Published on July 4, 2022
By Louisa Hanson
While you may be coming from across North America to network with other marketing professionals and improve your craft, any visit to Montreal would be incomplete without exploring North America’s #1 host city for international events and the second-largest French speaking metropolis in the world (after Paris!). From world-class Quebecois food to cultural attractions and outdoor exploration, Montreal has it all – check out our top things to do in MTL, whether you’re here for the poutine or seeking out some historic architecture!
- Enjoy Montreal’s famed trifecta of delicacies and wander down boulevard Saint-Laurent to Mile End. Start at Schwartz’s iconic smoked meat outpost, and head down to Montreal’s historically Jewish quarter for bagels from Fairmount or Saint-Viateur (subjects of an intense rivalry). Pro tip – to whatever quantity of bagels you’re buying, add one to eat warm while you’re walking – no cream cheese necessary! Finally, head back up to Parc La Fontaine and hit Montreal’s most iconic poutine eatery, La Banquise, open 24 hours and featuring everything from Philly cheesesteak poutine to Mexican-style spicy poutine.
- Explore the food stands and retro arcade at Time Out Market in Quartier des Spectacles. Curated and vetted by editors at a top media company, the market brings together the best of Montreal food and drink in a 40,000 square foot space at the Eaton Centre, a block from the Delta hotel. The space packs 16 eateries, three bars, a demo kitchen, a cooking school, and a retail space, in addition to art installations and music. The retro arcade pop-up includes classic favorites like Pac-Man, tabletop hockey, pinball, and even a photo booth!
- Hit one of Montreal’s iconic public markets, Marche Atwater, in the neighborhood of Saint-Henri next to the Lachine Canal. Grab some charcuterie and a bottle of wine and lay out a picnic next to the canal to enjoy fresh food with a side of people watching. If you’re looking for a more exciting night, Montreal’s floating sea-themed bar is docked in the Lachine Canal right next to Atwater, providing ocean-themed cocktails and small snacks in a real boat!
For outdoor enthusiasts
- Visit the botanical gardens at the Olympic Stadium. Considered among the most prestigious botanical gardens in the world, Montreal’s garden offers both inside and outside exhibitions, as well as a light lunch spot. As a cherry on top, the botanical garden is only a fifteen minute straight shot ride on the metro from McGill!
- Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park NYC fame, Mount Royal boasts picnic spots, hiking trails, and stunning views, only a ten minute walk from McGill’s front gates. Take a casual walk, more intense vertical hike, or enjoy a delicious food spread on the mountain after which Montreal was named!
- Rent a paddleboard and explore Montreal from the water. The Lachine Canal, running from Old Port to Montreal’s western suburbs, is newly open to paddleboarders, serving as an unofficial tour of many up-and-coming Montreal neighborhoods, from Griffintown and Verdun all the way to Lachine.
For arts and culture lovers
- Catch a Beethoven performance at Parc La Fontaine‘s newly reopened outdoor public Theatre de Verdure on Friday 7/15 and Saturday 7/16 at 8:30pm. Widely considered Montreal’s most beautiful park, Parc La Fontaine hosts cultural events and outdoor shows in the summer, as well as a lake that doubles as a skating rink in the winter. Only a fifteen minute walk up rue Sherbrooke from McGill, Parc La Fontaine is a must-see.
- Montreal is an internationally recognized jazz destination, hosting the Montreal Jazz Festival every year and attracting enthusiasts from the world over. While #PSEWEB takes place just a week after Jazz Fest ends, the Montreal jazz scene is year-round! Hit some cozy and intimate jazz clubs and soak up Montreal’s unique musical style. Two favorites near McGill are the mellow underground jazz club Upstairs downtown and the European-style Diese Onze on the Plateau-Mont-Royal.
- Take an unconventional street art tour of the Boulevard Saint-Laurent, a hip main drag of the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, covering over 20 works of art. Experience the hustle and bustle of the Blvd, while taking detours down historic side streets on the hunt for pieces of art scattered amongst the classic Montreal townhomes. Dividing many immigrant communities, the Blvd became a gathering point for as many groups of people as there are countries in the world, and the street art reflects this mosaic of culture.
For architecture nerds
- Check out the 2.5km “linear park” on Av du Mont-Royal. Over the summer, the avenue connecting Mount Royal to the Olympic Stadium is closed to cars, creating the longest park in the city. Walk the length of the avenue and check out greenery, art installations, food trucks, and a new “water square” featuring a real-time cubic cloud art installation reflecting the weather du jour.
- Soak in the sunset from L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph, Canada’s largest church, featuring an Art Deco interior contrasted with a Renaissance Revival façade. Perched on the Westmount Summit of Mount Royal, L’Oratoire is the highest building in Montreal, with an unparalleled view of everything from the mountain to the skyscrapers to the river.
- No visit to Montreal is complete without a visit to historic Old Port – there’s a reason everyone loves it! Stroll down cobblestoned streets and gaze at centuries-old facades and churches, spiced up by modern-day street performers and an eclectic mix of students, tourists, and locals. For any weary visitor, Old Port offers a veritable smorgasbord of bars, pubs, and restaurants – even speakeasies! Local favorites include Philemon Bar, The Coldroom, and Clandestino for a post-exploration 5 á 7 (Montreal’s happy hour).
While there are as many things to do in Montreal as there are inhabitants, even within a fifteen-minute radius of McGill, one can encounter an eclectic and diverse range of food, activities, and people – this cosmopolitanism is what makes Montreal, Montreal! We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful city – in the meantime, check out our recommendations (and try not to let your mouth water too much!)