“The best way to enjoy the great white north’s cold season is to adapt to it. That’s exactly what we have done by building the Montreal Underground City. Here’s what to do and where to go in this fascinating labyrinth of hidden gems and underground monuments.”
Have your eyelashes ever frozen together? How about your nostrils? Have your fingers or toes ever been so cold that you had to look to make sure they were still attached? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, there is a good chance you’ve been to Canada in the winter. The best way to enjoy the great white north’s cold season is to adapt to it.
That’s exactly what we did by building the Montreal Underground City. Over several decades of development, it has become entirely possible to walk around the city, go shopping, get some food, check out a museum, catch a hockey game then grab a drink before heading back to your hotel… Without ever stepping foot outside!
Here are Fitz & Follwell’s 9 must-see spots in the Underground City. You can try to find on your own, but word of warning, there is a 99% chance you will get lost down there on your own!
Instead, consider joining Fitz & Follwell’s Montreal Underground City Tour where either myself or other Fitz guides will show you what to do and where to go in this fascinating labyrinth of hidden gems and underground monuments.
1. Experience an Interactive Multimedia Projection from Montreal’s Best Artists.
Even though we stay inside in the Montreal underground city for our entire tour (making it perfect for the cold days of winter), you’ll gain a solid understanding of the city, way beyond the underground tunnels. You’ll even get a fun and quick history lesson by interacting with a projection outside the Hotel Fairmont Queen Elizabeth that recalls thousands of years of Montreal’s history in under five minutes.
2. Chill on a Rooftop Garden with a Four Season Pool… surrounded by skyscrapers!
We don’t spend the whole time underground. In fact we spend the better part of three hours switching between above and below ground level. At one point we visit the Hotel Bonaventure, one of the city’s first green roofs. It has been landscaped into a beautiful garden with an outdoor pool open all year round, even in the depths of winter.
3. Hop from East to West Berlin in Montreal
A piece of world history stands in one of the most beautiful corridors of the underground city (inside Montreal’s World Trade Centre) and there’s a very specific reason why it’s there. On the tour you will learn the story of why Berlin offered this gift to Montréal, and why Montréal placed it where it is. Just ask your guide about the “wall on a wall.”
4. Discover the City’s Hidden Pink Forest
In the heart of the Montreal underground city lies the most unnatural vegetation in town. A stroll through the Lipstick Forest inside the massive Montreal Convention Centre makes for amazing pictures, and is a great example of what we call 1% art. Montreal has a long-standing rule that for all new commercial building projects, 1% must be devoted to on-site public art installations. Cool!
5. Walk through the City on Bridges that are Actually Buildings
Some parts of the underground city were built to cover up already existing trenches where train tracks or highways weave below the streets. In placing buildings above gaping holes engineers and architects had to conceive of buildings that are structurally similar to bridges because they don’t have traditional foundations and they hover above empty space.
6. Learn Montreal’s History from Stunning Stained Glass Windows
The platform of a metro station isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you want to appreciate a beautiful display of stained glass. But Metro Place des Arts is where we take you to check out a monumental work that recalls important people and institutions that helped shape Montréal.
7. Go Skating in Montreal’s Tallest Skyscraper
One of the more whimsical aspects of Montréal is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Case in point : In the heart of the business district, in the city’s tallest office building – 1000 la Gauchetière – we visit a skating rink, open year round, where out of town visitors skate side by side with workers from the offices above, out to burn off some steam between meetings.
8. Experience a Subterranean Video Screen Mosaic
Inside Place des Arts, a massive performing arts complex, lies a darkened tunnel with tiny spot lights emanating from the floor and a giant wall of video screens, formed into a mosaic. The 35 screens show a myriad of short works, usually related to seasonal themes or the cultural offerings proposed by the institutions of the neighbourhood.
9. See Montreal from an Observation Deck
After spending most of the tour walking through the passages the Montreal Underground City, we end it by taking you way up 185 m (607 feet) up to be exact, to see the most awesome view from the heart of the city. The Observatoire Place Ville Marie is situated on the 45th floor of the Place Ville Marie. Getting a bird’s eye view of downtown, the St. Laurent river and Mount Royal really helps put the tour in perspective and get your bearings. The ticket for the Observation Deck (normally $20) is included in the price of the Fitz & Follwell Underground City Tour!
By the end of this tour you’ll be a pro on navigating the ins and outs and the ups and downs of the network and you will know the Montreal underground city better than most locals, so yay, bragging rights! Come let yourself get overwhelmed by what lies beneath.
The Montreal Underground City: Stats
- 33 km (20.5 miles) of interconnected pedestrian pathways linking dozens of major buildings, both commercial and residential.
- 10 metro stations, 2 bus stations and the city’s central train station.
- 2000 shops and services line the corridors, with nearly as many residential units directly above with elevators to join them together.
- The world’s largest public network of connected indoor pathways.
- 200 restaurants and cafés not to mention entertainment venues, concert halls, theatres, cinemas, museums, hospitals, universities, daycares, hotels, the Bell Centre (NHL hockey arena), spas, sports complexes, and the convention centre.
Join us on one of our fully indoor Montreal Underground City Tours! Tickets are $65 + tax and include your entry to the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. The tour runs from 10:30am-1:30pm from Thursday to Monday each week. Book here on our website our call us at 514-418-0651
Check Out a Video of the Underground Tour as featured on Argentinian Television!
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