Top Things To Do in Montreal

by Christine Kim

Top Things To Do in Montreal

Montreal is an ideal getaway with kids if you live in the East Coast. It’s close, yet in a different country, and they speak French, so it feels like you’re far from home. Some people drive up there, but we opted to fly after experiencing a super long and painful 8 hour driving trip for winter break. Plus, I was pregnant. We didn’t want to repeat that again! Also, the flight was pretty inexpensive and only an hour and half from NYC!

We went to Montreal during our daughter’s spring break, but to fully enjoy the experience, we suggest you go in the summer time when the weather is much nicer and everything is open.

Want tips on navigating the city? Be sure to read our post on Tips for Navigating Montreal.

Ok, so what’s there to do in Montreal? We’ve gathered up our top recommendations for first time visitors on things to do in Montreal.

1. Try a Montreal Bagel

We started off our day with the famed Montreal Bagel. They are slightly smaller and slightly sweeter than a New York bagel and have a larger hole. Apparently they are boiled in honey water, which makes them a bit sweeter. Make sure you ask for what’s hot out of the oven. They taste the best!

There are two places to get these famous bagels. We ended up trying both during our stay:

St-Viateur Bagel
263 Rue Saint Viateur
Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1, Canada

St-Viator Bagel in MontrealMontreal BagelSt-Viateur Bagel Shop in Montreal
Note that these places are grab and go kind of places. There are no seats, so you’ll either have to walk around with your bagels afterwards or find a cafe to grab some coffee or tea. We didn’t want to eat outside, so we ended up eating our bagels at David’s Tea, right next door to St-Viator Bagel, and had some nice tea long with it. Hopefully they didn’t mind! Thanks David’s Tea!
74 Avenue Fairmount

Montréal, QC H2T 2M2, Canada

Fairmount Bagel in MontrealFairmount Bagel in MontrealFairmount Bagel in Montreal


2. Walk Along Mile End

The good news is that when you go get your bagels, you will already be in Mile End. This area has some cute shops and restaurants to look at, so walk around a little bit before heading off to your next destination!

Mile End in MontrealWalking in Mile End, Montreal

We stopped by a cute little paper shop in Mile End. It was too pretty to resist, and our daughter found a cute coloring item that she loved to keep her occupied during cafe stops and meal times.

Boucle & Papier in MontrealBoucle & Papier in MontrealBoucle & Papier in MontrealBoucle & Papier in Montreal


 3. Place d’Armes & Notre-Dame Basilica

Place d’Armes is the central square where the famous Notre-Dame Basilica is located. If you are into churches and want to see a beautiful interior, this one is definitely worth a visit. We were there on Palm Sunday and had a special experience there with highly decorated palms, some being sold out in front for a dollar, and a Palm Sunday mass in French with beautiful music.

For those who just want to take a look, there is a $6 entrance fee, open outside of mass times. Fortunately the line was short when we wanted to enter to take pictures!

Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal

Notre-Dame Basilica

Take a look at this beautiful interior! Stunning.

Inside Notre-Dame Basilica in MontrealInside Notre-Dame Basilica in MontrealNotre-Dame Basilica in Montreal

Also within Place d’Armes are these statues. One pointing to the church, and one pointing to the bank. These were too funny not to take a picture with our daughter, who loves posing for the camera. 🙂 She was also trying to read what they were all about.

Place d'Armes in MontrealPlace d'Armes in MontrealPlace d'Armes in Montreal


 4. Walk Around Old Montreal on Rue Saint Paul

Behind the Basilica on Rue Saint Paul is what’s considered Old Montreal. There are cute cobblestone streets with some shops, souvenirs, cafes, and restaurants there. Unfortunately, the restaurants were closed during the afternoon when we were there, strolling around hungry, but we were able to stop by a cafe to grab a bite to eat and take a rest with some coffee.

Keep walking along Rue Saint-Paul and you can head toward Place Jacques-Cartier, a public square in Old Montreal.

5. Visit Mount-Royal (Mont-Royal)

Mount-Royal (Mont-Royal) is a large hill/park that is a great place to visit during the summer time. You can hang out in the park, or to get the best view of Montreal, make your way to the Chalet do Mont Royal within the park.

It’s quite a trek up the stairs if you choose to walk. We took a taxi up to get as close as possible and walked the rest of the way because it was so cold that day and we were short on time. Good thing, because although the view is absolutely wonderful, the way down was long with many, many staircases. Good to know if you have little ones with you!

View from Chalet du Mont Royal in MontrealInside Chalet du Mont Royal in MontrealChalet du Mont Royal in Montreal

The long way up and down to Chalet du Mont Royal. Lots and lots and lots of stairs!

Stairs to Chalet du Mont RoyalStairs to Chalet du Mont Royal

Also at Mount-Royal is St. Joseph’s Oratory (pictured below), a basilica built in honor of St. Joseph, Canada’s patron saint. This is the highest point in Montreal. We didn’t have time to see this during our trip, but if you do, find more info on it here.

More info on how to get to Mont-Royal and events at the park can be found on Montreal’s Tourism website.


6. Eat Poutine

What is poutine? It’s fries with gravy and cheese curd, something you must try if you’ve never tried it. We’re usually not ones to eat lots of greasy food, but we had to give it a try! You can find it everywhere, but we ended up eating it at our hotel.Make sure you share it because the portion can be quite large! La Banquise is the go-to place for poutine in Montreal if you can make it there!

Eat Poutine in MontrealPoutine in Montreal


7. Visit RESO – The Underground City

Oh, the Underground City. When we learned about this, we thought, how cool! It’s a series of interconnected walkways, buildings, and shopping malls underground, hence the name. Montreal can get cold (and humid during the summer), so if you don’t want to walk outside, you can walk underground. Genius! 20 miles of underground tunnels make up the Underground City. Learn more about the Underground City from Montreal’s Visitor’s Guide here.

If you want to stop by a mall while in Montreal to pick up some things, you can head to a couple of the malls we visited. Here are some photos on our way to Complexe Desjardins, at the Place-des-Artes train stop. There is a toy store here in case you need something for your little one.

Place des Arts in MontrealPlace des Arts in MontrealUnderground City - Complexe Desjardins, MontrealUnderground City - Complexe Desjardins, MontrealComplexe Desjardins in Underground City, Montreal

Below is The Eaton Centre, a mall that is part of the Underground City. You can get to this location at the McGill Metro train stop.

Eaton Center in Underground City, Montreal

The Eaton Centre in Underground City, Montreal

8. Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique)

The Botanical Garden was closed when we were there. Don’t try to visit on a Monday. We thought about going on another day, but since the weather was still cold, the flowers would not have bloomed yet and the trees would not have been green. We plan on coming back to see it during the summer time some time.

If you’re visiting during the summer, this is worth a visit. Such an interesting garden to see!

9. Biodôme

Montreal’s Biodôme is located at Olympic Park and allows visitors to walk through four different ecosystems. You can even see penguins there! See more details and hours on their website.

10. Museum of Fine Arts

Another worthy attraction is the Museum of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, we were not able to go because they were closed the day we were planning to go. It’s too bad since it was only a 2 block walk from our hotel! So make note, the museum is closed on Mondays!

See more about hours and current exhibits on their website.

11. Jean-Talon Market

If you are a foodie or love markets, the Jean-Talon Market (Marche Jean-Talon) is where locals go for their produce. We stopped by there for some crepes and ice cream. And we were happy to discover that they had wifi!

Jean-Talon Market in MontrealCrepe from Creperie du Marche - Jean-Talon Market, MontrealCreperie du Marche - Jean-Talon Market, MontrealIce Cream at Jean-Talon Market in MontrealJean-Talon Market in Montreal


12. Biosphere

Want a classic Montreal photo opportunity? Head over to the Biosphere. Not much to do here during colder weather except take photos, but during the summer you can go inside. It was still a great spot for photos to keep for our own memories. The Biosphere is located on St. Helen’s Island, where you can also find La Ronde, if you are in the mood for an amusement park. It is open during the summer.

Biosphere in MontrealBiosphere in Montreal


 13. Have dessert at Juliette & Chocolat

There are several Juliette & Chocolat locations around the city. If you’re a chocolate lover, you must try this place. You can sit down and order desserts or try their signature hot chocolate. We loved the Chocolate Fondant and would highly recommend it! You pour the liquid chocolate over the delicious brownie. Yum!

Juliette & Chocolat in MontrealJuliette & Chocolat in MontrealChocolate Fondant at Juliette & Chocolat in Montreal

Want More Things To Do?

If you still have more time after all that, here are some other popular attractions in Montreal:

If you’re looking for a more kid-centric trip, here are some things to do with kids in Montreal.

Have you visited Montreal? What were your favorite things to do there? Leave us a comment below!

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Top Things To Do in Montreal

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Jane Davidson May 5, 2017 - 9:57 am

Montreal is definitely on my bucket list and I’m so excited to have these tips from you! It really looks like somewhere in Europe!

Christine Kim May 12, 2017 - 11:42 am

Yes, it does! Parts of it, at least. Hope you get a chance to visit Montreal since it’s on your bucket list!

Lexi @ THEGIRLONTHET May 5, 2017 - 11:23 am

I love Montreal! I’ve been a few times and have stopped at Juliette & Chocolat every single time. It’s so amazing!

Christine Kim May 12, 2017 - 11:42 am

Glad to hear that you’ve been to Montreal a few times already! Yes, Juliette & Chocolate is worth a stop!

Shanika May 6, 2017 - 12:25 pm

Wow! I do want to visit Montreal now! Canada is such a great place! I’ve visited family in Toronto and I loved it! Your pictures are amazing and the places you’ve visited looks so fun, especially the underground city! Thanks so much for sharing!🙂

Christine Kim May 12, 2017 - 11:40 am

Thanks! And you’re welcome! Hope you get a chance to visit Montreal some day!

Sam May 7, 2017 - 2:12 pm

I really want to go to Montreal! It’s gorgeous and definitely on my bucket list – as is eating poutine there. I’ve heard that there’s amazing poutine there, so I think I’ll have to go just for that! 😂

Christine Kim May 12, 2017 - 11:41 am

Hope you get a chance to go since it’s on your bucket list! Sometimes trying new food is worth the trip! 🙂


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