Weekend Edition: Montreal, Canada
Montreal is Canada's second largest city and is located in the Quebec province. Rich in history with a blend of European influence, Montreal delights locals and visitors alike. Visit for the food, vibrant culture, French influence and proximity to the US.
Our guide for all your transportation needs
Montreal has European charm without the long-haul flight. Once in the city, Montreal is easily accessible by metro, Uber, bike or foot. Everyone we met spoke English and getting around was never a problem.
Tip: If coming from the airport, be aware Ubers are banned from picking up passengers. Taxis can run expensive, so we did some research while we were there to get around the Uber laws. Drop a pin just outside of the airport and call the Uber once you request them. Or if you don't have cell service, follow signs to hotel shuttles and take the first one you find. Once at the hotel, you can order your Uber, usually off of free hotel wifi.
24 hours in Montreal
Begin at metro: Mont-Royal
Bagels at St. Viateur
We began our Montreal adventures with a stop at the famous St. Viateur Bagel shop. St. Viateur is a cozy, eclectic eatery where you experience the ambiance and art of baking bagels. Be sure to grab a table and try one of these well-known delights.
Tip: Bring cash as they only accept Canadian debit cards
La Fontaine Park
After your snack, head east to La Fontaine Park. La Fontaine Park is the largest park in the Plateau neighborhood (84 acres). Spend as much time as you like here; however, you are eventually making your way to the crown jewel of parks: Mont-Royal.
The walk to the park takes you through Plateau, the Greenwich Village of Montreal (this neighborhood has the highest concentration of young adults). As you ramble, imagine how locals live as they stroll towards their multi-story brown stones adorned with ivy and greenery.
Lunch at Schwart'z Deli
Head south towards Mont-Royal. Just before the park, make a pit stop at the famous Jewish owned deli: Schwartz's. Schwartz’s opened in 1928 and is one of the oldest delis in Canada. Stop by for their revered smoked meats.
Tip: Skip the long line for the dining room by entering the door marked “Take Out” and get your food to go. Also – bring cash as they mark up credit card charges by 20%.
Mount Royal Park (Mont Royal in French) for a bird's eye view of Montreal
The city of Montreal is best seen from above. Mont-Royal has three peaks, full breathtaking views, with the highest ascending over 750 feet. From above, you can spot downtown, the port and many historic buildings (even the biosphere built for the 1967 World’s Fair). Some guidebooks argue this small mountain was once a volcano but one thing is certain: Mont-Royal is rich with history; early settlers used this hill to escape from winter flooding as early as the 16th century.
The maze of this park is still unknown to us, even after spending two hours here. Our only recommendation is to follow the crowds, as most people are attempting to climb to the Chalet (view from picture below). However if you are looking for an adventure, there are hundreds of unpaved paths that will eventually lead you to your destination: bird’s eye view of Montreal. While the park is huge, the walk isn’t too strenuous – Mont-Royal paths would be considered an easy walk/hike.
Tip: Check out the views from the Chalet and stop to use the bathroom if needed. Also – if inclined walks aren’t your thing, some of the views are accessible by car.
Old Port / Old Montreal
A trip to Montreal isn’t complete without a visit to Old Port and Old Montreal. Known as the cultural “must-see” hub, the European styled neighborhood is filled with history and fun.
Your first stop should be the Old Port. While the main attractions of the old port are cartoonishly touristic, the views from the docks are fabulous. Be sure to climb the stairs for a spectacular view of Old Montreal and the St-Lawrence river.
Stroll along the streets, popping your head into interesting stores or museums. As the day is ending, there won’t be enough time to see everything but I would suggest heading towards the dramatic, gothic style Notre-Dame Basilica. A quick google search will tell you it's one of the most unique cathedrals in the world - even the glassed stain windows depict scenes from Montreal's rich history, unlike typical biblical impressions.
If you are feeling thirsty check out Pub Brewsky, a recently opened pub with a rotating local draft list. While we were here, we tried a butterscotch infused beer as well as a smoked beer. The service was impeccable and the staff friendly.
Tip: BACON JERKY DRIZZLED WITH MAPLE SYRUP at Pub Brewsky
After you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time for dinner! And while it’s virtually impossible to recommend just one restaurant (ask anyone about Montreal and they are passionate about their recommendations), we ate at the French bistro / wine bar, Accord.
Accord Restaurant / Wine Bar
Accord is a restaurant meant to be shared with someone special. From their cozy décor to the wine lined walls, you can't help but fall in love with the ambiance. What’s especially delightful about Accord is their menu. There is the option to chose from the a la carte menu or the carte blanch 4-course chef’s menu. The carte blanche option was around $45 for a 4-course meal (blind menu prepared by the chef). For a total of $75, you can add on 4 wine pairings. Reviews proudly boast about the knowledge and friendliness of Accord's sommelier, so the extra $30 should be well spent. The only down side to the carte blanche menu is the entire table must agree to it. If one person choses the a la carte menu, so must everyone else.
While the carte blanche meal looked spectacular and peaked our interest, the a la carte menu looked too good to pass up. Because the menu changes weekly, it's hard to pinpoint their go-to dish but we left Accord with a new outlook on seafood. With that being said, their menu is heavy in seafood but they do have a few red meat options as well.
While we didn't have time to enjoy a hockey, you can't go wrong attending a Habs game in the Bel Centre. Locals enjoy the bars near the Bel Centre before and during games.