Canada’s vibrant capital of culture, Montreal has a real joie de vivre! At once cosmopolitan and historic, offbeat and elegant, there’s something for everyone in this bilingual city. From navigating the chic boutiques and hipster haunts of Le Plateau to strolling along the St Lawrence River in the Old Port, you’ll never be at a loss for fabulous things to do in Montreal.
Get stunning city views from the Pointe-à-Callière
One of the best ways to kick off your language stay in Montreal is with a visit to this well beloved museum. Nestled between the St Lawrence River and the cobbled Rue Saint-Paul, this modern museum packs a visual punch with its soaring viewing tower that will reward you with great city views. Don’t miss the intro video on Montreal to pull back the curtain on the city in which you’ll be living. Admission for students ages 30 and under is half price and worth every cent!
Stroll through romantic Old Montreal
After the museum, you’re right on the doorstep of charming Old Montreal. Stroll down the Rue Saint-Paul, popping into souvenir shops and quaint cafés along the way. You’ll run into the Bonsecours Market, one of many in Montreal, where you can grab a snack or shop for Canadian goodies like maple syrup or fur and leather items. This classic market is just next to the Clocktower Quay, where you can scale the tower’s spiral staircase for views over the river.
Be wowed by the Notre-Dame Basilica
Perched on the Place d’Armes, this gorgeous Gothic basilica is one of the top must-sees in Montreal. Its deep blue vaulted ceiling studded with golden stars really sets it apart. After all, there’s a reason why Celine Dion got married here! Make sure to sit for a spell in the Place d’Armes afterwards and appreciate the architecture (and check out the locals!).
Experience the St Lawrence River
Flowing through Montreal all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, the St Lawrence River is a vital part of the city’s identity. Hop on a cruise of 60 or 90 minutes with Le Bateau Mouche from the Old Port of Montreal, dine along the waterfront or indulge at the Bota Bota Spa housed in a converted ferryboat, with outdoor hot tubs (yes, hot tubs!) on the deck overlooking the river.
Discover the Canadian art scene
In downtown Montreal, the awesome Montreal Museum of Fine Art offers free admission to its permanent collections for visitors ages 30 and under (also free for everyone on the last Sunday of each month). Wander through the sculpture garden, and make sure to spend some time browsing the Inuit art. Get lost in the Canadian panoramas full of tangled trees scattered across wild vistas that are characteristic of the Algonquin School, composed of seven famous landscape artists. You may feel far from this natural wilderness in the centre of Montreal, but there’s a reason why Canada is called “the great white north”!
Meet Montreal’s modern side at the Olympic Stadium & Biodome
Built for the 1976 summer Olympics, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium continues to host sporting events as well as big-name concerts and international conventions. This is also home to the Montreal Tower, built on a 45-degree tilt with fabulous views and accessible by funicular (be warned, it’s not cheap). Just next door, what was once the Olympic velodrome has been converted into the incredible Biodome. Boasting more than 220 species of animals across five different ecosystems, there really is nothing like it. Take advantage of the student discount or buy a package ticket to save.
Climb up to St Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
On the other side of Montreal stands Canada’s largest church with the biggest dome outside of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Dedicated to Canada’s patron saint, St Joseph’s Oratory is a relatively new building (1967). It offers lovely city views from its terrace, well worth the climb, and is the perfect place to watch a romantic sunset with your new Montreal amour. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a choir and organ concert on your visit.