The second-most populous city in Canada, Montréal is a place with a lot of charm, a splash of history, and plenty of noteworthy landmarks. Before you set out for a day in the city, here are 8 fun things to do in Montréal to get you started on the right foot.
Visit Basilique Notre-Dame
Located in Old Montréal, this historic Gothic revival church is one of the city’s most popular landmarks. The Basilique was built in 1829 and can hold up to 10,000 worshippers. For many years, it was the largest church in North America. Its interior was designed by Montréal architect Victor Bourgeau, and the colors, motifs, and statues are all worth seeing. For a unique, immersive experience, check out Aura, a three-act multimedia spectacle in the Basilique.
Explore the Foodie Scene
The food in Montréal is something else. Anyone who’s ever asked about pros and cons when considering a move to Montréal has probably been told about the poutine. You’ll want to grab some (before or after a night of drinking), and, luckily, this city doesn’t lack places to get the stuff. Try the unique version with burnt ends at Blackstrap BBQ or get a steamie and poutine at the century-old Montréal Pool Room. Don’t forget the other staple in Montréal: smoked meat. Skip the tourist-ridden Schwartz and get yours at Snowdon Deli. Get a little fancier and head to Joe Beef to eat their famous lobster spaghetti on their cozy outdoor patio. Or, if you prefer a little guidance, you can always take a food tour around some of Montréal’s coolest neighbourhoods.
Discover the View from Mount Royal
If you’ve ever wanted to see what Montréal looks like from up high, head to Mount Royal. This park, and the city’s namesake, just on the outskirts of downtown offers ample green space, walking trails, and, its crown jewel, the 233-meter Mount Royal Summit. From Olmsted Path, just below the top of summit, is where you can find the lookout that’ll give you sweeping, panoramic views of the city. Even when it’s cold, you can find something to do in the park, as it features cross country skiing trails, sledding areas, and snowshoeing trails. Summer is the perfect time to soak up some sun and picnic in the Glades.
Walk Down St-Paul Street in Old Montréal
Old Montréal has a lot going for it, and St-Paul Street is the place to go to see it all. Take in the charm of this neighbourhood with a walk down the city’s oldest cobblestone street, past the boutiques, pubs, and restaurants. Hop over to any of the connecting streets and get lost in Old Montréal. You can build your own adventure and pop in at one of the cozy pubs, or purchase a ticket for a guided walking tour complete with commentary and historical facts.
Stroll through the Jean-Talon Market
Arguably the most beloved in Montréal, the Jean-Talon is the city’s biggest public market and one of North America’s largest open air markets. Nestled in the heart of Little Italy, the Jean-Talon Market is home to vendors offering everything from made-to-order crepes and bagels to fresh produce and flowers. Stalls with speciality cheeses, fishmongers, and local ice cream are just some of the other options at this cool spot. Take the afternoon and peruse the market’s offerings, grab a few things for a picnic at the park, or buy some produce and cook up something for dinner.
Grub on a Bagel at St. Viateur Bagel
The bagel game is strong in Montréal, and almost any bagel shop here has the doughy stuff that can compete with NYC’s best. St. Viateur offers fresh, warm bagels from their wood oven around the clock; that’s right, this place is open 24 hours a day. Head to the Mile End neighbourhood and grab a fresh one, but be prepared to wait in line! Or, you can always walk around the block and head to Fairmount Bagels, its biggest competitor, and decide which one is your favorite.
Shop in Mile End
After you’ve gotten your bagel fix in Mile End, take some time to stroll through the artsy neighbourhood and do some shopping. Head to Général 54, a boutique shop offering women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories, or check out Annex Vintage and see if you can find a retro gem in this thrift store. There’s also a great selection of independent bookstores, including Librairie Drawn & Quarterly and S.W. Welch Bookseller. Grab a latte at Arts Café and cruise around this trendy neighbourhood.
Sip on Wine at Parc Lafontaine
Bring a few picnic snacks, a bottle of wine and lounge all day at, arguably, the most beloved park in Montréal. Parc Lafontaine is located next door to Gay Village in the laid back neighbourhood of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. On warm, summer days you’ll find locals hanging out on the grass or sitting beside the man-made lake and enjoying the sunshine.
These are just a few of the fun things to do in Montréal, but there are plenty more just waiting for you to discover them. First things first, though, find your apartment so you can free up some time for the fun stuff.