Oh Montreal! It is a beautiful city which is a perfect mix of old architecture and modern marvels. There is something beautiful, artistic, ancient, and modern to find everywhere you go around Montreal. Even something tasty! A traveller’s and foodie’s delight, there is a treasure for everyone in this inherently rich city. Please read on to find out about my experiences, and for some tips from my recent 2 day trip to Montreal.
Where we stayed: La Conciergerie – a Victorian style house built in 1885, turned into a guesthouse. The guesthouse has comfortable rooms, the location is great (very close to Berri UQAM which is the central metro station), and the breakfast is AMAZING! We stayed here for two nights, and awoke to the smell of freshly baked muffins and croissants each morning. Nothing says inviting like the warm aroma of freshly baked goodies when you step into the dining parlour for breakfast!
Note: Accommodation expenses can be quite high for a city such as Montreal. For a budget option, you can consider exploring hostels as well.
How we got around the city: The best way to travel around the city is on the metro and on foot. On day 1, we simply explored the city by walking around. On day 2, we took an all day pass and commuted to the different tourist spots via metro. Most of the population speaks French. However, even if you don’t, it is fine. You will be able to get around the city, and find help with touristy questions. People are friendly, and very helpful.
Tourist Attractions we visited:
Notre Dame Basilica
This is an enchantingly beautiful basilica, which boasts of a large centerpiece at the altar, and is surrounded by meaningful mosaic glass paintings depicting important events in the history of the city. Another awe-inspiring feature was the music balcony with 4 keyboards and 7000 pipes which help music echo in the hall! We were very lucky to witness the senior maestro play some classical tunes while we were visiting – Acoustic heaven! (Between 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm). There is also a wedding hall which in spite of a fire tragedy still stands renovated and beautiful as ever.
Right opposite the basilica is a picturesque town square with a beautiful fountain at the centre. Lovely for a photo-op.
Note: The entry charges were inexpensive, however they only accept cash. Make sure to carry actual cash!
This is an interesting science museum, with special focus on environment sustainability. The complete experience is subdivided into multiple halls, with each hall focussing on different aspects of the environment, and some with audio-visual aids to clarify the concepts being discussed. From the top of the Biosphere, you get a fantastic view of the city. Overall, the experience is a lot more useful if you are travelling with kids, to teach them about climate and environmental sustainability, but there is a thing or two to learn for adults as well.
Located near the Olympic stadium are attractions such as the Biodome, Planetarium, and Insectarium. We went for a tour of the Biodome (not to be confused with the Biosphere mentioned above), and there was an exciting display of different geographies with the flora and fauna native to those geographies. Once again, it is an experience that I imagine would be double the fun for kids. However, being a five year old trapped in the body of a human adult, I squealed when I saw the penguins, golden lion tamarin monkey, and macaws!
Special tip: The lineup to get tickets to Biodome, Planetarium, and Insectarium was around an hour long for each attraction. To save time, buy tickets online. We bought tickets online from the building itself and bypassed the hour-long lineup!
Mount Royal Park
The hill on which the park is situated, gives a spectacular view of Montreal. Fun fact – It is what gives the city its name as well (bet you said it in your head)! You cannot miss giving this serene park a visit! Go up to the lookout point for a breathtaking view of the city. It is not that far off from the point where the bus drops you off.
Note: The all-day pass for the metro works on the bus as well.
Due to lack of time, we were unable to visit the Botanical Gardens and the Museum of Fine Arts, which I absolutely wanted to. It is something that calls us back for another visit.
There are so many places to visit around Montreal. It is an architecturally beautiful city, and simply walking around the streets was pure delight. No only are there archaic looking buildings and fountains, but also some eye-catching street art!
I left a part of my heart in Montreal. Now I ache to go back.