Montreal is known as the cultural and entertainment capital of Canada, and with good reason. It is a seasonal city, with festivals and attractions that fit within a certain place in the calendar. Take a look at our recommendations for things to do in Montreal and feel free to add your own in the comments section. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please explore the city and get back to us if you find new and interesting things to do in Montreal.
One of Montreal’s most conspicuous and unique attractions is the Olympic Stadium, the centrepiece of Olympic Park. Originally built to house the 1976 summer games, the stadium is rarely used today, hosting just a handful of football and soccer matches each year. It does, however, have the world’s largest inclined tower sticking out over it, and a trip up to the top gives a wonderful view of the city and beyond. The cycling velodrome has been remade into the Montreal Biodome, a facility that allows visitors to walk through four ecosystems found in the Americas. The district also contains Saputo Stadium, home of Montreal Impact, and the Botanical Gardens of Montreal.
Métro: Pie-XI, Viau
If it’s one of those endlessly freezing days (or weeks, or months . . .) and you want to get out of the house with some friends, Sharx (1606 Sainte-Catherine Street, 514-934-3105, Métro: Guy-Concordia) is a sprawling downtown complex offering bowling, pool, snooker and seven golf simulators. Even if it’s -18°C outside, you can pretend you’re playing Pebble Beach in Californian sunshine. Beware, this is not a low-key place and one can expect the kind of atmosphere that comes with a place that spells shark with an X. It’s noisy, the food is plain, and the whole place is more than a bit cheesy. Still, it will always kill a few hours.
Things to do in Montreal: Museums
There are so many high quality museums in Montreal that it would be impractical, and nearly impossible, to expound upon all of them here. Nevertheless, here is an outline of Montreal’s most celebrated and visited museums and galleries.
Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) – 1379 Sherbrooke Ouest (Métro: Guy-Concordia, Peel)
Tel: 514-285-1600 / 514-285-2000
Montreal’s largest museum, with more than 30,000 edifices, is among the finest in Canada. It is divided into three pavilions, with the Hornstein Pavilion focusing primarily on the history of Quebec. The building is one of the most beautiful in the city and can be found in the Golden Square Mile district of Sherbrooke Street. All in all, one of the finest museums in Montreal
Museum of Contemporary Arts – 185 St-Catherine Ouest (Métro: Place-des-Arts)
A museum truly for the 21st century, the focus of this institution is on Contemporary Canadian Art. Of the 7,000 works in the permanent collection, 60 per cent are the works of Quebecois artists. The museum hosts frequent interactive multimedia events and workshops where participants are asked to base their work on the pieces in the museum. Entry is free on Wednesday evenings.
Montreal Science Centre – King Edward Quay (Métro: Place d’Armes)
You don’t have to be a geek to come here, but it might help if you’re willing to be one for a couple of hours. A real family-friendly place in the heart of the Old Port, the Science Centre hosts three permanent, fun exhibitions for children of all ages. It is more interactive and multimedia-based than standard museums, allowing people to approach learning in a more fun way. It also has an IMAX 3D cinema.
McCord Museum of Canadian History – 690 Sherbrooke Ouest, (Métro: McGill)
For history buffs as well as casual droppers-by, this place is a treasure trove of historical artifacts (almost a million) about the nation’s history. It gives a wonderful perspective on the size, strength and fragility of Canada and Montreal’s place within it.
Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History Pointe-à-Callière – 350 Place Royale
Naturally situated in Old Montreal, the site of the original city and therefore the site of much contemporary archaeology, this museum takes a pretty liberal and broad definition of archaeology. The three main exhibits this year are ‘Montreal Love Stories’, ‘Where Montreal was born’, and ‘Youville Pumping Station’ which focuses on a century-old wastewater pumping station in the area. This museum is home to the remnants of Montreal’s city walls, a warehouse, a customs house and an inn.
Redpath Museum – 859 Sherbrooke Ouest, McGill University (Métro: McGill, Peel)
The Redpath Museum is a natural history museum belonging to McGill University and is the oldest building built specifically as a museum in Canada. With a large permanent collection focusing on geology, entomology, paleontology and ethnology, the Redpath is a museum you should visit at least once when living in Montreal.
A more comprehensive list of museums can be found here: http://www.museesmontreal.org/en/Montreal_Museums.htm
Things to do in Montreal: Parks
What would this city be without its parks? Montreal has managed to not sell its soul to developers who might otherwise put an apartment block or offices where some of the world’s finest urban parks are found. Hundreds of street corners have tiny parks tucked into them, offering perhaps just a small flower garden and a bench or set of swings, but for a full park experience you should head to some of the large urban parks around town: Mount Royal Park, LaFontaine Park, Maisonneuve Park, Jarry Park and Angrignon Park.
What better way to ingratiate yourself with Montrealers than to go to a public skating rink? Many public parks, most notably LaFontaine Park, offer large rinks in winter. A list of locations can be found in the ‘Sports and Recreation’ tab.
St. Joseph’s Observatory
When you land in Montreal, this Roman Catholic church, the largest in Canada and a national shrine, might be the first thing you see on the West slope of Mount Royal. It really is a sight to behold, with the third-largest dome of its kind in the world and extensive beautiful gardens. The architectural style is that of the Italian renaissance. (Métro: Côte-des-Neiges)