13 Places You Must Visit in Montreal

2 weeks ago, I shared my list of “to avoid” places in Montreal. While we were a little unlucky to fall into a few tourist traps, our experience in Montreal was generally positive and satisfactory. Believe it or not, Montreal is actually my favorite city in Canada. I’d wholeheartedly recommend anyone who is interested in exploring Canada to start their trip in Montreal – you just need to know the right places to visit! To give you the best recommendations, I partnered with @curiouswuwu, a talented travel photographer, to show you where you must visit in Montreal!

Au Pied De Cochon Montreal

1| Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

If you only have time to visit one church in Montreal, make it Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Situated in the historic Old Montreal, this Gothic Revival architecture‘s rich interior furnishings are breathtaking. The soaring ceiling is colored deep blue speckled with golden stars to depict the glory of Heaven while the rest of the sanctuary displays regal, dramatic colors. Along the sides, you can find stained glass windows depicting the religious history of Montreal, with hundreds of carefully carved statues and carvings scattered throughout the interior.

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

Hidden behind the sanctuary is the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. This small chapel has an incredible all-wood interior and a fan-shaped vault designed in a modern style to let in some glorious natural light. The bronze sculpted altarpiece at the front, the spiral staircases, and the side gallery consisted of 32 bronze panels cast in England, are all very impressive.

Pro tip: Be sure to join the 20-min guided tour (offered daily in French and English), which are covered by your admission fee ($5)!

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

2| Habitat 67

Habitat 67 is a must-see landmark for architecture and design lovers. This housing complex is designed for Expo 67 by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, as an attempt to reimagine apartment living. Inspired by the post-war Japanese architectural movement “Metabolism,”  Safdie created a set of futuristic cube-like condominiums to integrate the qualities of a suburban home into an urban high-rise. Instead of corridors, each of these interlocking modular units is connected with nature and has access to a roof garden built atop an adjacent cube.

Habitat 67 Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

3| Biosphere

Biosphere is another architectural landmark from Expo 67. This spectacular site in the heart of Parc Jean-Drapeau is an environment museum ($15) that showcases how to build a greener and cleaner future. There are numerous interactive exhibitions highlighting the ways we can live as eco-citizens and educating us about major environmental issues. Once you’re done touring inside, don’t forget to go up to the observation platform, where you get great views of Montreal city and the two islands of Parc Jean-Drapeau!

Biosphere

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

4| Biodome

Biodome is not to be confused with Biosphere. This living nature museum ($20.25) is originally built for the 1976 Olympic Games as a velodrome to host track cycling and judo events. Now, it recreates  5 different ecosystems in the Americas with more than 7000 animals and 500 plant types live under the same roof. You can walk through a tropical rainforest, explore Sub-Antarctic islands, see the changing seasons of the Laurentian Maple Forest, take in aquatic life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or wander along the coast of Labrador. It is one of the only places in the world where you can experience all four seasons indoors at the same time!

Pro tip: Take the metro instead of driving. Indoor parking is very expensive here. Besides the indoor zoo, it is worth considering climbing up to the top of the Montreal Tower (the tallest inclined tower in the world!) and visit the Botanical Garden and Insectarium, which are all in the same neighborhood. Before you go, check out bundled packages to save some money!

Biodome Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

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5| Montreal Science Centre

Montreal Science Centre is the perfect place to feed your inner science geek. While this place is not particularly huge, I do love their traveling exhibitions which are often fun, interactive and mind-blowing! When we visited last year, Animal Inside Out was on display. This continuation of Body Worlds showed us the anatomy of animals in a whole new way and was nothing like we’d ever seen before. If this sounds intriguing, you will need to hurry as this exhibition only lasts until March 12, 2017!

Don’t worry if you can’t catch that in time. What’s coming up next: CSI – The Experience, seems just as fascinating! Hmm… now I’m thinking of going to Montreal just for that.

6| Underground City

Montreal is famous for its Underground City, which the locals called RÉSO (short from the French word réseau, which means network). The name can be misleading but this is not a city. It is actually a 32-km network of tunnels beneath downtown, connecting shopping malls, metro stations, hotels, museums, theaters, concert halls, and universities. The purpose is to ease traffic downtown and provide a way for people to get around without stepping outside during the cold winter months.

Even if you’re not into shopping, the pathway can take you to some interesting spots, as seen in the photos taken by @curiouswuwu. Go even deeper down if you’re feeling adventurous. You might discover a whole new world as Andrew Emond did!

Pro tip: Be prepared to get lost as it is a giant maze, but having a map will certainly help! And pay attention to the four letter: RÉSO, which will direct you to the correct pathway.

Underground City Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

Underground City Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

7| Kondiaronk Belvedere

On a nice, warm day, it is worth hiking up to the summit of Mount Royal. Right in front of Mount Royal Chalet, there is a lookout spot called Kondiaronk Belvedere, where you can get one of the most scenic views of Montreal. As the highest elevation in the city, it offers striking views of the downtown skyscrapers, St. Lawrence River, as well as Mont-Royal’s sister mountains—Monts St-Bruno, St-Hilaire, and St-Grégoire!

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

8| Au Sommet Place Ville Marie

Don’t be disappointed if it is too cold to go outdoor. I’ve got another option for you: Au Sommet Place Ville Marie ($19), which has just opened to the public last year! The observation deck on the 46th floor gives you 360° views of Montreal’s natural setting and urban landmarks, including the St. Lawrence River, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, Mount Royal, and the Olympic Stadium!

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

On the 44th floor, you can experience authentic Montreal cuisine with staggering views at the most elevated dining destination in the cityLes Enfants Terribles Brasserie. On the same level, there is a rooftop terrace that boasts 12-foot-high bay windows and an urban garden!

The #MTLGO interactive multimedia exhibition on the 45th floor will give you the chance to get to know Montreal better. It showcases many popular city themes, including gastronomy, sports, and performing arts. The coolest part is that you can collect stories and topics of your interest on a RFID wristband (how hi-tech is that!) and send further information via text or email about how to complete the “missions” in real life!

Au Sommet Place Ville Marie Montreal

Photo Credit: @curiouswuwu

9| Jean-Talon Market

Going on a culinary tour at Jean-Talon Market is a must! This largest open-air market in North America is bustling with a wide variety of vendors selling fresh local products. You can sample the in-season, delicious fruits, or eat your way through the food stalls, from smoked meat sandwich, crepe, duck poutine to Atlantic oysters. It is also a great place to shop for flavorful Quebecois souvenirs to bring back home.

Marche Jean-Talon Montreal

Marche Jean-Talon Montreal

Read more: 5 Tourist Attractions to Skip in Montreal

10| Schwartz’s

Schwartz’s is one of the iconic restaurants in Montreal. It is so famous that there’s always an insane lineup outside the door. But trust me, their delicious smoked meat sandwich ($9.6) is well worth waiting for!  The perfectly fatty, juicy meat, piled up high in between fresh rye bread will completely blow your mind (and taste buds!). Forget about sharing, you will want one all to yourself!

Pro tip: bring cash. And order a can of cherry cola and a pickle to complete your smoked meat experience.

Schwartz Montreal

Schwartz Montreal

11| Le Mousso

Attention foodies: Le Mousso is a restaurant you do not want to miss. This gastronomic restaurant serves only one tasting menu which remains secret until the evening ($65 for 7 courses, with an option to add 2 other courses for extra). Chef Mousseau-Rivard is extremely talented and his innovative spirit and sharp skills shine through every dish he creates. The food combines appearance, smell, taste, and texture to send your taste buds straight to heaven. You will leave with an amazing taste sensation!

Pro tip: reservation is highly recommended.

12| Au Pied de Cochon

If you’re into foie gras, Au Pied de Cochon is the place to go! This popular spot, owned by Chef Martin Picard, caters to serious carnivores and is known for its extraordinarily rich, decadent fare. You can find foie gras on almost everything, including burger, pizza, and chicken nuggets! For first-timers, start with foie gras nigiri ($20), foie gras poutine ($24), and duck in a can ($44). You won’t regret it!

Pro tip: reservation, reservation, reservation. Book it at least one month in advance!

Au Pied De Cochon Montreal

Au Pied De Cochon Montreal

13| Rustique

Got sweet tooth? Check out Rustique. This adorable bakery/cafe is a gem for serious pastry lovers. Specializing in pies, Rustique offers a rotating selection of delicious seasonal flavors. You can order them in full size or in small-bite size. These flaky, buttery pies will leave a lasting impression and fulfill your gluttonous need!

Rustique Montreal

Rustique Montreal


Have you been to Montreal? What are your top picks in the city?

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Start your Canada vacation with a trip to Montreal! Here's an insider's guide to the best places to see and eat in Montreal.

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56 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Looks like Montreal has so many things to offer. I have a friend that moved there this year, I have never been there So now I have a reason or opportunity to go and visit it. Looks like there are good things to experience. I like your post thanks for sharing it

  2. Love the Wu Wu love. Such a creative eye. I think my my favorite is the Biodome. It’s close to home in so many ways. (1) We used to live in Tucson with that other Biosphere. (2) The tour of all the Canadian ecosystem reminds me California ecosystem at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and back to biodome… (3) Pauly Shore’s mother owns the Comedy Club down the road in La Jolla and we went to see the Weasel perform last year. When we get to Montreal we’ll definitely go to the Biodome.

  3. Great photography, great food, great place – Montreal really looks interesting!
    We were actually planning to make a north route from NYC incl. Montreal but then decided to go south to Florida.
    The Jean-Talon Market looks yummi, just look at these huge strawberries 🙂
    The Rustique reminds me a lot to the Hipster Cafes in Berlin, where I was living 5 years – nice and cozy atmosphere! Thank you for introducing Montreal this nice and interesting way!

  4. I have been wanting to visit Montreal and this just has me more intrigued. The Notre-Dame is beautiful, but what I am really interested in is the Biodome. I’ve heard of the one in Arizona, but I had no idea such a place existed in Canada. The underground city looks pretty interesting, too — if you have a map!

  5. The Gothic Revival architecture of Notre Dame Basilica is so impressive… And the underground city is an interesting place to walk with,,, and since it is a 32km tunnel I’m afraid I’ll be lost when I step outside as I’ll be in another place 🙂

    Beautiful and interesting places to explore and I would love to end it at Rustique with a pastry 🙂

  6. I recently put a picture of the Notre Dame of Luxembourg on Instagram and received lots of comments such as, I love Paris etc.. Did you receive comments like this for your Montreal Notre Dame? It certainly has a beautiful interior which I’d love to see. The Biosphere from the 67 Expo looks a great structure to photograph too. The views of the city are amazing from Mount Royal and also from the observation deck, I’d definitely go to these two places for my city photography.

  7. During my trip I was too late visiting the inside of the Notre-Dame Basilica but it looks incredible. I did manage to go up to Mount Royal though which was awesome! Thanks for sharing these other places. If I visit again I’ll check them out!

  8. Holy cow! I’ve been obsessed with wanting to visit Canada, and you have just taken this NEED to new heights. When we do go I think we will take your advice and start in Montreal. I love the French influences in food and architecture. Your photographer friend really has an amazing eye, and you’ve covered some amazing places that I MUST VISIT!

  9. What a great Montreal guide with so many insider tips. I guess I would love to see the jean talon market and visit the restaurant au pied the cochon just because I love the name haha. I don’t think I would like to have foie gras on my burger though 🙂 Great guide

  10. Montreal is one of my favorite places to visit in Canada. Notre Dame Basilica is definitely on top of my list. It is inspiring and I am left awestruck each time I have visited. Interestingly, I had never visited the Reso. There are some interesting spots for photography there. Will have to check out this underground network on the next visit.

  11. I heard because of the history of Quebec the words of the church are actually swears. As for the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal, it looks incredible! The architecture is stunning and you had me at tour for $5! My eyes popped at the Jean-Talon Market because the fruit is so big and ripe. I would love to go there and get some great deals! 

  12. Your post is just tempting me to visit the place! I never miss any church with Neo Gothic architecture in any city I visit. I just love ém. So Notra Dame is a must visit for me too! The Habitat 67, Biodome and Underground city are too fabulous for me to miss!!! I hope to visit Montreal sometime in life!

  13. Nice ideas. The underground city seems very interesting and the view from Au Sommet Place Ville Marie looks amazing. You definitely manage to awake my wanderlust.

  14. Oh my god, I was in Montreal many years ago and only did one item on this list. i missed out on so much! I think another trip back to the French city is needed

  15. Great guide, although we’ve been to Quebec we never got to visit Montreal. The architecture from the Expo67 looks amazing, also the underground city network (probably essential during the winter).

  16. Montreal looks like it has an incredible food scene. I’d love to eat my way around there.

  17. I’m heading to Montreal in a few months so stumbling on this post was ideal timing for me! Pinned it for my references. 🙂 The Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur looks GOOOOOOORGEOUS!! And I’m a true foodie so all three restaurant suggestions are officially on my “must do” list for Montreal!

  18. I think I was briefly in Montreal when I was younger, but I can barely remember it! These photos are beautiful and the architecture is stunning! I especially want to see the Biosphere and Habitat 67. They look like such interesting architectural pieces!

  19. Some of that food looks amazing. I hadn’t thought about Montreal has a foodie place but maybe I was wrong

  20. Brings back so many memories of when my mom had a conference in Montreal and we go to go along. I need to visit the Jean-Talon Market. I wasn’t as much of a foodie when I was nine;)

  21. Blown away by the architecture. So detailed and breathtaking…..would love to walk around the place.

  22. I am a huge admirer of design and a true blue foodie at heart, so this is just brilliant to know. Drooling over all the design aspects of Habitat 67 and the Biosphere and Dome and the underground city and the food… wow… hunger inducing from all that I see and read.

  23. I remember seeing these on Wuwu’s IG and being amazed by all his shots! The Montreal version of the Notre Dame and Sacred Heart look lovely, we enjoyed them in Paris so we’d love to see them in Montreal. And I’ve heard about Schwartz! Definitely #1 on the list for us because we’re fatties haha

  24. I love the architecture of the places you have picked! Habitat 67 in particular looks very intriguing – thanks for sharing!

  25. I would happily be interested in all of the things you listed! Definitely Notre Dame Basilica would be first on my list but those condos (?) are freaking awesome. I have never seen anything like that before. Need to spend some time up in Canada. 

  26. I would love to visit Montreal – Notre-Dame Basilica looks absolutely gorgeous – I’m a big fan of visiting religious sites and churches when we travel, even if we’re not religious, they’re always the most intricate, historic and fascinating buildings in each town – thanks for the tip on the 20 minute guided tour!

  27. I’ve only been to Canada once, and it was to Toronto. I definitely want to visit Montreal though. My dad went years ago and wouldn’t stop talking about how much he loved the city. I’d especially want to visit Notre-Dame Basilica. It looks gorgeous!

  28. Love all these tips! I agree with most of them! I want to go to the observation deck, it wasn’t opened or I didn’t know about it when I last went!

  29. Everything on your list sounds like fun and the food looks amazing–great suggestions! I would love to check out the Biosphere sometime and the underground city would be fun to explore. The inside of the Notre-Dame Basilica looks so beautiful, too!

  30. Ok what I’ve been waiting for, what TO DO in Montreal. Again, I’m surprised by the diversity of another Canadian city I never expected to go so far. Maybe it’s because I’m a nature freak, but the Biodome sounds top TOP for me. I’m also shocked by the amount of amazing culinary options on offer!

  31. This compilation does consist of many off the normal tour places. I think RESO is one of the most unique stuff and probably one can spend many hours trying to find way around and more importantly way out.

  32. Montreal has got some of the finest architectural feats. The underground city, Habitat 67, biosphere and biodome, each one is a mind-blowing masterpiece. The food looks so delicious and mouth watering as well.

  33. Such a wonderful list of places. Notre-Dame Basilica particularly looks so stunning. I will definitely not miss it. And some of the other buildings listed here like Habitat 67 and biosphere have such unique architecture

  34. What’s interesting about this article is not only do you provide a list of places to visit, you take the reader on a visual journey. The architecture, the colors, the design, it all! It tells a unique story about an adventure in Montreal! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  35. I’ve bee to Montreal 10 yrs ago, and I can remember visiting the cathedral, the other places looks cool especially the habitat.

  36. Great post on Montreal, loaded with useful tips for the visitor. I’m very curious about the underground city and loved all the food related tips (wonder why!)

  37. I read both posts as it’s good to know about the good, bad & ugly, especially when travel planning. I might be flying through Montreal & if so, I’d stop for a few days. The architecture looks really interesting to me & I’m a museum buff too. Very informative, cheers

  38. These are some awesome pictures and I have never been to Montreal. You’ve just given me a lot of ideas to explore it, I would love to stroll along when I visit this place.

  39. These are some awesome pictures and I have never been to Montreal. You’ve just given me a lot of ideas to explore it, I would love to stroll along when I visit this place.

  40. What amazing architecture. The churches are so lovely this city is on my list.

  41. Montreal is such a lovely city. Been there two times and I certainly did not visit all of the places you list here. That Habitat 67 place looks sort of cool. I will visit that on my next trip to Montreal.

  42. The science centre looks very interesting and educational. As family travellers, we always try and include places like this to visit as it helps the kids learn. I also loved the Notre Dame cathedral it looks amazing

  43. Omg where was this guide when I went to Montreal in 2011? My now husband and I went to Montreal in December when there was a ton of snow. We f’in wore SNOW PANTS and walked around haha. We could’ve just walked underground.

  44. Montreal looks like such a photogenic place! I want to go to Habitat 67 and the Underground City for some awesome photos! We have to explore Canada more and when we do Montreal is a must, we will have to check all of these great suggestions out.

  45. This is just pretty amazing and I appreciate how you made all this list. Truly Montreal is a place that everyone should visit. The building structures are really beautiful, from the intricate design to the colors. The food is as well looks so luscious and very tempting, you have just made me hungry. I’ll surely bear this mind If I get the chance to visit Montreal. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  46. Wow! I love all of the architectural stops you’ve presented. The historical and the modern stops are so striking. I’d love to see them in person and then definitely eat it up at a market.

  47. Wow! So many wonderful places to visit in Montreal. I would love to visit the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. The architecture is simply stunning!!! And the gastronomic restaurant sounds like so much fun. I went to one in Hong Kong (Bo Innovation) and have not been to another one since then.

  48. I love Montreal! It’s such a cosmopolitan city! I was there a few years ago during the fall so mostly I just remember looking at leaves and eating a lot of maple sugar candy. But I love the sound of these suggestions. I’d definitely want to eat at Le Mousso!

  49. Pinning!!! I’ve been to Montreal plenty of times but its always been too cold to explore! Headed there in a month with my boyfriend and we’re gonna hit up all the spots! I had NO idea the Basilica looked like that inside! Cannot wait to rediscover Montreal <3

  50. Wow! To be completely honest, I had no idea what Montreal had to offer and you have totally convinced me to add it to my list. There are soo many interesting things there like the Biodome and the underground tunnels and some of the food places looked so cute! What is your very favorite thing to do there?

  51. The observation deck on the 46th floor has such a breathtaking view! This would be the first place where I would go in Toronto. So beautiful.

  52. Great suggestions about this enticing foods. Montreal seems to be lovely and you have captured its charm very well in your photos. Some of the architecture that can be seen is really futuristic and intriguing. Hope to get there some day.

  53. I’m going to Montreal on Tuesday and I can’t wait to see some of these places! Thanks for the great suggestions.

    http://www.shessobright.com

  54. Great photography and great place! You had a awesome experience.thanks for sharing.

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  56. Pingback: Photos that'll Inspire You to Visit Montreal in Fall - Blond Wayfarer

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