Dominated by the Olympic Stadium and Tower, Montréal’s Parc Olympique is a place on the skyline you will be immediately drawn to. Besides the Olympic Stadium (“the Big O”) and tower, built in 1970 as the main venue for the ’76 Summer Olympics, the park also contains the Biodome (the Olympic Velodrome), the Athlete’s Village and the Olympic pool. It is located conveniently next to the Jardin Botanique and Insectarium so you can knock off both places in a single visit. Easily accessible by bus or metro, it is a good idea to consider spending almost an entire day up in this area as there is a lot to do and see!
The Stadium itself has the largest seating capacity in Canada, with room for 56,040 people, and is now used by the Montreal Allouettes for playoff and Grey Cup football games. When the Allouettes aren’t playing, it is a multipurpose facility for special events. Construction of the building was long and grueling and never was finished by the Opening Ceremonies. Instead, it continued on until 1987 where it was deemed complete (1988 if you count being able to retract the roof). If you’re in Montreal for the summer, plan your trip to the Stadium on the first Friday of May, June, July or August so that you can experience one of Canada’s largest food truck festivals located at the Stadium. The experience will involve all of your senses with live music, incredible scents and of course a multitude of flavors, and is a perfect way to cap off an evening of city exploration.
The Montreal Tower is the largest sloping tower in the entire world and is 175m (574ft) high. It was not added to the building’s design until after the Olympics and now both the observatory and funicular ride up provide sweeping views of the entire city. Ascend the 266m of the tower’s spine in the funicular and enjoy panoramic views of the Olympic Village, Biodome, Gardens and Saputo Stadium. Then, lose your breath looking out from the southwest-facing observatory at the top. Inside the tower building there is a loft that overlooks the Olympic pool and a small museum that commemorates the 1976 Games.
Originally, the Biodome was the Olympic velodrome that hosted track cycling and judo events but was converted by 1992 to contain an entirely different scene. Take a stroll through 4 different ecosystems and learn about the South American rainforest, the North American wilderness and the estuary habitat that shows off the Saint Lawrence Marine Ecosystem. You’ll also get to walk through a polar area that is divided into Antarctic and Arctic displays. Especially fun for curious children, the Biodome and associated planetarium are great spots for families.
It can be a little confusing trying to find the different entrances in such a massive park so it’s a good idea to look at a map beforehand! You can also buy tickets for the Tower, Biodome, Planetarium and Botanical Gardens all in one place and there are deals on purchasing more than one area, so know what you want to see to save some cash!