16+ Extremely “Cool” Things to do in Montreal This Year 
By Matthew Martino on March 7th, 2018
When did cool get so complicated? Cool used to be as easy as Fonz working the juke box. Now “cool” has multiple meanings and attributes. It’s having a trendy, new and imaginative aura all at the same time! What’s certain is that the streets of Montreal ooze a definitive coolness. The city of festivals is littered with trendy and fashionable things to do and see. Here is our list of some chill soaked activities/spots in Montreal.
Mile End – Montreal’s #1 Food Tour Neighbourhood
A List of Ultra Cool Things to Do in Montreal
When did cool get so complicated? Cool used to be as easy as Fonz working the juke box. Now “cool” has multiple meanings and attributes. It’s having a trendy, new and imaginative aura all at the same time! What’s certain is that the streets of Montreal ooze a definitive coolness. The city of festivals is littered with trendy and fashionable things to do and see. Here is our list of some chill soaked activities/spots in Montreal. 10 cool things to do in Montreal
[Disclaimer] The “aura of cool” can be fleeting. Therefore we cannot guarantee these spots will stay chill in the future.
16. Aire Commune Mile End
Located in the heart of the Mile End (the city’s artiest neighbourhood), Aire Commune is a new workspace designed for networking and outdoor events. Opening in May and lasting until September, Aire Commune will offer conferences, festive evenings including DJ’s and food trucks, and tons of other fun activities on their beautiful terrace. The main idea is to bring together creators, entrepreneurs and neighbourhood influencers in a relaxed setting. They will also offer yoga classes and outdoor physical training every week– perfect to burn off all the calories from Happy Hour! With free wifi, live music and a pet-friendly policy, what’s not to love?
Given the fact that their name translates to “the Squirter,” you can expect a pretty wild night at Femme à la Fontaine. Located in Little Italy, this wine bar boasts an extensive natural wine selection to compliment its simple yet elegant menu, which includes beef tartare, marinated octopus with romanesco, and a fennel-artichoke salad. As for the decor (which certainly reflects the resto-bar’s controversial name), one of the owners describes it as “discount art-déco meets 80s public bathhouse. It [has] ‘bathroom vibes.'”
Located in the basement of Rouge Gorge (a sophisticated French bistro in the Plateau), Le Royal is an old-fashioned speakeasy with a modern twist. You can’t help but feel transported back to the roaring 20’s with its intimate atmosphere and chic decor. The menu is a cocktail-lover’s dream, offering a great selection of gin, rum, champagne, sparkling wines, and arguably the best Bloody Caesar in town. With its hidden location, mysterious ambience and unique cocktails, Le Royal is the type of place where you can sit back and lose track of time.
With a giant, faux cherry tree in the centre of the bar, Le Blossom‘s modern decor will surely make your jaw drop. The sake bar offers a list of over 20 Japanese rice wines, along with a few cocktails, beers, and Japanese whiskeys. The small menu focuses mainly on sushi and tempura, but also offers some udon noodle bowls and other traditional Japanese meals. A definitely must-try in the Gay Village.
Boho Bar + Clandestino Bar
With tons of hip watering holes, choosing the right bar in Montreal can sometimes feel overwhelming! Old Port restaurant Venice is making your decision that much easier by opening up two of the coolest bars in town right beside each other. Boho is a Miami-style lounge offering the most unique and fruity cocktails around (white rum and guava juice spritzer garnished with a creamsicle, anyone???). The bright decor and tropical plants will transport you to a beach house. Tucked right beneath Boho is an upscale mezcal and tequila bar named Clandestino. While also Mexican themed, the ambiance at Clandestino is more refined with its plush, warm-coloured couches and antiques, giving the underground space an almost speakeasy vibe. They offer over 100 varieties of tequila and 15 different kinds of salt to accompany them!
There’s no better way to experience a city than to taste its culinary heritage. The Mile End is a 10-block hipster playground between LePlateau du Mont-Royal and Little Italy, known as one of the most artsy neighbourhoods in North America. Local Montreal Food Tours guides you and your palate through the vibrant district, stopping at half a dozen tasting locations and historical landmarks. It’s a great way to spend the day, mingling with tourists and locals while noshing on uniquely-Montreal treats like St. Viateur bagels and homemade gnocchi. Beginning in May, they will offer an evening tour of the bustling community as well! Click here for more information:Mile End Montreal Food Tour
13. The Phi Centre
Just a short walk from the Place d’Armes metro station in Old Montreal, the Phi Centreis a multipurpose arts & culture venue featuring concerts, film screenings, theatre productions and interactive exhibits. Their eclectic programming aims to bring global ideas to Montreal and showcase Montreal ideas to the world, like Particles of Existence— an exhibit open until the end of the summer that weaves together space travel, climate change and mass migration. With affordable admission fees, the Phi Centre is a great place to immerse yourself in the city’s avant-garde art scene!
12. Enjoy a Festival
With nearly a million festival-goers every year, Francofolies is always an exciting kickoff to the summer. Over 250 shows including 180 free outdoor concerts make this the biggest music festival in the French-speaking world. Francofolies runs from June 8 to 16 this year, and takes place in the heart of the Quartier Des Spectacles, an arts and entertainment district in the downtown core that is home to many cultural events and festivals year-round. Featuring over 1,000 French-language performers from all over the world, the festival highlights a wide variety of genres such as rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, punk, and many others.
Suoni Per Il Popolo
Suoni Per Il Popolo is an experimental music festival showcasing the greatest indie artists you’ve never heard of. Held in some of the coolest venues in the city like La Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo (both joints are resto-bars that offer great bites too, see below for more info), the festival is the perfect way to discover new music. Tickets starting at just $10!
International Jazz Festival
As soon as the sun comes out and the snow melts, Montreal becomes a jazz-lover’s paradise. The 39th edition of the Jazz Fest will take place a few weeks after Francofolies from June 28 to July 7, hosting a huge range of artists from popular veterans like Ry Cooder to budding musicians like Daniel Caesar. A major part of Montreal’s downtown core is closed to traffic for ten days, perfect to explore the city and take advantage of the tons of free outdoor shows that are open to the public from noon until midnight. Performances are held in a number of different historic venues, from cozy jazz clubs to the large concert halls of Place des Arts. Simply put, the Jazz Fest is truly one of the best ways immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the city.
Just for Laughs
Each summer, Montreal hosts the largest international comedy festival in the world. Founded in 1983, the Just For Laughs lineup always showcases the who’s who of stand-up. While tickets to the major galas can be more expensive, there are many affordable shows like The Ethnic Show (which pokes fun at Montreal’s multiculturalism), and the Nasty Show (which probably isn’t the best show to take your mother-in-law, unless you want to ruin Thanksgiving). While the lineup for this year’s festival has yet to be released, here are some of the headliners from last year to give you an idea of what’s in store: Jim Carrey, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah, and Jerry Seinfeld, just to name a few.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
You can’t talk about festivals in Montreal without talking about Osheaga. The three-day indie music festival is held at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène every summer. Having hosted some of the biggest names in music like Coldplay, Lorde, Eminem, and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Osheaga has become a go-t0 favourite for tourists and locals alike. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a tradition among Montreal natives to try to sneak into the festival, carrying plastic water bottles filled with anything but water inside them. This year the festival runs from August 3 to 5.
11. Alexandraplatz Bar
This spacious outdoor hangout located in the Mile Ex, a hip neighbourhood nestled between Little Italy and the Mile End, is only open in the summer. But by offering one of the coolest terraces in the city, Alexandraplatz certainly makes the most out the brief summer months! Inspired by the “biergartens” of Germany, this popular watering hole boasts a nice selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails. Situated in an old industrial building with cafeteria-style tables and a garage-door entrance, Alexandraplatz is like a chill backyard party every day of the week. There’s also a taco stand outside and food trucks across the street, making it the perfect spot to blow off some steam after a long day.
10. Village au Pied-du-Courant
Heading to the beach can be quite the trek in Montreal (Oka is about an hour drive outside the city). But Village au Pied-du-Courant has made planting your toes in the sand that much easier. This man-made beach space is located right under the Jacques Cartier bridge on the banks of the Saint Lawrence, and all of their programming is free. With live music, food trucks, tropical-themed cocktails, and a slew of other season-long features, you won’t want to miss this little slice of beachy bliss once the warm weather rolls around.
9. Agrikol Restaurant
This Haitian bar and restaurant, named for the style of rum distilled from cane juice in the French Caribbean, is located in the heart of the Gay Village– yet you’d think you’re in Port-au-Prince. Co-owned by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Agrikol‘s atmosphere oozes Haitian cool with its art-covered walls, stained glass windows, disco ball congas, and French Quarter style bannisters all set to the backdrop of classic kompa tunes. You don’t need to order food to drink at the bar, but food must accompany alcoholic beverages elsewhere in the restaurant, so be sure to arrive no later than 5:45 PM before the line up is too crazy. A definite must-try to experience Montreal’s vibrant Haitian culture.
After your meal, be sure to head to Ti Agrikol right next door for some late-night fun! Every weekend you can tear it up on the dance floor with live music and sip on some tropical cocktails. A great way to end the week that’s different than the usual bars and clubs around the city.
7. Check out the MAC
For more than fifty years, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) has celebrated local and international artists along with their avant-garde works. The museum is located in heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, and is Canada’s only cultural complex devoted to both contemporary performing and visual arts. Admission fees are very affordable and children ages 12 and under can access the museum for free. With a collection that includes over 7,000 works of art by more than 1,500 artists, the MAC is a can’t-miss for art lovers!
Located right in the centre of Old Montreal, DHC/ART is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing contemporary art. Each year they offer two to three major exhibitions, a series of public events, and other collaborative projects that are always free of charge. Their latest exhibition Bharti Kher: Points de départ, points qui lient, will run from April 20 until September 9, highlighting Indian artist Bharti Kher and her signature use of the bindi. In Indian tradition, the bindi is a dot applied to the centre of the forehead as a representation of a spiritual third eye, and the exhibit showcases how Kher has beautifully incorporated this design into her paintings and sculptures.
5. Catch a Show
Montreal’s has more music venues than can be counted: one opens up, and another underground venue is shut down. We need all these venues to showcase our selection of local musicians and all the international ones who are just passing by. It can be overwhelming, though, to pick just one show on a particular night. Blues Skies Turn Blackcan help with that–they book some of the best local and international acts and feature a lot of up-and-coming bands.
Some of the best venues–good for sound quality, decor, and decent drink prices–can be found in the Plateau, Mile Ex, and St-Henri. The Plateau is home to the ever-thriving, red velvety curtain, Sala Rosa.This Spanish-style venue even has a Spanish restaurant on the first level where you can get some of the best paella in town before a show. Across the street is Sala’s sister, Casa del Popolowhere one side is a cozy bar and the other side, an intimate venue. Head up to the Bar le Ritz in the Mile Ex where you can catch a film screening in 35mm some nights, or head down to St-Henri to Corona Theatre where you can probably catch a well-known band playing.
4. The Satosphere
The Satosphere was launched in October 2011 at the Societe des Arts and Technologies. Since then it has been putting on amazing 360° creative experiences. Specifically, it’s an eighteen meter spherical dome dedicated to showcasing the talents of visual artists. Events like the SAT Fest display the visual creations of carefully selected artists while the audience lies down on flat beds. At other times, they host a dance party under the dome with a live DJ and visuals to accompany the music. Be sure to also check out their beautiful terrace for a quick bite. The sheer scale of the Satosphere guarantees an immersive and rich experience for the viewer. Expect to feel like a very small human being with a newly expanded perception.
1201 Boul Saint-Laurent
3. Mile End Vintage Shops
If you’re looking to get some quality vintage clothing in Montreal, it’s well within your reach. Annex Vintage in the Mile End has got you covered from a few angles. This clothing company owns three different stores within a two block radius. Each store hand curates their collection to offer a unique selection of fabulous garments. Make sure you don’t forget to buy an ironic hat! Citizen Vintage is also a great spot to flex your inner hipster, and if you’re on the hunt for some unique home items, look no further than LNF Shop.
Montrealers certainly love their beer, and what better way to explore all the craft breweries that the city has to offer than by going on a tour? Montreal Craft Beer Tours offers walking excursions of the unique brewpubs found within Montreal, along with a historical and cultural guide of the neighbourhood. The one-of-a-kind beer tastings are paired with equally-delectably food samples such as Belgium beer melted poutine, charcuterie platters including slices of beef gravlax and cheese, as well as decadent dulce de leche truffles. A must-try for beer-lovers both inside and outside of the city!
With Montreal’s vibrant and ever-growing Italian community, it isn’t hard to find a slice mouthwatering pizza or a decadent cannoli in the city. But for some of the best pasta in town, head to Drogheria Fine on Fairmount street in the Mile End. It’s a tiny Italian store that serves up homemade gnocchi in a delicious and freshly prepared tomato sauce. The best part? You can get a box to-go for only $5. The recipe was brought over from southern Italy by the store owner’s mother, using only the simplest of ingredients–tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper (but don’t try to replicate it at home, you won’t even come close). Enjoy every bite of the piping hot gnocchi while you make your way to one of the city’s best ice cream shops for dessert.
Located just a few doors down, Kem Coba‘s artisanal soft ice cream is truly one-of-a-kind. With a rotating roster of new flavours (last year’s fusion of salted caramel and pear was to die for), their sweet treats are made without any artificial flavours or preservatives. A perfect way to end your meal without ever having to sit down!
Mile End – Montreal’s Best Neighbourhood to take a Food Tour
Take the Mile End Montreal Food Tour and discover the most creative neighbourhood in Montreal. Offered Tue-Sun at 11:00 AM and more. 3h food walking tour.