This bilingual city is the perfect mix between a charming western European city and a modern North American city.
We spent 72 hours in Montreal back in 2019 (pre-pandemic, obviously) and loved every minute of it.
This bilingual city is the perfect mix between a charming western European city and a modern North American city. Between great food, beautiful views and several of the largest festivals in the world, the city offers plenty to see and do all year-round.
Day One: Historic Montreal
Vieux-Montréal is the Montréal pictured on most postcards—and for good reason. Begin your day at Olive et Gourmando, which draws crowds with its tartines, chia bowls, and poached eggs. If you don’t want to wait for table service, squeeze past the line (and trust us—there will be one) and grab a raisin scone or Gruyère sesame croissant to go instead. Then walk north along Rue Saint-Paul O and hang a left on Rue Saint-Sulpice to arrive at the Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica, a famed church built in the 1820s known for its century-old Casavant Frères pipe organ, stained glass depicting Montreal’s religious history, and brilliant blue ceiling. Admission is $6 CAD but free, 20-minute tours of the cathedral in English and French are offered every 15 minutes—and they’re excellent.
Continue walking north, stopping at Place Jacques-Cartier for a drink at the flower-filled terrace of Jardin Nelson. Next, duck into the nearby Château Ramezay, a National Historic Site of Canada housed in the former estate of Montreal’s governor, where visitors can learn about the city’s more than 500 years of history. (Budget at least an hour and a half.) Hungry? Rest your legs—and satisfy your appetite—at Stash Café, which is a ten-minute walk south. You’ll want to Instagram the interiors (think beams, brick, and church pews functioning as seats.
Once you’re feeling fortified, walk a few minutes east along Rue de Callière to the Pointe-à-Callière, a sprawling archaeological site and museum built on the spot where Montreal was first established in 1642. It sums up nicely all the city history you’ve been seeing on foot today.
After all this walking, it’s time to eat again!
A Montreal must for seafood, we love Ferreira Café for dinner. Yes, it’s a Portuguese seafood restaurant, but with the Quebecois influence. Reservations very much recommended.
Day Two: Mont Royal and Mile End
On day two of this Montreal three-day itinerary, we’ll explore Mont Royal and the Mile End/Le Plateau neighbourhoods. After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we’ll start the day off by climbing to the top of Mont Royal. It isn’t a super far walk from the hotel, but you can also choose to take the Hop On Hop Off Bus to learn a few facts about the city on your way.
Mont Royal (or Mount Royal) is Montreal’s small mountain or volcanic-related hill, and it’s where Montreal gets its name. Mont Royal is right in the middle of Montreal, not far from there are winding paved paths so you can ride your bike up to the top (these are also accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, although it can get a little steep). Climbing the staircases is the quickest way to reach the top. It’s a little bit of a trek to get to the top, and it might leave you a little winded (results may vary depending on your level of fitness). At the top of Mont Royal, you’ll be able to savour incredible panoramic scenery of the city. A visit to Mont Royal is an absolute must for your Montreal three-day itinerary.
If you’re in a reasonable amount of shape, it isn’t a problem to hike to the top. We managed to see some locals jogging up and down the stairs, and the views from the top are absolutely worth the climb. I know that the scenery here must look amazing in all four seasons. I’ve also heard that this is a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
Mont Royal Park is so much more than that one viewpoint. It’s a beautiful park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same man who designed Central Park in NYC. It’s a magnificent green space, one of the largest in Montreal, with a small lake and walking trails. When you’re looking for the best things to do in Montreal in three days, take the time to appreciate Mont Royal Park.
The stroll down is of course much easier than the trek up, and having burned some calories, it’s time to head to the hotel and freshen up for dinner.
In Montreal there are many superb options, so we decided to be a little trendy and had drinks and dinner at Bar Georg, which is highly recommend. In the bar, there is usually a house DJ—don’t panic—they music with softer tones, as there isn’t really space to dance, so it has a very relaxed vibe. Reservations are a must for dinner.
Day Three: Shop ‘Til You Drop
Montreal offers superb shopping, from sophisticated shopping centers to awesome public markets.
On St. Catherine street stroll the concentrated shoe shops and clothing stores for unique items. Then head to the elite Greene Ave in Westmount for trendy boutiques and quality goods. For one of a kind gifts head to Sherbrooke St. West while in Westmount too.
Old Montreal is where you will find all the tourist stuff you can handle. For markets, head to Jean Talon at 7070 Henri-Julien St for great Quebecois street food.
Time flies in this city so savor every moment; we sure did.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.