The Magdalen Islands or their French name - Îles de la Madeleine are an archipelago…
Looking for fun things to do in Montreal in winter? I think I can safely say that I’ve got you covered. Below I’ve suggested 10 things to do – from dogsledding to outdoor music festivals to a romantic skate at the top of Mont Royal.
So if you’re looking for a good time – and you dress for the outdoors, you’ll find Montreal delivers in spades. It’s one of Canada’s great winter cities! Enjoy this selection of fun things to do in Montreal.
Check out Mont Royal in winter – one of the top things to do in Montreal
The standout in the winter fun category is Mont Royal, the hill in the city immediately west of downtown. Once you make it to Mont Royal then you have five options. There is a bus that will take you there in no time from downtown.
Go skating on Beaver Lake (Lac aux Castors)
For a magical experience go skating on Lac aux Castors – Beaver Lake in English. Some of the ice is man-made so whatever the temperature, it’s in amazing shape. At the pavilion you can rent skates and lockers. With music playing in the background, and snow gently falling, this is also a very romantic place to visit at night.
Go tubing at Mont Royal – high fun factor!!
Just a short walk away from the skating rink is a hill for tubing. I’d never tried it before and what a thrill it turns out to be. Choose a tube based on the colour at the bottom. The one pictured below has a white bottom – which is the best for speed. Hold on, smile, scream and you’ll be down in seconds and ready for more. Guaranteed!
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Electric fat tire biking – one of the very fun things to do in Montreal in winter
For something new, how about an electric fat tire bike ride on Mont Royal? I tried this in Waterton Lakes National Park recently. Although I felt like I was cheating because I didn’t have to work very hard, I had one heck of a lot of fun. It was akin to riding a motorbike.
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in Montreal
Mont Royal is also a fantastic place, providing it’s a good snow year – for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are 33 kilometres of cross country ski trails – and three kilometres of marked snowshoe trails.
Another 8.3 kilometres of snowshoeing is possible if you want to do it along Olmstead Road. I’m amazed that this is all available so close to downtown Montreal. (All equipment can be rented in the skating pavilion.)
It’s also easy and very lovely to walk from the top of Mont Royal down to the city. What a great way to get a dose of nature and solitude.
If you want a guided outdoor adventure in Montreal
Now you wouldn’t think that you would need a guide for these kinds of outings I’ve suggested – and you don’t. But if you’re new to Montreal and you want the history of the city to come alive with a charming guide, then ask for Martin at Fitz and Folwell Boutique.
Invite yourself to a game of pick-up hockey
If you have skates or can rent them, then there are any number of outdoor rinks scattered around the city that offer opportunities for either skating and/or hockey. Its a great way to meet some locals.
Try dogsledding in Jean Drapeau Park – a unique and fun thing to do in Montreal for all ages
Just one stop away from Old Montreal via a subway ride is Jean Drapeau Park, the site of Expo 67. Now its home to the Biosphere Environmental Museum. And it’s a superb place for snowshoeing along with skating and dogsledding. Yes there is dogsledding right in the city. Go either during the day or at night. It’s a great introduction to the sport.
Take a night time snowshoeing tour
On one night in Montreal I did a snowshoe tour with Jonathon Talbot from Ecorecreo. Normally I’m not the type for tours. But make an exception and do the night tour. It’s THE ONLY WAY you can access Levi Tower and have the chance to get a downtown city view that few ever see. Plus as I’m finding out, you learn a lot of history and facts on these tours that you would otherwise miss.
Go ice-fishing in Old Montreal – a fun thing to do in Montreal – but its not for everyone
Another believe it or not winter outing that is quite literally steps from Old Montreal is ice fishing, offered by a company called Fishing Old Montreal. Chalk up another new experience for me.
You must buy a fishing license and get set up with some rods. Then slip slide your way onto the ice and over to your assigned spot. A fellow comes and drills out a new hole and then after baiting your rod and letting the bait sink about 25 feet you sit back and wait. Then wait some more.
If you’re lucky like everyone around us you’ll catch something. Hugo and I spent 90 minutes checking our three lines and came up empty. I hope you have better luck than we did.
Check out Igloofest in January – dancing in the cold is one of the fun things to do in Montreal
Called the coldest outdoor music festival, Igloofest takes place in the Old Port of Montreal from mid to late January. It started in 2007 and has become a Montreal winter tradition, drawing crowds of 65,000 people in 2019, even though temperatures were some of the coldest since the festival began. On one night the temperature plummeted to -31°C with the windchill – and yet 4,000 people came to dance the night away.
Where to stay in Montreal
You are spoiled for choice in Montreal when it comes to accommodation options. Remember that the subway system is excellent so it’s easy to get around without a car.
For a never fail high end experience book into the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.
For a chic hotel experience in Old Montreal I have enjoyed Hotel Nelligan.
If it’s a B&B experience you’re after choose the highly rated A La Carte Bed & Breakfast.
And if it’s a hostel you’d rather stay in check out Auberge HI Montreal Hostel.
More reading about Montreal and Quebec
- A Stay in the Oldest Hotel Room (1725 AD) in Montreal
- Why You’ll Want to Visit Quebec City in December
- An Easy Escape to Beautiful Baie St. Paul in the Charlevoix Area
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