Wondering what are the must see Montreal attractions for your visit? You are at the right spot. We have 30+ amazing Montreal bucket list items to get you started.
Montreal Bucket list: Must-see Montreal attractions for your visit
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Before we share the list of Montreal activities, here are some quick tips to help you prepare
Travel tips for visiting Montreal
Montreal is located in the eastern Canadian province of Quebec. Quebec City is the capital and it is also a predominantly French-speaking province.
Montréal–Trudeau International Airport is the main airport which brings in millions of tourists all year round. Depending on where you are flying from, you can find and track flight deals on Skyscanner
If you are planning to explore the city, it is best to use public transportation and Hop on and Hop off sightseeing buses. You can also find activities in Montreal from GetYourGuide here
For a short visit to Montreal, we recommend staying in the downtown or in the Old town area – from here you can easily walk around to attractions and restaurants. Find hotel options below
Wander the lanes of Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal)
The quaint lanes of Old Montreal dates back to the 17th century. This is where the city’s first settlers moved in. As you wander through the lanes of Old Montreal, you will be mesmerized at the cobblestoned streets and beautiful reminisces of Europe.
The city of Montreal was originally called Ville-Marie or the City of Mary. Within walkable distance are tons of popular attractions like the NotreDame Basilica, Old Port, Plaza de Armas, to name a few.
Visit the stunning Notre Dame Basilica
One of the must visit items for your Montreal bucket list is the Notre Dame Basilica. The basilica was completed in 1830, and it is a National Historic Site of Canada.
Built in Gothic Revival style, the basilica stands at 20 feet tall. The interiors of the Notre Dame Basilica are very stunning, and daily masses take place here.
Chill out at Place d’Armas
Place de Armas is the square located in Old Montreal, right in front of Notre Dame Basilica. This area is very lively at all times of the year. In the centre you will find a monument dedicated to Paul de Chomedey, who was the founder of Montreal.
Join a traditional Ghost Walk tour of Old Montreal
Hang with the spirits of Old Montreal, I mean join a traditional Ghost Walk Tour with a local guide (all dressed up in period costumes). The guide will take you through historic streets, where you will learn about the city’s quirky (and hidden) details.
Eat, play and explore Vieux-Port de Montreal (Old Port)
Vieux-Port is the Old Port of Montreal. It is the very site which was used as a fur trading post by French traders. Indeed a historic port, this area was developed in the 1990s into a nice promenade. You can walk the area that stretches along the Saint Lawrence River.
There are tons of things to do around the Old Port area from ziplining, beaches, history and astronomy or learning about sciences, riding on a segway or hopping on a cruise!
Learn about Montreal at Museum of Archaeology and History
Montreal’s Museum of Archaeology and History is a must visit attraction in the city. It is located in Old Montreal, and this is where you will learn about the history of the city to the present times.
The Montreal Museum of Archaeology (Pointe-a-Calliere) was open in 1922.
Take a photo from La Grande roue de Montréal
La Grande roue de Montréal is a Ferris wheel located at the Old Port of Montreal. It was originally built to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the city. This Ferris wheel is the tallest in the country, and it offers stunning views of the city from the transparent cabins. Don’t forget to take photos from up there!
Boating at the Lachine Canal
The Lachine Canal is a scenic urban park where you can bike, walk or just wander through. It is a historic site and the canal runs from the Old Port of Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis, connecting the boroughs of Lachine, Lasalle and Sud-Ouest.
The canal dates back to 1830, and speaks volumes of the industrialisation of Montreal around that time and beyond. You can rent a boat or opt for a guided boating tour at the Lachine Canal.
Take sightseeing cruise on Montreal’s St. Lawrence River
A sightseeing cruise on Saint Lawrence River should be a part of your Montreal bucket list. These cruises depart from the waterfront area where you will cruise past the Old Port, soaking in views of the Olympic Stadium and other attractions in Montreal.
The cruise lasts 90 minutes, and is filled with interesting stories of the city.
Walk the urban jungle aka Montreal downtown
We LOVE walking the urban jungles and downtown Montreal is no different. Downtown Montreal is filled with skyscrapers, shopping complexes, fancy eateries, and many cultural attractions like Chinatown, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, etc.
Check out the iconic Mount Royal
Mount Royal is a stunning (small) mountain, located very close to Montreal Downtown. The city takes its name from this mountain – Mont-Royal = Mont-real. One of the prettiest places to soak in city views in Montreal is from Mont-Royal.
Soak in scenic city views from Mont-Royal Park
Mont-Royal Park offers amazing views of the city, and hence why it is a must-visit! It is also an easy hike/walk from the downtown area. And from any of the lookout spots, you will find stunning views of the Saint Lawrence River, the Olympic Stadium, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal district, and more.
There is a 5.2 mile Mount Royal Park Loop which you can hike, and it takes about 30-45 minutes to get up to the top. However you can also take 400 steps to come down in 15 minutes.
You will find tons of scenic view points to take in pictures and enjoy the city!
It is really an amazing site that you must add to your Montreal bucket list. It is interesting to note that Mont Royal Park was designed by the same designer who designed Central Park in New York City.
Picnic at the Jeanne Mance Park or Fletcher’s Field
Jeanne Mance Park is a large urban park, located near Mont Royal. It is a perfect space for picnics in the summer. This park is named after the co-founder of the city.
Explore Montreal’s Underground city
It is unlike any other ‘underground city’ – this is the RÉSO, aka Montreal’s Underground City which according to us is a shopper’s paradise. Underneath and interconnected are offices, restaurants, hotels, residential and commercial complexes, and of course LOTS of stores.
The entire network is about 33 kilometres (about 20.5 miles), and it is a delight during winter months. Or when it is hot outside in the summer.
Keep yourself entertained with shows or window-shop here.
Soak in views from Observatoire Place Ville Marie
If you love city views from towers visit the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. It is located in the downtown area, on the 46th floor of an emblematic tower, the Observatoire 360 offers a mesmerizing view of urban as well as cultural attractions.
The oversized glass windows are a crowd puller and almost instantly offer 360° panoramic view from up above (more than 185 meters above ground).
Visit the Montreal Biodome
A Biodome is a dome-shaped building which encloses self-contained ecosystems. The Montreal Biodome is located at Olympic Park District and is home to about 4500 species of animals.
At the Biodome, you can walk through four ecosystem replicas found in the Americas.
Explore Montreal Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium in Montreal was constructed for the 1979 Olympic Games. It is located in the Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood of Montreal, in the Olympic Park district.
Today it is used for multiple purposes from sports to entertainment events. The Olympic Park Esplanade hosts outdoor events and activities year round. A planetarium as well as an insectarium are also located at the park.
You can skate, swim and enjoy Olympic size rinks, and pools.
The Montreal Tower stands next to the stadium, and it is an iconic symbol of the city – so definitely check it out!
Visit the Montreal Tower :World’s tallest inclined tower
Did you know that the Montreal Tower is the tallest inclined tower in the world? Yup at 165 metres high with a 45 degree angle the Montreal Tower aka La Tour de Montreal offers sweeping views of the city. A glass cable car takes you to the observation deck in 2 minutes.
Tickets start at $25 CAD+, and from up there you can soak in views of the mountains, the St. Lawrence River, downtown area and its skyscrapers, and of course Mount Royal.
Be mesmerized at the Botanical Gardens
Located close to the Olympic Park is the Montreal Botanical Garden. It is a breathtaking 185 acres of green space, which is home to 34 themed gardens.
It is one of the popular attractions in the city, and it hosts annual (seasonal – fall, winter, summer-themed) events like Gardens of Light.
…& attend Gardens of Lights festival
Montreal Botanical Gardens hosts the Gardens of Light festival every year. In this event, the gardens are lit up with hundreds of lights. Each year there is a different theme. In one year, the Chinese Gardens were decorated with handmade silk lanterns to tell a special story of Chinese culture and traditions.
A foodie paradise (must try poutine)
Montreal is a food lover’s paradise! There are so many delicious food options to choose from. Poutine was born in the province of Quebec and is their iconic dish! Here are some more dishes to add to your Montreal food bucket list
- Poutine – Dish of french fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy. It originated in Quebec
- Smoked Meat – Thick smoked meat on rye bread
- Montreal-style bagel – Montreal-style bagel aka Montreal bagel is a handmade, wood-fired baked bagel from the city
- Tourtières or meat pies
- Book a food tour in Montreal
Cheers with Molson Canadian Beer, eh!
Cheers! Montreal is home to the oldest brewery in North America – enter Molson Canadian Beer. Molson Brewery was founded in 1786 near the Saint Lawrence River, where the company continues to maintain its operations today.
Don’t forget to try Molson Canadian during your visit to Montreal!
Museum of Fine Arts for the art lovers
If you are an art lover, add the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to your bucket list. This museum is a bold creative space showcasing exhibits of visual arts, history, and science. It is also the largest art museum in Canada by gallery space.
Eat your heart out at Atwater Market
Visit the Atwater Market, located in the Saint-Henri area of Montreal. This is an all-year market place where you will find local produce, bakeries, and restaurants. Come hang out here and eat your heart out!
Head to Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal – Canada’s largest church
Montreal is home to Canada’s largest church – the Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. It is also one of the largest churches in the world with a capacity of 10,000 (with 2,400 sitting arrangement).
The church is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and a national shrine. Today it is also recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada.
You must visit the church for its ambience (inside) alone. I am sure as soon as you approach the area the beautiful dome of the Saint Joseph’s Oratory will leave you spell bound.
Soak winter wonders at La Fontaine Park
If you are visiting Montreal in the winter, be mesmerized at the winter wonderland ambience in La Fontaine Park. Although the park is wonderful all year long from fall foliage, early spring walks to picnics in the summer – it is a delight in the winter.
Perfect for family outing, skating, snowshoeing and more at the La Fontaine Park in the winter.
Attend Montreal Festivals
Montreal is a wonderful Canadian city with such a vibrant urban space and not attending any (or many) of its festivals will be a disservice. So here are some of the must attend festivals to add to your Montreal bucket list
- International Jazz Festival: International Jazz Festival, and we were lucky to have attended it in 2016. Held: June/July
- L’International des Feux Loto-Québec (aka the Montreal Fireworks Festival): This festival is held at La Ronde amusement park, and it is one of the most prestigious fireworks competitions in the world. Held: June
- Mural Festival: An international art festival where Saint-Laurent Boulevard is transformed into a real open-air museum.When: Mural Festival in June
- Under Pressure: It is one of the oldest active festivals in North America where graffiti art is showcased. When: August
- Just for Laughs Comedy Festival: It is the largest international comedy festival in the world, held in September/October
- Garden of Lights: Held annually in the Montreal Botanical Gardens where the entire garden lights up. When: September to October
Escape to Oka National Park for a weekend
For a weekend getaway from Montreal, look no further than Park national d’Oka. Summer or winter there is always something to keep you entertained. The park is filled with rich historical and natural heritage from the Calvaire (of oratories and three chapels), Grande Baie and Rivière aux Serpents, to amazing views of Lac des Deux Montagnes and the Adirondacks.
Parc Michel-Chartrand (also known as Parc régional de Longueuil)
Another popular winter vacation spot near Montreal, the Parc Michel-Chartrand is a large park and is a perfect heaven for winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing and skating.
During summer embark on a 3.6 mile hiking trail or admire wildlife inside Parc Michel Chartrand. The park is located in the borough of Le Vieux-Longueuil and boasts of 1,850,000 square metres in area.
Day trips from Montreal
Montreal is also a perfect base to explore more of Canada and the province of Quebec. Here are some of our top picks
- Mont-Tremblant National Park: Visit Mont-Tremblant National Park and check the wooden trails or capture fall foliage in autumn
- Eastern Townships: Explore the many Eastern townships from the village of Magog, Lake Memphremagog, including Bleu Lavande – which is home to Canada’s largest lavender farms. This area is like quintessentially European where you can soak in lavender farms (like Provence in France), sample cheese and more
- Lanaudière: Visit Lanaudière municipality whether it is for nature-escape or for festivals like Le Festival de Lanaudiere – Canada’s premier classical music festival.
- Laval: A quick day trip option from Montreal is Laval. It is fantastic for families, as there are tons of entertaining and educational attractions from Cosmodome to SkyVenture.
So that’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this list of Montreal bucket list items. We still have a few items on this list that we have to check off! Let us know in the comments how many have you visited?