Unmissable Montreal Monuments and More!
Want to see all the highlights of Montreal but don’t have much time to spare? Check out my Montreal Travel Guide, including my exact itinerary for the 2 nights I spent in this incredible city.
This whistle-stop tour is fast paced, so if you have the time to spare, I would definitely add on a few extra days so you can experience the best of Montreal at a more leisurely pace!
Montreal is a city steeped in history, with a dazzling fusion of old-world charm and contemporary dynamism. It’s a city where cobblestone streets meet cutting-edge art, where the echoes of the past coexist with trendy cafes and quirky festivals.
I would describe Montreal as a blend of European flair and North American spirit, making it a truly unique travel destination you absolutely won’t want to miss!
From where to stay to the best things to do and see in Montreal, here’s my ultimate travel guide to this incredible city.
What to Expect in Montreal
Language: The multicultural fabric of Montreal brings together a multitude of languages, cultures, and cuisines, making every exploration a joy of discovery! Although French is the native language of most people in Montreal, we found that most people also speak English.
Currency: Canadian dollars. Also, remember tipping is expected here when it comes to restaurants and service!
Best time to visit Montreal: No matter the season, Montreal’s charm is ever-present, making it a fantastic destination year-round.
Climate: Montreal experiences four distinct seasons, each with its own unique charm. Summers (from June to August) are warm and lively, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C. This is the season when Montreal truly comes alive, with lots of festivals, open-air concerts, and terraces buzzing with life.
Autumn (from September to November) brings an amazing display of colours as the city’s trees change hues.Temperatures range from 5°C to 20°C, offering a cool respite after the summer heat.
Winters in Montreal (from December to February) are cold and snowy, with temperatures often dropping below -10°C. During this time, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, perfect for ice skating, snowshoeing, or even just enjoying the holiday lights.
Lastly, Spring (from March to May) is a time of rejuvenation. As temperatures hover between 5°C to 20°C, the city awakens with blossoming flowers and greening parks, signalling the return of warmer days.
Top tip: We went in June, and although it was quite sunny for the most part, we did experience several seasons in the space of one day! So definitely bring a light jacket out with you, even if you visit in the Summer months.
The Perfect Montreal Itinerary (2 Days)
Morning: For the best breakfast in Montreal, head to Mile End to check out St-Viateur Bagel Shop, which has defined the art of bagel making since 1957. It’s the longest running bagel shop in the city and their fresh out the oven bagels are to die for!
I highly recommend getting the sesame bagel with cream cheese and salmon. Do note that you actually make the bagel yourself on a little table they have inside. We then took ours with us and ate it as we walked around the quaint neighbourhood.
Mile End is part of the Plateau-Mont Royal borough which is ranked as the 5th coolest neighbourhood in the world, so well worth checking out for yourself.
Next up, head to Montreal’s Saint-Laurent Boulevard, which is only about a 5 minute drive away from Mile End. Here you can literally spend hours wondering around this hip street full of unique stores and cafes.
We happened to visit during the famous Mural Festival, which aims to make street art more accessible. It’s a public art festival that takes place alongside the Saint-Laurent Boulevard every year in June. The festival features large murals, musical shows, digital installations, and technology-centric exhibitions and is one of the most authentic things to do in Montreal.
If you get hungry while exploring, I highly recommend going to Schwartz’s Deli. This is a Montreal landmark that has welcomed countless celebrities and visitors from all over the world to try their famous pastrami-like smoked meat.
Usually the meat is sliced and served in firm rye-bread sandwiches. Pickles, coleslaw, peppers, mustard, and olives complete the package. This is a gastronomic institution for good reason – it’s absolutely delish!
Afternoon: In the afternoon check out Montreal’s stunning Botanical Garden, which is around 15 minutes away by car and one of the top highlights of Montreal.
Spanning over 190 acres, it is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, and showcases a vibrant display of flowers, lush landscapes, and meticulously designed gardens.
From the peaceful Japanese Garden to the exotic Tropical Rainforest, the Botanical Garden is literally an unmissable Montreal monument and a photographers dream!
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a plant lover, or simply seeking tranquility amidst the bustling city, the Botanical Garden is an absolute must-visit in Montreal.
Once you’re done admiring the breathtaking landscapes of the botanical garden, make your way to Centre Eaton Montreal, which is arguably the best mall in Montreal, located on the iconic Sainte-Catherine Street. Top tip: Check out the chocolatiers here, they usually give away free samples each day!
Evening: For dinner, head to floor 2 of Centre Eaton Mall to Time Out Market, which serves everything from Japanese to Canadian classics in a hip food hall. With sixteen eateries and three bars, all showcasing the best food, drinks and the best desserts Montreal has to offer, this is an unmissable spot for your itinerary.
When the sun goes down, why not end the day at Bon Délire, which is a funky new city bar that’s got 90s vibes, a leopard print pool table and free popcorn!
This has got to be one of the most Instagram worthy bars in Montreal (and an epic Montreal date idea for any lovebirds)🍸
Morning: For breakfast taste the viral Lafayette Supreme Croissant! This is a delicious circular croissant made famous by NYC’s Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery, which is now available at La Cave à Manger.
Imagine layers of croissant dough piped with a daily rotation of divine flavoured cream – the hype is seriously worth it!
Next up, make your way to the Old Port and keep your eyes peeled for a big red molecule sculpture, which is part of the Montreal Science Centre and an unmissable Montreal monument.
Here you’ll experience a world beyond your imagination, where curiosity meets discovery. From witnessing the wonders of the universe in the Planetarium and testing the laws of physics in interactive exhibits, to plunging into the depths of the ocean with immersive IMAX films, there’s so many incredible things to do that you can easily spend hours here. In my opinion it’s probably the most fascinating way to spend the morning in Montreal.
Afternoon: For lunch head to the Happy Cat Cafe (open from 11am Tuesday – Sunday), which is less than 10 minutes away from the museum, by car.
The kitties here are all super friendly and the cap-puccino’s ☕ and food is as fab as the furry creatures themselves!
This is truly an unmissable lunch spot in Montreal. Cuteness factor = 10/10 🐱
After being on the go for half the day, why not treat yourself and spend the rest of the afternoon chilling at the best spa in Montreal, Guerlain Spa at Four Seasons. This is easily one of the city’s best kept secrets and an epic date idea in Montreal.
Guerlain Spa has recently been named as one of the best spas in the world and once you arrive you’ll see why – the entire experience is as luxurious as it gets. I felt like I was back at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai!
The Power of Montreal massage was one of the best treatments I’ve ever had and the massage bed was HEATED! The swanky indoor sky-lit pool even had an upstream current – how fancy!
Evening: After freshening up from your pampering sesh, I highly recommend making your way to Au Pied de Cochon which is located in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal. This acclaimed restaurant offers hearty Québécois fare served in a lively space that captures the essence of the region’s traditional cuisine.
Au Pied de Cochon is for sure one of the best foodie experiences in Montreal. Top tips: This restaurant is extremely popular so book online in advance, ideally at least a week before you arrive in Montreal – trust me you don’t want to miss this! It’s also closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Finish your evening at one of Montreal’s awesome rooftop bars. After reading lots of amazing reviews, we headed to Kampai Garden, which is Montreal’s very first chic beer garden.
From the neon-lit wall art to endless flora this gorgeous place has a really on-trend atmosphere. The cocktails are also super creative and as delightful as the decor!
Other Awesome Montreal Activities
Depending on your travel style and preferences you might want to do some of these Montreal activities instead of the ones I mentioned above:
- Step into Van Goh’s paintings at the Palais des Congrès in downtown. Van Gogh – Distortion is an exhibition that lasts 75 minutes, taking you on an interactive journey through hundreds of paintings that offer a contemporary reimagining of his work. This is by far the best art museum in Montreal.
- Hang out in a tropical rainforest at Montreal Biodome. Originally built for the judo and cycling events of the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Montreal Biodome is now an indoor zoo and aquarium, which has recreations of ecosystems found in North America and Sub-Antarctic Islands.
- Dive into one of the best pools in Montreal! I highly recommend Parc Jean-Drapeau, as this is actually one of the top outdoor aquatic complexes in all of Canada.
- Have the night of your life at Cabaret Mado, which is the top drag cabaret destination from Mado Lamotte, the Village’s queen diva! Any given night is a vibrant no-filter display of costumes, music, comedy and dancing that often features new performers (including star players from RuPaul’s Drag Race).
- Take a spin on La Grande Roue de Montreal. This is a 60-metre tall observation wheel that offers stunning views of Old Montreal and downtown. Top tip: Early bird specials cost half the price!
Quebec City Day Trip from Montreal
It’s possible to do a day trip from Montreal to Quebec, which is known as “la belle province” (the beautiful province) to the locals.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is only a few hours away from Montreal and has so many hidden gems.
If you can, I highly recommend adding this incredibly historic city to your Canada bucket list ⁀➷
Where to Stay in Montreal
We stayed at Ambrose House & Cafe, which is a charming 19th century Victorian-style guesthouse, just a few minutes walk from the bustling city centre.
For Montreal, this centrally located guest house is extremely good value for money (about CAD 180 per night).
Plus, the Wi-Fi was really fast and there’s a lovely little café on-site, so it’s the perfect Montreal base for digital nomads!
If Ambrose House doesn’t appeal, the good news is that Montreal has so many different options to suit literally everyones budget!
You can find the best Montreal hotel deals using Hotellook below:
How to Get Around Montreal
Since we were based in downtown, we walked to as many places as possible to get our steps in, save money, and also experience the daily culture!
However you’ll inevitably need to use other modes of transport if following this Montreal itinerary. But don’t worry, the city offers lots of reliable and efficient options to help you explore all its corners.
Taxis and Rideshares: If we couldn’t walk somewhere, we got Uber, which is available throughout the city, along with local taxis. They are more expensive, but handy if you’re only going a short distance.
Metro (Subway): Montreal’s metro system is not only efficient and punctual but also beautifully designed. It’s one of the easiest ways to get to most major attractions. Daily, weekend, weekly, or monthly passes are available for unlimited travel within a given period.
Remember, Montreal is a bilingual city, but all signs in the metro are in French, so having a translation app like Google Translate can be handy. Also, the city uses a contactless card system (OPUS Card) for public transportation, which can be purchased at any metro station.
Buses: Operating around the clock, STM buses offer a more scenic way to travel across the city. With this option, you can live the local life while commuting and enjoying views of Montreal’s vibrant streets. Buses also cover areas not accessible by metro.
Bixi Bikes: Embrace the city’s strong cycling culture and rent a Bixi Bike. Montreal boasts over 600 km of bike paths, making cycling a wonderful and eco-friendly way to sightsee. Bixi Bikes can be rented from stations throughout the city.
Car Rental: While available, it’s not generally recommended due to traffic and expensive parking. However, it could be useful if you are planning trips outside the city.
The underground city, is a vast, sprawling network of connected subterranean tunnels that run through downtown. It provides easy access to the metro and serves as a functional web of passageways helping you hop from restaurants to malls to tourist attractions in Montreal. This is one of the largest of its kind in the world with half a million people using it every single day. It’s also air-conditioned in the Summer and heated in the Winter!
Overall, with its unique fusion of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, it is no exaggeration to say that Montreal is one of the best places to visit in the whole of Canada. The city’s rich historical heritage blends seamlessly with its cutting-edge cultural scene, making it a destination for just about anyone.
Whether it’s exploring the quaint streets of Montreal, experiencing its culinary delights and quirky festivals, or simply relaxing poolside, you will be constantly amazed by the city’s diversity and dynamism! So don’t delay a trip here; I guarantee you will absolutely love this urban marvel!
If you have any questions about this Montreal itinerary, do let me know in the comments below! 🍁
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