Montreal is about as close as you can get to Europe without leaving the North American continent. Considered the cultural capital of Canada, Montreal is famous for its French cuisine, sophisticated fashion, underground city, and plethora of attractions—not to mention its frigid winters.
If you’re visiting the city of poutine and jazz (ideally between April-October), there’s one area you don’t want to miss: Vieux-Montreal, or the Old Port. With buildings dating to the 17th century lining the narrow, cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you time-travelled to France. Don’t speak French? Have no fear: your all-in-one guide to the best of Montreal is here!
TAKE IT ALL IN
Like most cities, there is more to do in Montreal than can be experienced in one vacation. Here are our top 5 picks:
- Take a stroll down Rue Saint Paul, the oldest street in Montreal. Be sure to stop and eat at one of the many prize-winning restaurants along the way.
- Ascend Mount Royal, the hill that gave Montreal its name. Bring a camera to capture the view of the city from the top.
- Get festive. Montreal hosts over 100 world-class festivals year-round, including the International Jazz Festival and the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
- Visit the BioDome. Bring a jacket, because you’ll be passing through four Canadian ecosystems: a rainforest, a wilderness, a marine habitat, and a polar arctic zone.
- Shop in the underground city. This 12 km2complex, one of the largest underground complexes in the world, includes shopping malls, restaurants, and more to give residents a respite from the below-freezing winter temperatures.
PLEASE THOSE PALATES!
You almost can’t go wrong when it comes to food in Montreal, but here are our top 5 spots to start you off right:
- Poutine at La Banquise. Poutine, Quebec’s signature dish, consists of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
- Bagels at St-Viateur Bagel. Montreal bagels are known to be denser, smaller, and sweeter than their New York cousins. But they’re just as delicious.
- Steak frites at L’Entrecôte Saint-Jean. No visit to Montreal is complete without at least one steak frites. This establishment has only one item on the menu, and that’s all they need.
- Smoked meat at Schwartz’s. Montreal’s smoked meat is cured in seasonings with more spices than your typical New York pastrami. Ask any Montreal resident and they’ll tell you: Schwartz’s is the #1 place for a mouthwatering deli sandwich.
- Bring your own wine at L’Academie. BYOW is accepted at restaurants all over town. Enjoy your wholesale-priced wine with one of L’Academie’s renowned mussel or meat dishes. Bon appétit!
SPOTLIGHT ON: HOTEL NELLIGAN
Winner of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice award for 2014, Hotel Nelligan is where you want to stay. Situated in the heart of Old Montreal, this luxury boutique hotel is in easy walking distance to restaurants, shopping, attractions, and the metro. Visiting in the summer? Watch the sunset over the Saint Lawrence river from the hotel’s rooftop bar. Visiting in the winter? Ask for a room with a fireplace.
Tip: Take advantage of someone else’s hotel cancellation through Roomer to get a great deal on one of the 105 luxury rooms.