Old Montreal Walking Tour (Self Guided), Montreal

Take a tour to discover the oldest district in Montreal. It features numerous unique houses dating back over 300 years, museums, art galleries and a great choice of fine restaurants and cafés. Here you'll also find two of the most popular churches in Montreal - the Basilique de Notre Dame and the Chapelle de Notre Dame de Bon-Secours. Enjoy exploring the highlights of Old Montreal.
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Old Montreal Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Old Montreal Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Montreal (See other walking tours in Montreal)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours
  • City Hall
  • Château Ramezay Museum
  • Place d'Armes
  • Notre-Dame Basilica
  • Montreal World Trade Centre
  • Centre d'Histoire de Montreal
  • Old Port
  • Pointe-à-Callière Museum
  • Montreal Science Centre
1
Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours

1) Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (must see)

Built in 1771, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is today regarded as a treasure in Montreal. It is the oldest surviving chapel in old Montreal and offers a peaceful ambiance for worshipers. This chapel sits on the ruins of an older church of 1950 that was burnt in fire during a war when Montreal was under French rule.

The decor of the chapel is simple and elegant. The hanging lamps shaped like sailing ships are very pretty and give the chapel a nautical flair in keeping with its reputation as a Sailors' Church. As you visit the chapel, climb up the spire and enjoy the spectacular views of Saint Lawrence River and Old Port.

Generations of staunch worshipers have contributed wholeheartedly to the renovation, restoration and decoration of this chapel. Recent restoration work revealed several frescoes that were hidden for centuries.

The chapel houses a museum dedicated to Marguerite Bourgeoys, the founder of the congregation of Notre-Dame. Under the chapel, you can find interesting archaeological excavations that give you an insight into the history of Montreal.

Why You Should Visit:
Definitely worth a peek inside to see the cool miniature boats hanging from the ceiling. The museum attached to the church is also well worth the time. Included is access to the tower with some of the best views of the harbor. You also have the opportunity to visit the archeological dig of the first church under the current church.

Tip:
Make sure you go around to the back of the church. This could be the only church you'll ever see where the view of the back of the church eclipses that of the front!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 11am-4pm
Jan 16 - Feb 28: closed
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
City Hall

2) City Hall (must see)

Montreal City Hall is a five-storied flashy building exclusively constructed to house the municipal administration. Built in the second empire style, it is one of the most impressive and spectacular buildings in Old Montreal. It was constructed between 1872 and 1878 as per the designs suggested by architects Alexander Cowper Hutchison and Henri-Maurice Perrault. This building survived a major fire break in 1922 after which architect Louis Parant completely remodeled the same with more robust construction.

The exterior of the building is decorated with attractive turrets, balconies and mansard roofs. You can enjoy an amazing sight of the building in the evenings when it is completely illumined with hundreds of bulbs. The interior is decorated with elegant and exquisite art pieces collected from all over the world. The marble flooring, hand-carved ceiling, stained-glass windows, decorative lampshades and a huge bronze and glass chandelier add to the glamor and beauty of the hall. The hall of honor is very interesting as it displays portraits of all the mayors who have held office.

As opposed to many government buildings where public entry is restricted, Montreal City Hall permits visitors to take a quick 15-minute tour.

Tip:
Just walk into the City Hall and you'll be given a free tour of the building. There are a handful of tours to choose from, with the schedules clearly visible when you walk in.
Tours are both in French or English, so check the schedule for the language you need.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8:30am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Château Ramezay Museum

3) Château Ramezay Museum (must see)

Chateau Ramezay museum was built in 1705. It is situated in Notre Dame Street, Old Montreal. The museum first served as a residence of the then Montreal governor Claude de Ramezay and was recently designated as a national historic site of Canada. At this museum, you will find an extensive collection of 30,000 objects including numismatic items, paintings, artworks and manuscripts. If you are passionate about the history of this city, you must visit this informative and interesting museum on your trip to Old Montreal.

You can find multimedia representations of historical figures in six languages in the Château Ramezay museum. Enjoy walking through the replica of a French colonial garden. The permanent exhibitions in this museum allow you to discover the history of Amerindians. The skillful display of unique artifacts offers an insight into the daily life of people during that period.

Life in Montreal in the 18th century is another permanent exhibition in the Château Ramezay museum. Here you can find thick-walled structures that date back to 250 years and beyond. This exhibition tells you all about the daily life of Montrealers in the 18th century.

Chateau Ramezay museum thus takes you through 500 years of history.

Why You Should Visit:
A lot of easily-digested visual and written info about the history of Montreal packed into a historic building. Plus a wonderful garden out back replete with 18th-century touches, and helpful staff.

Tip:
There are kid-oriented exhibits at the end if they can manage to hang on.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Place d'Armes

4) Place d'Armes (must see)

Place d’Armes square is one of the oldest public sites in Montreal. This square was developed in 1693 and played a major role as a stage for various military events in the past. Located between Notre Dame and Saint Jacque Streets, Place d’Armes square is an outstanding historical vista.

The square boasts of Paul de Chomedey monument designed by Louis Philippe Hebert. Buildings that represent different eras surround this square. Montreal’s first skyscraper – the New York Life building – is located along the square.

An exquisite art deco was added to the square in 1929. The Aldred building is another impressive skyscraper situated nearby. This architecturally impressive building is designed in such a manner that the street below gets maximum natural lighting.

The National Bank of Canada Tower, built in 1967, is also a part of Place d’Armes square. This building was constructed in a post-war architectural style and is the only example of its kind in the city.

Notre Dame Basilica is the centermost local attraction. It was built in 19th century and is an excellent example of neo-Gothic movement. The decorative elements of this basilica are impressive. The interiors are carved from rare woods and are painted or gilded. The large rose windows allow muted light inside enhancing the ambiance.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful place to stop, have a coffee or snack and marvel at the historical, French-inspired architecture and monuments including a memorial monument to Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal. Beautiful views of Notre Dame to boot.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Notre-Dame Basilica

5) Notre-Dame Basilica (must see)

Notre-Dame Basilica is renowned for its lavish, colorful and enticing interiors. It is a stunning example of Gothic Revival style architecture. It took years to complete this majestic structure. The original church was demolished in 1830 and was reconstructed.

The interiors are carved from gilded and painted rare woods. The imported glass windows expertly depict the rich history of Montreal as compared to other churches here where you will only find biblical scenes. The ceiling is deep blue in color and decorated with golden stars. Interior walls of this Basilica are painted in sky blue color offering a stunning effect. Look around and you feel like you are standing under the vast open sky. The impressive paintings, religious statues, exquisite wooden carvings, rich altar and appealing stained glass windows are some of the notable features of this basilica. The 10 bells that toll on special occasions cast a spell on the worshipers. This church was designed by Irish-American architect James O'Donnell.

Pope John Paul II was instrumental in raising the status of Notre-Dame church to a basilica in 1982. This church was also declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989.

Notre-Dame Basilica has witnessed several grand weddings and funerals of eminent personalities. If you plan on visiting Notre-Dame, do not miss the live concerts in the basilica.

Tip:
The 'AURA' light show (presented usually at 7 and 9pm) is exceptional but sometimes full so plan your visit: you can book your ticket online or come early before the show timing. Try sitting somewhere in the middle of the basilica – between 50-70% from the front, and more towards the middle to get the best music & light experience.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-4:30pm; Sat: 8am-4pm; Sun: 12:30pm-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Montreal World Trade Centre

6) Montreal World Trade Centre

Montreal World Trade Centre is one of the most famous buildings in Montreal. This center is located in Quartier International district, Montreal. The trade center was completed in 1992 by Arcop, one of the most prominent architectural firms in Canada. This is a ten storey building filled with architectural and historical valuables.

Apart from being a rich repository for artifacts, the center houses a huge glass atrium previously known as Fortification Lane. The other main attractions in the building include a preserved piece of the Berlin Wall and a sculpted fountain by the famous French sculptor D-B Guibal, who lived in the seventeenth Century.

Montreal World Trade center is the heart of the city’s commercial platform with offices, stores and restaurants sprawling across the ten floored building. The building also houses the well known Montreal Intercontinental Hotel where tourists from across the world stay on their visit to this city.

Montreal World Trade Centre is connected to Montreal’s Underground City and the metro station Square-Victoria. Because of easy access and central location this center is one of the popular tourist attractions in Montreal. Your tour in Montreal is incomplete without a visit to the famous World Trade Centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

7) Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

Centre d’Histoire de Montreal is housed in the building that used to be a fire station, back in 1903. Nowadays, this center is one of the most famous destinations in Montreal and is managed by the municipal authorities. The museum boasts an enviable collection of over 2,500 artifacts – models, photographs and other historic items – some of which date back as far as 1535.

The charm of this museum lies in the fact that it is situated right at the heart of Place d’Youvill, close to many other heritage sites and historic buildings, such as Pointe-a-Calliere, the birthplace of Montreal.

The permanent “Montreal Five Times” exhibition depicts the city in five different time frames. Here you can learn all about the 16th century contact with First Nations and about Montreal in the time of Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-70s. If you wish to know all about Montreal from the perspective of its multicultural residents, go through the “Montreal of Thousand Faces” exhibits.

Some of the popularly held temporary exhibitions at Centre d’Histoire de Montreal are The Eye of the City, Jazz-Swinging Nights and Expo 67 – Passport to the World. Explore the center's virtual museum on the website, featuring all the previous exhibitions, prior to actually visiting this truly fascinating venue.

Operation Hours: Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Old Port

8) Old Port (must see)

Right from 1611, the Old Port in Old Montreal has been used for trading. This port stretches along two kilometers of St. Lawrence River and still holds the distinction of being Montreal’s cultural, economic and social soul.

Architects Peter Rose and Aurele Cardinal undertook and completed the redevelopment of this port in the early 90s. At least seven million visitors are welcomed by the riverfront per year. Tourists from across the world come here to enjoy numerous exciting activities including a visit to the Montreal Clock Tower and Montreal Science center.

Visitors access the riverfront for various activities such as rollerblading, cycling, walking, quadricycling, pleasure boating, segway and pedalo rentals. Many cultural events are held here including the Igloofest, Festival Montreal en Lumiere and Matsuri Japan festival.

The Old Port’s area adjacent to Old Montreal has been converted to a historical and recreational area by moving shipping to the Port of Montreal site. A Canada Lands Company subsidiary Old Port of Montreal Corporation manages the port today. Have great fun and entertainment at the Old Port on your trip to Montreal.

Why You Should Visit:
A port for all seasons, as there's always something happening here!
Summer is great for all the activities & cruises or ferry rides on the river; Winter is great for skating on the outdoor rink or just playing in the snow.
At all times of the year, the St Lawrence river is awe-inspiring and powerful.

Tip:
One of the Port's gems is the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. The large tents connected to the Cirque are filled nightly with those wishing to see some amazing feats.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Pointe-à-Callière Museum

9) Pointe-à-Callière Museum (must see)

If you have a penchant for history and its invaluable footprints, then Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montreal is definitely a place to visit. This museum houses rare collections and artifacts unearthed during a decade of digging. Visit this museum and you can trace the history of this city right from the Natives era.

Pointe-à-Callière Museum was opened in 1992 at the very site where evidences of the origins of Montreal housing were unearthed. This site was instrumental in bringing to focus a thousand years of life and activities of the people of this city. All the remarkable archeological remains are displayed with complete integrity in honor of people who have lived in Montreal through ages.

The mission of the museum is to educate visitors on the heritage of ancient Montreal and its developmental stages that led to the modern era. There are various educative, research, outreach and conservation programs that educate visitors and help them appreciate the rich historical heritage of this city.

Of all the varied sections tracing the history of Montreal, the one on “Where Montreal Began” is very popular and keeps tourists spellbound with its attention to detail. So, if you wish to etch a piece of Montreal history in your memory, Pointe-à-Callière Museum will not leave you disappointed.

Why You Should Visit:
A fun and fascinating introduction to Montreal history!
Specializing in the many component parts of the city's history and combining this with archaeological discoveries provides one of the more unique museum experiences you will find anywhere.

Tip:
If you have kids it's worth checking the museum website to see what's going on for the little ones.
Note that the museum also has a Bistro with a lovely view, that closes at 4pm.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Montreal Science Centre

10) Montreal Science Centre (must see)

Located in the Old Port of Montreal on King Edward Pier, the Centre des Sciences de Montreal is a popular tourist destination. Montreal Science Centre, as it is known today, was established in 2000 when it was originally known as the iSci Centre. The center got its current name in 2002.

The Montreal Science Centre features interactive exhibitions on technology and science. At the center, you can also find an IMAX theater. This science foundation was specially created to garner support from some of the affluent community members to further their mission.

A number of prestigious activities are organized by this center to motivate public interest by raising its profile. To help kindle interest in visitors for science and technology understanding is the mission of this center that is frequented by those who are deeply passionate about scientific and technological development.

Montreal Science Centre offers an interactive and dynamic experience for educational systems and for the general public. It aims at promoting awareness in the society on science and technology trends and encouraging youngsters to take up a career in science.

Do not miss a visit to this amazingly fun and entertaining center that allows you to learn, explore and understand what technology and science are all about in an interactive manner.

Why You Should Visit:
Interesting and easy-to-get-to kid-friendly museum, with most activities being geared towards preschoolers ('Fabrik' creativity factory is the section that you'd enjoy the most if you're an adult), plus good restaurants on-site for reasonable prices.

Tip:
Try to go early or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds..

Operation Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Montreal, Canada

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Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
The Titanic Walking Tour, Montreal

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.9 Km or 4.9 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
City Orientation Walk II

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
Religious Buildings Walking Tour, Montreal

Religious Buildings Walking Tour, Montreal

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Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.3 Km or 5.8 Miles

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