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Best Things To Do in Montreal

Montreal's museums, landmarks, shopping districts and nightclubs provide plenty of entertainment. For a taste of historic Montreal, spend a day exploring the 18th-century buildings of Vieux-Montréal, which now house small museums and souvenir shops. This city is also a great destination for families, with attractions like the Montreal Biodôme. If you are visiting during the winter, escape the cold by heading down to the shopping malls and museums of the Underground City.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Montreal

Free
As the site of the original city of Montreal, Vieux-Montréal (accessible from the Orange Line's Place-d'Armes and Champ-de-Mars métro stations) is the hub of the city's culture. Not much has changed in this neighborhood despite the city's rapid urbanization. Horse-drawn carriages traverse cobblestone streets and meander past such notable sites as the Basilique Notre-Dame, the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), the Vieux-Port (Old Port) and the Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market).
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal)
As the site of the original city of Montreal, Vieux-Montréal (accessible from the Orange Line's Place-d'Armes and Champ-de-Mars métro stations) is the hub of the city's culture. Not much has changed in this neighborhood despite the city's rapid urbanization. Horse-drawn carriages traverse cobblestone streets and meander past such notable sites as the Basilique Notre-Dame, the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), the Vieux-Port (Old Port) and the Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market).
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#2

#2 in Montreal

Thanks to 10 large greenhouses – each tailored to a specific theme – the 190-acre botanical gardens is home to more than 22,000 species of flora and offers scenic year-round respite from the metropolis' downtown core. Spend some time strolling through the tranquil bonsai trees in the Japanese Garden or learn about the principles of yin and yang in the Chinese Garden, which showcases designs from the 14th to 17th century Ming Dynasty. Outdoor gardens include a colorful rose garden and a stunning alpine garden.
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Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Montreal Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique Montreal)
Thanks to 10 large greenhouses – each tailored to a specific theme – the 190-acre botanical gardens is home to more than 22,000 species of flora and offers scenic year-round respite from the metropolis' downtown core. Spend some time strolling through the tranquil bonsai trees in the Japanese Garden or learn about the principles of yin and yang in the Chinese Garden, which showcases designs from the 14th to 17th century Ming Dynasty. Outdoor gardens include a colorful rose garden and a stunning alpine garden.
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#3

#3 in Montreal

Montreal's most prestigious museum has been building its collection of fine arts for more than 150 years. Feast your eyes on an impressive assortment of Canadian and international works, including pieces by such renowned artists as Rembrandt, El Greco, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso. Other interesting members of the museum's collection include 18th-century English porcelain, artifacts from World War I and several beautiful pieces of furniture designed by Frank Gehry.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts)
Montreal's most prestigious museum has been building its collection of fine arts for more than 150 years. Feast your eyes on an impressive assortment of Canadian and international works, including pieces by such renowned artists as Rembrandt, El Greco, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso. Other interesting members of the museum's collection include 18th-century English porcelain, artifacts from World War I and several beautiful pieces of furniture designed by Frank Gehry.
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#4

#4 in Montreal

Free
This 761-foot hill from which Montreal got its name is the largest of the city's parks. Towering over central Montreal (and accessible from the Green Line's Peel métro station or the Orange Line's Mont-Royal métro station), Parc du Mont-Royal is frequented by joggers, picnickers, dog walkers and bicyclists throughout the year. During the warmer months, you can rent row boats to take on the park's Lac des Castors (Beaver Lake), while the Chalet du Mont-Royal offers breathtaking park and city views any time of year. Also, be sure to stop by the Croix du Mont-Royal (Mont-Royal Cross), or the park's two cemeteries (one English and one French).
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Parc du Mont-Royal
This 761-foot hill from which Montreal got its name is the largest of the city's parks. Towering over central Montreal (and accessible from the Green Line's Peel métro station or the Orange Line's Mont-Royal métro station), Parc du Mont-Royal is frequented by joggers, picnickers, dog walkers and bicyclists throughout the year. During the warmer months, you can rent row boats to take on the park's Lac des Castors (Beaver Lake), while the Chalet du Mont-Royal offers breathtaking park and city views any time of year. Also, be sure to stop by the Croix du Mont-Royal (Mont-Royal Cross), or the park's two cemeteries (one English and one French).
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#5

#5 in Montreal

Free
In a world dominated by overly refrigerated, fluorescently lit supermarkets, the Jean-Talon Market is literally a breath of fresh air and one of the largest public markets in North America. Located a block or so off Boulevard Saint-Laurent (accessible from the Blue Line's Jean-Talon métro station), this open-air market entices with the aromas of grilled sausages, Quebecois cheeses, mounds of fresh produce, home-grown spices and handmade chocolates.
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Jean-Talon Market
In a world dominated by overly refrigerated, fluorescently lit supermarkets, the Jean-Talon Market is literally a breath of fresh air and one of the largest public markets in North America. Located a block or so off Boulevard Saint-Laurent (accessible from the Blue Line's Jean-Talon métro station), this open-air market entices with the aromas of grilled sausages, Quebecois cheeses, mounds of fresh produce, home-grown spices and handmade chocolates.
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#6

#6 in Montreal

Free
Sitting adjacent to Mont-Royal, this immense basilica is the highest point in Montreal. Dedicated to St. Joseph, Jesus' earthly father and Canada's patron saint, St. Joseph's Oratory was designed in an Italian Renaissance style with a copper dome rising 318 feet high. The inside of the basilica is decorated with intricately carved murals and thousands of votive candles leading to the crypt. St. Joseph's Oratory receives several million visitors each year (the most devout Catholics climb the basilica's 99 steps on their knees).
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
St. Joseph's Oratory (Oratoire Saint-Joseph)
Sitting adjacent to Mont-Royal, this immense basilica is the highest point in Montreal. Dedicated to St. Joseph, Jesus' earthly father and Canada's patron saint, St. Joseph's Oratory was designed in an Italian Renaissance style with a copper dome rising 318 feet high. The inside of the basilica is decorated with intricately carved murals and thousands of votive candles leading to the crypt. St. Joseph's Oratory receives several million visitors each year (the most devout Catholics climb the basilica's 99 steps on their knees).
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#7

#7 in Montreal

It is said that when architect James O'Donnell designed the Notre-Dame Basilica in 1824, he was so moved by the outcome that he himself converted to Catholicism. Constructed in a Gothic Revival style and adorned with intricate statues and tranquil chapels, this grand church can accommodate 3,200 worshippers.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal)
It is said that when architect James O'Donnell designed the Notre-Dame Basilica in 1824, he was so moved by the outcome that he himself converted to Catholicism. Constructed in a Gothic Revival style and adorned with intricate statues and tranquil chapels, this grand church can accommodate 3,200 worshippers.
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#8

#8 in Montreal

Free
This whimsical exhibit, in what it bills as the largest permanent collection of Barbie dolls in the world, has more than 1,000 Barbies on display. Many of the dolls have been dressed to the nines by designers such as Christian Dior, Armani, Vera Wang, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and practically any other fashion designer you can think of. There's even a fashion show, with Barbie models on the catwalk, with a Barbie audience in attendance. In addition, special celebrity-themed Barbies, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Cher are on display, as well as Barbies designed as movie characters, such as the cast from "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Twilight Saga." Recent visitors said the exhibit is fun, adorable and for many, brings them back to their childhood.
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Museums Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Barbie Expo
This whimsical exhibit, in what it bills as the largest permanent collection of Barbie dolls in the world, has more than 1,000 Barbies on display. Many of the dolls have been dressed to the nines by designers such as Christian Dior, Armani, Vera Wang, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and practically any other fashion designer you can think of. There's even a fashion show, with Barbie models on the catwalk, with a Barbie audience in attendance. In addition, special celebrity-themed Barbies, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Cher are on display, as well as Barbies designed as movie characters, such as the cast from "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Twilight Saga." Recent visitors said the exhibit is fun, adorable and for many, brings them back to their childhood.
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#9

#9 in Montreal

This powerful museum's mission is to tell the story of Jewish communities before, during and after the Holocaust. It offers both permanent and temporary exhibits featuring testimonies and objects from survivors to teach visitors about genocide in the past as well as in the present. Recent visitors called the museum humbling and moving, especially the video collection, which is narrated by survivors.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Montreal Holocaust Museum
This powerful museum's mission is to tell the story of Jewish communities before, during and after the Holocaust. It offers both permanent and temporary exhibits featuring testimonies and objects from survivors to teach visitors about genocide in the past as well as in the present. Recent visitors called the museum humbling and moving, especially the video collection, which is narrated by survivors.
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#10

#10 in Montreal

Many say that this is the best place to begin discovering Montreal. While the modern architecture may not be typical of a history museum, the real reason to come here is to hop in the elevator and head underground. Here, an archaeological dig revealed the foundations of the city's original settlement, established in the 17th century. You can follow the development of Montreal from its days as a fledgling colony and on up through the present day to an exhibit showing the city's multicultural lifestyle. During the summer, the museum hosts numerous period fairs and festivals.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Museum of Archaeology and History (Pointe-à-Callière Museum)
Many say that this is the best place to begin discovering Montreal. While the modern architecture may not be typical of a history museum, the real reason to come here is to hop in the elevator and head underground. Here, an archaeological dig revealed the foundations of the city's original settlement, established in the 17th century. You can follow the development of Montreal from its days as a fledgling colony and on up through the present day to an exhibit showing the city's multicultural lifestyle. During the summer, the museum hosts numerous period fairs and festivals.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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