Montreal is Magic!

Montreal is the cosmopolitan capital of Quebec but is better known as the ‘Paris of Canada’. It’s a city that has a European feel and youthful edge but maintains an old-world charm. From stunning 18th-century architecture to lively year-round festivals, Montreal knows how to live.

visit Montreal, Quebec

Don’t be dome, you’ll love Montreal!

As Canada’s second-largest city (Vancouver is a close third), and the country’s cultural capital, Montreal is home to over 50% of Quebec’s population. The city underwent a ‘Quiet Revolution’ in the 1960’s, and a set of political, religious, and social issues brought about lasting change. Gradually, Montreal modernised itself and became an international hotspot and a sought-after destination. The 1967 World’s Fair helped display the city’s innovative nature as did the Montreal Olympic Games which followed just nine years later.

Today Montreal is split into 19 boroughs and is dubbed to be one of the liveliest cities in North America. Between the endless festivals that celebrate local Canadian art and culture and the vibrant culinary scene that blends food from around the world in innovative ways, Montreal manages to maintain its historic charm.

As for what time of year to visit, Montreal packs a punch all-year round. Spring, summer, and autumn are all great for hiking and outdoor festivals, but winter brings with it a different kind of joy. As the snow begins to fall over Montreal, log fires start to roar and skiers take to the nearby mountains for a day of adventure.

Here’s a Pro Tip: The currency used is the Canadian Dollar. Currently the exchange rate is 1.7 C$ for each GB£.

what to do in Montreal - Mount Royal

Enjoying Mont-Royal gardens is a walk in the park!

Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport sits 20km (12miles) from downtown Montreal and is the city’s primary airport. Transferring from the airport to downtown is easy as travellers have two options to choose from; bus or taxi.

Those travelling on a budget should hop abroad the 747 line using an STM pass. Passes cost roughly £5 and last 24 hours, so you can continue to use the STM system (which includes the metro) once in the city. The STM passes are also available as a weekend pass, a three-day pass, and a week pass. The bus journey takes between 45 – 70 minutes and terminates at either Berri-UQAM in downtown or the Lionel-Groulx metro stop.

If you’re in a hurry, opt for a taxi directly from the airport to your accommodation. The journey takes approximately 25-minutes and costs around £25 one-way.

Here’s Another Pro Tip:  Though officially French, most locals speak both French and English which makes Montreal a bilingual city! I recommended learning a few basic French phrases to be polite.

What to see in Montreal - Notre_Dame

Notre-Dame Basilica: Our Lady is a work of art!

Zoo’s, parks, and markets… oh my! Here are my absolute must-see attractions in Montreal:

Mont-Royal – Montreal’s namesake is a small but impressive mountain that offers incredible views over the city and surrounding landscape. There are over 692 acres of park to explore, including forested trails and cross-country ski runs. 

  • Old Montreal – Vieux-Montreal is the heart and soul of the city and a melting pot of cultures. Horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, and 18th-century buildings line the district and transport you back to the Age or Reason. Don’t miss the Gothic Revival church Notre Dame Basilica.
  • Jean-Talon Market – This colourful open-air market dates back to 1933 and hosts over 300 local vendors. The market takes place at 7am daily in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Note that it’s worth visiting to enjoy the hubbub of sellers, even if you’ve no desire to buy.
  • Montreal Biodome – Go wild at Montreal’s indoor zoo and aquarium! This incredible indoor space is home to over 200 species of animals and over 500 different plants. Don’t miss the collection of penguins native to Canada.
  • Bell Centre – Montreal’s multi-purpose arena is the home of the Canadians, the city’s renowned hockey team. Because they predated the NHL, they are known locally as the ‘Habitants’. So, now you know why you’ll hear  ‘Go Habs!’ in the arena.
  • Mile End – This trendy neighbourhood is home to boutique stores, quirky cafes, and local art galleries. It’s an excellent place for thrift shopping or picking up a souvenir!

From seasonal small plates to traditional Quebec cuisine, here are my favourite places to dine in Montreal:

  • Helicoptere – This fine-dining restaurant offers innovative dishes at an affordable price. Enjoy Small plates and seasonal food made with love.
  • Moccione – This is my favourite Italian restaurant in the city. With a strong focus on handmade pasta, simple dishes are made using fresh ingredients. Try the squash and mascarpone stuffed Tortelli!
  • Chez Tousignant – For traditional Quebec cuisine, head to Chez Tousignant. I’m talking Poutine, cheese curds, and homemade hot dogs. Enjoy comfort-food indulgence!
what to eat in quebec

What do you put on your poutine?!

When the sun sets on Mont-Royal, it’s time to put on your dancing shoes and soak up Montreal’s nightlife. Here are my three favourite bars in the city:

 

  • Nhau Bar – This hidden cocktail bar sits in Montreal’s Business district and is frequented by locals after work and tourists who’ve been tipped off about its location. The bar specialises in Southeast Asian-inspired cocktails.
  • Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu – This Italian cafe serves a long list of bitter Italian drinks, including Negroni’s and Aperol Spritz, until 10pm. It’s a great place to kick start your evening and enjoy Mediterranean snacks as you drink.
  • Corona Theatre – The Corona Theatre is Montreal’s premier concert venue and a spectacular vintage theatre. Live music and shows are held throughout the year. Note: It has nothing to do with the Corona Virus!

Contemporary, boutique, and historic accommodation – you name it, and Montreal has it! Check out my top three Montreal hotels below:

  • Hotel Le Crystal – This contemporary hotel sits in downtown Montreal, just a short walk from some of the city’s best shopping and museums. The hotel boasts an array of comforting amenities, including an onsite restaurant, pool, gym, and spa.
  • Hotel Gault – If you enjoy stylish boutiques, check out Hotel Gault. This affordable hotel is housed in an elegant building that dates back to the 19th century and boasts just 30 rooms.
Where to stay in Old Montreal

Party like it’s 1799!

  • Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth – After undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment, Montreal’s most established hotel is back! Rooms at The Queen Elizabeth are bold and elegant, yet comfortable and inviting. Make use of the onsite restaurant, spa, and wellness centre.

It’s no surprise that Montreal is one of the most visited cities in Canada. Sports fans, foodies, and shopaholics will delight at the variety of things to see and do in Montreal!

 

Love,

 

Isabella

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Isabella’s Checklist

What to See: Mont-Royal, Old Montreal, Jean-Talon Market.

Where to Stay:  Hotel Le Crystal, Hotel Gault, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. (https://www.hotellecrystal.com,

https://hotelgault.comhttps://www.fairmont.com)

Where to Eat: HelicoptereMoccione, Chez Tousignant (https://helicopteremtl.com

https://moccione.comhttps://cheztousignant.com)

Where to Party: Nhau Bar, Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu, Corona Theatre. (https://restaurantha.com,

https://www.caffeunpodipiu.com,

https://www.theatrecorona.ca/en/)

Where to Shop: Ste-Catherine Street is home to over 1,200 shops ranging from designer boutiques to iconic local stores.

Keep it Real in Montreal!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to See: Mont-Royal, Old Montreal, Jean-Talon Market.

Where to Stay:  Hotel Le Crystal, Hotel Gault, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. (https://www.hotellecrystal.com,

https://hotelgault.comhttps://www.fairmont.com)

Where to Eat: HelicoptereMoccione, Chez Tousignant (https://helicopteremtl.com

https://moccione.comhttps://cheztousignant.com)

Where to Party: Nhau Bar, Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu, Corona Theatre. (https://restaurantha.com,

https://www.caffeunpodipiu.com,

https://www.theatrecorona.ca/en/)

Where to Shop: Ste-Catherine Street is home to over 1,200 shops ranging from designer boutiques to iconic local stores.

Keep it Real in Montreal!

4 Comments to “Montreal is Magic!”

  1. It’s a city I really want to see for the street art. But I’m also intrigued by the European feel, as in Quebec. Think I’d enjoy it there.

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    John at 11:37 am
    1. Thank you for your comment, John! There are many amazing street art tours in Montreal, I am sure you will love it 🙂

      Love,
      Isabella and Katie

      0
      Katie L at 6:37 am
  2. If there’s one city I really want to visit in Canada, that’s Montreal! Thanks for the detailed guide!

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    Travel for a while at 11:54 am
    1. You are very welcome! I hope it is helpful for you when planning your trip 🙂

      Love,
      Isabella and Katie

      0
      Katie L at 6:38 am

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