Free Things To Do in Montreal
- #1View all Photos
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).
Here, you'll mingle with Montrealers at sidewalk cafes while overlooking the river, or enjoy the summertime street performers at Place Jacques-Cartier. This is also a popular shopping area (despite the kitschy souvenir shops), and numerous bars and clubs bring Vieux-Montréal to life come sundown. Recent visitors said this area is a must for strolling, eating and experiencing the history of Montreal and feels very European thanks to its beautiful architecture.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Montreal1.4 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND1.4 miles to city centerFree, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
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).
Recent visitors highly recommended walking up the stairs to the top of the hill for an unbeatable view of the city, but reviewers also warned it's a steep trek.
- #5View all Photos
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.
Even if you're not looking to buy, recent visitors recommend that you take a stroll through the market to meet and mingle with Montrealers and check out the convivial setting. Others praised the variety saying this is a must-visit for foodies and a great place to find Montreal specialties.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Montreal2.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND2.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
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).
Recent visitors agree this stunning basilica is a must-see, for both devoted and secular tourists, calling it spectacular. Recent visitors were particularly fond of the view from the top of the structure. If you'd rather not climb to the top on our two feet, there is a free shuttle that transports visitors from the main entrance on Queen Mary Road to the top.
- #8View all PhotosfreeBarbie Expo#8 in Montreal0.5 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
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.
Admission to the museum, which is located in the Les Cours Mont-Royal shopping center, is free. The exhibition is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is direct access from the Peel métro into the mall. For more information on the exhibition, visit its official website.
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