With Canada soon reopening for American tourists, it’s time to consider where you want to go when the borders open up. If you’re looking for a city with culture, cuisine, and creativity, Montreal might just be the right place for you. This beautiful island city located on the St. Lawrence River is just North of the border. Montreal is a truly unique city with a lot to offer; just take a look at these seven reasons why we think it is the best Canadian destination this summer.
Notorious for its eclectic music and art scene, Montreal hosts inspiring festivals all year round. This summer, the annual Osheaga music festival has opted to go for a smaller get-together rather than the usually crowded festival scene. For something more soulful, try the Montreal Jazz Festival to dance the night away. If you’re interested in urban art, Montreal hosts the annual Mural Festival and Under Pressure festival to celebrate graffiti and street-art culture.
Montreal is home to some of the best Canadian cuisine with a uniquely French twist. For a memorable meal head to Au Pied de Cochon to try the French Canadian foie gras. If you’re looking for something lighter, grab a Montreal smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz’s Deli or try one of the 30 different kinds of poutine at La Banquise. For grub on the go, you can always check out Cuisine De Rue to see what the local food trucks are cooking up.
Art-lovers will fall for Montreal, the city is full of creative energy and home to a thriving art scene. The largest art museum in the city – Montreal Museum of Fine Art – hosts nearly 400 paintings featuring famous artists such as Monet and Rembrandt with temporary exhibits featuring classic painters from around the world. For a touch of modern art, head to Art Mur (one of Canada’s largest private galleries) or Station 16 to check out the urban art scene that Montreal is famous for. If you would rather enjoy the summer sunshine than spend the afternoon inside, sign up for the Mural Tour to get a view of the best street art in town.
With French colonial history dating back to the 16th century, Montreal is the biggest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. If you would like a taste of French culture, enjoy a stroll around the Old Montreal heritage site along the riverbank. The cobblestone streets, charming boutiques, and majestic Notre-Dame Basilica will transport you back in time to the French colonization of the city. For the full experience, visit Musée Pointe-à-Callières to see the ruins of the original French settlement.
The lush vegetation of this Quebecois city makes it a hotspot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The sprawling park of Mont-Royal is set on a large hill perfect for hiking, biking, and getting a good view of the city. It also happens to be the supposed name-sake of the city. If you want something a little more challenging, try the Milieu Naturel at Mont Saint Hilaire just outside of town. The area is a provincial biosphere reserve and a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary, so you can enjoy some of the rarest plants and birds in the Canadian countryside. If you would prefer to relax on your vacation, rent a kayak and paddle along the scenic Lachine Canal.
After a long day of exploring the city, relax and unwind at one of Montreal’s amazing nightlife destinations. For a taste of local music and culture, check out Ausgang Plaza to find out about local art and music events happening at this cultural crossroad. If you want to sip some of the city’s best microbrews and cocktails, slip into Turbo Haus for some live alternative music. And for those that just don’t know what they want, Casa Del Popolo never disappoints. This venue has a little bit of everything on offer: fair-trade café, music venue, resto-bar, and art gallery.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com