Self-guided walking tour – Montreal is a city best discovered on foot. It’s a cheap way to see the city. For a more serene walk – and less tourist crowded experience – head along the Lachine Canal. The nature an some historic buildings are worth seeing.
Free art – The Museum of Contemporary Art is free Wednesday evenings from 5-9 pm. Regular ticket cost varies between $10 USD (student) and $14 USD (adult). The Center of Design at the Université du Québec à Montréal presents works from Québec, Canada and international designers. Admission is free and hours are Wed-Sun, 12 pm-6 pm. The Center Canadien d’Architecture is free on Thursday nights after 5:30 pm, and it remains open until 9 pm, as well as Wed-Sun, 11 am-6 pm, with free entry for students. On the last Sunday of May, more than 30 museums open their doors to the public for free, and six bus routes offer free transportation inbetween locations.
Visit one of the public markets - The markets offer a look at local life and culture while having amazing cheap food and authentic drinks.
Free ice skating in winter - Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau has a skating pond during the winter that is free. Other free rinks around the city include Lac aux Castors, Beaver Lake, as well at at Parc Mont Royal, the Quays of the Old Port of Montréal, and Parc Jeanne-Mance.
Free tour of City Hall – From May-October, the city hall has a free 45-minute guided tour.
Dance for free - On Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday nights during the summer, dance instructors lead free ballroom dancing lessons in Parc Jean Drapeau.
Eat cheap sandwiches – Montreal eateries have great sandwiches that are usually under $6 USD and will keep your stomach full for a while.
Top Things to See and Do
Museum of Fine Arts – Free entrance makes this a cheap place to spend the day while soaking in some culture. It showcases many types of art including textiles. Temporary exhibitions can incur admission fees (could vary between $12-20 USD).
Mont Royal – Whether you like to jog, picnic, or just people-watch, this park offers a little bit of everything. During the warm summer months, the expect some great people watching.
Old Montreal Walking Tour – Old Montreal is one of the most fascinating parts of the city. Visit a museum, attend one of the many exhibitions, or learn about some of Montreal’s history.
Jean-Talon Market – The city’s largest market hosts hundreds of stalls in the middle of Little Italy neighborhood. The square is surrounded by shops and small specialized groceries. It is a great place to have lunch or at least grab fresh food for later.
Have a picnic at Mount Royal Park – During the summer months, this is a real happening part of the city. People come and play the drums while others relax and have a picnic. Every Sunday from May to October, hundreds of Montrealers gather near Sir George-Etienne Cartier monument to engage in various outdoors activities during a variety of summer festivals.
Take a half-day bike tour – For about $70 USD, you can take a three hour, guided bike tour around the city to all the major sites. It’s a different way to explore this wonderful town and see much of the city in one day.
Visit the Jardin Bontanique – Montreal houses the second largest botanical garden in the world. Opened in 1931, it offers something for the history buff as well and showcases ten greenhouses- a beautiful day for an inexpensive price.
Parc La Fontaine – Whether you want to play beach volleyball, play tennis in one of their many tennis courts, or just have a picnic while people-watching, this park has a little bit of it all and offers a very cheap afternoon. It also hosts a number of free performances.
Le Plateau – This area combines scenic residential streets with hip shopping and dining. It’s the up and coming area of the city and is quite trendy.
The Biodome – This biodome is the only one of its kind in the world and features four distinct ecosystems representing the four most beautiful habitats found in North, Central and South America. It is located in the former Olympic Games Velodrome.
Ice skating – In the old port, you will find the only outdoor skating arena. Bear the cold of the outdoors for a few laps around the massive rink, a figure skating class, or even an nightly concert.
Boat ride – There are 45 minutes tours of the harbor available, as well as 90 minute tours of the Lachine Canal. Boat tours are up to 30 passengers only which makes for an even more enjoyable experience.
Place des Armes – This is one of three main squares in the Old City—near the core of downtown and contains the Notre Dame Basilica, the first building of the Bank of Montreal, the New York Life building, and the Aldred Building. Very neat place to check out a variety of historic buildings.
St. Joesph Oratory – Second in height only to that of St. Peter’s in Rome, this dome is impressive in sight and beauty. It is one of the most visited shrines in all of Canada with an incredible view from the basilica.