Free activities for Valentine’s Day

Don’t you feel that love can flourish and grow everywhere in Montréal? Indeed, our beautiful city offers a perfect setting to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your love. We thought it would be timely to share some ideas from last year’s blog post.  Here are romantic walks and other activities to do in Montréal, some are even free.

Old Montréal Winter Scavenger Hunt by Guidatour

Speaking of free activities, our winter scavenger hunt — presented thanks to the SDC Vieux-Montréal  — is perfect for those who want to spice things up this Valentine’s Day. Learn something new and get moving with questions, games and fun challenges!

Parc Jean-Drapeau

In 1611, Samuel de Champlain named île Sainte-Hélène in honour of his wife, Hélène Boullé. Your significant other may not be naming an island after you in the near future, but that’s no reason not to take them to Parc Jean-Drapeau for a walk. The views onto the city from the riverside walkway are just stunning. There are even cosy spots in the wooded area around Mont Boullé, including the stream and ponds near the old powder-house. 

ÎIe Sainte-Hélène au parc Jean-Drapeau

The riverside walkway can be accessed just down the steps from Three Discs, a massive work of art by Alexander Calder weighing 40 tonnes. As soon as you pop out of the metro, just look around – you’re not likely to miss it! From there, you can walk along the river in either direction, taking in the city skyline, the Jacques Cartier Bridge, and the impressive flow of the mighty St. Lawrence River.

Parc Jean Drapeau à Montréal

Portrait Sonore audio documentary

For art lovers, if you have more time and the weather isn’t too cold, why not follow the Portrait Sonore audio documentary? You will be introduced to works of art on both île Sainte-Hélène and île Notre-Dame, each stop lasting between four and nine minutes. The works even have their own musical track, composed by local musicians.

The full documentary lasts about two hours, but since the 15 works are all independent of each other, you can choose to do as few or as many as you want. For extra closeness, why not share a pair of earphones?

Old Port of Montréal

Just across the river from Parc Jean-Drapeau you’ll find another great promenade, this time along the docks of the Old Port.

Vue des quais du Vieux-Port de Montréal

Whereas the atmosphere is decidedly more urban, the views are just as great. If you want to get a full 3kms in, start at the bottom of McGill St. and walk all the way to the clock tower, then back.

Tour de l'Horloge Vieux Port Montréal

On this walk, you will be able to take in the view towards Parc Jean-Drapeau. A particularly noticeable feature of Sainte-Hélène’s skyline is the geodesic dome built to house the American pavilion during Expo 67. It looks a bit like a giant golf ball.

If you manage to time your walk just right, sometime after the sunset, you will see this big sphere light up. Not too far away, the Jacques Cartier Bridge will also light up the night with its colourful display created by Moment Factory.

If you’re feeling decadent and you’ve decided instead to take your walk during the day, why not treat your better half with a trip to the spa? It’s not free, but you sure deserve it! Bota Bota is currently open for massages and treatments. The water circuit will open again on February 14. Let yourselves be pampered!

Bota Bota blog Saint Valentin Guidatour

© Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau

Old Port skating ring

If after that you’ve still got energy to spare, there’s always the Old Port skating rink. This one is also a bit of a cheat since you’ll have to pay. That said, you can show off your spins, jumps, and arabesques hoping to win your beloved’s favour. Right next to the skating rink, the Montréal ferris wheel lights up at night transporting you to a magical ambiance. We recommend buying tickets online in advance as capacity is limited.

Mount Royal Park

A list of romantic Montréal walks would not be complete without Mount Royal, the city’s eponymous park. It was originally designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, father of American landscape architecture and designer of possibly the world’s most famous park, New York’s Central Park.

© Ville de Montréal

© Ville de Montréal

Olmsted had a very romantic notion that the park and nature in general were the best antidote to the stresses of modern city living. Although this was back in the late 1800s, the positive impact of nature on mental health is probably truer now than ever.

Follow the Olmsted Trail

To get the full experience, start next to the monument dedicated to Sir George Étienne Cartier off du Parc Avenue. You know, the one that is commonly referred to as “the angel” as it is topped by a winged female figure, the divinity La Renommée. From here you can follow the wide gravel Olmsted path nearly 5km all the way to the spectacular lookout on top. This handy map of Mount Royal Park might help.

Chemin Olmsted parc du Mont-Royal à Montréal

© Alison Slattery, Tourisme Montréal

Olmsted’s vision was that everyone should be able to climb up to the top thanks to a path that never exceeds a 5% grade. This means you shouldn’t be huffing and puffing as you ascend Montréal’s highest peak, showing your sweetheart what tremendous shape you’re in.

Make a pit stop at the café in the pavilion

Once at Beaver Lake, make sure to stop by at the café in the pavilion and treat your darling to a glass of hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm your heart and soul. Then, you can sip it on your way to the lookout from where you can admire the magnificent views of Montréal.

Belvédère Kondiaronk sur le mont Royal à Montréal

© Alison Slattery

Here’s to love and friendship

Since we acknowledge that there is more to life than just romantic love, these picturesque spots and activities work just as well with friends, single or not, who might really appreciate some quality time with you. Whatever you decide to do this Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s filled with love.