Montreal is one of the best Canadian cities to visit in the winter. There are so many things to do in Montreal in winter, from snowy outdoor activities and fun festivals to cozy restaraunts and one-of-akind museums. I have been to Montreal in the winter several times for weekend trips and for longer stays, and there’s always something new and exciting going on along with the iconic classics.
Will it be cold? Yes. It will be freezing but with the right winter gear and some enthusiasm a Montreal winter can be a complete blast. Snowshoeing, skating, lights, and more can be found in the heart of the city. Just in case you get really cold, though, there are some spots on this list where you can cozy up. I’ve got you covered!
First time visiting Montreal? Use this post as a winter side-kick to my 3 Days in Montreal Itinerary and Travel Guide. Put the two together by substituting in some winter activities, and you will have the perfect montreal winter itinerary!
Here are my favourite things to do in Montreal in winter! Winter 2019 – 2020
Things to do in Montreal in Winter
Get Outdoors with Montreal Winter Activities
Old Port Skating Rink
The Old Port Skating Rink comes first because it is my favourite of all the things to do in Montreal in winter. This beautiful skating rink is located at the Old Port of Montreal, right beneath the ferris wheel. You can’t miss it! The Old Port Skating rink is a combination rink; there’s a refrigerated rink, with music playing, and there’s a small natural skating trail that wraps around the ferris wheel.
Admission is $7, and skate rentals are available. I suggest going just before sunset. It’s beautiful to see the ferris wheel lights comes on as the sun goes down! This is the perfect way to end a day in Old Montreal. Get all the details on schedules, ice conditions, and rentals.
Day 1 of my Montreal itinerary is Old Montreal, and skating at Natrel Rink is the perfect addition to this day!
Mount Royal – Beaver Lake
Mount Royal is an enormous park in the heart of Montreal. There’s a stunning lookout where you can see the Montreal skyline, and it’s the perfect place for all winter activities. Snowshoe, toboggan, tubing or cross country ski your way around the mountain. Make your way to Beaver Lake (right in the middle of Mount Royal) for skating and winter activities! Skating is free and equipment rentals are available. They’ve even got night time tubing and themed-music nights at the rink.
The amazing thing about Mont Royal is that it will seem as though you’ve left the city of Montreal behind. This is a wonderful winter scene, especially after a fresh snowfall. Here’s the program for winter activities at Mont Royal.
La Fontaine Park
Yet another option for you if you love to skate, La Fontaine Park is located in the Plateau region neighbourhood of Montreal. The trees are decked out in sparkling lights during the winter, making it a beautiful setting for a nighttime skate. Can you tell yet that one of my favourite things to do in Montreal in winter is skate?
Skating is free, and there’s an on-site skate rental shop in you need to rent. Skate sharpening is also available! When you’re ready to warm up, Espace La Fontain restaurant is the perfect place for a hot chocolate. Click here for ice conditions, schedules, and rates.
Jean Drapeau Skating Trail
If you’re visiting Montreal during the Fête des Neiges festival then you can enjoy some special winter activities. Skate on a skating trail through the forest, tackle a winter Ninja course, and go tubing on some epic slides. This festival spans 4 consecutive weekends, is paid entry, and is great for families!
There’s also dog sledding right in the city during the Fêtes des neiges!
Mont Tremblant is another option for winter adventures if you’re up for a winter getaway from Montreal. This small ski village is only a 1.5 hour drive from Montreal. It’s lovely to walk around the village, and there are all kinds of winter activities including dog sledding! Cozy in to a sled and enjoy a thrilling hour dashing through the snow. It’s easy to spend an entire day at Mont Tremblant enjoying winter activities.
Dog sledding is a quintessential Canadian experience. And, in case you’re wondering, the dogs love it. Huskies love to run. The biggest struggle a husky dog owner faces is getting their dog to come inside during a blizzard.
Warm Up With Winter Food
Go on a Montreal Food Tour
Montreal is famous for it’s food! I booked a food tour of Mile End, and there’s also one available of Old Montreal. Montreal is home to incredibly skilled chefs and bakers, some born and raised in the city and others that bring culinary inspiration from around the world. A food tour is a great chance to try out awesome local food, and to see Montreal in the winter from a different perceptive.
Warm Up in a Local Café
Montreal winters are lovely, but they also get cold. That’s why I’ve included a few of my favourite cafés as things to do in Montreal in winter. These cafés are close to many Montreal attractions. Perfect places to warm up with a hot chocolate after you’ve been outside explore!
This stunning café is found on the first floor of the Royal Bank Tower. It’s a co-working space, but there’s also lots of cozy armchairs to settle in to. The high arched ceilings are something you would expect to find in a cathedral, not a café! 360 Saint-Jacques Street.
Tommy Café is 3 stories, set inside the British Empire Building. There are plants hanging from the ceiling, and the whole place has a cozy warm feeling to it (making it an Instagram hot-spot, of course). 200 Notre-Dame St W.
If you’ve been out enjoying activities in the Quartier des Spectacles, SAT café is only a couple blocks away. 6 Place du Marché.
Indulge in Maple Taffy and Poutine
The must-try foods when you’re in Montreal in winter are maple taffy and poutine. Maple taffy is a winter tradition. Maple syrup is poured on snow, and then wound up around a popsicle stick for you to eat. During the winter you can find it at pop-up maple shacks in Old Montreal, and at most festival sites.
The other thing you have to try is poutine. Quebec is the inventor of this Canadian favourite, so it’s not at all hard to find. Check out this post for the best poutine in the city.
Go on a Local Craft Beer Tour
Love beer? Montreal is considered to be home to Canada’s best craft beers. The Craft Beer Tour is your chance to taste 6 different beers, along with food pairings. This tour includes 3 brewpubs, poutine, nachos, and chocolate. And of course, there’s lots of beer!
Montreal is home to dozens of brewpubs and lots of microbreweries. This post has lots of great suggestions for brewpubs that you can visit on your own while you’re in Montreal.
Have fun at a Montreal Winter Festival
Montreal en Lumière
Montréal en Lumière (Montreal in Light) is not a winter festival. It’s a festival that takes places during winter (typically in March) and it puts a spotlight on the things that Montreal does best: concerts and interactive art installations in Quartier des Spectacles, gastronomy specials by Montreal’s best restaurants, and the infamous Nuit Blanche – an all-night festival that takes place annually in major cities around the world. I went to a few of the gastronomy events – so delicious!
Fête des neiges de Montréal
Outdoors and family friendly, Fête des neiges de Montréal takes places over four consecutive weekends beginning in January. It takes place in parc Jean-Drapeau and is full of winter activities. Go dogsledding, skate on a trail through the forest, snowshoe, and more.
First things first: Igloofest does not have igloos. What it does have is fantastic line up of live music that you can enjoy out in the cold of winter at Montreal’s Old Port. It runs for 3 weekends beginning in January – adults only! The line ups including lots of notable Quebec artists, and others from around Canada and the USA.
Throughout December and January, Places des Arts transforms in to a winter playground. Luminotherapie is an interactive art installation, and contest that runs every year. In the past it’s included everything from light up domino sets to glow in the dark teeter-totters.
Restaurant: Alexandre et Fils
Explore Old Montreal in Winter
Old Montreal is iconic, and I’m sure it’s already at the top of your list. It’s especially beautiful at night during the Christmas season, when the streets are decorated with garlands and lights. Visit Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal City Hall, take a look inside the local shops, or go on a historical walking tour to learn more about this beautiful city. It’s so beautiful in the winter!
Enjoy more with this Old Montreal guide for sightseeing, museums, and food.
Montreal Museums to Visit in the Winter
Montreal is home to some incredible museums – the perfect places to warm up after a day playing in the snow!
The Museum of Fine Arts
This museum features both contemporary and past works. Works include pieces from artists local to Quebec, or elsewhere in Canada, and from international artists around the world. You’ll have a chance to see all different styles of paintings, sculptures, and photography. Check out the events calendar for workshops and concerts going on while you’re in Montreal.
The McCord Museum
The McCord Museum will take you back in time through Montreal’s history. The collections focus primarily on Montreal’s development, starting in the 1700’s. Clothing, objects, and tools belonging to past Canadian men and women, and to First Nation’s people, can all be found here.
This museum is one of a kind, because it includes archeological sites that are of historical significance to Montreal. The archeology sites uncovered during construction have been left as part of the museum’s display. The museum includes collections of artefacts from First Nationals and documents the arrival of the British and French to Montreal.
See Montreal in Winter from Above
One of the best things to do in Montreal in winter is take in a view of the snowy skyline! Here are a few places you can go for an amazing view.
The Montréal Tower at Olympic Park
This tower was built for the Olympics, and it’s still operating today with a great view of the city from above. If you’re going here, stop by the botanical gardens to visit the greenhouse too.
La Grande Roue de Montréal
A wonderful way to see Old Montreal in particular, and the ferris wheel itself is becoming an iconic Montreal photograph. You can ride the Ferris wheel year-round!
The Observatoire Place Ville Marie
See Montreal from the cozy indoors while you learn about the city itself; Observatoire Place Ville Marie will give you a great view from 46 stories up.
The Mount Royal Lookout
Post-skating, snowshoeing, and generally taking in the winter wonderland that is Mount Royal stop by the lookout for a stunning view of Montreal. Find it here and visit at sunset if you can!
Relax at a Montreal Spa in Winter
Bota Bota Spa
Bota Bota is a ferry turned upscale “floating spa.” It’s set on the waterfront at the Old Port, and offers a range of spa treatments, thermal bathes, yoga, and a restaurant. Relaxing in a hot tub surrounded by snow and winter scenery is a unique experience. You have a great view of the port and the river.
Located in the heart of Old Montreal, Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal is a beautiful indoor escape. It’s also one of the best deals for a day spa when it comes to price – your day pass is good all day and includes access to the baths, fresh fruit, smoothie, and tea. Your robe and a towel too – I love that everything is included!
Förena Cité Montreal
Discover Icelandic pools German Aufguss saunas, and Russian steam baths at this new Nordic Spa in Montreal. Förena Cité Montreal is an enormous outdoor spa – Ithe style reminds me of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland! Spend the day enjoying the thermal cycle (hot, cold, relaxation) in beautiful outdoor pools.