Besides being the biggest French-speaking city outside France, Montreal is a city that loves food and festivities and is famous for both poutine, parades, and a plethora of exciting activities. While you could spend days meandering down the streets of its historic city center, there are ways to get a feel for the Quebecois lifestyle, even if you’re only visiting on a day trip.

Pick a few or try them all! Here are six of our favorite things to do in Montreal when time is of the essence.

Enjoy Homemade Breakfast Offerings at Le P’tit Rustik

Start your day with homemade breakfast offerings at Le P’tit Rustik. Located nearby the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal area of Montreal, this restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday, offering its guests breakfast and brunch options. The atmosphere was designed to make one feel welcome and at home. The menu items are homemade with ingredients sourced locally. In addition to breakfast staples like toast, eggs benedict, and smoothies, Le P’tit Rustik also offers a breakfast sandwich made with old-fashioned ham, turned egg, aged cheddar, homemade spicy mayo, and pickle — a must-try!

Notre Dame Basillica Montreal 1

Visit a Famous Montreal Landmark – The Notre-Dame Basilica

The Notre-Dame Basilica is one of Montreal’s most iconic sights, and for a small fee you can head inside to see what all the fuss is about. The church has been standing since 1829, making it older than Canada as a country. It’s at the centre point of the Old Montreal district, recognizable by its gate-like architecture which echoes the shape of the Notre-Dame in Paris.

Inside this famous Montreal landmark, it’s all glitz and glam: a regal midnight-blue ceiling criss-crossed with gilded beams, an enormous central chandelier, and a golden centrepiece of saintly statues. Stained glass windows let in rainbow-hued light and depict scenes of Montreal’s religious history. The Casavant organ is lauded, too: it has four keyboards, 92 stops and 7,000 pipes, making it a favourite on the choral music circuit.

Take in Exceptional Creativity at the Museum of Fine Arts

Modern art fans should jump at the chance to visit Montreal’s largest museum, the Museum of Fine Arts. It sits midway between Guy-Concordia and Peel metro stations, close to Concordia University. More than a million visitors stream in every year, making it one of the country’s busiest museums. Five pavilions show off around 41,000 works by local and international artists. Go slowly and absorb as much as possible, or make a bee-line for whichever pavilion interests you most. Make sure to check out the pre-Columbian art in the Michael & Renata Hornstein Pavilion and the painstakingly restored Tiffany-stained glass in the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion.

Grab Drinks at La Distillerie No. 1

Nestled in the heart of the Plateau-Mount-Royal neighbourhood, La Distillerie No. 1 sits on East Ontario Street just a 20-minute walk from the Place‑d’Armes Station. The cozy bar appeals to a trendy crowd, with an unassuming exterior, a light-wood and dark-metal aesthetic inside and carefully curated cocktails served in mason jars. Cocktails come in several varieties, depending on whether you want something Powerful, Fresh, Tropical, Delicate, Fruity or Tart – though, we hasten to add, beer and alcohol-free drinks are also available. Try Le Patriot for something sweet yet herbal: Kamouraska vodka, Bacardi Black Razz rum and blue curacao are mixed with lime juice and lemon-lime soda to make a cheerful turquoise beverage. It’s finished off with a spring of fresh rosemary and plenty of sunshine feeling.

Explore Ecosystems Found in the Americas at the Biodome

Are you looking for things to do in Montreal with kids? Consider a visit to the Montreal Biodome. Located near the Olympic Stadium, the biodome was created by the city of Montreal and the Régie des installations olympiques for the 1976 summer Olympic games. Whether it’s winter or summer, visitors can enjoy an educational walk through nature, exploring five ecosystems found throughout the Americas. This experience includes the lush, warm characteristics of the tropical rainforest, the marine life of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the changing seasons of the Laurentian Maple Forest, and more. In addition to the displays inside, the dome itself makes for a great photo opportunity to remember your visit.

Experience Unparalleled City Views from Mount Royal

If you’re looking to spend one day in Montreal, be sure a visit to Mount Royal is on your list. Shaped by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago, it has become one of the most popular tourist sites to the west of downtown Montreal. Gazing out from the peak to the city below provides some incredible views. However, don’t forget to visit some of the other on-site attractions. For instance, the Mount Royal cross is hard to miss. Standing at 103 ft tall, this version of the cross was installed in 1924. It is now lit by LEDs for an impressive nighttime glow. Daytime visitors will be equally as impressed as it’s stunning to see in the daytime too. The mountain is also home to Mount Royal Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. It contains two belvederes, with the most prominent being the Kondiaronk. This belvedere is where visitors will find Mount Royal Chalet, which also overlooks downtown Montreal. Mount Royal Park also features an artificial lake called Beaver Lake, toboggan runs, cross-country ski trails, and even a sculpture garden. There is plenty to do here, so be sure to plan accordingly — especially if you intend to visit other Montreal attractions in a single day.

Always follow Canada and local health authority COVID-19 guidelines for travelling or visiting attractions. Learn more about current restrictions and travelling within Canada.

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