Things to Do in Montreal: Top Experiences For All of the Seasons

Montreal (officially Montréal) is a beautiful French-speaking city in Quebec, Canada with many cultural, historical and architectural charms and a cosmopolitan energy. There are many things to do in Montreal during all of the seasons and for all kinds of travelers.

Montreal experiences all four seasons, but summers are particularly warm and humid and the winters are very cold and long. I visited in the fall, and the weather was chilly but still comfortable, and the foliage throughout the city was stunning.

No matter the time of year, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy. This sprawling city is home to many museums, parks, festivals, world-class restaurants, shopping districts and fun nightlife activities.

Read on to help you plan your visit. Go, you won’t regret it!

Getting around Montreal

Montreal is a pedestrian-friendly city. Many of Montreal’s attractions are within easy walking and cycling distances and also easily accessible by the city’s transit system, la Société de transport de Montreal (STM). For more information on metro and bus fares and directions, please visit STM’s official website.

Things to do in Montreal

Montreal has something to see and do for everyone whether you are going for a quick weekend trip or a longer stay. Here are some of the best things to do in Montreal.

Stroll around Old Montreal

things to do in Montreal
The Old Montreal, where you would see and get the most European feels.

Montreal is sometimes referred to as the Paris of Canada, and Old Montreal is where you would see and get the most European feels. Its charming cobblestone streets and European architecture give you glimpses of the city’s rich history.

A leisurely stroll through Old Montreal will bring you past Saint-Paul Street, Notre Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre Dame), the Old Port (Vieux Port) and the Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours). Everywhere you turn, you’ll find trendy cafes and restaurants, art galleries and shops.

Visit Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre Dame)

things to do in Montréal
A symbol of Quebec’s religious history. Photo: Pixabay

Notre-Dame Basilica is located in the heart of Old Montreal and is Montreal’s oldest Gothic Revival church. It is a symbol of Quebec’s religious history, and this history is depicted in the intricate stained glass windows inside.

Visitors can enjoy AURA, a mesmerizing sound and light show that celebrates the orante beauty and history of the basilica.

The basilica is open to visitors for a fee when it is not holding mass.

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Spend time at the Old Port (Vieux Port)

things to do in Montréal
Once the city’s main commercial harbor . Photo: Pixabay.

The Old Port was once the city’s main commercial harbor and is now used as a recreation area for both visitors and locals. It’s a lovely area to spend the day and/or evening eating, drinking, shopping or just people-watching.

You can also relax and enjoy a panoramic view 60 metres high of Old Montreal while on the Observation Wheel (La Grande Roue de Montreal).

Shop at Bonsecours market

As you walk around Old Montreal, you’ll come across a neoclassical style building with a silver dome. This is Montreal’s oldest and largest public market, Bonsecours Market. Its purpose has changed throughout the years, but today, the market houses dozens of boutiques and restaurants.

Admire the arts scene

things to do in Montreal
The Biosphère – the museum dedicated to the environment.

Montreal has an eclectic arts scene, including internationally-renowned museums and cool street art. You can wander through the city streets and stumble upon amazing street art, like those in the trendy neighborhood of Mile End. You can also enjoy a couple of hours in the below museums:

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has an outstanding collection and exhibitions with over 43,000 works spanning from Antiquity to present day.

The Musée D’art Contemporain De Montreal, otherwise known as the MAC, is Canada’s first museum dedicated to contemporary art. It showcases a lively collection of works created by local and international artists.

The Biosphère is a museum dedicated to the environment. It has a very cool geodesic dome, and inside of it, visitors will find educational and interactive exhibitions on environmental issues. Visitors can learn about climate change, biodiversity, water, air quality and more. My friends and I had so much fun learning in the Biosphère.

FYI- Every year, the city has a Museums Day, 24-hours where everyone is welcome to enjoy free admission into many of the city’s major museums. The city provides free shuttle buses between the museums to make it easier for people to get to each of the museums.

Pack and travel:

Take a stroll through Mount Royal park (Parc Du Mont-Royal)

things to do in Montreal
Open from sunrise to sunset. No fee to enter. Perfect for picnics.

Mount Royal Park is a refreshing nature escape just a walk, bicycle, bus or Metro ride away in downtown Montreal. The park is set on a 761-ft hill, and it offers amazing towering views over the city, perfect for photo opportunities. This green space oasis also provides visitors with a network of trails to run, walk or cycle through, a forested area with a lake and picnic spots to enjoy. During the winter, visitors can toboggan on the hill overlooking the lake.

There is no fee to enter, and it’s open from sunrise to sunset.

Eat poutine

things to do in Montreal
Gooey, greasy and delicious.

There is so much good food to be eaten in Montreal, and poutine is an absolute must. Poutine is a Quebecois dish traditionally made with French fries drenched in cheese curds and topped with gravy. It’s gooey and greasy and absolutely delicious. There are many places to a grab good poutine in Montreal. I had tasty poutines at Mange-Moi and Mache!

Attend a festival

Montreal brims of diverse festivals all year round. It hosts over 100 festivals and cultural events that celebrate music, cinema, art, gastronomy and so much more! Some of the more popular annual festivals include the following:

  • Montreal International Jazz Festival – one of the biggest jazz fests in the world that takes place early in the summer season. For ten days, a couple of streets in the downtown area are converted into the festival’s venue. Jazz fans from all over the world gather to enjoy over 3,000 performers.
  • Osheaga Music and Arts Festival – a three-day outdoor music festival in early August. Over 100,000 music and arts enthusiasts gather in Parc Jean-Drapeau to enjoy performances by big names and emerging artists.
  • Igloofest – an outdoor music festival in the midst of the winter season (warm clothes are highly recommended!). Thousands of music lovers brave the cold and warm up to the sounds of dance and electronic music from local and international music artists and DJs.
  • Montreal en Lumière (Montreal in Lights) – as mentioned earlier in the article, winters in Montreal are very cold and long, but luckily, Montreal en Lumière happens in February/March to get people out of hibernation. The festival not only includes beautiful light installations, but it also offers live performances, family activities, a selection of food and drinks and much more!

Montreal is a vibrant and fantastique city with a variety of things to do for all. I will definitely return soon to experience more of what the city has to offer. I hope you get a chance to explore the city, too

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