Ahhhh Montreal!! Je t’aime! I was lucky enough last year to go to Montreal many times for work and I loved it from day one. Such a charming, cool, trendy town – and for those in the Northeast, a VERY quick flight (I believe mine were always an hour or so!!) It’s a super fun city, the people in Montreal party HARD. It’s actually the Bachelor/Bachelorette party destination of the Northeast of the US and of Canada! You may not know but I took french all through school and it’s actually stuck with me pretty well, so I loved to visit also for this reason. Montreal is located in the province of Quebec (think of a province as a large state, almost a region – if you forgot 3rd grade geography) and the primary language is actually French! The signage is in French, it’s predominantly spoken, but i havent met anyone who can’t speak English there so it’s definitely not a boundary at all. They also use the US dollar (which is helpful) but they do have a conversation rate, so it’s a bit more expensive in Montreal than in the US. Oozing with culture and incredible food and great unique shopping, I see Montreal as a perfect weekend destination!
SHOP IN OLD MONTREAL
The shopping in Montreal is probably my favorite because there aren’t many US chains yet in Montreal – they’re starting to hit places like Toronto and Vancouver but Montreal still maintains its true “shopping” destinations. Holt Renfrew and Hudsons Bay are the two biggest department stores in Canada (think of Hudsons Bay as similar to Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew as similar to Saks Fifth Avenue! if that helps…) and normally offers products that you cant get in the US. umm score??
EVEN BETTER is the shopping in Old Montreal – it feels like you’re in Europe wandering cobblestone streets with little boutiques here and there mixed in with designers you’ve never heard of and favorites that you know and love. It’s a great place to buy unique things and have a truly special shopping experience in a charming part of town.
GO UP IN MOUNT-ROYAL
Mount Royal is a large volcanic-related hill or small mountain in the city of Montreal, which gave its name to Montreal! I have a friend in Montreal who showed me around one night and drove us up to the top of the mountain at the end of the night for a view of the city – highly recommend!! I liked how we did it – dinner, drinks, and then ending the night at an overlook spot of the city (ok fine it was just as romantic as it sounds). For those who love to hike (which i do as well, but haven’t in Montreal) this is a great destination for some outdoorsy activities such as hiking, picnicking, etc.
Fries. Gravy. Cheese. More Cheese. Need I say more? It’s just as amazing as everyone says it is!
NOTRE DAME BASILICA
OK TRUTH BE TOLD I HAVE NOT VISITED but have definitely wanted to. If you are into visiting Basilicas or Cathedrals (or just a fan of Celine Dion!), definitely visit because the pictures are stunning – and Celine Dion was married here!
GET TIM HORTONS!!! AND TIMBITS!
I always get flack for this but omg Dunkin Donuts is the most disgusting coffee i’ve ever had (for the record, i’m not singing the praises of Starbucks either, so we’re clear!). But if you know anyone from Canada or who has visited Canada, they will all have an opinion on Tim Hortons – and the answer is a resounding YESSSS ITS SO GOOOOD. It’s truly some of the best coffee and i dont know how they do it. Make sure to get some Timbits too – their donut holes!!! <3
HAVE A SPA DAY
Le Scandinave. is. everything. Just google the place to check out the pictures, it doesn’t even do it justice. I’m not normally the biggest “spa” girl but the last time I visited I checked out this place that i’ve heard rave reviews about and now i wish they had one in NYC. You walk out feeling like a new person, and without spending a bajillion dollars. I didn’t get a massage because it’s not my jam, but for $40 during the week or $60 on the weekends, you can enjoy their hot baths, cool baths, or aromatherapy bath and that is so my speed. I had the best day <3 (if massages are your jam, they average about $150, not so bad at all! just FYI)
Lunch – Abe + Mary – $
This spot is pretty much a go-to every time i’ve been to Montreal because it’s just EASY and also fun. The left side of Abe & Marys is a great little salad/lunch grab and go spot whereas the right side is the coolest boutique. Not only can you enjoy a chill lunch and then buy some awesome jeans (confession, i bought 4 pairs once) but keep your eyes peeled because there have definitely been some celebrity sightings here! Check out the Wall of Fame to see all the big names who have stopped by in the past.
Brunch – Seasalt – $$
This is the first restaurant I ever went to on my first trip to Montreal so it holds a dear place in my heart. It’s actually a funny story because I flew to Montreal for the day for a business meeting (which they were treating me to) and I felt so nervous I just ordered the first thing I saw. Everyone else ordered smaller plates that were in the $10-15 range and I noticed my SALAD was the MOST EXPENSIVE thing on the menu at $29!!!! I was so embarrassed!! BESIDES THAT STORY, the place is totally affordable, has a cute outdoor seating area as well and a beautiful view of the water. I would come back here in a heartbeat!
Dinner – Lucilles-– $$
Hi a place known for lobster rolls and seafoods and great cuts of meat? Do they have an apartment in the back so I can just move in and never leave? Seriously though, i’ve been to Lucilles … twice now I think, maybe 3 times … and it’s a really cool environment to go hang out with a lively crowd. This wouldn’t necessarily be a touristy spot at all either so this is the type of spot you can get some good feedback on other local hot spots too!
Dinner – Foiegwa – $$
This restaurant is not only crazy adorable but the food is GREAT. Located in a central spot of Old Montreal, Foigwa’s menu is perfect for brunch, a nice lunch or a gorgeous dinner! If you’re going to Montreal with girlfriends, this is the sweetest spot to have a nice dinner together and cheers with a glass of one of their super creative cocktails! I’ve sampled a few of the main plates and all were delicious, especially the scallop risotto!! The best part is that its right next to…
Drinks – Atwater Cocktail Club – $$
Atwater Cocktail Club!!! OK if you ask me, this is the PERFECT night plan. You’re in Montreal with some gals on a bachelorette weekend (or even a love interest for a weekend away!). You go to dinner at Foiegwa (and have the best time ever) then go next door to Atwater for the COOLEST cocktail list ever. Best part? It’s a speakeasy! Sign me up! You wlak through a small alley and through a black door to find the place – it’s really an awesome spot! Order the Smoke Show, it’s too good and a very cool drink.
Lounge/Club – Buonanotte – $$
ok so full disclosure, i stayed across the street from Buonanotte so i did not go here for a night out but for dinner. I did have an AMAZING dinner with super cool cocktails but this place is definitely more of a destination for a night out or a wild brunch. When/If I come back to Montreal for a bachelorette party, this would be the type of place I’d go to for a crazy party brunch to push through the pain of the night before. Cool spot! But I wouldn’t come for dinner – better options for that!
Lounge/Nightlife – Le Cinq – $$$
I don’t know much about this place but it has come up in conversation many times and also shows up on pretty much every list of where to go out in Montreal. It’s basically a massive mansion turned nightclub and looks like a pretty good time! The club scene isnt really my jam, but what i learned from Montreal is that it’s EVERYONE’s jam there. When Montreal do as the…Montreal..ians….do?
Lounge/Club– La Voute – $$$
This is a club I think I’d be down to check out! It’s located in an old bank vault and from what I read is a pretty good mix of people – definitely a bit more expensive but if you do it right ladies, maybe you won’t pay for drinks anyway?!?!? haha! JK, but the place is super cool looking. This is a perfect end-the-night-with-some-fun-and-dancing kinda spot.
Le Meridian Versailles
SO this is normally where i’ve stayed when visiting, and the other places were either out of the way from Downtown but close to the office, or honestly not worthy of recommending. I would definitely stay here again!!! Not only is the staff super friendly, but the food in the hotel is great if you don’t want to go out, you’re super close to everything and the rooms are stunning!
There are also tons of AirBNBs that are crazy affordable so to be totally honest, I’ll book through them when I go back. Not only do I love AirBNB, but if you’re a Delta SkyMiles member, you get miles for every dollar you spend with AirBNB. YA. I KNOW. too good.
anyway, that’s my experience with Montreal in a nutshell!! I hope you find it helpful when/if you plan your own trip above the border. I never met Justin Trudeau so I could propose to him and get married but there’s still time. Who knows what’s to come in the future, ya know? I’ve gotten off track. Enjoy Montreal! Au Revoir!