Downtown (Centre-ville) is the central business district of Montreal, and home to its largest concentration of museums, art galleries and shopping, and to the Mont-Royal Park and Montreal's Chinatown.
The downtown sits on the southernmost slope of Mount Royal, and houses many corporate headquarters and a large majority of the city's skyscrapers. Buildings, by law, cannot be greater in height than Mount Royal in order to preserve the aesthetic predominance and intimidation factor of the mountain. The two tallest are the 1000 de La Gauchetière and 1250 René-Lévesque, both of which were built in 1992. The Tour de la Bourse is also a significant high-rise and is home to the Montreal Exchange, which trades in derivatives. The Montreal Exchange was the first stock exchange in Canada. In 1999, all stock trades were transferred to Toronto in exchange for an exclusivity in the derivative trading market.
Place Ville-Marie, is a cruciform office tower designed by I.M. Pei. It was built in 1962, and sits atop an underground shopping mall that forms the nexus of Montreal's underground city, the world's largest. It has indoor access to over 1,600 shops, restaurants, offices, businesses, museums and universities, as well as metro stations, train stations, bus terminals, and tunnels extending all over downtown. The central axis for downtown is Saint Catherine Street, Canada's busiest commercial avenue. The area includes high end retail such as the Holt Renfrew Ogilvy department store as well as Les Cours Mont-Royal shopping centre. Other major streets include Sherbrooke Street, Peel, de la Montagne, de Maisonneuve and Crescent.
The skyline may be observed from one of two lookouts on Mount Royal. The lookout at the Belvedere takes in downtown, the river, and the Monteregian Hills. On clear days the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York are visible (the great-circle distance between Mount Royal and the U.S. border along a bee line normal to the border being only ~ 56 km, or ~ 35 miles), as are the Green Mountains of Vermont. The eastern lookout has a view of The Plateau neighbourhood, Olympic Stadium and beyond.
Downtown Montreal is also home to the main campuses of McGill University and UQAM and the Sir George Williams campus of Concordia University
Street parking costs $3/hour from 8AM-9PM and ticketing is common. There are a number of large, commercial parking structures and by-the-day lots. Driving can be very slow and frustrating along rue Sainte-Catherine, with large numbers of pedestrians and heavy traffic. Sherbrooke often comes to a standstill during rush hour.
Downtown Montreal is served by the Orange and Green Lines. The Green Line follows boulevard de Maisonneuve, while the Orange line runs parallel five blocks to the south (i.e. towards the river). In many cases, you can use the "Underground City" to walk from one station to another — even between lines — without surfacing (useful in winter or rain!)
Useful stops include:
- McGill and Peel on the Green Line for McGill University and downtown shopping district.
- Bonaventure for Gare Centrale (Central Train Station) and AMT Downtown Bus Station.
Dozens of bus lines run through the downtown area.
- 24 Sherbrooke runs on rue Sherbrooke, a good way to get out to Westmount or the Plateau.
- 15 Sainte-Catherine covers rue Sainte-Catherine from rue Atwater to the Village.
Downtown is walkable, weather permitting, but watch for frustrated drivers trying to cut through throngs of pedestrians crossing the street. The new bike lane on Blvd. de Mainsonneuve provides easy and relatively safe bike access in and out of downtown.
Many blocks are connected by 30 km of underground pedestrian tunnels, arcades and malls. You can walk and shop in comfort when the weather above is foul.
1 McGill University Campus, 805 rue Sherbrooke ouest at ave McGill College, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The lower section of McGill's campus is composed mainly of 19th-century neoclassical buildings and is definitely worth a ten-minute stroll.
- The Underground City (Montréal souterrain). Throughout the downtown area. This network of underground malls and passageways is a very convenient way to walk around during the winter months. It encompasses six metro stations on the green and orange lines and all of the major downtown shopping malls, including food courts, cinemas, innumerable boutiques, and services.
- 2 Christ Church Cathedral, 1444 ave Union (entrance on rue Sainte-Catherine; metro McGill), ☏ . It is a small, but colourful church, the mother church of the region's Anglican (Episcopalian) denomination. Of special interest is the organ with additional remote-controlled organ pipes in the front of the church. If you have the opportunity to listen to an organ concert there, you should go. The concert will probably be by donation only.
- 3 [formerly dead link] Mary Queen of the World Cathedral (Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde), 1065 rue de la Cathédrale (main entrance on boul René-Lévesque; metro Bonaventure), ☏ . 7:30AM-6PM daily. A 1/4 scale copy of St. Peter's in Rome. Impressive interior.
- 4 Canadian Centre for Architecture (Centre canadien d'architecture), 1920 rue Baile (between rue Saint-Marc and rue du Fort; metro Guy-Concordia or Georges-Vanier), ☏ . W F 11AM-6PM, Th 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 11AM-5PM. Architecture museum and research institute that incorporates the Shaughnessy House, an 1876 Second Empire-style manison. Across boulevard René-Lévesque from the CCA is a sculpture garden with works designed around the theme of architecture. Guided tours available. $10 adults, $7 seniors, free for students and children.
- 5 Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal), 1380 rue Sherbrooke ouest (at ave du Musée; metro Guy-Concordia), ☏ , toll-free: . Tu-F 11AM-5PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. Permanent exhibitions free for under 30s. Many prominent travelling exhibits. There is a fee for over 30s, and for special exhibitions.
- 6 McCord Museum (Musée McCord), 690 rue Sherbrooke ouest (at rue Victoria; metro McGill). M Tu Th Fr 10AM-6PM, W 10AM-9PM, Sa-Su 10AM-5PM. Museum dedicated to Canadian history, next to McGill University. $15 adult, $12 senior (65+), $8 student (13-17), $9 student (18-30), free for children, $30 family.
- 7 Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, 185 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest (at rue Jeanne-Mance; metro Place-des-Arts), ☏ . Tu 11AM-6PM, W-F 11AM-9PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. Contemporary art museum at the Place-des-Arts complex. $15 adult, $12 senior (60+), $10 students (18+ with ID), free for children (0-12), $5 youth (13-17), $30 family, children free.
- 8 Redpath Museum (Musée Redpath), 859 rue Sherbrooke ouest (between rue McTavish and ave McGill College, behind the Roddick Gates from rue Sherbrooke; metro McGill), ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM, Sa closed. A museum of natural history on the McGill campus. Free.
- 9 Windsor Station (Gare Windsor), 1160 rue de la Gauchetière ouest (at rue Peel), ☏ . This Romanesque Revival building served as one of the city's main railway stations until it was cut off from the rail network by the construction of the Bell Centre nearby.
- Pont de Victoria (French; translation: Victoria Bridge) is the one of the oldest crossings of the Saint Lawrence Seaway and definitely the oldest bridge in Montreal that is still standing. While there is no pedestrian access on the bridge, it is still a must-see, especially for those interested in architecture.
- 10 Habitat 67, 2600 avenue Pierre-Dupuy (take Chemin du Moulins exit from Hwy 10 south), ☏ . This visually striking residential building was created by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67. The result was an amazingly modern dwelling that challenged the way architects created urban homes. Compared alternately to a beehive, a Taos pueblo, and a crystalline growth, the complex's 154 units are composed of prefabricated concrete cubes assembled on site. The apartments here are highly prized and a number of prominent Montrealers make Habitat 67 their home.
Montreal's Chinatown (Le quartier chinois) mostly runs along rue de la Gauchetière between rue Jeanne-Mance and rue Saint-Dominique (this section is mostly pedestrianized), and also along rue Saint-Urbain and boulevard Saint-Laurent between rue Viger and boulevard René-Lévesque. It is the third largest Chinatown in Canada, behind those in Vancouver and Toronto, and is known best for its many restaurants and gift shops.
- 11 Place Sun-Yat-Sen, rue de la Gauchetière and rue Clark (metro Place-d'Armes). A small public square in the middle of Chinatown. There are murals made of grey slate along the north and east side of the square; also at the square is a pavilion selling typical Chinatown tourist souvenirs.
Parc du Mont-Royal
The Parc du Mont-Royal (Mount Royal Park) is a 529 acres (214 hectares) park surrounding Mount Royal, the city's namesake. Most locals refer to it as a mountain even though it just looks like a hill to most visitors; its highest peak is only 233 metres (764 feet) above sea level.
- 12 Chalet du Mont-Royal, up the stairs from Redpath Crescent. Built as a make-work project in 1932 during the Great Depression. The interior features artwork depicting various scenes from Canadian history.
- 13 Kondiaronk Lookout, next to the Chalet du Mont-Royal. Offers panoramic views of the downtown Montreal skyline.
- 14 Croix du Mont-Royal (Mount Royal Cross), along chemin Olmsted. A white illuminated cross installed in 1924 at the site where Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve planted a wooden cross in 1643. He allegedly planted it there after praying to the Virgin Mary to spare the city of Montreal from a flood.
- 15 Lac des Castors (Beaver Lake), off of Chemin Remembrance. Man-made lake in a former marsh. Paddleboats are rented out in summer; in winter the lake becomes an ice skating rink.
- 16 Monument à George-Étienne Cartier (George-Étienne Cartier Monument), along chemin Olmsted on the east side of Parc du Mont-Royal (across ave du Parc from Parc Jeanne-Mance). A 1919 monument sculpted by George William Hill in honor of Georges-Étienne Cartier, one of the fathers of Confederation.
- 17 Belvédère Camillien-Houde, voie Camillien-Houde across from Cimetière Mont-Royal. Another lookout point.
- 18 Maison Smith, near Chemin Remembrance and voie Camillien-Houde.
- 1 Bell Centre (Centre Bell), 1260 rue de la Gauchetière (at rue de la Montagne; metro Lucien-L'Allier), ☏ , toll-free: . Home of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team, commonly known as the Habs. Also hosts larger concerts.
- 2 Molson Stadium (Stade Molson), 475 ave des Pins ouest (at rue Alymer; metro McGill), ☏ . An outdoor Canadian football stadium on the McGill campus. The McGill Redmen (Quebec University Football League) and the Montreal Alouettes (Canadian Football League) play here.
- 3 Montreal Forum / Pepsi Forum (Forum de Montréal / Forum Pepsi), 2313 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest (between ave Atwater and rue Lambert Closse; metro Atwater). An entertainment complex at the site of the former home of the Canadiens from 1926-1996. It is home to an AMC Cinema (22 screens) and The Montreal Comedy Nest.
Rue Sainte-Catherine offers all the brandnames (Gap, Zara, Roots, Payless, etc.) and is packed with shoppers on nice days. Much more shopping happens out of sight in the hundreds of small stores in the "Underground City".
- 1 [formerly dead link] Eva B Cafe-Boutique, 2015 boul Saint-Laurent (at rue Ontario; metro Saint-Laurent), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-W 10AM-6PM, Th F 10AM-9PM, Sa 11AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Selections from local designers, vintage, and a bistro/bar thrown in for good measure. It's mostly just a thrift shop. $5 and up.
- 1 Café Presto, 1244 rue Stanley (between rue Sainte-Catherine and rue Cypress; metro Peel or Bonaventure), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM and 4:30PM-9PM. The best downtown deal for a very inexpensive and very satisfying casual/cozy Italian fare (main courses are all $5.95. Calculate approximately $20 if you add a glass of wine and an espresso). Very busy during lunchtime on weekdays. Arrive before noon or after 1:30PM to avoid the longest lines. Cash only (no credit or debit cards, but there are a few ATMs on the same block).
- 2 Café Crystal, 1216 ave Union (between rue Cathcart and boul René-Lévesque; metro McGill or Square-Victoria), ☏ . Light meals for breakfast and lunch. $5-7, close to the rue Sainte-Catherine shopping district.
- Cafe Dizengoff, 3460 rue Stanley (between ave Dr Penfield and rue Sherbrooke; metro Peel). Kosher cafe on the ground floor of the Hillel House, on the McGill campus.
- 1 SAT (Société des arts technologiques), 1201 boul Saint-Laurent (at place du Marché; metro Saint-Laurent), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 5PM-10PM, Sa Su various. This one-of-a-kind venue is supported by the province of Quebec and the federal government to display and promote digital art. With high ceilings and low couches, it has the feel of a funky, uber-hip techno club. In fact, there is quite a bit of great club music on weekend nights. But there's also fascinating computer art installations going on at all times, with some video and live performances. A great place to meet people in Montreal. $4.50 draft beer, $5 well drinks, $5-25 cover after 10PM.
- 2 Bar des Pins, 3714 ave du Parc (between ave des Pins and rue Léo Pariseau; metro Place-des-Arts), ☏ . 5PM-3AM daily, sometimes closes earlier on weekdays. Blue-collar bar invaded regularly by beer-pong-playing university students. Sells only cheap beer. Hottest night of the week is Tuesday.
- 3 Vinyl, 2109 rue de Bleury (between rue de la Concorde and rue Sherbrooke; metro Place-des-Arts). 8PM-3AM daily. Vinyl is a small, intimate club with frequent specials including $3 Rhum-n-Tings on Sunday nights and a diverse range of music from Reggae to Techno on different nights. Also, couches in the bathroom and an outdoor terrace around the back. $5 draft beer, $3 drink specials.
- 4 The Cock n' Bull, 1944 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest (at rue Towers; metro Guy-Concordia). Inexpensive pub with a small kitchen, live bands, a single pool table and a couple of active dart boards. Known for their cheap 4 Liters beer pitchers (16 $). Friendly and sociable, for the most part English-speaking patrons, from age 18 to 60. Arts and crafts on Monday nights!
- 5 McKibbin's Irish Pub, 1426 rue Bishop (between rue Sainte-Catherine and boul de Maisonneuve; metro Guy-Concordia), ☏ . Being next door to Concordia University may or may not be a point in its favor, but there's no denying that this friendly pub is a great place for a pint. The food is above-average for a pub, too. McKibbin's is known for their ladies night every Wednesday with its all night open bar ($10 cover for girls and $25 cover for guys).
- 6 Hurley's, 1225 rue Crescent (between rue Sainte-Catherine and boul René-Lévesque; metro Lucien-L'Allier or Peel), ☏ . Probably the best Irish pub in Montreal, with live traditional music every night and excellent food at fair prices. There's an upstairs for the busy nights, in addition to outdoor patios in the front and back. A part of the pub is non-smoking. Very cozy with a highly authentic feel and friendly professional staff.
- 7 Brutopia, 1219 rue Crescent (between rue Sainte-Catherine and boul René-Lévesque; metro Peel), ☏ . 2PM-3AM. Brewpub with their own beers on tap on the busy Crescent strip. English-speaking college crowd.
- 8 Peel Pub, 1196 rue Peel (at rue Cypress; metro Peel or Bonaventure), ☏ . Montreal legend. Sports bar. Dirt cheap specials. Good time, particularly on $1 shooter Thursdays.
- 9 Reggie's Bar, 1455 boul de Maisonneuve ouest (inside the Henry F Hall Building between rue Mackay and rue Bishop; metro Guy-Concordia). Concordia University's bar. Features special Hockey nights, and cheap Thursday beer and shots ($1). Great part of student-life experience.
- 10 Le Vieux Dublin (The Old Dublin), 636 rue Cathcart (at rue University; metro McGill or Square-Victoria), ☏ . 11:30AM-3AM daily. Don't let the Vieux Dublin sign outside fool you — this pub is not one bit Irish. There's not a lot of Emerald Island schlock around, but the pints are good, and home-style meals for lunch and dinner really hit the spot. There's live music on weekends on the minuscule stage, but during the week it's quiet and comfy. Staff is polite and nice. $6 draft beer.
- 1 Abri du voyageur Hotel, 9 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest (between boul Saint-Laurent and rue Clark; metro Saint-Laurent), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Charming hotel for budget-conscious travellers. Renovated historical building recommended by many guides as an excellent value with a personal touch. $48-78 low season, $60-99 high season.
- 2 HI-Montréal (Auberge de jeunesse de Montréal), 1030 rue Mackay (at ave Overdale; metro Lucien-L'Allier), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Friendly and helpful staff. Activities organized every day (pub crawls, bike tours, urban walks, etc.) Dormitories and private rooms. Dorms from $25.75 (HI member) $30 (non member), one and two bedrooms $65 (HI member) $75 (non member).
- 3 [formerly dead link] University Bed & Breakfast, 623 rue Prince-Arthur ouest (at ave Lorne; metro McGill), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Private rooms with shared bathroom and apartment suites with private bathroom, kitchenette and private entrance. $199-161.
- 4 Hotel Villa, 57 rue Sainte-Catherine est (at rue Sainte-Dominique; metro Saint-Laurent), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Continental breakfast. $48+, monthly rates also offered.
- 5 Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, 1201 boul René-Lévesque ouest (at rue Stanley; metro Bonaventure or Peel), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Offers 825 renovated rooms, free internet use in the Link@Sheraton lobby connectivity hub.
- 6 Marriott Residence Inn Montreal Downtown, 2045 rue Peel (between boul de Maisonneuve and rue Sherbrooke; metro Peel), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. With fully equipped kitchens and complimentary daily hot and cold buffet breakfast, Free WiFi access, rooftop terrace, laundry facility, friendly multi-lingual staff, $149+.
- Major hotel chains like Holiday Inn (155 boul René-Lévesque ouest), and Delta Hotel [formerly dead link] (475 ave du Président-Kennedy) have locations in the heart of downtown Montreal.
- 7 Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth (Le Reine Elizabeth), 900 boul René-Lévesque ouest (between rue Mansfield and rue University; metro Bonaventure), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Offering 1,037 rooms, of which 100 are suites. Offers a health club, an indoor pool, and three restaurants: Les Voyageurs lounge, Le Montréalais bistro-restaurant and Beaver Club. $129+.
- 8 Hotel Novotel Montreal Centre, 1180 rue de la Montagne (between boul René-Lévesque and rue Sainte-Catherine; metro Lucien-L'Allier or Peel), ☏ .
- Hotel Le Dauphin Montréal Centre-Ville, 1025, rue de Bleury (Gare Centrale 650 m; Place d’Armes metro 400 m), ☏ , toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Modern hotel with spacious rooms and a high level of service, within walking distance of the Old Town and modern city centre. Rooms are equipped with tea/coffee service, an Apple TV unit, and a computer. Rates include breakfast, newspapers, and wireless Internet access. Substantial discounts available for booking through the hotel’s web site. $130–$160.
- 9 Hotel (10), 10 rue Sherbrooke ouest (between boul Saint-Laurent and rue Clark; metro Saint-Laurent, bus 24 or 55), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . A modern hotel with great design near boulevard Saint-Laurent. $200+.
- 10 Hotel Le Germain Montreal, 2050 rue Mansfield (at ave du Président-Kennedy; metro Peel), ☏ . A chic and intimate boutique-hotel designed for a hip clientele of leisure and business travelers.
- 11 Loews Hotel Vogue, 1425 rue de la Montagne (between rue Sainte-Catherine and boul de Maisonneuve; metro Peel), ☏ , toll-free: . Close to the corner of rue Sainte-Catherine.
- 12 Le Meridien Versailles-Montreal, 1808 rue Sherbrooke ouest (at rue Saint-Mathieu; metro Guy-Concordia), ☏ , toll-free: . This boutique hotel is in the chic Golden Square Mile neighborhood. This hotel features 108 rooms.
- 13 Hyatt Regency Montreal, 1255 rue Jeanne-Mance (at rue Sainte-Catherine; metro Place-des-Arts or Place-d'Armes), ☏ . Attached to the Complexe Desjardins.
- 14 Hotel Omni Mont-Royal, 1050 rue Sherbrooke ouest (at rue Metcalfe; metro Peel), ☏ . This five-star, four-diamond luxury hotel is centered amongst fashionable boutiques, museums, fine dining, and the exciting nightlife of Montreal's chic rue Crescent.
- 15 Ritz-Carlton Montreal, 1228 rue Sherbrooke ouest (metro Peel), ☏ . A historic luxury hotel, opened in 1912, that has played host to many famous figures such as Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.
- 16 Le Mount Stephen, 1440 Drummond Street, ☏ , toll-free: .
|Routes through Downtown|
|Verdun ← Westmount ←||W E||→ Quartier Latin-Le Village → East End|
|Saint-Laurent ← South West ←||W E||→ Old Montreal → Laval|
|Candiac ← Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ←||W E||→ END|
|Deux-Montagnes ← Côte-des-Neiges ←||W E||→ END|
|Mascouche ← Côte-des-Neiges ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||W E||→ Longueuil → Mont-Saint-Hilaire|
|Saint-Jérôme ← Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ←||N S||→ END|
|Hudson ← Notre-Dame-de-Grâce ←||W E||→ END|