to visit. We are staying in an apartment through VRBO, very fun! Anyway, can you tell me the mysterious ingredients of Poutine….I know the picky teenagers will want to know! They insist that the culture is the same as here (Ha!) and they don’t expect any new and different foods (discussed during dinner in which the topic of their pickiness came up!)

    Also, do you happen to know which festivals may be happening the last week of July?

    Thanks kindly,

    • Marie-Eve
      June 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm (1 year ago)

      Poutine looks gross but it is in fact very yummy. It’s beef gravy with french fries and cheese curds.

      Last week of July is Osheaga, if you have teenagers they might enjoy it but be aware that it is a HUGE festival. Otherwise they might enjoy the fireworks festival, which is world famous and more low key. Fantasia Film Fest, which focuses on sci-fi movies, will also be on.

  40. Martha
    June 2, 2015 at 9:49 pm (1 year ago)

    We love the Chinese lantern show in the fall at the botanical garden. Been to it several times. It is an amazing collection of mostly animal shaped lanterns, but many traditional lanterns too. The colors are bright and beautiful, and there are hundreds of them. Best to go after dark, in my opinion.

    • Marie-Eve
      June 3, 2015 at 6:45 pm (1 year ago)

      Yes, definitely go after dark. It’s not even worth going in broad daylight. Glad you like them too!

  41. Suzie
    June 5, 2015 at 1:52 am (1 year ago)

    We will be in Montreal from 12 to 15 June, any fun festivals during this time.

    • Marie-Eve
      June 5, 2015 at 11:20 am (1 year ago)

      Plenty! Fringe Festival (adult-oriented humor and arts festival), Mural Festival (street art with amazing frescoes), Beer Tasting festival, Francofolies (French-speaking music event in downtown Montreal).

  42. Clara
    June 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Marie-Eve,
    We are planning to go to Canada in July. Your list sounds great but I am not sure if our 6yrs olds will enjoy this…do you have any other suggestion beside the BIODIOME and the park of attraction? Although the jet boating sound fun but I am not sure if they can do it considering their age.
    Do you know if this location -LAVA ave, Montreal QC, H2W, 2H9 is safe? from the map on Google, it seems like it is a townhouse …not sure if this is a safe neighborhood.

    Thanks in advance for your reply

    • Marie-Eve
      June 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm (1 year ago)

      The Science Museum (with its IMAX theater) & Pointe-à-Callière (archaeology and history) both have plenty of exhibitions for the little ones. Horse-drawn carriage ride in Old-Montreal is also a popular option. The fireworks festival is definitely a must, kids love it because it’s super colorful and the music is made to match the fireworks. The Biodome is popular, yes, but there is also the Planetarium, Insectarium and Botanical Gardens nearby that are also very fun.

      The location you provided is in the heart of Plateau Mont-Royal and is indeed very safe. You’ll be close to the action and transportation. Lovely neighbourhood for post-dinner strolls, plenty of ice cream shops nearby.

  43. Belle
    June 12, 2015 at 11:07 am (1 year ago)

    We are family of four from Toronto. We are planning to fly to Downtown, Montreal. Any place great and fun to visit with 2 x 8 yr. olds.?

    • Marie-Eve
      June 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm (1 year ago)

      The Science Museum (with its IMAX theater) & Pointe-à-Callière (archaeology and history) both have plenty of exhibitions for the little ones. Horse-drawn carriage ride in Old-Montreal is also a popular option. The fireworks festival is definitely a must, kids love it because it’s super colorful and the music is made to match the fireworks. The Biodome is popular, yes, but there is also the Planetarium, Insectarium and Botanical Gardens nearby that are also very fun. Biking along Lachine Canal or even jet boating on the Lachine rapids are also to consider.

  44. Taharra
    August 1, 2015 at 11:59 am (1 year ago)

    My best friend and I are visiting Montreal from August 14-17th for Gay Pride Weekend. We are so excited! Are there any beaches nearby Montreal that we can go to?

    • Marie-Eve
      August 3, 2015 at 11:48 am (1 year ago)

      Despite Montreal being an island there aren’t many beaches around but there are two that I think are noteworthy – although you can’t really swim in either of them since the water isn’t the cleanest, but the beach itself is nice: the Clock Tower Beach in Old-Montreal or the Doré beach on Île Notre-Dame.

  45. oj
    August 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm (1 year ago)

    Nice to read this blog! Any recommendations for small group of 15 1/2 and 16 yr olds girls visiting? Where can they go and what can they do in evenings or at night???
    Merci bien!

    • Michel Tanguay
      August 8, 2015 at 3:59 pm (1 year ago)

      The one thing I would keep for last is the underground city. Keep it for a rainy day ! Take the Métro entrance at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Président-Kennedy and while never crossing the Métro turnstyle, walk non-stop to Lucien-Lalier station while never walking outside . At Lucien-Lallier, make a u-turn and walk your way back to exit of La Baie department store on De Maisonneuve street. You’ll be 3 blocks from where you started and will have walked 10 km underground ! You might fail on the first try… I live here but I still need to pay attention to all those twists and turns ! But It’ summer and a long walk down St-Denis street from Laurier street all the way to the Vieux Port. Or explore the city on a bike share BIXI ( they are available 24 hr )… There is a scenic bike path on both sides of Canal Lachine .

      • Marie-Eve
        August 10, 2015 at 10:52 am (1 year ago)

        Great point Michel! Best keep the underground city for a rainy day.

  46. Susan
    August 9, 2015 at 7:55 am (1 year ago)

    WOW Marie-Eve, great blog, love the simplicity and clarity!

    Hello from New Zealand! My husband and I are visiting for a wedding end of Aug/beg of Sept for just under two weeks. There are three things I would love to hear your thoughts about…

    We are very keen on the outdoors – do you have any suggestions of hiking/exploring the outdoors in or around Montreal, and how to get there? Should we hire a car? Where and how details of wisdom would be greatly appreciated thank you! Or even giving us some links to look at would be great too if you know of any.

    SUP – best place to go and whether it’s worth the experience in Montreal? Or anything similar that you would recommend? We are keen Kite boarders, Snowboarders, anything with boards really…!

    Oh and great jazz places… we just missed the Jazz festival but hoping there are other alternatives to enjoy some amazing live Jazz while in your neighbourhood! Thanks!

    Thank you kindly!! You’re awesome.

    Warm hugs from Kiwiland,

    Susan :)

  47. Michel
    September 29, 2015 at 3:12 am (1 year ago)

    Well for walking distances visitors should keep in mind that there are a lot of métro stations not so far appart in the downtown area so I is often easier to walk than take the subway for 2 stations. But say for the Olympic station, it is better to take the métro. The only bridge that allows pedestrians is the Jacques-Cartier bridge(St-Laurent river ). For people who visit the Plateau Mont-Royal and downtown be aware of very limited parking . The Bixi bike share is a good alternative. Also, Always easier to start at a métro station such as Laurier and walk or cycle down to the St-Laurent river.

  48. vilma
    October 7, 2015 at 10:30 am (1 year ago)

    Hello! I am traveling with my 81 year old father who is fairly mobile, not so great on stairs. I think I can maneuver him on the metro. What are some nice places to visit after 5PM? I would love to visit the mt. royal, see lights at night and eat at a nice, decently priced restaurant.

    many thanks!!

    • Marie-Eve
      October 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Hello Vilma! There are plenty of suggestions on where to eat and drink on the blog, look around and you’ll find something to suit your needs :-)

  49. Carolina
    November 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm (12 months ago)

    Montreal looks very beautiful and interesting! :D and all those things to do!
    Espero algún día poder ir!
    Saludos desde Tijuana, Mex. !

    • Marie-Eve
      November 13, 2015 at 10:37 am (12 months ago)

      Thank you Carolina! :)

  50. Flora
    January 7, 2016 at 9:07 pm (10 months ago)

    If we visit the first week of March with 2 pre-teens, will there be things for us to do? What about the weather as a lot you mentioned seem to be for the summer.

    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:35 pm (10 months ago)

      Anything indoors will be a safe bet – museums, zoos, indoor skating. But March is a notoriously unstable month as far as weather is concerned, so there’s really no way to plan ahead.

  51. Lauren
    January 11, 2016 at 4:08 pm (10 months ago)

    What a great post! As a foodie (who just happens to spend most of my time looking for great coffee and good breweries) this was such an encouraging list to read. Glad I found it! Thanks for the suggestions Marie-Eve!

    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm (10 months ago)

      Happy to help Lauren! Enjoy your trip.

  52. Lhen
    February 24, 2016 at 1:01 pm (8 months ago)

    We are planning to travel there this End of August and its our first time. We have two kids 9 and 6, what activities/ places you can recommend we should see.


    • Marie-Eve
      February 29, 2016 at 8:37 am (8 months ago)

      Check out the Space for Life, the Science Museum, the Lachine rapids, and the indoor skating rink at 1000 Gauchetière!

  53. Emily
    March 15, 2016 at 8:14 am (8 months ago)

    Visiting Old Montreal for the first time with 3 friends for a long weekend! We’re 24 and from NYC looking to make the most of our short vacation. Any suggestions for fun restaurants/bars/cultural must-sees?


    • Marie-Eve
      March 15, 2016 at 5:22 pm (8 months ago)

      Hey Emily, I suggest you take a look at my ebook, it contains all my favourite places in the city! https://gum.co/MTZK

  54. D. Dee
    April 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm (7 months ago)

    Thanks for this article, I just discovered it. I’m looking to go explore and more during Montreal Jazz Fest at the end of June. Although I already had some ideas, which all include shooting landscapes in between listening to some awesome jazz, your article definitely has given a really great direction as to how to plan my time. Thank you so much Marie :)

    • Marie-Eve
      April 10, 2016 at 5:19 pm (7 months ago)

      Happy to help!

  55. SP
    May 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm (6 months ago)

    Hi! Thank you for all the great info!

    Visiting Montreal very soon and already wrote down all the tips! Any suggestions on typical breakfast places? Thank you!!

    • Marie-Eve
      May 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm (6 months ago)

      Vieux Vélo on Beaubien Street, La Binerie on Mont-Royal, l’Oeufrier on Mont-Royal. Bon appétit!

  56. andrew
    May 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm (5 months ago)

    I am taking my 11 year old daughter to Montreal at the end of July. we will be there for about 9 days. Thinking of renting a car and exploring outside of the city as well. I have been told I should visit/stay in Quebec City. 2 months before we go so so far just have our tickets. Thoughts on AirBnbs? They look nice online. I have never been to Montreal before but love to practice my french as I have visited and lived in Europe several times and English speaking places are boring to me at this point. Also my daughter is a vegetarian and seems like it is going to stick as it has been over 6 months since she has eaten meat or fish. I am a foodie on the other hand so…

    • Marie-Eve
      May 26, 2016 at 2:03 pm (5 months ago)

      Yes if you have 9 days, you should definitely spend a night in Quebec City (I would advise taking the Orléans Express bus to get there, not rent a car as the drive is long and dull). If you’re adamant about getting a car don’t keep it in Montreal, it’s more cumbersome than anything else. Other day trips: Mont-Tremblant, Eastern Townships, Lake Champlain. Airbnbs are indeed quite nice! I curated a list here: https://www.airbnb.ca/wishlists/76262222

    • Marie-Eve
      May 26, 2016 at 1:57 pm (5 months ago)

      Enjoy your trip!

  57. Mendi
    May 27, 2016 at 4:09 pm (5 months ago)

    On day 3 in Montreal and enjoyed the food tour with my 10 y/o today. SO GREAT! The Hop On/Hop Off is a great idea with kiddos. The gray line is a two day pass and we have been able to enjoy so much. So glad we found your blog! #lovemontreal

    • Marie-Eve
      May 30, 2016 at 8:55 am (5 months ago)

      Wonderful news! So glad you enjoyed the food tour :-)

  58. tom MacDonald
    May 28, 2016 at 10:06 am (5 months ago)

    great suggestions I enjoy all your suggestions. I am visiting from the states for 2 days nights in late June. Doing Quebec City first then taking the Orleans express into Montreal, Staying at the Ritz. Is it as great as everyone raves about? Want to eat in the Plateau both nights I am thinking? Is that a good idea or better for lunch? thank you

    • Marie-Eve
      May 30, 2016 at 8:54 am (5 months ago)

      Yes the Ritz is outstanding, especially now that it was just refurbished. Plateau has plenty of restaurants to keep you sated for both lunch and dinner but I think dinners are particularly enjoyable, out on a terrace, with a glass of wine. That’s the Montreal spirit right there!

  59. Deb
    June 2, 2016 at 3:42 pm (5 months ago)

    Love your blog. Just booked a cruise and will arrive at 400 the night before embarkment. What’s the best way to see the city in such a short time? I have booked the Alt Hotel but not sure if best location.

    • Marie-Eve
      June 2, 2016 at 6:29 pm (5 months ago)

      The location is not bad at all, and the hotel has great value for the price. But it’s really geared towards young urban travellers (close to bars and hip restaurants) in an up-and-coming part of town. I think somewhere in Old Montreal might be a better fit, especially since you’re on a tight schedule. Let me know if you have other questions!

  60. Robin Cade
    June 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm (5 months ago)

    My husband and I are going to Montreal with our 2 sons and their fiancee(aged 27 to 30), dec. 17 thru 22, 2016. We are looking for an upscale house/condo in a central location to all the things u mentioned. 3 real bedrooms and at least 2 baths. Any suggestions where to look and what location is central and safe? Thanks for any ideas.

    • Marie-Eve
      June 10, 2016 at 9:51 am (5 months ago)

      Hey Robin, you should look into Montreal Corporate Stays or even Airbnb. Hotel Le Crystal and the Ritz also have apartments.

  61. Nancie
    June 23, 2016 at 7:07 pm (4 months ago)

    Over the years that I was fortunate enough to travel to Montreal on business I managed to do all of these things. I would do them all again in a minute!

    • Marie-Eve
      June 25, 2016 at 1:15 pm (4 months ago)

      Yes! Montreal really is amazing!

  62. Cesar De Los Reyes
    July 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm (4 months ago)

    Hi, spending two nights in Montreal (last week of July) on way back to Hamilton, Ontario from Quebec, Quebec. There are six (6) of us in a van. Any suggestions please on a reasonable accommodations probably close to the Parliament area … so many good things on your blog !!! Is it better for us to drive to the locations you mentioned or use local transportation and walk? Thanks. We are coming from Atlanta, GA USA and spending two weeks in Canada.

    • Marie-Eve
      July 13, 2016 at 11:33 am (4 months ago)

      Hey, there is no parliament in Montreal. Are you referring to Ottawa or Quebec City?

  63. Daniil
    July 7, 2016 at 8:46 pm (4 months ago)

    I wish I saw this post before I went to Montreal :) But I can say that I did 3-4 things out of this list :)

    • Marie-Eve
      July 13, 2016 at 11:31 am (4 months ago)

      Yay! You can do everything else when you come back.

  64. MParsonsW
    July 29, 2016 at 9:16 am (3 months ago)

    Really? 6 out of 15 TOP things to do in Montreal involve eating!? If I’m going to spend the money and time to visit a historic city located in a foreign country and in a geographical area so different from my own, I have to say that I’m MUCH more interested in what is there to see and do, not eat a bagel and have a cup of coffee. Triple Thumbs Down on these suggestions.

    • Marie-Eve
      August 1, 2016 at 10:46 am (3 months ago)

      Three thumbs down? I’m impressed. Where’d you get the third one? :-)

  65. Judith
    July 29, 2016 at 9:28 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Marie-Eve!
    I’m coming into Montreal for the first time from NYC with my 6 year old triplet girls:-)… My husband is in a conference all day during the week that we’re there and I would love some advice as to what to do with the girls while he’s at work…and then maybe some stuff to do as a family when he gets home. We’re there for a week – – getting there on Monday and leaving on Friday evening….Will be there the last week (of August 22nd). Any suggestions for an itinerary?

  66. Stephanie
    September 7, 2016 at 12:00 am (2 months ago)

    Love your site! I’m going to Boston December 26, spending a few days in Woodstock, Vermont then possibly driving to Montreal on the 28th. How’s the weather during that time? Thanks


    • Marie-Eve
      September 7, 2016 at 11:06 am (2 months ago)

      It’s always a bit hard to tell! Last year was in the low 40s, rainy, humid. The year before we had three feet of snow! It’s a bit of a gamble I must say ;)

  67. Elisa
    October 6, 2016 at 9:47 am (3 weeks ago)

    Hi Marie-Eve
    I love this list! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to be in Montreal on March 2017 to learn some french. Do you have any recommendation for this period?

  68. Lauren
    October 19, 2016 at 9:12 am (1 week ago)

    Hi Marie. Amazing post, amazing blog! thank you! I am visiting in December with my boyfriend… can you recommend any must-do things especially holiday season/winter time? Also, I will be staying in Mile End and I am hoping it wont be TOO cold and walking through Plateau Mont Royal is still okay!

  69. Pittsburgh Lady
    October 24, 2016 at 10:40 pm (4 days ago)

    We are planning a weekend in Montreal late November with our boys (age 6 to 14). Any recommendations for activities?
    Also, what would be a good area to stay at? Preferably in walking distance of restaurants and the subway.

    Thanks in advance!

  70. Gloria Lind
    July 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm (3 months ago)

    My husband and I are taking our two grandchildren to Montreal mid August . Both children have gluten allergies and one also has a dairy allergy. Can you suggest places to eat that are gluten and dairy free? Please rush your response . Thank you


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