Old Montreal: A Walking Itinerary With The Best Streets And Sights [SUMMER 2018]

Place Jacques Cartier - Romantic Things to Do in Old Montreal

There are so many things to do in Old Montreal and so many sights to see that it can be hard for neophytes to know which way to go; with its cobblestone streets filled with history and its European sophistication, the area is definitely a crowd-pleaser!

To help you enjoy your time there as much as possible, I put together an Old-Montreal walking itinerary that I think will be helpful for first-timers in the city; it includes must-see stops as well as picturesque streets you don’t want to miss.

ADDITIONAL READING: OLD PORT MONTREAL: 15+ AMAZING THINGS YOU CAN’T MISS

But let’s start by making something very clear: I absolutely forbid you to visit Old-Montreal by car Not only is it terribly unpractical (try and find parking in these streets, see if you still think I lied), but it also ruins the whole Old-World experience (21st-century transportation doesn’t exactly scream 17th-century charm). Instead, do like the locals: take the métro.

Things to Do in Old Montreal

Place Jacques Cartier

Place Jacques Cartier - Things to do In Old Montreal Old Montreal - Place Jacques-Cartier

Inevitably, your stroll will take you to the beautiful Place Jacques Cartier, named after one of the discoverers of Canada, where you’ll find several overpriced restaurants as well as buskers and ice cream vendors.

Despite the tacky feel (touristy things are touristy for a reason, right?), it’s definitely worth a visit – Place Jacques Cartier will definitely make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The architectural ensemble of New France buildings is well worth a visit.

Old Montreal Food Tour

things to do in old montreal
things to do in old montreal
 

Gone are the days where Old Montreal was an absolute no-go for local foodies, who were not enthused by the touristy and overpriced offering; the district has gone through a culinary rebirth over the past decade and is now home to mouth-watering restaurants and markets.

The Old Montreal Food Tour takes visitors around the historic cobblestone streets of North America’s most European neighbourhood, with highlights like fancy poutine, gluten-free sweets, craft beers, and many other yummy things, in addition to several of the landmarks listed in this article.

localfoodtours.com

Basilique Notre-Dame

Basilique Notre-Dame - Things to Do in Old Montrealthings to do in old montreal

Built in the Gothic Revival style, the church is sumptuously trimmed and is rather extravagant; starting with the atypical stained glass which depicts scenes related to Montreal’s religious history instead of traditional biblical scenes, and, of course, with the deep blue ceiling adorned with thousands of golden stars.

Musicophiles will also want to take a look at the 1891, 7000-pipe organ, one of the most impressive of its kind.

Entry costs just $5 in the daytime. “And Then There Was Light“, an underrated sound and light show detailing the history of the church, takes place in the evening Tuesday through Saturday.

basiliquenotredame.ca/en

Saint-Paul Street

visit old montreal things to do in old montreal

Stroll along the cobblestones of charming St-Paul Street, one of Montreal’s most enviable stretches. It’s one Montreal’s second oldest, with the earliest cobblestones dating back to 1672; for many years served as the city’s main thoroughfare.

Much to my dismay, there seems to be an overabundance of tourist shops on either sides of the street along Place Jacques Cartier; but venture out a little further and you’ll find high-end dining, classy cafés and quiet leafy squares all to yourself. Not to mention the beautiful Notre-Dame-du-Bonsecours Chapel on the eastern end.

Just be mindful of the horse carriages. You’ll inevitably walk past one along the way!

Things to do in Old Montreal: The Museums

Musée d'histoire de Montréal - Things to Do in Old Montreal Château Ramezay - Things to Do in Old Montreal

While the leading art museums are located in the downtown core of Montreal, fittingly enough the historical ones are almost exclusively scattered across the old town.

From the precise spot where the first building was built in Montreal inside Pointe à Callière to the multisensorial exhibits over at the Science Centre and the stunning setting of Centre d’histoire de Montréal, the choice is yours.

Bonsecours Market

things to do in old montreal

Down Saint-Claude Street is the gigantic 150-year-old Bonsecours Market, the oldest and largest public market in Montreal.

Even though its mission changed a bit throughout the years (it now houses upscale cafés and boutiques instead of potatoes and pork chops), it’s still a major piece of French-Canadian architecture and one that shouldn’t be neglected.

marchebonsecours.qc.ca

CENTRE PHI & DHC ART

Is modern art up your sleeve? Old Port Montreal is home to two state-of-the-art galleries –Centre Phi and DHC Art, namely – that regularly host and create contemporary, thought-provoking exhibits.

dhc-art.org

phi-centre.com

SPA SCANDINAVE OR BOTA BOTA

Things To Do in Old Montreal - Spa on a Boat

If your legs can no longer endure the hilly streets of Old Montreal, then perhaps you should consider a brief (or lengthy, depending on your schedule) stop at one of the city’s best and most-loved spas.

Spa Scandinave features outstanding Nordic in a contemporary setting, while the Bota Bota is a little more whimsical as it is located on a permanently docked boat lulled by the rhythm of the St. Lawrence River.

scandinave.com

botabota.ca

things to do in old montreal
things to do in old montreal
things to do in old montreal
 

things to do in old montreal
things to do in old montreal
 

Beautiful Streets of Old Montreal

Cafés on rue Saint-Paul - Things to Do in Montreal
Facades of Old Montreal
Facades of Old Montreal
 
Restaurants in Old Montreal

Old Montreal Walking Itinerary

Old Montreal Hotels + Restaurants + Bars + Cafés
 

things to do in montreal city guide

For even more things to do in Montreal as well as restaurant suggestions, local photography tips, pre-set itineraries, and exclusive discounts, get the Montreal city guide for just $9. It contains everything I know and love about Montreal!

78 Comments on Old Montreal: A Walking Itinerary With The Best Streets And Sights [SUMMER 2018]

  1. Jeremy
    May 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow, you took some really stunning photos. I visited Montreal at age 18, but that was because I just wanted to be able to drink beer legally. I walked through the old quarter but I would love to go back now and really take it all in, thanks for sharing!!!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      July 6, 2012 at 11:09 am (6 years ago)

      Not all photos are mine, but they are stunning ideed!

      Reply
      • Jim
        December 24, 2015 at 10:07 am (3 years ago)

        Can you recommend a romantic bed and breakfast/hotel

      • Marie-Eve
        December 28, 2015 at 9:50 am (3 years ago)

        Hotel Nelligan, Auberge du Vieux Port.

      • Genese Hewston
        March 1, 2017 at 9:37 am (2 years ago)

        Hi Marie, I’m reading this blog for the first time. First response was in 2012 so I’m assuming that was the timeframe of the original post. Do you have any updates to add? I would like to visit Old Montreal for the first time in September 2017. Afterwards we would be interested in some contemporary jazz or a comedy show or night life clubs or dancing. Are you familiar with anything like that?

      • Brenda Verpaelst
        June 21, 2018 at 8:42 pm (4 months ago)

        Hi Marie, myself and 3 friends are visiting montreal for the first time in October. Will the market be open at that time. Also, I am hoping to do an afternoon at the spa, a food tour and visit Notre Dame. Will all of these places be open for October 18th – 21st. Thanks so much for your walking itinerary. This is my year to plan our getaway and I am using your suggestions for our girls weekend away!!

  2. Laura @Travelocafe
    May 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh, such a well mapped itinerary. Old Montreal looks amazing. I love how you presented it. Very useful. I can see myself printing this and using it on my first visit to Montreal.

    Reply
  3. ehalvey
    May 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm (6 years ago)

    Perfect timing! I’m roadtripping to Montreal at the end of the month. I think we’re just a few blocks from the Bonsecours Market, too.

    Reply
  4. Lisa Goodmurphy
    May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm (6 years ago)

    Lots of great suggestions! It has been years since I’ve been to Montreal and I would love to go back soon – my daughters have never been!

    Reply
  5. Melissa
    May 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm (6 years ago)

    I finally visited in 2010 and walked all around Old Montreal. Notre Dame was a highlight but more so the bike ride that my friend and I went on one day to explore the city. I have to return, actually I am not thinking of potentially moving there if I move back to Canada. Got to keep my options open.

    Reply
  6. Alexa Meisler
    May 16, 2012 at 9:08 pm (6 years ago)

    The Bassin Bonsecours is so beautiful! I will also follow your tip about not driving around Old Montreal. This place looks too spectacular to see it just through a window.

    Reply
  7. Alouise
    May 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm (6 years ago)

    I still can’t believe I’ve never been to Montreal. That definitely has to change, and when it does I’ll try out this itinerary (providing I don’t get hopelessly lost like I normally do when I travel).

    Reply
  8. Cath
    May 17, 2012 at 2:56 am (6 years ago)

    I loved Old Montreal when I went there. It was so beautiful, especially the heart of the old town.

    Reply
  9. Monika @ Kanada Reisen
    May 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm (6 years ago)

    I love your itinerary through Old Montreal. I was there last fall and the only thing I missed was the Bassin Bonsecours – should have had your itinerary then. Great tips.

    Reply
  10. Uttoran Sen
    June 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm (6 years ago)

    Excellent, so many places to visit, also, i like your way of traveling places. It is best not to act like a traveler, rather do it like the natives, explore the place on foot… there is so much that you will miss out if you are sitting inside the comfort of the car.

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm (6 years ago)

      I much prefer walking places than driving. Much more peaceful!

      Reply
      • Chris
        August 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm (5 years ago)

        I’ve done a bit of travelling, though never been to Old Montreal.
        But from your pictures, especially the leaves in Fall, it looks like a pretty colourful and amazing place to go. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Michel Tanguay
    June 19, 2014 at 1:06 am (4 years ago)

    For those who enjoyed this avant-goût, I would suggest a follow-up down South on promenade du Vieux-Port… you can walk or rent a bike-share called Bixi… the bike path follows the Canal-de-Lachine wich was the main waterway until 1957.
    You’ll get a good view of the faded 19 th century industrial era. Stop for a beer at world famous “taverne Magnan “. Then head for Charlevoix Métro station next door. Bixi is a good deal ! You can take one for 40 minutes max ,bring it back to a station then ,after a few minutes , get another one while being billed only once for the day.

    Reply
    • Michel
      September 29, 2015 at 3:27 am (3 years ago)

      Note to myself : Taverne Magnan has closed for good unfortunatly. For those who like to jog , the canal is the place to go. Less polluted area of the city center with long streches with no traffic lights.

      Reply
  12. Laurence
    June 27, 2014 at 6:17 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for this great itinerary, and your 15 Things to do blog post. I am a Quebecker, but not from Montreal, and I will be coming for a weekend with a bunch of immigrant friends who are eager to discover the city… so hopefully your many tips will help me give them a great tour!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      July 7, 2014 at 10:18 pm (4 years ago)

      Happy to help Laurence, I hope you and your friends enjoy my fair city ;-)

      Reply
  13. Sarah
    April 25, 2015 at 10:03 pm (3 years ago)

    Beaver Lake is gorgeous! Although not in old Montreal the view is exceptional from where the Pavillion is! I went in December and unfortunately I saw more Ice fog than anything else, but the wildlife and different activities going on made it all worthwhile.

    Reply
  14. Prakash
    August 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm (3 years ago)

    This blog was very helpful for us. We were in Montreal this week and we enjoyed it a lot. Went to all the places you have mentioned here. Great work. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 7, 2015 at 10:07 am (3 years ago)

      Glad to hear this, Prakash! Happy to help.

      Reply
  15. Bronwyn
    August 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm (3 years ago)

    I have an aunt who lives on Longueuil so I have visited Montreal many times. I love the Pointe a Calliere and was so glad to recently share it with my own kids for the first time. I agree. No cars in Old Montreal. But a bike is great!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 10, 2015 at 10:51 am (3 years ago)

      Yes bikes are a great way to explore the city!

      Reply
  16. CajunLady
    April 29, 2016 at 12:33 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Marie,
    Enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for your ‘Top 15 List”. It will come in handy during our time in Montreal.My husband and I will be driving up on the 7th of May from New Jersey through the 11th. Driving to Toronto until the 16th,from there to Niagara Falls until our departure out of Buffalo on the 20th.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm (2 years ago)

      Wonderful, have a great trip!

      Reply
  17. Ediyie
    May 21, 2016 at 7:14 pm (2 years ago)

    I’ll be in Montreal in a few weeks and this itinerary will be a big help. soo excited to visit :D

    TY!!!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm (2 years ago)

      Wonderful! Have a great trip.

      Reply
  18. Sam
    January 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm (2 years ago)

    We will be driving in for the day from Burlington, VT. Where do you suggest we park our car while we explore Old Montreal?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm (2 years ago)

      At the Science Centre!

      Reply
      • SAM
        January 19, 2017 at 9:22 pm (2 years ago)

        Thank you!

  19. hannah
    February 28, 2017 at 10:46 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much for the great itinerary. I am planning to go there this April, and I will definitely follow this.
    By the way, I am from Vietnam, And so you are currently stay there?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm (2 years ago)

      I was in Vietnam very briefly, in Chau Doc and Saigon! :-)

      Reply
  20. Tanisha
    March 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello,

    I will be visiting Montreal in the first week of April. Will it still be very cold? I really want to see as much of the city as possible, and hoping that winter is nearing its end by then.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Honestly, it’s hard to tell. It’s snowing right now and it’s late March! I don’t think it will be “Very cold” but it could be anywhere between 0 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius in April.

      Reply
  21. vanessa
    May 24, 2017 at 4:18 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Marie-Eve! Great site, and real good itinerary for walking in Old Montreal.

    I am launching a site of things to do called whatudoin.com and we are concentrating on our hometown of Montreal. I hope it is ok that I have shared your itinerary. I give you complete credit and link back to your site. I just added a stop at bota-bota and Marché des Éclusiers!

    Reply
  22. Eileen
    June 27, 2017 at 11:26 am (1 year ago)

    Hello Marie-Eve,
    What a wonderful read. Can I inquire if a place between Rue Saint Urbain, Rue Groll , Rue Waverly is a convenient place to stay for visiting the sights? Zip H2T 2X1. Will be in Montreal for 4 nights. Thank You.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 15, 2017 at 3:01 pm (1 year ago)

      Yes sounds ideal!

      Reply
  23. Drew Watson
    July 17, 2017 at 9:02 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks Marie for the great suggestions! Would you recommend a bike tour through Old Montreal, which is convenient to the William Gray, where we are staying? Thanks.

    Reply
  24. Dr.
    August 5, 2017 at 5:33 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you Marie-Eve for this detailed itinerary. That’s exactly what I was looking for in order to walk the “right” places.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm (1 year ago)

      Happy to help!

      Reply
  25. Suresh Rama
    August 17, 2017 at 9:47 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for a great itenary

    Reply
  26. Jacki
    September 24, 2017 at 9:02 am (1 year ago)

    This is a helpful guide for a first time visit. Thank you for the tips and great photos. Pinning this for a future trip to Montreal!

    Reply
  27. Piotr Kowalski
    October 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm (1 year ago)

    I didn’t even know that there are so many places to do sight-seeing in Montreal! And as somebody above mentioned already, the photos are awesome and make me want to pack my things now and go there to see the things by myself :D
    Thank you Marie for this post, count me as your new reader!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 19, 2018 at 11:08 pm (8 months ago)

      Glad you enjoy the blog Piotr!

      Reply
  28. Sheila
    March 5, 2018 at 3:53 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi, I’m going to Montreal by myself. It’s my first time going to Canada. What the best transportation to see the city?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 9, 2018 at 9:37 pm (7 months ago)

      Metro and foot!

      Reply
  29. donna ross
    March 12, 2018 at 8:29 am (8 months ago)

    Love your blog! Such great ideas. We are going to Montreal and Quebec City in September, and are planning on taking the Old Montreal Food tour that you recommended. I was also looking at a 3-hour walking tour of east and west sides of Old Montreal by Guidatours, and wondered if you thought that would be redundant.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 9, 2018 at 9:33 pm (7 months ago)

      I think it would be redundant, yes. In any case, you’re better off with the food tour, at least you’ll be fed!

      Reply
      • Vivek
        April 9, 2018 at 9:57 pm (7 months ago)

        Hi Marie-Eve,

        Thanks for lovely blog on Montreal and Old Montreal.

        We ( Family with teenagers) are coming to Montreal in July 2018 for 1 day from Toronto.

        What is your suggestion about accommodation- Should we stay at downtown Montreal or Old Montreal.

        Also We are vegetarians so any great vegetarian place to eat?

        Thanks
        Vivek

  30. Katie Dickinson
    April 30, 2018 at 11:09 am (6 months ago)

    Ah so helpful! Stopping in Montreal for a few hours before going to QC for a conference (and will 1000% be stopping into Crew Collective to do some work – looks like such a cool spot!) and this is super useful! I do the whole map thing, too so I really appreciate that part :D

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      May 2, 2018 at 6:05 pm (6 months ago)

      Enjoy Montreal Katie, even for just a few hours!

      Reply
      • Gem
        August 9, 2018 at 12:36 pm (3 months ago)

        Hi Marie…
        We are driving in from Toronto and would really love to visit Old Montreal, especially now that we’ve seen your blog. Where do you suggest we can park our rental car? Or where can we stay overnight that’s not too expensive?

  31. Tammie Pitman-Belyan
    May 28, 2018 at 4:45 pm (5 months ago)

    Hello, we are two couples (50’s) visiting briefly from Alberta. Sunday evening and Monday only time to see what we can. Monday is a bad day with many tours not running. Any ideas? Love Jazz too but any other bars with live music on a Sunday? Thanks

    Reply
  32. Cheryl
    July 3, 2018 at 9:43 pm (4 months ago)

    Heading for the day to Old Montreal from my Aunts place in Ottawa, we are from Calgary.

    Reply
  33. Julie Knopf
    July 23, 2018 at 8:06 am (3 months ago)

    I visited Montreal a few years ago and fell in love with it!! I’m considering moving there, but I’m permanently disabled and cannot see very well or even walk much without horrible pain. Is this possible for me to come?

    Reply
  34. Zaf
    September 25, 2018 at 5:29 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Looks like a great walk. How much time should we allow to do the whole itinenary?

    Reply
  35. Josette
    June 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm (4 months ago)

    Thanks for a very well written and detailed blog. I will be visiting Montréal for the first time and will definitely include these 15 things on my itinerary.

    Reply

12Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Old Montreal: A Walking Itinerary With The Best Streets And Sights [SUMMER 2018]

  1. […] Just some wanderers who we consider outstanding. La Belle Montreal from AMA’s fab citywalk. all images […]

  2. […] Old-Montreal is also a must because of all its history, and the dozens of attractions it’s home to. […]

  3. […] sightseeing on Sunday included a walking tour I modified from a blog post I found. We saw a good number of things listed in the post and I would recommend using that. I […]

  4. […] If you’re new to Old Montreal, you might want to check out my itinerary for first-timers. […]

  5. […] tour, and walking along St. John street to admire the old side of Montréal. Here’s their itinerary for first timers. However, Matt at Landlopers wants to make sure we don’t make integral mistakes while […]

  6. […] aka Old Montreal is a must for the first time traveler to this Canadian city. When I arrived, it was 14° and the streets were a ghost town in sections. Come spring, those same […]

  7. […] blog locale – la versione canadese di VivereNewYork – e una volta scoperto toeuropeandbeyond.com/an-itinerary-through-old-montreal/ abbiamo praticamente seguito il suo itinerario per visitare Old Montreal a piedi […]

  8. […] a market Jess had found on Tripadvisor, Marché Bonsecours. We made our way there walking through Old Montreal, excited to see this market, only to be met with major disappointment. It’s similar to […]

  9. […] you have proper boots and windproof jackets if you visit in the winter, when you can also skate in Old Montreal and view ice sculptures on the water. Spring brings blooms whose flower petals litter the streets […]

  10. […] ADDITIONAL READING OLD MONTREAL: A WALKING ITINERARY WITH THE BEST STREETS AND SIGHTS [SUMMER 2018] […]

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