10 must-see places in Montreal

A cosmopolitan city with almost two million residents, Montreal is also home to a fascinating variety of cultural, gastronomic and artistic attractions. Let us inspire you with a guide to ten star attractions for visitors to Canada's second-largest city.

Mount Royal Park

Mount Royal Park, overlooking one of the city's most important green spaces, is the highest point in Montreal and is one of the city's iconic meeting spots. Designed in 1879 by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York, the main objective of the park was to protect Mount Royal from developers. It covers a total area of more than 343 hectares and is abound with shrubs and flowers, making it  a genuine habitat for hundreds of species. Alongside a vast network of paths and stairways, the park is also full of magnificent scenic observation points, giving visitors breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings.

Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal

Built between 1824 and 1829, the Notre-Dame Basilica is the most important monument in Old Montreal and plays a central role in the city's Catholic heritage. It was designed by the Irish architect James O'Donnell, and its original interior design was replaced in the 1870s.

The Notre-Dame Basilica brings together all the elements of the Romantic aesthetic with its imposing size, its neo-Gothic style and the beauty of its decorative features. Its medieval-style interior consists of walnut wood sculptures, stained glass windows and a blue vaulted ceiling decorated with 24-carat gold stars. It is also home to one of the biggest Casavant organs in North America.

The basilica still plays an important role in the day-to-day religious life of the city.

The Musée d’Art contemporain and the Museum of Fine Arts

The Musée d’Art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) in the heart of the entertainment district was founded by the Quebec government in 1964 with the aim of preserving and promoting contemporary art in Quebec. It is home to a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art, as well as temporary exhibitions of artwork by artists from Quebec, Canada and all around the world. Visitors can admire paintings, sculptures, audio and digital creations, and much more in a welcoming and modern architectural setting. On 24 March 2016, the Grand Prix du Conseil des arts de Montréal recognised the MAC for the quality of its exhibitions and its museological equipment.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts dates back to 1860 and is the most visited museum in Canada today, with more than a million visitors every year. It extends over several buildings – the fifth building will be unveiled in November 2016 – and is ideally located in the heart of downtown Montreal. It boasts of a massive collection of more than 41,000 works of art, dating from Antiquity to the present day. Its temporary exhibitions include original artwork focusing on many disciplines.

The Olympic Park

Montreal's Olympic Park was built for the Olympic Games in 1976 and has since become one of the symbols of the city. The park's attractions include the Montreal Tower, the Olympic Stadium, the Sports Centre and the Esplanade Financière Sun Life. The top of the tower can be reached by cable car and offers outstanding views of the city. At 165 metres high and leaning at a 45-degree angle, it is also the tallest inclined tower anywhere in the world.

The Olympic Stadium and the Esplanade play host to all types of events throughout the year, such as shows, exhibitions, sporting events, etc. The Olympic Park celebrates its 40th birthday in 2016, and has organised a special anniversary programme to mark the occasion.

"The Plateau"

The Plateau neighbourhood is to the east of Mount Royal. Diverse and mostly French-speaking, it is at the same time the most densely populated and most representative neighbourhood in the city. The area's unique character comes from its houses, with their iconic winding outdoor staircases in forged iron, as well as its multitude of shops, restaurants, cafés and terraces, all of which make the Plateau an especially pleasant place to live or work. And if that wasn't enough, it also has the added bonus of La Fontaine Park and the University right at its doorstep to give the neighbourhood even more colour.

Saint Joseph's Oratory

The largest church in Canada and the third-largest oratory in the world, Saint Joseph's Oratory was inaugurated in 1904 and completed in 1967. As well as being a place of worship and of historical interest, it is also the most important pilgrimage site dedicated to St. Joseph, receiving nearly 2 million visitors every year.

Situated on the north-western flank of Mount Royal, the Oratory dominates the skyline with its imposing outline. Its size alone is a sight to behold: 105m in length, 97m in height to the top of the cross, 37m wide for the nave and 65m for the transepts.

Its gardens are also home to a life-sized Way of the Cross decorated with sculptures representing the Passion of Christ, a piece of work which took Quebec sculptor Louis Parent 10 years to complete.

Shopping on Saint Catherine Street

Montreal's premier shopping street, Saint Catherine Street, stretches over 11.2 km from west to east. The first sections of the street opened in 1758. The street originally bore the name of Saint Genevieve, but was renamed after Saint Catherine at the beginning of the 19th century. Today, it is home to nearly 1200 boutique shops and department stores, as well as shopping malls. This vibrant and much-loved street is sure to be throbbing with activity whatever the time of day or night.

Jean-Talon Market

The Jean-Talon Market is the largest open-air public market in North America and the oldest in Montreal. It was first established in 1933 and named in honour of the first intendant of the then colony of New France. Located in Montreal's Little Italy district, it welcomes 2.5 million visitors every year. And all year round, those visitors are spoilt for choice by the array of fresh produce, plants and aromatic herbs on offer.

Parc Jean-Drapeau

The Parc Jean-Drapeau encompasses two islands in the middle of the Saint-Lawrence River, Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame. As part of the preparations to accommodate the Expo 67 World Fair and its 60 host nations, Île Sainte-Hélène was enlarged, whilst Île Notre-Dame was entirely man-made. When the event was over and after most of the installations had been dismantled, the site was redeveloped and renamed as Parc Jean-Drapeau, in honour of the mayor who was behind the organisation of Expo 67. The famous Biosphere, which was the United States pavilion for the World Fair in 1967, still exists today and has been converted into a museum.

Today, this green space continues to attract visitors in its own right as host to a wide range of cultural, sporting and musical events. It includes an aquatics complex, a beach, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, gardens, a casino, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve racing track and the La Ronde amusement park.


Montreal loves its festivals like no other city. More than 100 events are held over the course of the year, offering something for lovers of music, comedy, food, fashion and much much more.

The city is particularly renowned for the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which takes place downtown over a period of 10 days every year and welcomes 3,000 original artists from 30 different countries, 1,000 concerts and more than 2 million visitors, and which is considered by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest jazz festival in the world. 

Our office in Montreal

Montreal was Mirabaud's first international office, opened in 1985. It provides management services for private and institutional clients as well as bespoke financial services.

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