Best Things to Do in Montreal in Winter

Are you planning on visiting Canada in winter? If you do, Montreal should definitely be on your Quebec itinerary. When visiting Montreal in the winter, you will quickly notice that this city is as exciting during the snowy season as it is during summertime. The parks covered in snow create a magical environment between historic and modern architectures. The streets of Montreal are also much less crowded during winter time allowing you to experience a unique side of the city. Here is a guide with plenty of places to visit and best things to do in Montreal in Winter for your next stay in the largest French city in Canada.

What to Do in Montreal During Winter?

Ice Skating Through the Beauty of Montreal

Ice skating is one of the must-do winter activities in the city. The Old Port of Montreal’s ice skating rink is popular for its location next to the Saint Lawrence River, offering a breathtaking view of the old district of the city and the Ferris wheel.

Located on the famous Mount Royal, The Beaver Lake ice skating rink is a scenic place to enjoy this winter sport in the middle of nature whilst overlooking the city. If you dream of ice skating to the beat of the music while the sun is setting behind the skyscrapers, the Parc Jean Drapeau is the spot to be at!

While these three spots are well known by the visitors of the city, there are plenty of other places where you can ice skate like La Fontaine Park, Maisonneuve Park, and much more.

Skating in Montreal Old Port - Mariam from Pixabay

Exploring the Different Trails of Montreal, Canada, in Winter

You will be surprised to know how many trails in nature there are to explore either on foot, snowshoeing, fat biking, or cross-country skiing in Montreal. Mount Royal is probably the most popular place to go for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts with its many kilometres of winding tracks.

While you can ski along the water’s edge at Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation, Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques allows you to enjoy a different environment characterized by historic buildings along the trails such as the Thomas-Brunet House and Château Gohier.

The Parc Jean-Drapeau is an incredible playground to enjoy the fresh air as well. Be ready to jump on a fat bike and explore Sainte-Hélène and Notre-Dame islands through a 1.2 km route.

Click here for more hiking ideas around Montreal: Best Hiking Near Montreal: Where to Go Outdoors.

Forget the Cold with Montreal Winter Festivals

It’s never too cold to stop people from enjoying the little pleasures of life in Montreal. If you love art, gastronomy, and a good joyful ambiance, you should definitely join the “Montréal en Lumière” festival. Hosted in the Quartier des Spectacles, your taste buds will be delighted to savour various local culinary creations while you are following the voices of the different artists warming up the streets of downtown Montreal. The city is completely transformed as light projections take over the buildings and the trees.

For those who wish their day would never end, “la Nuit Blanche” might just make your wish come true. It is a festive event where you can dance your night away, take part in different cultural activities and get involved in artistic experiences until dawn.   

Put on your flashiest onesies and your beanie, as you are about to rock your best moves on the coolest dance floor in the world at the Igloofest! This frosty electronic hip-hop music event brings together local and international DJs and artists so you can forget about the cold while dancing all night long.

A Peaceful Moment at Montreal’s Botanical Garden

Visiting Montreal’s Botanical Garden in winter is an inspirational moment spent between charming gardens, beautiful architecture, and picturesque trails. It is possible to visit the greenhouses year long, unveiling the multiple ways plants adapt to their environment.

Once you are ready to go back outside and brave the cold, you should continue your visit to the Chinese Garden. This spectacular and rustic environment is a true jewel built of traditional Chinese art. While this part of the garden allows you to enjoy the beauty of winter in a unique way, you can also venture onto an 18 km trail cutting through the Botanical Garden and Maisonneuve Park with your own cross-country skis.

Christmas Market - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

What Are Montreal’s Best Foodie Places?

Even though there might not be a lot of snow yet, Montreal in December quickly introduces the magic of winter with its Christmas markets. By visiting the cheerful small wooden huts of the markets of Jean-Talon, Atwater, and Quartier des Spectacles, you will realize that Montreal is definitely a winter foodie destination. Indulge yourself in some crispy churros, succulent crepes and chocolate waffles, maple taffy, and recomforting poutine while discovering different local products.

Located in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal, Au Pied de Cochon will awe you with its French-Canadian comfort food menu. Its open kitchen is an attraction of its own and its vibrant ambiance is another reason for its numerous returning customers.

Looking for a rustic experience? Joe Beef will give you the impression of eating at a local’s home with its friendly ambiance. The best way to enjoy its original menu is by ordering different dishes to share with your loved ones. Book ahead, it fills up quick!

Café Larue in Montreal in winter -  Quebec, Canada

Where to Stay in Montreal?

Choosing to stay in Old Montreal in winter is always a good idea since you can easily walk to many attractions while observing the charming gothic revival architecture covered in snow. While you can choose to stay at the quirky Alternative Hostel for a very low price, you can also treat yourself to a more luxurious stay at the Epik Hotel Boutique. You will be able to enjoy the spectacular sight of the historic district from the comfort of your room and access the best things to do in Montreal without any trouble.

Located in downtown Montreal, a few steps away from the Museum of Fine Arts and the Bell Centre, HI Montreal is a lovely hostel offering both dormitories and private rooms with access to a bright and inspiring coworking space.

If you are looking to stay at one of the coolest Airbnbs in Montreal, the Lake front Caribou Loft is a perfect place for Montreal lodging. Its typical Canadian decor and its prime location on the Plateau Mont-Royal will definitely help you enjoy your time in the city.

How to Get Around Montreal in Winter?

The best way to travel around Montreal is definitely with the STM public transit. The 4 lines of the subway, called metro here, will quickly bring you downtown and to all the main attractions of the city while the bus will allow you to extend your journey to further neighborhoods. The public transportation system is really simple to understand and quite cheap ($3.50 per ride, multiple multi-ticket fares available).

Are you coming to Montreal on a road trip adventure and you have to drive your car around the city? If so, make sure to have winter tires since the use of them is mandatory from the 1st of December to the 15th of March. A valuable tip would be to always carry a shovel in the trunk of your car just in case your car gets stuck in the snow because of a snow blower.

Finally, there are plenty of fun guided tours across Montreal. They are a great way to mingle with locals and other travellers but also, to explore interesting places whether you are a foodie, outdoor enthusiast, history buff, or wine lover.

Click here to know all about the best guided tours of Montreal and within the whole province: 46 Ultimate Best Quebec Guided Tours You Should Book Now in the Province.

Streets of Villeray, Montreal in the winter - Quebec, Canada

With all that being said, are you ready to explore Montreal in winter?

Now that you know all of the best things to do in Montreal in winter, if you are planning on travelling within the province of Quebec, you should read all about the must-see attractions of La Belle Province: 20 Must-see Quebec Attractions to Add to Your Province Bucket List.

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Montreal / Quebec Destinations / Trip Planner / What to See and Do / When to Go / Winter Holidays

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