Talk to any Montrealer and they’ll tell you, our city is far from perfect….but then again, which city is?
With its potholes turning into sinkholes, its government corruption and its never-ending constructions sites, Montreal often makes it very hard to even like her. On the other hand, with its many summer festivals and events, it is also hard to stay mad at her for too long.
Montreal is one of those places that will have you bedazzled about your time here. From the metros and buses running late to some of the worst attractions this side of the continent (for more on this, check my article on the 4 Things I Love to Hate About Montreal).
But as we look past all its imperfections, we discover a city that feels good to visit and live in. A place where people from all over the world, including myself, call their home.
Here are my favorite things about Montreal:
One of the best things about Montreal is how multicultural this city is. Over 120 different communities actually live in Montreal, making Montreal one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
This is easy to witness on a simple stroll through any of Montreal’s main arteries.
Think of Chinese, Korean, Italian, Peruvian, Colombian, Ethiopian, Indian, Bengali food. Well, Montreal has them all, and more than one on top of that!
Country-specific supermarkets are also present throughout the city (Hungarian, Jamaican, Haitian, Romanian, and soooo many more!).
Montreal’s multicultural scene also transcends into the arts, with the city boasting many shows throughout the year showcasing multicultural talent.
Its Many Festivals
Montreal is one of the best, if not the BEST city where to spend summer; and this, thanks to the many festivals, including many free outdoor shows, happening throughout the city.
From June to August, Montreal is home to so many music and comedy festivals, many of which are known from around the world.
Think of the Montreal Jazz Fest and the Just for Laughs festivals, two of the world renowned fests happening in the city. There is also the Cirque du Soleil performances at the Old Port and the Weekends du Monde festival (a 2-weekends long festival displaying Montreal’s best cultural acts, performances and food.
Its Real Attractions & Sights
Old Montreal & The Old Port
Busy and overcrowded during the summer months, Old Montreal and the Old Port are actually two of the nicest venues in Montreal.
Old Montreal is the oldest part of the city, with many of its buildings dating back from the New France era. Cobblestone streets and old structures adorn the many restaurants and bars through its main artery, Saint Paul street.
Some of the sights to see within the Old Montreal are the Notre-Dame Basilica, Bonsecours market (a public market), and City Hall.
The Montreal Old Port is a 2KM long stretch bordering the Saint Laurent river. Although the Old Port has maintained some of its old industrial look overtime, it is still a nice place worth a visit. In July 2017 the city added a Ferris wheel allowing for a better view of the Montreal’s skyscrapers on the other side of the city.
One of the downsides of both sites is the price tag that comes with spending any time visiting them. A restaurant meal or a drink will set you back a few dollars more than the same in any other part of the city. Both places are also overcrowded during nights and weekends, so it is best to get there by foot or using public transportation. Finally, please do not ride those horse carriage rides; not only do they create insane traffic in the area but also some of these horses are overworked.
Mount Royal Park
“The Mountain”, as it is known locally, Mount Royal Park is the nicest and one of the biggest green areas within the city near downtown.
The mountain offers a short but fairly good steep hike towards the top. Otherwise the top can be reached by walking through the paved road.
On Sundays during summertime, the mountain plays host to an event called Les Tams Tams, an event where both locals and tourists congregate at the bottom of the mountain to play djembe drums.
In front of the mountain is Jeanne-Mance Park, another big green area in Montreal. This park is a favorite for locals to congregate during the summer months for various sport activities (soccer and volleyball mainly).
The Best Views of the City
The best views of the city are from the Le Belvedere viewpoint in Mount Royal Park, and from Jean-Drapeau Park on Saint-Helene island.
The Belvedere on Mount Royal offers the best view of the skyline of our city. Tall buildings from the downtown of the city with the outskirts of the city as its background.
Jean-Drapeau Park offers the absolute best view of the Montreal Old Port, with the city’s skyline in the background. The Montreal Casino, the biodome, the rose garden and a huge-but-ridiculously-expensive amusement park (La Ronde).
Saint Joseph Oratory
Started in 1904 and completed in 1967, the Saint Joseph oratory is the largest church in Canada, and has a capacity for about 100,000 people.
The dome of the oratory can also be seen from many parts within the city, and it is one of the most recognisable sights in Montreal.
Many of the pictures for this article are a courtesy of JALQPhotography, a very talented Montreal-based photographer and a personal friend of mine. Check out his website here, or view his work on Instagram here.