Wander Around Old Montreal
The oldest area of the city, Old Montreal is an impressive neighbourhood that dates back to the 17th century. It is home to Montreals largest concentration of historic buildings.
Wander around the area and see some of the most magnificent buildings, including the Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica. The church sits next to Saint-Sulpice Seminary and faces the Place dArmes.
The old cobblestones streets in Old Montreal are lined with excellent French restaurants, boutique shops, and numerous museums. You can also enjoy views of the city centre from Champ de Mars.
Come to Montreal in July to go to the worlds biggest and best jazz festival. The Montreal International Jazz Festival features around 3,000 musicians from around the world, attracting nearly 3 million people each year.
There are around 650 concerts during to 10-day festival, more than half of which are free! Head to one of the 10 outdoor stages for free jazz, or buy a ticket to see a famous musician in one of the indoor concert halls.
A few big names that have performed at the festival over the years includes Ray Charles, Diana Krall, the Liberation Music Orchestra, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Ahmad Jamal.
Enjoy Montreals Eclectic Food Scene
Montreals foodie reputation preceded it, but to be honest, I was surprised by what I found in the city. I expected tasty but slightly unrefined dishes like poutine and smoked meat sandwiches. Yet I found a city brimming with multicultural restaurants and exciting gastronomy.
In just a few days we ate an amazing bowl of pho at I Am Pho, juicy steak frites at Brasserie T, bagels fresh from the oven at St-Viateur Bagel Shop, Quebec cheese at Pullman, tangy ceviche at Tiradito, vegan delights at LOV, healthy poke at Le Poke Bar, and enjoyed a meal with an incredible view of Montreals twinkly lights at Les Enfants Terribles.
I knew Id enjoy Montreals restaurants, but I hadnt expected the offering to be as diverse and sophisticated as it is. Lets face it, what better way to enjoy Montreal in winter, than to eat your way around the city?
Relax With A Spa Day At Bota Bota
Bota Bota is an old ferry thats been converted into a unique spa experience. Its moored on the St Lawrence River close to Old Montreal. On our visit the water around it was totally frozen, with several inches of snow layered on top. It definitely wasnt sailing anywhere soon!
The spa is famed for its water circuit, which encourages you to go from warm experiences to cold and then to relax somewhere comfortable. This process aids circulation and reinvigorates your body.
With temperatures of -16 outside, I never made it to a cold plunge pool but I did enjoy the rooftop Jacuzzis a lot. At one point my eyelashes and hair froze. Something thats really unique, and only for the bold, is the small opening to the frozen river, which you can access as one of the cold plunge activities.
Obviously my fiance Macca couldnt resist that one, while I was much happier watching from the sauna!
Bota Bota offers a range of treatments, plus theres a small restaurant on board perfect if you want to spend a whole day there. While I imagine Bota Bota is a lovely place to visit all year around, theres something particularly special about getting cosy in a sauna and looking out at the snowy landscapes around.
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Discover The Underground City
Montreal can get cold, so why not explore without battling the winter wind? Luckily for families, a big part of downtown can be navigated underground! Also known as RESO, this series of interconnected buildings is a big hit with visitors. It also links the citys major metro stations to its famous shopping centers, hotels, etc. From Chinatown, there are a few blocks youll need to walk outside before reaching the underground city from the Complexe Desjardins. Then, a big part of Downtown Montreal will be accessible without enduring the cold! Here, youll find cute boutiques to shop in, a range of restaurants in case youre hungry, and some miscellaneous attractions. If you have an art lover in the family, you can even explore one-of-a-kind pieces during your visit thanks to Art Souterrain! The Underground City also links to some of Montreals best above-ground spots, like the Place des Arts.
Visit The Past At The Mccord Museum
The McCord Museum lets visitors immerse themselves in the Canadian past with artifacts and exhibits that date back to the late 19th century in many cases. You’ll find photographs as well as art, toys, and clothing from centuries past. Kids will especially enjoy their visit, as they can enjoy the opportunity to dress up and take pictures in period clothing. They also hold free family Sunday events that are especially helpful if you’re travelling on a budget. Many of the exhibits are interactive with touch and play boxes as well.
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Why We Recommend This Activity
Just the Gothic Revival architecture of the Basilicas exterior makes it worth stopping by so that you and the entire family can take pictures.
This historic church is about 200 feet long and has been standing since 1823.
But what makes the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal a must-see is its dramatic deep blue and star-filled interiors. It is considered one of the most beautiful church interiors in the world.
Explore The Science Museum At Montreal Old Port
On a rainy day, we brought the kids to the science museum.
It is a wonderful space, at the old port and one that is largely designed for a young audience.
The kids loved the mechanical machines and us adults loved an exhibition they had about family food across the world: eye-opening!
This was an excellent day out and a great Montreal attraction for kids to visit on a rainy day! A
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Stroll Along The Old Port Quays
Enjoy a nice stroll along the 2.5 km pathway that follows the St. Lawrence River. You can walk, cycle or run along the docks and four quays with many nature spots to rest. There may not be the food trucks that usually cover this path, but you can still enjoy the historical clocktower at the northern end of Quai lHorlage. A site to take in, the tower was built in 1922 to honour sailors who died in World War I and is a great viewing spot of the river and city.
Tackle A Zipline And High Ropes Course
For families traveling with slightly older kids who want a more active kind of thrill, you can head over to Old Port’s Montreal Zipline, Canada’s first urban zip line circuit, which lets you zoom over Bonsecours Island and is open to adults and kids age 7 and up. Right next door, there is a pirate-themed Voiles en Voiles ropes adventure course with seven aerial routes that connect two huge sailing ships.
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Things To Do In Montreal With Kids
Montreal needs no introduction. Its Canadas second largest city and consistently ranked as once of the most liveable cities in the world for good reason.
Theres no shortage of culture, arts, food, sport and entertainment. Montreal is a magnet for family vacations, and the toughest part of our visit was narrowing down the endless list of attractions and eateries.
Without further ado, heres our list of favourite things to do during summer in Montreal.
Rue Bonsecours And Bonsecours Market
The delightful Rue Bonsecours, off Rue Notre-Dame, is one of Vieux-Montréal’s oldest streets. It exhibits a whole range of the French architectural styles featured in the 17th- to the 19th-century townscape of New France.
Bonsecours Market served as the town hall before becoming Montréal’s vegetable market from 1878 to 1963. It’s an important heritage building and one of the most eye-catching structures in Montreal.
Today, the building houses a number of interesting shops and boutiques and is a popular spot with tourists. Montréal’s oldest church, the Chapel of Our Lady de Bonsecours, is at the end of the street.
Nearby, Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site was the home of the first Canadian Prime Minister from 1841 to 1871.
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Stroll Along Rue Saint
Rue Saint-Paul is Montréal’s oldest street, originally completed in March 1672 as the road between the fort and the Hôtel Dieu, the old hospital. Nowadays it is lined with all kinds of shops and restaurants.
In recent years, the city has made substantial improvements to this street and several others. Sections of Rue Saint-Paul are pedestrian-only areas and during the day, this area is packed with tourists.
If you want to stay in Old Montreal, this is the best place to find a hotel. Set in a historic building, the Hotel Nelligan, with one of the most popular rooftop terraces for dining in summer, is a great option along this street. Excellent dining options can also be found all along this street.
Rue Saint-Paul gets its name as much from Paul de Chomedey, the city’s devout founder, as from St. Paul the Apostle.
Explore The Local Culture At The Montreal Memorial Center
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, there’s nothing quite like the Montreal Memorial Center. Known as the MEM, this memorial center consists of 3 floors of exhibits and collections of items you won’t want to miss out on. Each exhibit is designed to be a part of the larger whole, showcasing the city’s impressive history. You’ll find various images and visual effects implemented alongside the numerous artifacts, many of which are personal testimonies of people who lived in this massive city.
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Visit St Joseph Oratory
Admission is $5 CAD.
Standing almost as tall as St. Peters in Rome at 97 metres high, the St. Joseph Oratory is a National Historic Site of Canada and the largest church in Canada. Founded in 1904 by Saint André Bessette in his patron saint, it is now one of the most visited shrines in the world, housing a basilica, chapel, and a crypt. Due to its size and location, its also the highest building in Montreal, rising more than 30 metres above Mount Royals summit. By the time you get there, the observatory might be open as well, giving you unprecedented 360-degree views of the city.
Tips For Saving Money In Montreal
Free Walking Tours
There are free walking tours all over the world, and theyre a really great way to learn about a city and get your footing. Of course, you should tip depending on the quality of the tour, but this is a great way to save some cash and learn about the city at the same time. Some tours include Starberry Tours and Free Montreal tours.
Get a Museum Pass
If youre a museum aficionado and are planning to visit many, you might want to consider the Museum Pass, which costs $75-80 CAD and includes admission to 40 museums for three days. With the $80 pass, you also get unlimited public transportation.
Buy a Montreal Passeport
If youre looking to visit a bunch of attractions, this can be a great way to save some cash. The Montreal Passeport gives you access to over 28 attractions for either two days or three days . In addition, youll get admission to the botanical gardens and a 60-minute river cruise.
Bring Your Own Wine
In Montreal, this is known as Aportez-votre vin. If a restaurant has this phrase displayed on a sign out front, it means you can bring your own wine. So, now you can enjoy dinner and bring your own cheap bottle of wine to enjoy.
As you probably know, sites like Groupon can be a great way to score deals on restaurants and attractions. Theres also Living Social and Tourism Montreals Sweet Deals, which offers perks on hotels.
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Things To Do In Montreal Qc With Kids
Children just LOVE Montreal, and thats just as well – because Montreal just LOVES kids!
This beautiful city found in Quebec is a city that seems to have everything. Kids can play in snow, play in the rivers or explore the cobbled streets of the old city where history still lives in the stones and walls.
You can also experience the amazing architecture as part of its history. St. Patricks Basilica and Notre Dam Basilica are just some examples of the fascinating designs.
This family-friendly city also has plenty of space for kids to run around and play – from Mount Royal Park to the Montreal Botanical Garden – perfect for a break from the vibrant city streets!
Thrill rides? You bet! Head to La Ronda where there are rides for the whole family Speaking of brave – did we mention this fascinating city still has some visitors from centuries before? Yep – ghosts! Take a tour with attractions like Fantomes Montreal Ghosts and see who the bravest of the family is!
But dont worry, it shows this great family destination is so much fun – no-one ever wants to leave! Boo!
Getting To Montreal By Bus
Unlike Western Canada, this part of the country is still well-served by Greyhound Bus, which offers many rides to Montreal from places such as Ottawa and Toronto. However, there are other buses as well, including Orléans Express, maritimebus, and Adirondack Trailways. As of now, we find the best way to search for buses and fares is by using Busbud.
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Test Your Courage On The Montreal Ghost Walk
If your family is feeling brave, you may want to check out the Montreal Ghost Walk. On this guided tour, you can travel through the hauntingly fascinating atmosphere of Old Montreal and hear stories that are as spooky as they are interesting. None of the stories are particularly inappropriate for kids who are at least 12 years old, but you should look into the details before taking anyone younger. Additionally, the tours are available in both English and French. Private group tours are available all year, but the regular season of tours lasts from May to November.
Challenge Yourself With An Escape Room
There are plenty of indoor activities in Montreal, perfect for cold winters in the city. If youve never done one before, definitely squeeze in an escape room. Its a challenging hour of code cracking, riddle solving and observation activities, which will hopefully lead to you escaping from the locked chamber.
We attempted Amaze Montreals Mad Scientist Laboratory, which with only two of us was a little too challenging, but would be great in a group of four. It was still a lot of fun, and thankfully they still let us out after the time ran out!
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Explore The Scenery At The Lachine Canal National Historic Site
The Lachine Canal National Historic Site is an incredible destination that lets you and your family explore an impressive canal outdoors. The route is 13.5 kilometres long in total, but you don’t have to traverse it all to appreciate what it has to offer. Instead, you can simply walk or bike along the parallel paths along the banks. Alternatively, you can step onto a boat and travel on the canal itself. Plenty of tours are available if you want your journey to be as informational as it is serene.
Get In A Stair Workout
For those looking for something more physical, try a stair workout. There are two sets of stairs on Mount Royal that can be used for a workout. Trafalgar stairs can be found at the top of the entrance to the park from rue Peel and go up to Mount Royal Chalet. It can take around 45 minutes or more depending on your level of physical fitness. Be aware some parts of the stairs can be quite steep. The other set of stairs is at the end of Belvedere Camilien Houde lookout spot. At the top follow the path for a 20-30-minute walk to the top of the stairs that leads back down to rue Peel.
You can find a great trail map for Trafalgar stairs here.
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Take A Family Friendly Trip To Montreal
Everyone knows Montreal is an adult’s playground with a plethora of jazz clubs, lounges, nightclubs, after-hours spots and intimate restaurants. But what about if you want to take the kids to the Quebec hotspot, is Montreal family friendly?
The answer is oui!
To start your stress-free family city break, leave the car at home and take the train. Via rail has daily trains to Montreal from all over Canada and direct from the airport if you fly in. You can forget all about parking, traffic or navigating the busy city streets.
You won’t even need to brave the cold during Montreal’s bitter winters as a short walk underground from the station takes you straight to your hotel.
The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel
Room at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel
Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel
Don’t waste any time at all getting to your room, one quick ride up in the elevator from the train platform and you’ll find the lobby of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel.
The smallest guests are catered to here with a hot cocoa or a voucher for a sweet crepe on arrival. The spacious rooms and suites offer plenty of space for families to spread out while the warm heated swimming pool is a welcome bonus.
Family Friendly Attractions
Take a ride on the Montreal Observation Wheel for amazing views of the city from 60 meters above the port.
Montreal observation wheel
Where To Eat