Also referred to as RÉSO, the Underground City is a network of office towers, hotels, shopping centres, performing arts venues, metro stations, and more, which are all interconnected by mostly subterranean pathways and networks. Altogether there are around 32km of tunnels that cover 12sqkm through the most central business district of Montreal. Here, you can spend hours browsing and shopping in around 2,000 stores.
Montreal has an abundance of creative cafes where students and freelancers gather to spend a few hours working away on their laptops. Whether you’re reading a book, people-watching, or typing away at your computer, finding your favourite independent coffee shop is a great solo activity – especially on a rainy or snowy afternoon. In the Plateau, Café Névé is a local favourite, while up in Villeray, there is the cozy Café OUI MAIS NON.
The Lachine Canal is a popular destination in southwest Montreal, comprising a 14.5km waterway that stretches between the Old Port and Lake Saint-Louis and is characterised by five locks. A linear green urban park runs along the banks, and you’ll find people wandering, walking, or cycling during the warmer months. Bring a book and soak up the sun while enjoying this historic site.
The most prominent of Montreal’s green spaces, Mont Royal is the central “mountain” that gives the city its name. A popular daily spot for runners, cyclists, and dog walkers, you’ll also find people relaxing and picnicking throughout the park. You can also catch the Tam-Tams – a weekly informal and free festival that draws hundreds of drummers, dancers, vendors, and visitors every Sunday afternoon during the warmer months. Even alone, you’ll blend right in with the eclectic characters you’ll find there.
Montreal is home to a number of world-class museums and art galleries, which can be extra enjoyable when you’re able to spend time in them at your own pace. You won’t want to miss the Musée d’art contemporain (Montreal’s contemporary art museum), or the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History. There are also a number of smaller museums around the city that offer glimpses into other areas of the city’s rich history, such as the McCord Museum of Canadian History, the Maison Saint-Gabriel, and the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal.
The Old Port of Montreal is the city’s most popular tourist destination, with its historic architecture and variety of restaurants, galleries, boutiques, and shops. If you’re in the city alone, taking a tour of the area can be a fun way to learn about the city in a relaxed context. There are a variety of tours available, including free tours and food tours, along with different kinds of cruise tours. You can also explore the district on your own, taking your time to absorb the fascinating sights.
Montreal is increasingly recognised as an international destination for foodies, and there are certain dishes that must be tried while you’re in the city. The good thing about the city’s classic eats is that most of them are take-out or grab-and-go options, which can be easier than sitting alone in a restaurant.
There’s Schwartz’s on St Laurent with its infamous smoked meat sandwiches, as well as the historic rivalry between St. Viateur and Fairmont for the title of best Montreal-style bagels. There are a number of artisanal ice cream shops to visit as well, including Kem Coba in Mile End and La Diperie in the Plateau.