48 Hours In: Montréal
Once Canada’s largest multicultural metropolis, the city of Montréal remains one of the country’s most vibrant and exciting destinations. With its rich history, dual languages, world-renowned restaurants and incomparable arts scene, this urban hub has plenty to offer for first-time visitors and returning fans alike. Even on a time crunch, this city won’t fail to please. Here’s how you can make the most out of your 48 hours in Montréal.
What to See
When getting to know the city, why not start at the beginning? Located in a historic neighborhood along the shores of the St. Lawrence, Old Montréal transports visitors back to the city’s early days. European architecture lines cobblestones streets, and the bells of Notre-Dame Basilica continue to chime as they have for 200 years. The best way to explore this quarter is by foot (here’s a sample itinerary), beginning at the Basilica and then venturing south through narrow laneways, discovering along the way some of the city’s best galleries, museums and cafés. End at the Old Port, where a fantastic riverside view awaits.
Montréal is a city known for its museums, and there are several spectacular options to choose from. From early European masterpieces to modern Canadian works, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (or Musée des Beaux Arts) has exhibitions for every taste. The Musée d’Art Contemporain, found in the city’s ‘Quartier des Spectacles’, is another great spot for modern art lovers. For something a little different, catch the latest exhibit at the Museum of Archaeology and History or visit the Biodôme, where guests can explore four separate ecosystems under one roof.
In the evening, enjoy one of Montréal’s two top entertainment genres: live jazz and comedy. For those keen to give some of the city’s best rhythm and blues a listen, head to House of Jazz in downtown. The bar’s eclectic decor reflects the truly unique and talented musicians that hit the stage. Arrive early to snag a seat, and get ready for an evening of toe-tapping tunes. Those in search of a laugh can certainly find it at the Comedy Nest‘s nightly shows, or at Montréal’s longest-running annual comedy festival: Just for Laughs.
Where to Eat
Montréal has been called ‘a city for chefs’, a favourite destination for food lovers and masters of cuisine from around the world. And it’s no wonder. With its French roots and modern multicultural influences, the city is a true mecca for great food.
For breakfast, there’s no better option than a classic Montréal bagel. The city’s two top contenders for the best baked ring are St-Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel, both found in the city’s trendy Mile End neighbourhood. For lunch, try the city’s namesake sandwich at Schwartz’s: toasted rye piled high with Montréal smoked meat, slathered with mustard and served with a kosher pickle. For those looking for a less meat-heavy option, head to Aux Vivres for the city’s most popular (and unbelievably delicious) vegan eats.
Dinner is the meal to splurge on in this city, and Montréal’s dining options don’t leave room for disappointment. Iconic eateries like Joe Beef or Au Pied de Cochon are true tributes to both classic and modern Quebecois cuisine. A welcome treat for visitors from city’s with staunch restrictions on alcohol, Montréal’s ‘apportez votre vin’ (or Bring Your Own Wine) restaurants are in ample supply, with places like Tandem and Grenadine offering delicious seasonal tasting menus. For something a little out of the ordinary, give Alpenhaus a try (a 30-year old Swiss dining institution in a downtown chalet). Or for some tasty and affordable Middle Eastern eats, head to Boustan.
Though famed for its French roots, Montréal is truly a city for beer drinkers. Try some of the city’s best brews at restaurants and pubs across the city, including local favourite Dieu du Ciel or Quebec staples like Les Trois Mousquetaires or Unibroue.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of accommodation options in this town. For travellers on a budget, check out one of the city’s best hostels, like Auberge Bishop or Auberge Chez Jean. To experience the city like a local, book your accommodation on Airbnb where options from condos to residential homes are on offer for as little as $70 CDN per night. Montréal also has some great boutique hotel options like Le Petit Hotel or W Montréal.
When to Visit
While Montréal is infamous for its brutal winters, it’s truly a city that can be enjoyed year-round. For those visiting in the warmer months, hike up Mont Royal for the most spectacular city views or join a local walking tour. In the winter, enjoy Montréal’s cultural institutions and hole up in one of its many delectable eateries.
Regardless of when you come or how tight the time constraints, Montréal’s seemingly endless charm is bound to win over visitors. Now, when to plan your next trip?
What did we miss? Share your top travel tips for Montréal in the comments below!