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Winter in Montreal: 11 Things First Time Visitors Should Do

Montreal is a beautiful city and the winter recreation is notorious. There are hundreds of activities to do and sites to see. There’s culture, history, luxury resorts, outdoor sports, incredible food, entertainment, and so much more.

It’s hard to compile a list of must-do items unless you have weeks to spend in the city. However, if you’re new to Montreal, there are eleven things you absolutely must experience.

1. Take a Food Tour

Montreal has more restaurants per capita than New York City. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it’s renowned by foodies, particularly if you love butter and French cuisine. There’s no shortage when it comes to food tours, but some of the highest reviewed include Local Montreal Food Tours, Fitz & Follwell Co., Montreal Craft Beer Tours, and Kava Tours.

2. Visit the Mont-Royal

After stuffing yourself full of amazing food, you’ll need some exercise. Mont-Royal is home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Olympic athletes use this resort to train for their events, indicating that it’s one of the highest quality ski resorts in the world.

3. Stay in a Luxury Hotel

The best part of any vacation is usually the hotel. You want to be able to relax after a long day! Montreal has luxury hotels for any occasion, from spa resorts to ritzy five-star accomodations. After staying in some of the top-rated hotels in North America, you’ll never want to leave.

4. Go Ice Fishing

Montreal is an excellent ice fishing destination for both novice and expert fisherman. The sub zero temperatures promise solid and safe fishing waters. Old Montreal’s Ice Fishing Village is very popular for both hole-in-the-ice fishing and heated boat fishing excursions.

5. Attend Igloofest

This world famous electronic music event is held outside, but you’ll stay warm as you huddle with the thousands in attendance and dance to the music. The event is usually held Thursday through Saturday from mid-January to mid-February.

6. Try Poutine

If you haven’t heard, you must try poutine, a staple for first-time visitors. This plate of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy may not look particularly appetizing, but it’s one of the most talked about meals in the city. Some of the highest rated poutine dishes can be found at La Banquise, Poutineville, Montreal Pool Room, Frite Alors!, and Patati Patata.

7. Take a City Tour

For your first visit, make sure you take a guided tour, especially in the winter. The city is beautiful when it’s covered in snow and festive lights. You’ll learn about the history of the area and see all the touristy sites in one day, including the Montreal Biodome, Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Port of Montreal, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

8. Visit During the Montreal En Lumiere Festival

For eleven days from January to February, locals throw the Montreal En Lumiere festival, a world-renowned event that instantly heats up the cold winter. There’s free outdoor music, a circus, theater shows, carnival rides, wine tasting, food delights, art, lights, and so much more. The temperatures might be below zero, but the crowds and fun make it feel warm and cozy.

9. Relax at the Bota Bota Spa

Bota Bota is the most popular luxury spa in Montreal. It includes all of the typical comforts of a spa resort, with the added feature of outdoor hot pools. It’s one of the best ways to relieve your winter blues and any accompanying stress.

10. Go Ice Skating

There are both outdoor and indoor rinks galore in Montreal. Because of the cold temperatures, ponds all over the city are safe for skating, and there are many beautiful and unique outdoor rinks for your skating pleasure.

11. Bask in the History

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love that the town is full of historic buildings, stories, landmarks, and artifacts. There are dozens of museums worth visiting, including McCord Museum, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Ponte-a-Calliere Museum, and Redpath Museum. You could spend days in these buildings learning about French and Canadian history.

When you finally head home, you’ll be a more knowledgeable and cultured individual.