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4 Quintessential Montréal Activities

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Whether you’re visiting for the first time or you come to Montréal regularly, these four activities will help you experience the city like a local!


Get outside

Whether a leisurely picnic in a park or an adrenaline-charged surfing session in the Saint Lawrence River, Montrealers love to be outside. Even in the winter, when the city is blanketed in snow, you’ll find locals cross-country skiing on Mont Royal or dancing at Igloofest. We have a local saying: “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes. So do as the locals do and get out there!

Activity idea: Bike along the Lachine Canal, an industrial shipping channel that’s been transformed into a much-loved park space.

Fun fact: Our Parc Mont Royal (the massive park at the heart of the city) was designed by the same man who created New York’s Central Park — Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted.

schwartz's montreal

Eat. Eat. Eat.

Montréal has one of the highest restaurant-per-citizen ratios in all of North America. Why is that? Well, it’s simple: the locals have a torrid love affair with food. You’ll find great food around the city in our gourmet food trucks and in our open-air markets. First-time visitors should try the trifecta of culinary specialities: bagels, poutine and smoked meat. (You’ll need the carbs to fuel your adventures!) Incidentally, the rest of the world is catching on to our food fanaticism. Town & Country Magazine recently published an article entitled “Montréal is the new food capital of North America.” No arguments here.

Activity idea: Take a tasting tour of the Jean Talon Market with Spade & Palacio.

Fun fact: Montréal-style bagels are boiled in honey water and then baked in a wood-burning oven. They are best warm from the oven!

Just For Laughs Festival

Get festive

No matter what time of the year, each weekend the city offers some type of festival. From the internationally famous Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs comedy festival to the niche events, such as the Startupfest or the LGBT film festival, the common theme of our festivals is celebration and inspiration. The best part: many festivals offer free activities!

Activity idea: Get thee to a festival! (Consult our leisure blog for up-to-date ideas of what’s happening while your gang is in town.)

Fun fact: The Montréal Jazz Fest holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest jazz festival.

Montreal - Old city

Appreciate the charm

Founded in 1642, Montréal is one of the oldest European-built cities in North America — and the allure of yesteryear is still preserved in its architecture and urban design. With some buildings dating over three hundred years, Old Montréal is the epicentre of the city’s charm. Give yourself a full afternoon to wander the cobblestone streets, peruse the shops and have a drink on a terrasse (patio).

Activity idea: Download the Cité Memoire app for an illuminating self-guided tour of Old Montréal.

Fun fact: The stained glass windows along the walls of Notre-Dame Basilica—arguably Montréal’s most famous church—do not depict biblical scenes, but rather scenes from the religious history of the city.


Read this next: Fun French terms to use in Montréal… 


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