I have quite a few people coming to visit Montreal this summer…. this is so great!
I have formulated and tested this 3-day Montreal highlights itinerary for those that are interested.
Pick up fresh St. Viateur Bagels late-night; they are open 24 hours a day. 263 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest
Bixi through Mile End to Leonard Cohen’s favorite breakfast joint – he lives right across the street from Bagels, Etc. Their specialty is the Mexican Breakfast, although I recommend the St. Viateur. 4320 Boulevard Saint Laurent
Walk down St. Laurent and take in all the shops and cafés. When you get to Sherbrooke St., hop on a Bixi to take you down St. Urbain to Chinatown. Around 106 Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest
Continue down St. Urbain on foot and you will reach the Basilica Notre Dame de Sacre Coeur.
Continue on south and to the right to reach Old Montreal and the Old Port. Make sure to check out the Rue des Artistes off of Place Jacques Cartier and choose one of many similar patios for lunch, a coffee, a crepe, or a glass of wine. There are alot of neat galleries in Old Montreal if you leave the very touristic streets… one example is Galerie Orange (81 Rue Saint-Paul Est)
Pick up a Bixi bike and head back up St. Laurent (get ready for a bit of a climb). Possible detour: Turn left at René Levesque and right on Jeanne Mance to take in Place des Arts and the fountains there. Continue up St. Laurent and wait in line to have dinner at the legendary Montreal smoked meat restaurant, Schwartz’s. My menu recommendation: a plate of medium smoked meat with a few full sour pickles. (3895 Boulevard Saint Laurent)
Pick up some good Québecoise bière from a local dépanneur (I recommend Cheval Blanc or Belle Gueule), hide them well in your bag, and head to Mont Royal. Bring a flashlight and a map of the mountain, because I guarantee you will be terrified, and stay to the main trail. Eventually you will get to the bottom of some stairs – if you climb all the way to the top, you will find a lit chalet with a lookout over the city towards the south. It is absolutely worth the climb and the fear! Be careful, because the park technically closes at 11:30pm and drinking is not technically allowed.
You have already seen much of the important areas of Montreal – congratulations! Now is the time to explore what interests you: you can walk around the beautiful McGill campus, visit the many other gorgeous churches in downtown Montreal, take in a festival at Place des Arts (and other locations), visit the Marché Jean-Talon (definitely a Bixi trip, nestled in Little Italy in the north), or take in a few museums. The Montreal Fine Art Museum‘ permanent collections is free, and they often have wonderful exhibitions. I have heard good things about the Contemporary Art Museum and the Museum of Architecture as well. You can also take a trip to Jean Drapeau Parc to enjoy La Ronde, the permanent fair of Montreal, or to the Olympic Parc to take in the botanical gardens, the stadium, and the biodome.
Make sure you enjoy some poutine at some point – everyone has their opinion about which poutine is the best in Montreal, and my recommendation is, hands-down, Patati Patata (4177 St. Laurent (at Rachel)).
There is so much going on in Montreal that it is not possible to get bored!