As the summer months approach, Canadians, especially Montrealers, get ready to take full advantage of the warm weather and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. It’s one thing I love most about this city.
Montreal is a great city for outdoor enthusiasts offering countless – and I mean countless – opportunities to enjoy cycling, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, outdoor concerts, festivals and cultural events all within close proximity.
If you’re wondering how you want to spend the summer months in Montreal, look no further. This list highlights the top outdoor activities in Montreal that you should not miss out on between the months of May and September.
Best part of this all? Most of these activities are free!
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Outdoor activities in Montreal
Hike to the Mont Royal lookout
For an unbeatable panoramic view of the city, hike up to the top of Mont Royal to the chalet and observation area. There are multiple ways and access points of how to get to this viewpoint.
One option is climbing up the wooden staircase, which starts at the top of Rue Peel (& Av. Pine – google Rue Peel Steps). You can also take a bus to the Remembrance / Du Chalet stop, and hike through Olmsted Trail from there. The lookout is accessible year-round and beautiful during all seasons.
Spend some relaxing time to picnic around Beaver Lake and soak up the sun!
Outdoor concerts and festivals
There are definitely no shortage of these. Summer months are the best time for the various concerts and festivals, and make for some of the most fun outdoor activities in Montreal. Here a few of my favorites:
One of the most popular is the Montreal Jazz Festival. This festival has been going on for more than 40 years and it is one of the world’s top festivals. It highlights thousands of musical talents. Best of all, most of the shows can be enjoyed outdoors for free!
The International Fireworks Festival (L’International des Feux Loto-Québec) is an annual competition held between various countries. It is one of the highlights of Montreal’s summer season as the night skies light up every week over the St. Lawrence River right above the spectacular Jacques-Cartier Bridge!
If you want to dance under the sun, there are some great outdoor music festivals including Osheaga, Ile Soniq, Piknic Elektronic, MUTEK, and my personal favorite – epic closing of Montreal Pride – T-Dance. All of these feature some of the world’s top DJs and are a great way to experience the festival vibe of the city.
Watch buildings and walls around the city be decorated with amazing art by talented artists during the Mural Festival. This festival highlights some of the world’s top graffiti artists. The event includes art installations, closed off street dance parties and food trucks in different parts of the city.
Bike around the city in Tour la Nuit
The city comes to life at night as everyone jumps on their illuminated and decorated bicycles for this famous nocturnal bike ride. Wear your best costume and celebrate this summer night by joining thousands of people biking to joyful music.
Le Tour la Nuit is a 26 km course, without cars. You can jump in and join the riders at any point in the streets of 6 neighbourhoods of Montreal: Rosemont – La-Petite-Patrie – Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension – Montreal-Nord – Anjou – Saint-Léonard and Mercier – Hochelaga- Maisonneuve.
And don’t worry, if you don’t have a bike, you can jump on a BIXI or even rollerblade or jog! This is one of the most unique outdoor activities in Montreal that you should try at least once.
Spend time in the a nature oasis in middle of the city
For a great relaxing outdoor activity, you can visit the Botanical Gardens. These gardens include cultural gardens such as Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and First Nations Garden.
Within the botanical gardens, don’t miss the Garden of Lights at the end of the summer. “Espace pour la vie” is celebrating 30 years and each year, it dazzles visitors as the Japanese and Chinese Gardens are luminated and the First Nations Garden demonstrates seasons of life.
Enjoy outdoor and water activities at Îles de Boucherville National Park
A quick 20 minute drive away from Montreal and you will have access to a perfect day outdoors. My own personal favorite place to spend a few days in the summer. The park offers countless activities from hiking, camping, and swimming.
This also happens to be where I do my favorite outdoor activity in Montreal: paddleboarding! You can rent a paddle board (or kayaks) and glide your way through the different trails and water channels, with scenic views and experience a bit of a party atmosphere amongst the boats that use this area as well.
During the summer, from June 23 to September 3, on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, there is a free shuttle bus that is available from the Longueuil metro station to the Îles-de-Boucherville National Park.
Tam-Tams at Mont Royal
This is a famous Sunday tradition for Montrealers during the warmer months. Crowds gather at the base of the George-Étienne Cartier monument to dance throughout the afternoon. Dance circles are created with drummers providing the beats.
This outdoor activity is a tradition dating back 50-60 years!! Vendors sell artisans and crafts, while others picnic around the green space on the side of the mountain. Best of all, it’s free. Grab a picnic blanket, a lunch, and enjoy the sunshine here on a Sunday afternoon.
Enjoy everything Lachine Canal has to offer
The Lachine Canal in a 14.5 km canal passing through the south-west part of the island, running from the Old Port to the neighbourhood of Lachine. It has been designated as a National Historic Site.
There is a great biking path for cyclists (beginners or experienced) to enjoy. And don’t worry this is a multipurpose path, so if you don’t want to bike, you can walk on the path, enjoy the nice weather and views along the way.
You can also rent kayaks, canoes, pedalos and electric boats from H20 Adventures and spend some time on the canal.
Along the route you will find small parks, picnic tables and multiple breweries alongside the canal (Memento, Messorem, and St-Ambroise Terrasse). You can also make a stop at the very popular Atwater Market, where you will find local and gourmet products. Here you can grab a bit to eat or get delicious ice cream to fight off the heat during the hot summer days.
Throughout the summer, there are also multiple events held in this area – such as La Guinguette du Sud-Ouest– a mini festival organized along the canal which includes restaurants, bars and performances to be enjoyed by all.
Visit Parc Jean-Drapeau
You can reach this island park by Metro – just a quick ride from downtown (stop: Jean-Drapeau). For a more scenic route, you can also take an affordable river shuttle as a means of transportation, departing from the Old Port. The park has many great biking and hiking trails. Here you will also find one of the best outdoor pools in Canada, making it a great spot to spend a summer day!
Parc Jean-Drapeau is where the Montreal Grand Prix event takes place every year and if you’re a Formula 1 fan, this event is not to be missed.
From the Old Port, you may see the the spectacular dome on this island, which a museum. You will find an activity for all ages on this island. You can choose to do this Discovery Tour as a perfect way to enjoy the nature, learn a bit of history and have a great adventure. This is one spot you must check out during the summer.
Spend a warm summer day cooling down by this urban beach in Verdun. This beach is easily accessible by metro (station: De l’Église) or if you’re up for it, you can jump on a BIXI and bike along the waterfront path to this cool spot.
Here, you will find a sandy area for swimming, a climbing wall, hammocks and picnic areas. They also have showers and changing rooms. Visiting this spot and seeing the great views will forget you are in a metropolitan city.
Food, food, food
If you are a foodie or if you have read any of my previous posts, you know that Montreal is the place to be if you want to eat delicious food.
During the summer, there are many events centered around good food! One of these is First Fridays held at the Esplanade of the Olympic Park. Here you will find one of the largest gatherings of food trucks in Canada with tons of options to choose from. It’s a fun evening out where you can enjoy good food, good music and good company the first Friday of each month, from June to October.
If you’re a beer fan, you may want to check out Mondial de la bière – a beer festival with food and music where you can discover different beers from Quebec and around the world.
There are also other great food events such as The Great Montréal Poutine Fest and Le Burger Week, each giving you an opportunity to try unique variations of these delicious dishes.
Outdoor activities that redefine sightseeing
Looking for a different way of exploring Montreal while enjoying the outdoors? These might be the best options for you:
- St. Lawrence River Sightseeing Guided Cruise – Cruise the St. Lawrence River and see Montreal’s amazing sights from the water. Learn about the fascinating history of the city while seeing it from a different perspective
- Scooter sightseeing in Montreal – If you like me enjoy riding on a scooter on a hot summer day, this may be the perfect activity for you. Discover various neighbourhoods and sights of Montreal while zipping around on a scooter. It will surely be a fun adventure!
Montreal is always a good idea. But life in the city becomes more exciting as the weather warms up and I just love it. There is never a shortage of events and outdoor activities in Montreal, with plenty of ways to take full advantage of the summer months.
I hope this list helps you enjoy the outdoor activities in Montreal as much as I do. For a full list of events, keep an eye out on this site.
Travel tip: You can buy a MTL Passport which allows you to visit up to 28 of Montreal’s must-see attractions at great rates, including public transit.
If you’re visiting Montreal for the first time, this is an itinerary that will help you to ensure you make the most of your visit.