While the USA’s tourism industry is experiencing something of a slump, Canada’s appeal continues to attract holidaymakers from all over the world. The reasons are multifold; extraordinarily beautiful and vast wildlife (a camper’s paradise), the hearty comfort food (bacon and waffles, anyone?), the multicultural and modern cities (renowned even on a global scale) and, of course, the warm and wholesome culture.
One of the aforementioned Canadian cities is Montreal, Quebec. If you are unsure where to start your Canadian adventure, consider this trendy city as an excellent starting point. Epitomizing everything that makes Canada great while also being a melting point of different cultures, Montreal offers the best of both worlds. A pioneering place in many ways; there’s something here to impress everyone. Here are the reasons why you will love Montreal…
Montreal will welcome you with open arms.
This French-speaking city in Ontario is young, friendly and tolerant. With a population of four million, Montreal is also highly multicultural – a fact evidenced from the rich variety of street food, art and music that permeates the city.
You can enjoy a one-of-a-kind shopping experience…
In Montreal’s underground city, RÉSO, visitors will discover a large network of shops and cafes spread across several levels. Escape the winter cold or summer heat be delving into this world of 1,600 high-end boutiques, souvenir stores and coffee shops. The underground complex is well illuminated and climate controlled. Approximately half a million people go through RÉSO everyday which, together with its enormous size, makes it the biggest and most popular underground city in the world. You’ll be able to access RÉSO at various points throughout the city, including bus terminals, metro stations, hotels and parks.
…as well as the very unique Montreal Biodome.
The largest natural science museum in Canada can be found right here in Montreal. The complex is called ‘Space for Life’ and includes the Montreal Insectarium, Botanical Garden, Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and of course – the world-famous Montreal Biodome. This particular section can be found at the city’s Olympic Park (originally constructed for the 1976 games). So what is it? The Montreal Biodome allows you to walk through four replicas of American ecosystems. As beautiful as they are educational, the ecosystems mirror the South American rainforest, North American wilderness, Arctic-Antarctic region and Gulf of Saint Lawrence estuary. Each section is found inside the velodrome (cycling stadium used during the Olympics) and features all the animals, plants and environmental conditions necessary to make the exhibit a realistic and accurate simulation of their respective ecosystems.
There’s an innovative art scene to behold…
There’s a new exciting art exhibition to check out in Montreal each week. If you’re a lover of classical arts, head to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where you’ll find incredible sculptures, paintings, sketches and decorations. Arsenal Montreal and Division Gallery, meanwhile, is filled to the brim with fantastic art from modern (and often local artists). However the most prestigious contemporary art museum in Montreal has to be The Musée d’art Contemporain which boasts a fascinating collection featuring many big names in the industry. You don’t have to pop into a gallery to enjoy Montreal’s art, though – the city offers plenty of street art to be seen all year round just from walking about.
…plus plenty of restaurants and cafes for the foodie.
From award-winning dining establishments to quaint little pastry shops, you’ll be able to get your foodie fix here in Montreal. Some famous local dishes include Fairmount bagels, smoked meat, steamed mustard-topped hot dogs, poutine and the ‘Foie Gras Double Down’.
While that might sound a little meaty, vegetarians and vegans can rest assured there’s plenty of trendy and tasty places serving up delicious meat-free dishes all throughout the city – Lola Rosa Cafe and ChiChai are two places to look out for!
Montreal prides itself on stylish design…
The architectural innovativeness of Montreal can not be understated. There is a fantastic mix of old and new architectural styles from both the past French and British colonizations. The Roman Catholic basilicas (of which there are four) should not be missed by any fans of Gothic architecture. Canada’s largest church is also found in Montreal – the beautiful St Joseph’s Oratory. These historical buildings are uniquely juxtaposed against the modern skyscrapers and avant garde architecture found throughout the rest of the city.
Montreal celebrates at least 90 festivals each year.
There’s a reason Montreal is known as a ‘city of festivals’. In total, Montreal hosts about 90 festivals annually – some very local and traditionally Canadian in nature, others international and high profile. Summer is the season during which most festivals take place – meaning you’re in for a treat of fireworks, parades, street food, markets and night-long parties if you happen to plan your trip around these events.
Montreal has a fantastic nightlife….
Festivals are of course not the only time the people of Montreal like to party. This is a city that never sleeps, with hundreds of historical or conceptual bars offering a unique drinking experience. Join the Montreal Craft Beer Tour for a night of artisan beer tasting, or pop into one of Montreal’s award-winning cocktail bars like the famous and darkly atmospheric Cold Room or the very glamorous Atwater Cocktail Club.
…not to mention one of the most impressive casinos in Canada.
Three interconnected buildings, six floors, 3,200 slot machines, 115 game tables, four restaurants, three bars and a cabaret; one could spend an entire weekend in the enormous Montreal Casino. Located on the Notre Dame Island, this luxurious gambling establishment is also surrounded by luscious greenery and lakes. Together with a number of distinguished casinos across the city, the Montreal Casino and its many poker tournaments makes Montreal a poker capital in Canada. Of course, it’s not surprising that Montreal should have a strong poker culture – the city is home to one of the most popular poker sites in the entire world…
…but PokerStars isn’t the only famous international brand to have come out of Montreal.
Air Canada, Breakglass Studios and American Apparel were founded in Montreal, with many other big businesses having moved their headquarters to the city. Business students, entrepreneurs, investors and startups will find Montreal offers a lot of exciting networking, conference and workshop opportunities within the field of business. Montreal was once, after all, the financial center of Canada.
Winter sports enthusiasts will feel right at home!
What is Canada without winter sports? There’s a reason the Canadian hockey team is one of the greatest in the world – this country has a way with snow. Check out one of Montreal’s many ice rinks, or drive one and a half hours outside of Montreal to Mont Tremblant for excellent ski slopes. Then of course there’s Igloofest – an outdoors winter music festival that sees a number of DJs put on amazing electronic concerts. Dancing is a sport too!
Families can treat their kids to a Six Flags amusement park.
Those looking for some amusement park thrills can visit Montreal’s La Ronde where they’ll find roller-coasters, ferris wheels, waterslides and a whole number of heart-stopping rides. It’s a treat for children and adults alike!
Finally, it’s budget friendly…
With plenty of cheap eats, $11 per night hostels and a reliable public transport system, it’s perfectly possible to explore Montreal on a modest budget.
…and very green!
We’re not just talking about Montreal’s many tranquil parks when we say this city is green. Montreal is committed to promoting environmental friendly and responsible practises when it comes to transport, recycling, waste disposal and energy. Montreal consistently ranks high on the list of most eco-friendly destinations in the world – so you can enjoy a guilt-free holiday too!