I lived in Montreal over 25 years and have seen this city from every possible angle.
This post lists the best spots for views of the city. I cover lookouts, observatories, and rooftop bars. I also cover a few places at ground level that have great views of Montreal’s skyline. You’ll find some great spots in this post that you won’t find in any other post covering views in Montreal.
Lookouts on Mont-Royal
The very best views in the city are on Mont-Royal (Montrealers call it “the mountain”). There are a bunch of viewpoints up here that I cover.
1. The main lookout (officially Belvedere Kondiaronk)
My rating: 5/5
It’s the best known viewpoint in Montreal. It should be the first place a visitor comes when visiting the city. The views of downtown Montreal are fantastic. The large chalet up there has bathrooms, and a fast food restaurant, and in the winter the large hall is a good place to warm up with a coffee.
How to get here: If you’re staying downtown, the best way is to walk straight up Peel street. You’ll arrive at Mount Royal Park. Just follow the stairs up, it will lead you to the lookout. You can also take the 11 bus from metro Mont-Royal. If you get out at Beaver Lake you’ re a 10 minute walk from the chalet.
2. Lookout on the Escarpment trail
My rating 5/5
Most people, even Montrealers, are not familiar with the Escarpment trail. It has a couple of very scenic lookouts and a 20 minute walk along the trail (from the lookout/chalet I mention up top) takes you to the Camillien-Houde Lookout.
The best lookout is the first you’ll encounter. To get there, leave the chalet in the direction of the steps that bring you down the mountain. Just before the steps, you’ll see a path that veers off to the left. Follow it, that’s the Escarpment trail. It skirts the mountain and you’ll be walking along dirt paths and wooden bridges. Within 10 minutes you’ll arrive at a lookout with these views.
Continue along the trail, keeping to your right. You’ll see a few more lookout points with different angles, first facing downtown and then angled towards the east.
3. Camillien-Houde Lookout
My rating 4/5
Continuing on the Escarpment trail, you’ll reach the end: a series of steps that bring you to a viewpoint overlooking the Eastern side of the city. You’ll see the Plateau Mont-Royal in from of you, the Jacques Cartier bridge on the right, and – probably the most impressive sight – the Olympic Stadium in the distance.
From this viewpoint you can double back to the stairs going downtown (that’ll take you about 20 minutes) or walk a little past the lookout and follow the gravel trail on your right. Follow the trails through the forest, they will eventually bring you to Park Avenue.
4. Summit Circle Lookout
My rating 4/5
Mont-Royal is actually made up of 3 hills. The Summit Circle Lookout is located in Westmount amidst the most beautiful homes (mansions!) in Montreal.
The views are looking down towards Westmount and give a different angle of the downtown highrises.
Summit Circle Lookout is a bit hard getting to and best done by car. Otherwise you’ll have to do some walking to get there.
5. Place Ville Marie Observatory
My Rating 5/5 (but $$)
In the old days there was a bar up on Place Ville Marie (in the heart of downtown) called Club 737 which was quite popular with the after-work crowd. I always loved coming here. Today they’ve fixed it up into an observatory that gives 360 degree views of Montreal. The views are great but you have to pay $19 (as of September 2020) to be able to see them.
More: 360 Observatory
6. Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel
My Rating 4/5
This Marriott hotel has a rooftop bar (AIR rooftop terrace) with excellent views of the downtown area. A good place to come for a drink and views.
The Renaissance Montreal Downtown Hotel is also an excellent hotel choice in downtown Montreal
7. Montreal Tower Observatory
My rating 4/5 ($$)
Located at the very top of Olympic Stadium is the tallest inclined tower in the world. It has good views not only of Montreal but of the surrounding region. Getting up is half the fun – it required a 2 minute funicular ride up the outside of the tower. You’ll have to pay though: $19.50 for Quebec residents, $24.25 for everyone else. Official site.
The Montreal Tower Observatory should be combined with a visit to Montreal’s Biodome (a ‘must-see’ in Montreal).
Old Montreal Viewpoints and Lookouts
8. Clock Tower, Old Port
My rating 3/5
This historic site dates back to 1922 and commemorates seamen who were killed in the First World War. It’s a pretty tower and you can climb inside for free – it’s 200 steps to the top and the views are pretty good. I only give it a 3 in my rating because the stairs are narrow and claustrophobic and you’ll be disappointed when you reach the top (where the stairs abruptly end). The views are out of a small window.
9. Jacques Cartier Bridge
My rating 5/5
Going on the Jacques Cartier bridge might be a bit too out of the way for most people. And if walking it’ll take you a while. But if you have a bike, follow the bike path that takes you up the bridge. There are lots of different views from different parts of the bridge.
10. Park across from Old Montreal
My rating 4/5
A great spot if wanting to see the skyline of Montreal from a different angle. This park (I don’t know if it even has a name) is close to Habitat 67, one of Montreal’s famous structures. I like the park here because you can see the boats and activity in the old port, the buildings of the city, and greenery of Mont-Royal behind it.
Again, walking here is a bit far. You can take a bike (the bike path from Old Montreal to the islands passes by this post) or drive.
11. Old Montreal Bars with Views
My rating 4/5
There are 3 bars in Old Montreal with very good views of different parts of the city. They are Auberge du Vieux Port, “Verses” bar at Hotel Nelligan, and the rooftop bar at the Place D’Armes Hotel. I have a detailed post on this post: 3 bars with the best views in Old Montreal.
12. Peel Basin, Lachine Canal
My rating 4/5
Again, best seen if you have a bike. Opposite the Peel Basin, you have wonderful views of Montreal’s skyline. Going down the Lachine Canal provides other great views.
Related: See my detailed Guide on Montreal which includes tips on Biking around the city.
More great Views in Montreal
I’ve stuck mostly with lookouts and viewpoints in high places. But here are a few other places around the city (some at ground level) where you can get great views of the skyline of the city.
Place D’Armes Square in Old Montreal. A “must-see”, not just to see Notre-Dame Basilica but all the beautiful buildings on the square.
Piers at the Old Port. These piers have been elevated and you can climb up the stairs and have great views of the city and the old port.
Café at Pointe-à-Callière museum (the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History). Excellent views of the port and river.
Victoria Square. Pretty square with good views of the downtown highrises.
Dorchester Square in the heart of downtown. Phenomenal views of Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, the Sunlife building, and 1000 de la Guachetiere.
Entrance to the McGill University campus. Views of the beautiful old campus on one side, the highrises of downtown on the other.
Lafontaine Park. Lots of different views of the natural beauty of the park.
I might have missed a few places, but these are the places that jump to mind to me when thinking of the places with the most beautiful views in Montreal.
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so many options! I must go back one day I have strangely hardly any memories of the place Although I spent around a week there in 2004. It really is very flat!
I’ve often thought of visiting Montreal. So far, I don’t have it as part of my route across Canada in 2022. I am seriously considering it, though.
If you’re crossing the country you might not be able to bypass the city Stephen 😉 It’s worth a few days though.
Tanja/The Red Phone Box travels
so many beautiful views! I like to see a city from above. Montreal looks like such a fantastic town for tourists:)
Oh I love Montreal, such a beautiful and photogenic city. From these places I haven’t been to the Summit Circle lookout.
I would also include the views from the Biosphere and La Grande Roue/Bonsecours Market area.
Thanks Felipe! You sound like you might be a Montrealer.