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With its two million inhabitants, Montreal is far from being a stressful, bustling city. On the contrary, the city has managed to preserve its calm and open spaces, offering its residents a relaxing city life and daily well-being.
A must-see stopover in Quebec during a visit to Canada, Montreal’s diversity, activities and attractions are sure to win you over. From gigantic buildings to relaxing green parks, Montreal has something to surprise you. Would you like to discover Montreal? I recommend 10 must-do things to do during your stay.
1. Old Montreal
Montreal’s Old Town boasts classic European architecture, giving it a very special atmosphere. Very lively in summer, the district is packed with boutiques and restaurants that will win you over. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Montréal, the district’s emblem, and its Place d’Armes are a particular attraction for lovers of architecture, art and ornamentation.
To learn all about the district, without missing any important points, I recommend joining one of the many guided tours that are organized. In summer, the old port and district come alive. There are many pleasant strolls through the airy, leafy streets, especially on hot days. Water-based activities, such as cruises and excursions, are a pleasant way to relax for a few hours or a whole day.
2. Piknic Electronik
Founded in 2003 by electronic music aficionados, Piknic Electronik has gone from strength to strength. Held in summer, in a park just 10 minutes from downtown, Piknic Electronik is as much a cultural event as a social one. I recommend you check out the program every year, as the big names in electronic music are always on the bill. The concept is so appealing that the festival has been exported to other cities around the world.
For nature lovers and photo enthusiasts, Mosaïcultures is the event not to be missed. On the program: over 200 horticultural works organized around a common theme. Magnificent floral sculptures take their place within thematic tableaux, to the delight of the eye. I invite you to discover them, whether you have children or not. It’s an event that appeals to all generations.
4. Just For Laughs Festival
Created in 1983, Just for Laughs is a festival with a worldwide reputation. Every year, in the heart of Montreal, this comedy festival welcomes the greatest comedians of the moment. On the program: comedies, stand-ups, galas, theaters… for the 1700 or so artists taking part. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance, as they go fast!
5. Maam Bolduc
Are you looking for a local restaurant where you can enjoy good home-cooked food? Without hesitation, I recommend Maam Bolduc, a family-run restaurant on the Plateau Mont-Royal. Popular in summer for its leafy terraces, it’s also a meeting place for celebrities. Its tasty, authentic cuisine has earned it a well-deserved reputation. When it comes to Montreal gastronomy, this is a must!
6. Mount Royal
For an airy stroll with magnificent views, Mount Royal is a must, especially in summer. Designed by the same architect who conceived Central Park, this mountain park is a real attraction for families or nature lovers looking for coolness and tranquility. Guided tours are available.
Also at the summit of Mont-Royal, St. Joseph’s Oratory Church welcomes numerous pilgrims every year. Accessible after a 100-step ascent, the church overlooks the entire city and offers many magnificent vistas.
7. The underground passages
A special attraction that reveals another aspect of Montreal: the underground city can be visited on foot, under the downtown core. A veritable network (known as RESO) is revealed, linking the major department stores. This special way of discovering the underside of Montreal is both fun and attractive. Stores, restaurants, exhibitions and theaters are all to be found in these underground passages. Before venturing into the galleries, it’s a good idea to bring along a map to help you find your way around.
8. Jean Talon Market
The oldest food market in North America, the Jean Talon Market is a must-see attraction. Whether you’re looking to buy local produce, learn about local crafts or simply indulge your senses, you won’t be disappointed. Gastronomic demonstrations and events are organized throughout the year, as well as tasting sessions. Other markets are also held in the town throughout the year, to the delight of gourmets.
9. The Biodôme
The Biodôme is a modern structure housing a variety of animals and plants. Created to preserve the main ecosystems of North America’s great regions, this dome represents a special activity for children and the curious, who will discover an interesting animal park and botanical garden along the way. The tour highlights the relationship between man and his environment through different ecosystems: tropical forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Laurentian forest and Arctic and Antarctic spaces.
10. The buildings of boulevard René Lévesque
For a complete change of scenery, the buildings lining boulevard René Lévesque will send you straight to New York. Home to offices and major corporations, the buildings and prestigious edifices will delight fans of colossal architecture. Stroll with your nose in the air along the wide avenues. Victoria and Dorchester squares provide a cool spot during your visit to the district.
Visiting Montreal in summer takes several days. Between cultural activities and the city’s architecture, there’s no shortage of attractions. While some may prefer the assistance of a tour guide, you can also discover the city on your own, relying on the most popular events of the moment. Welcome to Canada !