Montreal, Canada’s 2nd-biggest city and the cultural capital of Quebec, thrills visitors with its melting-pot cultural influences, passion for fine food and fun, European-style old town, and picturesque riverfront setting. If you have only one day to explore Montreal, here’s how you can make the most of it.
Start by ticking off the city’s top sights. Opt for a guided bus tour or a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour that covers the don’t-miss landmarks, from the Notre-Dame Basilica in Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) to Mount Royal (Mont Royal), the cross-topped “mountain” after which the city is named. Active travelers can explore on two feet instead, or try the method of transportation preferred by many locals—bike—during a cycling tour. If you visit in winter, seek shelter from the sub-zero temperatures in Montreal’s Underground City, a vast complex of tunnels, hotels, malls, universities, and museums.
Montreal offers up countless opportunities to get active within the city confines. Go rafting or jet boating on the Lachine Rapids, or jet-skiing around the St. Lawrence River. For an exhilarating activity that doesn’t involve getting wet, try careening down a zipline by the Old Port of Montreal or taking to the skies over the city during a flying lesson. If snowy winter weather prevents these activities, you can dial up the adrenaline indoors with a race car or skydiving simulator instead.
Come evening, slow down the pace with a romantic dinner cruise along the St. Lawrence River. Admire the dazzling lights of the downtown area, float by St. Helen’s Island (Île Sainte-Helene), and glide under the Jacques Cartier Bridge while enjoying a multicourse meal aboard. For something a little livelier, join a guided pub crawl around Montreal. Hop between some of the city’s buzziest drinking spots before ending your experience in a nightclub, where you can mingle with Montrealers until the wee hours.