Take a stroll in Old Montreal along the Grand Quay and Old Port.
Canada

Exploring the Best of Old Montréal

Montréal’s oldest neighbourhood is fittingly called Old Montréal. This historic neighbourhood dates back to the early 1600s. It spans several blocks next to the waterfront of the Saint Lawrence River. Stroll the cobblestoned streets and you’ll feel like you are in Europe. Beyond the historic sites, you’ll also find many cafés, restaurants, boutique hotels and shops. 

Explore the best of Old Montréal with this walking tour. 

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is a church in the district of Old Montreal in Montreal, Quebec. One of the oldest churches in Montreal, it was built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel.

The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel was built over the ruins of another church in 1771, making it among the oldest chapels in Montréal. It’s also home to the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, which honors the woman who was Montréal’s first teacher and founder of the original Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. For an incredible view of Old Port, climb to the lookout at the top of the chapel.  

Address: 400 rue Saint Paul Est

Bonsecours Market

Inaugurated in 1847, Marché Bonsecours is acknowledged as one of Canada's ten finest heritage buildings and has become an essential stop on any visit to Old Montréal.

The Bonsecours Market, from 1847, is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada  and was once the largest public market in Montréal. Today, the domed space offers eateries and boutique shops selling mainly local Quebec-made items from art to fashion. You’ll find many sketch artists sit on the edge of the market to capture this historic square of the Chapel and L’ Auberge Saint-Gabriel. 

Address: 350 rue Saint Paul Est

1-minute walk from Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

Château Ramezay

The Château Ramezay in Old Montreal is a historic site with a Museum and gardens featuring the 500-year old history of the city.

Château Ramezay is a museum in a historic building built in 1705. It was the first building to be recognized as a historical monument in Quebec and was also designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1949. The museum honours the early era of the city’s history. Through its exhibitions, it shows how the people of New France lived over many centuries ago. The historic site and museum were selected as one of the ‘1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die’ by a team of experts in partnership with UNESCO.

The Château Ramezay in Old Montreal is a historic site with a Museum and gardens featuring the 500-year old history of the city.

Be sure to walk around the back of the Château and stroll through the Governor’s Garden. It mimics the original 18th century garden, only on a much smaller scale. The garden is in the formal French style and is divided into three equal-sized sections: a kitchen garden, an orchard and an ornamental garden. Surrounding these sections, at the foot of the stone walls, is a fourth section consisting of herbs and medicinal plants. A ram’s-head fountain greets you as you enter the garden. 

Address: 280 rue Notre-Dame Est

3-minute walk from Bonsecours Market

Montréal City Hall

Montreal's City Hall, built between 1872 and 1878 in the Second Empire style.

Montréal City Hall (or Hôtel de Ville) is an impressive building. Built between 1872 and 1878 it was inspired by the Hôtel de Ville Tours in France. It is known as one of the best examples of the Second Empire style in Canada. Located next to Vauquelin Square and its beautiful fountain, this incredible landmark is not to be missed.

275 Notre-Dame St. Est

1-minute walk from Chateau Ramezay

Place Jacques-Cartier

Old Montreal, Quebec - Place Jacques Cartier public square that leads you to Old Port.

Place Jacques-Cartier is a historical square named after the explorer who claimed Canada for France in 1535. It leads from Montréal City Hall to the Old Port. The stretch of cobblestone street is pedestrian only, and in the summer months is host to  events and festivals. It’s bustling with performers, artisans and artists. At the north end of Place Jacques-Cartier stands Montreal’s oldest public monument, Nelson’s Column, which was erected in 1809 to honour the British officer Horatio Nelson. The square is also lined with many restaurants. Sit and stay a while, you’ll want to soak up the lively atmosphere.

Address: Rue Jacques-Cartier

2-minute walk from City Hall

Old Port Montréal

Old Port in Montreal, Quebec originated in early 17th century. Today it is for tourism - chock full of activities.

The Old Port of Montréal (or Vieux-Port) was used by French fur traders as early as 1611. Although it is has not operated as the city’s main port since the 1970s, it still has a main purpose – tourism. Here, you can eat, drink, walk, cycle or paddleboat along the pier.  Other attractions include the Montreal Science Centre, a wintertime skating rink, a Ferris wheel and a zip line. This family friendly spot is lined with food trucks along the pier.

Address: Promenade du Vieux Port

1-minute walk from Place Jacques-Cartier 

Grand Quay

Take a stroll in Old Montreal along the Grand Quay and Old Port.

Walk along the Promenade du Vieux Port until you reach the Grand Quay. Jutting into the Saint Lawrence River, the Grand Quay is a newly addition to the Old Port. From here take a boat cruise where you can admire the views of the waterway and its surroundings. The Grand Quay is one of the best vantage points to see Habitat 67, a cube-like housing complex famously designed by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67, the world’s fair hosted by Montreal in 1967.

Address: rue de la Commune and rue Saint Sulpice

5-minute walking distance from Old Port

Notre-Dame Basilica

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a basilica in the historic district of Old Montreal, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The church is located at 110 Notre-Dame Street West, at the corner of Saint Sulpice Street. It is located next to the Saint-Sulpice Seminary and faces the Place d'Armes square.

One of Montreal’s most acclaimed architectural structures is undoubtedly the Notre-Dame Basilica. The interior of this stately 19th-century church is known to be one of the world’s most dramatic. The blue-and-gold vaulted ceilings, ornately decorated carvings and vivid stained glass walls are a sight to be seen. It is known for being the first Gothic Revival-style church in Canada. In addition to regular mass services, many ceremonies of Canada’s most prominent citizens are held here, like Celine Dion’s lavish wedding.   

Address: 100 rue Notre-Dame

5-minute walk from Grand Quay

Place d'Armes

Place d'Armes, an important public square in Montreal that features some of the most iconic historic buildings
Place d'Armes, an important public square in Montreal that features some of the most iconic historic buildings

Place d’Armes is the oldest public square in the city. Here you will find some of the most impressive architecture- the old Bank of Montreal, Art Deco buildings and the Notre-Dame Basilica. Look out for the bronze statues called ‘The English Pug and the French Poodle’ also known as the Two Snobs. They face away from each other on opposite sides of a building wearing a snobby theatrical nose mask. It’s meant to poke fun at the French and English Canadians ‘friendly rivalry’.

Address: Place d’Armes

1-minute walk from Notre-Dame Basilica

Royal Bank Tower

Royal Bank Tower in Old Montreal, Quebec

Once the tallest building in all of Canada, the 1920s Royal Bank Tower is still an incredible sight to see. The Neoclassical building is open to the public as it now houses a café in its impressive lobby. Or, return in the evening and check out its nightclub in its historical bank vaults. 

Address: 360 rue Saint-Jacques

5-minute walk from Place d’Arms

Centre d’Histoire de Montréal

The Centre d'histoire de Montréal is a museum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The museum is dedicated to the history of Montreal.

The Centre d’Histoire de Montréal is a museum dedicated to learning about the city’s eventful history. With three floors and several exhibitions, it traces Montréal’s history through photographs and artefacts, including the story behind Montréal Expo. It used to be an old fire station which was in use from 1904 to 1972.  

Address: 335 Place d’Youville

6-minute walk from Royal Bank Tower

Maison de Mere d'Youville

The historic site of d'Youville in Old Montreal.

The Maison de Mere d’Youville is a historic site dedicated to the first Canadian saint, Marguerite d’Youville. In 1693, 51 years after the founding of Montreal, a ‘home for charity’ was built, followed by a hospital and chapel that was run by Saint Marguerite and the Grey Nuns. Today, a permanent exhibition recounts the influence of her work.

Address: 138 rue Saint-Pierre

2-minute walk from The Centre d’Histoire de Montréal

St Paul Street

Take a walking tour of Old Montreal, Quebec and discover the best sites to see and things to do

St Paul Street is the oldest and most picturesque street in the city. Walk along the  cobblestone street lined with historic greystone buildings.  These elegant buildings are filled with shops, galleries and restaurants. The entire street runs through Old Montréal. It’s worth just walking from tip to tip and back again gazing upon the architecture and perusing the shops each way. 

Best Urban Parks

Place Marguerite-Bourgeoys

The lovely urban parks in Old Montreal, Quebec.

Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) was a nun and known as the foundress of the Congregation de Notre Dame de Montréal. She was recruited to educate the French and Indian children in the new colony. In 1659 she began receiving girls (known as the filles du Roy) who were sent by the King of France to establish homes in Montreal and became a mother figure to them. She introduced a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended throughout Canada. For that she is referred to as Marguerite the “Mother of the Colony”.

Address: Rue Notre-Dame

Nearby: Montreal City Hall

Place de la Dauversière

Place de la dauversière is a quiet park just off the busy Jacque Cartier Square.

Place de la Dauversière is an unassuming public space that is frequented by the locals. Sitting adjacent to the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, it provides a quiet, relaxing respite away from the crowds. Sit awhile, under the large tree canopies, and watch the pigeons flutter about.  

Named in honour of Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière, founder of the Société de Notre-Dame, it was the site of the Lemoine-Despins family home in 1750, then James McGill in 1805.

Address: 280 Rue Notre-Dame Est

Nearby: Sits between Place Jacques-Cartier and Château Ramezay

Victoria Square

Victoria Square is a public space in Old Montreal that features the art nouveau sign from Paris, gifted to the city.

Victoria Square is a public space where Old Montréal ends and Downtown Montreal begins. The Square was named after Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and the monument was unveiled in 1872. The entrance to the métro station in the Square bears an authentic Paris métro railing. The Art Nouveau casting was designed by Hector Guimard in 1900 and was offered to the city of Montréal by the city of Paris, on the occasion of the 1967 World Exhibition.

Address: Rue du Square-Victoria

Near by: Royal Bank Tower

Best Eateries

Old Montreal is full of cute shops and eateries in historic buildings.

Here are the best places to go for…

  • Boulangeries: L’Amour du Pain Vieux-Montreal, bar à beurre, La Cave à Manger
  • Brunch: Olive et Gourmando, Jardin Nelson, Chez Suzette
  • Cafés: Café Olimpico, Tommy, Café de Mercanti, Le Petit Dep
  • Ice Cream: Ca Lem, Le Petit Dep, Mlle Catherine
  • Dinner: Toqué! Garde Manger, Pyrenees

Or, why not dine at one of these two historical places…

L' Auberge Saint-Gabriel - built in 1688 and converted into an inn in 1754, it was the first place in Canada to receive a liquor license. Experience the restaurant, terrace and Velvet Speakeasy nightclub, as well as accommodations.
Gibbys restaurant in Montreal, Quebec is located in d-Youville Stables from the 16th century
Gibbys - located in the d'Youville Stables which dates back to 1740. This steakhouse features original stone walls, beamed ceilings and cozy fireplaces. In the summer, dine under the twinkle lights in the courtyard. 

Best Place to Stay

St Paul Hotel

St Paul Hotel in Montreal, Quebec

The St Paul Hotel is located in Old Montréal in a Beaux-Arts building. Beaux-Arts architecture was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris during the period of 1830s until the end of the century. The interior is just as impressive as the exterior. The award-winning Borrallo Interiors, a Montreal design firm, created a sophisticated, yet bold space. Vibrant colours in rich jewel tones adds a bit of drama to its modern clean lines. And, it’s also known as the first ever boutique hotel in Canada. 

St Paul Hotel in Montreal, Quebec

Top 5 reasons why St Paul Hotel is the best place to stay:

  1. It’s dog friendly (note there is a $50/night charge for your pet).
  2. The location. Even though Old Montreal is small and walkable, the hotel is away from the most ‘touristy’ area of this neighbourhood.  
  3. It’s an architectural gem. 
  4. The interior design is highly stylized and uber cool.
  5. Their personalized service was top notch.

Tip when booking: ask for the top floor and you will be awarded with amazing views of the city (Request Room 1007).

As a holidaymaker…

Montréal is a such a lively historic city. The late, and great, Anthony Bourdain had deep affection for the city and said, “It’s where the cool kids hang out.” And he’s right! I love everything about this city, but especially Old Montréal. It can rival any European city. With this intinery, plan to spend a full day in Old Montréal. Au reviour!

Take a walking tour of Old Montreal, Quebec and discover the best sites to see and things to do
Take a walking tour of Old Montreal, Quebec and discover the best sites to see and things to do

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47 Comments

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    This post is SO timely. We leave for Montreal on Tuesday for a few days before we head to Atlantic Canada. It has been a long time since I wandered in Montreal so these are great suggestions. I love all the older buildings and architecture. I always think of great food when I think of Montreal, so I have noted your suggestions.

  • Alma

    What a perfect insight into Old Montreal! Would love to explore here but enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

  • Laureen Lund

    It’s been about six years since my one and only visit to Montreal. I have always wanted to go back!!! It felt so European and the food was exceptional! Here’s hoping we can get the Canada USA border open soon…can’t wait to travel in Canada again. Great post…great photos.

  • Raksha

    I never knew that Montreal had such old part of history. I love all those places listed here, especially would love to see the cathedrals and walk around the Old Montreal. I have never been to Montreal till now but have always had it on my list. Hopefully I will make it there soon.

  • gloria li

    Montreal is the one Canadian city I am dying to visit having been to Ottawa and Vancouver. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Anda

    Montreal has been on my list for a while now, so I’m glad I stumbled upon your post. It contains a lot of useful information that concerns not only the attractions, but also about lodging and places to eat. I love those statues in Place Marguerite-Bourgeoys.

  • Barry

    I have to say this first, as it’s so true. Montreal has one of the best Modern Art Galleries in the world. I too visited Montreal several years ago and the Gallery visit was one of my most endearing moments. The artworks were superb, in well lit settings and such an eclectic variety.

    It’s interesting how we are similar in our takes on the city but also slightly different.

    Your pics are beautiful. That’s a wonderful pic of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. I took it from the back and clearly thought that was the main part, duhhh – yours show the front and is a much better angle and pic.

    Would have loved to see the places you highlight as they look enchanting – pressure of time again reduced the number of places I could see. I will visit your choices next time round!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Barry for your kind compliments. I too have a picture of the back of the Chapel, but opted to share the front!
      I will have to visit the Gallery, I couldn’t as I was travelling with my dog. But next time I need to sneak that in. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Agnes

    Old Montréal seems a fabulous place for a trip. I had no idea that it dated to the early 1600s. I want to visit Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and the Bonsecours Market. Château Ramezay also seems very exciting as it shows how the people of New France lived many centuries ago. It’s great to know that it’s on a list as one of the ‘1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die’ by a team of experts in partnership with UNESCO. I add it to my bucket list.

  • Clarice

    The Old Port Montréal looks like a great place to spend the an relaxing afternoon. Love the idea of eating and drinking along the pier. It’s nice it has a skating rink and Ferris Wheel. My kids would love it.

  • Riana Ang-Canning

    Ah this post puts such a smile on my face! I’ve visited Montreal a few times and wandering through Old Montreal is always a highlight. I love the streets, eateries and beautiful buildings. Chez Suzette is definitely a favourite! I haven’t seen the Two Snobs statues though. Will have to keep an eye out for those on my next visit!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Riana for your comment. Yes, you will definitely have to keep your eye out for those statues. Agree about Crepe Suzette, I definitely wanted to add it to my recommendation on places to eat.

  • Barbara Farfan

    It’s hard to imagine a time when the Royal Bank Tower was the tallest building in Canada, eh? I’ve been to all the major cities of Canada and Old Montreal beats them all with authentic charm. It’s almost like a theme park! Montreal is also where I had my first – and last – Poutine. That was a Memorable Montreal Moment, indeed! This is a reall great Old Montreal roundup – thanks!

  • Emma Earthwanderer

    I knew nothing about old Montreal before reading this post, except ofcourse Notre Dame. I’m intrigued by the nightclub in the old bank vault, that would be cool! I’d also love to wander the cobblestoned street of St Paul and check out some of those cafes and boutiques.

  • Bhushavali N

    As a history buff, Old Montreal is the kind of place I’d totally love to visit. To begin with I can see the French influence in the name of the Cathedral itself. The architecture of Centre d’Histoire de Montréal is so beautiful, reminds me much of European buildings. Good to see the entrance to metro stations look exactly the same as in Paris. Interesting to learn about Marguerite Bourgeoys and the filles du Roi.

  • Amrita

    Old Montreal sounds so fascinating. The place looks so beautiful and has so much history. Definitely a place that I would love to visit. The Notre-Dame Basilica and Montreal city Hall looks so grand and majestic. I am sure Old Montreal will be a fascinating visit.

  • Maggie

    I had no idea how many old, beautiful buildings Montreal has! It looks more like a European city than one on this side of the Atlantic. Hard to believe I still haven’t visited there. It’s definitely on my list though!

  • Candy

    I hope to explore Old Montreal someday. Everything looks so beautiful and the hotel suggestion you made looks fabulous. It’s great that it’s a lively historic city and so funny that Bourdain said it was where the cool kids hung out. I hope I’m cool enough to hang out here!

  • Emma

    I really enjoyed visiting Montreal, and especially Old Montreal. Living in Vancouver it was nice for a change to see a Canadian city with a bit more history, something I’m used to coming from Europe. You’re making me want to go back and visit Montreal again. And now I have some more dining recommendations too – especially the historic places

  • Andi Fisher

    I’ve had Montreal on my bucket list for a very long time, but when I was living on the West Coast I always just went to France instead. Now that I live on the East Coast, Montreal is calling to me, as it looks like a fabulous town for a Francophile to visit!

  • JoJo Hall

    Old Montreal looks like a little place straight out of Europe! I can definitely see some inspiration in the architecture and designs within the location. It would be a cute little weekend getaway.

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