Never mind Saint Joseph's Oratory - your foreign relatives will want a taste of the REAL Montreal when they come to visit. It's always nice to show people all the tourist attractions you can find in a travel brochure, but most of the time the best memories of a city take place in the unexpected, non-touristy locations. Montreal has so much to offer in terms of culture and all things unique when it comes to a city, so here's a list of things to do with your foreign visitors when they come to Montreal.
1. Mount Royal/Tam Tams
Mount Royal on a Sunday is a completely different place from what it is during any other day of the week and should be experienced by everyone at least once. If you've never been to Tam Tams and seen the drum circles and medieval role playing that goes down, you should get yourself over there ASAP, as well as your visiting foreigners. If you can't make it on a Sunday, the mountain is home to many walking and hiking trails as well as grassy spots perfect for a picnic. The monument for Sir George-Etienne Cartier is a great starting point and is also within walking distance to other Montreal hubs such as St Laurent.
2. Boul. St Laurent and the murals
A few weeks ago Montreal hosted a Mural Festival where street artists from all over painted over many of the murals in the city with amazing new works of art. Montreal has an awesome street artist scene and many of the murals were painted on and around boul. St Laurent, making it easy to take in these huge works of art and to impress your visitors.
3. Jardins Gamelin
The Jardins Gamelin have become quite well-known in the city for this summer and for good reason. It's such a relaxing place to chill, the decor is super eclectic and pretty, there's a huge art installation made to look like the Northern Lights, and they serve alcohol Thursday through Sunday! It's pretty much one of the most perfect places to really show your foreign peeps what a Montreal terrace is supposed to feel like on a nice summer night.
4. Old Port
The Old Port seems like a typical place to take some out-of-towners, and it definitely can be, unless you don't want to spend a ton of money. The place is chalk full of high-end restaurants and galleries, but you don't have to go into any of them to show your relatives a great time. The place is beautiful in itself, what with all of its old architecture and cobblestone streets, and taking a walk by the water and watching all of the expensive yachts can be fun without spending a dime. There's also a new pirate ship-themed adventure course and ziplines to ogle at, and not to mention the Peur Depot haunted house.
It would not be a proper visit to Montreal without eating a proper bagel. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world that does bagels like Montreal does, and St Viateur is a prime example of these delicious circles of heaven. If the St Viateur locations aren't convenient for you then there's also Bagel de l'Ouest on boul. des Sources in the West Island - it's equally as delicious and perfect.
6. St Anne de Bellevue
A visit to Montreal cannot be completed by solely spending it in the downtown area, which is why we've included the beautiful St Anne de Bellevue. A little out of the way from most of the city's more exciting spots, St Anne has the perfect combination of beauty and entertainment. Abundant in water-side terraces, the boardwalk is a great place to see and be seen, what with the locks and all the sick boats that have to stop and wait to go through. St Anne de Bellevue also has an Ecomuseum, the only outdoor zoo in Montreal! All year round you can see different species of animals such as bears, wolves, coyotes, eagles, and more. Who said you have to spend all that money at the Biodome?
What better way to show your visitors around than doing it like a true Montrealer? Bixis are the perfect way to do something really touristy and see all the sights while still retaining authenticity. There's a reason why Bixis are so popular in Montreal, and it's because they are SO convenient, with Bixi stands located all over the city your visitors can still see some of those tourist traps if they so desire. We recommend a bike ride along the Lachine Canal to really get a taste for how beautiful Montreal is.