The largest inland port in the world, Montreal is also the busiest along the St Lawrence River, which links the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. Founded in 1642 by French Catholic settlers, today Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. With its cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes, the city has an undeniable European charm, so it is no wonder it welcomes over 7 million visitors each year.
How to get to Montreal
Cruise ships dock at the Iberville Passenger Terminal, which is walking distance from many of Montreal’s main attractions, including the Old Town. Taxis are also readily available at the port.
One Day in Montreal
Start your visit by exploring charming Old Montreal, starting with the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal, an ornate cathedral that towers over the area. Once the home to the city’s first European settlers in the 17th century, today the district offers an array of museums, boutiques, cafes and entertainment.
You can get an overview of Montreal’s centuries-old history by visiting the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History. Built over the remains of the old port, the museum gives visitors a look at the underground remains of early indigenous populations and the first French settlers. For more local history, the Centre d’histoire de Montreal is also worth a visit.
How you spend the rest of the day will depend a lot on your interests as Montreal truly as a little something for everyone. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the premier art museum in the city with over 35,000 paintings, sculptures and other works of art. For more contemporary art, also check out the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art.
Shoppers will be in heaven in Montreal, with options ranging from the designer shops and boutiques of the rue Sherbrooke and boulevard St-Laurent to the more quirky Quartier Lain to the Underground City with over 1,000 stores in passageways underneath the city. Sports fans may want to check out Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The stadium’s tower offers a great view of the surrounding area. Close to the stadium you will also find the Biodome, a combination zoo and environmental museum, the Botanic Garden and the Insectarium.
For a more active view of the city, try a jet boat ride on the St. Lawrence River or rent a bike and pedal along some of Montreal’s 400 miles of bike paths. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, you might head to the Casino de Montreal on the Ile Notre-Dame, Canada’s largest casino.
French is the official language in Montreal, but many locals speak English as well. The currency is the Canadian dollar and ATMs are widely available. The port itself has a few attractions, including an IMAX theater and a clock tower you can climb for nice views of the area.