Montreal is the second biggest city in Canada and is also the second-largest amount of French speakers in a city after Paris. Throughout the city you will see breath taking examples of French architecture and culture as well as other European heritage and global mix. It is one of the liveliest cities in the world that hosts some of the biggest acts in entertainment and is one of the best places for cuisine, which is a delicious mix of French and Canadian.
The best area to stay in Montreal is the Villa-Marie district, which covers downtown and the surrounding areas and that means that it is central. Having this district as a base is absolutely perfect as you are just moments away from seeing all the leading tourist attractions including beautiful old churches like the famous Basilica Notre-Dame. Also on your doorstep are the most interesting museums, the Old Town and port, shopping centres, the Latin Quarter, art galleries and lots more. It is restaurant heaven in Villa-Marie and the same goes for the hotels, which are all nothing short of spectacular.
One of the most stunning visual landmarks in Old Montreal in Villa-Marie is the Basilica Notre-Dame, which was built in the 19th century by an Irish architect. This medieval-style church is one of the most important in the city and is one of the most spectacular buildings in Montreal due to the beautiful gothic interior and exterior. Other things in the old town part include the port, which is a large area that includes the Montreal Science Centre and the Labyrinth. From here you can hire boats and sailing boats and there is an interesting clock tower. The old town has many museums with the best being Centre d’histoire de Montreal, which has exhibitions on the history of Montreal and the Pointe-a-Calliere, which has archaeological evidence of the first natives in the city.
In the downtown area, you should definitely check out the McCord Museum, which is a fascinating place about the history of the country, as well as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which has lots of exhibits throughout the year. The Mount Royal Park is located in the downtown part too, which has great views from the top and has various monuments and monuments in the park that are dedicated to people who lost their lives in the war as well as ex-governors and mayors. The Latin Quarter is a short walk away and is known as the largest gay village on the continent and has a great number of theatres, cinemas, festivals, bars and restaurants. For shopping, head to the Underground City as it has the biggest amount of shops of various kinds as well as many food courts. In the old town area there is also good shopping opportunities and the Bonsecours Market and the Sainte-Catherine street are full of stall, shops and malls.
Villa-Marie is the ideal place for restaurants and there are so many to select from, so at least you won’t go to the same place twice. Cuisines in this area cover most of what the world has to offer and you find anything from Japanese and South American to traditional Montreal food and European dishes. The same goes for the range of bars and clubs in the area as it has the most, which can differ from old traditional French bars that offer pub grub to state-of-the-art cocktail lounges that might just happen to have an international DJ playing. Hotels range from standard but comfy beds to five-star luxury hotels and there are plenty of them.
Other neighbourhoods to stay in Montreal
This neighbourhood is full of 20th century buildings as well as many 19th century churches with the St Michael church being visually one of the prettiest. There are a few parks to explore and include Parc Jeanne-Mance, Parc Lafontaine and Carre Saint-Louis, which all offer stunning views over the area and many people use the parks for cycling, skating and lots of ball sports. This area has many theatres, art galleries, music and vintage clothing stores, which makes a great wander around especially as there are a handful of Victorian homes too. For eating, there are a vast number of restaurants, which are mainly focused on French and Canadian cuisine and there is a brilliant choice of bars to pick from, with most of them having some form of live entertainment. In terms of hotels, there are a lot less to choose from but there are an adequate number of very high-standard ones.
This neighbourhood has the feeling of its own village in the city, which is just to the east of downtown and is home to some wonderful tourist attractions. This area was the main focus of the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the Stade Olympique was built in the north east corner of the district. There are tours that can be arranged, who can take you around the stadium as well as outside where you will see various sport facilities like the cycling dome, ski slope and BMX venue. The Botanical Gardens of Montreal are a real treat and there are numerous fun-themed gardens and has a museum of insects and other creepy-crawlers. The main central part of the neighbourhood is called Place-Valois and is a very busy square with many rows off it that are lined with duplexes and triplexes that were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. The square is the best place to check out at night time as this area has the most authentic Montreal restaurants and pubs. There are also a good number of hotels with some even having views of the Olympic Stadium.