Montreal is pretty much the epitome of French Canada and a city you shouldn’t miss whilst in Quebec. It is after all the largest city in French-speaking Quebec province in Canada and the second largest in all of Canada. As it’s pretty big, there’s a shed load of amazing and best things to do in Montreal during any season.
That’s the thing about Montreal, it’s not the kind of city that just shuts down during the winter months, there’s something going on all year round!
Better still, Montreal is a totally fun and pretty city to explore, plus, the food here is uh-mazing!
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Montreal during your next visit.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Montreal. Have the best time and gorge on all the poutine! 🤣
1.) Travel back in time to Old Montreal
Located along the St. Lawrence River near downtown, Old Montreal is a collection of the oldest and prettiest buildings in the city. Strolling the streets is easily one of the best things to do in Montreal whilst in the historic centre.
For me, the quaint old streets and buildings are reminiscent of Paris, with plenty of little shops and restaurants just waiting to be explored.
Be sure to stop by Notre-Dame Basilica too, the 1656 religious jewel of the city, as well as the Old Port and Place Jacques-Cartier.
2.) Go for a jaunt along Rue Sherbrooke
A trip down Sherbrooke Street, known as Rue Sherbrooke in Montreal, is one of the best ways to get acquainted with all of the best museums in the city.
The oldest museum in Canada, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, is located along this street, housing a major collection of paintings, sculptures, and newer media arts.
For a more general history of Canada, especially the First Nations People, head to the McCord Museum of Canadian History. It really is one of the best things to do in Montreal to get a grasp of the long history of this area and people.
Now, as the main street in the city of Montreal, there are a plethora of other fantastic spots I just know you’ll bump into. Plus, it’s a great little area to stop for lunch or brunch as there are plenty of eateries.
Afterwards, pop over to Restaurant Tandem for some of the tastiest food in the city. Plus, you can bring your own wine with you!
3.) Visit the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica
Over the years, many changes have occurred within the church and in its architecture and it’s come to look incredible. Seeing the Notre-Dame Basilica is easily up there as one of the best things to do in Montreal, especially if you love a bit of history. Heck, it’s incredible regardless!
Now, by 1843, the famous twin towers were completed, with the western tower which looks very similar to the one in Paris, no? Today, it’s home to the La Persévérance, housing the 11 ton “Jean-Baptiste” bell.
Tours are available for visitors to step inside and take a look at the stunning interior decor of the church, and occasionally, choirs put on performances within the church’s magnificent walls.
4.) Marvel at St. Joseph’s Oratory
Another grand religious site in Montreal, St. Joseph’s Oratory is a Roman Catholic basilica and national shrine, as well as Canada’s largest church. The construction of a smaller church began in 1904, but the final product we have today was not completed until 1967.
Visitors will find the Oratory Museum on site, showcasing treasured religious art of the church and Quebec. Tours are also available, as well as gardens that lead to Mont Royal. It really is one of the best things to do in Montreal if you’re already in the area.
If you’re feeling peckish, head over to Bistro L’entrepont which serves up some of the tastiest French-Canadian dishes that are just too good to miss.
5.) Check out the view on Mount Royal
Rising 765 feet (233 m) above the city is Mont Royal, a beautiful hill-park that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
You can stroll up and around the hill can view the many monuments located in the park, as well as see Lac-aux-Castors. Look for the cemeteries on the western slope of the hill as well, and for the best view, head to the summit.
The views are so fantastic from the summit that, on clear days, you can actually see the Adirondack Mountains over in the US.
6.) Pop into Parc Jean-Drapeau
A place perfect for the whole family, Parc Jean-Drapeau is a massive park and activity centre comprised of two islands: Île Sainte-Hélène, and the artificial Notre-Dame island.
In 1967, the world fair was held here, leaving behind the impressive Biosphere, a large ‘bubble’ clearly visible on the island.
The Biosphere is now a museum for ecological issues and is the largest structure of its kind in the world. Visitors can also enjoy La Ronde Amusement Park, the race course Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Bassin Olympique, and the Stewart Museum.
7.) Explore the Old Port of Montreal
Located along the St. Lawrence River, just to the east of Old Montreal, is Old Port. Visitors can find plenty of things to see and do, both indoors and outdoors, at Old Port. You can see it just behind the big skyscrapers of Montreal (pictured above).
It’s the perfect place for a lazy jaunt along the river on the pathways of the Port area. Or you could just spend some time fishing here. There are also shops, an IMAX theatre, Science Center, and cruises are all available at the scenic Old Port.
Long story short, there’s a lot to do here so make sure you pop in and check out what’s on offer.
8.) Tunnel through the Underground City
Known as La Ville Souterraine, as well as RESO, Montreal’s Underground City is the largest of its kind in the world. (This “largest of its kind” thing is starting to become quite a theme with Montreal isn’t it? 😉 )
It began as a simple underground shopping centre in 1962, beneath Montreal’s first skyscraper. Eventually, the city grew, connecting shops, restaurants, train stations, hotels, and subways all together. The City provides a warm place for visitors and residents to shop and meet during the cold winter months.
Over 20 miles (32 km) of tunnels link all of these places together so try not to get lost when you visit (to be fair, it’s pretty well signposted so you’d have to try really hard to get lost here 🤣).
With all that said, if you’re not into indoor activities or shopping, you’ll probably wanna give this spot a miss.
9.) Visit the Botanical Garden of Montreal
It would seem that all great cities of the world have a botanical garden, and Montreal is no exception. Now while the idea of spending an afternoon in a garden might not be everyone’s cup of tea, if it is your cup of tea, then you’re in for quite the treat here!
To be honest, even if you’re not into botanical gardens, a visit to this botanical garden (located on Rue Sherbrooke) is the perfect excuse for a brief and fun escape from the busy city.
The garden is filled with thematic greenhouses and exhibitions, as well as an Insectarium for visitors to learn all about insects! The Olympic Stadium is also in the area, as well as the city’s Biodome. It really is one of the best things to do in Montreal on a bright and sunny day.
After a little stroll in the morning, head for brunch at the Regine Cafe. It’s so tasty and a real treat.
10.) Eat all the poutine
No regrets or guilt, it has to be done!
A well-known dish from Quebec, poutine is essentially French fries with lashings of cheese curds, topped with a light brown gravy and any (indeed, every) trip to Montreal has to include poutine. In fact, I think it should be the law! 🤣
For some tasty spots, head over to Frite Alors: with multiple locations in the city, it is easy to find and has several variations of poutine to choose from.
La Banquise also seems to be the agreed-upon destination for poutine, with over 30 varieties to choose from. Honestly, you’ll be stuffed when you visit here.
Just try not to make yourself sick from eating too much of the cheesy goodness while you’re out and about. Honestly, gorging on Poutine has to be one obligatory and one of the best things to do in Montreal.