From humble beginnings as a French fur trading post, Montreal has developed into one of the most exciting, cosmopolitan cities in Canada. The island city lives and breathes its French connection through pride in its colonial history, dogged preservation of European architecture and a large majority of French-speaking citizens. This cultural identity is subtly written into the narrative of the city and is evident from the quaint bookshops and charming cafés that line the pretty cobblestone streets.
Soak up Montreal’s unique festival atmosphere in the bustling streets of the Downtown area. This vibrant district is home to the famous Quartier des Spectacles, which not only has 30 concert halls, including the Montreal Symphony House, but also hosts the über-cool Montreal International Jazz Festival.
With a year-round events programme that is the envy of far weightier cities, Montreal is a buzzing hub of music, comedy, film and fireworks. Furthermore, the excellent selection of hip bars, trendy hot-spots and top-notch restaurants means visitors can enjoy the finest evening entertainment without having to put in too much legwork.
The city is overflowing with beautiful buildings that traverse a range of architectural styles. Undoubtedly, the Notre Dame Basilica is one of the jewels in Québec’s religious crown. Admire its stunning Gothic-revival exterior before comparing it to St Joseph’s Oratory – the largest and arguably most majestic church in Canada.
At Old Port, spend a pleasant afternoon ambling along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. Enjoy sweeping views of the city skyline from the top of the old clock tower and keep an eye out for ships navigating the precarious Lachine Canal.
Afterwards, stroll around the colourful district of Plateau Mont-Royal. Browse the quaint bookshops or sip a coffee in one of the many charming cafés. This bohemian neighbourhood is home to a heady mix of musicians, artists and students who all contribute to its infectious laid-back vibe.
Shop til you drop in the busy boutiques of Saint Catherine Street and Underground City before heading to the Bonsecours Market to pick up some unique souvenirs lovingly hand-crafted by the finest artisans in Québec. Whether it's exquisite jewellery or restored 18th-century furniture, you’re sure to discover something really special.
Montreal absolutely deserves first place on any Canadian itinerary so why not check it out for yourself?