The 5 Best Attractions in Montreal and Quebec City
Explore the museums, parks and tourist attractions that make Montreal and Quebec City two of the most diverse, beautiful and exciting travel destinations in Canada.
Quebec City Attractions: La Citadelle
Dramatically set atop Cap Diamant in Quebec City, this installation of 10 buildings is the largest military fortification in North America. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the site was begun by the French in 1750, but much of the striking star-shaped battlement seen today was constructed by the British between 1820 and 1850, built to defend the city from possible invasion from the United States, in the 19th century. The fort is an active home to the Royal 22nd Regiment of the Canadian Forces and daily military spectacles are staged to entertain visitors during the summer months.
Montreal Attractions: Parc du Mont-Royal
The geographic highlight of all Montreal attractions is undeniably Mont-Royal’s steep slopes. Named by Jacques Cartier in 1535, the protected district of Parc du Mont-Royal covers more than 343 acres of forested mountain, providing abundant green spaces, shrubs and flowers, as well as habitats for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife. Designed in 1876 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Mont-Royal continues to inspire locals as an arboreal delight in the centre of their metropolis. Activity options, depending on the time of year, include skating, cycling, paddle-boating, tobogganing and snowshoeing. To the northwest of the park is the impressive Oratoire St-Joseph.
Quebec City Attractions: Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre
The oldest pilgrimage site in North America began life in 1658 as a shrine to this patron saint of Quebec and was established as a basilica in 1887. The present church, started in 1923 but only completed in 1963, has a striking interior with sumptuous decoration, including impressive window archways. Hundreds of crutches, canes and medical aids can be seen stacked in pyramids beside the medieval-style entrance, testimony to pilgrim prayer and the healing powers associated with Sainte Anne de Beaupré. Stunning religious statues frame the entrance and line the luxurious gardens, including a Way of the Cross.
Quebec City Attractions: Ile d’Orleans
A haven of greenery and tranquility, Ile d’Orleans was one of the first European settlements in the New World, and is referred to as the cradle of French civilization in North America. Ever since Jacques Cartier arrived here in 1535, the six parishes along this 30-km island have maintained many of the French traditions of the first settlers, and over 600 heritage buildings present a preserved architectural gem. The fertile soil means that the island’s produce has become known as the area’s open-air market.
Montreal Attractions: Musee Pointe-a-Calliere
Ascending like a sentinel from the confluence of the St Pierre and the St. Lawrence rivers, this National Historic Site honours the founding of Montreal at Place Royale. Within this landmark of stone and brushed steel are three sections: a chic building constructed on top of the ruins of older structures; the archeological crypt and the renovated Customs House. A self-guided tour system allows each visitor to explore at their own pace, but guides are employed throughout the site to answer questions. These escorts are accomplished storytellers, bringing the history of the city to life. Truly one of the must-see Montreal attractions!