Montreal: the Canadian city that never sleeps. It is creative, artistic, captivating and always trending. With more to do than you might have time for, the second-largest city in Canada makes it difficult to leave and always easy to return to. Next time, venture off the beaten path and explore these 23 hidden gems in Montreal.
1. River Surfing
Saint Lawrence River
Not many rivers in the world have waves big enough to attract surfers. Walk along the Saint Lawrence River (near Habitat 67) and you’re sure to find surfers enjoying the standing wave. Give it a try yourself; surf lessons are available.
2. River Rafting
© Luc Girouard
© Anton Fercher
Buckle up for an exhilarating adventure on the Lachine Rapids by jet boat or raft in LaSalle. Rafting Montreal offers a few different excursions and each is guaranteed to be memorable.
3. Festival Fun
© Canadian Tourism Commission
Whether it’s pride, jazz, tango or poutine, you can bet Montreal has an entire festival dedicated to celebrating some of the city’s favourite music, food and culture. Check out this full list of Montreal festivals to help plan your next visit.
4. Lachine Canal
© Canadian Tourism Commission, Pierre St-Jacques
Perfect for an afternoon bike ride, the Lachine Canal has a great path running through Montreal and along the Saint Lawrence River. Bikes can be rented near the canal at My Bicyclette across from the Atwater Market.
5. Street Murals
Saint Laurent Boulevard
Explore the vibrant murals along Saint Laurent Boulevard. The street art found in this area is also where Montreal’s annual Mural Festival takes place.
6. Sunday Tam-Tams
Each Sunday, dozens gather at the foot of Mount Royal Park to listen to drummers improvise at Tam-Tams. This free weekly festival sees drummers, larpers, slackliners and tourists collaborate for a day of music and dancing.
7. Floating Spa
© Canadian Tourism Commission
Bota Bota is a spa that floats on the Saint Lawrence River located at the Old Port, meaning you’ll get great views of Montreal. This floating spa experience offers a water circuit, massages and several other relaxing treatments.
8. Flamenco Thursdays
4848 Boul St-Laurent
La Sala Rosa is a unique venue and restaurant in Montreal that boasts a rotating weekly menu and an impressive free flamenco show every Thursday evening.
9. Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery
Flickr/Steve Browne & John Verkleir Follow
Visit the largest cemetery in Canada and admire the grounds and numerous monuments spread throughout its hundreds of acres. Over 1 million bodies rest in peace at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges.
10. Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel
© Tourisme Montréal, Mathieu Dupuis
Sometimes known as The Sailors’ Church, this chapel is unique because of its storied past and you'll find many miniature ship votives hanging from the ceiling.
11. Jean-Talon Market
© Tourisme Montréal© Tourisme Montréal
This large farmers market is a favourite among Montreal foodies and is located in the Italian district of the city. The Jean-Talon Market is open year-round and is one of the largest in North America. Snack on tacos from El Rey Del Taco and then scoop dessert at Havre Aux Glaces.
12. Chez Mein
3754 Boul St-Laurent
Nothing hits the spot quite like late-night eats and it doesn’t get cheaper than $2 noodles. Chez Mein has been serving chow mein to students and partiers for years and these delicious peanut butter noodles are worth every penny.
13. Cat Cafes
Montreal is currently home to, not one, not two, but three cat cafes for all you feline enthusiasts out there. Visit Café Venosa, Le Café des Chats or Café Chat L’Heureux to enjoy a cup of coffee in the company of kitties.
14. Le Doggy Café
4493 Avenue Papineau
More of a dog person? Le Doggy Café on Papineau encourages people to BYOP (that's bring-your-own-puppy) in to the restaurant, making it a perfect hangout for both dogs and dog lovers.
15. Surf & Dine
Yann RoyThe surf's always up at Oasis Surf, another Montreal spot where you’re sure to find surfers and spectators. This one-of-a-kind complex has a full menu, daily specials and features indoor waves for both beginners and experts.
16. Poutine Heaven
You can't leave Montreal without indulging in a traditional plate of poutine at least once. Pair yours with a steamed hot dog at La Belle Province, try one of the many variations at La Banquise, or splurge at Au Pied de Cochon for their special foie gras poutine.
17. Big in Japan
Le Plateau Mont-Royal
Flickr/Heidi De Vries
It’s easy to miss the tiny ‘bar’ sign at this elegant and upscale bar, but it is sure to impress those who do find it. At Big in Japan you’ll be treated to great staff, good food and premium drinks.
18. Gibeau Orange Julep
The iconic orange sphere might stick out like a sore thumb but it's a favourite restaurant among locals. Gibeau Orange Julep has been serving their classic orange soda and other delicious foods since 1932. Each meal comes with a free side of nostalgia.
19. Kem CoBa Ice Cream
Trust us, the handmade ice cream at Kem CoBa justifies the queue. No matter which treat you choose at this trendy Mile End joint, it's guaranteed to be packed with flavour.
20. Clock Tower Beach
© Old Port of Montréal, Miguel Legault
Who says you can't find a beach on an inland river, smack dab in the middle of a city? Hidden in plain site, Clock Tower Beach definitely qualifies as a Montreal gem. Admission is just $2, and it's open until 7 p.m. during summer.
21. Habitat 67
© Alexi Hobbs
This unusual housing complex was designed for Montreal’s Expo in 1967 by an Israeli-Canadian architect. It represents some of the most unique architecture in the city.
22. Verger Labonté
Less than 30 minutes from Montreal, Verger Labonté is now open for the season and provides wholesome entertainment for the whole family. The orchard is located on Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot and offers corn mazes, apple picking and fun seasonal events.
23. The Laurentides
North of Montreal
Extend your Quebec getaway by heading north to enjoy the natural beauty of the Laurentian Mountains. Saint-Sauveur, Sainte-Adèle and Sainte-Agathes-des-Monts are just a few of the quaint villages in the Laurentides region that make for a great day trip from Montreal.
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