The Getaway
14 Must-See Attractions in Montreal's Old Town

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the captivating world of Old Montreal, where every cobblestone street and historic building whispers tales of the city's rich past.

As you wander through this enchanting district, you'll discover a treasure trove of architectural wonders, fascinating museums, and charming cafes that will transport you to another era. From the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame Basilica to the lively Place Jacques-Cartier, Old Montreal offers a unique blend of history, culture, and charm that will leave you spellbound. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned explorer, get ready to uncover the secrets and surprises that await you in this timeless corner of the city.

Join us as we embark on a journey through the must-see attractions that showcase the best of Old Montreal's heritage and allure.

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01 Notre-Dame Basilica

Inside Architectural of Notre-Dame Basilic of Montreal Part# 2

Stepping into the Notre-Dame Basilica is like entering a breathtaking work of art. This Gothic Revival masterpiece, constructed between 1824 and 1829, stands as one of Montreal's most iconic landmarks. The basilica's interior, designed by Victor Bourgeau, features intricate wood carvings, vibrant stained glass windows, and a grand pipe organ that will leave you in awe. The attention to detail is simply astounding, from the delicate patterns on the vaulted ceiling to the ornate altar. Visitors can attend mass to experience the spiritual atmosphere or take a guided tour to delve deeper into the basilica's rich history and architectural significance. The Notre-Dame Basilica also hosts regular concerts and light shows, showcasing its beauty in a truly mesmerizing way.

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02 Place Jacques-Cartier

Nestled in the heart of Old Montreal, Place Jacques-Cartier is a vibrant square that buzzes with energy and charm. This historic plaza, named after the French explorer who claimed Canada for France in 1535, is lined with colorful buildings housing an array of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. As you stroll through the square, you'll be entertained by talented street performers, from musicians to magicians, adding to the lively atmosphere. During the summer months, a daily market takes over the square, offering visitors the chance to browse and purchase unique crafts and souvenirs from local artisans. For a memorable dining experience, grab a seat at one of the outdoor terraces overlooking the square and savor the flavors of Montreal's culinary scene while people-watching and soaking up the ambiance of this enchanting historic district.

Tourists on Jacques Cartier place.Place Jacques-Cartier is a square located in Old Montreal and an entrance to the Old Port of Montreal. People can be seen around. BakerJarvis / Shutterstock.com

03 Pointe-à-Callière Museum

Embark on a fascinating journey through time at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, where Montreal's rich history comes to life. Built on the site of the city's first settlement, founded in 1642, this museum offers a unique glimpse into the lives of Montreal's early inhabitants. Explore the underground ruins and uncover the secrets of the past as you wander through the museum's captivating exhibits.

The permanent exhibition, "Where Montreal Began," features interactive displays and artifacts that showcase the city's early days. Immerse yourself in the multimedia show "Generations MTL," which tells the story of Montreal through the eyes of six different characters, each representing a different era. From temporary exhibitions on various topics related to Montreal's history and culture to hands-on activities, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum offers a truly engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

Exhibits in Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montreal Todamo / Shutterstock.com

04 Rue Saint-Paul

Strolling along Rue Saint-Paul is like stepping into a time capsule, with its cobblestone streets and beautifully restored 19th-century buildings. This historic thoroughfare, named after Montreal's founder, Paul de Chomedey, is one of the oldest streets in the city, dating back to the 17th century. As you explore the charming boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops that line the street, you'll discover a treasure trove of unique gifts and local crafts.

Don't miss the iconic Bonsecours Market, a historic market building that now houses an array of trendy shops and restaurants. Whether you're looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir or simply want to soak up the atmosphere of Old Montreal, Rue Saint-Paul is a must-visit destination.

Shops along Rue Saint-Paul in the Old Montreal section of Montreal. It is the oldest street in Montreal, Canada, famous for the many restaurants and unique shops Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock.com

05 Montreal City Hall

Main Building of the City Hall in Old Montreal, Canada.

Nestled in the heart of Old Montreal, the Montreal City Hall is a stunning architectural gem that showcases the city's rich history and grandeur. This impressive building, constructed between 1872 and 1878, is a prime example of Second Empire architecture, featuring a grand staircase, ornate ballrooms, and a beautiful outdoor garden.

Visitors can take a guided tour to explore the building's impressive interiors and learn about its fascinating past. Designed by renowned architects Henri-Maurice Perrault and Alexander Cowper Hutchison, the City Hall has withstood the test of time despite a devastating fire in 1922 that destroyed much of the structure. The building was meticulously restored to its former glory, preserving its historical significance and architectural splendor.

As the seat of Montreal's municipal government, the City Hall is not always open to the public, so be sure to check the schedule before planning your visit to this iconic landmark.

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06 Château Ramezay Museum

Step back in time at the Château Ramezay Museum, housed in a stunning 18th-century building that once served as the governor's residence. This historic gem, built in 1705, is the oldest private history museum in Quebec. Explore the museum's extensive collections of artifacts, artwork, and documents that bring Montreal's past to life.

The permanent exhibition, "Life in Montreal in the 18th Century," features recreated period rooms and interactive displays that immerse visitors in the daily lives of Montrealers during the French colonial era. After touring the museum, be sure to stroll through the beautiful French colonial-style garden, a tranquil oasis in the heart of Old Montreal.

The Château Ramezay is a museum and historic building on Notre-Dame Street in Old Montreal Quebec Canada. Shanshan0312 / Shutterstock.com

07 Place d'Armes

Place d'Armes is a picturesque square that serves as a testament to Montreal's rich history. Surrounded by architectural marvels like the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, this space offers visitors a glimpse into the city's past. The centerpiece of the square is the impressive monument dedicated to Paul de Chomedey, the founder of Montreal, which was erected in 1895.

The statue of Chomedey stands atop a tall column overlooking the square that was once used as a military parade ground. Today, Place d'Armes is a vibrant gathering spot, attracting tourists and locals who come to admire the stunning architecture, enjoy street performances, and soak up the atmosphere of Old Montreal.

Place d'Armes is a square in Old Montreal quarter. In the center, there is a monument in memory of Paul de Chomedey founder of Montreal. On 08 25 2013 in Montreal Canada. meunierd / Shutterstock.com

08 Old Port of Montreal

The old port of Montreal at sunset, Quebec, Canada

The Old Port of Montreal is a must-visit destination for those seeking a perfect blend of history, recreation, and stunning views. This revitalized waterfront area offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the beautiful architecture of the historic buildings that line the port.

For a unique perspective of the city, rent a bike or quadricycle and explore the area on two or four wheels. Alternatively, hop aboard a boat tour and discover the wonders of the St. Lawrence River, marveling at the city skyline from the water. Be sure to visit the Montreal Science Centre, where you can engage with interactive exhibits that showcase the fascinating world of science and technology. When you're ready to relax, head to Clock Tower Beach, a man-made oasis that offers a perfect spot to unwind, enjoy the views, and soak up the sun.

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09 Bonsecours Market

Bonsecours Market, a magnificent neo-classical building designed by William Footner in 1847, is a true gem in the heart of Old Montreal. This historic market has been meticulously restored and now houses an array of boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. As you explore the market, you'll discover unique gifts and souvenirs that reflect the city's rich cultural heritage. Take a break from shopping to savor a delicious meal at one of the charming cafes or restaurants within the market. Be sure to visit the Bonsecours Museum, which offers fascinating insights into the building's history and its role in shaping the surrounding area. The market's iconic dome, a prominent feature of the Montreal skyline, is a testament to the architectural brilliance of this treasured landmark.

Bonsecours Market BalkansCat / Shutterstock.com

10 Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum

Discover the inspiring story of Marguerite Bourgeoys, a remarkable 17th-century nun who left an indelible mark on Montreal's history, at the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum. Housed within the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, one of the city's oldest churches, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Bourgeoys' life and the early days of the Congregation of Notre Dame, which she founded. Through engaging exhibits and carefully preserved artifacts from the 17th and 18th centuries, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by Bourgeoys and her fellow nuns as they worked tirelessly to establish schools and provide education for young women in the fledgling colony. After exploring the museum, be sure to climb the church tower for breathtaking panoramic views of the Old Port and the St. Lawrence River.

Old Port Montreal. Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum. Alina Reynbakh / Shutterstock.com

11 Saint-Sulpice Seminary

The Old Saint-Sulpice Seminary in Montreal - Quebec, Canada

Nestled in the heart of Old Montreal, the Saint-Sulpice Seminary stands as a testament to the city's rich religious and architectural heritage. Founded in 1657 by the Sulpician Order, this historic building played a pivotal role in shaping Montreal's spiritual and educational landscape for centuries. Although the seminary is not open to the public, visitors can admire its stunning French colonial architecture from the outside, marveling at the intricate details and the iconic clock tower that graces the Old Montreal skyline. The nearby Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the seminary's history, allowing visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for this architectural masterpiece and its enduring legacy.

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12 Montreal History Centre

Immerse yourself in the captivating story of Montreal at the Montreal History Centre, a museum dedicated to showcasing the city's rich past from its founding to the present day. Through interactive exhibits, multimedia displays, and carefully curated artifacts, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and economic forces that have shaped Montreal over the centuries.

Explore the lives of the city's early settlers, discover the impact of Montreal's industrial growth, and uncover the city's pivotal role in Canadian history. The museum's permanent exhibition, "Montreal en Histoires," features a series of immersive multimedia installations that bring the past to life, engaging visitors of all ages.

Housed in a historic building that once contained Montreal's first public well, the Montreal History Centre is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the city's fascinating heritage. Be sure to check out the museum's thought-provoking temporary exhibitions, which delve into specific aspects of Montreal's history and culture, offering fresh perspectives on the city's enduring legacy.

Montreal History Centre Sun_Shine / Shutterstock.com

13 Rue de la Commune

Stroll along Rue de la Commune and immerse yourself in Old Montreal's rich maritime history. This picturesque street, which runs parallel to the St. Lawrence River, is lined with beautifully restored 19th-century buildings that once served as warehouses and shipping offices during the city's heyday as a bustling port. Today, these historic structures have been transformed into an array of charming restaurants, cozy cafes, and unique shops, offering visitors a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern amenities.

As you explore Rue de la Commune, look for the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, a must-visit attraction that showcases Montreal's fascinating history from its founding to the present day. The museum is built on the site of the city's first settlement and features interactive exhibits, multimedia displays, and archaeological ruins that bring the past to life.

14 Place Royale

Place Royale is a charming historic square that transports visitors back to Montreal's early days. This picturesque spot marks the site of the city's first public market, where settlers gathered to trade goods and share news. Surrounding the square are beautifully restored 18th-century buildings, including the renowned Pointe-à-Callière Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into Montreal's rich history.

At the heart of Place Royale stands a statue of Paul de Chomedey, the visionary founder of Montreal, serving as a reminder of the city's humble beginnings. Named in honor of King Louis XIV of France, who reigned during Montreal's early years, Place Royale was the bustling center of the young settlement. Today, the square remains a popular destination for tourists eager to immerse themselves in the timeless charm of Old Montreal and capture memorable photos against its historic backdrop.

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