Old Montreal is one of the most beautiful places in all of North America, with a European feel that draws people from everywhere and every age. Tourists from around the world flock to the old city but so do Montrealers from every part of the town. There is a multitude of things to do in Old Montreal, with tourist attractions and sights that are really something special to experience.
Whether you go for coffee, ice cream, a delicious meal or just for a walk, you won’t be disappointed in all that Old Montreal and the Old Port have to offer.
Things to Do in Old Montreal
This walking tour of the old city will ensure you get the most out of this day trip. Start off with the picturesque streets – you’ll find the cobblestone streets in Old Montreal beautiful, but they aren’t the best surface on which to wear heels, so a word of advice for the ladies – stick to comfy flats.
You can come to Old Montreal by car, but then you’ll have to deal with traffic and parking, so you’re better off taking the metro or the train.
Get off at the Place d’Armes metro station, which will bring you to the heart of Old Montreal and close to the square with the same name.
Place d’Armes Square and Notre Dame Basilica – An Old Montreal Travel Guide
Start off your walk Place d’Armes Square, where you’ll find the Notre-Dame Basilica – a Montreal landmark, which lies directly opposite the square, a landmark in its own right.
Things to do in Old Montreal
Notre-Dame Basilica is absolutely stunning and should be one definite must-see attraction in Old Montreal. The admission is quite affordable, too! This is the same historical “cathedral” in which the worldly Celine Dion married René Angélil in 1994.
Place d’Armes Montreal History
While at Place d’Armes, take in all its glory and history. It’s a significant place in the history of Montreal. It was named so because it was where the city’s defenders assembled. You can snap some great photos of the Basilica safely from this location. Afterward, observe the beautiful monument, dedicated to significant Montreal historical figures, which rests at the center of the square.
The monument is in memory of the founder of Montreal, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve. At its base are other notable figures: Charles Le Moyne, Lambert Closse, Jeanne Mance, and a statue of a Native American Iroquois warrior.
The Paul de Chomedey monument sits where the old Notre-Dame church once stood, between Notre-Dame and Saint-Jacques streets. Today, horse-drawn carriages (known as caleches) are parked there for their departure points of Old Montreal tours.
Now is a good time to look around you. Place d’Armes Square (the second oldest public site), was developed in 1693, and is surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in the city, that date back to the 1600s. For instance, there is the Saint-Sulpice Seminary. Its clock was installed in 1701 and is one of the oldest on the continent!
What was once the tallest building in Montreal – eight stories high – the New York Life Building also stands facing the square. It was completed in 1889 and continues to overlook Place d’Armes.
And, so does the Bank of Montreal Head Office building on Saint Jacques Street, which was built in 1817. It just happens to be the OLDEST bank in all of Canada! This beautiful neoclassical style structure is still the legal headquarters of the Bank of Montreal, but as a result of tumultuous political times in the 1970s, its operational head office was moved to Toronto, Ontario.
During regular banking hours, drop by to see the Bank of Montreal Museum exhibits. It will take you back in time to see what banking was really like in the 19th century. Admission is free, and it’s worth a visit.
Old Montreal’s own “Empire State Building” also faces the square. It is known as the Art Deco Aldred Building, built in 1931, and stands 23 stories high. One good look is all it takes to notice its resemblance to the New York landmark that was completed the same year.
Stay at One of the Best Old Montreal Hotels
The Hotel Place D’Armes, the 4-star boutique hotel designed in a neoclassical style is at the heart of Old Montreal and just opposite the Notre-Dame Basilica. It boasts 116 luxury rooms, 48 suites, and 5 impressive penthouses. Even if you’re not a guest at this sophisticated hotel, make your way up to their incredible rooftop patio – Terrasse Place d’Armes for a drink or a great meal.
Le Place d’Armes Hotel is located at:
55, rue Saint-Jacques
Other Old Town Montreal Hotels
Some of the best hotels in Old Montreal are scattered about the old city. These include:
- Le Saint-Sulpice Hotel
- Hotel Nelligan
- St Paul Hotel
- Hotel Le St-James
- Hotel Bonaparte
- InterContinental Montreal
- W Hotel
Of course, there are many more Old Montreal hotels to pick from, but you need to book in advance because the old city hotel rooms go quickly in a town with so many attractions, festivals, and events.