Whether you’re between conference sessions, wrapping up a big day of meetings, or just need to go for a quick walk, there are plenty of sightseeing options steps away from the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The compact, walkable city centre puts everything within easy reach.
Here are 10 great attractions just 10 minutes from Montréal’s very central convention centre.
Notre Dame Basilica
This place of divinity is a thing of rare beauty. Designed in the Gothic Revival style by Irish Protestant architect James O’Donnell (he converted to Catholicism just before his death to be buried there), and built between 1824 and 1829, Notre Dame Basilica is a symphony of sculpted wood, soaring gold-painted ceilings, and intricate detail. A massive 7,000-pipe organ dominates the back wall. Utterly breathtaking.
A public square dating back to the late 1600s situated in front of above-mentioned basilica, Place d’Armes allows you to experience a slice (or square) of Montréal’s riveting history. Stand in the centre and do a slow 360 as you soak in some truly gorgeous and historic buildings of the old city, including the Saint-Sulpice Seminary (next to the Basilica), the country’s oldest bank, and Montréal’s first skyscraper.
If you appreciate locally sourced, modern cuisine, reserve a table at Toqué, one of Montréal’s finest restaurants. Boasting a CAA/AAA Five Diamond rating and reviews in Wine Spectator, Gourmet, GQ Magazine, and Food & Wine, it has also been an exclusive Relais & Châteaux member since 2006. But enough about the honours, let’s talk food! Chef Normand Laprise has always prioritized market-fresh, locally grown products and they absolutely shine in his kitchen. For two decades, he has been treating patrons to gourmet dining—this is a culinary sure bet.
The exterior of the convention centre
The massive kaleidoscope wall is made up of 332 coloured glass panels and 58 clear glass panels. The creation, entitled TransLucide, represents the purpose of the convention centre as a place where different points of view converge. No trip to Montréal is complete without a snapshot in front of this iconic installation.
Dim sum, anyone? Although modest-sized, Montréal’s bustling Chinatown offers a delicious “getaway” just a hop and skip from the Palais. Roam the pedestrian-friendly streets chock full of restaurants, Asian markets, and grocery stores, shops to buy herbs, natural medicines, and even martial arts accessories.
Brasserie 701 (in the Place d’Armes Hotel)
If you’re looking for a chic spot to kick back with a cocktail, consider this upscale brasserie and watering hole. The Brasserie 701 menu is “modern bistro cuisine” and features tasty items to go with whatever you are sipping. With its high ceilings, airy spaces, and elegant furniture, this is a swanky yet unpretentious place to relax and mingle.
Sure, the neighbourhood of Old Montréal is peppered with private art galleries, but one of the coolest art experiences won’t be found inside. Cité Mémoire exposition is the largest outdoor video-projection installation in the world. The projections tell the story of local individuals who have helped shape the city we have today. Visitors activate the projects with an app from their own mobile device.
Montréal Science Centre
Take your inner science geek for a stroll and re-fire your neurons! This dynamic, interactive space shines the spotlight on—you guessed it—science and technology and the impact both have had on society. The Montréal Science Centre exhibition halls focus on Canadian innovations and inventions in particular. If you feel like a movie, it is also home to the IMAX®Telus Cinema.
The Old Port of Montréal
Maybe the wind in your hair is what you need after a busy day of networking. A superb scenic spot is Montréal’s harbour front, where you can gaze at the majestic St. Lawrence River, check out giant cruise ships or observe the many marine comings-and-goings, including sailboats, motorboats, and pedal boats. There’s lot of stuff on dry land too: bright bistros with terraces, boutiques, a massive Ferris wheel, and high-end spas, if you need to get the knots worked out.
Art galleries along Saint Paul Street
This is easy on the eyes in addition to being history-rich (info nugget: Saint-Paul is Montréal’s oldest street). Take time to step off the cobblestones into these tasteful temples to the visual arts and pamper your senses. You can rest your gaze on Inuit art as well as contemporary canvasses by artists from Québec, Canada, and around the world. All very inspiring!