When browsing online last week, I stumbled across Lonely Planet’s 2017 Best in Travel Top Countries list and none other than my Northern neighbor Canada topped the list! Having visited back in October, I felt quite inspired to write up a concise Montreal guide, based on my experience, on how to spend a long weekend in the wonderful city. Check out below for my Montreal guide including logistics, recommendations, and more!
- Country: Canada
- Montreal’s Population: 1.6 million
- Languages: French and English (fun fact: it is the second largest French speaking city in the world…after Paris of course!)
- Climate: Semi-continental; humid summers but very cold winters
- Currency: Canadian Dollar
When researching how to get there, two airlines- Porter and Air Canada- were the major two options that kept showing up. Since we were on a budget, we flew with Porter Airlines. Once you are in the city, you can use the public transportation system which we had no issues with. And there’s always Uber too. Although many speak French as their first language, the locals also speak English. As a young woman, I can testify the city felt really safe. At least with my bank (PNC) I didn’t need to put out a travel alert when using my credit card at Canadian ATMs. The US dollar is strong against the Canadian one, so never a bad thing when your money goes further.
Walk Through Old Montreal
Old Montreal, or Vieux Montreal, is one of the best places to experience the city’s history, and unique vibe. You can walk along the river or through the cobbled streets lined with cafes, gift and specialty shops, and soak up some of the culture. In Old Montreal you will find many tourist attractions (keep reading below!). Visit the splendid Montreal Town Hall after walking up the charming Saint Paul Street (Rue Saint Paul). I found this part of town particularly charming and the layout and architecture really shows its European roots with that North American twist.
Visit the Notre Dame Basilica
Built in 1672, the Notre Dame Basilica is a must-see here! Located in Old Town Montreal, this beautiful building faces the Place D’Armes square. Trust me, it is well worth the $5 entry fee (can be paid in USD or CAD) to step inside and witness the stunning and colorful interior. It really reminded me of the Catholic churches I visited in Europe as it was unsurprisingly designed by a French architect. See for yourself. Click here to find out about transportation and hours.
Hike around Mont Royal
Another great activity includes hiking up the overlook in Mont Royal. Supposedly, you could hike all the way up but the easier way is to take the bus. Ride Metro Line 2 to “Station Mont Royal” and hop on Bus 11 right outside the station to reach the overlook. This bus drops you off conveniently a short walk to your destination. We loved viewing the city from up above and it’s most definitely an Instagram-worthy spot. Furthermore, there are many paths from this point allowing you to hike higher up the mountain. Easily spotted, the paths are well marked so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. As mentioned, I visited in the fall so the foliage was a beautiful bonus.
Try the Local Food
It would be remiss for me not to mention the food here in my Montreal guide. One must try poutine, smoked meat sandwiches, and Montreal bagels! Poutine is a dish consisting of french fries topped with gravy, cheese curds, and meat (optional). I admit I found it quite delicious and filling, but maybe not something I could eat every day. Additionally, I had the opportunity to take a wonderful food tour- you can read about it here. It was a cool way to learn more about the regional dishes and sample from many different local establishments. Another place, native to Canada, is Tim Hortons, a fast food breakfast chain. The food there was perfect to grab on the go and quite good. However, because I grew up in New England, I’m not ready to contend any quick breakfast place is better than Dunkin’ Donuts.
Shop at Marche Bonsecours
Marche Bonseceurs, located along the waterfront in Old Montreal, is a great place to relax and get some shopping done! It’s an indoor market with floors of vendors ranging from higher priced clothes to maple syrup to Native American jewelry. We ended up here when it rained and enjoyed browsing the vendors’ shops and picking up some souvenirs. Grab some food in one of the cafe’s outside of the market rather than its overpriced cafe.
While not a gigantic city, Montreal offers lots for visitors/tourists to see and do! The above list is a brief guide of how we enjoyed our 3 days in the wonderful city. Unfortunately, we didn’t visit any museums as there was a strike by museum workers when we visited but there definitely are many to see. In the summer and warmer months, the city boasts many music and culture festivals as well. Between hearing French everywhere and the truly unique cultural blend it is a must-visit city! 🙂
I hope you all enjoyed my Montreal guide…I really do love travel blogging so au revoir, until the next adventure!