Whether you want to take in the sweeping views from Mount Royal, wander through the Montreal Botanical Gardens, chow down on poutine in Mile End, or take a moonlit stroll through the romantic avenues of Old Port, this guide will show you to plan an epic weekend in Montreal.
If you only have 72 hours in Montreal, there’s no reason to feel rushed, as that’s the perfect amount of time to get a tempting taste of The City of Saints. Start your vacation by checking into a hotel near Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal), a charming district that looks like it was lifted from a 19th-century European postcard. The William Gray offers refined lodging right in the heart of Old Montreal, and its buzzing rooftop bar is the perfect spot to kick back with a cocktail and soak up the views of Place Jacques-Cartier.
After checking in, dig into a full lobster or a chard salad at the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Maggie Oaks, or head out for some braised piglet risotto at Le Club Chasse et Pêche, an acclaimed institution with a vintage vibe. Then sample some of the city’s famous nightlife with a visit to La Voûte, a cutting-edge nightclub in a 1920s bank vault.
Start your Saturday morning with a hearty French-style breakfast at Le Valois, a laid-back bistro serving Nutella and banana crepes, ratatouille omelettes, and ice-cold mimosas. Then lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement for a walking tour of historic Old Montreal.
Snap some photos of the Notre-Dame Basilica and Celine Dion’s wedding spot in Place d’Armes (the country’s second oldest square), take in the marvellous architecture of Saint-Paul Street, brush up on the city’s history with a trip to Pointe-à-Callière Museum, and stop for a moment of reflection at Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel, one of Montreal’s oldest churches.
Grab lunch at one of the restaurants near the circa-1847 Bonsecours Market, a historic marketplace that now houses a range of boutiques and galleries. Le Bremner is an informal restaurant serving fresh seafood and revolving dishes of the day, along with favorites like horse tartare and hot lobster sandwiches.
Walk off lunch with a journey to the Montreal Botanical Garden. The garden is one of the most beautiful in the entire world, and no visit would be complete without a stroll through the tranquil Chinese Garden and the Courtyard of the Senses, as well as a ride on the seasonal mini-train.
As Saturday night draws in, head to Old Port, a quaint neighborhood of stately buildings, eclectic bars, and funky industrial relics. Old Port has some notable attractions – check out Montréal Science Centre and the somewhat eerie Farine Five Roses sign – as well as a revolving program of entertainment, including poutine festivals, classical concerts, and dance parties.
Dinnertime in Old Port calls for some traditional French cuisine, and Restaurant Bonaparte offers classic Gallic dishes in an upscale, Napoleon-themed dining area. After relaxing over some lobster bisque, raise a glass of the good stuff at chic La Champagnerie, Montreal’s first and only champagne bar.
Sunday morning means you’re down to your last 24 hours in Montreal, so say au revoir to Vieux-Montreal with an oeuf coquette brunch at Olive et Gourmando, a rustic space with a convivial crowd. Then grab your camera and make your way up Mount Royal to Belvedere Kondiaronk, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the skyline.
From there, you can make an outdoorsy morning of it with a walk to Beaver Lake for some wildlife watching, canoeing, or kayaking, and then stop by St Joseph’s Oratory, the largest church in the country. Boasting one of the largest domes in the world, St Joseph’s is not only a remarkable feat of engineering, it’s also the site of thousands of purported miracles, and visitors can view the wall of crutches donated by healed pilgrims.
On Sunday night, trade the old-world French vibe for the hip, multi-cultural melange of Mile End, a boho district bursting with artisans and locally owned businesses. The 10-block neighborhood is just a stone’s throw from the picturesque stillness of Mount Royal, but it’s vibrant street art, trendy nightlife, and bright bars and restaurants make it seem like another planet. Dig though the crates of vinyl on Rue Bernard, check out the pop-up cultural events at Le Marche des Possibles (June to August), and shop ‘til you drop at Annex Vintage and La montréalaise atelier.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, tuck into the raw bar at the Med-inspired Estiatorio Milos, where you can enjoy some of the best oysters and sashimi in the city. Then chill out at glam Big in Japan, situated at the corner of Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Rachel, or catch an up-and-coming band at La Sala Rossa, a lively venue in a vegetarian cafe.
With so many fascinating historical sights, delectable dishes, and buzzing bars, Montreal is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Book your weekend in Montreal today!