I’ve been to Montreal on two separate occasions, the first in early January 2014, and the second time during my reading week in February. It was all during winter so my perspective of these attractions would be based on that. Other than the food places that you cannot miss out, here’s a guide to the tourist attractions in this second largest Canadian city! And with regards to places to visit, I would say that Montréal is definitely a place for families. Kids would love this city, with the crazy amount of attractions made learning fun for them i.e. Science Centre, BioDome, Zoo Ecomuseum etc. But being the young adult I am, I wasn’t too interested in these, so to each of his own! So here’s my version of 6 (+2) tourist attractions to go:
This place is huge, and there are a few entrances to this place. There’s the hiking side, and a recreational site. The first time I went was purely to hike up to the top to see the view. We didn’t had proper shoes and it was -26 degree celsius that day so it was pretty tough. Girls, Ugg shoes aren’t meant for the snow in Canada. They’re cute and they’re so soft and comfy, but really, they killed me during my first month in Canada.
I was sweating with 2 layers of down jacket by the time I reached the peak. But the harsh winter killed both my camera’s and iPhone’s batteries. Sadly, the batteries weren’t made to withstand the cold. :'( So please prepare spare batteries for your camera during Winter! They’ll work again after they’re warmed up. Still love the snow though! :’)
My second return brought me to the other side for some cheap virgin skiing experience. Ski rental was affordable and it wasn’t too bad for a beginner! (The ski is way lighter than a professional one, so it wasn’t a serious kinda ski like those at skiing resorts) I’d recommend this to anyone on a budget but wanna try some skiing. There wasn’t a need for proper attire too, but I guess if your winter clothes weren’t limiting your movements then you would be safe! There is a ice-skating rink, and really steep slopes for serious skiing and snowboarding.
I have to say Old Port and Old Montréal are the main attractions of Montréal, no matter your age. I especially love the historical buildings, both day and night views are pretty spectacular. There are many good eateries to choose from, and my favourite maple syrup ice-cream from Les Délices de l’Érable is here too. 🙂 Postcards and souvenirs are everywhere, and there are a few good crepe shops too.
Unlike the ones in Ottawa and Quebec City, this Notre Dame Basilica has an audio screening show inside which costs CAD$10 each. It’s also famous because Celine Dion got married in this particular one. Montréal is a place of many Cathedrals like how Kyoto is a place of many shrines. But this particular one stands out and is worth your time, even if you aren’t someone of this faith.
Place des Arts is a place promoting artistic and cultural life in Québec, by showcasing various performing arts and holding many art festivals. If you’re into arts and culture like myself, or just want to immerse in Québec’s culture, be sure to check out their event calendars! We were lucky enough to go during this festival, where I tried my maple taffy on ice and had the chance to barbeque a sausage in the fire!
The oldest university in Montréal, this school boasts of its rich history and world ranking among others. I wanted to do my exchange programme in this school initially, but didn’t succeed. 🙁 Nevertheless, as a tourist, I thought the school looked beautiful in Winter. Also, this was the first school in Canada I’ve seen, and it already look more beautiful than the ones in Singapore.
Originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic games as a velodrome, the Biodôme allows you to walk through replicas of the four ecosystems found in the Americas. The tropical one brought us back to Singapore’s hot and humid weather for awhile and… it wasn’t pleasant when we started sweating. There were a lot of animals and birds to see, so it was pretty worth the money. Definitely recommended for families! (Students please bring your student cards for discount!)
Below are some additional places you may want to go, but you may leave out if you don’t have enough time!
7. UNDERGROUND CITY (RÉSO or La Ville Souterraine)
If you’re there during the harsh winter, this “underground world” is your solution to stay warm. It’s basically interconnected complexes within downtown Montréal, spreading across 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), connected areas include shopping malls, museums, hotels, 7 metro stations, train stations, bus terminal and etc. However, this is recommended if only outside is really cold, like:
If not, stay outside and enjoy Montréal, you’d be able to bump into at least 10 picturesque Cathedrals and some nice bridges along the way like the Jacques Cartier Bridge:
8. BOTANICAL GARDENS
Other than the Biodôme, the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden) is another facility operated by the Montréal Nature Museum that tourists and locals raved about, especially during summer. They have 75 hectares of thematic gardens and greenhouses, and regarded as one of the world’s most important botanical gardens due to its extent of its collections and facilities. The above photo is during a 2013 event “Mosaïcultures” which attracted over 1 million visitors!