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old montreal notre dame basilica

Vieux-Montreal, or Old Montreal, was home to the city's first European settlers, who arrived in the mid-17th century. Many of the homes and buildings have been restored and the old city has wonderful boutiques, sidewalk cafes and street performers. The center of the action is Place Jacques-Cartier, a pedestrian mall. Nearby, the Old Port is one of Montreal's best-loved recreation spots; this waterfront park is a terrific place to take a stroll or sign up for speedboat expeditions and harbor cruises. You can even rent bicycles and in-line skates at Montreal on Wheels. See Old Montreal tours and excursions from Viator.

The grand and ornate Notre-Dame Basilica, an early 19th-century cathedral, boasts 228-foot twin towers and one of North America's biggest bells. Inside are intricate wooden carvings, a magnificent organ with more than 7,000 pipes and a brilliant blue ceiling strewn with gold stars. Pop trivia: Celine Dion got married here in 1994.

Bike, walk or jog through Parc du Mont-Royal. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (of New York's Central Park fame), it comprises nearly 500 acres of forest and winding paths, and lies atop the mountain in the heart of Montreal.

St. Joseph's Oratory is a massive domed shrine that dates back to the mid-20th century. You may see pilgrims climbing the steps to the oratory on their knees. Take time to visit the small original chapel dedicated to Brother Andre, who was renowned for his healing gifts, and to wander through the gardens surrounding the church.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the city's premier repository of art representing numerous eras and styles, from 19th-century European masterpieces to Native American and Inuit artifacts.

Check out the sights in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a neighborhood in eastern Montreal. This district played host to the 1976 Summer Olympics, and you can still tour the massive Olympic Stadium -- take a ride up to the top of the attached tower for views over the city. One intriguing attraction that's fun for kids and adults alike is the Biodome. Part zoo, part environmental museum, the Biodome is home to animals and plants in five re-created habitats: the tropical forest, the Laurentian maple forest, the St. Lawrence marine ecosystem, the Labrador coast and the sub-Antarctic islands. (The penguins are a fan favorite.) Also nearby are the lovely Botanical Garden and the kid-friendly Insectarium.

Test your luck at the Casino de Montreal, one of the world's biggest. It's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Discover Montreal Tours and Activities from Viator

Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc., which also owns Viator.


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