Top 10 Sites in Montreal

“Wow! It’s been so long!” I hugged my friend Priscilla, who I hadn’t seen in 5 years. The last time we were together we were in Heidelberg, Germany which felt like ages ago. She lives in France while I live in Boston. Priscilla  was visiting North America for the first time and her sister is about a 20 minute car drive from Montreal. I was staying two days, which would give me enough time to re-explore the city that I hadn’t seen in 2 years (despite it being relatively close).

Below, I compiled a list  of places for you to check out if you make the trek up. Hope you enjoy:

1. Jetboating

SDanck and I went jetboating back in 2015 on the St. Lawrence River. These high powered jet boats can hold up to 48 people and take you on a ride of the nearby rapids. Prepare to get soaked and for a fun ride! Visit their website here.

Tip: Bring extra clothes to change into. SDanck and I didn’t do this and ended up going on the nearby zipline right after soaked. Not recommended 😉

Where is it?:

Price: $69

How long it will take you: The ride is about an hour, though be sure to schedule some time to change.

When to go: Go when you are at the Old Port. The entrance is right there.

Where it is:

2. Old Port

The Old Port is right along the water and has a series of activities for you to do, especially in the summer. My sister and I went zip-lining (right after jetboating. See my note above about bringing extra clothes ; ) ). And they even have an adventure park and ferris wheel.

In the winter, there is a skating rink which will open on December 9th. For a full list of activities, check out their site, here.

How long it will take you: This depends entirely on what activities you have planned. But given the extensive list, you could easily spend a day or two here.

When to go: Summer has a lot more activities, but there’s still ice skating and the ferris wheel in the winter.

Where it is:

old port

KDanck and SDanck at the Old Port 

3. St. Catherine

Shopping. Shopping. Shopping. There are over 1,200 merchants here and this street is the “largest commercial artery in Canada” (1). There are also many access points to Montreal’s Underground City.

Tip: St. Catherine’s, The Quartier des Spectacles (below) and the Underground City are all close and can be combined together for 1-2 days of fun.

Where it is:

4. Quartier Des Spectacles

If you keep walking along St. Catherine’s, you will find yourself here. Packed with festivals and events, this is worth checking out:

Where it is:

5. The Underground City

More shopping! The Underground City spans 20 miles (2) underneath Montreal and features world famous shopping centers including:

Where it is:

6. Try some poutine

This is a staple food here and is pretty delicious. Poutine is French fries with gravy and cheese. It’s generally not vegetarian friendly. I ended up getting my vegetarian poutine at a poutine festival, but these places should also have them and for you non-vegetarians out there. These places are rated Thrillist’s top 5.

vancouver-poutine

Yum!

7. Go to a festival

Over 90 festivals take place in Montreal over the course of the calendar year. Some of the most well known include Festival International de Jazz de Montreal (June and early July) and the Oshega (which is a rock festival that takes place in early August). To align your trip up with a festival, check out Lonely Planet’s Guide here.

8. Mont Royal

This offers the best view of the city and is a short hike up. Taking a cab or parking your car (yes, there is parking) is the easiest way to get here, since it is a little out of the way. Parking is very cheap, but you will have to pay, so make sure to have a credit card or some cash handy.

Tip: Get here early. The McGill campus is nearby and entrance is free. If you don’t want to deal with a lot of students or fellow tourists.

How long it will take you: 30 minutes to an hour depending on how many photos you want to take. The walk isn’t very long from the parking lot.

Where it is:

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KDanck and her friend, Priscilla
9. Botanical Gardens

This was one of my favorite parts of Montreal. The botanical gardens here are huge with ever changing exhibits and gardens focused on various cultural themes (such as the Chinese and Japanese gardens). The food at their restaurant was also surprisingly good.

How long it will take you: We were here for half the day but you could easily spend more or less time there.

What to combine it with: We combined it with Mont Royal. There is parking here too, so it’s easy to combine these too (about a 15 minute drive from each other). Also the Biodome and Olympic Tower are right there.

Pricing: $20.25

Parking: $12 a day. Or if you park at the back entrance, you can park for free on the street if there are spots. (This results in about a 15-20 minute walk to the main part of the garden)
Where it is:

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Exploring some of the sculptures

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The Chinese garden

10. Biodome & Olympic Tower

While I haven’t had a chance to check out these two sites, SDank has! Both of these sites are located in the Olympic Park.  Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics in 1976 and continue to maintain and use the sites.

The Biodome has numerous year round exhibits along with special/seasonal ones (currently, they are hosting ‘The Great Pumpkin Ball! Get tickets here).  Visit here to learn more about the Biodome’s current exhibits and here to find tickets.

The Montreal (Olympic) Tower stands at 165 meters (541 feet!) and is the tallest inclined in the world (the incline is at a 45 degree angle, whereas the Leaning Tower of Pisa is only 5 degrees!). Take the elevator to the top of the tower and enjoy a panorama view of the the St. Lawrence River valley and the area of Montreal. Visit here for the schedule and rates.

They are right outside the botanical gardens.

Biodome Rate: $20.25+

Where it is:

Montreal (Olympic) Rate: $23.25+
Where it is: Right next door!

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