Welcome to the fifth edition of Savored Journeys’ City Discovery Series. There are so many fabulous cities around the world that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting and that are on my travel radar and I feel they should be on yours too.
Since I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Montreal in person, we’ll discover it together through links to popular blogs, online guides and travel sites.
There is a wealth of information out there on Montreal, Canada, and I’ve drawn it together in this series for you to explore and enjoy. If you see something missing, or have a blog post of your own to add to the list, let me know!
Love traveling for food like us? Check out this guide on where you find Montreal’s best dumplings.
The Best of Montréal, Canada
Getting To Know Montreal, Canada
Located on an island at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa Rivers in Eastern Canada, Montréal is the largest city in Quebec. I like the way Lonely Planet explains Montreal. They say it is “a captivating blend of old and new, with stone-walled taverns, candlelit drinking dens, wild festivals and a cutting-edge arts scene.” Montréal is also often considered the food capital of Canada. If you never knew Canada was so big into food, you’ve never been to Montréal!
You might want to brush up on your French before visiting Montréal, since it is second largest French-speaking city, after Paris. But don’t worry, most people in the cosmopolitan city speak a second language (mostly English) and sometimes even a third. It’s the duality of cultures in Montréal that makes it so unique. It’s where Europe meets North America and it’s truly a fascinating city because of it. Check out Travelette’s 10 Reasons to Go to Montreal for more reasons you should make it your next destination.
What to do in Montréal
Whenever we are planning a visit to a new city, we check out the tour offerings from Viator. In Montréal, Viator has Old Montréal walking tours, a pub crawl, tons of choices for food tours and my favorite – a Quebec wine tour with gourmet lunch and cheese tasting. Sign me up! (By the way, that’s an affiliate link. Just a note, if you do sign up for a Viator tour using our affiliate link, we’ll make a small commission. Thanks for supporting Savored Journeys!)
Montréal is well known for its festivals, including the highly acclaimed Montréal Jazz Festival and Quebec City’s Winter Carnival. Summer is the major festival season and you’re bound to happen upon something going on if you visit when the weather’s nice. According to Tourisme Montréal, there are over 100 festivals devoted to art, music, comedy, fashion and more. There’s really something to everyone. Check out their page for more information.
Hiking up Mont Royal is one of the top activities to do in Montréal, according to To Europe And Beyond. They also suggest taking a food tour, and walking along St. John street to admire the old side of Montréal. Here’s their itinerary for first timers. However, Matt at Landlopers wants to make sure we don’t make integral mistakes while visiting the city, like staying only in Old Port and not discovering other neighborhoods and areas. He also suggests not buying maple syrup, but tourists will be tourists and that is probably one of the most bought commodities!
National Geographic Travel suggests a good walking tour of the city, which will take you past markets, great shopping, museums and cathedrals.
Where and What to Eat & Drink in Montréal
According to geosmontreal.com, Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per Capita in Canada and the second in North America after New York.Not only is Montréal overflow with quaint English pubs, incredible food markets and interesting little cafes, it’s brimming with renown chefs who know just how to knock your socks off with inventive flavors and traditional dishes.
Hike, Bike, Travel say, “when you visit Montréal don’t miss trying [a] Montreal style bagel, poutine or a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen.” For a rundown of all of those specialties, along with a few others, check out Shut Up and Eat’s Top 10 Iconic Montreal Foods. I have to admit that the Foie Gras Doubledown from Joe Beef looks incredible. It’s made with “Two slices of foie gras dredged in seasoned flour then deep-fried, sandwiching slices of double-smoked bacon, maple syrup smoked cheddar cheese and mayo made with rendered duck fat… then drizzled with brown sugar apple juice.” It’s that type of dish that truly defines the gastronomic creativity of Montréal’s chefs.
If you’re into food trucks and want to find out what Montreal has to offer, head to Tourisme Montréal’s 2015 Guide to Food Trucks & Street Food. There are now more than 38 food trucks serving up unique bites from trucks parked all over the city.
According to Serious Eats, Montréal is a brewpub town where “every brewpub feels like it could be your neighborhood bar.” In Canada, it was one of the first cities to embrace microbrewing and turn away from mass-produced beer. Some top suggestions from MLT Blog for trying some of those microbrews include Vice & Verses, Dieu du Ciel and Le Saint-Bock. Before Last Call provides a slightly more comprehensive list of the best pubs in Montréal.
And just in case you’re into desserts (and who isn’t), Braised and Confused has us covered by offering a list of the best desserts in Montréal, which includes my favorite, chocolate fondue!
Where to Stay in Montreal Canada
Looking for the right place to stay in Montreal during your stay? There are two main choices – Old Montreal and Downtown Montreal. They are located really close to each other, so no matter which you choose, it won’t be a hassle getting to and from the other. It really comes down to what type of feel you’re looking for. Both areas have many bars, restaurants, shopping amenities.
Old Montreal Hotels
Old Montreal is where you’ll find the historical charm of the city, with older, historical buildings. Many of the hotels are housed in these restored buildings, and have a quaint charm that you won’t find downtown. The area feels a bit more touristy, but has great access to the waterfront and tourist activities.
The William Gray
A beautiful hotel in a great location, mixing modern amenities with interesting architectural details, like exposed brick and rock walls. Great for a special occasion or a relaxing weekend.
Le Petit Hotel
The hotel is in a beautifully restored old building in the center of Old Montreal. While the hotel itself is small compared to the large high rises of downtown, the rooms at Le Petit Hotel are spacious and very nice.
Downtown Montreal Hotels
If you prefer a specific chain hotel, or like the more modern amenities of a high-rise hotel, then Downtown Montreal is for you. Many of the hotels have pools, as well, while the Old Montreal hotels do not.
Loews Hotel Vogue
This is a 4-star hotel that fully lives up to its stars. The location is perfect for visiting the shops, finding great restaurants, and enjoying all the fun things to do in Montreal. The hotel has a great balance of boutiquey charm and modern appeal.
W Hotel Montreal
The W Hotel has the advantage of being sort of in between Old Montreal and Downtown. It also has direct access to the underground, so you can walk around without being in the elements. The hotel itself is very nice – impressive even. The rooms are fantastic.
I’m convinced that no matter what you find to do and see in Montréal, you’ll have a fantastic time. You just might want to avoid winter, if you’re not interest in freezing your face off in the chilly winter weather. Do you have a favorite part of Montréal of thing to do there that you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments.