Jardin botanique de Montréal
Jardin botanique de Montréal, taken by Wikimedia Commons user Anna Kucsma.

Filled with history, culture and a distinctly Euro-chic vibe, Montreal is one of Canada’s most captivating cities. Here, we give you an inside look at six of the experiences that define this metropolis.

1. The lush flora of Jardin Botanique

Located near the Olympic Stadium, this color-saturated botanical garden is an incredible place to spend an afternoon. This is one of the world’s largest botanical spaces, after all, so its spectacular sights are beyond compare. Browse the nearly 20 themed gardens — the Japanese section is one of our favorites — and then head to the Insectarium for an up-close peek at some surprisingly gorgeous creepies and crawlies.

2. The after-hours buzz of Mutek Montreal

If you love the pulsating beats of techno, house and experimental electro, Mutek Montreal is your cup of tea. Every year, thousands of locals, tourists and traveling musicians flock to this festival to hear the latest electronic music, and the club nights and after-hours parties are a sight to behold. Just be sure to make your flight and hotel reservations as early as possible; this celebration is so well-attended that accommodations book up months in advance.

3. The poutine at La Banquise

Love it or hate it, poutine is a cultural touchstone in Montreal. Though locals argue about the best spots to score the gravy- and cheese-soaked french fry dish, the 25 versions at La Banquise are widely considered to be among the best. Plus, this Rachel Street restaurant is open 24 hours a day, so you can get your poutine fix well into the wee hours.

4. Sundays with Piknic Electronik

If you’re visiting during the summer months, spend your Sundays at Parc Jean Drapeau for the renowned Piknic Electronik parties. Think of the events like mini-Muteks; each weekend, international DJs and producers come together to play the hottest records to a crowd of chilled-out fans. What’s more, the city’s most delicious food trucks and restaurants provide snacks to the throngs of party-goers. It’s an amazing way to kick off the week ahead.

5. Afternoons on a Bixi bike

Montreal’s public transportation is top notch, but sometimes you need to feel the wind in your hair. Rent a Bixi bike, and you’ll be able to ride through the city’s network of neighborhoods, alleys and green spaces without spending your entire travel budget on cabs and train tickets. Make sure to peddle through the Old Port for a glimpse of the vibrant St. Lawrence riverfront.

6. The boho-chic vibe of Mile End

For a shining example of Montreal’s European flair, you have to check out the Mile End district. This creative community has Parisian cafe culture covered, and its cutting-edge boutiques feel like something straight from the 17th arrondissement. Stop by Michel Brisson to browse wares from uber-hip designers, grab a cocktail vial at the pharmacy-themed Baldwin Barmacie, and then settle in at Lawrence for an incredible French meal.