Montreal is a big place. When you consider the Greater Montreal Area (GMA) it becomes even MORE intimidating to navigate. With the sheer number of options alone, we can often become paralyzed and end up spending our Saturday and Sunday afternoon in glued to our couches in sweatpants.
Well, I'm all for sweatpants and couches, but sometimes you have to get up off that couch and shake up your routine. It's time to explore the city! And these are the key spots that are totally worth visiting, in the summer and winter alike.
Over the next few pages, we'll be exploring some of the most beautiful areas of the city. Some are well-known classic, others are a little more hidden and quiet. Whatever they are, they made this list because they are without-a-doubt worth a visit.
Why it's better: Saint-Anne-De-Bellevue is a little piece of urban paradise right on our very island. It's where you can go to really get the impression that Montreal is, in fact, an island surrounded by rushing waters. In the summer, grab a pint on one of the many terraces scattered across the waterfront.
Why it's better: Senneville is as beautiful in the summer as in the winter. It's a quiet hidden gem on the West side of the island. Perfect for a Sunday walk with the dog if you're looking to get out of the city without having to drive more than 30 minutes.
Why it's better: Boasting stunning water-front views and miles upon miles of hiking trails, Parc-Nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques is the often forgotten natural gem of Montreal. If you're a fan of anything outdoors, especially in winter, consider driving a couple kilometres north to visit this beautiful park.
Why it's better: This nature park is right off the north shore of the island in Dollard Des Ormeaux and is the perfect spot to bring family and friends to get a breath of fresh air in the summer or the winter. There is a visitors centre where you can warm up and plenty of activities to do for everyone.
27. Ile de la Paix
Why it's better: Ile de la Paix is located off the island but still technically in the GMA. It's just a little south-west of Chateauguay and is the definition of a natural hidden gem. Visit in the summer for beautiful waterfront views and romantic sunsets.
Why it's better: Point-Aux-Anglais is boating paradise. You can also go swimming in the summer. It's only 40 minutes outside downtown Montreal and is the perfect way to spend an afternoon cooling off on the hot summer days in the city.
Why it's better: Oka is beautiful. Plain and simple. It's probably one of the most popular day trip destinations in Montreal for summer and winter. Home of Oka beach and the famous Beach Club, you're basically guaranteed to make some memories with a day trip to Oka.
24. Park La Fontaine
Why it's better: Known to Plateau dwellers as Parc Laf, this is hands-down one of Montreal's most precious and beautiful parks. Not only because it's size alone, but the overall vibe. It's the perfect spot for a picnic with friends in the summer or a skate in the winter.
23. Parc Extention
Why it's better: This Montreal Borough is one of my favourites: a visit to Parc Ex gives you a genuine slice of Montreal life. The melange of businesses in that area represents the spirit of our city. You find everything from ultra-trendy 3rd wave coffee shops to family-run dollar stores selling odd knick-knacks. Basically, you can spend an entire afternoon wandering the streets and never get bored.
Why it's better: The classics become classics for a reason. The St-Joseph Oratory will always and forever be a Montreal classic. When you gaze upon the sheer size of that place, you understand why. I love that you can see it from so many points in the city, too. This landmark will forever define the city.
21. Canal Lachine
Why it's better: A walk along the Lachine canal is not only scenic but takes you on a historical trip into Montreal's history and industrial past. This is a truly magical spot located right in the city.
Why it's better: This little man-made island located right off the south shore of Montreal is a perfect way to escape the chaos of downtown and is also home to dozens of outdoor winter and summer festivals.
Why it's better: Not only is the interior of this church is an architectural marvel, the square outside is also equally as memorable. It's one of my favourite spots in the entire city to visit. It's the perfect spot for original a romantic date idea.
Why it's better: Famous author Mark Twain once said about Montreal "you can't throw a stone without breaking a church window." Mark Twain was definitely right about this one. Montreal is home to many spectacular churches. One of them, St. James United Church, located right in the heart of downtown Montreal.
Why it's better: Filled with endless Instagram opportunities the Jean-Talon market is a many-a-Montrealers favourite weekend destination for grocery shopping or just plain aimless roaming and picture-taking.
Why it's better: Once a predominantly immigrant neighbourhood, the Mile-End is currently considered one of the trendiest neighbourhood in Montreal.
Why it's better: This is one of the most beautiful public parks in the city. Although on the smaller side, the city had set up some really awesome amenities in the park for all of us to enjoy. The pool is also great for those hot summer days.
Why it's better: Jeanne-Mance Park is another Montreal Classic. And it's a classic for a reason. It's the perfect park to spend a lazy summer afternoon and also the perfect place to go sledding or cross-country skiing in the winter.
13. Jacques-Cartier Pier
Why it's better: The Old Port itself should obviously make the list, however, there are so many awesome spots within the Old Port that are worth mentioning. My personal favs are all by the waterfront. In and around Jacques-Cartier Pier you will find lots of hidden alcoves that are perfect to share a bottle of wine with a friend on a summer night.
Why it's better: Palais des Congres is a truly unique space located right between China town and the Old Port. Making it a great destination for tourists and locals alike. The centre itself hosts some of the most popular conventions in the city.
Why it's better: Marche Bonsecours is located right in the heart of the Old Port and is a must-see for anyone visiting the neighbourhood. This historical landmark has been around for well over 100 years and is still used as a market.
Why it's better: Ever travel to the end of the blue line? Ever even been on the blue line!? If you answered "no" to either of those questions, this should be your next weekend adventure. This city has so much more to offer than just Plateau and downtown. St. Michel is not only home to the best weekend flea market, but other local restaurants and cafes that truly represent the city.
9. Belvedere Camillien-Houde
Why it's better: Named after the four-time mayor and politician Camillien Houde, this is the most popular Belvedere in all of Montreal. Boasting beautiful views of the downtown skyline and St-Lawrence river. This view never gets old.
Why it's better: Located right on the banks of the St. Lawrence river, this public and collective space is a city project and festival space open all year round. These are the kinds of spaces that make Montreal truly unique and beautiful.
7. Bassin Peel
Why it's better: Travel down eel street, past all the shiny new condo facades of dusty Griffintown and you will eventually hit a very special part of the canal, Bassin Peel. Here is where you can get the best view of the Landmark Farine Five Roses sign and a view of the water in the summer.
Why it's better: The text version of this borough is CDN, and it's one of my favs in Montreal. I'm biased because it's where I grew up, but it doesn't take away from the natural beauty and diversity found in this area. Some of the BEST restaurants in the city are found here, and the most stunning sights, like the St. Joseph Oratory. Spend an afternoon here, and you'll see what I'm talking about.
5. Little Italy
Why it's better: Little Italy is so much more than just Italian Restaurants, it's a booming neighbourhood where small businesses and restaurants are thriving. No trip to Montreal would be complete without a visit to this diverse and growing corner of the city.
Why it's better: Maghreb is the name given to the countries that make up Northern Africa, and this part of Jean-Talon Street East has been dubbed "little Maghreb". It's home to cafes and bars, such as cafe Safir pictured above.
Why it's better: Parc Maisonneuve is home to the Botanical Gardens, Montreal Biodome, and the Olympic stadium. The park itself is massive and has a cross-country skiing trails to enjoy in the winter and running trails in the summer. You have to visit this park at least once.
Why it's better: Without a doubt, my Montreal dream apartment would not be a newly built penthouse condo in the Old Port, but rather one of those beautiful and charming stone town house overlooking Square Saint-Louis. This is what Plateau dreams are made of.
Why it's better: This lively little park is where the late Leonard Cohen used to live and where you can find all kinds of unique and interesting characters hanging out in the summertime.