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Montreal - Canadian Culture At It's Best

Montreal is now no longer the financial hub of Canada it once was but that's no loss.

The city sits apart from other major North American cities with its more relaxed pace of life, vibrant nightlife and thriving restaurant scene.

Overall the city is very clean and pleasant and the Canadian culture of treating others as you expect to be treated yourself is just so welcoming.

The downtown city area is compact and easy to navigate and while there is crime in any city, Montreal seems to feel safer.

To help you wind down from all the tourist hopping, try taking a horse-drawn carriage ride along the St. Lawerence River in the district of Old Montreal around sunset.

Top 5 things to do in Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal is is the oldest area of the city, dating back to New France when the region was colonised by French explorers around 1534.

In the early 18th century, the name of Montreal (which referred to the mountain "Mont-Royale") gradually replaced that of Ville-Marie, the original name of the site from 1642.

In the early 20th century, the district continued to grow as evidenced by the construction of prestigious buildings such as the Aldred Building (1929–1931), La Sauvegarde Building (1913) and the first Stock Exchange (1903–1904).

In 1964, most of Old Montreal was classified as a historic district and is a major tourist attraction for the area with some of the surviving buildings dating back to the 17th century.

Underground City

In French, Montreal's Underground City is called La Ville Souterraine and is made up of a set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown Montreal.

It is the largest non-military underground complex in the world. The 32km of interconnecting tunnels are large and home to a variety of shops on both sides.

The underground city is split into different 'segments' each containing one or more prestigious or important buildings.

From above, there are about 200 entrance points to the underground city.

Mount Royal

North of downtown Montreal is the mountain Mount Royal after which the city was named.

The Mount Royal Cross monument sits at the top of the mountain and was first erected in 1643 by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city. An illuminated cross was installed in 1924.

The mountain is also the site of Mount Royal Park, Montreal's largest green-space.

There are a couple of good vantage points at the top of the mountain with great views across the city scape below.

In the summer time, Mount Royal hosts a popular activity, started in the 70's, known as the "Tam Tam Jam", whereby a number of Montrealers and visitors play hand drums on the east slope.

The number 11 bus (STM) takes visitors between the mountain summit and downtown Montreal.


Originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic Games as a velodrome, this unique structure was converted to a biodome in 1988 allowing visitors to walk through replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas.

The four ecosystems represented in the biodome are; The Tropical Forest, The Laurentian Forest, The Saint Lawrence Marine Eco-system and a polar area that is divided into Arctic and Antarctic

A variety of animals live in each simulated habitat, ranging from the macaws in the Tropical Forest, to the lynx in the Laurentian Forest, to the penguins (with their very own live penguin-cam) in the Antarctic.

Fascinating facts for adults and heaps of fun for the kids. Hours and ticket prices on the website.

Botanical Garden

The gardens are located in Maisonneuve Park, facing Montreal's Olympic Stadium and where founded in 1931 to help educate the public and students in horticulture as well as to conserve endangered plant species.

City residents can obtain a free entry pass, and as one of the few large green-spaces in the city, the gardens are widely used every day and especially popular during summer as a wedding venue.

The gardens are split into four major areas: The Chinese Garden, The Japanese Garden, The First Nations Garden and The Alpine Garden.

The grounds are also home to the popular Montreal Insectarium.

There is an admission fee for non city residents before 6pm, thereafter the gardens are open to everyone until nightfall.

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