Moving to a metropolis always carries big expectations, and it’s not any different when it comes to the largest city of the Canadian province of Quebec. Luckily, things to do in Montreal are many and diverse, so you may expect new experiences every day.
Before actually moving to Montreal, let’s take a look at a few facts about the country’s second-most-populous municipality. Montreal is located in the south of Quebec, on the island of the same name. French explorers discovered the land in the 16th century, and the first settlement was founded some hundred years later. Even though French is the official and the most predominantly spoken language there, you won’t have to worry about breaking the language barrier. Almost two-thirds of inhabitants speak English, as well.
#1 A Hike on Mount Royal Is One of the Essential Things to Do in Montreal
Whatever else you choose to spend your time on, it’s hard to miss the largest park in Montreal, slightly west of downtown. With the highest spot at 764 feet, it is a perfect spot for outdoor activities. You can walk, jog, cycle, but also gather family or friends for a picnic. When the weather’s right, you can rent a boat on Beaver Lake and row for a while, or you can simply go to one of the places that offer a marvelous panoramic view. All in all, it is a great place to go to, whether you are alone or you’re moving with kids abroad.
On top of the hill is a hundred-feet-tall cross. The original one was wooden, but now there’s a landmark equipped with LED lights that can be seen from afar when lit up.
Mount That Gave the Name to Montreal
French settlers in the 17th century named their town Ville Marie, in honor of the Virgin Mary. However, Jacques Cartier, the first European who climbed the hill’s summit a hundred years before, named it Mont Réal, as an homage to French king Francis. The settlement kept its original name until the start of the 18th century when it was renamed Montreal.
#2 Search for Serenity In and Around St Joseph’s Oratory
St Joseph’s Oratory is the largest church in Canada. It is dedicated to Canada’s patron saint, and its dome is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It stores the relics of the local saint and healer, Andre. The church is surrounded by trees and provides a great view. It was proclaimed a National Historic Site, and over two million people visit it every year.
#3 Explore the Old City
The city’s historical area along the banks of Saint Lawrence River is a great place to visit and spend time in. It keeps the spirit of the past ages, with many buildings from the time of French colonization along with cobbled streets and horse carriages. There are also mansions from the colonial era, a Notre-Dame basilica, and former headquarters of the city’s bank.
In the southwest part of the neighborhood is the archeological site with remains of the first settlement. While on the topic of archeology, Champs de Mars clearly shows that the town once had walls and other fortifications.
There is also a historic port on the river, which was used as a trading post for furs from the start of the 17th century. Today, there are plenty of things to do there. There sits the Science Centre, as well as the Clock Tower and IMAX theatre. Next to the Clock Tower is a beach for those who want to take a break from walking, cycling, boating, or rollerblading on the quays.
The Old Port is also an excellent spot for fishing.
#4 The Museum Offer Is Vast
One of the many riches of this community lies in its museums and art galleries. If you are an art lover, they may be reason enough to hire packing services and relocate.
Let’s begin with the Museum of Fine Arts, and it’s collection of European, Native American, and Canadian arts. There are also paintings from local artists. They are the main staple of the Musée d’Art Contemporain, too.
There are other museums that are important to note: Redpath, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Museum of Archeology and History, and Stewart.
When it comes to science, there are Planetarium, Botanical Garden, and Biodome, a former Olympic velodrome turned into an exhibit space. In Biodome, you can see reproductions of four ecosystems that can be found in the Americas, as well as the various animals inhabiting those ecosystems. Not far from the city is the Laval Cosmodrome, which houses Space Camp and Space Science Centre.
Inspect the Insectarium
This one may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s still a major attraction. It exhibits alive and dead insect species from all over the world. Around 400,000 people visit it each year.
#5 Where to Eat?
This place takes great pride in its diversity. Therefore, you can expect many different cuisines and culinary influences. Restaurants of all sorts are in abundance. You can try Greek, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, and Lebanese food, among others. We can give flying marks to, for example, Au Pied du Cochon (Pig’s Feet, literally) or La Banquise.
However, there’s a special sort of restaurants in case you’re moving to another country for love – romantic ones. Here are some that you don’t want to miss:
- Pastel – you may put a sign on the wall after the meal
- Damas – Syrian food perfect for sharing
- Le Mousso – if you want to spend a really long time with your significant other over food
- Le Majestique – oysters do wonders for romance
All in all, restaurants are everywhere, even on top of Mount Royal. Still, the highest concentration of some of the best restaurants is in Chinatown. Day in, day out, there is something new for you to try. Starting from the famed local variation of a hot dog.
This location is an attractive destination for both culinary delights and cultural activities. It has 16 eateries and three drinking bars. Also, you can engage in cooking in a kitchen set up for demonstrations or enroll in a cooking school.
#6 Outdoors and Hiking
Besides Mont-Royal and the banks of St Lawrence, there are scores of other places to visit if you wish to spend time outdoors. Here are our favorites.
The Botanical Garden sprawls over 190 acres of land, with greenhouses and thematic gardens and an extensive collection of plants. It was proclaimed a National Historic Site.
There you can enjoy the long pathways of the Chinese Garden, filled with plants from China and arranged in the style of the Ming Dynasty. Then there is the Japanese Garden, with ikebanas and other staples of Japanese plants. In the First Nations Garden, you’ll walk beneath maples, pines, and birches, and see medicinal plants used by Native Americans, but also a few totem poles. Besides those, there are sections with Alpine plants, poisonous specimens, and trees. Don’t be surprised if you run into a duck. Or a turtle.
Sail on Floating Spa
Are you a fan of massages and spas? Look no further than Bota Bota. Once a ferryboat, it has been remade into a floating temple of pleasure. It offers saunas, baths, massages, and beauty treatments, along with an excellent restaurant. As an additional treat, it offers a lovely view of the Old Port, and also of Habitat 67, one of the most emblematic of the city’s structures.
If you’re looking for a place to spend an entire day, Parc Jean-Drapeau may be the spot for you. It is more than 660 acres of wood and is the site of the biggest music festivals, Biosphere Museum, a large amusement park, and a racing circuit. For those who like to bet a buck or two, there is also a casino.
Best Street Fairs in the World
Street fairs are a big thing for Montrealers. Along the Main and away, you can get pretty much anything from housewares to street massages. Still, it’s not mostly about sales. It’s about the sense of community, and many of those who visit opt to sit on a bar terrace and sip a cold beer, preferably from some of the local microbreweries.
Street Art of Saint-Laurent Boulevard
The main street in town, Saint-Laurent Boulevard, is a commercial hub as well as a cultural heritage site. During the summer, when there are street fairs and great food all around, street artists, known and unknown, put their skills to good use and make graffiti in front of a mass of spectators. There are two main festivals dedicated to street art: the Mural Festival and Under Pressure.
#7 Enjoy Sports
The host of the 1976 Summer Olympics is rich in sporting events. And since we’re talking about Canada, there’s no dilemma about what comes first. Ice hockey, of course. Montrealers are proud of their local boys, the Canadiens, founders of the NHL, and winners of record 24 Stanley Cups. The last one happened quite a while ago, though, in 1993. When in Montreal, and even more in the stands of Bell Centre, it’s not the best idea to talk favorably about fellow Canadian teams Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. Boston Bruins aren’t held in high regard, either.
There is also a circuit for Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix. The circuit was named after famous racer Gilles Villeneuve, a Montrealer and Formula One champion, and is used for car racing as well.
Fans of tennis can enjoy the Rogers Cup, the competition that is younger only than Wimbledon. It is played on hard courts, by both men and women.
#8 Music and Club Scene
Those who enjoy music, from classical to electronic, will have their share of fun, too. The place has a longstanding reputation for its vibrant nightlife. It stretches all the way back to the Roaring Twenties. While Prohibition gripped the US, the northern neighbors had none if it, so the bar scene was blooming. It was in those days that Montreal got the nickname “Sin City.” Today, the club scene is alive and kicking, with parties being held every single day.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Symphony Orchestra regularly performs in its downtown halls, as well as Orchestre Metropolitain and I Musici de Montréal.
When it comes to popular music, local bands make their music in French. Still, the Anglophones have their say, with Arcade Fire being a prominent example.
The International Jazz Festival is where it all comes together, with performers and styles from all over the world. Among the smaller festivals are “African Nights,” Reggae Festival, FestiBlues International, and many more.
#9 Endless Shopping
What would a metropolis be without an opportunity to buy stuff, right? No trouble on that front, either.
Things to Do in Montreal While in the Underground City
The network of tunnels beneath downtown that connects building complexes, office towers, universities, and shopping malls is among the best opportunities for shopping. More than 500,000 people pass through it every day. Besides malls, there is also an ice skating rink.
If you wish to buy fresh products, be it fish, meat, Quebec cheeses, fruit, or vegetables, then this venue is perfect for you. It is open-air in the summer and indoors in winter. Whenever you come, you’ll be able to sit in a restaurant or two and taste the products.
Now That You Know This…
There’s no reason to hesitate anymore. It’s worth the price: get international moving services and relocate to Quebec. There is no way to be disappointed. After all, what we tabled in our short guide is just a fraction of possibilities. Since there are so many sights all around, it may be a good idea to hire overseas vehicle shipping services as well. You’ll be into famous Canadian politeness in no time, like a true Montrealer.