Montreal, a vibrant city known for its blend of modernity and history, offers an array of photogenic locations that can captivate any photographer’s lens. Whether you’re a professional looking to expand your portfolio or an amateur eager to capture the essence of this beautiful city, Montreal has something for everyone. Here’s a guide to the top 10 photo spots in Montreal that will leave you spellbound. Don’t miss out on discovering hundreds more photo-worthy spots with the free PIXEO App.

1. La Grande Roue de Montreal

La Grande Roue de Montreal by Nilesh Surti
La Grande Roue de Montreal by Nilesh Surti

La Grande Roue de Montreal stands as a beacon of modern engineering in the heart of the Old Port, offering unmatched views of the city skyline and the Saint Lawrence River. This Ferris wheel, the tallest in Canada, lights up the night with a kaleidoscope of colors, making it a spectacular subject against the evening sky.

Photo Tips: Capture its reflection in the water at twilight for a stunning shot, or aim for a long exposure at night to catch the wheel in motion against the backdrop of Montreal’s illuminated skyline. Visiting during the winter season adds a magical layer of ice and snow to the scene, creating a contrast between the warm lights and the cold environment.

2. Place d’Armes

Place d'Armes and Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal - Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Place d'Armes and Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal - Photo by Shawn M. Kent

Place d’Armes is a historic square that serves as a focal point for architectural and street photography. Surrounded by an eclectic mix of buildings from different eras, it offers a glimpse into Montreal’s rich history. The standout at this location is of course Notre Dame Cathedral.

Photo Tips: Early morning light softens the stone facades of the surrounding buildings, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, providing a gentle contrast and enhancing textures. The cathedral is also stunning when shot at night when it is illuminated. Also explore the surrounding neighborhood, this is the older part of Montreal and features some hidden gems for photographers.

3. Notre Dame Bascillica

Notre Dame Basilica - Photo by dolcece
Notre Dame Basilica - Photo by dolcece

The Notre Dame Basilica is a jewel of Gothic Revival architecture, renowned for its lavishly designed interior, complete with intricate wooden carvings and stunning stained glass windows that depict scenes from the religious history of Montreal.

Photo Tip: To capture the ethereal beauty of the basilica’s interior, aim for a visit during the mid-morning when the sunlight streams through the windows, creating a kaleidoscope of colors on the stone and wood. For exterior shots, dusk offers a magical backdrop, with the basilica’s facade lit up against the twilight sky, highlighting its architectural details. Consider visiting in the winter months when a blanket of snow adds a serene purity to the scene, contrasting beautifully with the warm lights emanating from within.

4. Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Montreal-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Olympic Stadium Montreal-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

The Olympic Stadium, a hallmark of Montreal’s skyline, was originally constructed as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert, the stadium is celebrated for its bold and innovative architecture, most notably its towering inclined tower, the tallest of its kind in the world. This architectural marvel reflects the spirit of modernism and innovation that defined the late 20th century, serving not just as a sports venue but as a symbol of Montreal’s ambitions and creative prowess.

Photo Tips: Photographing the Olympic Stadium during the golden hour captures the complexity and beauty of its design, with the setting or rising sun casting long shadows and highlighting the textures of its concrete façade. At night, the illuminated structure against the dark sky showcases its futuristic appeal. The stark contrasts and geometric shapes make for compelling compositions, especially when framed by the snow in winter, offering a minimalist aesthetic that draws the eye to the form and structure of the building itself.

5. Mount Royal Viewpoint

Mount Royal Viewpoint-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Mount Royal Viewpoint-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

The Mount Royal Viewpoint, affectionately known as the “Kondiaronk Belvedere,” situated near the summit of Mount Royal, offers one of the most iconic views of Montreal. This scenic spot provides a sweeping panorama of the city’s skyline, the Saint Lawrence River, and the surrounding landscapes. Named after the Huron chief Kondiaronk, whose peace treaty negotiations played a pivotal role in the city’s history, the viewpoint is not only a place of breathtaking beauty but also of historical significance.

Photo Tips: Capturing the city from the Mount Royal Viewpoint at sunrise offers a serene and softly lit scene, ideal for photographers aiming to depict the peaceful side of urban life. The low angle of the sun at this time accentuates the city’s textures and the silhouette of its architecture, creating a layered composition that conveys depth and complexity. It is equally compelling a photography location in the evening when Montreal’s city lights come alive. In the fall, the viewpoint becomes a canvas of vibrant colors, with the foliage of the trees in the foreground contrasting against the urban landscape, offering a stunning display of natural beauty intertwined with urban development. This contrast is not only visually striking but also symbolizes the balance between nature and urbanization, a characteristic feature of Montreal’s identity.

6. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal stands as a monumental beacon of faith and architectural grandeur in Montreal. Its origins date back to 1904 when Saint André Bessette, known for his healing powers and devotion to Saint Joseph, established a small chapel on the side of Mount Royal. This humble beginning paved the way for the construction of the grand basilica we see today, a process that spanned several decades, with the main structure completed in 1967. The Oratory is renowned for its stunning dome, one of the largest of its kind in the world, reaching a height of 97 meters (318 feet) inside, making it a notable landmark in Montreal’s skyline. The basilica’s architecture combines elements of Renaissance and Art Deco styles, reflecting the innovative spirit of its era and the visionary minds behind its creation.

Photo Tips: For photographers, capturing the Oratory at dusk or dawn can provide a dramatic backdrop, with the sky’s changing colors enhancing the silhouette of the dome. The interior’s vast spaces and intricate details, such as the stained glass and carvings, offer endless opportunities for capturing the interplay of light and shadow. Seasonally, the surrounding gardens and the change in foliage provide a beautiful contrast to the stone architecture, making any visit a rich photographic journey.

7. Montreal Biosphere

Montreal Biosphere-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Montreal Biosphere-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

The Biosphere, located on Saint Helen’s Island in Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal, is an iconic symbol of the city and a testament to innovative design and environmental stewardship. Originally constructed as the United States pavilion for Expo 67, the world’s fair held in Montreal in 1967, this striking geodesic dome was designed by renowned architect Buckminster Fuller. The Biosphere was one of the first structures to employ the geodesic dome design on such a large scale, demonstrating the potential for sustainable and efficient architectural practices. Its futuristic design not only captured the imagination of visitors at the Expo but has continued to fascinate onlookers and enthusiasts of architecture and environmental science for decades.

Photo Tip: Photographing the Biosphere during golden hour brings out the intricate details of its structure, with the sun’s rays creating a spectrum of reflections and shadows on the dome. The surrounding natural elements of Parc Jean-Drapeau enhance its beauty, allowing for diverse compositions that contrast the dome’s geometry with the organic forms of nature. Winter adds a dramatic element, with the snow-covered landscape reflecting light and adding a serene purity to the scene. Get opening and hours and ticket info on their website here: https://espacepourlavie.ca/en/biosphere

8. Habitat 67

Habitat 67-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Habitat 67-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

Habitat 67 stands as a visionary model of urban living, conceived by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67 as a thesis project at McGill University. This architectural experiment aimed to combine the benefits of suburban homes with the density and infrastructure of city apartments. Comprising 354 identical, prefabricated concrete cubes arranged in various combinations, it creates 146 residences with unique garden terraces.

Photo Tip: The complex geometry and Brutalist architecture of Habitat 67 offer a unique playground for photographers. Early morning light accentuates the texture of the concrete and casts dynamic shadows, highlighting the structure’s three-dimensional aspect. Spring and summer not only bring a contrast of lush greenery against the stark concrete but also soften the overall appearance, adding vibrancy to your compositions. Perhaps the best view of the Habitat can be found across the river at the Old Port Boardwalk which offers a number of great viewpoints.

9. Botanical Gardens

Montreal Botanical Gardens-Photo by Ally Griffin
Montreal Botanical Gardens-Photo by Ally Griffin

The Montreal Botanical Gardens, one of the largest of its kind in the world, spans over 75 hectares and features thematic gardens and greenhouses. Each garden, such as the Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations Gardens, tells a story through its meticulously designed landscapes and plant species, making it a haven for photographers. Founded in 1931 by botanist Brother Marie-Victorin, the gardens serve both as a research institution and a place of beauty and relaxation. The diversity of ecosystems represented, from the Alpine Garden to the Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse, offers educational insights into different plant species and conservation efforts.

Photo Tips: Early mornings at the Botanical Gardens are magical, with soft light and dew adding a fresh dimension to the flora. Macro photography enthusiasts will find endless subjects, from intricate flower details to insects bustling about their day. Autumn transforms the gardens into a fiery landscape, with vibrant hues providing a spectacular backdrop for landscape and portrait photography alike. Consider visiting during different seasons to capture the changing beauty of the gardens throughout the year. Get hours and ticket info here: https://espacepourlavie.ca/en/botanical-garden

10. Farine Five Roses Sign

Farine Five Roses Sign-Photo by Shawn M. Kent
Farine Five Roses Sign-Photo by Shawn M. Kent

The Farine Five Roses Sign, a prominent feature of Montreal’s skyline since 1948, has become a beloved symbol of the city’s industrial heritage and cultural identity. Its simple yet iconic design illuminates the night, offering a glimpse into Montreal’s past and present.

Photo Tip: Night photography of the Farine Five Roses Sign brings its history to life, with the neon glow serving as a beacon in the industrial landscape. Utilize long exposure techniques to capture the vibrancy of the sign against the night sky, with the moving lights of the city adding a dynamic element to your shots. The contrast between the old-world charm of the sign and the modern cityscape can evoke a sense of nostalgia and reflection on Montreal’s growth and change.

Quebec Photo Locations Map

Dive deeper into the photographic wonders of Quebec with our comprehensive map of photo locations across the province. From the cobblestone streets of Quebec City to the rugged landscapes of the Gaspé Peninsula, our curated map is your gateway to discovering hidden gems and iconic landmarks alike. Whether you’re planning your next photographic journey or just daydreaming about the possibilities, our interactive map provides you with the inspiration and information you need to explore Quebec’s diverse beauty through your lens.

Explore the Quebec Photo Map
Quebec photo map
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