about how to experience the best of Montreal in the warm summer months. In addition to being a licensed guide, Nathalie describes herself as “very curious!” This curiosity pays off as she reveals the best things to experience, amazing foods to try, the city’s natural beauty and Montreal’s unforgettable nightlife. You’ll also read about some unique local favorites that most tourists will never discover.
Meet ToursByLocals Guide Partner Nathalie in Montreal
Even though Nathalie lives in Montreal’s South Shore, about 30 minutes from Downtown and loves to spend her evenings in her beautiful garden, she is very knowledgeable and passionate about the city. She can lead you through Montreal and point out unique and incredible attributes in every neighborhood. Nathalie will help bring all the famous sites to life, show you something new but leave you wanting more.
What to Experience
Montreal has a lot to offer with really fun attractions to experience. Summer is the best and busiest time to take it all in.
Aura by Moment Factory
Just about every visitor will at least take note of the historic Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. If you really want to be blown away, make sure you experience Aura by Moment Factory. The history and architecture is amazing on its own but Aura takes this to the next level. Moment Factory is a Montreal based, internationally renowned, multi-media entertainment studio that has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Sagrada Familia, Madonna and the Super Bowl.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory: The Garden of The Way of the Cross
Montreal is a city of churches and it’s hard to find a postcard that does not include the picturesque Saint Joseph’s Oratory. To get a more scenic and full experience, have Nathalie lead you, just outside of the Oratory, through the Garden of The Way of the Cross.
Montreal Mural Festival
Montreal is also well known for its creative artists. The city honors urban art every summer through a Mural Festival. Graffiti artists are given designated walls along and around Saint Laurent Blvd on the Plateau. To take this artistic hub to the next level of avant-garde celebration, one permanent mural nearby is twenty stories high and commemorates the Montreal musical hero, Leonard Cohen.
Canadian Grand Prix
The racing world gathers in June for the only formula one race in Canada. The Montreal Grand Prix is one of the world’s premiere racing events, but the noise won’t wake you up from your downtown hotel room as the track is on a separate island now called Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Montréal en Histoire
Believe it or not, Montreal celebrated its 375th Anniversary in 2017. At the same time, the country of Canada just celebrated its 150th anniversary. To keep the party going (that’s just what Montrealers do), another amazing interactive experience brings Old Montreal to life, especially after dark, with Montréal en Histoire. Using an App from your smart device, you’ll receive bits of information at 200 different designated stations. With enhanced reality and night-time projections, history has never been this much fun.
Jean Talon Market
Shopping options in Montreal are amazing, and if it rains you can take advantage of the Underground city near the McGill Metro station. All the nearby shopping malls are connected to the underground metro (subway) system. Since the weather is usually perfect in the summer, Nathalie can help you navigate to and through the Jean Talon Market (which is many metro stations away from McGill). This outdoor market has fresh produce and other tasty treats.
What to Taste
Montreal is also way more enjoyable when you ignore your scale. The food is not only the best you’ve ever tasted, but often completely original.
La Fournée Des Sucreries de L’Èrable
While at the Jean Talon Market, Nathalie will be happy to introduce you to La Fournée Des Sucreries de L’Érable to try a French Canadian delicacy, the maple syrup pie. It’s just like what her grandmother used to make. Nathalie says “it’s a direct memory to my childhood”.
Nathalie also wants to make it clear that Poutine was not invented in Montreal, but most likely in a nearby rural town such as Drummondville or Victoriaville. There is no dispute that a short wait outside of La Banquise Poutine is well worth it for a taste of this French Canadian creation.
Schwartz Deli and Saint Viateur Bagel Factory
Nathalie insists a visit to Montreal is not complete without getting a smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz Deli or a warm, fresh bagel at the Saint Viateur Bagel Factory. Or ideally both! Saint Viateur make their bagels in an old-fashioned brick oven, 24 hours a day.
While walking through Mile End, north of Downtown, you might find a few people gathered around a service window called Drogheria Fine. Nathalie swears by their inexpensive homemade gnocchi with Grandma’s sauce.
Montreal Pool Room
Low priced, tasty foods does not stop at the Mile End. The Montreal Pool Room is an institution. Most locals get the number one combo, which is two steamies, french fries and a drink for around seven dollars Canadian. A steamie is a small steamed hot dog. It’s so simple… but so delicious. The bun is warm but soft from being steamed as well. The french fries are fresh cut and greasy. It’s far from healthy but you’ll be dreaming about that lunch or three am snack for years.
If you prefer fine dining, Nathalie feels that Anthony Bourdain (may he rest in piece) was right by recommending Joe Beef. The changing menu is written daily on a blackboard, so you might want to bring Nathalie along to help with your order.
What to See and Smell
Even though the city’s natural beauty is spectacular all year round with each season offering its own speciality such as crab apple trees in the spring and fall foliage, the bright summer flowers have to be seen to be believed.
Each Borough (neighborhood) takes pride in displaying its own local flowers and plants. The way Nathalie puts it, “If you have six months that don’t allow you to grow, you’ll take advantage of the other six.”
Montreal Botanical Garden
Very close to the Olympic Stadium is a world-renowned Botanical Garden. You can see Montreal’s fun and creative work through the elaborate garden landscaping.
The city does not have a Millennium of history like many European destinations, but you will be transformed in time walking along the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. The architecture is a marvel, bringing you back to the 1600’s.
Mount Royal Look Out Point
After seeing the city up close, it’s nice to end the day on top of Mount Royal to marvel at how everything comes together from the lookout point. It’s not too often you find a big city with a mountain in the middle, that’s also an Island, in a river.
Those Summer Nights
What makes summer in Montreal the most special starts when the work day is done. Every summer the Downtown streets come alive with large sections being closed off to traffic for festivals and parties. Summer is the season of festivals and each one hosts several free performances with amazing, big name talent.
People-watching is amazing throughout Downtown. Everyone is so happy to be outside, the terraces are full, and the atmosphere is worth taking in.
Terrace on Saint Denis
One of the best spots to be amongst the locals and really enjoy that vibrant energy is from an outdoor terrace along one of the many bars and restaurants on Rue Saint Denis.
FrancoFolies in mid-June celebrates French-inspired music from around the world.
International Jazz Festival
The Jazz Fest in late June can sometimes draw thousands of patrons in the streets for one of their free shows, with talent such as Ben Harper and Pat Metheny.
Juste Pour Rire or Just For Laughs in early July is the most important comedy festival in the world. Not only does it attract the top comedians to perform, it’s also an industry event where TV’s newest stars get their big break.
With Montreal being home to world famous Cirque Du Soleil, you know there has to be a Circus and/or Clown festival. Of course there’s both. Montréal Cirque Festival is also at the beginning of July and Le Festival Des Clowns is in early September.
There are enough suggestions here to fill a whole summer in Montreal! But if you’ve only got a day, Nathalie can make sure it’s packed with the very best the city has to offer. Get in touch with her here to plan your perfect day in Montreal.