Montreal may not be the political capital of Quebec but it is the cultural capital of the province, thanks to the city’s famed festivals, good food and architecture.
If you’ve booked flights to Canada you should certainly visit Montreal. It is a highlight of the country as well as a destination that lets you explore the old and new worlds of Quebec. With world-renowned urban parks, attractions and an unrivalled food scene there’s plenty for you to see.
We’d recommend spending at least 48 hours in the city. Here’s our itinerary of the top attractions for you to sink your teeth into:
Our suggested itinerary
Morning – Go on a walking tour around the city
Afternoon – Visit the attractions at the Parc Jean Drapeau
Evening – Watch a light and sound show at the Notre-Dame Basilica
Morning – Get a spectacular view of Montreal at Mount Royal Park
Afternoon – Enjoy great exhibitions at the Montreal Science Centre
Evening – Toast your trip at Montreal’s restaurants
Morning: Go on a walking tour around the city
One of the best introductions to Montreal is a tour of the city and with Free Montreal Tours you can explore this city’s fascinating attractions.
The 2 hour and 15 minute walking tours take you down the cobbled streets to the essential historic sites of Old Town. The expert guides will happily tell you about how the city was founded and how it has evolved into the metropolis you see today.
The free tours are offered from Monday to Thursday and the tours start from Place de la Dauversière.
The free walking tours are only available through the summer but you can go on other tours during the winter months. One is the Montreal Craft Beer tour, which takes you to three brewpubs and allows you to try six different beers and some delicious food.
Afternoon: Visit the attractions at the Parc Jean Drapeau
A jewel nestling by the St. Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau is without doubt one of Montreal’s most precious assets and a one-of-a-kind place in Canada.
It’s easy to get to as it’s located only a few metro stations away from downtown Montreal. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city you’ll discover this beautiful urban park spread amongst Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame islands.
There’s lots of attractions you can visit like the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, the Jean-Doré Beach, public art on display and lots of colourful gardens. The Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve annually plays host to the Canadian Grand Prix and is regarded as one of Formula One’s most iconic circuits.
The Jean-Doré Beach boasts golden sand and clear water and in summer it is the perfect spot to lounge in the sun or go open water swimming in the river.
The park also hosts lots of other events, but one of the most popular is the dragon boat races. At the Olympic Basin, advanced and beginner teams will race against each other throughout the summer months.
After visiting the park you can enjoy an indulgent lunch at Regine Cafe. Their famous gourmet sandwiches take pride of place on the freshly-made menu, and make sure you try the incredible waffles.
Evening: Watch a light and sound show at the Notre-Dame Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica is a must-visit attraction in Montreal. It was the first Gothic Revival style church to be built in Canada and is famous for its stunningly ornate interior.
To get a great understanding of its fascinating history, join a guided tour and find out more about events such as the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1984 and the wedding of Céline Dion in 1994.
These tours tell you all about the spectacular architecture, including the three statues of the façade of the Basilica, which represent Montreal (the Virgin Mary), Quebec (Saint John the Baptist) and Canada (Saint Joseph).
If you’re visiting in the summer you’ll be able to experience the incredible acoustics of the basilica with concerts by orchestras like the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
Throughout the year the church has amazing light and sound shows at night. These events, called Aura, are produced by Moment Factory and invite visitors to celebrate the beauty and heritage of the church through light and orchestral music.
Morning: Get a spectacular view of Montreal at Mount Royal Park
Another day and another spectacular highlight to visit. Mount Royal is a 200-hectare city park that includes part of the mountain that lies on Montreal Island.
Visiting Mount Royal Park in the morning is a great idea as it includes the highest point in the city. Standing 234 metres high, you can watch the sunrise and the city wake up to a new day.
You can get some spectacular views of downtown Montreal from the Belvédère Kondiaronk lookout as well as great views of the river. A second lookout will give you stunning views of the Montreal Olympic Stadium and the east of the city.
The park is extremely popular with locals and during the winter months it is a hotspot for cross-country skiers and ice skaters. During the summer months you’ll see lots of runners and walkers taking in the stunning views.
Afternoon: Enjoy great exhibitions at the Montreal Science Centre
Located on the King Edward Pier in the Old Port of Montreal, The Montreal Science Centre is home to an array of interactive exhibitions on science and technology as well as an IMAX cinema.
The fascinating exhibitions include Indigenous Ingenuity, an interactive exhibition that looks at how indigenous knowledge continues to shape our society, and Disheveling, an extraordin-hairy exhibition that examines the hair of humans, animals and plants.
Throughout the year the Montreal Science Centre welcomes lots of travelling exhibitions as well as hosting diverse events.
If you want to put your feet up after hiking up Mount Royal in the morning, check out a nature documentary at the IMAX. Currently you can watch ‘Amazon’ in 3D and follow explorer and naturalist Henry Bates through the spectacular rainforest.
Evening – Toast your trip at Montreal’s restaurants
What better way is there to round off your trip to Montreal than experiencing why the city is a foodie’s dream?
Montreal is famed for its food scene and it’s unsurprising as it blessed with world-class restaurants, top chefs and an abundance of fresh produce.
Montréal Plaza is a great restaurant where you can enjoy top-quality cuisine with other food-loving diners. The restaurant is well-known for its seafood dishes such as confit salmon and smoked cream and its fresh oysters.
Want to try some traditional Canadian food? Head over to Montreal Poutine – as the name suggests, it is one of the best places in the city to tuck into chips, cheese and gravy. Here, they like to mix things up with twists on the traditional dish including fried chicken toppings, poutine with spicy Italian sausage and poutine with hot dog. Bon Appetit!
Image Credit: Notre-Dame Basilica.