While winter in Montreal definitely has its upsides (amazing skiing, skating and snowman building to name a few), the city seems to have been holding itself back these past few months.
Now that the spring is on its way, an energy has hit the air and the people of the city seem to have emerged from hiding overnight. The weather has just begun to warm up, and already the streets are swarming with excited folk ready to embrace all that the new season has to offer. Like all great big cities, there’s no shortage of things to do in Montreal. Weekdays might keep you captive with school and work, but weekends are for experiencing the city. Take a look at this list of awesome ways to welcome the spring in Montreal!
1. Go hiking on Mount Royal
Just west of downtown, lies the beloved Mount Royal, the city’s signature mountain. More than just a landmark, however, the mountain is a hub of activity at any time of the year. Mount Royal offers hikers a workout with a view, with its web of breathtaking trails that lead to various lookout points. Although the trails are donned with skiers and snowshoers in the colder months, the mountain truly comes alive in the spring and summer. Cyclists, runners and plenty of hikers take over the paths, enjoying time off from the city and a catch up with nature. The warm weather is the perfect time for a picnic next to Beaver Lake, at the beautiful park tucked away at the top of the mountain.
Getting There: From downtown (Peel metro station), head up Peel Street to reach the path to Beaver Lake. See more info and a complete map of the mountain here.
2. Take a bike ride along the Lachine Canal
Montreal has an active and vibrant cycling community and there’s really no better spot to test out your bike wheels than the Lachine Canal. Spanning 14.5 kilometres long, the historic canal welcomes everyone from families to seasoned cyclists to its trails. One end of the canal takes off from the South West of the city, at René Lévesque Park, where cyclists can stop to marvel at the stunning sculpture garden as well as a beautiful stretch of the St. Lawrence River. The opposite end of the canal takes cyclists to another riverfront view at the Old Port of Montreal, a hotspot for shopping, bars and restaurants. The canal is also connected to Atwater Market, an impressive market known for its fresh flowers and produce.
Getting There: There are access points near metro stations Charlevoix, Lionel-Groulx and Square-Victoria. Find a full map of the canal here.
3. Visit the butterflies at the Botanical Garden
Every spring, up to 2,000 butterflies and moths take over one of the greenhouses at the Montreal Botanical Garden, and you’re invited to meet them. This exhibit, called Butterflies Go Free, showcases about 75 different species of butterflies and moths from all around the world. This event is not for those with an insect phobia, as you’ll be walking up close and personal with these flying critters. Truly a spring activity, the exhibit is only open until May 14th. At all times of year, the 75-hectare gardens feature an impressive array of plant life from around the globe.
Cost: Admission price is $15.50 for Quebec adults. See more prices here.
Getting There: The botanical garden is located near Pie-IX metro station.
4. Check out Montreal’s outdoor wildlife refuge
When the winter surrounds us, we are no longer privy to the singing of birds or the scurrying of squirrels. Our furry friends are hiding or hibernating, and it’s easy to forget that we all share our cities with a vast array of interesting animals. Now that the warm weather is here, it’s the perfect time to reconnect with the wildlife that surrounds us. The perfect place to do this is at the Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue – the only outdoor zoo in Montreal. The zoo, which is actually a refuge, only features animals that could not survive in the wild. A visit to the Ecomuseum will open your eyes to the wild animals who share our home, as the only animals at the refuge are ones found in the Saint-Lawrence Valley in Quebec.
Cost: Admission price is around $12.75 for adults, but varies depending on the season. See more prices here.
Getting There: The zoo is located at the western tip of the island of Montreal and best accessed by car. Find directions here.