Where to find the best street art in Montreal?
Montreal has become a hub for graffiti, murals, and urban art. It seems that almost every building and walls are decorated with gigantic works of art, giving a vibrant and colourful personality to the city. Luckily, you don’t need to search for hidden alleys or rooftops to catch urban art, in fact, it is the contrary as they are everywhere,... for free!
You must be wondering where do we find them and which ones are worth the detour? As a bonus, I'm also giving tips of where to eat near all those beautiful grafitti. Read on how to discover Montreal through this unusual itinerary!
In the Plateau & Vicinity
The Saint-Laurent Boulevard, one of Montreal’s busiest street, is where you will find the most graffiti and murals. All you need to do is, stroll down the street and hunt these gems. The boulevard is full of vintage shops and local eateries serving smoked meat, a Montreal signature dish. If Schwartz's has a big line-up, you can go across the street, the Main restaurant serves an even better smoked meat that Schwartz's !
If you are visiting the city in June, you must go to the Mural festival. The event showcases more than 80 artists and it is the biggest street art festival in North America. In August, there is also the Under-Pressure festival also shining a light on urban art. During these two festivals, you can catch an artist in action and see how the murals come to life.
A parallel street to Saint-Laurent, Rue Saint-Dominique, has countless graffiti as well. I would suggest to go up on Saint-Laurent and then go down to Saint-Dominique, if you are planning to do a full loop. Don't forget to stroll on Saint-Urban street (2 streets away from Saint-Laurent) for some rare findings!
Mount-Royal Avenue & Mile-End
Scattered through the Mount-Royal avenue you will also find some hidden gems, however, these are not as concentrated as on Saint-Laurent. Still, the avenue is full of little boutiques and places to eat.
In the Mile-End there are 3 murals that are worth admiring, twoof them are on the Saint-Viateur Street. The Mile-End is the hipster headquarters of the world (after Brooklyn) and by far one of the coolest and artsy places to hang-out. One, has a line-drawing all the Montreal landmarks, perfect for a cool snapshot of the city. The other is located right after the famous Saint-Viateur Bagels, and yes they are better than any NYC bagels ;) This one is done by the Canadian artist Ola Volo from the Cartel collective.
The brand new addition to the hood is the GIGANTIC murals of 15,000 sq. Ft. on the north side of 5605 De Gaspé. If you are visiting during the summer, this is a nice place to hang out, Aire Commune, an outdoor patio with countless events and cool music and good beers. This mural is the largest mural ever made by a woman in Canada and it is also made by Ola Volo.
The South-West Borough is composed of different neighbourhoods but for street art, Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy deserve a special mention. In Saint-Henri, the large artworks are a little more politicize since some of the artists are Native American. The walls of the neighborhood are canvas for the Unceded Voices: Anticolonial Street Artists Convergence, a biennial convergence of primarily Indigenous-women which aims open a dialogue with communities that tend to be underrepresented.
Also, a lot of the restaurants have bought into the trend and have advertised their place with Graffiti. All these can be seen on the Notre-Dame street. Notre-Dame is also known as the restaurant alley and offers some of the best tables in the city. Saint-Henri neighbourhood is probably one of the best hidden-gems in Montreal and it is definetly a worth a stop during your travels. Here is a complete guide of the neighbourhood.
In Little Burgundy, you will find a lot of the Graffiti on Saint-Jacques street and most of them are paying tribute to the rock and jazz era that used to strive in the neighbourhood.
Near Plaza Saint-Hubert, you will also find a lot of the graffiti. In my opinion, you will find the best ones near the Beaubien Metro.
While you are enjoying this part of the city, I would recommend trying some of the micro-breweries (Isle de Garde is my favourite), Rosemont has become a hub of craft beer in recent years. Click here for a curated list of the best craft beer bars in Montreal by me. Or here for a complete list of all the Microbreweries and Craft Beer Bars in the city.
Most of the artist sign their work, if you like their work, I would suggest to check out their sites to find out more! Its thanks to the initiative of MU Montreal, that we have these beautiful street art, the aim of the organisation is to make Montreal an open air museum. For a complete list of all the artwork in the city check out their site!
You can also check instagram under #mtlstreetart for new places, I feel like evey day there a new mural.
Happy scavenger hunt!
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