Enjoy this guest post by Jessica Stark (
@jessstark9). Photo by Manu_H on Flickr.
In every town or city across the world there’s something unique to see. Those places aren’t always the ones where tourists flock, but they may be. Montreal, Canada, is no exception. There are many beautiful and interesting sites to visit in Montreal and one way to find out which sites the locals are most proud of is to ask them. If you can’t do that we’ve compiled a short list of destinations to get you started. Just remember to pack your passport and your English-to-French dictionary, and purchase some travel medical insurance valid in Canada before you leave home.
The history of Old Montreal reaches back to 1642 when French settlers made their home on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Through the years that small settlement grew into a fortified city, a commercial and political hub, a star of the Industrial Revolution and today it’s the historic center of a thriving, modern city. Take a self-guided walking tour through the area or join a guided tour to learn more. Old Montreal is the location of several important sites including the Montreal World Trade Centre, the Canadian Music Centre and at least 6 different museums. Yes, it’s a common destination for tourists, but if you haven’t visited Old Montreal you haven’t seen the city’s heart.
The Jean-Talon open-air market isn’t the trendiest market in Montreal, but for a genuine experience of the city it’s a must-see. The market is literally in the center of the city and is close to Little Italy so be sure to stop for cappuccino and a dish of pasta when you’re finished strolling through the market. Shop with locals for fresh produce, regional delicacies like maple syrup ice wine, gourmet faire and picnic staples. Find the market on the corner of Henri-Julian and Jean-Talon streets.
Photo bt Veloheart on Flickr
While you’re touring Old Montreal make time to visit the Notre-Dame Basilica and the nearby seminary and Sacred Heart Chapel. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the Neo-Gothic architecture. In fact, the Basilica’s original architect only converted to Catholicism so he could be buried under his beloved cathedral. When the Basilica opened in 1829 it was the largest religious building in North America. Be aware that visitors are not allowed during Saturday and Sunday services.
The Montreal Tower
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Olympics in 1976, you can still enjoy the breathtaking architecture of the Olympic Stadium and take a ride to the top of the 165-meter high Montreal Tower. The Tower is an architectural wonder that shouldn’t be missed. If you thought the 5-degree tilt of the Tower of Pisa looked precarious you’ll be shocked by the 45-degree angle at which the Montreal Tower leans. Passengers can ascend the tower in a funicular that is innovatively designed to remain horizontal as it climbs.
Photo by Antonellomusina’s Photostream on Flickr
Don’t leave Montreal without a stop at the oldest delicatessen in the city. Schwartz’s was established in 1928 and is beloved by Montreal locals for their authentic cuisine and specialty smoked meats. When eating at Schwartz’s counter or standing in line for take-out you’ll feel like a true Montreal local and might even rub elbows with some of the restaurant’s famous patrons like Celine Dion.
Montreal is a city with many charms and many attractions to enjoy. Perhaps the best way to experience any large suburban area is to visit the more famous sites like Montreal’s Basilica and also make time for less glamorous destinations such as the Jean-Talon market. This way you’ll get a chance to appreciate the amazing achievements of the city as well as its amazing people.