An Insider's Guide to Visiting Montreal, Canada

(back to blog)

Edgy, cosmopolitan and with a dash of European flair, Montreal is a vibrant and eclectic Canadian city. The streets come alive in summer as sidewalk cafes and restaurant patios jostle for space with street performers and market stalls. Our local guide and long term Montreal resident, René, is here today to offer us some tips on how best to spend your time in this historic part of Canada.

In Montreal itself we have three distinct cities. There is the downtown with its golden square mile of shops and restaurants; the Old Town with its fabulous 17th-19th century architecture, Notre-Dame Basilica; and (on a cold or rainy day) the indoor city where you can walk for 20 miles without walking past the same place. Also on our island we have Little Italy and a neighbourhood call “Mile End” where you will find multi-ethnic groups from India, Pakistan, Iran and many more cultures.

What should you see when you are here? If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit "La Ronde" a large amusement park reachable by the subway. From the end of June through July, the city sky explodes with international fireworks every Saturday night. If you enjoy gardens, don’t miss the city’s Botanical Garden with its Chinese and Japanese gardens, Bonsai collection and Insectarium. Many visitors enjoy a trip to the 1976 Olympic Stadium and BioDome, and if you’re fit, a climb through McGill University Campus up the city’s Mountain, Mont-Royal, which affords you splendid views of Montreal.

We have more than 22 museums in Montreal. In my opinion, the most interesting ones are the Museum of Fine Art (Beaux Arts); the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, Pointe a Calliere; McCord Museum of Canadian History; and the Centre of History of Montreal.

Montreal’s dining scene is both legendary and affordable. Our city has 80 different ethnic groups and they all have at least one restaurant. "Le Toqué" is the best for French cuisine. "Khyber Pass" is owned by an Afghan chef and they do the best lamb possible – and (because this is Quebec, and we are different from the rest of Canada!) you may bring your own wine to the restaurant. "Le Piton de la Fournaise" from Ile Maurice prepares TENDER octopus, and here you can also bring your wine. Argentineans have their own way of preparing steaks and you can experience that at "Casa Gaucho". "La Banquise" offers high end fast food including the famous Quebec poutine, considered by some to be Canada’s national dish.

Montreal is renowned for its summer festivals – but we actually have outdoors festivals year round! For an up-to-date calendar where you can view the festivals month by month, please look at: montreal.com/tourism/festivals/index.html.

Finally I want to make sure that everybody is aware that even if we speak a lot of French in Montreal, you do NOT need to speak it as 80% of us are bilingual and speak fluent English.

If you’re planning a trip to Montreal anytime soon, consider starting a conversation with René! You can find him here: René’s Guide Profile Page.
Share This Article