Things Not To Do in Montreal

Give these 10 Things a Miss When You Are in Montreal

Montreal Weather | Free and Cheap in Montreal | Guide to Old Montreal

Montreal is one of Canada's most unique and vibrant cities, so why waste a single minute? Don't fall into these tourist traps: read our list of things not to do when you're in Montreal.

  • 01 of 10

    Stay Only in Old Montreal

    ••• The Plateau is a young, hip residential Montreal neighbourhood with many restaurants and shops. Photo © Tourism Montreal

    No doubt, Old Montreal is the biggest draw to the city of Montreal, but not getting around to visit the city's other diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods is a mistake. The Plateau is a hip and happening residential part of town with great shopping and restaurants. Griffintown is a historic part of town once populated by Irish immigrants, but today better known as a haven for artists and musicians. See a full lineup of Montreal Neighbourhoods.

  • 02 of 10
    ••• The Jean Talon Market is an outdoor market in Montreal with bakeries, cheese shops, organic butchers, fresh produce as well as specialty shops. Photo of Jean Talon Market © S. McLean

    Exploring and enjoying the food in Montreal is a huge part of visiting this city. Be kind to your taste buds and your pocket book: don't miss visiting a local market for inexpensive, fresh and delicious meals. Most local markets will feature a bakery, ethnic foods, specialty shops and more.

    My favourites are the Jean-Talon and the Atwater. Both are in very different but equally interesting Montreal neighbourhoods.

  • 03 of 10

    Order Foie Gras without Understanding How it's Made

    ••• Foie gras is often served seared with a sweet accompaniment like jelly or fruit. The French delicacy is controversial because of the cruel practice of force feeding geese or ducks to engorge their livers (foie gras means "fat liver"). Photo © Thomas Barwick Getty Images

    The controversy surrounding this rich, buttery tasting dish, in which the liver of a goose or duck is specially fattened to up to 10x its usual size, is the pain and suffering caused to the bird when a gavage (feeding tube) is forced into its esophagus to deliver an unnatural amount of feed.

    If you at least educate yourself about this French delicacy, you can make an informed decision about ordering it. Some restaurants may offer an "ethical" version in which the birds instinctively stuff themselves before migration season.

  • 04 of 10

    Pay for the Olympic Stadium Tour

    ••• Montreal Olympic Stadium. Photo © David Holden

    Though the Olympic Stadium is an interesting architectural feat - the unique circular design with its inclined tower rising up and out like a wary dog's tail is the work of French architect Roger Taillibert - it has been plagued by structural and financial problems and is greatly under used. Unless you're an avid architecture or Olympic enthusiast, skip the tour and just poke your head inside for a look around. If you're lucky, you'll catch the high divers practicing.

    Much more worth your time and money is the neighbouring Montreal Biodome and other facilities that comprise Space for Life, Canada's largest natural sciences museum complex.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Take the Daytime Maritime Excursion

    ••• Montreal Day Cruise. Photo © Tourisme Montreal

    Though I once enjoyed a wonderful whale watching adventure with Croisières AML in Tadoussac, their daytime maritime excursion from Montreal's Old Port was lackluster. Unlike Old Quebec City, which sits high up on the Saint Lawrence River, Montreal does not make a particularly interesting study from the water. The 90 minute cruise heads down the St. Lawrence River and, though it offers historical commentary by a guide in period clothing, the pace of the excursion is slow with sights too few and far between.

  • 06 of 10

    Eat at an Old Montreal Restaurant You Don't Know

    ••• Old Montreal Street. Photo © The Star

    Old Montreal is the city's biggest tourist draw and as such, bears a disproportionate number of overpriced restaurants that look perfectly quaint on the outside but lack innate charm and quality.

    Ironically, many of the restaurants that market themselves as "authentic" or "French" are the offenders. Often, these restaurants will advertise typical Quebec food, such as poutine or steak frites.

    If you are going to Old Montreal and want a good meal, research before you go online at popular peer to peer foodie sites, like Chowhound or Urban Spoon or other reliable source.

  • 07 of 10

    Pay for Kids' Subway Tickets on Weekends

    ••• Kids ride the Montreal metro for free every weekend. Photo © Société de transport de Montréal

    Up to 5 children aged 11 and under ride the Montreal transit system (metro and buses) for free on weekends when accompanied by an adult with a valid transit fare. This offer applies from Friday at 6 p.m. to Sunday at 11:59 p.m. and on legal holidays. The program is also in effect during certain school breaks, and in 2013 included most of the summer.

  • 08 of 10

    Take an Old Montreal Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride

    ••• Horses such as this one in Montreal are prohibited by law to being attached to a carriage in extreme heat conditions.

    It looks romantic, but the charm of a horse-drawn carriage ride (calèche) through Old Montreal quickly fades when you realize the condition many of the horses live in and how overworked they are - often in sweltering conditions during the tourist-driven summer season. In fact, a city by-law to keep horses off the streets once temperatures exceed 30°C is regularly ignored. Cities including Toronto and Paris have banned this antiquated (and expensive) tourist practice. Old Montreal is best explored by foot - and it's free.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Stay on Crescent Street Unless You're a Late-Night Reveller

    ••• Crescent Street is home to popular summer festivals and is a nightlife hotspot year round. Photo © Crescent Street Merchants Association

    If you're looking for a late-night party scene, Crescent Street (Rue Crescent) is the place to go; if you are more interested in a good night's sleep, you may want to explore hotel options anywhere but on this nightlife strip.

    Crescent Street does boast several good restaurants (including excellent fast Lebanese food at Boustan) and boutiques, so don't necessarily miss it altogether. Lots of good hotels are within walking distance. See more in Where to Stay in Montreal.

  • 10 of 10

    Buy Maple Syrup at a Gift Shop

    ••• Photo courtesy Getty Images. Maple syrup is a popular item to bring home after visiting Canada.

    It's everywhere in Montreal and quite frankly, though it's delicious, the maple syrup at an Old Montreal specialty boutique is no better (but likely more expensive) than maple syrup you buy at the grocery store. Most fun way to buy maple syrup is go straight to the source and visit a sugar shack, where you can sample some of the sticky specialty with typical Quebeqois foods. Otherwise, just head to your nearest supermarket or Costco.