Montréal is an urban paradise that seamlessly blends historic charm with contemporary wonder. In Old Montréal, the architecture spans 3 centuries, and horse-drawn carriages clip-clop along cobblestone avenues while street artists create a festive aura. A waterfront promenade - one of the city's top attractions - winds along the Old Port. Below ground, the futuristic Underground City offers weatherproof subterranean access to theaters, shops, restaurants, and hotels.
This Canadian city also blends French- and English-speaking communities. French speakers (Francophones) make up more than half of the city's population, dominating neighborhoods to the east and north of the downtown area, while English-speakers (Anglophones) gather to the west and north.
Throughout the city, visitors find museums covering everything from history to modern art, grand experimental structures like the Biodome and the Olympic Stadium, and a tempting variety of restaurants, bars, and cafés. Also scattered throughout Montréal are theaters, clubs, botanical gardens, historical sights, casinos, and parks. Add to that the soaring mountains of the Laurentians, which provide year-round outdoor fun, and you have a vacation spot that's great for everyone!
What To Do & See
Musee des Beaux-Arts: Of Montréal's many museums, this is the most prominent. The original 1912 neo-classical pavilion and the new annex house a permanent collection of international and Canadian contemporary art, and European art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Greater Montréal Tram Tour: This extensive tour of the city features the Places d'Armes, Notre Dame Church, and bustling Jacques Cartier Square, all in Old Montréal. Other tour highlights include St Helen's and Notre Dame Island, Mont Royal lookouts, and the Olympic Park.
Biodome de Montréal: Originally built for the 1976 Olympics, the Biodome de Montréal houses 4 different ecosystems - a Laurentian forest, the St. Lawrence ecosystem, a polar environment, and a tropical rain forest. Some 4,000 animals and 5,000 trees and plants inhabit the dome. There are also a game room, a shop, and a café.
Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden): The grounds cover 180 acres and house 26,000 types of plants. Ten conservatory greenhouses provide shelter for tropical and desert plants, as well as bonsai and penjings. A 6-acre Chinese garden is the largest of its kind outside of Asia, and the 15-acre Japanese garden has an art gallery, a tearoom, and a Zen garden.
Basillique Notre-Dame: The breathtaking and enormous Basillique Notre-Dame was designed in 1829 and holds 4,000 worshippers. The main altar is carved from linden wood, and the chapel altar is cast in bronze, with 32 panels representing birth, life, and death. The massive bell weighs more than 12 tons.
Parc du Mont-Royal: Rising from the center of the city, this is a favorite spot for joggers, cyclists, hikers, and dog-walkers. The park's Beaver Lake lures sunbathers and picnickers in the summertime, and attracts ice-skaters during the winter.
Oratoire St-Joseph: This huge copper dome honors St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada. The huge basilica dominates the north slope of Mont-Royal, and is Italian Renaissance in style. There is a museum inside, and guided tours are regularly scheduled.
Vieux-Port: This once-dreary commercial wharf has been transformed into an attractive 133-acre park and promenade with exhibition halls, bike paths and a flea market. Climb to the top of a 1922 clock tower to see incredible views from the observation decks.
Le Ronde Amusement Park: On Ile Ste-Helene, the park has morethan 30 rides, a medieval village, roller coasters, and snack shops. Rides such as Le Boomerang, Le Monstre, and Le Cobra make for hair-raising thrills.
This stunning 28-story hotel is located in the heart of downtown Montreal. Each room of the hotel is elegantly appointed with floor to ceiling windows giving a panoramic view of the city.
The Fairmont Tremblant is carved into the base of the most majestic peak in the Laurentian Mountains, and set in the heart of the regions's most picturesque village.
Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth is an elegant and charming hotel located in the city's cultural and commercial center and a short walk from Old Montreal.