Things to do in Montreal

Indoor Activities in Montreal to Explore

Bad weather doesn’t have to mean a bad time in Montreal. These top indoor activities will keep your mood cheery.

Welcome to our favorite city in the world. We know this grand city like the back of our hand, and nothing makes us happier than seeing our fans enjoying all the things to do in Montreal.

The weather isn’t always the best for outdoor adventures, especially in the winter when it’s cold and wet. Thankfully, there are seemingly endless indoor activities in Montreal. We’ve gathered our top picks across a range of interests to keep you on the go while you’re here.

Downtown Montreal

Downtown Montreal’s indoor entertainment scene sparkles as brightly as the nighttime skyline. From museums to sports and stunning architecture, there’s plenty to do to keep the boredom at bay.

1. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

If cold or rainy weather has you down, head to the breathtaking Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal for a pick-me-up adventure. The architecture may as well be one of the exhibits, and within its walls, five pavilions house nearly 43,000 works worldwide.

Don't rush your way through these exhibits. Set aside a few hours for your visit to soak everything in. Explore the painstakingly carved and painted ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, and admire historical masterpieces by Rembrandt alongside featured works from Canadian artists.

Temporary exhibitions frequently rotate between modern, classical, and ancient arts. You might even find topics on fashion or film.

Photographer: HUI GAO

2. Centre Bell

Sports fans love Centre Bell, home to the NHL Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club. We recommend checking out any of the shows, games, and performances hosted here to get a taste of the city’s vibrant spirit.

If you’re curious about what goes on behind the scenes, you’re welcome to register for a guided tour. A knowledgeable guide will take you throughout the stadium, showing off all the areas you aren’t normally allowed to visit.

You’ll learn all about the history of the stadium and the Montreal Canadiens as you explore areas such as the locker rooms and alumni lounge.

3. Mary Queen of the World Cathedral

Downtown Montreal’s skyline may be brimming with modern skyscrapers, but between its office buildings, you’ll find the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. While this 19th-century church is the third-largest in Quebec, its real claim to fame is that it's a replica of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The outside may show the building’s age with the green patina on the copper statues adorning its roof, but inside, you’re immersed in timeless elegance. No details were overlooked in the expert crafting of this building, and it's an unforgettable sight. Join one of the many scheduled masses, or visit on your own time.

4. Redpath Museum

As you walk up to Redpath Museum on McGill University's campus, you catch a glimpse of a unique Greek Revival-style building blending with elements of Victorian Classic architecture. Inside, things get even more interesting. A Gorgosaurus skeleton in the center of the main gallery greets you.

Exhibits such as Egyptian mummies and a cast of the Rosetta Stone await. Around 3 million archaeological and ethnographic objects sit within these memorable walls, each as fascinating as the last. Temporary exhibitions come and go, but viewing the permanent collection is one of the best indoor activities in Montreal.

Shaughnessy Village

Shaughnessy Village is one of the most up-and-coming parts of Montreal, rapidly changing to blend urban modernity with cultural diversity. While you’re here, you’ll find one of the most unique Montreal museums.

5. Canadian Centre for Architecture

Architecture is so much more than simply building structures. It’s a form of functional art where creativity and utility meld. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, you’ll see this firsthand and discover how architecture shapes society and vice versa.

Here, you can explore exhibitions and publications or attend occasional lectures on architecture. If the buildings across Montreal have caught your eye, visiting this museum is a good way to learn more about them.

Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

Le Plateau-Mont-Royal offers some of Montreal's best scenic views, but it also brings some of the biggest laughs.

6. Montréal Improv

If you need a little laughter to brighten your cloudy day, Montréal Improv delivers. Weekends tend to be jam-packed with shows designed to have you and your friends laughing until you’re crying.

If you’re a local, or you’ll be around for a while, it offers improv classes that’ll have you jumping for joy. The beginner classes are perfect for total novices with no experience in improv or comedy and offer a comfortable, playful environment to dip your toes in.

This venue is one of the most humorous indoor activities for adults in Montreal, suitable for anyone aged 18 or older.

The Village

The Village is a neighborhood well-known for its open, accepting, and inclusive environment, which makes it particularly important to the LGBTQ+ community in Montreal. It’s also home to one of the most famous drag bars in the city.

Photographer: Rob Maxwell

7. Cabaret Mado

Look no further than Cabaret Mado if you want something lively and downright fabulous to do. This cabaret drag bar is a favorite, and there’s almost always something on the schedule for the night. Celebrity drag queen Mado Lamotte runs this venue with her larger-than-life personality and frequently graces the stage.

While you’re here, have a few drinks and enjoy the show. If you sit in the front row, you may find yourself dragged into the show, whether you plan on participating or not.

Little Italy

Little Italy bustles with Italian influence, thanks to the city’s first Italian immigrants settling here in the 19th century. You’ll find no shortage of good food and even better company in this neighborhood.

8. Jean-Talon Market

Technically, Jean-Talon Market is one of the largest open-air farmers markets in North America. However, we like to subvert expectations in Montreal, and this market is no exception.

Walls are erected in winter to protect vendors and visitors from the icy chill. Although the building is only enclosed for a few months of the year, that’s good enough for us.

Browse Little Italy’s favorite market, where vendors sell fresh, locally sourced food, flowers, and products. Within these walls, you’ll find everything from coffee stands to fishmongers.

If the weather is frightful, pick up a few ingredients and take them with you to prepare a meal, or enjoy local favorites, such as poutine and foie gras, sold by local restaurants.

Photographer: Ryunosuke Kikuno

9. Casa d’Italia

In many ways, Casa d’Italia is the heart of Little Italy. For the local Italian-Canadian population, it’s an important community venue where regular social gatherings and parties happen. Theatrical presentations and concerts often grace its stage.

While you’re here, check out Cinema Public, which is housed within its walls. Here, you’ll be introduced to evocative, thought-provoking films from small independent filmmakers in Canada and around the world. It’s a phenomenal way to get a taste of artistry you might otherwise miss if you stick to mainstream theaters.

Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

HoMa, as the locals call it, is one of the most unique parts of Montreal, where modernity meets sprawling green spaces and some of the most engaging museums in the city await.

10. Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

The Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium is part of the massive Space for Life museum. This historic planetarium, which sits in a futuristic dome near Olympic Park, offers two 30-minute shows.

Immerse yourself in a fantastical journey traveling through galaxies as you lounge in a beanbag chair. Here, you'll learn about the sky and its constellations with a scientific emphasis. The best seats are those in the center of the planetarium, so arrive early to ensure you get one.

If that’s not enough of a scientific adventure, Space For Life features other indoor adventures, including the Biodôme and Insectarium.

Photographer: Francis Desjardins

11. Château Dufresne

Step into the pinnacle of 1920s-era luxury at Château Dufresne. This historical heritage site consists of the homes of Oscar and Marius Dufresne, brothers who brought architecture to Maisonneuve in Canada. The interiors exude opulence, with stained-glass windows and various artifacts on display.

On weekends, you can join an afternoon tour. A knowledgeable guide will discuss the significance of the building and answer questions with explanations that bring the history to life.

Old Montreal

In Old Montreal, history meets modern attractions. As you walk along cobblestone streets, you'll see cutting-edge light shows and sprawling museums. Once you’ve worked up your appetite, you’ll also find some Old Port restaurants in Montreal.

12. Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

The beauty of Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal is evident as soon as you enter. You’ll step off the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal into an architectural masterpiece. Intricate statues and beautiful stained glass fill the basilica.

The famous Casavant organ has 7,000 pipes, the longest of which is 9 meters high, and stands along the walls reaching into the loft. Regular shows play at the basilica, but only 60 people can fit into the loft, which is up several flights of stairs.

For a more accessible show, try the AURA Experience. You'll be entranced by the haunting beauty of the architecture as a dynamic, four-act light show engulfs the intricate domed ceiling of the basilica while orchestral music plays in the background.

Photographer: Lester Rojas

13. Pointe-à-Callière

Venture through time at Pointe-à-Callière in Old Montreal, the largest archaeology museum in Canada. It primarily focuses on Montreal's history, exploring how it began and grew into the lively city it is today.

However, three or four temporary exhibits pop up annually, usually relating to topics far from home. Exhibits related to the fleurdelisé, Egypt, and the history of railroads have appeared in the past. Register for a private tour if you want to explore the area's history and archaeology more in-depth.

The Memory Collector exhibit takes you into North America’s first collector sewer. At one time, it ran underground, channelling the Little River while collecting rainwater and wastewater. However, in 1989, it was removed from service and drained before being replaced with sewers, leading to a local treatment plant.

Now, the 110-meter stretch of the sewer left beneath Point-à-Callière has become a permanent exhibit, with light projections flitting about the walls and specially designed sound that transports you into a whole new world.

14. PHI Centre

PHI Centre seamlessly melds the arts with a theater, a cinema, an art gallery, and production facilities that attract local artists of all kinds. Visitors can enjoy a variety of shows, ranging from musical to storytelling performances.

Between shows, engaging virtual reality, avant-garde exhibitions, and light shows encourage visitors to embrace their inner creativity.

15. Montréal Science Centre

The Montréal Science Centre is a great destination for kids, but it’s just as engaging and informative for adults. You can tackle tinkering challenges or explore human evolution; while you’re at it, you’ll learn more about the world around you.

To explore interesting topics further, check out the massive IMAX theater, which has a 7-story-high screen and speakers with unbelievable sound. Shows rotate frequently, so there’s usually something new to see and do here.

Wrapping Up: The Indoor Wonders of Montreal

The best indoor activities in Montreal cater to all sorts of interests, from diving into science and history to exploring the arts or catching a sports game. There’s enough here to keep you busy for days or even weeks at a time. But you don't want to miss one more indoor activity in Montreal.

When the weather outside is dreadful, or you're tired from sightseeing, come watch one of our shows in Montreal. Prepare to be amazed as our stories unfold before your eyes. We aim to enchant our audience, gently pulling them into our eccentric, foreign worlds, where the impossible becomes reality.

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