Parc du Mont-Royal
Deservedly top of the list, Parc du Mont-Royal is Montreal’s version of Central Park – it even shares the same designer. There are two belvederes to take advantage of the incredible views, and an artificial lake. In winter, many locals go tobogganing down the ski trails. Watch out for the Tam Tam Jam in summer, where hand drummers gather on Sundays to play music on the East side of the park. It’s easily accessible from the Mont-Royal Metro station.
Opening hours: 6am-12am
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
Cap-Sant-Jacques Nature Park is the perfect place for water lovers. This three square kilometer park is not only the largest in Montreal, but is also three quarters surrounded by water. Open during the summer, it features a sandy beach, a wide variety of wildlife and even an organic farm. There are more than 40km of trails for hiking through the woods for those feeling more active. Beware though, it does get very busy on the weekends.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm
Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard Nature Park
Located nearby, Bois-de-l’Île-Bizard Nature Park has a similar feel. It too has a beach and miles of trails. However, its bog land, lush vegetation and amount of wildlife make this a place perhaps more suited to someone in the mood for exploring than simply enjoying a summer’s day. As well as providing tranquil walks in the summer, it’s open in winter as well – something that Montreal’s many cross-country skiers are quick to take advantage of.
Parc Outremont is a slice of the real Montreal. Surrounded by quiet, leafy streets, expect to find a mixture of students and the local Hassidic Jews frequenting this relaxed space. There’s a small fountain and plenty of benches, but don’t expect much in the way of features – this simply a lovely neighbourhood park.
Parc Jean-Drapeau is the most action-packed park on this list and in Montreal. The park is made up of two islands to the East of the city. At Jean-Drapeau, you can find La Ronde – an amusement park owned by Six Flags. The city’s largest outdoor concert venue is here, as is the Casino de Montréal, and even the F1 racetrack. There are a variety of hiking trails on offer here too and it’s worth visiting in winter as well, with skiing routes and a snowboarding park.
By Margarita Milne