I often get asked what to do when someone is visiting my city for the first time, so here is a quick, opinionated, far from complete list of must in Montréal. Keep in mind that winter is really cold here: it can go as low as -30C (-22F) so I suggest you visit during summer if you can. We are a welcoming city and most people are bilingual, so speaking English will be fine.
On another note, I often get asked about Québec City. The scenery there is definitely amazing. It’s a beautiful city, but keep in mind most people don’t speak English there, so your experience may differ…
- Eat poutine at La Banquise. Some locals are saying that it’s overrated, but I still think it’s the best place to try this local, non-healthy speciality: take a regular one (French fries, curd cheese and gravy – that’s it).
- Eat a smoke-meat sandwich at Schwartz’s Deli. It is not that disgusting thing in the US called corned beef. You’ll have the full experience at the original restaurant – not the take-out next to it – and it’s cash only (they have an ATM inside). It’s a small restaurant, and there is often a long line-up.
- Eat bagels at St-Viateur Bagel or Fairmount Bagel. I know you already had bagels, but you never had a good one, trust me!
- Eat a Queues de Castor (Beaver Tail). It’s a dessert, and obviously, not from real castor, Sherlock. They have multiple locations.
Restaurants / Bars / Coffee Shops
- L’Auberge du Dragon Rouge – Old French restaurant/bar. You go there for the “show”.
- Biermarkt – Huge imported beer menu, but can be expensive.
- Le Sainte-Élisabeth – four-walled terrace, accessible during Spring and Autumn.
- La Succursale – my preferred microbrewery in Montréal, but it’s further in the East.
- La Distillerie (3 locations) – Cocktails served in Mason jars.
- L’île Noire Pub – Scotches & gin, best places to try the good stuff.
- Terrasse Nelligan – overpriced, but one of the best terrace views in town.
- Benelux Verdun – the service is slow, but it’s a nice terrace in the west of Montréal. Go there in the summer.
- Gibeau Orange Julep is a landmark in Montréal.
- Beauty’s Luncheonette – old dinner
- Station W Verdun – it used to be my office when I was living in Verdun. Great coffee and great staff. If you are looking for a place to work, they have wifi and power plugs.
- Pointe-à-Callière – Montréal archeological and history museum.
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – Fine Arts museum.
- Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – Contemporary Arts museum.
- Biodome – I’m not huge on anything caging animals, but it’s a must to learn more about some of them.
- Botanical Garden – the name says it all.
- Insectarium – if you are into insects.
- Planetarium – I personally like anything space related, but I never been there for regular activities.
- La Ronde – Attractions park.
- L’International des Feux Loto-Québec – Summer weekly fireworks. You don’t need to buy ticket – they are blocking the Notre-Dame street so people can watch them from there.
- 2 Pierrots – We call this a “boîte à chanson”. It’s a live music bar with Québécois live music every weekend.
- Piknic Électronik – electronic music every Sunday.
- Tam-Tams – every Sunday during summer time, people go there to play tam tam together. If you don’t smoke weed or don’t like the smell (like me!), be warned…
- Wiggle Room – Burlesque show. I never went there, it’s on my list since forever, but I hear great things.
- Chez Parée – it’s a strip club (hey, it’s an institution here).
- We have a lively gay village with many bars, restaurants, and karaoke.
Points of interest
- Mount Royal mountain – Perfect for some time in nature and some easy hiking.
- La Fontaine Park – Great park, go there with friends for a BBQ or just relaxing while reading a book.
- Old Port – Nice area with old buildings, tourist restaurants (read expensive) and many activities during summer time.
- Atwater Market – If you want to shop local, it’s probably the best market we have.
- Jean-Talon Market – Not as hyped as the Atwater market, but some would say it’s less overrated.
- Saint Joseph’s Oratory – If you are religious or just like church architecture.
- Clock Tower – Situated in the old port, it’s a great spot to take a break of walking in the city, and enjoy a sangria during summer time.
- Montréal International Jazz Festival – Don’t get fooled by the name, it’s not just about Jazz. They have many free shows outside.
- Just for laughs – Wanna laugh, you find the festival for it. They also have many free shows outside.
- Francos de Montréal – A music festival dedicated to music in French. Like any big festivals here, they have many free shows outside.
- Mondial de la bière – For the beer lover out there, our annual beer festival.
- Osheaga – I have never been there, but it’s a popular music festival.
- Heavy Montréal – Heavy-Metal music festival, not my type of music, but it’s quite popular.
- And many more, just search for what to do in Montréal and you’ll find hundreds of activities daily, seriously!
Public transit is quite easy to use, but Uber is available here. I’ll try to update this list as often as possible and fellow Montrealers, feel free to suggest addition to my list. Lastly, please let me know when you are in town so we can meet.