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With temperatures ranging from below zero to the mid-80s, depending on the season, the scope of activities in Montreal is widespread. In warmer months, expect to be outside – the locals will be. As soon as the snow thaws, Montrealers take to the streets in droves for back-to-back festivals, alfresco dining, and outdoor sports. In winter, bring hats, mitts, good boots, and a warm coat so that you can enjoy the wonder of the snow-laden city. Late January marks the start of Fête des Neiges, a festival celebrating everything wintry (; or you can forget the outerwear altogether as you shop the Underground City, essentially a network of tunnels connecting major shopping centers and Métro stations.

Things to do in Montreal

BIXI Public Bike System

Like Paris’s Vélib program, BIXI (bicycle + taxi) offers hundreds of bikes around the city for easy one-off rentals or long-term subscriptions. Simply swipe your credit card in a machine, remove a bike using the provided access code, and pedal away! A 24-hour pass costs CAD$5, with the first 30 minutes of each ride free (but note that a CAD$250 security deposit will be added to your credit card or bank account and can take up to 10 days to be refunded).

Quebec, 514-789-2494,
Tags: biking | things to do

Botanical Gardens

The gardens beautifully cover 185 acres with more than 22,000 species of plants and flowers, 10 greenhouses, and 30 themed gardens. Don't miss the orchids and the bonsai collection, as well as the largest Chinese garden of its kind outside of China (all material for the garden were shipped from Shanghai to Montreal).

4101 Rue Sherbrooke E., 514-872-1400,
Tags: editor pick | things to do | outdoors | gardens

Canadian Centre of Architecture

Architecture buffs will go gaga over these exhibitions, where conceptual studies, drawings, prints, and models showcase past, present and future architectural endeavors; past exhibits have focused on Mies van der Rohe’s experience with American technology, Expo 67, and local green-energy projects.

1920 Rue Baile, 514-939-7026,
Tags: editor pick | things to do | architecture | museum

Centre Bell

This venue hosts big-name concerts (like Madonna and Justin Timberlake) and serves as home ice for the 24-time Stanley Cup champions, the Montréal Canadiens (; hockey fans shouldn't miss the guided tour that includes a behind-the-scenes peek into the team dressing room (in off-season: May-Sept 15th).

1260 Rue de la Gauchetière O, 514-989-2841,
Tags: live entertainment | things to do | sports

House of Jazz

The homegrown House of Jazz is – you guessed it – known for jazz. At just 120 seats, the place has been a favorite for its intimate vibe (think dark wood paneling, leather seats, and low lights) and great acoustics since 1968. The focus is on talented local musicians.

2060 Rue Aylmer, 514-842-8656,
Tags: nightlife | editor pick | things to do | jazz

Maison du Festival

If you miss the Montreal Jazz Festival, check out the event’s year-round home, the Maison du Festival. Catch concerts and other performances at intimate l’Astral, or view special art exhibits in the Galerie Lounge. Bistro Le Balmoral is a French-inspired restaurant with a spacious terrace perfect for summer evenings.

305 Rue Sainte-Catherine West, Quebec,
Tags: live entertainment | things to do | gallery

Marché Bonsecour

As the city’s principal public market for some 100 years, this dome-shaped building also housed City Hall at one point. Now the headquarters for the Conseil des métiers d’art (arts and crafts council) and the Institute of Design, it houses boutiques selling crafts, jewelry, and design items, as well as several restaurants. Contemporary art and photography exhibitions also take place.

350 Rue St. Paul E., QC, 514-872-7730,
Tags: shopping | art | things to do | market

McCord Museum

McCord is a first-stop must for anyone looking to learn more about Native Canadian heritage – the collection of over 1,300,000 objects includes beaded headdresses, a delicately carved Iroquois baby carrier, and wampum trading beads. Special focus is given to items that reflect the history of Québec.

690 Rue Sherbrooke O., 514-398-7100,
Tags: art | things to do | culture | history | museum

Montréal Biodôme

Montréal's biodome provides the opportunity to traverse four different ecosystems in one place (it's also a zone where scientists can study plant conservation). Go from lush tropical rainforest, to typical Northern Québec woods, to the St-Laurent marine ecosystem, to the Arctic and Antarctic, complete with penguins.

4777 Ave. Pierre-De Coubertin, 514-868-3000,
Tags: family | things to do | science

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

Founded in 1860, this museum ranks as Canada's oldest art institution. The Louvre it is not, but the MMFA does feature an eclectic assortment of more than 30,000 international works from all eras (everything from the gilded bronzes of Italian artist Cartoceto di Pergola to American contemporary industrial designs) and an exceptional collection of Canadian and Inuit art.

1380 Rue Sherbrooke O., 514-285-2000,
Tags: editor pick | art | things to do | culture | museum

Montréal Science Centre

Great for kids on a rainy day this expansive, 2-floor museum makes science fun for kids and parents with stimulating exhibits and interactive installations ranging from robotics to energy to biology (there's nothing cooler than walking through the human body); it's also home to an IMAX theater.

King Edward Pier, At the foot of Saint-Laurent Blvd., corner De la Commune St., 514-496-4724,
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | museum

Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal

This imposing museum showcases a permanent collection of paintings, installations, and mixed media from 1948 to the present, including pieces by well-known Canadian artists such as impressionist painter Jean-Paul Riopelle and abstract painter Claude Tousignant. The museum is best known for its special exhibits, which last anywhere between two to five months (Arnaud Maggs, a forefather of conceptual photography in Canada, was recently featured).

185 Rue St. Catherine O., 514-847-6226,
Tags: art | things to do | museum | jim's pick

Musée du Château Ramezay

Kitty corner to the grandiose Second-Empire City Hall is the site where Benjamin Franklin failed to convince Québec to become part of the United States back in 1776. These days, the colonial mansion houses a charming museum filled with art, manuscripts, and artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.

280 Rue Notre-Dame E., 514-861-3708,
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history | museum | jim's pick

Notre-Dame Basilica

When this twin-towered basilica was erected in 1829, it was the largest Catholic church in all of North America. Adorned with dazzling stained-glass windows, intricately carved wood, and a dramatic cobalt ceiling emblazoned with gold stars, the basilica is a gorgeous example of neo-Gothic architecture.

116 Rue Notre-Dame O., 514-842-2925,
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history | religious | jim's pick


The city's most enduring and endearing chapel, known as "the sailor's church," for its role as a spiritual beacon to sailors returning from the sea, boasts delicate wooden model ships and beautiful frescoes. After it was destroyed by fire in 1754, the chapel was rebuilt in 1771.

400 Rue St. Paul E., 514-282-8670,
Tags: things to do | culture | architecture | history | religious


For upscale name-brands and old-fashioned service, head to this opulent department store where curving staircases and a grand chandelier transport you to another era. Even if you’re not in the market for designer wear, you’ll want to be here between noon and 1pm to witness a unique Oglivy tradition: a bagpiper marching through the store.

1307 Rue St. Catherine O., 514-842-7711,
Tags: shopping | things to do | department store

Parc Mont-Royal

Overlooking it all, this mountainside oasis, with its meandering paths, lush woodlands, and verdant meadows, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park fame). On warm days, the green retreat buzzes with joggers, hikers, and cyclists.

Tags: views | things to do | outdoors | park | jim's pick

Place Jacques-Cartier

Stroll the granite plaza anchored by a statue of English naval hero Horatio Nelson and lined with 17th-century stone buildings. On warm days, sun-seekers fill the square's numerous café terraces and it bustles with street performers and artisans.

Along Rue St. Paul,
Tags: things to do | architecture | cafe | city


Also known as the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, this six building complex includes an archeological crypt where remnants of the city's 17th-century fortifications are displayed. The permanent exhibition encourages you to relive a typical 1750 market day via an interactive installation. Check the website for the current schedule of temporary exhibits.

350 Place Royale, 514-872-9150,
Tags: things to do | culture | history | museum

St. Joseph’s Oratory

The world’s largest shrine dedicated to St. Joseph is a popular pilgrimage destination for the faithful, and one of the city’s most impressive landmarks. Perched on the western side of Mount Royal, it offers spectacular views of the city and its imposing dome is lit up magnificently at night.

3800 Queen Mary Rd., QC, 514-733-8211,
Tags: historic | landmark | things to do | culture

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