Worried you’ll miss something on your visit to La Belle Ville? Fear not, we’ve compiled a list of the top destinations that you simply must see before you head elsewhere on your travels. From the historic to the contemporary, pick the destinations that are right for your interests and budget.
Montreal Basilica: Also known as Basilique Notre-Dame de Mon, this can’t be missed Cathedral is a dramatic example of Gothic architecture. Step inside and see the beautiful stained glass windows; you’ll be surprised to find they depict the history of Montreal instead of scenes from the Bible. Location: 110 Notre-Dame Street West.
Old Port of Montreal: Along the St. Lawrence River, this old port is the original outpost of Montreal’s first settlers: 17th century fur traders. The Montreal Science Center, IMAX theater, and Montreal Clock Tower are all here. If you’re looking for outdoor recreation, make it a day trip, and cycle along the adjacent Lachine Canal.
Parc Jean Drapeau: This park, made up of two islands in the St. Lawrence River, is a popular destination for outdoor respite. In the summer, take free dance lessons on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
Old Montreal: This neighborhood in Ville-Marie will make you think you’ve stepped back in time. Beautiful examples of 18th and 19th century architecture are preserved and restored in their stately glory. Visit several historical sites such as the Château Ramezay, Montreal City Hall, and Bonsecours Market, and sit down to excellent cuisine in one of the area’s fine restaurants.
Jean Talon Market: This year-round market is a hot spot for great local food and culture. During summer weekends, nary a car will block your way (the area becomes pedestrian only), as you peruse what the hundreds of vendors have to offer.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Canada’s oldest art museum, the permanent galleries offer a variety of pieces from artists in Europe, North America, and around the world. You could spend days in these three pavilions located on the historic Golden Square Mile of Sherbrooke Street. The permanent collection is free at all times.
Museum of Contemporary Art: Showcasing thousands of works by contemporary artists from around the world, this museum is also Canada’s only complex dedicated to both the visual and performing arts. The museum is free Wednesdays from 6 to 9 PM.
Mont-Royal: This small mountain, part of the Monteregian Hills, offers unparalleled views of the city of Montreal. First scaled by Jacques Cartier, tourists, lovers, and the curious can be found at the Kondiaronk Belvedere, looking down on the city lights.
Montreal Biodome: This facility showcases plant and animal life from four of the ecosystems of North America. See a lynx in the Laurentian Forest, penguins in the Antarctic, macaws in the tropical forest, and fish from the St. Lawrence River. Make a day and stop by the Montreal Insectarium as well.
Montreal Botanical Garden: 185 acres comprise this indoor and outdoor garden with flora from around the world. Themed gardens include: Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, First Nations Garden, and Alpine Garden. Make it a day and stop in the Montreal Insectarium as well, where you can find a variety of insects on display (dead and alive), from butterflies to the creepiest crawlies.
Oratoire St-Joseph: Also known as St. Joseph’s Oratory, this large church on a ridge of Mont-Royal hosts free carillon, choral, and organ concerts every week. A popular destination with Catholic pilgrims, even non-Catholics will be awed by the stone architecture and dome ceiling, the third largest in the world.