The Best Things to Do in Montreal
Collected by John Newton , AFAR Contributor
Montréal has been described as the cultural capital of Canada, and while Toronto may disagree, a strong argument can be made on behalf of Québec's largest city. Its mix of anglophone and francophone cultures—as well as the influence of First Nations and other communities—makes its unique, and fascinating. From landmarks that date from the days of New France to the city's contemporary art scene, here's a guide to some of Montréal's highlights.
110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H2Y 1T1, Canada
A church—or, at least, a small chapel—has stood on the site of the Basilica of Notre-Dame since shortly after Ville-Marie (Montréal's predecessor) was founded in 1642. The current building, however, dates to 1829 and was constructed in a soaring...
Place Jacques-Cartier, Montréal, QC H2Y, Canada
Running from the waterfront to Montréal's City Hall, at the opposite end of a gently sloping hill, Place Jacques-Cartier has been a center of the city's street life for more than two centuries. It was laid out at the beginning of the 19th century...
4601 Rue Sherbrooke E, Montréal, QC H1X 2B1, Canada
At 185 acres, the Montréal Botanical Garden is less than a third the size of Mount Royal Park, but it manages to fit a remarkable collection of some 22,000 plant species and cultivars into that space, organized into 20 thematic gardens and...
1260 Chemin Remembrance, Montréal, QC H3H 1A2, Canada
Mount Royal Park starts at the edge of the city just beyond the McGill campus and runs alongside neighborhoods like Plateau before rising to the top of 764-foot-tall Mount Royal (Mont Réal), the hill that gives the city its name. The twisting...
The city’s largest museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts) is actually a collection of five different buildings—or pavilions, to use their term—each one with a particular focus. The original 1912 Beaux Arts structure houses...
4141 Avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal, QC H1V 3N7, Canada
For decades, Québec was viewed by many Canadians, and even many Québecois, as a conservative, traditional, and rural part of the country that was falling behind other provinces that were looking optimistically toward the future. Those are...
Montreal, QC, Canada
You might not think that Canadian history is a topic that would sustain your interest for too long, but a visit to the McCord Museum will likely change that preconception. With a tagline of "Our People, Our Stories," the museum is committed to...
859 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC H3A 0C4, Canada
Opened in 1880 as Canada's first natural history museum, the Redpath Museum has a charmingly old-school Victorian quality to it. The collection of artifacts assembled by intrepid explorers ranges from taxidermy and Egyptian mummies to geological...
1085 Rue de la Cathédrale, Montréal, QC H3B 2V3, Canada
The choice of whether to build a church following a Gothic Revival or neoclassical design involved more than just aesthetics in 19th-century Québec. The former tended to be associated with Protestantism, and so the construction of the Catholic...
Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2X, Canada
Even though you may have never been here before, Montréal's Place St-Louis, in the Plateau neighborhood off of rue St-Denis, will probably look familiar thanks to the many tourism posters and guidebook covers that display its image. The...
1920 Rue Baile, Montréal, QC H3H 2S6, Canada
Phyllis Lambert may not be a household name, but she is a key figure in modern architecture in North America. An architect and philanthropist, she is also an heir to the Seagram fortune and responsible for getting Mies van der Rohe the commission...
185 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, Montréal, QC H2X 3X5, Canada
The Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, commonly known as MAC, is one of the city's leading cultural institutions. The museum aims to be both a showcase for Montréal artists and a place where international figures are...
Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, Montréal, QC H2Y, Canada
Sitting right next door to the Basilica of Notre-Dame in the heart of historic Montréal, St-Sulpice Seminary is the second-oldest building on the island. (The oldest is the 1671 LeBer-LeMoyne House, roughly six miles from the center of the city,...
280 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montréal, QC H2Y 1C5, Canada
Just across the street from Montréal's City Hall (or Hôtel de Ville), the Château Ramezay has been witness to almost three centuries of history. It was first built in 1705 by Claude de Ramezay, then governor of Montréal,...
2929 Avenue Jeanne-d'Arc, Montréal, QC H1W 3W2, Canada
The Château Dufresne might not be high on most visitors' lists of sights to see in Montréal, but as it is just across the street from both the city's botanical garden and the Olympic Stadium, you may want to drop in if you are in the...
350 Place Royale, Montréal, QC H2Y 3Y5, Canada
There is perhaps some irony that one of the most distinctive contemporary buildings in the historic heart of Montréal is a showcase for some of the city's oldest artifacts. The modern structure that houses this archaeology and history...
458 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montréal, QC H2Y 1C8, Canada
George-Étienne Cartier may not be a household name for many people outside of Canada, but he is recognized there as one of the founders of the nation. The 19th-century lawyer was crucial to rallying the country's francophone population to the...
55 Île Sainte Marguerite, Boucherville, QC J4B 5J6, Canada
If you aren't going to add a visit to some of the more rural parts of Québec before or after your time in Montréal, it's possible to get a small taste of the province's wild side at the Îles-de-Boucherville, a small group of islands about 25...
1050 Boulevard David-Bouchard N, Granby, QC J2H 0Y6, Canada
The Eastern Townships, to the east of Montréal, were first settled in the years after the American Revolutionary War, when land grants were issued for displaced Loyalists. A key city in the area, though, is perhaps best known for residents...
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