A winning blend of Old World charm and contemporary style, the Canadian city of Montreal is renowned for its diverse architecture, vibrant arts scene and mouth-watering cuisine. As the largest city in the Francophone province of Quebec (and the second largest in Canada), the city is a major cultural hub, with an outstanding collection of museums, galleries and festivals – plus all the shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities you could possibly desire on a city break.
Founded in the 17th century as a fur trading post on the St Lawrence River, Montreal has grown into a global centre for innovation without ever forgetting its historic roots. The past echoes most strongly in the cobbled streets of Old Montreal, home to a wide variety of handsome historic buildings, including the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica, full of colourful stained glass, and the Old Sulpician Seminary, the oldest structure in the city.
Pay a visit to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum to explore the city's origins, and soak up the atmosphere in the elegant Château Ramezay, once the home of the governor of New France. Stroll along Rue Saint-Paul and Place Jacques-Cartier, two of the city's oldest streets, to discover countless trendy boutiques, cafés and restaurants, and drop by the historic Bonsecours Market for more upscale shopping and dining. Too cold? Venture into the Underground City, a network of climate-controlled tunnels that connect various shopping centre, galleries and more throughout the city centre. For a look at Montreal's modern side, check out the quirky Habitat 67 housing complex designed by Moshe Safdie and the Montreal Biosphère, originally built for the 1967 World Fair and now a museum dedicated to the environment. Culture fans will want to explore the Museum of Fine Arts or catch a concert by the world-famous Montreal Symphony Orchestra – you can also watch performances by a variety of buskers on the Place des Arts.
Montreal is also a major festival city, with highlights including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs comedy fest. There are also lots of options for sports fans, whether you fancy catching a Montreal Canadiens ice hockey game, or heading out yourself to do some skiing, snowboarding, kayaking and more. Foodies should try local specialities such as fresh bagels, poutine (chips topped with gravy and cheese curds) and smoked meat sandwiches on rye, while nature lovers can wander through the Montreal Biodôme (which recreates global ecosystems) and the Botanical Gardens (which also include a massive Insectarium). For the best views of the city, meanwhile, stroll your way to the top of Mount Royal, from which the city takes its name, and enjoy the lovely park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also created New York's Central Park.
Ready to embark on your own Quebecois adventure? Book your hotel in Montreal with Marriott today and start planning your visit.