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Written by
Mary Lawless
Mary Lawless

Best things to do in Montreal

There's something wonderful about Montreal, it's the perfect blend of Canada and Europe. From the culture to the architecture there is a strong French influence in the city. Don't forgot to brush up on your French, although almost everyone speaks English too. There are definitely some things you need to do in Montreal when you visit, and we've pulled together a list of our favorites below.

Mount Royal

Mount Royal or Mont Réal is what gives the city its name, the hill rising to 764 feet offers wonderful views of the city's skyline. It's home to the expansive Mount Royal Park at 692 acres, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed New York's Central Park. We recommend following one of the forested trails to the top to one of Montreal's most iconic landmarks, a 103-foot illuminated cross that lights up every night, stop along the way to take in views of downtown from Belvédère Kondiaronk.

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Notre-Dame Basilica and The Aura

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a striking Catholic Church in the historic area of Old Montreal. The intricate detail of the church's interior is amongst the most dramatic in the world. It really is a piece of art worth a visit for the non-religious too. I'd recommend going to The Aura sound and light show, it brings to life the detail of the interior. You start with a walk around the art pieces on the walls which are illuminated and paired with sound then you sit for the main event. The whole building seems to come to life with an impressive light show and orchestra music fully immersing you in the experience. 

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The old town - a piece of Europe in Canada

Take a stroll through Old Montreal and feel like you're stepping back in time, in France! Dating back to the early 1600s the cobblestoned streets, heritage sites and European architecture reinforce the French roots of the city. Take a stroll along Saint-Paul street, the oldest street in Montreal and browse the boutique shops, art galleries and wonderful restaurants. 

Now for the food...

Bagels 

It's controversial but Montreal has, in my opinion, the world's best bagels, sorry New York! St-Viateur bagel, claim to be the oldest bagel shop in the city, founded in 1957 by Myer Lwekowicz and the recipe hasn't changed since. They are so popular that they are open 24 hours a day so you can always get your bagel fix. They produce over a thousand bagels a day and they are all hand rolled! My favorite is the sesame bagel, it's great on its own but I also like it topped with butter, although most locals like it with cream cheese. 

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Schwartz’s Deli - Smoked meat

Montreal is the home of smoked meat and this iconic Jewish deli is a must visit but get there early for lunch as there's always a queue out the door. The deli first opened its doors in December 1928, and it has become a cultural institution in Montreal. Schwartz's classic dish is smoked meat stacked high on rye bread with a dollop of yellow mustard and pickle on the side. You'll soon understand why this place is so popular.

Poutine

Poutine

Of course, a trip to Canada wouldn't be complete without some poutine - the delicious dish is fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. The dish originated in Quebec in the late 1950s and is celebrated as a symbol of Québécois culture. It might not look like finest cuisine you can get but it really is a delicious comfort food. 


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