I already waxed on about my adoration for the city in my Best of Montréal post, but now it's time to get into the specifics. Aside from venturing through my list of top 13 cafés and restaurants that you should most definitely feed yourselves at, there are so many beautiful sights to see in this charming city.
The best way to travel a city is by simply wandering and getting lost. But if you have a shorter window of time to explore, it helps to have direction on which neighborhoods to target, depending on your interests. While I do love a good museum, I tend to be most interested in finding local little shops and the best sights of the city since I love to photograph all the scenery. So, my 8 Must-See's and Must-Do's of Montréal have a little bit of it all!
Located in Old Montréal, the Notre-Dame Basilica is truly one of my favorite cathedrals I've ever been to. Gorgeous design and the colorful lights are simply magical, especially during the holidays. I listed this first on this roundup because it was the first place I saw in the city, as my hotel was right across the street. Walking past it during the nighttime when it's all aglow was so beautiful. Typically $5 for adult admission, I think the experience is well worth it.
2. Mont Royal
Mont Royal is Montréal's Central Park, if you will, but elevated. During my hike up to the Chalet at the top during the wintertime, it was quite icy and cold, but the gorgeous view was well worth it. The second time I hiked it with my boyfriend, it was a gorgeous summer day to do this relatively easy hike. The only minorly strenuous part is the long staircase at the end to get up to the Chalet- but man, even the elderly Canadians were happily skipping up the stairs without breaking a sweat! Impressive. During the summer months, several park celebrations and events happen at the northern base of the park, such as the infamous Tam Tams every Sunday.
I am a total sucker for beautiful florals and plants, so this greenhouse that is attached to the Westmount Public Library is a dream. It's an Alice in Wonderland of greenery, as you wander from room to room to take all of the beauty in. We also saw a monarch up close for the first time, and we caught a fun video of it suckling the nectar out of the flowers! This greenhouse does Mother Nature justice, for sure.
Now for my personal favorite neighborhood of the city: Old Montréal and Old Port. I have many sweet memories here, and it is a truly romantic little area of the city. During the wintertime, they have the outdoors ice rink on Old Port, along with holiday lights and bonfires lining the streets. In the summertime, you get gorgeous sunsets, outdoor dining and drinking, and a strip of shopping fairs and ziplining. There are also several cruises and water activities like pedal-boats to enjoy. If you're looking for a little slice of NYC West Village meets European cobblestoned streets, you've found your neighborhood.
5. Marché Jean-Talon (Jean-Talon Market)
As evidenced from my Instagram, I love farmer's markets. So it should be no surprise that I sniffed out Montréal's main farmer's market within hours of arriving here during my first visit. Lots of gorgeous produce, fresh local seafood, wine, and of course, all the maple syrup Canada has to offer.
A bartender at L'Original described Mile-End to me as the Williamsburg/Brooklyn of Montréal. In this neighborhood, you'll find coffeeshops aplenty, little stores, adorably unique quirky houses, and a plethora of food options. Here is where you'll find Fairmount Bagel, St Viateur Bagel, Cafe Myriade, L'Gros Luxe, Comptoir 21, Station Epices (spice shop), the infamous bird-cage adorned flower shop that's so frequently Instagrammed, and a cute little bookstore called Librarie Drawn & Quarterly.
Canada's largest church, Saint Joseph's is unlike any other I've seen. The architecture is awe-inducing with sky-high ceilings and beautifully designed details. It was a beautifully serene space, and the view from high stories of the church oversees all the beautiful lights of the city. Unfortunately, my photos were captured in a hurry and you can't quite see the magnificence of it, but it was one of my favorite moments.
This is one place that is still on my bucket list to go see in the city. It's a bit further up north and wasn't convenient for me to get to with the time I had, but judging by all the beautiful photos I've seen of it, it's going to be well-worth the hike. Look at that greenery!