Montreal–a beautiful city in southeast Canada’s Quebec province is a favorite of international travelers. People come for the historical and cultural sites, as well as areas of natural beauty. Montreal is second only to Paris in the number of French-speaking residents, but English is widely understood.
Here is a look at the top 10 things to do and see in Montreal.
10. Mount Royal
This hill, just outside the city, gave Montreal its name. It is part of a range of volcanic mountains. There is a 692-acre park, created in 1876, with diverse wildlife and vegetation. Two belvederes (structures that afford long-range views) allow visitors look down on the city and beyond. Other features include a lake, cross-country skiing and tobogganing trails, an interpretive center, and a 103-foot-high metallic cross with multi-colored LED lighting.
9. Point-a-Calliere Archaeology and History Complex
The best place to learn about the region’s history, as far back as the 1300s, is at this sprawling museum. Seven pavilions and structures hold artifacts, arts, crafts, books, maps and archives. Three archaeological sites contain ruins of the indigenous Amerindian people. Among the buildings displaying exhibits are a Customs House built in 1837 and a four-level Mariners House. Additional attractions are a 17th century fort and residence, and an underground Sewer Connector that links the archaeological and cultural sites.
8. Notre-Dame Basilica
One of Montreal’s most impressive edifices is this opulent Gothic Revival cathedral. The massive stone structure has a seating capacity of 3,200. The location’s original Roman Catholic church opened in 1682. It was rebuilt in the 19th century, with a pair of soaring bell towers. The interior is brightly colored in blue and gold. There are religious statues, wood carvings and golf leaves. Stained-glass windows recount the city’s history. An organ installed in 1891 has four keyboards and 7,000 pipes.
7. Montreal Botanical Garden and Insectarium
Ten greenhouses and 20 outdoor gardens contain more than 22,000 species of plants from nearly every corner of the Earth. There are exhibits arranged according to region and habitat, as well as three “cultural” gardens showcasing Japan, China and the “First Nations of Quebec.” At the insectarium, people get up close and personal with butterflies, bees, ants and other tiny creatures. A planetarium displays works of art like statues and sculptures.
6. Bonsecours Market
More than a dozen upscale boutiques sell art, clothing, furniture, jewelry and other goods on four floors of a historic building. Erected in 1847, the neo-classical Palladian-style structure has Doric columns, an elegant facade and portico, and a silver dome. It has been lauded as one of the 10 “major achievements in Canadian architecture.” An exhibition hall hosts festivals, exhibits, shows, fashion sales, symposiums and contests. There are several restaurants.
5. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The largest of the city’s 46 museums, this institution traces its history to 1860. Exhibits fill 14,000 square feet in five pavilions. Among the works on display are visual and fine arts, music, film, fashion, design, religious heritage, and First Nations and Inuit creations. The museum proudly proclaims that its collection ranges “from the old masters to contemporary art.” There is also a concert hall; a publishing operation that distributes art books in English and French worldwide; and educational, wellness and art-therapy programs.
4. Montreal Biodome
More than 4,500 animals (220 species) and 1,500 types of plants live in 200 simulated habitats. The four main ecosystems are forest, sub-polar, the tropics and St. Lawrence marine. Pathways lead through the pavilions. Visitors read interpretive signs, and guides are available to answer questions. The facility also offers films and multimedia presentations.
3. Bell Centre
The home of the Montreal Canadiens, this is the largest ice-hockey arena in the world with 21,288 seats. The venue also the scene of basketball games, mixed martial arts, professional wrestling, tennis, theater, and more than 120 shows annually featuring famous musicians and family entertainment. The centre cites its “cutting-edge technology (in) sound and comfort.” Guided tours are available. There are six restaurants, as well as several bars.
2. Casino de Montreal
This gleaming, modern building covers 526,488 square feet. Much of the space is devoted to 115 gaming tables and 3,200 slot machines. Visitors play blackjack, American and English roulette, baccarat, craps, keno, sic bo, video poker and more. In the Fun Zone, groups can gamble together on interactive machines with a game host. Musical and theatrical performances take place in the facility’s cabaret. There are several places to eat and drink, including a poker bar.
1. Old Port
French fur traders founded the original town, which they called Ville-Marie, at this site on the St. Lawrence River. Today, the area features historic buildings, restaurants and boutiques. A 100-year-old, 148-foot-high clock tower stands at the port entrance. It was designed to mimic London’s Big Ben. The Montreal Science Centre offers interactive science and technology exhibits in six large rooms. Nearby is the popular Clock Tower Beach. There is also a playground, observation wheel, skating rink, IMAX theater, and a vintage ferry with spa services. Statues and sculptures adorn the Old Port, which hosts festivals, shows and celebrations.