Montréal is a city that defies expectations. A mix of North American culture and European heritage, this holiday hot spot is loved for its good food, open skies and friendly locals. While 24 hours is nowhere near enough exploration time for this island metropolis, here is your complete guide to seeing some of the best of Montréal in one day.
Start your day Montréal-style—with a long and leisurely brunch. This local ritual usually gets started around 10am, however at some of the city’s hotspots, brunch can last as late as 3pm. Head to L’Express for an authentic pairing of scrambled eggs and French toast in a classic Parisian bistro atmosphere at around A$25.
Burn off your satisfying morning meal with a bike ride. The European atmosphere is delivered wholeheartedly with several public bike stations located throughout Montréal. Rent a bike for an entire day for a low price of A$5 and bike your way through the 500-plus km of bike lanes that crisscross the city. About half the bike lanes in Montréal are physically separated from cars so you will not have to worry about your young ones riding on a main road.
Point your handlebars toward the Lachine Canal, a former industrial waterfront that has been transformed into a lush, green canal that is perfect for scenic bike rides. Venture alongside the waterfront of this National Historic Site on the 14 km pathway, and stop at the various architectural sites that dot the canal. For instance, ride past Habitat 67 for a glimpse at one of the most recognizable and significant buildings in Montréal, designed by the famous Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie.
Hungry? End your bike ride in Old Montréal and take a quick break at Montréal Poutine for a taste of this beloved Canadian snack. This classic eatery is located in the heart of the Old Port and is known as one of the best poutine joints in the city. Try their speciality dish which is the traditional crispy French fries smothered in thick gravy and cheese curds, but with an added heap of onion rings and fried mushrooms A$12.
Stick around Old Montréal where you will want to travel by foot to stop by the various shops and restaurants for a traditional Canadian experience. This Historic City Centre is the oldest area in the city, with buildings dating back to the 17th century. Today, it is a major tourist attraction. Discover Old Montréal for views of the Notre Dame Basilica or visit the Point-a-Calliere Museum to explore the history of Montréal through archaeological relics and artefacts.
After your museum visits and sightseeing explorations, visit the Old Port in Old Montréal for a glimpse at the St. Lawrence River. This historic port stretches for over two km along the famous river and was used as early as 1611 as a trading post for French fur traders. This massive river is a sight to see, especially when visiting whales can be spotted from shore. The St. Lawrence River is a great destination for a river cruise during the summer or for ice skating in the winter months.
By now, you will definitely have worked up a thirst, so as the sun sets join the ‘5pm to 7pm’ people—how the locals refer to the happy hour crowd—for outdoor drinks on a rooftop terrace. Terrasse Place d’Armes is located on the roof of the Hotel Place-d’Armes and is a wonderful destination for drinks if you are visiting during the summer. Enjoying the fantastic view of the Notre Dame Basilica with a cocktail in hand is a wonderful way to watch the sun set.
The Old Port is one of the most beautiful destinations in Montreal, and the dining is just as exquisite. Make a reservation at Gibby’s for a historical atmosphere to enjoy your meal. The 200-year-old building has converted stables, an iron gate and a beautiful courtyard that is open to diners in the summertime. The menu consists of some of the freshest seafood and fish brought in directly from across the street at the Old Port. You will not leave Gibby’s hungry, as this Montréal institution dishes out generous portions for anywhere from A$18 to A$55.
Montréal is world famous for its nightlife and offers a full range of things to do at night. Enjoy your one night in Montréal at St. Laurent Boulevard, a popular area filled with dance clubs and upscale bars. This infamous bar and nightlife district seems to never sleep, particularly the stretch of St. Laurent that leads toward Mile End. Mile End is a neighbourhood that plays a huge part in Montréal’s music and arts scene. Take a look at Sala Rossa and Casa De Popolo—two of the best places to experience some of the city’s diverse music scene.
Montréal has much to offer, so 24 hours is not nearly enough time to fully explore this incredible city. With only a day available, do not waste a second worrying about travel delays or not having the right coverage for any activities you want to take part in—be proactive and be protected with travel insurance.
Image courtesy of Emmanuel Huybrechts; cropped from original