With an electrifying cultural dynamic and countless things to do, Montreal is favoured as one of the most irresistible destinations in Canada by both visitors and locals alike.
The tangible French influence means there’s endless places to eat mouthwatering food, fascinating art attractions throughout the city and much more.
However, Montreal also happens to be in the heartland of the Quebec countryside and as a result, there is a whole world of small townships, lakes, rivers and mountain ranges just outside the city limits and these destinations are well worth taking a day to go and visit.
Most being only a couple of hours drive away, here are the top day trip attractions that can be reached from Montreal.
1. Îles-de-Boucherville National Park
Only a few miles from Montreal, it couldn’t be easier to reach the Parc National des Iles-de-Boucherville and it offers the perfect escape from the busy city.
Come prepared to be active, as the series of chain islands is a veritable playground for all kinds of sports and activities from hiking, jogging and snowshoeing, to canoeing and cross-country skiing to name but a few.
The huge expanse of protected natural reserve was also the home to many First Nations people – if you want to brush up on your history, you can take an educational tour that gives a rare insight into this, as well as wildlife and conservation.
2. Domaine Labranche
Located in the beautifully picturesque region just south of the St. Lawrence River, Domaine Labranche is a family-run sugar shack which historically collected and processed locally produced maple sap.
Visitors can come and explore the gorgeous grounds, which include a farm, vineyard and hiking trails that are right around the corner.
As you can expect, there is a thriving culinary offering here and you can indulge in just about everything from fresh farm produce, wines and ingeniously prepared maple dishes.
3. Calvaire D’Oka
The trailhead to this wonderful hike can be found just metres from the idyllic Oka Provincial Park which is a huge natural reserve complete with beautiful forests, lakes and a significant number of historic buildings including oratories and chapels.
The Calvaire D’Oka hiking trail is accessible enough for any skill level and you’ll be rewarded with striking views of Lac des Deux Montagnes and the famous Adirondacks.
If you want to cool off after the hike, then make your way down to the lake where you can enjoy every kind of water sport imaginable, from stand-up paddle boarding to pedal boats and kayaking.
4. Granby Zoo
The ideal day trip for both families and travellers, Granby Zoo is in fact the biggest zoo in Quebec, not only because it houses so many animals of so many different species, but because of the physical size of its conservation area, meaning all the animals have ample space.
With wildlife that is both domestic and exotic, the 1000 strong community of animals attracts crowds of people each year who want to escape city life and marvel at the wonders of the Animal Kingdom.
Particularly popular amongst families is the zoo’s water park that is across the street, where you can cool off, grab a bite to eat and catch some sun in the summer.
5. Sucrerie de la Montagne
Unlike many of its counterparts across Quebec, this authentic sugar shack is open throughout the whole year, whereas others only tend to open during winter – meaning you can get a taste of pioneer Canada no matter when you visit.
The Quebec Heritage site is surrounded by a vast maple forest in the beautiful Mont Rigaud and visitors will have the chance to gain a fascinating insight into what life was like for the people who lived and worked here while producing maple products.
Between a restaurant and general store, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained for the day, though if you want to stay in the picturesque forest for longer, there is accommodation available.
Between it’s famous ski resort and pristine national park, its little wonder that locals from Montreal and visitors alike make the 2-hour trip to the slopes of the beautiful Mont-Tremblant to spend the day enjoying everything the mountain has to offer.
The charmingly quaint village was actually designed to look like a Swiss alpine town and it matches its mountain settings perfectly.
You’ll have no trouble finding something exhilarating to do even if you’re not a skier, from paddle boarding to mountain biking or swimming.
In the winter, it’s a skier and snowboarder haven, so if you’re into snowsports it’s a worthwhile time to visit.
Incredibly easy to reach thanks to the many bus routes and a rail line that connects Montreal with Ottawa, the city offers a different perspective of Canadian life, one that is incredibly rich in history owing to its parliamentary significance.
Home of the governmental heartland, Ottawa’s Parliament Hill is an architectural marvel and well worth a visit.
The city also has a blooming outdoor events culture, with festivals, concerts and markets occurring regularly throughout the year.
8. Quebec City
Also easily reachable from Montreal and without a doubt one of the most popular day trips, is the beautiful Quebec City.
Famously one of the oldest settlements built by European colonists in the whole of North America, the history here is apparent in the traditional architecture, whilst the museums hold enough knowledge to keep you fascinated for days.
The Vieux-Quebec District still exhibits the walls that surrounded the original fortress and offers one of the prettiest skylines in the city.
Not to be missed are the impressive museums and legislature buildings, including the National Assembly of Quebec and the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec.
9. Petit Train du Nord Trail
Once a thriving railroad trail, this gorgeous route through the Laurentian Mountains has now been converted into an incredibly popular bike path and cross-country ski trail that winds its way through glades and alpine lakes and forests.
The 200km trail can be undertaken as one long trip or you can cover sections of it and stop off at a number of charming little towns on the way that grew from the old train stations.
At a mere 30 minutes from Montreal it’s the perfect place to do some do-it-yourself exploring while getting back to nature.
10. Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park
A relatively small slice of alpine paradise tucked away behind West Island’s housing developments and therefore having the feel of hidden gem.
Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park features the largest beach nearby to Montreal and visitors have endless choices when it comes to what activities to do there.
From windsurfing to beach volleyball to kayaking, it’s impossible to get bored here and the scenery is pretty enough to simply sit back and take it all in.
Remember to take some food with you as there are no restaurants in the area, though if you visit on the weekend there are sometimes food trucks selling fresh, local recipes.
11. The Laurentians
The Laurentian Mountains are one of Montreal’s best kept secrets when it comes to day trips as they are only about an hour away from town and don’t necessarily require an overnight stay.
Here you’ll find rolling mountain ranges, crystal-clear lakes and a network of adorable alpine villages and townships that are all too reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.
Explore on your own or embark on a tour that’ll take you on a meandering route through the forests and mountains, even to Lac Des Sables where you can take a cruise and soak in the incredible views from the water.
12. Canada Railway Museum
A mere 20 minutes away from downtown Montreal, this intriguing insight into the pioneering railroad industry is the perfect place to start a day out – it’s so close that you can spend an hour or two here and move on to a different day trip.
The Canada Railway Museum showcases an assortment of technological breakthroughs that shaped the Canada of today and most of its exhibits are in pristine condition.
A great day out for families, it can be found in St Constant, just across from the St Lawrence River.
13. Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle
One of the only attractions of its kind in the area, Au Diable Vert is home to not only stunning views from atop its perch on an alpine pasture, but is also home to a unique type of cycling.
Canopy cycling takes visitors above the tree line on hanging, open air cable cars that are powered by your pedal-pushing-power.
With no traffic in sight or earshot, prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking panoramas of the Green Mountains and the Missisquoi River Valley as you pedal your way across the sky.
14. Whale Watching at Rivière-du-Loup
A full-day commitment for wildlife lovers – this day trip clocks in at around 10 hours in total including travel to the idyllic Rivière-du-Loup.
If you have the time however, its an incredibly worthwhile experience that you’re not likely to ever forget.
After being picked up from a central Montreal location, you’ll be whisked away on a 3 hour guided cruise that’ll take you to within almost touching distance of the huge, majestic beasts, allowing for some truly heart-stopping photography moments.
15. Eastern Townships
A popular escape for city dwellers to get back to nature whilst not having to rough it, the Eastern Townships are about two hours away from Montreal and offer a vast range of lakeside destinations that are particularly beautiful in the summer, where you can visit for the day or rent one of the many cottages peppering the region.
Throughout the year you can also enjoy festivals, wine-tasting fairs and all manner of outdoor activities whilst enjoying the Township’s lake district-esque charm.