Montreal’s Parc Olympique: A Visitor’s Guide
Introduction: Montreal is a city in Canada’s Quebec region sitting along the St. Lawrence River. Montreal has much in the way of unique attractions to offer to visitors. Parc Olympic is one of the most popular of those attractions. Montreal’s Parc Olympique draws visitors in to enjoy its great array of attractions, including the Montreal Tower, the Biodome, the Botanical Gardens, and of course the Olympic Stadium that hosted the 1976 World Olympics.
Highlights: Ride to the top of the 541 foot Montreal Tower for 360 views of the city, get lost in space at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, enjoy a walk through nature at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, spend the afternoon with the creepy crawlers at the Montreal Insectarium, catch a live performance on the Esplanade, and catch a sporting event or tour the Olympic Stadium.
About Montreal’s Parc Olympique
Parc Olympic is a large complex in Quebec’s Montreal. Parc Olympique includes the Olympic stadium, the Montreal Tower, and the partner attractions that make up the Space for Life, the largest natural science museum complex in Canada. These include the Montreal Biodome (not to be confused with the Biosphere in Parc Jean-Drapeau), the planetarium, botanical gardens, and insectarium. Parc Olympique is now a multi use venue that hosts sports events, live performances, expos, and monster truck shows.
Parc Olympique’s main feature is the Olympic Stadium that housed the 1976 Olympics. The building was constructed in the early 1970’s as the venue for the 1976 World Olympics. The Stadium has commonly been referred to as the “Big O” because of the shape, but more recently has been known as the “Big Owe” because of the cost of construction and continuing cost to tax payers.
How to Get There:
Parc Olympique is located at 4141, avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal. It can be reached many different ways:
- Bike via the bike access paths of Rachel street, Maisonneuve Park and Bennett street
- Metro at Pie-IX metro station followed by a 2 minute walk to the park
- Bus: busses 97, 139 and 439
There are four entrances to Parc Olympique and each will get you to a different area of the park:
- Entrance 1: Entrance to the Olympic Station
- Entrance 2: Entrance closest to the Montreal Tower
- Entrance 3: Entrance closest to the Sports Center
- Entrance 4: Entrance closest to the Esplanade
Parking is available in underground lots/parking garages throughout the park. In total there are 7 parking lots. Parking rates are $4 for 20 min., with a maximum of $20 for a 24 hr. period.
What to do at Montreal’s Parc Olympique
Visit the Montreal Biodome
The Montreal Biodome is located next door to the Olympic Stadium and is a great escape to nature in the city. Visitors to the Montreal Biodome will walk through five different ecosystems and meet over 250,000 animals of 200 species and 500 plant species. The 5 sections of the Biodome are the Tropical Rainforest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Labrador Coast, and the Sub-Anartic Islands.
The Biodome is closed for construction at the time of this writing, but is anticipated to open back up soon.
Catch a Sporting Event at Olympic Stadium or Take a Guided Tour
Located within the Montreal Tower you will find a permanent exhibition on the construction of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics. The exhibition includes a combination of artifacts, photos, video archives, and interactive digital content. Guided tours of the stadium are also available with a guide who will give you a great overview of the history of the stadium.
The stadium hosts many amateur and professional sports events throughout the year. Be sure to check the schedule for when you are visiting and grab some tickets if there is something that interests you!
Ride to the Top of Montreal Tower
The Montreal Tower is one of the main draws of Parc Olympique. Standing 165 meters high, the tower has an incline of 45 degrees making it the tallest inclined tower in the world. A two minute ride inside a glass funicular will take visitors to the top of the tower where 360 degree views of Montreal spanning up to 80km (50 miles) await. The tower is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm, with extended hours to 7pm between June and September.
Tickets are $24.25 for adults with discounts for seniors and children. Combo packages are also available for tower access and a guided tour of Olympic Stadium.
Visit the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium
Get lost in space at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The planetarium has two separate theaters, each with a unique experience. One theater focuses on scientific interpretation of the Universe, while the other one focuses on a more poetic and artistic approach to interpreting the universe. The planetarium also has many interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Tickets to the planetarium are $21 for adults with discounts for seniors and children.
Swim at the Olympic Pool
The Olympic pool, located in the Sports Center of Parc Olympique, is open at select times for open swims allowing visitors to swim in the same pool Olympic athletes once performed in. The pool is usually open Monday through Friday 6:00 am to 10:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Open swim is $7.30 for adults with discounts for adults and children.
Explore the Montreal Botanical Gardens
While not technically located within Parc Olympique, the Montreal Botanical Gardens are located directly across the street from Olympic Stadium. With over 22,000 plant species, 10 greenhouses, and 20 thematic gardens, the botanical gardens area a great escape from the city life on Montreal. Visitors can take in the beauty, popping colors, and fresh air of the gardens at some of the most popular garden section, including the Aquatic Gardens, Chinese Gardens, Japanese Garden, and the Rose Garden.
Tickets to the gardens are $21 for adults with discounts offered for seniors and children. The gardens are open daily from 9am to 6pm, with extended hours to 7pm on Friday and Saturday nights.
Visit the Montreal Insectarium
If bugs don’t creep you out too much step inside Montreal’s Insectarium to learn about the diversity and nature of these creepy crawlers. The Montreal Insectarium is the largest insectarium in North America. It holds insects from around the world in its live and dead displays. Even if the insectarium is not something that draws you attention, I think it is safe to say there’s a 50% chance the little ones will be thrilled to explore all this museum has to offer.
The Montreal Insectarium is currently closed for renovations, but is anticipated to be reopening soon.
Watch a performance on the Esplanade
The Esplanade is the outdoor four level venue space near Olympic Stadium that is host to small and large events throughout the summer. The Esplanade offers a variety of different events, including events focused on sport and physical activity, sustainable development, and culture. The Vans Skatepark and Climbing Rocks can also be found on the Esplanade for those looking for a little bit of physical activity.
Food Options in Montreal’s Parc Olympique
Café in Vivo: A coffee shop that offers a number of quality food options that are provided by local suppliers and natural ingredients. The location of the café is also unique, with great views of the Montreal Tower. The café offers breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and desserts & sweets. The café is open 7am to 7pm Monday through Saturday.
Food Trucks: You can often times find one or more food trucks located on the Esplanade during lunch time, but this varies. When we visited there was a Mexican style food truck that we chose to purchase lunch from, and it turned out to be quite delicious.
***Attractions may be closed at this time due to the COVID19 Pandemic. The purpose of this post is for planning purposes, be sure to follow all guidelines and regulations regarding social distancing and limiting the spread of COVID. ***