Like most big cities, Montréal is filled with endless things to do. This short list includes the essentials. If you find yourself completing the list and left with more time to explore, then eat your way through the city, do some shopping, check out a museum, and visit one of the famous farmer’s markets. But first, these:
1. Old Montréal
This most charming area of Montréal is a definite must-see. The European vibe of picturesque cobblestone streets and old world architecture will make you forget you’re in North America. All of Old Montréal is walkable and you could easily spend the whole day there. Some main things in the area include:
With a small admission fee, the church is open to the public but be sure to check the dates and times.
Lined with hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes, this is the oldest street in the city.
This historic square is busy with restaurants, street performers, portrait painters, and loads of tourists.
2. Parc du Mont-Royal
With a large hill in the middle (not so much a “mountain”), this park is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Atop the hill you’ll find a lookout point with gorgeous views of downtown Montréal. Getting to the lookout can be tricky since the park is quite large with multiple roads for cars as well as several walking, hiking and bike paths. I won’t suggest the best way to get there but I will tell you exactly where you need to go. The main lookout point is called Belvédère Kondiaronk and it’s directly in front of a building called Chalet du Mont-Royal located at 1196 Voie Camillien-Houde. If you get there by car, there’s a parking lot close to the chalet. If you walk or hike, make sure you plan your path ahead of time otherwise you may end up getting lost in the park for hours.
3. Tour Montréal (Montréal Tower) at Parc Olympique
The stadium was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The observation tower arches over the stadium and at a 45-degree angle, it’s the tallest inclined tower in the world with great views of Downtown Montréal and the St. Lawrence River.
4. Eat Poutine
It’s hard to pinpoint “the best” poutine in Montréal. This staple dish of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy is a popular snack to have after a night of heavy drinking. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it during the day. La Banquise is a popular spot, but it doesn’t matter where you eat it, just make sure you do. Also, you’ll find a lot of fancied up versions with various toppings, but I highly recommend trying the classic poutine first.
5. Eat Smoked Meat
The battle of the Jewish deli sandwiches is between this and New York’s pastrami. Smoked meat is described as smokier and richer than pastrami and of course, preferred by locals. You’ll have to be the judge so make sure you try this when visiting Montréal. Schwartz’s is by far the most famous but be prepared to stand in line for a little while.
6. Eat Bagels
Like the smoked meat, locals insist that Montréal bagels are far better than New York’s, but ask which place is their favorite, St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmount Bagel, and you’ll get an equally divided answer. Fairmount has one location and it’s just a bagel shop, but they do sell their bagels at a variety of stores and restaurants. St-Viateur has multiple locations, some bagel shops plus a couple of cafes where you can actually sit and order food, so if that’s what you’re looking to do, go to one of their cafe locations.
7. Eat Ice Cream at Chocolat Favoris
You wont find this on other Montréal to-do lists, but I must include it here. After eating bagels, smoked meat, and poutine, make sure to save room for dessert and visit Favoris chocolate shop and creamery for their delicious ice cream dunked in one of their many flavors of chocolate dips. You can also find yummy treats to buy and bring back home.
8. Leave Montréal and go to Québec City
Montréal is a modern and multicultural city whereas Québec City offers a true old world experience. Depending on your personal preference, consider taking two days out of your trip to visit the heart of French Canada. You can get there by car, bus, or train and it’s approximately a three hour journey each way. Tips on Québec City coming soon…