Top 14 Things to Do in Montreal

As the world's second largest French-speaking city, Montreal also offers a little taste of Europe right in America's own backyard.

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Old Montreal

Some of the city's top attractions share space with fantastic shopping and dining options in Old Montreal, all set within an easily walkable and supremely central location. The cobblestoned Rue St-Paul overflows with upscale boutiques and galleries, while the café-lined Place Jacques-Cartier is one of Montreal's liveliest squares. Pointe-à-Callière Museum and Notre-Dame Basilica, 2 of the city’s must-see’s are located here, too.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Drawing some 3 quarters of a million visitors each year Montreal's largest museum is also one of Canada's most popular. Spread over 4 pavilions Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features a broad collection of art decorative art and design and since 2011 has also included its own chamber music performance space Bourgie Hall inside a restored church.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Built in the 1820s on an original site from 1657 Notre-Dame Basilica the grand Gothic Revival church features a massive century-old pipe organ with 4 keyboards and 7000 individual pipes as well as gorgeous stained glass depicting scenes from Montreal's long religious history. The next-door Old Sulpician Seminary dating from 1685 is the city's oldest building.

Montreal International Jazz Festival

Few cities do festivals as well as Montreal where -- especially in summer -- there's almost always a major festival of some kind happening in town. Among the most popular are the lively Montreal International Jazz Festival (the largest jazz fest in the world) in late June and early July and the Just for Laughs comedy festival from mid-to-late July. 

Montreal Botanical Garden

One of the world's top botanical gardens, this 190-acre jewel includes 10 exhibition greenhouses, more than 20 themed gardens and some 22,000 plant species. There's also an on-site Insectarium -- the largest of its kind in North America, with some 250,000 specimens, both living and mounted.

Pointe-à-Callière Museum

Opened on the very spot where Montreal got its start (as Ville-Marie) in 1642 the vast Pointe-à-Callière Museum traces centuries of the city's history from Amerindian days to the present and houses more than a million artifacts many displayed in their original locations. The 18-minute large-screen multimedia show Yours Truly
Montréal offers a great overview of the city's heritage.

Underground City

Okay, so it's not all actually underground, but this downtown indoor web of interconnected shopping malls, hotels, museums, metro stations and more is linked by a sprawling network of tunnels -- some 20 miles in all -- and makes Montreal's often chilly winters much more manageable for locals and visitors alike.

Montreal Symphony Orchestra

With a striking new performance space (Montreal Symphony House) since 2011 the\Montreal Symphony Orchestra is one of North America's leading classical music ensembles. Musical director Kent Nagano oversees the orchestra's annual calendar which features a number of popular concert series.

Mount Royal

At 764 feet it's really much more of a hill than a mountain, but Mount Royal proudly watches over the city, and indeed even gave it its name. It's also home to Mount Royal Park, one of the city's biggest green spaces and a very popular outdoor recreation spot throughout the year.

Mile End

A haven for artistic types since the 1980s, the Mile End neighborhood, located just west of downtown, is now home to a thriving creative scene, including musicians, writers, artists and filmmakers. Accordingly, it's also where you'll find some of the city's best galleries, boutiques, cafés and quirky nightlife, as well as locally famous bagel shops St-Viateu and Fairmont.

Old Port

Centrally located right at the edge of Old Montreal the city's former commercial harbor is now a revitalized waterfront destination unto itself. Recreation options abound year-round at Old Port from boating and beach bathing in summer to ice skating and ice fishing in winter. A host of dining and entertainment options are here too including an IMAX theater.

Le Village

Just north of downtown, and centered along Saint Catherine Street East, this is Montreal's lively gay neighborhood filled with scores of shops, restaurants and bars catering to the city's very out and proud LGBT community. The Village is active year-round but most colorful in summer, when Saint Catherine Street is closed to auto traffic and some 200,000 little pink balls are strung overhead.

Jean-Talon Market

One of Montreal's oldest public markets and one of North America's largest, Marche Jean-Talon is open year-round in the city's Little Italy neighborhood. In peak summer months, some 300 vendors sell fruits, vegetables, flowers, meats and other fine products from across Quebec. 

Chateau Ramezay

Quebec's oldest private history museum Old Montreal's Château Ramezay is set in the 1705 residence of a former governor of New France. Exhibits throughout the grand old mansion reveal 5 centuries of history from Montreal and the entire region in addition to a beautiful French colonial style garden out back. 

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