Montreal attractions

Montreal attractions

Author Anne Plau

Montreal is a city worth seeing. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery. These include the hills of Mont Royal as well as the wide St. Lawrence River with its many islands. Representative historical and modern buildings stand out in the cityscape. Montréal is visited by around 11 million guests annually (2023).

Montréal - cityscape in the background the Olympic Stadium

Montréal - Saint Lawrence River with the Tour de l'Horloge


Mont Royal 

The city of Montréal owes its name to the Mont Royal mountain range. Mont Royal is located west of the city center and is a popular excursion destination for Montreal residents. The Parc de Montréal is one of the largest green spaces in the city. Many walking paths run through the area, as do wider paths used by cyclists and horse riders. The artificially created Lac aux Castor, the beaver lake, and the 31,40 meter high summit cross are particularly beautiful.

Montreal - Croix du Mont Royal
Montréal - Belvédère with the Kondiaronk Restaurant
Montréal - Panoramic view from the Belvédère
Montréal - Stairs at Belvédère

From two large viewing terraces you can see the city and the St. Lawrence River. The western part is dominated by two cemeteries; on the southern slope is the St. Joseph's Oratory.

districts 

Montreal is a pedestrian city. The lively districts of the city are particularly easy to explore. Whether in the old town, Chinatown or Centreville: everywhere you can find interesting architecture, shady squares and small parks as well as art in public spaces.

Montréral - corner of Rue de Rigaud and Saint Louis square

Montréral - corner of Rue de Rigaud and Saint Louis square


Centreville and Montreal Basement 

Montreal's economic center lies at the foot of Mont Royal. Centreville is home to most of the city's high-rise buildings and office space, major public facilities and extensive shopping areas. During the construction of the metro, Montréal souterrain, or RÉSO for short, was created here, an underground pedestrian zone with a total length of almost 33 kilometers. It connects two train stations and several subway stations. In the arcades you will find more than 2000 shops, restaurants, hotels, museums and other event locations. About 80 percent of Montréal's office space and 35 percent of its retail space are connected to the underground city.

Montreal - View of Center Ville


Montreal - View of Center Ville


Montreal - Rue Saint Antoine


Montreal - Rue Saint Antoine


Chinese district 

Today's Chinatown is a small area between Centerville and Old Town. For a long time it was a residential area for Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. That changed at the beginning of the 20th century. Jews moved to other neighborhoods and mostly Chinese immigrants settled. There is a pedestrian zone and many small shops, restaurants and snack bars. The district is bordered by four pailou, false gates or gates of honor, and is very popular with tourists.

Montréal - Gate of Honor to Chinatown

Montréal - Gate of Honor to Chinatown


Spectacles district 

The Quartier des Spectacles is the center of cultural life in Montreal. At the Place des Art and Place des Festivals as well as at the Parterre des Spectacles park are cultural centers with theaters and concert halls as well as the Montreal Opera. The modern space is home to two symphony orchestras, two chamber orchestras and Les Grands Ballets Canadien, a ballet company founded in Montreal in 1957.

Festivals with guest artists take place regularly, including one of the world's leading jazz festivals.

Montreal - Place des Festivals cultural district
Montréal - Cultural District Art object on Rue Jeanne-Mance
Montreal - Place des Arts
Montreal - Place des Arts

Old Montreal 

Montreal's oldest district is located on the St. Lawrence River. Parts of it were to be demolished in the 1960s because of the construction of the city highway. A Dutch city planner ensured that the road was moved underground. The old town was protected as a historical district in 1964 and extensively restored in the following years. There are many well-preserved residential, commercial and warehouse buildings from the 19th century in the district.

At Place d'Armes 

The oldest building is the seminary of the Sulpician Order, which was built between 1684 and 1687. It is located on Place d'Armes next to Notre-Dame Basilica. Opposite is the headquarters of the Banque de Montréal. The classicist part of the building serves as a museum. In the middle of the square stands the Maisonneuve Monument, which commemorates Montreal's founder Paul Chomedey Sieur de Maisonneuve. In the evening the beautiful old buildings are illuminated. The square is always a popular meeting point in the old town.

Montréal - Place d'Armes and Musee de la Banque de Montréal


Montréal - Place d'Armes and Musee de la Banque de Montréal


Montréal - Musée de la Bank de Montréal


Montréal - Musée de la Bank de Montréal


Hotel de Ville and Place Jacques-Cartier 

Just 500 meters away is the Hôtel de Ville, Montreal's city hall. The original building dates back to the 1870s. It was badly damaged in a fire and rebuilt in its original style.

Montreal - City Hall and Nelson's Column

Montreal - City Hall and Nelson's Column


Opposite the town hall is one of the city's oldest buildings, the Château Ramezay. It was built in 1705 as the governor's residence and is still well preserved today. There is a museum in the rooms.

The town hall is slightly elevated on a terrace between the Champs-de-Mars and Place Jacques-Cartier. The Champs-de-Mars was the city's former parade ground. Today it is a large green area where you can see remains of the old city wall.

The Place Jacques-Cartier stretches from the town hall down the slope to the Old Port. It is lined with restaurants, bars and cafés. The 19 meter high Nelson Column stands in the square in honor of the British Admiral Nelson.

Montreal - Place Jacques-Cartier

Montreal - Place Jacques-Cartier


Around the Marché Bonsecours 

The former Marché Bonsecours market hall is located above the old port. The classicist building served as a town hall and the governor's seat. Today it is the location of a cultural center and many small shops and galleries. The building is a National Historic Site and is a listed building.

Next to the old market hall is Montreal's oldest church, the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel. It was built between 1771 and 1773. It was long a place of pilgrimage for sailors who arrived in the old port of Montreal. The statue of Mary on the tower facing the St. Lawrence River is particularly beautiful, emphasizing this connection.

Montréal - Rue Saint Paul with the Marché Bonsecours
Montréal - Shops in the Marché Bonsecours
Montréal - Shop in the Marché Bonsecours
Montreal - Chapelle de Notre Dame de Bon Secours

Rue Saint-Paul and Rue Commune 

Both streets run parallel to the St. Lawrence River and both streets are lively. There are restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges everywhere, many with outdoor terraces. There are also boutiques, designer shops, art galleries and studios. Rue Saint-Paul is one of the oldest streets in Montreal and is still cobbled in many areas. The Vieux Port district begins opposite Rue Commune.

Old Port 

The Old Port stretches between the St. Lawrence River and Old Montreal. This tourist area was created in the 1980s through the renovation of the port area that was no longer used. Former piers were connected by a waterfront promenade over a length of around two kilometers. A riverside park was created next to it.

Montreal Saint Lawrence River and skyline

Montreal Saint Lawrence River and skyline


The former piers 

A modern cruise ship terminal was built on the Grand Quai to the south. The history and development of the port are presented in a port center. The pier also boasts the leafy Promenade d'Iberville. The huge wooden terrace features more than 24.000 flowering and aromatic plants. At the end of the pier there is a 65 meter high observation tower. The views of Montreal and the St. Lawrence River are breathtaking.

Montreal - Vieux Port Cruise Terminal


Montreal - Vieux Port Cruise Terminal


Montreal - Vieux Port Cruise Terminal at dusk


Montreal - Vieux Port Cruise Terminal at dusk


The marina is located on Quai King Edward. On the pier is the Center des Sciences de Montréal, the science and technology museum, which also includes an IMAX cinema. Event rooms and catering establishments have been created in other buildings.

Tour boats and ferries across the St. Lawrence River dock at the Quai Vieux Port. The large open space is the venue for events and festivals. This also includes shows by the Cirque de Soleil company, which was founded in Montreal in 1984.

At the front on the Quai de l'Horloge is the Grande Roue.

Montreal - La Grande Roue

Montreal - La Grande Roue


The 60-meter-high Ferris wheel offers 360-degree panoramic views of Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. The Tour de l'Horloge, after which the pier is named, is at the end. It was built in 1921 as a memorial to the dead sailors of the First World War. The clock tower is 45 meters high and can be climbed. A section of beach with sand, loungers and parasols was created at the harbor basin next to the tower.

Montréal - Bassin and Tour de l'Horloge


Montréal - Bassin and Tour de l'Horloge


Montreéal - Saint Lawrence River and the Tour de l'Horloge


Montreéal - Saint Lawrence River and the Tour de l'Horloge


The waterfront 

The promenade on the St. Lawrence River is well developed. It is wide and offers enough space for cyclists and walkers as well as benches to rest. The waterfront park lies between the promenade and Rue Commune, which runs parallel to it. In the southern area of ​​the waterfront park there are large green areas with trees and bushes, a water basin and many winding paths. Between the Quai Vieux Port and the Quai de l'Horloge, the promenade is bordered by a series of low-rise shops. Snacks, drinks and ice cream are offered there, but souvenirs, jewelry and clothing are also sold. Behind it there is a rope course and a large play area for children. Next to it is the tower of the Zipline, the largest urban zip line in Canada. It leads past the Ferris wheel and ends shortly before the St. Lawrence River.

Montréal - Marché Bonsecours - in front of it zipline and rope course

Montréal - Marché Bonsecours - in front of it zipline and rope course


Sacred buildings 

Montreal has more than 600 religious buildings of various faiths, including six Episcopal churches. We present three of them in detail.

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal 

The Roman Catholic basilica was built at the beginning of the 19th century. It is located in the old town on the Place d'Armes and is one of the most visited attractions in Montreal.

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal


In 1982, Pope John Paul II granted it the title of minor basilica. The two towers are reminiscent of the cathedral of the same name in Paris.

The interior of the mighty church is dominated by the chancel, which is magnificently decorated in the colors blue and gold. The incident daylight and an elaborate light show create an almost heavenly atmosphere. The acoustics of the basilica are considered exceptional and highlight the sound of a Casavent organ with 7000 pipes.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal - nave
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal - Chancel
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal - aisle
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal - organ

Cathedral of Marie-Reine-du-Monde 

The Roman Catholic cathedral is the seat of the Bishopric of Montreal. It was built at the end of the 19th century in the Neo-Renaissance style. The exterior is a smaller replica of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The cathedral has the status of a minor basilica and is one of Canada's National Historic Sites.

Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal 

The St. Joseph's Oratory is a Roman Catholic basilica. It lies on the southern slope of Mont Royal and is visible from afar due to its size and exposed location. It is a pilgrimage church and place of pilgrimage and is visited by two million people every year.

Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory


Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory


Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory


Montreal - St. Joseph's Oratory


At the beginning of the 20th century, a small chapel was built on the initiative of Friar André. The construction of a church began in 1917 and a little later the construction of the basilica. The entire work was completed in 1967. With a length of 105 meters, a total height of 97 meters and space for 10.000 people, St. Joseph's Oratory is one of the largest churches in the world and the largest church in Canada. A wide staircase with 279 steps leads to the main portal. Alternatively, visitors can use the shuttle bus that runs from the start of the stairs to the entrance and back.

Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal
Montréal - Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal - Altar
Montreal - Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal - Chapel
Montréal - Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal - Bronze sculpture

The interior of the church extends over several levels, which are accessed via stairs, escalators or elevators. On the entrance level there is information, a museum, a café-restaurant and a boutique. The basilica occupies the entire upper area. On the floors below there are meeting and exhibition rooms, a café with access to the terrace and at the bottom there is the crypt and the grave of brother André.

Interesting museums 

From art museums to the history of the record industry, Montreal has more than 40 museums that showcase art, history, research and technology, among other things. We present three museums as examples of diversity.

Montreal - Palais de Congrès


Montreal - Palais de Congrès


Montréal - Access to the Biosphere


Montréal - Access to the Biosphere


The Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most visited museums in North America. The historical collection alone includes 43.000 exhibits.

The Montreal Center des Sciences is located on Quai King Edward. The museum for the whole family is designed to be interactive and offers technology and knowledge that shape our lives.

The Biosphere is an environmental museum. The building is located on the Île Sainte-Hélène and was built as the United States pavilion for Expo 67. Since 1995, the interactive museum has been dealing with the connections between society and the environment and imparting knowledge about social-ecological change.

Olympic Park 

The Olympia Park covers a huge area with various sports facilities. The site was the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics and is still one of Montreal's top attractions.

Montréal - cityscape in the background the Olympic Stadium

Montréal - cityscape in the background the Olympic Stadium


Montreal Tower 

The 165 meter high stadium tower is visible from afar. It runs in an arc shape with an angle of inclination of 45 degrees. This makes it the tallest inclined tower in the world. A glass-enclosed cog railway takes visitors to the top of the tower. The view from the top is magnificent at any time of the year.

The Montreal Tower is currently closed for extensive renovations. It should be open to visitors again from spring 2025.

Olympic Stadium 

The 1976 Olympic Stadium is shaped like an amphitheater. It is covered and offers 56.000 seats and up to 60.000 standing places. Sporting events take place in the stadium as well as concerts, shows and exhibitions.

L'Esplanade 

The Esplanade encompasses the outdoor areas of the Olympic Park. It consists of nine areas of different sizes on four levels. Events in the open spaces take place all year round and range from sporting competitions to the Christmas market.

The legacy of Expo 67 

The 1967 World's Fair, or Expo 67 for short, took place in Montreal. The Expo venues were the Cité du Havre peninsula and the Parc Jean-Drapeau on the islands of Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame in the Saint Lawrence River.

Montréal - Parque Jean Drapeau on the Île Sainte-Hélène


Montréal - Parque Jean Drapeau on the Île Sainte-Hélène


Montréal - Île Sainte-Hélène - artwork La Ville Imaginaire


Montréal - Île Sainte-Hélène - artwork La Ville Imaginaire


The peninsula and the Île Notre-Dame were refilled with the excavated material from the metro, which was built in 1966 for Expo 67. 62 nations took part under the motto “Terre des Hommes”. Expo 67 is considered the most successful world exhibition of the 20th century.

More than 100 works of art such as stained glass, sculptures and murals that were installed in the metro stations on the occasion of the Expo can still be admired today.

Most of the buildings and pavilions were demolished or dismantled after the end of the Expo and rebuilt elsewhere. Some of the structures from Expo 67 still exist and continue to attract visitors from all over the world. We present four of them.

Biosphere 

The former United States pavilion is located on the Île Sainte-Héléne. It represents a geodesic dome. The steel dome was originally surrounded by a transparent layer of acrylic. This burned down during renovation work, so that today only the steel skeleton remains. The buildings inside the dome are now home to the Museum of Environmental Biosphere. Since 1995, the interactive museum has been dealing with the connections between society and the environment and imparting knowledge about social-ecological change.

Montreal - Biosphere


Montreal - Biosphere


Montreal - Biosphere


Montreal - Biosphere


Round 

La Ronde, the amusement and leisure park in the north of Île Sainte-Héléne, has not lost much of its appeal since the Expo. Only a few of the original rides remain, mostly carousels for children. Today, various roller coasters and wild water rides attract visitors. Every summer, an international fireworks competition is held on the grounds of La Ronde.

Casino of Montreal 

The former French pavilion is on the Île Notre-Dame. It has been converted into Canada's largest casino. With more than 120 gaming tables and more than 3200 slot machines, the casino is also one of the ten largest in the world.

Habitat 67 

The listed residential complex Habitat 67 is located on the man-made Cité du Havre peninsula opposite the Vieux Port. The extraordinary residential project was built in 1966 and 1967. The residential complex consists of 354 concrete blocks, each measuring 11x5x3 meters. The cuboids are laid out in steps and stacked like a honeycomb so that each residential unit receives enough natural light. The complex includes a total of 158 residential units.

Montreal - St. Lawrence River and Habitat 67

Montreal - St. Lawrence River and Habitat 67


November 2023

My shore excursions Montreal