Things to do in Montreal
Whether you’re planning a high-culture getaway or a weekend shopping spree, a gourmet sampling of the city’s most noteworthy restaurants or a tour of the city’s vibrant nightlife, you’ll be blown away by the range of things to do in Montreal. Stroll through the landscaped greenery of Mount Royal to take in gorgeous views of the city from on high, or take a funicular ride up to the Montreal Tower Observatory, housed at the 1976 Olympic Stadium, for a sweeping panorama of the city. For an unforgettable day of sightseeing, travel the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal and dip into the shops and boutiques that line the Old Port on the St. Lawrence River, take in the architectural majesty of the Notre-Dame Basilica, and cap off your day with a visit to one of the area’s many fine dining establishments. To experience the city’s vibrant nightlife, head over to the Plateau district, a favorite of Montreal’s hip set.
Art lovers looking for things to do in Montreal shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, which houses a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, prints, drawings and photographs from European and North American masters; modern art aficionados should visit the Musée d’Art Contemporain for an unforgettable collection of contemporary masterpieces. Music lovers will want to visit in the summertime to take advantage of the city’s many music festivals, including the International Jazz Festival, while cinema buffs won’t want to miss out on the Fantasia and FIFA film festivals; the city is also home to 250 theater and dance companies that perform year-round.
Step inside this tiny chocolatier and the powerful aromas of caramel, spice, milk, and yes, chocolate are as comforting as stepping back into your mother’s kitchen—though we doubt she was turning out such haute treats.
Fans of vintage clothing shouldn’t miss this 15-year-old shop for its well-curated selection of designer hats, scarves, and party dresses from the 40’s to the 70’s.
Once just a pet project of insect collector Georges Brossard, the Insectarium officially opened in 1990 within the Montreal Botanical Garden. More than 150,000 arthropods—of which insects are a sub-group—are on display at the museum.
Just to the east of downtown, Montreal’s gay village has terraced restaurants and clubs along Rue Saint-Denis (which runs through the Latin Quarter), and buzzing gay bars to the east on Rue Sainte-Catherine.
The kooky sister establishment to bar Plan B, Bily Kun hangs mounted ostrich heads along its 20-foot-high walls by way of decoration.
An antiques and curios shop opened in 1975, Arthur Quentin has since expanded to offer housewares, accessories, clothing, cookware, and other decorative items.
This serene, four-floor luxury department store, housed in a beautifully restored Art Deco building within the mansion-lined block known as the Golden Square Mile, is a veritable candy store for fashionistas.
Stop in at this 2009-opened boutique to pick up cult clothing brands Supra and Elm, plus works by up-and-coming Montreal artists.
For three weekends in late January and early February, Parc Jean-Drapeau becomes an outdoor celebration of winter with the Fête des Neiges, or snow festival. Family-friendly activities include snow tubing, ice hockey, zip lining, and outdoor skating along sections of the St. Lawrence River.
A sprawling central business district, downtown also encompasses the stately McGill University, gorgeous mansions along Rue Sherbrooke, and some of the city’s top museums (Musée des Beaux-Arts; Musée des Arts Décoratifs).
In recent years, Montreal’s music scene has given rise to a parade of innovative bands, including the Arcade Fire and the Stars. If you want to take the pulse of the scene, head to this intimate no-frills café and performance venue.
Explore the four biospheres here; the Atlantic puffin exhibit is a favorite.
Admission: Adults: $16 adults; Seniors: $12; Kids 5–7: $8; Kids 2–4: $2.50.
Rue Saint-Denis, up in the Plateau, is the prettiest shopping street in the city, with pint-size boutiques tucked into gabled houses. At this basement-level (yet somehow light-filled) store, brothers André and Lambert Gratton curate a smart selection of mid-century housewares and furniture.
In Montreal, where interior shops tend to cater to either traditionalists or cutting-edge Modernists, Celadon Collection bridges the gap between stodgy and avant-garde perfectly.