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Looking for inspiration to plan a trip to Montréal in 2023?
I got you!
I’ve been to this beautiful city 3 times in the last few years, with my most recent trip in August 2022. I’ve even surprised some of the locals with how much I’ve returned in just a few years.
It’s just that great of a place to visit at least once (or more 😉).
In this post, I want to share all the helpful tips, and ideas to help guide your trip planning process to Montréal, and overall, share my experience in hopes that it helps you get ideas for what you’d like to do, from the perspective of someone who has been there a handful of times.
Without further ado, let’s go to Montréal!
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How to easily plan a trip to Montréal for the first time in 2023
What is the best month to visit Montréal?
I’ve personally always seemed to find myself in Montréal around May when the spring is in full swing, and I can share that this season is a great time to plan a trip to Montréal.
The weather is warm, with a few hot days, and a light breeze coming in from the St. Lawrence River.
There are tourists starting to visit the city, but it’s not the summer crowd yet so you can still move around the city without large crowds, or get an amazing view of the city when visiting the top of Mount Royal Park.
However, if you want to catch incredible autumn vibes, then definitely consider visiting during the fall months of October-November, when the orange-colored trees line the wonderfully picturesque sidewalks of Old and New Montéal.
Many people also enjoy visiting Montréal during the end of summer, late August-September, which is the season I decided to visit the city on my most recent trip.
Personally, I don’t think I’d plan a trip a trip to Montréal in August again, just because it was still very hot and humid, and very crowded.
I think August is still a busy summer travel month for many, and Montréal was definitely packed with us, travelers.
If you’re ok with large crowds and hot weather, then it’s ideal for you. If not, I’d wait till fall.
How many days do you need for Montréal?
I’ve seen a few people ask around if 3 days in Montréal is enough? or if 2 days is enough for Montréal?
The truth is, and you’ll see in a bit, between Old Montreal, the boroughs around the city, and the great day trip activities to participate in, you could easily spend a week in Montréal.
💡Pro Tip: What kind of traveler are you?
Is nature your thing? History? Cultural events? Art galleries?
Identify that for yourself, and then decide from a few of the suggestions I share in this post (more to come) which ones you’d like to see and, start building your Montréal itinerary that way.
That will tell you how many days you need to spend in the city to see what you actually want to see.
I spent up to 3 days in Montréal on my first trip there back in May of 2018 and I felt that it was a great first few days to get a good introduction to the city, visiting its main sites and doing a few other things.
I do find myself returning back to this city, however, each time wanting to discover more and really wanting to observe the culture a bit deeper each time.
On my second visit to Montréal, I returned the following year in May 2019 and spent around 3 more days, exploring more, and doing more activities to build upon what I had learned before.
All of which I recommend 100%! All were so fun, professional, and welcoming.
Do you need a car in Montréal?
For being a city located in North America, and being Canada’s 2nd largest city, surprisingly you don’t need a car to get around – especially as a visitor.
Montréal falls in the top 5 Canadian cities with the best public transportation, offering a complete metro system with 68 stations dotting the city, and 4 metro lines taking locals day in and day out to all the places within the city.
Sometimes the metro may even be free during the summer when major events are happening in the city, so that’s also something cool to think about when planning your trip to Montréal.
There is also the bus system, which makes traveling around the city an easy feat. Just make sure to buy an OPUS Card and top it off with funds to use on the metro and bus system in the city.
Yes, there are sites that you’re going to want to see like the Olympic Stadium Park and the Botanic Garden of Montréal that are a little bit away, and although you can get to them via public transportation, you may end up catching an Uber to get there faster depending on your schedule.
Also when it comes to visiting some of the day trip options (more on that later) your best bet is to go with a tour if there isn’t a bus or train that can get you there, and/or if the bus/train is more expensive than an organized tour, which seems to happen.
Travel within Canada is not all that cheap…
How walkable is Montréal?
Montréal is is very walkable, especially if you want to center all your activities around Old Montréal, but honestly, getting around the city on foot is part of the fun of enjoying such a multi-cultural city, filled to the brim with public art, events, shops, and tempting cafe’s – it’s the best way to get around in my opinion.
What part of Montréal is best to stay in?
Montréal has a number of cool boroughs to stay in, or at least consider staying in depending on your own travel style, and what you’d like to experience.
Old Montréal (Vieux-Montréal)
If you like all things history, old and charming buildings, cobblestone streets, cute little alleyways, and an overall European-city vibe, then definitely check out staying in Old Montréal, also known as Vieux-Montréal.
This location is great if you aim to explore the historic sights, and you’re wanting to experience the historic, French charm in Montréal.
It’s close to the Old Port, Notre-Dame, Place d’Armes, Place Jacques Cartier, Montréal City Hall, Place Vauquelin, the big Montréal Ferris Wheel, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, Château Ramezay – historic museum inside former politician’s home, Bank of Montreal Museum, Place de la Grande-Paix-de-Montréal, and much more.
Check out the dozens of cafes, restaurants, rooftop bars, and restaurants located throughout Old Montréal, as well as convenience stores (or Dépanneurs as they call them) like 7-Eleven and local stores.
Downtown Montréal (Centre-Ville)
If you want to stay in the middle of city life in Montréal, check out staying in Montréal city center.
Be surrounded by all the modern amenities that any other North American city has: direct transportation like Uber, bus, and metro stops.
Downtown Montréal also offers an incredible list of shopping malls, restaurants, cafe’s shops offering slightly more varied prices in comparison to maybe what you’d find in Old Montréal, for obvious reasons, but nonetheless, you also get a “taste” of day-to-day Montréal hustle and bustle.
This location is perfect if you want to visit all the fascinating museums in the city, such as The Montréal Museum of Modern Arts, theaters such as Place des Arts, McCord Museum of social and cultural history, the Barbie Expo, La Guilde a First Nation art museum by the Inuit, Montréal Police Museum, or taking a stroll throughout the university campus of Concordia University, McGill University, or the University of Québec in Montréal.
I recommend checking out Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites – Montreal Centre-ville, centrally located downtown, offering incredible hospitality, in a central location to various activities.
Honorable mention: If you’re looking to stay somewhere between Old Montréal and downtown Montréal, then I recommend checking out Embassy Suites by Hilton – Montréal, for its amazing location between both. The Notre Dame and Place d’Armes are steps away, while also a few steps from modern city life.
Le Plateau (Plateau Mont-Royal)
Overflowing with its artsy vibe, hipster atmosphere, unique and cool cafes, and restaurants, Le Plateau is a neighborhood located 10 minutes or so from Old Town Montréal.
Le Plateau is close to Mount Royal Park, a stunning park with incredible nature and city views (make sure to climb up to the Kondiaronk Belvedere to get to the observatory terrace on top of the “mountain” to get incredible views of Montréal).
Other fun things to do in Le Plateau are to book a street art tour and learn more about the stories behind the beautiful street art adorning the city, check out Schwartz Deli for delectable and world-famous Montréal style bagels, get a bite of authentic poutine at La Banquise, or simply walking around the neighborhood to explore it for yourself – personally, it’s one of my favorite things to do while there.
I recommend staying at Auberge du Carre St-Louis, situated in the heart of Le Plateau, and situated right in front of Square St. Louis. Enjoy a variety of restaurants within blocks of the Inn, as well as shops and theaters.
Located southeast of downtown Montréal is Griffintown – a neighborhood mostly founded by Irish immigrants who helped build the city’s strong foundations in the 1800s.
Today, the area has a great art scene, as well as an established hipster culture to also dive into.
Within Griffintown, enjoy visiting places like the Arsenal Art Contemporain Montréal, an art gallery that houses a variety of exhibits to check out from local artists.
Also in Griffintown are a number of bakeries, spas, and other fun activities to take part in like a challenging and thrilling escape room.
If a trendy neighborhood is a place you want to stay in, then definitely check out Griffintown, conveniently close to Old Montréal, and on the Old Port.
I recommend checking out Hôtel Alt Montréal, offering modern and sleek rooms, with great city and port views, while offering other great amenities inside the room and the hotel.
Get to know the everyday authentic Montréal inside Mile End.
A neighborhood in Montréal known for its authentic roots, incredible diversity in people and restaurants, and street art, it’s a great place to stay to discover the neighborhood, as well as the magical Old Town and downtown.
Though technically it’s *kind of* a part of the Le Plateau neighborhood, Mile End is still a great place to check out on its own.
Check out some of the best eateries, found in Mile End such as emblematic Cafe Olimpico, bagels of all different flavors (which you must try because it’s Montréal) at St-Viateur Bagel.
Consider booking a food tour of Montréal, where you can get the best of the food scene in Montréal that you definitely don’t want to miss.
I recommend staying in what feels like your own apartment in Mile End through Parc Avenue Lofts. These condos are made to give travelers a great stay while enjoying the artsy vibe of Mile End. Offering a perfect little nest during your stay in Mile End in Montréal, it is a block away from the famed St-Viateur Bagel, one of the bagel shops that the late and missed Anthony Bourdain mentioned on one of his trips.
The Village is the name for the Gay neighborhood in Montréal situated north of Montréal, offering a vibrant and fun neighborhood to check out and explore.
Wander through the streets to check out the vintage shops, and if you’re visiting in early August, stick around for Fierté Montreal (Pride). By day or night, there is always fun to be had, from drag shows inside Cabaret Mado to day drinking on the terraces of The Village.
If you want to stay in this neighborhood, I recommend that you check out Kutuma Hotel and Suites, offering a great location between The Village, Le Plateau, and Mile End – some of the most fun neighborhoods in Montréal. This hotel itself offers a free continental breakfast served every day, and a closeness to St. Catherine Street, known for awesome shopping in the neighborhood.
Things to do and see in Montréal
Explore Old Montréal, and enjoy the cobblestone streets, taking you back to the 17th century, when the city was founded, brimming with French influence, culture, language, and customs.
Visit the Old Port, and stop inside the Délices Érable & Cie, Montréal’s famous maple store, selling a variety of maple-flavored products, from candy, coffee, bread, jams, and more.
A must-visit stop in Old Montréal is the Bonsecours Market, known as a heritage building, housing an indoor market that houses various shops inside, galleries, cafes, and more. Many of the items sold here are uniquely Québec-made.
Situated within Old Montréal, in front of beautiful Place d’ Armes square, check out the emblematic Notre Dame Basilica, welcoming approximately 1 million people each year!
Wander inside, and check out the extremely stunning architecture, and decor, leading up to the beautifully lit altar.
Check out a tour of the Basilica, or simply walk in and see it yourself. Check out the events on the Basilica’s website for upcoming events, from religious to innovative events involving technology, light, and fun.
Address: 110 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1T1, Canada
Wander through the exhibits inside the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, showcasing the best of modern and contemporary art from local artists, and international talent.
Check out collections of art only found in this museum, such as Quebéc and Canadian Art, Decorative Arts and Design, Graphics Arts, and the sculpture garden.
The museum is located on the historic Golden Square Mile.
Address: 1380 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1J5, Canada
The Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal is a basilica and shrine located in the Côte-des-Neiges neighborhood, 34 minutes southeast of Old Montréal.
The cool and interesting thing about this place has to be the multiple (99) steps that you have to take to get to the doors of the basilica.
If you don’t want to go up the steps, you can also take the escalator up, which is so interesting and kind of different to see in a basilica – but it’s there!
Address: 3800 Queen Mary Rd, Montreal, Quebec H3V 1H6, Canada
Reserve your tickets online for the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, showcasing a fascinating look at Montréal’s history, from the First Nations people to the French’s influence, and society today in the city.
Find relics found via excavations, construction sites, and more throughout the years, exhibited to learn about this part of Canada, and its history.
Address: 350 Place Royale, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3Y5, Canada
If you’re a foodie, you have to stop by Marché Atwater, an indoor market housed inside a beautiful Art-Deco building, giving a glimpse into day-to-day life in Montréal.
Check out the multiple stalls and sellers showcasing fresh meats, dairy, produce, and more. Open all year round, be sure to step in during different seasons you’re in town to see what’s new.
Address: 138 Atwater Ave, Montreal, Quebec H4C 2H6, Canada
The Marché Jean-Talon is one of North America’s largest open-air markets and is a great place to gain insight into everyday, local Montréal life at the market.
Look through the different products, what people are buying, and what essentially makes up the diet for a local.
Additionally, gain access to the variety of ethnic delicacies that are now popular throughout the city, as a result of waves of immigration to the city.
Let your senses absorb the different produce, dairy, meats, and snacks commonly sold there, and grab some for yourself on the way home.
Address: 7070 Henri Julien Ave, Montreal, Quebec H2S 3S3, Canada
Visit the Underground City, situated right under the streets of Montréal, created to offer comfort and warmth during the cold months.
Built in 1966, this underground city complex houses a dozen shops, restaurants, hotels, train station entrances, and more.
It’s such a cool place to explore and see for yourself.
The whole entire thing is around 20.5 miles – yes, very expansive!
Address: 747 Rue du Square-Victoria #247, Montreal, Quebec H2Y, Canada
This is a park situated on the hill of Mont Royal and is commonly known as just “The Mountain” offering great hiking opportunities, and a staircase to climb and reach the top and gaze onto the magnificent views of Montréal on the Kondiaronk Belvedere (platform).
Don’t forget to step inside the Chalet, offering clean bathrooms, souvenir shops, and a nice big rest space to take in the views, sitting down in one of the leaning chairs.
Address: 2000 Chemin Remembrance Montréal, QC H3H 1A2, Canada
Wander through the acrylic, dome-like building located in Old Montréal, originally built for the 1967 World’s Fair, and today housing an environmental museum open to the public.
You’ll see it if you go on the Montréal Ferris Wheel.
Take note of the beautiful display of lights occasionally happening inside the biosphere, adding a layer of beauty to the building.
Address: 160 Chem. du Tour de l’isle, Montréal, QC H3C 4G8, Canada
Visit the historic museum housed inside the gorgeous Beaux-Arts facade building, which used to belong to two members of the wealthy class of Montreal at the beginning of the 20th century.
Step inside, and learn through the various exhibits the different uses of the home throughout time, from being an all-boys school to housing art museums, and now, you can also just tour the grounds of the home, and see all the furniture decorating the space, very much of the time.
It’s really pretty to see, those who love learning about history and being surrounded by classic beauty, won’t want to miss this on their first time in Montréal.
Address: 2929 Av. Jeanne-d’Arc, Montréal, QC H1W 3W2, Canada
Visit the two islands that make up the Parc Jean-Drapeau, Saint Helen’s Island and the artificial Notre Dame Island, only a couple of minutes away from Old Montréal, and accessible via the subway.
Inside Parc Jean-Drapeau, enjoy a variety of cultural events like Electronic music festivals, food festivals, art expos, as well as extreme sports competitions. F
or those looking for a bit of relaxation, check out the great walking paths, water park for children, the Jean-Doré beach, gardens, and green spaces for the perfect picnic.
it’s a local side of Montréal that you don’t want to miss.
Address: 1 Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal, QC H3C 1A9, Canada
If you love flowers and all things gardening, you must visit the botanic garden, brimming with a wide array of flowers, from fragrant roses, bright sunflowers, plants used for cooking, and even medicinal purposes, as well as other local plants and flowers.
Address: 4101 Sherbrooke St E, Montreal, Quebec H1X 2B2, Canada
The site where the 1976 Summer Olympics took place was in the city of Montréal, and today, the stadium and the sports complex surrounding the stadium are open for visitors to check out.
They used to offer tours and I was able to go in with a guide, but apparently, they don’t offer them anymore, unfortunately. However, you can still go inside, and explore yourself with an audioguide to learn about the important history.
You can even go up to the observation tower, 165 meters above and at a 45-degree angle, to get an all-encompassing view of the sports complex from above, proving to be a cool sight to check out.
While inside, check out the Olympic Stadium, equipped to hold up to 56,000 people, and the Sports Center with Olympic size pools that the Montréalers use,
There are also a variety of cultural events that take place here, so it’s a good spot to keep in mind especially if you’re planning on attending an outdoor concert that may take place here in the Esplanade part of the sports complex.
Address: 4545 Pierre-de Coubertin Ave, Montreal, Quebec H1V 3N7, Canada
Montréal’s boroughs to check out
La Petite-Patrie is the neighborhood where you’ll find the Marché Jean-Talon in the heart of what is known as Little Italy.
Indulge in the local food scene, take in the sight of life lived outdoors in the streets, people playing in the parks of all ages, and locally owned cafe shops and restaurants.
Also here are a few of the museums and places of interest I mentioned above like the Olympic Stadium Park and the Montréal Botanical Gardens.
Historic Jewish Quarter
The Mecca for the best bagel in Montréal is within the streets of the Historic Jewish Quarter.
From the first wave of Jewish immigration from various different countries in 1760 until today, the Jewish community has influenced the food scene and culture throughout Montréal in an enriching way.
Check out the bakeries, deli, and of course, bagel shops which I will recommend below which ones to check out specifically, so stay tuned!
This is the neighborhood where you’ll find the St. Joseph Oratory, a sight I recommended to visit earlier on this list, but other than that, it is a huge neighborhood that offers diversity, community, and beautiful architecture representative of the different waves of immigration, as well as affordable housing for both students and recently, arrived immigrants.
Something I heard from our biking tour guide was the efforts that the local city government strived for when it came to supporting and guiding newly moved immigrant families by placing them in centric neighborhoods where they had access to libraries, employment, schools, and hospitals, all within a few blocks walking.
The neighborhood also has a diverse mix of restaurants representing various world cuisine, awesome dessert shops, and cafes.
Also, the ambiance is great.
Mile End is one of the more popular neighborhoods to check out in the city, with its proximity to Mont Royal and Mont Royal Park, as well as its endless list of things to do, places to eat, and so much more.
Shop the little boutiques and bookstores, check out the lively bar scene, and the unique restaurants, and simply take in the fun vibe that never seems to go to sleep in this neighborhood.
It’s also a good distance away from Old Montréal.
St. Catherine Street
Not really a neighborhood, but definitely a great street to be aware of.
This is the street where the majority of shopping takes place, mainly bigger brands, as well as tons of restaurants, local and chain.
It’s just a good place to know overall that I thought I should mention.
Also, a good point of reference when planning distance from places.
Day trips to take from Montréal
Situated in the Tremblant Mountain, about an hour north of Montréal, Mont-Tremblant is a great day trip option, offering ski opportunities, but also taking the panoramic gondola, reaching great heights and offering spanning views of The Laurentians, reaching a panoramic terrace with even greater views.
It’s perfect for bird-watching, hiking, and other games like mini golf, enjoying the beach, and the beautiful nature.
The capital of Canada is only 2 hours away west of Montréal, and brimming with cultural activities to do that can only be found within a capital city.
Check out Parliament Hill, the Parliament Hill of Canada, the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a high tea experience at the stunning Fairmont Hotel, and brimming with historical museums like the Bytown Museum (Bytown is the former name of Ottawa), and the Canadian Museum of History.
The most French-speaking town in Canada, Québec City, is a destination not to miss, known for its picture-perfect Old Québec City, dating to 1608.
Stroll through the famed Petite Champlain street, the oldest shopping street in Canada, and contemplate the beauty of the towering Château Frontenac, stunning European architecture, and beautiful cobblestone streets.
Enjoy the Furniculare ride, housed inside the former home of Louis Joliet (the man whose name was given to the city of Joliet in Illinois after paddling down the St. Lawrence River, all the way to Illinois to the Des Plaines river).
If you have time, take a quick Uber ride to Montmorency Falls, a cascading waterfall taller than Niagra Falls.
I’ve personally been to Québec City twice, so I can recommend taking the train from Montréal to Québec City using the Canadian train system, or taking a day tour.
I’ve done both, and I would say if you are just wanting to do a day tour, go with a tour group who will take care of schedules and transportation better, especially if it’s your first time.
Otherwise, the train is a great option but better to take if you’re staying for more than a day.
>> Read More: Follow Me Around Québec City
The Laurentians is a stunning natural site to visit, overflowing with abundant nature, the Laurentian mountains, beautiful parks to hike in, the beach, golfing, and much more.
Depending on the season you visit, there is always something to do, from canoeing, skiing, strolling the beautiful gardens, or participating in a local concert.
The town in and of itself is really quaint and beautiful, and definitely worth a day trip.
Au Diable Vert Canopy Cycle
Ok, this is for the adrenaline junkies out there visiting Montréal between May-November.
Consider visiting the Au Diable Vert outdoor result, known most for its suspended bicycle ride which happens to be the tallest in the world.
Gently peddling your way through the treetops of some of Canada’s best scenery, the suspended bike is one not to miss.
Though currently there is no tour that can take you there, you can either drive yourself (driving in Canada is similar to driving in the U.S.) or take an Uber.
The Eastern Townships is a historical and quaint region of southern Québec, and only a little under 2 hours away east of Montréal, basically on the border with the U.S.
There is the French-Canadian flair, (and mainly French speaking) with a bit of New England vibe in the 9 different regions that make up the Eastern Townships.
Enjoy the stunning nature scene of lakes, mountains, forests, and farmlands, as you check out the Brome-Missisquoi region-known for its wine-making traditions, Granby – is perfect for nature walks and family fun, and the Memphremagog region – is known for its incredible food scene, farmers markets, and the Lake Memphremagog fresh waters lake.
Tours I’ve been on that I recommend you check out in Montréal
- Beyond the Bike Lanes Bike Tour – This bike tour was AMAZING. You bike for around 4 hours with stops in between and delicious lunch and beverage in a park amongst the locals. It’s a great tour to get a feel for the neighborhoods (boroughs) of Montréal and get a taste of local life. If Felix is your guide, you’ll be in great hands.
- Haunted Griffintown Ghost Walking Tour in Montréal – I did this ghost tour on my latest trip to Montréal, wanting to do a ghost tour but already doing the Old Montréal one, so I opted for this one. It’s definitely less scary, and more entertaining in the sense that you get to discover the creepy past of the Griffintown borough, one definitely worth listening to. Jason was our tour guide, and definitely brought the theatrics.
- Free Walking Tour of Montréal – A free walking tour is a MUST in any city, including Montréal. This one was great, informative, and super helpful to do on the first day to get a good lay of the land.
- Old Montréal Ghost Walking Tour – Out of the ghost tours I’ve done in Montréal, this one was definitely one of my favorites. The guides come dressed in clothing from the 1800s and put on a great theatrical show that isn’t too over the top, and just enough creepy.
- 3Hr Montreal City Bike Tour with Beer or Wine – This was the first biking tour I did in Montréal, which is a bit shorter than the other one I shared, but a great option as well. It’s beginner friendly, and you stop for bagels in the middle of the journey – WIN.
Where to eat in Montréal
- Schwartz Deli – Schwartz Deli is probably the most famous bagel shop in Montréal, for its incredible, hand-crafted bagels. If you’re an Anthony Bourdain fan, you’ll know this was one of his stops in Montréal and has his stamp of approval, and mine too. – Address: 1440 S Milford Rd, Highland, MI 48357
- St. Viateur Bagel – Another great bagel place for ya! As you know, bagels are a huge thing in Montréal as they are in New York, due to the Jewish communities in both cities. St. Viateur Bagel is a great place to get your bagel fix, I recommend grabbing the Breakfast sandwich and berries smoothie – so good! – Address for the Mile End location: 158 Rue Saint- Viateur O, Montreal, Quebec H2T 2L4, Canada
- Fairmont Bagels – This is a personal recommendation from my bike tour guide Felix, who shared that Fairmont Bagels is a superb alternative to the previous 2 bagel shops I mentioned if they are too full. They serve a variety of flavored bagels and cream cheese, and it’s open 24 hours! – Address: 74 Av. Fairmount O, Montréal, QC H2T 2M2, Canada
- Le Central – This is a chic and bustling food hall located on St. Catherin Street, with a variety of food options, all worth a try. Choose from local poutine food stalls, or dine at one of the city’s multicultural cuisines represented inside like Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Mexican food. I recommend Cantine Emilia Portuguese and trying their chicken burger. Be warned, their portions are huge! – Address: 30 Saint-Catherine St W, Montreal, Quebec H2X 0C8, Canada
- Candide – Bringing a fusion of French and Canadian delicacies is Candide. It’s definitely a nicer restaurant to go to especially if you’re celebrating a birthday. Enjoy their extensive wine list and picture-perfect dishes. – Address: 551 Rue Saint-Martin, Montréal, QC H3J 2L6, Canada
- Montréal Plaza – is a chef-run restaurant with innovative dishes that are worth a try. The setting is spectacular and serves mainly French-inspired dishes. – Address: 6230 Rue St-Hubert, Montréal, QC H2S 2M2, Canada
- Gia Vin & Grill – Craving some Italian? Don’t hesitate to go to Gia, serving grilled delicacies owned by a group of restauranteurs with a few other local favorite restaurants. – Address: 1025 Rue Lenoir, Montréal, QC H4C 2Z6, Canada
- La Banquise – I cannot leave y’all without a poutine recommendation, and though the city is full of great poutine places, one of the most popular ones worth mentioning is La Baquise. Serving poutine in a variety of different ways. Plus its open 24 hours a day! – Address: 994 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2J3, Canada
- Ken CoBa – Another recommendation from my bike tour guide, Fenix, for great ice cream, sorbet, and soft serve dessert spot to check out in Montréal. Try their wide variety of creative ice cream flavors, or get yourself one of their freshly baked goodies, never disappointing locals and visitors alike. – Address: 60 Av. Fairmount O, Montréal, QC H2T 2M2, Canada
💡Pro tip: A lot of the city’s great restaurants, especially newer ones with interesting concepts are located in the St. Henri borough, a 20-minute metro ride from Old Montréal.
The best cafe’s in Montreal
- Crew Collective & Cafe – One of the most beautiful coffee shops I’ve been inside was at Crew Collective & Cafe. Previously a bank but honestly I got cathedral vibes in here, this coffee shop has high vaulted ceilings, beautiful lighting, and ambiance. I wanted to spend a few more hours there, but I had a bike tour to get to. They serve seriously delicious lattes and pistachio croissants. To die for. Just like the interiors of this place. – Address: 360 Rue Saint-Jacques, Montréal, QC H2Y 1P5, Canada
- Saint-Henri – Some of the best coffee roasters in the city, in a chic, minimalist environment with warm hospitality. Can’t go wrong! – Address for Notre-Dame location: 3632 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec H4C 1P5, Canada
- Dispatch Coffee – With a few locations scattered around the city, Dispatch Coffee serves locally roasted beans, and is always cutting edge with their coffee menu. Check it out for yourself! You can even buy a bag of coffee to take back with you. – Address for Saint-Laurent Boulevard location: 4021 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, Quebec H2W 1Y4, Canada
- Café SAT – A stunning cafe to step inside, and enjoy your almond milk latte. They feature different roasters every month, as well as a few other items on their list made with ingredients they personally harvest on their rooftop garden. Check them out at the beautiful Quartier des Spectacles. – Address: 6 Pl. du Marché, Montréal, QC H2X 2S6, Canada
- Café Shaughnessy – Serving divine coffee and equally delicious home-baked goods is Café Shaughnessy. Enjoy a slow start to your day sipping on their specialty direct trade coffee. – Address: 1455 Rue Lambert-Closse, Montreal, Quebec H3H 1Z5, Canada
- Café Olimpico – With multiple locations around the city, including Old Montréal, check out Cafe Olimpico serving authentic Italian-style coffees, inside an Italian-style cafeteria. The staff inside the Old Montréal location is super warm and hospitable, and the setting is truly beautiful surrounded by old European-inspired buildings and cobblestone. – Address: 419 R. Saint-Vincent, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 3A6, Canada
What is the difference between Old Montreal and downtown Montreal?
Old Montréal showcases the French/European influence dating back to 1535 when the first Europeans came to the city, known before as Ville-Marie.
The romantic streets with cobblestone transport anyone back to any European city, and enamoring more than one with its charm, sitting right beside the picturesque St. Lawrence River and the Old Port.
Downtown Montréal is more modern, boasting the typical city life, fast-paced, public transportation stops, continuous construction, and all of that.
Yet, I can’t help but feel like downtown Montréal isn’t like most North American cities.
Maybe I’m biased, or a Europhile, but the French streets, stop signs, Paris-inspired Metro entrances, and influence is definitely noted throughout downtown, and immediately don’t make it seem like any North American city.
In addition, even though downtown is like any other downtown, you’ll still find open-air art galleries, an abundance of cafes and terraces, open park spaces with sculptures, and people actually sitting down, enjoying a good book or lunch.
Life is fast-paced just like in any other city, but Montréalers just know how to make time to relax, use the city’s open spaces, sit around and talk with each other over a coffee on a random Wednesday.
It’s not as go, go, go as Chicago for instance, where I went to school.
I think it’s the heavy European-take-it-easy influence that definitely floods onto modern downtown Montréal, and is essentially a part of every Montréaler.
They take chilling seriously.
And personally, I love to see it. Life being lived, slowly yet efficiently.
How much is the train from Montréal to Québec?
Typically, a round trip will cost anywhere from $60-$80 CAD per one way, so around $170 CAD plus or minus.
Depending on how much time you have overall in Canada, and how much time you’d like to spend in each city (both worth a few days to fully explore) then taking the train might be your best option.
Personally, I have been to Québec City and spent around 3 days exploring, which I think was a good amount of time. I got to explore the Old Town, visit the museums, and go out to Montmorency Falls for a day trip.
Afterward, I took a train to Montréal, and spend around 3 additional days exploring, and doing the free walking tour, a couple of museums, and the ghost tour.
On my most recent trip, I took a day trip to Québec City from Montréal, and though it was great and efficient, I felt it was a bit rushed, not because of the tour or the guides themselves, but simply because I don’t think you can really explore Québec City in one day (or a couple of hours as that is what the tour allotted, really).
However, doing a day trip is a good option and opportunity to get an intro to the city, and make note of the things you want to explore when you return (if you liked it enough).
>> Read More: How To Easily Book and Take The Train From Québec City To Montréal Using Via Rail Canada
Is Montréal or Québec City Better to visit?
It might be the boring answer, but it’s the most authentic.
Both are completely worth the visit.
Having visited both cities multiple times at this point, both offer an incredible array of things to do, food to devour, and amazing history unique to their own region.
Both cities are located in the same province of Québec and have similar histories and architecture and even historical figures, however, the way things went down historically is unique.
For instance, Québec City is known to be the most French-speaking region of the country, and I definitely noticed that on my first trip.
Don’t worry though, they will speak English with you if you don’t know French – this is still in Canada.
Plus, Québec City has been growing exponentially, attracting a lot of tourism in the last few years, with its 17th-century-style buildings, and being the only walled city north of México, thus earning recognition from the UNESCO World Heritage.
Montréal doesn’t fall behind by inviting approximately 11 million tourists per year, charming people with its youthful, cool blend of North American life with a very strong European force, and incredibly fast-growing multi-cultural influence.
Most Montréalers are not only bilingual, but trilingual, learning both English and French as required by their school system, and also learning their native language.
So cool and different from many other North American cities.
As you can see, there are endless reasons to visit each city on its own and spend a few days to really get a better idea.
This is why I recommend doing at least one tour of any kind in either city, to really learn and appreciate where you’re standing.
The Wrap-Up: How To Easily Plan a Trip to Montréal for the First Time
I hope this post has helped you plan out your first trip to Montréal! Truly, I have poured everything I know into this post, and I surely hope that it can serve as inspiration and guidance for your Canadian travels, especially in the Québec province.
Have you been to Montréal before?
Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share your own tips for all of us to learn and be better equipped for our travels in Montréal.
To more travel like this ✨