Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How to be the Ultimate Montreal Tour Guide

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McGill chapter.

If you’re not originally from Montreal, like me, it’s very likely that a number of your closest high school friends have made – or will make – the trip up here to visit you several times throughout your McGill career. As I work towards completing my final semester at McGill, I’ve simultaneously been entertaining a constant flow of out-of-town friends, who were curious to find out for themselves just how wonderful this city is, during their spring breaks. After acting as an unofficial city tour guide for my friends over the last few years, I’ve developed a sort of routine for showing friends around. Here is a brief list of the Montreal must-sees (in my personal opinion) that you should take your friends to when they inevitably come to visit.

Appreciate the view from the Top

One of the most iconic tourist attractions in Montreal is – of course – the Mont Royal Observatory. Whether your friends visit in the fall, winter, spring, or summer, the view is always breathtaking. Bonus: you can take artsy pictures with the red frame and share it on social media under the hashtag #mtlmoments. If your friends happen to come any time outside of winter, you can also participate in drum circle on Sunday at Parc Mont Royal. An alternative and less crowded site to take in the cityscape is the Westmount Summit, which is located west of campus.

Take a stroll into the 17th century

The other stereotypical tourist destination in Montreal is undoubtedly Old Port. Highlights include the Notre Dame Basilica, – where Céline Dion famously got married in 1996 – the Marché Bonsecours, and Noël eternel (the eternal Christmas store). If your friends are visiting in the winter, Old Port is where Igloofest takes place as well as one of the go-to sites for ice skating. In the summer, Old Port opens a boardwalk filled with fun shops, a pirate ship obstacle course, and zip-lining for the more adventurous.

Eggs Benedict at Le Vieux Vélo

Death by food

Arguably the best thing about this city is the quality of food here. I often like to joke – and I use this term lightly – that I basically spend my life just waiting for the next opportunity to eat. As I’m sure most of you know, Montreal offers copious amounts of delicious goodies. One notable restaurant that I like to take my friends to experience is O Noir, where you enjoy your meals in complete darkness. Another popular option is taking in a brunch on a Sunday (or any other day of the week). My favourite places are Le Vieux Vélo in the Mile End and Eggspectation. Then, of course, there’s poutine at La Banquise. So much good food!

Big in Japan

Go for a night out on the town

As we all know, Montreal has an extremely active nightlife, which always entices my American friends to come visit. The city has a lively culture of terrasses, clubs, and cocktail bars that are tons of fun. My favourite bars to hit up include Big in Japan, La Distillerie, Le Lab, and Randolph Pub Ludique. Each of these bars has a unique ambiance as well as mouth-watering drinks. Big in Japan gets special mention for resembling a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Other options for going out also include giving your friends the “McGill experience” and taking them to Gerts or Blues Pub.

Attend festivals and events

Being the awesome city that Montreal is, there are tons of festivals to partake in, even in the dead of winter. Igloofest takes place every year in January and February, but it is such a good time that enduring the bitter cold is irrefutably worth it. During the months of February and March, Montreal is illuminated at night for Montréal en lumière. The Underground City is currently featuring an art show, and a Barbie Expo (pictured above), which my friends and I accidentally stumbled upon during an afternoon exploration. During the summer, the number of festivals multiplies and the entire city is bursting with live music, hordes of people having a great time, and a simply amazing atmosphere.


Photos are the author’s own.

After spending a wonderful fall 2015 term in Paris, France, Regina is in her final semester at McGill University, studying Economics and French. She loves reading and writing in her spare time, travelling to foreign places, and baking anything she has the ingredients for. She also occasionally plays the oboe. Some of Regina's favourites include the colour blue, the season of fall, and the movie You've Got Mail. You can follow her on Instagram under the handle @reginawung.