How to Spend a Weekend Getaway in Montreal, Canada

Montreal, the second-largest city in Canada, is a fascinating destination for a weekend getaway.

The city offers a unique blend of European and North American culture and a vibrant arts and entertainment scene. From exploring historic neighborhoods to indulging in delicious cuisine, here’s how to spend a weekend getaway in Montreal.

Day 1: Exploring Old Montreal

Start your weekend getaway in Montreal by exploring Old Montreal, the city’s historic heart. This charming neighborhood is known for its cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and numerous galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.

Here are some things to do and see in Old Montreal:

Visit the Notre-Dame Basilica

This stunning basilica is a must-visit attraction in Montreal. Its Gothic Revival architecture and intricate interior design make it one of the most beautiful churches in North America. Be sure to take a guided tour to learn about the basilica’s history.

Walk along the Old Port

Old Port

The Old Port is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It offers stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and is home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops. Take a stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Visit the Pointe-à-Callière Museum

This museum is dedicated to the history of Montreal and features fascinating exhibits on the city’s founding, its role in the fur trade, and its evolution into a modern metropolis.

Be sure to check out the archaeological site beneath the museum, which showcases the remains of the city’s first settlement.

Have lunch at a local restaurant

Old Montreal is home to numerous restaurants and cafes, many offering delicious French-inspired cuisine. Try a classic dish like poutine (fries topped with cheese curds and gravy) or tourtière (a meat pie) at a local establishment.

Walk along Rue Saint-Paul

Rue Saint-Paul

This historic street is lined with art galleries, antique shops, and other boutiques. It’s the perfect place to find a unique souvenir or gift.

Visit the Montreal Science Centre

The Montreal Science Centre (Centre des sciences de Montréal) is a science museum in the Old Port of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The museum promotes science, technology, and innovation through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

The Montreal Science Centre features several permanent and temporary exhibits that cover a wide range of scientific topics, including space exploration, human health, energy, and ecology. The museum offers various interactive experiences, such as virtual reality simulations, hands-on experiments, and immersive multimedia shows.

In addition to its exhibits, the Montreal Science Centre hosts various events and activities throughout the year, including workshops, lectures, and science-themed movie screenings.

The museum is housed in a modern building designed by architect Moshe Safdie and features stunning views of the St. Lawrence River and the city skyline.

Day 2: Exploring the Plateau-Mont-Royal Neighborhood

On your second day in Montreal, head to the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhood, known for its bohemian vibe, colorful architecture, and trendy cafes and bars.

Here are some things to do and see in the Plateau-Mont-Royal:

Walk along Avenue Mont-Royal

A stroll along Avenue Mont-Royal is a must-do activity while in Montreal. This vibrant street is known for its trendy shops, cafes, and bars, as well as its beautiful architecture and street art. Here are some highlights of a walk along Avenue Mont-Royal:

Start at Parc Lafontaine: This beautiful park is a great place to begin your walk. Stroll through the park’s gardens and along its walking paths before making your way to Avenue Mont-Royal.

As you walk along the avenue, look out for the many murals and street art installations that decorate the buildings and alleyways. The street art in Montreal is known for its creativity and vibrancy, and it’s a great way to experience the city’s artistic side.

There are many excellent cafes along Avenue Mont-Royal, each with its own unique atmosphere and menu. Stop for a coffee or a snack at one of the local favorites, like Cafe Névé or Cafe Olympico.

Avenue Mont-Royal is known for its many independent shops and boutiques. Browse the clothing, jewelry, and home goods stores to find unique souvenirs or gifts.

The buildings along Avenue Mont-Royal are a mix of historic and modern, and the street is known for its beautiful architecture. Be sure to look up and appreciate the ornate details and unique features of the buildings.

As the evening approaches, head to one of the many bars or pubs along Avenue Mont-Royal for a drink. Whether you prefer a craft beer or a classic cocktail, you will surely find something to suit your tastes.

Visit Mount Royal Park

This beautiful park is located in the heart of the city and offers stunning views of the city skyline and numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, and recreational activities. Here are some highlights of a visit to Mount Royal Park:

The summit of Mount Royal is the highest point in Montreal and offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and surrounding countryside. Several hiking trails lead to the summit, ranging from easy walks to more strenuous hikes.

The Belvedere Lookout is located near the summit of Mount Royal and offers panoramic views of the city. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas.

Mount Royal Park has several picnic areas to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Bring a picnic lunch or grab some snacks from a local market or bakery.

Mount Royal Park has several bike paths, and rental bikes are available at the park’s entrance. Biking through the park is a great way to see the sights and get some exercise at the same time.

The Chalet is a historic building near Mount Royal’s summit. It’s now used as a visitor’s center and offers information about the park’s history and ecology.

Visit the Jean-Talon Market

This outdoor market is located in the heart of the city’s Little Italy neighborhood and is a great place to experience the city’s food culture and pick up some fresh, locally sourced produce.

The market has over 300 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and meats to cheeses, baked goods, and prepared foods. Take your time to browse the stalls and sample some of the local specialties.

There are several food stalls and cafes at the market where you can grab a snack or a meal. Try some local specialties like poutine or smoked meat, or opt for a healthier option like a fresh smoothie or salad.

The Jean-Talon Market has a lively, festive atmosphere that’s perfect for people-watching and soaking up the local culture. Enjoy the music, street performers, and other entertainment as you wander the market.

Explore the street art

The Plateau-Mont-Royal is known for its colorful street art, which can be found on many of the neighborhood’s buildings. Take a walking tour or explore on your own to see some of the best murals and graffiti.

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal) is located in the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal, Canada. It was founded in 1964 and is dedicated to promoting contemporary art and artists from Quebec, Canada, and around the world.

The museum’s permanent collection includes over 8,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and installations. The collection features works by renowned artists such as Betty Goodwin, General Idea, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and emerging artists.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, performances, and public events throughout the year. The museum’s building, designed by architect Fred Lebensold, is a landmark in the city and features a distinctive facade made of glass and steel.

Have dinner at a local restaurant

The Plateau-Mont-Royal is home to many excellent restaurants and cafes. Try a local favorite like Schwartz’s Deli, which serves up delicious smoked meat sandwiches, or L’Express, a classic French bistro.

Day 3: Shopping and Culture in Mile End

Mile End

On your final day in Montreal, head to the Mile End neighborhood, known for its trendy shops, cafes, and art galleries.

Here are some things to do and see in Mile End:

Go shopping

The Mile End is home to numerous independent shops and boutiques. Check out stores like Drawn & Quarterly, which sells graphic novels and comics, or General 54, which offers a curated selection of clothing and accessories.

Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal) is one of the largest art museums in Canada, located in downtown Montreal. It was founded in 1860 and has since grown to include more than 43,000 works of art from various periods, styles, and cultures.

The museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, prints, and photographs from around the world. It features works by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, El Greco, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol, as well as a significant collection of Canadian and Inuit art.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing contemporary and historical art from around the world. It also offers educational programs, lectures, and events for visitors of all ages.

The museum comprises five pavilions, each with its unique character and purpose, and features an outdoor sculpture garden, a concert hall, and a cinema.

Have lunch at a local cafe

Dispatch Coffee

The Mile End is known for its trendy cafes and coffee shops. Stop by Cafe Olimpico or Dispatch Coffee for a delicious caffeine fix and a snack.

Visit the Mile End Art Walk

This self-guided tour takes you through the neighborhood’s many art galleries and studios. It’s a great way to see some of the latest work from local artists.

Visit the St. Viateur Bagel Shop

St. Viateur Bagel Shop is a legendary bagel bakery. The shop was founded in 1957 by Myer Lewkowicz and is known for its traditional, hand-rolled bagels baked in a wood-fired oven.

St. Viateur Bagel Shop offers a variety of bagels, including sesame, poppy seed, all-dressed, cinnamon-raisin, and plain. They also offer various spreads and toppings, such as cream cheese, lox, and smoked meat, to accompany the bagels.

The shop has become an iconic destination for locals and tourists alike, attracting visitors from around the world who come to taste their famous bagels. St. Viateur Bagel Shop has been featured in various food shows and publications, including Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Food & Wine Magazine.

Have dinner at a local restaurant

Mile End

The Mile End has many excellent restaurants, from casual eateries to upscale dining spots. Try a local favorite like Lawrence or Le Comptoir.

Montreal is a fascinating city with a rich history, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re interested in exploring historic neighborhoods, checking out contemporary art, or indulging in some of the city’s famous food and drink, there’s something for everyone in Montreal.

By following this itinerary, you can experience some of the best that the city has to offer over the course of a weekend getaway.

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Robyn Good
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