The Five Best Places to Visit in Montreal This Year

From les Premiers Vendredis to the Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal’s wide range of attractions make it an ideal tourist destination in 2023.

As the urban heart of the province of Quebec, Montreal is one of the most charming, friendly and historically significant cities in Canada. 

Home to more French speakers than anywhere else in the world outside of France, Montreal has a long history of being a harmonious home to a wide variety of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures.

Founded in 1642, the Québécois metropolis is a beautiful sight for first-time visitors. Below is our rundown of the five best places to visit in Montreal in 2023.

1. Notre-Dame Basilica

Founded in 1656, the Notre-Dame Basilica is the most famous church in Canada. With its stunning exterior, intricately designed and maintained interior and a history that dates back to before the founding of many modern nations, Notre-Dame Basilica welcomes thousands of guests from around the world every year. The second largest city in Canada, which is accessible by both commercial flights and a private jet charter, Montreal is the ideal place to visit wondrous architecture in 2023.

The stained glass windows on the sides of the Basilica — which chronicle Montreal’s history — are a must-see. There is also a carving of the sculptor Louis-Philippe Herbet. If you want to see all the collections at Notre-Dame Basilica, take a spot in one of the 20-minute tours that run throughout the day.

No trip to Montreal is complete without spending time at the Notre-Dame Basilica, marvelling at its beauty and taking in the serene atmosphere of your surroundings.

2. Les Premiers Vendredis

Not every place you visit in Montreal needs to have historical significance. Taking in modern culture is equally important, as is having a great time as a family or group of friends. Les Premiers Vendredis is the perfect spot to visit in Montreal if you travel during the summer or autumn.

Starting in June and running until October, Les Premiers Vendredis is a food truck festival on the first Friday of every month. If your visit fits in with Les Premiers Vendredis, do not plan to eat anything that day before visiting the food trucks! Go hungry. You won’t regret it.

There are usually 50 to 60 food trucks converging on a single spot, allowing you to sample a diverse spread of cuisines, including some of Montreal’s signature dishes.

As a bonus, organizers of the event have set up a “Rue Culturelle” section within Les Premiers Vendredis, which focuses on promoting the culture of a specific community each month.

3. Jardin Botanique

A botanical garden that will help you fall in love with Montreal within moments, Jardin Botanique is the perfect escape from the intensity of city life. With over 30 themed gardens and 10 exhibition greenhouses, Jardin Botanique has some of the most unique flowers and plant life that you will find in this part of the world.

The outdoor gardens at the Jardin Botanique feature beautiful Japanese and Chinese flowers and plants. There are even rare toxic plants you can hardly find anywhere on the planet, let alone in an urban setting. Signs are present throughout the gardens describing different plants and warning visitors when they should not touch a particular flower or plant.

One of the most popular Jardin Botanique collections is their rose collection, which features different types of roses from all around the world. There is even a greenhouse that has been transformed into a tiny tropical rainforest!

4. Musée des Beaux-Arts

One of the oldest museums in Canada, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is home to both classic and contemporary paintings, sculptures and other artworks. If you are visiting Montreal and want to take in some historical culture, there is no better attraction to visit.

The Musée des Beaux-Arts showcases collections of international art dating back hundreds of years. There are more than 1,400 drawings, paintings and sculptures to admire. Collections from artists such as Canaletto, Poussin, Rembrandt, Veronese and Tiepolo are all present.

Aside from the permanent collections that Musée des Beaux-Arts hosts year-round, there are also special events and temporary exhibitions taking place all the time. If you visit the museum’s website, you can get more up-to-date information about which exhibitions may coincide with your visit dates.

5. Oratoire Saint-Joseph

Located close to Mount Royal Park, the Oratoire Saint-Joseph is a stunning dome dedicated to the Canadian patron saint. With its Renaissance-style architecture and charming surroundings, the Oratoire attracts tourists from around the world throughout the year.

The entire building is accessible through public and private tours, while you can also go in on your own and take in the atmosphere at your pace. Whether you are Catholic or merely a student of history, Oratoire Saint-Joseph is well worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in Montreal.

A breathtaking and culturally relevant city to visit, Montreal is an ideal tourist destination in 2023. The Canadian city is home to a vibrant restaurant scene, charming cafés, exciting nightlife, beautiful architecture and gorgeous parks. Whether you are travelling alone or with your family, a trip to Montreal is very much worthwhile.

This article was produced in partnership with Air Charter Service.

For our latest in Montreal life, please visit the Arts & Life section.