15 Free Things To Do In Montreal in 2021
Are you all ready for your vacation in Montreal?
Maybe you’ve brushed up on your French and made a list of all the fantastic places you want to visit in this cultural wonderland. After all, the city is known for having a perfect blend of historic landmarks, fine dining, and plenty of places to let your hair down and party.
But when you start comparing your list of stops against your bank balance, sometimes it doesn’t add up. The good news is that Montreal also hosts a bevy of activities that you can participate in without opening your purse or wallet.
If you want to spend as much time as possible in Canada’s sin city, then make sure to break up your trip with these free things so you can enjoy everything Montreal has to offer.
Swing Away at 21 Balancoires
If you’re in Montreal between early April and late May, then you’ll want to swing by the art exhibit. You’ll spot 21 swings that look innocent enough. But when you take a seat, start to sway back and forth, the magic begins to happen.
Music will blare from the swingset, and the entire structure will light up. It sounds like an orchestra of wind chimes combined with one of the most amazing light shows you’ll ever see. But you’re the conductor.
Check Out the Fireworks at Saint-Lawrence River
Montreal is home to the International Fireworks Competition, which runs from the end of June to the end of July. You can’t miss it as the spectacle runs two times a week during this time of year.
The place to see the entire show is at the Old Port. However, you can also head to the Jacques Cartier bridge, which is closed while the fireworks are lighting up the night sky.
Read a Book from the Westmount Library
You’ve never been to a library like this. Located next to the glorious Westmount Park and featuring a stunning greenhouse adjacent to it is the Westmount Library. It’s full of books, movies, music, and more.
Grab a book or something to entertain you, and then head next door to the greenhouse to experience this site fully. You’ll get treated to a warm, cuddly feeling from the air as you find a spot to sit and relax. The only difficulty you’ll have is trying to focus on your novel and not the glorious plants surrounding you.
Bust a Move at Quartier des Spectacles
The city of Montreal loves a festival, and they all tend to take place in the Quartier des Spectacles. It’s the place to eat, drink, dance, and be merry. Regardless if there is a celebration on or not.
The indie music festival Pop Montreal, International Jazz Festival, and Les Nuts D’Afrique all take place here. But even during the “off-season,” the area is buzzing with live music and people looking to have a good time.
Enjoy the Opera in Little Italy
There is a week in August when Little Italy shuts down the street to celebrate their culinary delights. You’ll find mouth-watering pizza, scrumptious pasta, and tasty cannolis on every corner. But the highlight of the week is the free opera performances.
Located outside of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Defense Church is a large stage and plenty of seating. Pick any spot and treat yourself to some tremendous performances that are typically only reserved for the cultural elite.
Visit Any Museum You Wish
Mark down the date May 26 in your calendar. This is known as Free Museum Day in Montreal, and it means every single of them has no admission charge. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Canadian Centre for Architecture or the Museum of Natural History. You can walk in and enjoy all of their exhibits.
If you’re not in the city during this time, then you won’t miss out. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Arts will let you enjoy their collections on the first Sunday of every month for free.
Cheer at a Parade
It doesn’t take a lot for Montreal to hold a parade. Throughout the year, streets will get shut down and lit up with performers, floats, and an abundance of colors.
Montreal holds parades for Christmas, Pride Week, St Patrick’s Day, and Halloween. If you’re visiting the city around this time, make sure to stop by for some free entertainment and festivities.
Chuckle at a Comedy Show
If you’re wondering why everyone is laughing in July, don’t feel self-conscious. It’s just the world’s largest international comedy festival, Just For Laughs. Comedians from around the globe gather to perform for locals, tourists, and anyone wanting a belly laugh.
Some previous headliners include Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, and Sarah Silverman. While these shows aren’t free, there are plenty of activities around the festival that doesn’t cost anything to enjoy. No matter what it is, it’s bound to put a smile on your face.
Explore the Underground City
If the cold is getting too much for you, then you can escape the temperatures by heading underneath the city. You won’t find any sewers or nasty surprises waiting for you. Instead, you’ll come across a civilization beneath the streets.
There is over 33 km to cover in the Underground City. You’ll find shopping centers to visit and other business selling their wares. You’ll pass office buildings and even a secret entrance to your hotel. It’s heated inside, so you won’t even know that it’s winter above the surface.
Trek Through Mount Royal
Breathtaking is the only word to describe Mount Royal. It’s only a small mountain inside the Quebec Heritage site that features glorious views that you won’t find anywhere else. The best time to go is on a sunny evening in the summertime.
In addition to the views, you’ll also find plenty of parks, nature paths, and picnic areas. Feel free to stroll at your own pace or grab a bike to cycle through the landscape. There are information stands on-site to help you discover everything the place has to offer.
Party at Montreal en Lumiere
You’ve never been to a party like this. Initially starting in 2000, the festival is the bright spot of winter as it lights up the skies of the city with over 200 special events and glow-in-the-dark artwork.
Not all of the events are free, but the vast majority are. The party runs all night, so make sure you get a nap in before you stop by so you can binge on the food and ride the Ferris wheel all night.
Stroll Through the Belgo Building
Art fans must take time out of their vacation to visit the Belgo Building. It’s home to many of Montreal’s most well-known contemporary artists and features over 27 distinct galleries.
You can find the Belgo Building near Quartier des Spectacles. Walk right in and take your time admiring each of the exhibitions on display. You can also choose to stop by one of the artist workshops if you feel inspired.
Stop by Parc Jean-Drapeau
There are loads of activities to explore at Parc Jean-Drapeau. It’s home to the Grand Prix F1 track and the La Ronde amusement park. You can even have a gamble at the Montreal casino if you’re feeling lucky.
But the highlight of the spot is the Floralie Gardens. At just over 25 hectares, you’ll be able to breathe in and enjoy the scent of roses, perennials, shrubs, and trees. Take any one of the walking trails, and when you’re done, stop by the pool to cool off.
Cycle Through the City Highlights
Montreal is very bike-friendly. In fact, it’s such a fan of two-wheel transportation that the city is filled with paths and tracks that take you to every corner of it.
You can head to Parc La Fontaine or around the old Olympic Village. It’s even possible to stop by OId Montreal and the Lachine Canal. If you’re looking for a different type of view of Montreal, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Relax at Lachine Canal
If you’re in the southwest area of Montreal, then you can’t miss Lachine Canal. It’s a great place to take a seat on any one of their many benches and unwind after a long day of taking in the sites.
You can enjoy the views of the city skyline from this location, particularly during sunrise or sunset. In the summer, the area hosts markets featuring food, arts, crafts, and other trinkets that can remind you of your time in Montreal.
Look Out for Gratuite
The official language for the city of Montreal is French. While many locals also speak English, they may not be as fluent in the language. In this case, you may not see or hear the word free thrown about. Instead, you’ll need to look or listen out for the French version, gratuite. It will mean that you’ve found the free activity that you’re looking for, and you don’t have to worry about blowing out your holiday budget.
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