Photograph by Guido Cozzi/Atlantide
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Patrons enjoy good food and great views of the Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal.

Photograph by Guido Cozzi/Atlantide

Montreal Must-Dos

Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Montreal—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

Mount Royal Park, “The Mountain”

Majestic multifunctional city park; walk, cross-country ski, or bike on Olmsted Road to a panoramic view of the cityscape; walking in Catholic or Protestant graveyards just outside the park offers a different angle on Montreal history. The “tam-tams”—a drumming/dancing bacchanal on the mountain’s east side—attract thousands every warm Sunday. Tip: “At Summit Circle on the Westmount side of the Mountain, there’s a less-populated lookout and a bird sanctuary that’s raucous with life in the middle of summer.”—Bill Brownstein, city columnist, the Gazette.


“Gives a sense of the importance of the river, and Montreal’s seafaring past.”—Bill Brownstein. Former working-class neighborhood that’s still lively; interesting curio shops and antiquing on Rue Notre-Dame; hip and lively multicultural district slowly being gentrified into artist lofts and studios.

L’Oratoire St.-Joseph du Mont-Royal

A towering testament to religious devotion built on the site of a chapel built in the woods; pilgrims still climb the stairs on their knees; frequent mass and choral recitals. Tip: Check out the roomful of castoff crutches and canes, and founder Brother André’s heart on display in an adjacent chapel. By donation.

Pointe-à-Callière Museum

“A real treat for history buffs; Montreal from the ground up.”—Bill Brownstein. Museum detailing the archaeological heritage of Montreal, from the very first settlers to modern-day; excellent rotating exhibits and permanent displays. Fee.

Gouin or Lachine Canal Bike Paths

Montreal’s beautiful bike paths afford an alternative view of the city; most can also be walked. Rent a bicycle at Parc Lafontaine and follow Avenue Christophe-Colomb path to see turn-of-the-20th-century architecture along the north shore. Tip: “After the footbridge into Pointe St. Charles, stop canalside for beer at the pub of the St. Ambroise microbrewery.”—Bill Brownstein.

The Montreal Canadiens (The Habs)

Hockey tickets in this hockey town are extremely difficult (and expensive) to obtain by legitimate means, especially if the Habs are playing archrival Toronto Maple Leafs. Tip: Tickets can usually be bought at a slight markup outside the stadium or on sites like Craigslist. Fee.


“Bus tour of the Old Port that becomes a boat tour of the harbor.”—Bill Brownstein. The best way to see the city’s historical center, by land and sea; meets at the corner of Rue de la Commune and Boulevard St. Laurent in the Old Port. May-October only; fee.

Habitat 67

Boxy, postmodern apartment complex; the only structures built for Expo 67 (the 1967 International and Universal Exposition) that are still being used for what they were built for. Tip: “River-surfing in the rapids around Habitat 67 is all the rage—no sharks, and there’s not far to fall.”—Arjun Basu, publisher, EnRoute Magazine.

The Olympic Stadium

“The Big O only looks good from the outside; the ride up to the top in the glass elevator is a thrill.”—Arjun Basu. Loved and hated by all Montrealers who bemoan the unfulfilled promise of the stadium’s retractable roof; once home to the dearly departed Montreal Expos, now home to trade shows and monster-truck rallies. Tip: If traveling with kids, combine with a trip to the neighboring Insectarium.

Parc Jean-Drapeau

Multipurpose public spaces for cultural festivities, concerts, and outdoor fun, accessible by bridge or métro from the island of Montreal. Features include a complex of outdoor swimming pools, a geodesic dome, a rollerblade path, an amusement park, a museum, picnic areas, and much more. On summer Sunday afternoons, an open-air techno concert called Piknik Électronik draws dancing crowds into the daylight.