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Montrealers, Life

11 things to do in Montreal if you’re visiting for the first time

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DH Montreal Staff Aug 18, 2016 12:47 am

Are you a Montreal virgin? We’re here to help.

Exploring any new city is never easy, but with so many exciting things to do in Montreal, we’ve put together a little guide of things you just have to do if you’re visiting Montreal for the first time.

From historic cathedrals to iconic Montreal snacks, this list has got all first-timers covered.

Walk up to the top of Mount Royal

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There’s nothing quite as rewarding as climbing to the top of Mount Royal and looking out over the city at the lookout point. Offering one of the best views of Montreal, the Mount Royal lookout is the perfect place to take some gorgeous Instagram pics. Take a walk up at sunset, or head there a little earlier in the day and stop by Beaver Lake on your way to the top.

Take a free walking tour of Old Port

Whether you’ve been a resident for years or are visiting Montreal for a couple days, this free walking tour of the Old Port is a great way to get acquainted with the city and its history. Tours run Monday to Thursday and meet in front of City Hall (Hôtel de ville de Montréal) on Place de la Dauversière.

Eat poutine

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You can’t go to Montreal without trying poutine. A local delicacy, poutine was invented in Quebec and let’s face it, is one of the city’s tastiest dishes. You can find poutine at almost any restaurant in Montreal, but if you’re looking for an especially good poutine then you have to hit up La Banquise.

Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is home to an incredible art collection and is the largest and amongst the most prominent museums in Canada. On the last Sunday of each month, the museum opens its doors to the public totally free of charge.

Take some Instagram pics at the Montreal Botanical Garden


The Montreal Botanical Garden is one of Montreal’s most beautiful spots, especially in the summer and fall. Check out the Japanese Garden and the Tropical Fruit Greenhouse, learn about indigenous culture at the First Nations Garden, or take a workshop on how to care for your very own bonsai tree.

Spend a day at La Ronde

If you’re in Montreal between May and October, be sure to visit the city’s most beloved amusement park. With a ton of rides ranging from massive roller coasters to family-friendly bumper cars, La Ronde is a guaranteed day of fun in the sun. While you’re at La Ronde, be sure to explore Parc Jean Drapeau.

Walk through the McGill Campus


The McGill Campus is not your typical university campus. Thanks to its history dating back to 1821, McGill is comprised of some pretty stunning old buildings. Plus, the campus is located right downtown and is super compact, making it easy to take a stroll through Roddick Gates and perhaps even stop for an hour at the Redpath Museum.

Snack on a Montreal bagel

Totally different from the New York bagel, the Montreal bagel is a key component of any Montrealer’s diet. Small, sweet, and dense, a Montreal bagel is the ultimate food whether eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three). Stop by Fairmount or Saint Viateur to try an iconic part of Montreal’s food history.

Rent a Bixi bike and bike around the city

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Nothing beats exploring the urban jungle of Montreal by bicycle. With bike paths all around the city, cycling in Montreal has never been easier. As a tourist, you’ve probably noticed that Montrealers love to get around by bike. Join the local bike culture for a day and rent a Bixi bike for just a few dollars. For a little inspiration, check out this list of the most beautiful bike paths in Montreal.

Walk inside the Notre Dame Basilica

Discover Montreal’s very own gothic cathedral in the heart of Old Montreal. Constructed in 1829, this magnificent cathedral dates back over 150 years and features gorgeous neo-Gothic architecture and massive stained-glass windows. If nineteenth century history isn’t your thing, it’s also the location of Celine Dion’s wedding, which is pretty historic in itself.

Go shopping on Saint Catherine Street

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If you’re looking to engage in a little retail therapy, we’re here to tell you that there’s no place better to unleash your inner shopaholic than Saint Catherine Street. With everything from women’s fashions and men’s fashions to sports equipment and furniture stores, there’s nothing you can’t buy on Saint Catherine Street.


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DH Montreal Staff

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