As we’d mentioned, our Eat Well, Travel Often guides will give you a quick rundown of some of our favorite cities we’ve visited. We’ll be starting with my most recent trip to Montreal, Canada, a stone’s throw away from New York City. If you’re looking to get out of the country, Montreal is a quick 1 hour flight to and from several east coast cities (unless you experience a delay like I did, of course.) Here’s our list of must-dos in a weekend for a first time visitor– from touchdown to wheels up.
A Weekend in Montreal
Post-flight night cap 10pm
After a quick flight, stop by one of Montreal’s cocktail bars before bed. For some creative cocktails, we like:
Le Mal Nécessaire
1106 B Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2Z 1J5 (Chinatown)
Parc du Mont Royal 10 am
Start the weekend with a trek up Montreal’s city park. You’ll find a mountain in the center of the park, the top of which boasts a gorgeous view of the city. Tip: to get to the lookout point, you’ll want to follow signs to Chalet du Mont-Royal.
Lunch at Schwartz’s 1pm
The must-stop deli in town, and with good reason. The line out the door looks intimidating, but it moves fairly quickly. We only had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The Smoked Meat is their specialty, so you should probably have it if you come by. And if this is your first trip to Canada, you might want to order a side of poutine too. Cash only.
3895 Boul St-Laurent, Montréal, QC H2W 1X9
Stroll through a picturesque part of town 2pm
After a hearty sandwich, take a walk from the Plateu neighborhood – bustling with bars and unique shops – to Mile End, where you’ll find some of Montreal’s picture perfect Victorian homes. The most photographed homes are the three off tree-lined Square Saint-Louis, which you’ll find on plenty of postcards, but the area is bursting with gorgeous buildings.
Do some underground shopping 3pm
If you have a few Canadian brands you shop at often, so if you’re in Montreal, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try to hunt down some stores (it’s about 25% cheaper in Canada thanks to the exchange rate!) . In Downtown Montreal, you’ll find plenty of shops (of the local and international variety) plus a network of underground tunnels that connect most of the buildings. This is great in the winter when temperatures can be freezing – if you manage to figure out how the tunnels work, of course.
Wine and dine 7pm
After a long day of exploring, enjoy a delightful dinner at one of Montreal’s local spots. We liked Barroco in Old Montreal – a darling, quaint spot in a charming neighborhood. Reservations can be made online or by calling the restaurant directly.
312 Rue Saint-Paul O, Montréal, QC H2Y 2A3
Let’s do brunch 10am
After a day of sightseeing, it’s not a bad idea to start the day with a solid brunch. There is no shortage of inviting restaurants to try – especially in the Old Montreal area. Pop into Le Cartet, which houses a boutique of specialty foods and snacks and serves up a mean brunch menu. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the blueberry bread is definitely worth trying. Oh, and a warning for picky eaters: menu items cannot be modified.
106 Rue McGill, Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5, Canada
Wander the streets of Old Montreal 12 pm
Picturesque Old Montreal is just brimming with charm. From small mom and pop shops to pricey furniture stores, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal 1pm
Right in the heart of Old Montreal sits the gorgeous Notre Dame Basilica. Built in 1829, perhaps you’ve heard of this church before because Celine Dion said her I Dos here in 1994. Celine fan or not, there’s no denying that the Gothic Revival architecture is stunning. Entrance to the church will cost you 5 CAD, cash only. Opening hours vary by day, but plan on arriving by 3pm since visiting hours end generally around 4pm.
110 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal, QC H2Y 1T2
Stop for a cup of coffee 2pm
You won’t be at a shortage for quaint eateries in Old Montreal, but we loved the coffee at Tommy’s. Plus – the indoor greenery is gorgeous! Great spot to pop into after Notre dame Basilica – it’s located only a couple blocks away. Tip: Try and snag the couch + coffee table area upstairs for the full laid back experience.
British Empire Building, 200 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal, QC H2Y 1T3
We visited Montreal in October, so unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative as we’d hoped! Here are a couple of spots we never made it to, but would visit on another trip.
Montreal Botanical Garden
Different areas of the Garden have different rates, but visit their website to get an idea of which areas you’d like to see.
4101 Rue Sherbrooke E, Montréal, QC H1X 2B2, Canada
Built in the 1970s for the olympics, the building now houses a replica of four ecosystems existing in the Americas – a tropical rainforest replica of a South American rainforest, a Laurentian forest replica of the North American wilderness, the Saint Lawrence Marine eco system modeled after the Gulf of St. Lawrnence, and a polar area, split into the Arctic and Antarctic. Okay, since this is an indoor exhibit, we feasibly could have made this given the weather, but we ran out of time.
4777 Avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal, QC H1V 1B3
Arrival and Departure
While we love using uber when we travel, Ubers are currently not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. If you don’t have pre-planned travel arrangements, you’ll have to take a taxi into the city, which will cost you about 40 CAD.
You can, however, take an uber to the airport. We took an uberX and this ran us about 30 CAD.
Out and About
Montreal is a pretty walkable city, with easy public transportation options, but considering the city size (and that there were four of us traveling), taking ubers around town seemed to make the most sense when you factor in cost and convenience. Our ubers cost about 10 CAD on average to get around.
Hotel St. Paul
Located on the edge of Old Montreal, this Design Hotel (and new member to the Starwood Design Hotel portfolio) is a great property to stay at if you tend to frequent Old Montreal. See our review of this hotel here. Rates run $130-$250 USD.
355 Rue McGill, Montréal, QC H2Y 2E8
If you need to be in the downtown area, this will be a much better property for proximity to convenient shops and food options. Plus, it’s a quick 2 blocks away from the Station Peel Metro stop. Rates run from $350-$450 USD.
1228 Sherbrooke West, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1H6, Canada