OUR TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL

By Victoria@celebratetheweekend
In Canada
Oct 28th, 2017
5 Comments
975 Views

Montreal is the most “European” North American city and a favorite destination within a driving distance for those of us in New England who crave the “old town” on a long weekend.

There is of course more to Montreal than the “old town”.  We have recently paid yet another visit to the city to attend Gymnastics Worlds Championships and came up with this list of OUR TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL.

1. Visiting Olympic Complex.  I love the Olympics and visiting historic 1976 Olympics complex in Montreal was a must for me.   It is here at the Montreal Arena during 1976 Olympics that Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci posted a first perfect “10” in a major gymnastics competition!  While we were in town for the Worlds Gymnastics Championships 2017, the area between the Olympic Tower and the Biodome was renamed  to Nadia Comaneci Plaza (yes, Nadia was there and we got to take a picture with her).

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

There is lots to do in the Olympic Complex, starting with the Guided Tour of the stadium which is included with the Since 1976 Exhibit admission.  Olympic velodrome has been converted to the indoor nature Museum Biodome and is a great way to spend a couple of hours with kids of different ages.  We had so much fun riding to the top of the Montreal Tower, that we are including it as a separate item on this list.

2. Riding to the Top of Montreal Tower.

The world’s tallest reclined structure at 165 meters, Montreal Tower was originally designed to hold the cables for the retractable roof of the Olympic Stadium.  The multi-story observatory was added later and it is now a great place to look over the city amidst the photos of the Olympics’s most memorable moments.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Riding in the funicular to the top of Montreal Olympic Tower

 

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

View from the top of Montreal Olympic Tower

3. Visiting a Museum.  Montreal has a number of interesting museums housed in diverse areas throughout the city, including Fine Arts Museum, Insectarium, Science Museum and Montreal’s  Archeology and History Complex Pointe-à-Callière, which we have visited on this most recent trip.

Pointe-à-Callière – is a unique place that is intricately connected to its site in the old Port area – the very site where Montreal was founded.  It is an interactive showcase of Montreal’s history which my husband declared A MUST for both kids and adults visiting the city.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Underground Water tunnel in Pointe-à-Callière – Montreal’s archaeology and history complex

 

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

The ruins at the Pointe-à-Callière – Montreal’s archaeology and history complex

4. Taking a Walking Tour of the Old Town.

Guided walking tours is my favorite way to experience a city.  Montreal’s Old Town is compact enough for a 90-minute tour times two: Guidatour offers Old Montreal East and Old Montreal West 90-minutes walking tours.  I took the East side tour which starts at the other Montreal’s MUST – 1829 Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica.  After touring inside the Basilica, we went on a pleasant stroll along the cobblestone streets and through the major sites of the Old Town while our guide Rene highlighted the city’s French and British origins for us.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Old Town Montreal

 

5. Taking a Cruise on St. Lawrence River

We love to capture the city from the river, if there is one, of course!  Saint Lawrence River begins at the outflow of Lake Ontario, flows through Montreal among several other Canadian cities before draining into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the largest estuary in the world. 

We chose a 1.5 hour guided  Montreal sightseeing cruise by AML cruises which starts at Alexander Pier in the Old Port (the company also offers a variety of food/gourmet cruises.)  The Montreal Port, we are told by our guide, used to be one of the world’s greatest.  It still allows passage of the big ships from Boston and even the other side of the Atlantic.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

View onto Old Montreal from AML Cruise

The weather in early October afternoon was lovely and we chose to enjoy our snack and drink on the outside deck.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Open deck of the AML Cruise

6. Walking the Old Port Boulevard

Getting to the Alexander Pier to catch our cruise and walking the Old Port Boulevard along St. Lawrence river was half the fun! After your cruise, be sure to walk all the way to Clock Tower and the nearby urban beach on the other side of the Old Port.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Near Alexander Pier, Old Port Montreal

 

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Clock Tower, Old Port Montreal

7. Looking onto the city from Mount Royal

The visit to Montreal is not complete without getting to one of the observation points in Park Mount Royal (Mont Royal in French).  The largest green space in the city, Park Mount Royal is a delight to explore if you have time.  The best view onto the city is from the semicircular plaza next to Kondiaronk Belvedere.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Observation Point from Kondiaronk Belvedere, Park Mount Royal

8. Attending a Festival

Montreal is known for its many festivals throughout the year, the most famous probably being summer Jazz and fall Flm festivals.  2017 is the city’s 375th celebration which includes many festivities throughout the year. You can still catch some here.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Place Jacques-Cartier in the Old Town frequently hosts spontaneous celebrations

While I was targeting the entire family up until now, the following two of our Montreal top favorites are designated for adult only getaway to the city:

9. Enjoying  French Food/BYOW style

Montreal has a multi-cultural variety of  eating out options for all tastes (including the youngsters), but when we are in the city on a couple’s only getaway, we are on a mission to experience a multi-course gourmet dinner in one of the cozy “bring your own wine” establishments.  They are often hidden in residential areas away from the tourist attractions, but they are so worth a little effort to find them.  Some of our favorites are Le Quartier General on rue Gilford, Les Heritiers in Mont Royal East, and Les Infidele on Rue Rachel.

10. Relaxing in a Nordic Spa

We had our young daughter with us during the most recent visit, so we skipped the spa visit, but during our prior couple’s only escapes to the city we have enjoyed rejuvenating Nordic spa cycles of hot-cold-relax-repeat in the Scandinavian Spa in the Old Port and Strom Spa on Isle des Soeurs.  Next time we go on a date in this city, we will include a visit to Bota Bota spa that is housed on the old boat near Alexandra Pier in the Old Port.

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Spa Bota Bota on the old boat in Old Port Montreal

WHERE WE STAYED.

We stayed in Hotel Bonaventure (formerly Hilton) in downtown and liked it so much that we decided not to stay anywhere else in Montreal!  The rooms are well-sized and tastefully decorated, but the main reasons we fell in love with this hotel are their four-season pool (with an inside and outside access) and beautiful hidden water gardens- in the middle of downtown!

Our favorite things to do on a long weekend escape to Montreal- with or without kids

Water Gardens in Hotel Bonaventure Montreal

Our daughter started each day in the city in the hotel’s four-season pool.

Do note somewhat peculiar configuration of the floors with no elevator access to rooms on the upper floor.  Be sure to mention when booking if you have a mobility issue and have them transport your bags via service elevator.  They would be happy to help!

We thank Montreal Tourism for helping to arrange several activities on our trip.  We received complimentary media passes to some of the attractions – for accurate pricing and hours please check the websites provided.

The story contains an affiliate link to a hotel booking site, booking via this link does not cost you any extra but helps to support this site.

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OUR FAVORITE things to do in Montreal, Canada

We are linking with #WeeklyPostcard collection of travel stories via Travel Notes & Beyond Blog.

 

5 Comments to “OUR TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL”

  1. Anisa says:

    I have not made it to Montreal yet and this list sounds perfect for when I do. It’s filled with my favorite things museums, spa, boat rides and the Olympics. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Anisa recently posted…Palisades Interstate Park: Perfect For a Fall HikeMy Profile

  2. Sarah Ebner says:

    Wonderful list, which includes much of what we did! We thought the whole Olympic Park area was fantastic, but would love to have seen some live gymnastics as you did. Your hotel sounds brilliant too – especially that pool!

  3. Esther says:

    Oh, I’d absolutely love to visit Montreal! It looks like a wonderful city and your girl had a great time too, sweet!
    #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Esther recently posted…Meet Vincent van Gogh in The NetherlandsMy Profile

  4. Anda says:

    Montreal has been on my radar for a while. I’ve heard it has a very European atmosphere. Is that true? I love the look of the city from Mount Royal. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Victoria@celebratetheweekend says:

      Anda, it is the most European city we’ve got in North America! (whether it is European enough for you- you have to judge for yourself!). What I CAN tell you is that you won’t be short on things to do and where to eat. For rest- read my list:)

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