Montréal’s picturesque squares and old-world architecture provides a lovely escape whether you’re looking for a little romance, family fun, arts and culture, culinary adventure, or a memorable friends’ weekend away.
Part of the beauty of Montréal is that it’s a city you can visit any time of year. Stepping into Old Montréal is akin to walking the cobblestone streets of Europe. The city has preserved the old while incorporating the new, care of trendy bars and culinary delights.
Follow us as we take you through a whirlwind of a trip—mostly eating and drinking, but also finding time for a little R&R.
Eats and Treats
Wander into the splendor that is Juliette et Chocolat which, as the name suggests, is a chocolate-lover’s paradise. Not only do they offer an array of hot, cold and vintage chocolate drinks, they also serve a range of sweet and savory meals including crepes, salads and hot plates. The menu is almost overwhelming in variety and you’ll also find a large bakery window to tempt you into other delightfully sinful, homemade treats.
Take a stroll through the quaint streets, admire the shops and then stop into Olive & Gourmando, a must-visit when in Old Montréal. It’s a humble, local shop that happens to remain the hot spot of the city, no doubt due to the unpretentious vibe of the space, the friendly staff and the great food. Pop in any time for breakfast, brunch, hot paninis, cold sandwiches, daily hot plates and oversized pastries. If you like poached eggs, be sure to order the spicy Poached Egg on Your Face, or the scrumptious Oeuf Coquette.
A Cheesy Montréal Must
You cannot visit Montreal without trying Quebec’s famous poutine. What is that you ask? Perfectly golden french fries and thick, chewy cheese curds topped with a rich gravy. Everyone we’ve met in the city (on multiple visits) has recommended La Banquise. They have over 30 varieties to choose from—think bacon, peppers, ground beef, hot dogs—but if it’s your first time, stick with the classic and savor this Quebecois tradition in its original glory.
Heading a little closer to the famous waterfront, stop in at Tapas 24, the first venture outside of Spain by Barcelona’s Michelin star chef Carles Abellan. The space is inviting, modern and vibrant with bright, floor-to-ceiling windows. The menu is Catalonian-inspired and, as the name suggests, expect a variety of modern and classic tapas complemented by a solid selection of Spanish wines and classic cocktails. Try their ceviche with local micro greens, and if you’re a fan of spice and avocado, be sure to order the stuffed avocado salsa—you won’t be disappointed.
Want to enjoy panoramic views of the city from on high? Make reservations for Portus360, which brings a little bit of Portugal to Montreal. Everything we tasted was flavorful with an authentic flare to each dish. Try a food and wine pairing to really appreciate each dish and the harmony that is found in the two. You must try the Camarões, a delightfully seasoned shrimp tapas plate that you’ll wish could be your dinner. For actual dinner, try the Bacalhau à Portus, a whole salted cod confit served with olive oil, tomatoes, onions and seasonal vegetables. Watch in admiration as your server expertly slices and debones the fish before placing everything neatly on your plate.
A Taste of Libations
Montreal is well known for their nightlife, where visitors can find all manner of entertainment. If you’re looking for some sophisticated fun, a great atmosphere, live DJs and an impressive list of champagnes and bubblies, visit the Old Port’s La Champagnerie. With a laid-back vibe, bottles at various price points and a selection of small plates, guests can’t go wrong. Feeling adventurous? Try your hand at the ancient art of Sabrage—you’ll saber like a pro by the end of the night. The staff is engaging, knowledgeable and eager to please.
Located downtown, Pullman is a wine lover’s haven. With over 450 wines (50 of which can be ordered by the glass), you’ll find a worldly selection of vintages which can be paired with cheese plates, charcuteries and other share plates. The bar carries a variety of other cocktails, beers, vodka, scotch and whisky, but the focus here is really a celebration of wine. The sommeliers are extremely knowledgeable, explain all pairings and offer recommendations with ease. The atmosphere feels intimate and eclectic, with three distinct levels, exposed brick and a chandelier made of stemware. Bacchus would be proud.
One should always find time for a little pampering while on vacation. The Nordic baths and Finnish sauna that is Scandinave Spa offer quiet and peaceful bliss. Unlike its sister locations throughout Canada, Montréal’s Scandinavian pools are all indoors, but the experience still provides ultimate relaxation. Follow the hot and cold water circuit in conjunction with a eucalyptus steam room and Finnish sauna, but make sure to include quiet relaxation into your visit. With a variety of places to lay back and enjoy your zen, including spots designed to snuggle up with your loved one, the entire experience is bliss. If you’re feeling extra generous, treat yourself to a registered massage as part of your visit. To make the most of the spa, make sure to allow yourself several hours to really immerse yourself in the experience.
Lay Your Hat Down
Downtown Montréal is going through a boom period and everywhere you turn a new building is going up and roads are closed. Sleep off your busy days at Hôtel le Crystal to get away from the noise of the city. Chic, urban and pristine, the hotel features a variety of luxurious and spacious suites to choose from. Crystal also boasts a beautiful rooftop spa experience with views of the city, an indoor saltwater pool, outdoor hot tub and Swedish sauna. The staff are all very helpful and they work to give each guest a personal touch for a memorable stay.
A City to Visit Year-Round
Montréal is a city you can enjoy year-round. With a little bit of everything, Montréal en Lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. Fun for the whole family, enjoy performing arts, culinary delights, spirits, workshops, dance and art installations all night long.
In spring, wander up and down Rue Sainte-Catherine to explore unique boutiques, high-end shopping and department stores including Québec’s own luxury retailer, Simons. Formerly known as La Maison Simons, be sure to visit this family-run business whose stores emphasize the importance of quality merchandise coupled with a dedication to the arts, featuring works of exceptional local artists.
During the summer months, be sure to make your way over to the Olympic Park Grounds where you can spend an entire day. On the grounds are a Biodôme, Insectarium and a very futuristic Planetarium. The absolute highlight however, is the Montréal Botanical Gardens, an oasis and visual delight that should not to be missed.
In autumn, a romantic stroll with the one you love through Parc du Mont-Royal is a must. This large green space at the top of the mountain is where you’ll find panoramic views of the city below. Walk hand-in-hand as you take in the vibrant colors of the park’s elms, ashes and maple trees as the friendly squirrels zip in between your feet.