Montreal is one of the greatest cities in Canada and, without any doubt; the best time to visit Montreal is in the summer. If you are planning a trip in June, July or August, you have picked the best time. The town offers good weather and many great things to do and experience. The summer is packed with thousands of different events, festivals, and parades of different magnitude. There is always something going on. Here is what you should not miss when coming to Montreal.
The Old Port
It is a great place to take a walk along the beautiful waterfront. Then, explore the charming narrow cobblestone streets packed with cafes, bars, and restaurants. The Old Port is home of museums and heritage sites; and, it hosts many festivals and expositions all year long. Make sure to stop by the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica (110 Notre-Dame Street W) and the Bonsecours Market (350 St Paul Street E). Alternatively, if you prefer something more thrilling, try the urban zip-line circuit, which glides over the Bonsecours Island.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
It is known to be the largest memorial dedicated to Saint Joseph in the world and has a dome reaching 97 meters (3800 Queen Mary Road). This site has beautiful grounds, panoramic views, and a worth seeing garden. The “Garden of the Way of Cross” unveils storytelling sculptures along its pathways, and it is a very peaceful place. Saint Joseph’s Oratory is located on Mount Royal, which is a mountain with a lookout point at its top, offering sweeping views of the city (1576 Voie Camillien-Houde).
Montreal Botanical Garden
This is another beautiful place spreading over 75 hectares (4101, rue Sherbrooke Est). Take a walk in the vast outdoor grounds featuring more than 20 teamed gardens, such as the Japanese and Chinese gardens. Also, explore the 10 exhibition greenhouses, which contains a wide range of species in different climates. The greenhouses collections include Bonsai and Penjing, Orchids, Bromeliads, and more.
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
Best Events and Entertainment
Montreal Grand Prix
Any fan of F1 would not miss the Montreal Grand Prix. It is held annually at the beginning of June and has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967. Get your tickets early as they go fast. Alternatively, opt-out to attend some of the free F1 shows and events such as the Crescent Street Grand Prix Festival and the Formula Peel Street Event. Both at the heart of Montreal’s city center and featuring race and luxury car displays; live performances, concerts and DJ parties; great gastronomic restaurants.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival takes place every year between the last week of June and the first week of July. It holds the 2004 Guinness World Record for the world’s largest jazz festival. Some might be surprised that it is not all about jazz music; but also, just about every other genre there is. It offers hundreds of paid and free performances at different locations. Make sure to look at the schedule in advance, not to miss something extraordinary.
Montreal International Fireworks Competition at La Ronde
A different country competes every Wednesday and Saturday evening starting the end of June and lasting to the end of July. For the best show experience, you need to purchase event tickets and watch the show at La Rond. If you wish to plan a very romantic evening, take a supper cruise in the heart of the St. Lawrence River and admire the fireworks from the deck of the AML Cruise ships. Besides, Casino de Montréal offers a nice terrace where you can have a drink and enjoy the fireworks. There are also many free options to see the fireworks such as the Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Old Port, and the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.
Old Port of Montreal
Best Family Activities
La Ronde Amusement Park
With so many thrill, family and kids rides, everyone can have fun at La Ronde. It is a great way to spend a full day and it is guaranteed that your children will have a blast. La Ronde also offers a wide selection of food and dining environments. Make sure to taste the “Beaver Tail” (Queues De Castor).
It’s an exciting, interesting and educational activity for the entire family and all ages. Here you will meet hundreds of animals living in four different ecosystems. Discover the Tropical Rainforest, Laurentian Maple Forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence and Sub-Antarctic Islands. The Biodome gives you the unique opportunity to observe how the animals and plants interact in their natural environments.
Montreal Cirque Festival
For about 10 days at the beginning of July each year, Montreal becomes a stage for all circus forms and expressions. In addition to many paid shows at various venues, the entire city converts to a stage. Downtown streets, parks, and sidewalks become platforms for great artists from all around the world. Spend an evening with your family on Saint-Denis Street and be ready to see performers everywhere, even on top of buildings.
What To Do On a Rainy Day
The Underground City
It is an extensive web of train/metro stations, restaurants and food courts, shopping centers, convention centers, art venues, exhibitions, universities, towers, hotels and more. All of which are interconnected through the underground street like tunnels. You could certainly spend the day shopping but you could also visit the wax museum Grévin (Eaton Centre), try ice skating at Atrium Le 1000 (1000 de La Gauchetière), or go to the Montreal’s 360° Observation Deck (Place Ville Marie) for breathtaking views from the 44th floor. All of the above without setting a foot outside and getting wet in the rain.
Best Day Trips
If you are in Montreal for a longer period and looking to explore outside the city, here are the best nearby activities.
International hot air Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
It takes place beginning of August every year and lasts about a week. Embark on a hot air balloon adventure of your own or have a picnic while watching the balloons take off. The hundreds of colorful balloons in the sky deliver an unforgettable site.
This is a beautiful region with many charming villages. You could try great restaurants using local ingredients; visit wineries and have tasting tours; explore local shops with homemade products; discover public markets, microbreweries and more. You could also choose to indulge and spend a day in one of the numerous spas.
It is the capital of the province of Quebec and one of the earliest settlements in North America. Delight in a walk in the scenic city center with its highlights – the Château Frontenac hotel and the La Citadelle fortress. Do not miss the lively old town with its charming small streets and colorful houses. Experience the unique ambiance of the Petit-Champlain area, take a bite at one of the cozy bistros, and taste the local craft beers.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac