Plan your summer in Montréal
Montréal in the summer is a splendiferous thing. The sun shines like it’s the tropics, the street life never sleeps, the cultural events and outdoor activities all kick into hyperdrive. In fact, there’s SO much to do that your attention might get pulled in all directions! If you’re less of a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow type of traveller, here are some essential experiences to start planning into your itinerary.
Get the gear right
First off, you’ll want to dress right for the occasion. Anyone who’s experienced Montréal in the winter months will find it hard to believe how balmy the summers get. Picture equatorial Mexico in January, or the Caribbean mid-season, with less humidity – temperatures hit between 15 and 30+ degrees Celsius, and the sun shines pretty much every day. With activities ranging from beach parties (bathing suit required) to music festivals to urban trekking, you’ll want to pack light, breathable clothing and shoes comfortable enough to walk in all day.
Start with the main attractions
There are at least 10 basic activities any first-time visitor to Montréal should start with to get a sense of the city. Musts in terms of attractions include the still-new and amazing Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel (right on the banks of the beautiful St. Lawrence River), a visit to the Olympic Stadium and a stroll up the city’s pride and joy, Mount Royal.
Mount Royal is only one of the city’s stunning public green spaces. Get your walk on either in parks or in a more urban setting with these picturesque suggestions, including the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, covering two Montréal landmarks in one. Guided tours are a great way to learn the city, whether on foot, by bike or on a double-decker bus. Of course there are many great self-guided bike trails – grab a picnic and make a day of it! Cool down after all that activity with a day out at the beach or by the pool.
Pick your fave festivals
Montréal is the city of festivals year-round, but in the summer months it really goes into overdrive. You’ve got a non-stop international-level joyride of live music, comedy, street art, circus, contemporary dance and fabulous food festivals to choose from between May and September, so the only challenge is making your pick.
Soak up some culture
The cultural spaces of Montréal are renowned for their wow factor. Celebrate Montréal as the birthplace of the Cirque du Soleil by seeing Alegria under the big top on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Check out the unique immersive experience of PY1 nearby, then head to one of the top-notch art galleries and museums and soak up some world class art, history, craft and fashion. There are countless cultural experiences to be had, and best of all, many are free!
Eat your way through the city
Whatever your tastes, whatever your financial bracket, there’s mouth-watering fare awaiting you here. And in the summer, the eating spaces double as restaurants extend outwards onto terrasses and parks, and food trucks people parks and street corners all over town. Food tours are fantastic to learn while enjoying a full-meal deal, as are the city’s seasonal markets and more permanent public markets. Don’t miss First Fridays – a monthly food truck cornucopia – and for dessert, you’ll want to taste Montréal’s one-of-a-kind ice cream selection. Grab an iced coffee and head to the beach for more drinks – of the celebratory sort.
Relax in the sun
It’s not usually the type of thing you schedule in, but you’ll want to make sure to keep plenty of empty slots in your itinerary to just soak up Montréal’s signature chilled-out joie de vivre. One of locals’ favourite things to do is enjoy the simple passage of time in a warm, summery breeze, whether that’s in a park, on festival grounds or on one of our many, many terrasses – both well-known and a little more hidden. So, here’s to Montréal summers – and au plaisir!
Isa Tousignant, blogger
Isa Tousignant is an arts and lifestyle writer based out of Parc Ex. When she isn't dragging her one-eyed pug around the neighbourhood, she's busy scoping out art shows, shopping for vintage finds, hiking urban trails or designing jewelry for her brand Gré.