Montreal is without a doubt one of the coolest cities in Canada, perhaps the entire world. The city is named after its centerpiece mountain Mont-Royal, which provides a majestic backdrop to a place where old world tradition meets new world chic.
Its combination of classic Canadian friendliness mixed with stylish flair, stunning architecture, and world-class venues make it a dream city escape adventure, so at BUCKiTDREAM, we’re going to help guide you through the sumptuous streets of the Canada’s City of Saints.
What To Do While You’re In Montreal
Visit Basilique Notre-Dame The Basilica Notre-Dame is the crown jewel in Montreal’s stunning historic landscape. A beautiful church was expertly crafted in the same style as its famous Parisian relative, minus the annoying hunchback; it’s a gorgeous spot, both inside and out. The Place d’Armes square directly outside the church is a great place for watching the locals stroll by and soaking up some of Montreal’s cool ambiance.
Get sophisticated treats in Mile End From sumptuous food and timeless antiques to a burgeoning art scene and a foodie’s paradise, Mile End is where the cool things that happen in Montreal happen. Browse the galleries that feature amazing local talent, grab a drink, antique snoop or buy a world-class meal to match the world-class boutiques. The 10 blocks that make up Mile End are a must-stop spot for anyone visiting Montreal.
Learn about nature at the Biodome Formally the velodrome during the 1978 Olympics, Montreal has taken this fantastic building and turned it into an eco-paradise. Replicas of ecosystems throughout the Americas have been crafted perfectly and it’s essentially like visiting every ecosystem in America in a single day, whilst making a few animal friends and learning a lot as you go.
Take in Montreal from dizzying heights Atop the second tallest skyscraper in the city, you’ll find Au Sommet, the perfect place to see Montreal unfurling beautifully below you. It’s a great place to start your tour of the city and perhaps add a few additional stops to your BUCKiTDREAM list. You’ll see views of Old Town, Downtown and the Mont-Royal that overlooks the city. The trip to the top also includes a fun and fascinating interactive exhibit which makes it a perfect adventure for all ages.
Get Cultural at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts Through the chic doors of Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts you’ll find the latest and greatest artists coming out of the Great North. If you’re unfamiliar with Canadian art then this really is a must for that reason alone, as the country’s artists offer some of the freshest and most interesting perspectives in the art world.
Go Back In Time in Old Montreal If you’re less interested in skyscrapers and more interested in culture than you’ll want to linger through the streets of Old Montreal. It’s brimming with its old world French charm and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re walking through Gay Paree. It’s a wonderful European time capsule in the heart of America. It would also be criminal to miss out on St Paul’s street and to devoid your taste buds of the heavenly Jean-Talon Market.
Step Out of the City and Explore the Laurentian Mountains Locals and tourist alike will tell you that you should visit this stunning mountain range in autumn for the fiery gold, red, yellow and orange miracle that is the seasonal foliage, but the plethora of walks, hikes and bike rides around the area that are open year-round make it a must-see treat.
Catch a Game Or An Event At The Bell Center Home to the Montreal Canadiens – and many argue the home of Ice Hockey – catching a game at the Bell Center is truly a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even if you have absolutely no interest in sports, the atmosphere at these games is truly an absurd and wonderful experience. If you really don’t want to go to a game, or if the season is over, the Bell Center is one of the five most visited stadiums on earth – check out who or what is playing and go and see why!
Make Time to Stroll, Play and Experience Old Port Montreal The island of Montreal is surrounded by all kinds of watery fun. The best place to experience this is around the Vieux Port de Montréal, or, to the non-French speakers amongst us, Old Port. Packed with restaurants and bars, it also offers a wide variety of fun water-based activities, including boat rides, an urban beach, climbing walls and our personal favorite: the Bota Bota, a boat that tours the city and just so happens to also be a fantastic spa…hard to beat.
Where to Rest Your Weary Head in Montreal
The good news is that that Montreal is full of amazing accommodations, and the even better news is it caters to every budget with a lot of quality; here are a few of our favorites.
Live Like a Royal in the Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile
It’s hard to choose between the Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile and the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, as both are superb, storied establishments with outstanding facilities, but one, the one we choose, is half the price of the other…so it seems like kind of a no-brainer. Either way, neither is cheap and both are an indulgent testament to luxury living.
The Reasonable But Wonderful Hotel St-Denis is a Great Choice Montreal has a delightful array of reasonably priced quality hotels but we love the 1920s chic of Hotel St-Denis, plus the fact that it’s close to all the action in the Latin Quarter. A great place to take the significant other and splash any additional cash on a top-notch dinner.
Cheap, Cheerful and Delightful the Hôtel Quartier Latin There are a wide variety of hostels available in Montreal but everything is so reasonably priced in the city that we’ll tip our hat to the Hôtel Quartier Latin. It’s full of charming, no-frills rooms, huge balconies and an awesome atmosphere. Most importantly, the rooms are under $40.
Montreal is a Foodie’s Dream
There are more restaurants in Montreal per capita than there are in New York City. If that doesn’t whet your appetite, we don’t know what will. Montreal sticks to its roots and produces some of the finest French cuisines in the entire world, but they aren’t shy in exploring new world alternatives. Make sure you visit at least one of our favorites or you’ll regret it!
Go Fancy at Toque! Restaurant If you really want to splash out on an exquisite taste experience then check out this high-end restaurant. It’s painfully expensive but the food is so exquisite you won’t care. It’s full of true French flair with a Canadian twist and it is TO DIE FOR. If you can’t get a reservation there, and you probably can’t, you might want to try they equally ostentatiously delicious Restaurant Europea, which is also full of French delicacies.
Experience the Truly Unique With the Dick Ann’s Burger No place in the world has a burger this bizarre and wonderful. Imagine a bun as thin as a pancake with the focus on the sumptuous beef in between it…actually, stop imagining and go and try it!
Let’s Party in Montreal
You’ll be glad to hear that Montreal has a vibrant social drinking scene across the city to suit any tastes. Hang with the locals at the most popular bar/club in the city at the chic Newtown, where you can party in luxurious style. Make sure to sneak out on the terrace when the weather’s good, as it’s a great place to relax during a hectic night.
If you’re in downtown Montreal, check out Copacabana for some of the finest Latino vibes north of Havana.
Old Town is full of great European style bars but since Montreal is rich in tradition and went through prohibition (what a terrible idea), you should check out the Velvet Speakeasy for an awesome night of drinking revelries in surroundings that are almost too cool.
What to Drink?
Ok, so bear with us here. If we told you there was a drink that was a mix of red wine, whiskey, and either maple syrup or sugar, you’d probably think we were disgusting. Well, there is, and it’s actually freakishly tasty. The decidedly Canadian drink, Caribou, was derived from a mixture of caribou blood and whiskey and was originally consumed by Canadian hunters to stave off the cold winters. With that in mind, drink in serious moderation.
Tips & Culture
Montreal is a lot like any city in America, except that the majority of the population speaks French. Despite this, you’ll find that locals are pretty handy with English and communicating won’t be a serious issue for you. Here are a few more tips on making the most of your trip to Montreal.
- Head to the city in autumn to see the magical nature around Montreal at its best.
- You cannot use US dollars there.
- Like the US, taxes are not included in the price before purchase.
- If visiting Montreal in the winter be prepared to be very cold and pack accordingly.
- Montreal is a tricky city to drive in, especially due to the fact that the majority of street signs are in French. Opt to use their extensive and excellent public transport system instead.
What’s the Must Do Experience in Montreal?
Ascend Mount Mont-Royal Heading up Mont-Royal via either a leisurely hike or a bus ride is the ultimate place to take in the magic of the city. There’s a wonderful observatory at the top, so have your Instagram accounts at the ready. You can gaze at the mountains over the South Bank and skyscrapers and head there during sunset or sunrise in autumn when the natural foliage juxtaposed with the stunning skyscape will take your breath away.
If Montreal is on your BUCKiTDREAM list make sure to share it Facebook, Twitter and via the app. You’ll find people who have already been before and maybe a few locals who can give you some inside tips on making the most of your trip.