Where to Stay in Montreal

SD › Best Places to Stay in Montreal
Updated: December 23, 2022

Our Favorite Toronto Hotels

• 5-Star Hotel: Four Seasons
• Boutique Hotel: Hotel Le Germain
• Cheap Hotel: Auberge de la Fontaine
• Family Hotel: Le Square Phillips
• Best Indoor Pool: The Ritz-Carlton
• Best Outdoor Pool: Humaniti
• Near Airport: Marriott Airport In-Terminal
• Near Train Station: Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth

Best place to stay in Montreal.

The Four Seasons is the best luxury hotel in downtown Montreal.

The Best Area to Stay in Montreal

The world’s second-largest French-speaking city after Paris, Montreal is Canada’s cultural capital, a multi-ethnic melting pot of skyscrapers, stylish architecture, innovative restaurants, and boisterous festivals throughout the year. When it comes to accommodation, most of the choices are located in the city center – either Downtown or in adjacent Old Montreal, but for more intrepid travelers there are increasingly choices popping up in Montreal’s famously idiosyncratic outer neighborhoods. Montreal is a pedestrian-friendly city, and there’s not much point in staying in the motels on the outskirts unless you are planning to explore the Quebec hinterland by car.

The city’s historic quarter, Old Montreal (officially Vieux-Montréal) offers the most atmosphere and a smattering of romantic boutique hotels, as well as some of biggest attractions: the grand Notre-Dame Basilica, and Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal’s premier archaeology and history complex. It also encompasses the once-disused Old Port, transformed into a series of parks and urban beaches on the St Lawrence River. Nearby lies Montreal’s Downtown area, a blend of modern glass and steel skyscrapers, Victorian townhouses, and numerous churches. Shops and restaurants line Sainte-Catherine and the streets of the Quartier Latin and Quartier des Spectacles. The city’s principal museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is here. To the north, the Plateau district is known for its numerous restaurants, the city’s famous bagels, and a smattering of cheaper hotels and B&Bs. Looming above is Mount Royal itself, its tree-lined slopes laced with shady trails that end up on the west side of the mountain in the hip district of Outremont. Here and in neighboring Cote-Des-Neiges are a handful of places to stay, while further east, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is home to the huge Olympic Stadium complex and the vast green space of the botanical gardens. The islands in the St Lawrence that make up Parc Jean-Drapeau offer all manner of family-friendly activities, from La Ronde amusement park to open-air swimming pools and beaches in the summer.

Montreal Travel Tips

  • Aeroport International Montreal-Trudeau is around 14 miles (22km) southwest of the city center. The cheapest ride between the airport and Downtown is Express Bus #747 (it runs 24hrs along René-Lévesque Blvd to Berri-UQAM station), though journey times vary wildly depending on traffic (40 min to 1hr 10 min). Fare is $10, but this also acts as a 24hr pass on the whole transit system.
  • Don’t rent a car. Parking is expensive (meters are C$3.50/hour Downtown) and hard to find – especially in winter, the traffic is horrible at rush hour, and all the signage is in French. Public transportation is great in Montréal and beyond that, Uber is always a great option. If you do arrive by car, note that you cannot turn right on a red light on the Island of Montreal.
  • While it’s relatively easy to explore the city center on foot, Montreal’s metro system is the best way to zip around the city’s outer neighborhoods. Single fares are C$3.50, with one-day passes C$10. The best deal for visitors that intend to use the Metro a lot is the three-day pass (C$20.50).
  • BIXI Montreal is the city’s bike share system, operating from April to November, with more than 9,500 bikes and 700 stations. Biking is a fun way to get around, though there are a few ups and downs (e-bikes are also available but you must wear a helmet). You’ll need to download the app and buy a BIXI membership or a one-way pass (C$0.15/minute regular, C$0.30/minute e-bike) to access the bikes. Monthly memberships are just C$18 and are worth considering if you intend to cycle a lot; the first 45 minutes of any trip are free.

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail below, but with more time, families or watersports fans should also check out the Pole des Rapides area in southwestern Montréal. You can ride the Lachine Rapids in the St Lawrence River in a jetboat, or on a whitewater raft; fish or sail boats in Lake Saint-Louis; kayak the Lachine Canal, or bike the multi-use trails along the riverside. There are also historical re-enactments at the Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site. There’s nowhere to stay down here, and no need to; just take a bus or taxi.

The Best Places to Stay in Montreal

Best Neighborhoods in Montreal for…

  • Best Neighborhood to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Downtown or Old Montreal
    The city center is divided between Downtown – the main commercial and entertainment hub – and the more historic Old Montreal neighborhood across the Ville-Marie Expressway. Almost all the best accommodation is located in these two districts; the central Metro stations are all here, making access to the outer neighborhoods easy, as well as some of the best eating and drinking options in the city. Downtown includes the wildly popular Barbie Expo (of Barbie dolls), shopping in the Golden Square Mile, the McCord Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Redpath Museum, cultural venues and theaters in the Quartier des Spectacles, nightlife in the Latin Quarter, Montreal’s Chinatown and the Bell Centre, home of the iconic Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

    Staying in Old Montreal means being closer to the river and the Old Port, the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, historic Chateau Ramezay, Bonsecours Market, Montreal Science Center, and the Pointe-a-Calliere Archaeology and History Complex. Parts of Old Montreal can be a little quieter at night, but the best boutique hotels are located here and it’s a lot more atmospheric.

  • Most Romantic Neighborhood: Old Montreal
    Though several Montreal neighborhoods are extremely charming, it’s hard to beat the cobbled streets, historic buildings, and luxurious boutique hotels of Old Montreal. Vieux-Montreal is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway: there are sunset and dinner cruises along the river, beautiful house museums like the Chateau Ramezay, the quaint food and craft stalls of Bonsecours Market, and enchanting old churches like the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours. The hotels here are very good; the most attractive and intimate options for couples are Hotel Bonaparte, Hotel Epik, Hotel Nelligan, Hotel Uville, and Le Petit Hotel.
  • Best Neighborhoods for Nightlife: Downtown and the Plateau
    Staying in Downtown Montreal means easy access to several buzzing nightlife hubs. Crescent Street is a good place to start (between René-Lévesque Blvd and Sherbrooke St), with an always lively strip of bars that includes Brutopia, Hurley’s Irish Pub, an outpost of 3 Brasseurs brewery, Brass Door Pub (2171 Crescent St), and several dance clubs. Further north, the Quartier Latin features another cluster of restaurants and bars, primarily along Saint-Denis Street. Solid choices here include Saint-Houblon, Bistro a Jojo, Patrick’s Pub, Le Saint-Bock micro-brewery, and cocktails at Turbo Haus.

    The Latin Quarter is part of the Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal’s Entertainment District; you’ll find all the big performance spaces here, a raft of music festivals (including JazzFest), and bars like Pub Le Sainte-Elisabeth (1412 Sainte-Elisabeth St). Another nightlife strip is Saint-Laurent Boulevard in the Plateau, northwest of the city center, lined with brewpubs, clubs, karaoke bars, and dive bars open until the early hours. On a very long list of enticing options is Le Majestique Montreal (4105 Saint-Laurent Blvd), Le Darling (4328 Saint-Laurent Blvd), and Barfly (4062 Saint-Laurent Blvd). There are not a lot of hotels up here, but there some budget, hostel, and Airbnb options. Note that the Village (“Le Village”) is at the heart of the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene (see below).

  • Best Neighborhoods for Food and Restaurants: Plateau/Mile End and Little Italy
    Montreal has long been regarded as a culinary capital, and you’ll find everything from fine French restaurants to Jewish delis and bagel shops in every neighborhood. Though Downtown and Old Montreal offer a wealth of choices, foodies should look beyond the city center. North of Downtown and anchored by Saint-Laurent Boulevard, the Plateau is the quintessential Montreal neighborhood – and it’s especially known for food (Mile End is the fashionable section at the western end of the Plateau.) You could spend weeks sampling the culinary delights here, but a few highlights include the foie gras poutine and other Québécois specialties at Au Pied de Cochon; the wood-fired bagels at Fairmount or St-Viateur; Schwartz’s, and Wilensky’s Light Lunch, classic Jewish delis; top French restaurant Chez Victoire; Mycoboutique, a unique store dedicated solely to mushrooms; the huge sandwiches at Café Santropol; local breakfast spot La Binerie Mont-Royal, and many others.

    • You’ll find some decent hostels and B&Bs in the Plateau (apartment rentals also), but it’s also easily accessible via the Metro. If you’re more interested in food, drink, and shopping than in sightseeing, staying here is worth considering.

    The Best Hotels in Plateau/Mile End
    Manoir Sherbrooke • Hotel phone: +1 514 845 0915
    Kutuma • Hotel phone: +1 514 844 0111
    Milton Parc Boutique Lofts • Hotel phone: +1 514 759 6110
    Parc Suites Hotel • Hotel phone: +1 514 985 5656

    Best B&Bs
    Bienvenue Bed & Breakfast • Hotel phone: +1 514 844 5897
    Gingerbread Manor • Hotel phone: +1 514 597 2804

    Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels
    Auberge Chez Jean • Hotel phone: +1 514 843 8279
    Auberge de La Fontaine • Hotel phone: +1 514 597 0166
    Auberge du Plateau • Hotel phone: +1 514 284 1276

    Just to the west of the Plateau, Saint-Laurent Boulevard cuts through Little Italy, with the side streets here peppered with authentic Italian cafes and restaurants. Begin your visit with a stop at the indoor Jean-Talon Market, one of the best in the city, crammed with Quebec snacks and produce, as well as fresh seafood, bubble tea, coffee, vegan food, artisanal ice cream, falafel, tacos and more. Other neighborhood highlights include the espresso at 1950s institution Caffè Italia; the Italian groceries and cheeses at Milano; stylish Italian food at Impasto; the craft beers at Brasserie Harricana, and the kitchenware at Quincaillerie Dante.
    Montreal Food Tours have options that include the Jean-Talon Market/Little Italy, and Mile End.
    • There are no hotels in Little Italy – visit by Metro, or if you really want to get off the tourist trail, look for apartment rentals.

  • Best Neighborhood for Shopping: Downtown and Plateau/Mile End
    You’ll find the most convenient shopping opportunities scattered throughout Downtown, but especially in the Golden Square Mile, all within walking distance. Upscale malls include Les Cours Mont-Royal; once a posh hotel, with a 12-story skylight and terrazzo floors, it now contains four floors of fashion boutiques such as DKNY, Harry Rosen, and Inwear, as well as coffee shops, restaurants, and gift stores. Nearby Sainte-Catherine Street is lined with stores throughout the Downtown zone; Apple store, lululemon, Roots, Reebok, Victoria’s Secret, and many other brands are here. The Underground Pedestrian Network beneath the Golden Square Mile streets is home to yet more shops and boutiques. Crescent Street is another strip worth exploring, home to designer boutiques and art galleries. Other major Downtown malls include the Centre Eaton de Montreal, Place Ville-Marie, and Promenades Cathedrale. Saint-Laurent Boulevard, as it cuts through the Plateau between Sherbrooke and Bernard Streets (aka “The Main”) is another rewarding place to shop. Highlights (east to west) include Boutique 1861; vintage clothing at La Caravane; Asian-inspired home goods at L’Heureux Bouddha; unique mirrors at O Miroir; instruments at Nantel Musique; creative homeware store Jamais Assez; and Maguire Shoes.
  • Best Neighborhood for Local Vibe: Outremont
    Down below the western slopes of Mount Royal you’ll leave the tourists behind on the streets of buzzy Outremont, anchored by Bernard Avenue. It’s a fun place to explore though there are no major sights. The French performing arts venue Theatre Outremont is here, and there are intriguing stores like cheese shop Yannick Fromagerie, authentic restaurants like Brasserie Bernard, and the sensational ice cream at Le Bilboquet Outremont. Lester’s Deli has been knocking out smoked meatssince 1951. Over on Avenue Van Horne, authentic Syrian food is served at Damas, Provisions is an excellent wine bar/bistro, and Boxermans offers inventive fine dining.
  • Best LGBTQ+ Neighborhood: Le Village
    Montreal’s LGBTQ neighborhood is known as “Le Village”, an area that stretches north from the Berri-UQAM metro station and the Quartier des Spectacles to the Beaudry station. Fierte Montreal, the city’s annual Pride celebrations (Aug), is focused here. The neighborhood is anchored by Sainte-Catherine Street East, lined with gay-friendly boutiques, restaurants, and bars. Highlights include the drag shows at Cabaret Mado. The 19th-century Eglise Saint-Pierre-Apotre contains the poignant Chapel of Hope, dedicated to victims of AIDS.
    • The Mtl en Arts festival (late June – early July) transforms over 1km of Sainte-Catherine Street into a vast open-air art gallery in the summer, showcasing the work of local and regional artists.

    Best B&Bs in Le Village
    A l’Adresse du Centre-Ville • Hotel phone: +1 514 528 9516
    Bed & Breakfast du Village • Hotel phone: +1 514 522 4771
    La Loggia Art B&B • Hotel phone: +1 514 524 2493
    Maison Des Jardins • Hotel phone: +1 514 598 7359

    Best Cheap/Midrange Hotels
    M Montreal • Hotel phone: +1 514 845 9803
    Quality Inn Centre-Ville • Hotel phone: +1 514 419 0538
    Samesun Central • Hotel phone: +1 514 843 5739

  • Unsafe Areas of Montreal
    Montreal is one of the safest cities in North America, though the usual precautions should be taken at night. The areas that post the highest crime rates tend to be northwest of the city center, in Montreal-Nord and Rene Goupil, but even here it’s mainly property crimes like theft and vandalism. Of the neighborhoods mentioned here, parts of Hochelaga are still affected by poverty, prostitution, and drug trafficking, as well as a visible homeless problem, but the area around the Olympic Park should be fine. It’s also probably a good idea to avoid Place Emilie-Gamelin near the Berri-UQAM station and the area around Maisonneuve Market at night.

The 6 Best Neighborhoods in Montreal for Tourists

1. Downtown Montreal

Centre-Ville or Downtown Montreal is the city’s commercial heart. It’s a buzzing district of skyscrapers and shopping malls but also elegant Victorian churches, historic boulevards, and some of the best museums in the city. The adjacent Quartier des Spectacles is Montreal’s cultural hub, while below the streets is the “Underground City”, some 20 miles (32km) of tunnels and subterranean malls. On central Square Dorchester lies the grand Basilique-Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde, completed in the 1890s to a design based on Saint Peter’s in Rome. Nearby and in complete contrast, the Barbie Expo is the largest permanent exhibit of Barbie dolls in the world, with dolls dressed by leading fashion designers – it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions.

This central section of Downtown is known as the Golden Square Mile, home of Canada’s richest families in the Victorian era. Today it’s a major shopping area but is also home to the city’s finest museums: the McCord Museum, charting Montréal’s social history; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with its exceptional Canadian art collection; and the Redpath Museum, on the McGill University campus, with its Egyptian mummies and dinosaur bones. There’s also the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, showing cutting-edge contemporary art (temporarily located in Place Ville Marie, while work goes on at their base in the Quartier des Spectacles, estimated to be complete in 2024).

Major shopping thoroughfare Sainte-Catherine Street runs northeast from Downtown proper to La Place des Arts in the heart the Quartier des Spectacles, home to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Metropolitain, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Opera de Montreal, and numerous festivals year-round. The other main attraction up here is MEM (Centre des Mémoire des Montréalais), which chronicles the history of the city. Beyond the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) campus lies the Quartier Latin, a major nightlife hub, while Montreal’s Chinatown can be found just to the east, it’s borders marked by large ornate “Paifang Gates” (pedestrian-only de le Gauchetière Street between Saint-Dominique and Saint-Urbain is the main strip of stores and restaurants). Other highlights Downtown include the Bell Centre, home of thelegendary Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League, and the Centre Canadien d’Architecture, with absorbing galleries of prints, drawings, and books spanning the whole history of architecture.

• Given how much there is to see, shop, eat, and drink Downtown, it’s always going to be one of the best places to stay, especially for first-time visitors. If nightlife and entertainment is important, try to stay in or near the Quartier des Spectacles.
• One of Downtown’s biggest annual celebrationsis the Fashion & Design Festival (August), featuring free open-air fashion shows, live music, film screenings, and the Pop-Up Shop Village around Place des Festivals. Book hotels months in advance if visiting at this time.

2. Old Montreal

Vieux-Montréal (“Old Montreal”) lies between Downtown (east of the Ville-Marie Expressway) and the St Lawrence River, and makes a more romantic and atmospheric base – some of the city’s best boutique hotels are here. This is where Montreal was founded in the 17th century and today it’s a charming historic district of cobbled streets, old churches, and museums. There are also plenty of excellent restaurants and bars. Central Place d’Armes is dominated by the neo-Gothic Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, the city’s primary Catholic cathedral since 1829. The interior of the cathedral is richly decorated with detailed woodcarvings, religious paintings, and stained-glass windows. Opposite Montreal’s stately City Hall (the 1870s Hotel de Ville; tours operate in summer), the Chateau Ramezay is one of the city’s most enchanting historic sights. The old manor looks much as it did when it was built for Claude de Ramezay, the 11th governor of Montreal, in 1705 (Benjamin Franklin stayed here while attempting to persuade Quebec to join the United States during the Revolutionary War). Today it’s chock-full of period oil paintings, tools, costumes, furniture, and informative interpreters, bringing 18th-century New France to life. A short walk away is the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site, former home of the father of the Confederation from 1848 to 1871.

Cobbled Rue Bonsecours runs down towards the river and beautiful Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours or the “Sailors’ Church”, constructed in 1771. It forms part of the Site Historique Marguerite Bourgeoys, commemorating the founder of Canada’s first religious order and benevolent guardian of the “filles du roi” – French girls sent to marry bachelor settlers. Canada’s first saint, Bourgeoyswas canonized in 1982. The small Musée Marguerite-Bourgeoys in the chapel chronicles her life, and you can also climb the church tower for sweeping views.

Nearby stands another major attraction, the silver-domed Bonsecours Market, built in the mid-19th century. Today it houses restaurants and craft shops. The market looks out onto the Vieux-Port (Old Port) district. With the shipyards long gone, this is now a zone of parks, trails, and waterside restaurants and cafés, especially fun in the summer.

Families should check out the Voiles en Voiles rope course, the indoor maze at SOS Labyrinthe, the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline, and La Grande Roue de Montreal, a 197-foot (60-metre) high ferris wheel with stupendous views. There’s also the child-friendly Montreal Science Center and IMAX theater. South along the waterfront is the Place Royale and stylish Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex, located on thesite where the first French settlers landed in 1642.

• Taking a cruise on the St Lawrence River is a popular activity in the Old Port area. Bateau-Mouche runs a series of day or dinner cruises in glass-topped boats.

3. Mount Royal and Outremont/Cote-des-Neiges

Mount Royal (aka “the Mountain”) rises just to the west of Downtown and the McGill University campus, its slopes smothered in leafy parks and laced with trails. It’s a popular place to escape the city and get some exercise, with sensational views across the city center and St Lawrence valley (you can also take a bus or taxi to the top). The giant Mount Royal Cross marks the summit and is illuminated at night, while the Beaux-Arts Mount Royal Chalet contains a café overlooking the Kondiaronk Belvedere. On the southern slopes the main sight is the gargantuan Saint Joseph’s Oratory, while the Mount Royal Cemetery on the western edge is a preserve of grand historic tombs and an incredible array of bird life.

Below here and the University of Montreal campus, residential Outremont is a fun place to explore, with Avenue Laurier and Bernard Street lined with fashion boutiques, restaurants and cafés. Further south, Cote-Des-Neigesis home to the Montreal Holocaust Museum, which charts the history ofJewish communities before, during, and after the Holocaust, and some of the city’s most famous eateries; Snowdon Deli, knocking out classic smoked meat sandwiches since 1946; and retro drive-in diner, Gibeau Orange Julep, open since the 1930s with its distinctive orange-shaped building.

• The annual tam-tams du Mont Royal (usually Sundays in May) is a celebration of drummers and dancers that assemble at the base of the mountain (at Parc Jeanne-Mance, near the Sir George-Étienne Cartiermonument).
• You can actually stay overnight at Saint Joseph’s Oratory; Pavillon Jean XXIII offers basic rooms with breakfast.
• There’s nowhere else to stay on Mount Royal itself, just a few hotels at the southern end of Cote-Des-Neiges.

The Best Hotels in Cote-Des-Neiges
Homewood Suites Midtown • Hotel phone: +1 514 370 3333
Terrasse Royale • Hotel phone: +1 514 739 6391
Pavillon Jean XXIII • Hotel phone: +1 514 733 8211

4. Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Olympic Park)

A few miles northeast of Downtown, along the St Lawrence, the historically working-class neighborhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (aka HoMa) is best known for the attractions in Parc Maisonneuve, notably the Olympic Stadium and botanical gardens. Built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, Olympic Park includes the iconic Montreal Tower (the world’s tallest inclined tower), the Olympic Stadium itself (aka the “Big O”), and a major skateboarding park. A funicular takes you up to the summit of the tower (575ft/175 meters), where an observation deck provides spectacular views. The stadium is used for concerts and special events, and occasionally by MLS team Club de Foot Montréal (the team’s home ground is nearby Saputo Stadium), and by the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball for spring training.

Nearby are a couple of major family-friendly attractions: the Biodome, the former Olympic velodrome that now re-creates five American ecosystems (from tropical forest to sub-Antarctic islands); and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, which shows immersive educational movies and exhibitions with an astronomical theme. On the other side of the park lies the popular Jardin botanique de Montreal, the botanical gardens featuring 10 exhibition greenhouses, and around 30 thematic gardens. The related Insectarium has four main habitats for insects, including butterflies.

On the southern edge of the park, history buffs should check out the elegant Chateau Dufresne, a grand mansion built in 1918, now serving as a museum of affluent middle-class life in the early 20th century. Over in the neighborhood proper, the historic Maisonneuve Market contains all sorts of local food and produce sellers.

• There’s little point in staying around here, since the park area is an easy ride from the city center via metro; there’s not much accommodation in any case.

5. Quartiers du Canal

The “Quartiers du Canal” area comprises three historic neighborhoods southwest of Downtown: Griffintown, Little Burgundy, and Saint-Henri, primarily located along the Lachine Canal (you can walk all the way from Old Montreal). It’s become one of Montreal’s most fashionable districts, home to innovative restaurants, bars, and indie stores. There are few conventional sights, and the main activity is strolling the main drag (Notre-Dame) that connects the three neighborhoods, or the paths that line the canal itself. The canal is protected within the Lachine Canal National Historic Site, a 8.5-mile (13.5km) stretch between the Old Port and Lake Saint-Louis.

Griffintown does contain a couple of excellent art-oriented attractions: Arsenal art contemporain Montreal, a contemporary art gallery, and the Montreal Art Center and Museum, home to over 50 open and private studio spaces, plus art exhibitions and art stores. Culinary highlights include meat specialist Restaurant Grinder, the barbecue at Le Boucan Smokehouse, Italian restaurant Le Richmond, and Chez Sophie for French fine dining.

Little Burgundy is also known for its restaurants. Highlights include the locally celebrated French spot Joe Beef, and sister Canadian restaurant Liverpool House; Le Vin Papillon; and modern Quebec standout Candide. At the southern end of the neighborhood, the historic Atwater Market is fun to explore, home to all sorts of local produce and food stalls. Rent bikes along the canal at Ma Bicyclette.

6. Parc Jean-Drapeau

Spanning two islands – Ile-Notre-Dame and Ile Ste-Helene – in the middle of the St Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau offers a spread of family-friendly attractions perfect for a full day out. Notre-Dame island is actually man-made, constructed for the Expo 67 World’s Fair, when the current park took shape.

Highlights on Ile Ste-Helene include the Levis Tower, built in the 1930s with an observation deck providing a complete 360-degree overview of the islands; Six Flags’ La Ronde amusement park; the Complexe Aquatique, with three huge outdoor swimming pools; the iconic Biosphere, with its geodesic dome, exhibitions on environmental issues, green wall, and gardens; and Espace 67, a landscaped concourse linking the Biosphere and Alexander Calder’s monumental steel sculpture Trois disques.

On Ile-Notre-Dame (connected to Ste-Helene by bridges), Jean-Doré Beach is a popular swimming and sun-tanning spot in summer (Parc Aquazilla here features inflatable floating structures with slides). The Casino de Montreal features the usual slot machines, poker, and roulette games, but also the entertaining Cabaret du Casino shows. The whole island is ringed by the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, the site of the annual Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix (usually June), but otherwise an ideal cycle route.

• There’s no accommodation on the two islands that make up Parc Jean-Drapeau, but it’s easily accessible from Downtown. Take the metro to the Jean-Drapeau station. Once here it’s easy to walk or bike everywhere.
• The park hosts some of Montréal’s biggest music festivals: Piknic Electronik (late May – late Sept), with electronic music every Sunday (and some Saturdays) in summer; the 3-day Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (late July), a major rock and pop concert that attracts all the big names; and ile Soniq Montreal (early August), a huge electronic music festival.
• In winter the family-friendly Fête des Neiges takes place on the islands, with shows, activities for kids, food, and live music. There’s also snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

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