Montreal is best known for its European flair, delicious food and big festivals. What many travelers don’t know is that the city is also a hot spot for some of the best outdoor activities of any urban center in the world.
Meet your inner urban adventurer in Montreal with these awesome outdoor activities.
Visit the Old Port
This is the number-one stop every traveler must check out in Montreal. The port was used as early as 1611 by fur traders and up until 1976, when everything was moved to the present-day Port of Montreal.
After a period of abandonment, the Old Port was transformed in the 1990s into a historic and outdoor center in Montreal. Six million visitors per year enjoy walking, biking and skating along the mile-and-a-half St. Lawrence riverfront as well as hitting up the urban sand beach.
See the wildlife and gardens at the Montreal Biodome
You can easily make a weekend out of visiting just this one stop in Montreal. The Montreal Biodome recreates four of the world’s most exotic ecosystems: A tropical rainforest, a Laurentian maple forest, the sub-Antarctic islands and Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Coast.
Complete with their own climates, these displays of flora and fauna are beautiful and educational. The Biodome is close to the Insectarium and Planetarium as well as the Montreal Botanical Garden. Like the Biodome, the Botanical Garden has many sections, including a Japanese garden, aboriginal garden, English garden and Chinese garden.
Go on a bike ride
Like most big cities, Montreal’s best mode of transportation is a bicycle.
Montreal’s citizens are obsessed with the sport and make it their main form of commute. What makes this city special is that it was the first urban center in the world to receive National Geographic’s “Geotourism” accreditation — a type of tourism that supports or improves a place’s geographical character, such as its environment, heritage or culture.
Montreal offers 400 Bixi stops, which are places to rent the city’s bikes for the day. Hit a Bixi bike stop, grab a bike and from there ride about nine miles to the Lachine Canal, a formerly industrialized part of town that has since been renovated into a cool green zone.
When riding your bike, just be extra cautious of cars, as Montrealers are notoriously oblivious of (and even aggressive toward) pedestrians and cyclists.
Take a hike
Montreal features several city parks with trails and paths to explore, the best among them, hands down, being the 400-acre Mount Royal. You can hike to the highest point (767 feet), which is officially called Belvédère Kondiaronk, and look down over the city.
Hit the waves
Don’t let the geography of this metropolis throw you off. Montreal has a standing wave created by fast currents over underwater boulders that makes for some of the best surf sessions anywhere on the East Coast. Named after the curious 67-building housing complex in downtown Montreal, the Habitat 67 wave rises up to 6 feet during most of the year on the mighty St. Lawrence River.
Just remember to lock your car, especially if you have American license plates.
Get there: Fly into the international Aéroports de Montréal or drive north on I-87 in New York until it turns in to Autoroute 15 once you cross the border.
Stay there: To add historic flair to your visit, stay in the Château de L’argoat Hôtel at the corner of the Plateau Mont-Royal and the Latin Quarter near the picturesque St. Denis Street in the heart of Montreal. For the more budget-minded, the Hôtel de Paris is also located in the Plateau Mont-Royal for convenience.
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