Free things to do in Montréal

posted January 4, 2019


Free things to do in Montréal

READ TIME: 6 minutes

The iconic Canadian city of Montréal offers you a slice of old Europe with its cobbled streets and architecture. It’s full of things to see and do, from its unique little pubs and restaurants to its world-famous attractions like the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Mount Royal lookout.

And considering that flights to Montréal are only 7 and a half hours from London, this vibrant city couldn’t be easier to get to.

A visit to this exciting city doesn’t have to be expensive; there are lots to do that won’t cost you a cent. Here we share some of the best free activities and attractions you can enjoy during your Montréal holiday, so read on.

Head to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

With more than 1.3 million visitors annually, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is one of Canada’s most visited museums and the eighth-most visited museum in the whole of North America.

After being founded in 1860, it was also one of the first museums to build up such an impressive collection. These exhibitions include international paintings, world cultures, decorative arts and design, and Québec and Canadian art. The MMFA is one of Canada’s leading publishers of art books in French and English, which are distributed internationally, and it also houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum.

Maude from the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, tells us why you should visit this popular attraction during your Montréal holiday.

“The MMFA encyclopaedic collection now numbers over 43,000 works from Antiquity to today, making it unique in Canada. It comprises paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects displayed in five pavilions.”

The access to the collection and to discovery exhibitions (excluding major exhibitions) is free every first Sunday of the month for everyone, and every day for those aged 0 to 30 years old. This is something we’d certainly recommend you consider as there are new exhibitions in 2019 focusing on French fashion designer Thierry Mugler and the secrets of the mummies of ancient Egypt.

Enjoy the activities at Parc Jean Drapeau

The iconic Parc Jean Drapeau is one of the most popular places to visit in the city as it is a hive of activity with a whole host of events to join in and attractions to visit.

The Parc offers a range of free activities and these include:

•Free outdoor training facilities, including the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and Trekfit

•A public art trail

Week-ends du Monde are free events that highlight the culture and traditions of the area through music and dance

Fête des Neiges de Montréal is also a mostly free event. It celebrates the joys of winter and takes place over four weekends throughout January and February every year

•The parc also has multiple free days for kids at Jean-Doré Beach and the Aquatic Complex during the summer

Of course, we’d recommend you head to Parc Jean Drapeau to enjoy the stunning views of the city, which is a really nice free activity to do. While you’re there, go for a walk in the park’s pretty, natural spaces, including the Floralies Garden and the Mont Boullé. These are great experiences in themselves and are completely free.

Watch Shakespeare-in-the-Park

The Repercussion Theatre has brought its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour to parks across Montréal, Québec and into Ontario for over 30 years. Each summer, over 12,000 audience members gather in local parks to enjoy live, professional theatre under the stars.

Amanda Kellock, the company’s artistic director, told us how the theatre brings arts to the people and how they encourage you to question, reflect, and wonder together.

“We don’t just present Shakespeare’s plays – we enter into dialogue with them. Just as William Shakespeare used the theatre as a way to ‘hold a mirror up to nature’, we seek to explore the major issues of our time through the work we create.”

The tour usually runs in July-August and there are usually six shows a week, in a different park each evening. The show is free to the public, although there are collections for donations.

READ OUR OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT MONTRÉAL HERE:

Where to stay in Montréal

48 hours in Montréal

The alternative guide to Montréal

Montréal’s Underground City

Hike to the summit of Mount Royal

Summit of Mount Royal

The iconic Mount Royal is a small mountain just west of downtown Montréal and here you can hike to the summit. The easy 6-7-kilometre walk (around four miles) will take around an hour and costs nothing, but the panoramic views of the city are priceless.

There are several walking paths you can take to get to the summit, but from Smith House, which is the entry point to the park, you can hike up Olmsted Road and Peel Street and choose between the meandering path known as the ‘serpentine’ or take the more direct route to the top.

It should come as little surprise that climbing the city’s namesake hill is a popular pastime for Montréalers. While you’re in the area, you should check out some of the other attractions you can do around the Mount, which we’ve listed below:

•The Smith House – a heritage house displaying all kinds of fascinating information about the mountain

•Beaver Lake – a playground for kids or a natural ice-skating rink in the winter

•Events like Tam Tams which is a free festival taking place on Sundays throughout the summer months. Just head to the east side of Mount Royal around the monument of Sir George-Étienne Cartier.

Visit Montréal’s famous public markets

Montréal’s famous public markets

The city of Montréal is a foodie dream and one of the top free things to do in Montréal is to visit one of the public markets.

Just walking around these markets is a great experience to take in the vibrant colours and bustling stalls. If you do decide to part with your dollars and buy some of the fresh foods on offer you, will pay a very reasonable price for them.

The Jean-Talon Market is the most famous as it is one of North America’s largest farmers’ markets and it features an extensive selection of the city’s local produce and homemade goods. Here there are stalls selling popular Canadian and international foods and as a result, you’ll be shopping alongside lots of locals doing their weekly food shop!

Other popular food markets you should try to visit include:

Atwater Market

Maisonneuve Market

Lachine Market

Go ice skating during the winter months

READ OUR OTHER ICE-SKATING ARTICLE HERE:

Get your skates on in Canada’s top cities!

Want to try an iconic Canadian activity during your Montréal holiday that’s completely free? If that’s a ‘yes’, then you should go ice skating.

During the winter months, you should don some skates and embrace the cold by hitting the various ice rinks. There are lots of great places to skate and we’d recommend the likes of Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau as there is a pond that freezes over.

Some other popular free rinks across the city are the Lac aux Castors, Beaver Lake, at Parc Mont Royal, the Quays of the Old Port of Montréal, and Parc Jeanne-Mance.

Tempted to visit? Check out our popular holidays in Montreal:

Montreal Short Break

Montreal and Quebec Short Break

Mini Eastern Explorer Montreal Holiday

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