Although being an historic city, Montreal certainly does not feel old or boring. As one of Canada´s largest city, it also acts as the hot-spot for communications, trade and international events. Here, influential business people walk the streets during the day, while famous bands and comedians own the bars and event-centres at night.
Although online gambling is now approved to operate in Ontario, many people take trips to Montreal to enjoy the stylish casinos and nightlife there. There is something for everyone to find in this great city. A list with all the best spots would be endless. But for first-time visitors, these are the absolute Must-Do’s.
1. Old Montreal
Old Montreal is not only a place for history enthusiasts, but can really impress people of all ages and interests. It is the oldest part of the city, where buildings dating back to the 17th century can be found. Even the site where Montreal was first established in 1642, can be visited here. The narrow cobblestone streets are incredibly photogenic and are filled with unique boutique shops, flamboyant restaurants and cafes.
2. St. Joseph´s Oratory
With an impressive height of 97 meters, the green roof of the St. Joseph’s Oratory is the tallest church dome in Canada. The sanctuary was already founded in 1904, but only finished six decades later, in 1967. There are 99 steps that lead up to the impressive entrance of the church, from where visitors are rewarded with magnificent views over Montreal. On the inside, majestic archways and beautiful stained-glass windows can be admired, and on the outside the colourful garden offers peace and tranquillity.
3. Mount Royal Park
Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed New York´s Central Park, the Mount Royal Park likewise acts as a social hangout spot for locals. However, tourists equally enjoy a stroll through the greens. Many varieties of plants and birds can be observed here. Often, exhibitions and other small events are held on the premises.
Unmissable is the large mountain right in the park, that rises 233 metres above Montreal. The summit offers a spectacular view over the entire city and is a popular location for sunsets in summer. On very clear days, even the Adirondack Mountains in the USA can be spotted in the background.
4. Notre-Dame Basilika
Founded in 1656, but only completely finished in 1829, this is a real historic highlight of Montreal. Two gothic-style towers label the Notre-Dame Basilika. Although the outside of the church is impressive in itself, it is particularly the inside, that leaves visitors speechless.
The hand-carved golden pulpit makes many pause, as soon as they step into the church. Stained-glass windows, that portray the beginnings of Montreal, and excellent religious paintings awe the artistic eye. When turning around, the greatest instrument in North America provides another sensational sight. The organ, that was inaugurated in 1891, has an astonishing number of 7,000 pipes and is the only one of its kind worldwide.
The AURA-Experience, which is a magnificent sound and light show projected on the inside of the church, is recommended by many.
5. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Montreal´s Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest museum in Montreal, as well as the most visited museum in Canada. Here, 41,000 pieces of artwork of all kinds are on display. From traditional fine arts to sculpture, furniture, fashion, film and even archaeology everything can be found. New exhibits join the collection regularly.
Also, part of the museum are a concert-hall with 460 seats and the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier. The Atelier serves as an educational complex as well as a centre for art therapy.
6. Botanical Garden
While some Botanical Gardens can be underwhelming, this one is quite the opposite. Located in the grounds that hosted the Olympic Games in 1976 and spread over 75 hectares, it is one of the world´s largest Botanical Gardens.
The park is divided into 30 themed gardens. Over 22,000 plant species from all across the world are thriving here. The Insectarium on site is a great highlight for kids as well as adults.
A modern museum of history and archeology was erected right on the spot that marks the birthplace of Montreal, called Pointe-a-Calliere. The museum stands out with its remarkable underground experience that invites the visitor into the history of the city. While walking among the original stone-paved streets and drainage tunnels below the surface, the story of Montreal unfolds. Old maps, artefacts and other significant items can be viewed along the way. Furthermore, the museum offers changing exhibitions of local and international relics.
8. Old Port of Montreal
Right by the Saint Lawrence River in Old Montreal, the Old Port can be discovered. Here, even adrenaline-junkies can be satisfied. La Grande Rou de Montreal is a 60-metre tall Ferris Wheel, where the city can be viewed from above.
Climbing the clock tower or zip-lining across the water are only two out of almost 50 popular activities at the Old Port. For a more tranquil visit there are many coffee-shops and cafes, art exhibitions or music acts.
9. Plateau Mont Real
Often titled as the hippest, most fun and most vibrant part of Montreal, the Plateau Area should not be missing from any trip. Many intriguing buildings with picture-perfect staircases make it a great day for photographers. Colourful graffiti decorates the walls, and independent artists and designers can be found at every corner. The locals are proud of the quirky neighbourhood and welcome visitors in their vibrant cafes and restaurants.
10. Place des Festivals
No matter what time of the year it is, there is always something going on in the quartier des spectacles. In the centre of this district lies the Place des Festivals, a public square that is used for events.
All sorts of shows and festivals are held here all year round. Big events are the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Laughs Comedy Festival. Canada´s largest interactive fountain provides a great atmosphere, when the 235 water jets, accompanied by the four vast light-towers around it, erupt into a fascinating show. A great way to enjoy this spectacle is to dine in one of the two glass encased restaurants on the square.