With Mont Royal in the middle of town it’s no doubt Montreal’s got great views. But great vistas abound even off the mount. Here are the best spots to catch a stunning vista.
Montreal’s skyline may not have the architectural marvels of Paris or the spiritual impact of Jerusalem, but it’s damn fine. I daresay it’s the prettiest in the country. With its gazillion church steeples, its many bridges and its mix of 18th-century European architecture and contemporary structures, it’s unique and well worth soaking in. Here are the seven best spots to take in the view.
When boasting great vistas, it helps to have a mountain at the heart of the city. The views are panoramic! You’ll find two famous viewpoints on Mount Royal, one by car and one by foot. By car it’s on Boulevard Camilien-Houde, about halfway up to the top; you’ll see the Olympic Stadium and the entire Plateau spread out before you. By foot, it’s the Belvedere that spreads before the Chalet, which means at least a half-hour hike. (Enjoy it!) There you can spy the all of downtown, most of the bridges and the river beyond.
Courtesy Terrasse Nelligan
A bustling scene overlooks prime urban views at Terrasse Nelligan.
A killer view and scrumptious sangria? Open May to September, this rooftop terrace at Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal defines summer in the city, with its sunny cocktails, happy atmosphere (especially once the after-work set descends) and incredible view of the Old Port and surrounding Old Montreal, including the Notre-Dame Basilica.
106 St-Paul W
The prettiest of Montreal’s bridges, the Jacques-Cartier runs over Île-Ste-Hélène as well as the river. If you’re driving, don’t let the super cool bird’s eye view of the La Ronde amusement park distract you! Luckily, this is a bridge you can walk or bike across – an especially popular option on fireworks night, when you’ll get a front-row perspective. (Come early though, it fills up.)
Le Carré de Gaspé
This is one of those secret views that only locals usually get. Located at the top floor of an industrial Mile End building now teeming with start-ups and design firms, this lookout consists of a glassed-in section right as you step off the elevators, which gives access to a rooftop terrasse. While you may not be able to access the patio at all times, the view from inside is stunning enough – it’s panoramic, offering a rare peek at the Western side of the city, including Outremont, NDG, and St-Joseph Oratory, as well as the usual sights of downtown to the south and the Olympic Stadium to the East.
5605 De Gaspé
View the city from the cusp of a stunning pool.
Set in a moored boat on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, this Old Port spa is a cedar-wood and glass haven of relaxation. Nothing says aaaaah like a sit in their splendid dry sauna, with a picture-window view of the shoreline. Head out into their four-season outdoor pool and hot tub, or better yet the sprawling private gardens, for another truly unique viewpoint on the city.
Corner McGill and De la Commune W.
This all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant in the Montreal Casino on Île-Ste-Hélène isn’t only fun for the Casino-kitsch factor, but because the food is pretty damn delish. Plate up goodies from the rotisserie or omelet stations and dig into the backdrop of breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence River and Montreal skyline, courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s great for a weekend brunch extravaganza.
Montreal Casino, Level 5
This completely revamped hangout on the top four floors of one of the tallest buildings in the centre of downtown is a sight to behold. It comprises a restaurant (a new outpost of the popular Les Enfants Terribles), a foyer, an art gallery and an observatory equipped with high-tech telescopes. The star attraction? Four-season heated decks on every side, where we can see the entire city from above no matter what Mamma Nature throws at us.
1 Place Ville-Marie