Montreal is one of our favorite cities. We love cities and we like to explore food, culture and local areas when we visit a city. Some cities are close to our heart and Montreal is one of them. We make a trip up there once a year. We love the French appeal and it just reminds us of Europe. The city is charming and has something to offer for each and every age group.
How to travel to Montreal ?
You can choose to fly to Montreal airport that is 40 minutes away from the city. If you live in NY or NJ you can choose to drive that is about 6.5 – 7 hours. The border takes 20-40 minutes depending on how busy they are. If you live in Boston then it is around 6 hour drive.
Accommodation in Montreal
If you are looking for an affordable accommodation, you can book a hotel close to the airport. We have stayed close to the airport several times when we were driving to Quebec City.
Stay close to the Old Montreal as you will be visiting the area more often. We have stayed at Hyatt Place , W, Sheraton, Marriott and Novotel in past. You can also stay close to the Sainte-Catherine Street that is close to shopping area and is in the center. If you want to stay close to cafes and restaurants then stay in Mile End neighborhood. You can book hotel or airbnb based on your preference.
What is the best time to visit?
Montreal is a city that can be visited throughout the year. Summers have lots of activities and fall is absolutely amazing.
Things to see (Attractions)
Old Montreal -Vieux-Montréal
It is a very charming old Montreal area that has lot of European feel as the streets are filled with cobblestones. You will see cute cafes and restaurant and some of the streets are blocked for pedestrians. There are plenty of bars and clubs that are happening at the night time. You are also very close to the water and the famous square that is named Place Jacques – Cartier. There are many restaurant and souvenir shops and during summer time you will see street performance. Plan to spend 4-5 hours walking around the old town area. Stop by a cafe for coffee, have breakfast or dinner in this part of the city. If you want to people watch stroll around the streets.
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal)
This Basilica will remind you of the Notre Dame basilica from Paris. The outer architecture resembles the one from Paris but the intricate details are different. You can visit the basilica Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m with the free guided tour included. It is open on the weekends for shorter time. Entry to the basilica costs CA$14 (around $11 ) for adults and CA$9 (around $7) for children ages 6 to 16.
Parc du Mont Royal
If you want to see beautiful views of the entire city then it’s worth visiting Mont Royal. You can hike up the mountain and can picnic there. It is an uphill hike and has about 761 stairs. It takes about an hour to climb up. There are few walking trails and you can choose to bike, hike or drive to see the lookout point. There are parking facilities available near the Chalet du Mont-Royal but if you visit during busy time of the year plan to go earlier. The panoramic views of the city makes it worth visiting. You do not have to pay for entry ticket and it is free of charge to visit.
It is a market where you can buy local produce, meats and cheeses. It is an open air market and you will find many locals shopping at this market. You can visit the market free of charge and it is open Monday through Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mile End is neighborhood in Montreal that is known for its restaurant row. It is one of the trendiest neighborhoods and you will be seeing the streets here bustling with crowds. There are some amazing cafes in the area, best bakeries, must try bagel shops, ice cream shops and lots of restaurants. Admire the graffiti while you walk in this neighborhood, enjoy coffee and stay here till night to checkout the music venues.
Sainte – Catherine Street
Sainte Catherine Street is one of the most famous street’s of Montreal. The street goes from North East to South West. There are plenty of stores on this street and you will find all the brands here. They also opened a Time out Market on this street that is worth checking out.
Since Montreal gets extremely cold during winter time they have an underground city. If you happen to visit during cold months, underground city is a fun way to spend your day. Checkout local stores for clothing, accesories and shoes etc. You can also find groceries, restaurants and fast food options.
Old Port Montreal
- a. La Grande Roue De Montreal which is similar to London eye offers panoramic views of the entire city. This is new in the city as we haven’t seen this before 2023. It is open 365 days from 10 am to 11 pm. The tickets cost $30.47 CA per adult and $22.50 CA per senior and $23 CA for children.
- b. There is Tyrolienne MTL Zipline that you can enjoy during summer time. It is biggest urban zipline in Canada.
- c. Voiles en Voiles is a family adventure park that offer aerial obstacles and other outdoor activities
- d. Pedal Boats Rental – You can pedal on the waves of Bonsecours basin for $29 CA
- e. Quadricycles – you can rent quadricycles for $45CA and enjoy your way around the Old Port Montreal
9. Other things that we have not done but are worth visiting
- Montreal Botanical garden
- Montreal Museum of Fine arts
- Parc La Fontine
Where can you eat in Montreal?
- Bloom Sushi – After visiting this restaurant several times we are huge fan of this restaurant. This was probably the best vegan sushi we have ever eaten. The flavors are outstanding and entire restaurant is vegan. They had 2-3 jain options available when we asked. The service is excellent and definitely worth visiting – Must visit
- Yoni Falafel – If you are looking for something different to try in Montreal visit this falafel place. The flavors of falafels were so good and they made them fresh. We did not think we were going to love their vegetarian sabich but it was extremely delicious.
- Bevo Italian restaurant- we went to this place 7-8 years ago and the food was extremely delicious. We loved the pasta and it is located in old town area.
- Gandhi- We have been visiting this restaurant since we first visited Montreal. The food and service is amazing and they were able to accommodate Jain options for us.
- Punjab Canteen – This place was recommended by several people. We tried the food and they had few jain options. Overall we thought the food was great. The kulcha was good and the paneer was good. Somethings tasted ok but we would like to re-visit and try more things next time.
- Foodine Restaurant – This is pure veg restaurant that serves Gujarati food along with chaat and Punjabi food. When we called they said they did not have jain options but we have heard that the food tastes really good.
- St Viateur Bagel shop – These bagels are different from NY Bagels, they are thin and a little sweet. You need to buy Philadelphia cream cheese on the side to dip the bagels in it. These are made fresh and they taste extremely delicious. Must visit place
- Boulangerie Le Toledo – This bakery or shop had the most amazing Croissant and Baguette. We bought their pastries and they all tasted so good. Try their fresh baguette with whipped butter and trust me you are going to savor every bite. Must visit place
- Cafe Olympic – If you are a coffee fan then this place had most amazing coffee. My husband who loves coffee so much was in love with this place and he makes a point to visit this place several times every time we visit Montreal.
- Point G Patisserie – Macaroons were delicious and worth trying also an amazing souvenir to bring back home
Day/Weekend trip from Montreal
1. Quebec City
Quebec City is a beautiful city that is worth visiting. Either you can do a day trip to Quebec City or plan to spend few days there. It is about 3 hours drive from Montreal and usually you end up meeting traffic on your way there so plan accordingly.
Quebec City is a quant city that will transform you back to Europe. We have visited this city several time and love how charming it looks. You walk around the Old Quebec area and admire the views from every angle .
It is best to stay close to the Old Quebec or Old Port. You can book hotels close in the area.
When we visited for the 2nd time we did not find cheap hotels so we booked Entourage – Sur-le-lac that is a beautiful resort 20 minutes way from the city. There is plenty of things to do in the resort and it is perfect for all seasons.
Things to see
- Old Quebec – It is full of pretty streets and local shops. Best way to explore is walking and you can easily spend 3-4 hours walking around and admiring the European feel.
- Château Frontenac- It is the most iconic hotel in Quebec City
- Dufferin Terrace – Checkout this terrace for the most beautiful view of the city, St. Lawrence River and Château Frontenac.
- Old Port – It is a starting point of boat tour and it is the bottom of the city. The streets are charming and worth checking out.
Food / Drinks
We tried few restaurants but we were not to happy with the vegetarian food options in the city.
2. Mont Tremblant
Quebec has so much resemblance to Europe especially Switzerland and this last weekend we discovered Mont-Tremblant. This beautiful city is located in Laurentian mountains of Quebec that is 1.5 hours away from Montreal. Mont Tremblant is most famous for its Ski resort but summer time you will find plenty of activities such as zip lining and luge ride. There are plenty of lake side activities and you can easily spend 3-4 days here.
You can book and @airbnb at one of the lakefront villas that also has a view of the mountains. There are several hotels such as Westin and Mont Tremblant Resort
Things to do in Summer
- You can take the Gondola or Cable Car ride that takes you up the mountain where you can see gorgeous views.
- Hiking, you can choose to hike up the mountain instead of taking the cable car. It is kid friendly as we saw many kids that hiked up the mountain. There are plenty of trails to hike and the views are stunning
- You can rent out boats, kayaks or paddle boats to explore the Lac Tremblant (Lake Tremblant) and there are plenty of water activities
- Luge ride is a fun ride that comes down from the mountain to the bottom. It is 1.4 km long and it takes 7 minutes to finish the rides
- Tree top walking to see the scenic Laurentian mountains. The elevated gigantic structure is 40 meters high and offers stunning view of the forest and mountains. It is stroller and wheelchair friendly.
- The longest Zip line in Quebec is located here. It is one of the most beautiful Zip lines in the world that is 4 km long that lets you zip line from top of the mountain to the village.
- The main town area is so beautiful and when you walk around it will transform you back to Europe especially Swiss Alps area.
- Other activities such as Horseback riding, Mini Golf, Casino, Rock Climbing, Trekking and much more.
Instagrammable places in Montreal
- Old Montreal
- Notre Dame Basilica
- Mont Royal
- Streets of Mile End
Checkout other travel guides here
More info on Visit Montreal