Here’s an itinerary for what I think would make for the perfect day in Montreal as a couple, with friends or family. You can easily adapt it to your interests and the weather. Here are some must-see attractions in Quebec’s largest city that will make some awesome memories:
Starting the Day Off on the Right Foot
First, breakfast. As the saying goes, it’s the most important meal of the day! For this first stop, check out my favorite spot for brunch: Arthur’s Nosh Bar. It’s a traditional Jewish restaurant that serves breakfast and brunch in a bright and friendly space. Try the latke smorgasbord plate and pancakes.
Digest With Some Fresh Air
After a good meal, let things settle by walking along the iconic Lachine Canal. Walk down the street of the Square Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier to lighten your spirits and stomach. Did you know that Montreal has more than 20 squares? They’re everywhere! Enjoy strolling through the square, and you’ll then be facing the Canal at the end of this street. Walk along the edge to the H2O Adventures rental booth. Small boats, kayaks and pedal boats are all available for rental.
After an hour or two on the water, I suggest you keep walking on Notre-Dame Street. You can make a short stop at the Atwater Market . You’ll discover fresh produce, local artisans and a wide range of products! Slowly make your way to the September Café on Notre-Dame for delicious cold brew coffee, cappuccino or iced matcha latte.
Time for Some Culture
While walking down Rue Notre-Dame, stop by Arsenal Contemporary Art. It always has new exhibitions available, including the Majudia collection. It quickly became one of the largest private contemporary art collections in Canada, with over 500 contemporary Canadian and international artists.
The clock is ticking, so you should start heading to Old Montreal! You have three great options available: walking for approximately 30 minutes, taking the subway from the Lucien-L’Allier station, or riding a BIXI along the Lachine Canal bike path.
When you reach Old Montreal, I suggest heading to this great spot for lunch: Olive & Gourmando. It’s a neighborhood institution. You have the option of eating a fresh salad or sandwich (or both) with a nice homemade lemonade to cool off! If you can sit by the window, go for it! It gives you an excellent view of a fairly busy street in Old Montreal.
Post-lunch, it’s time to explore Old Montreal. Here are some must-see places to visit: Place Jacques-Cartier, City Hall, Bonsecours Market and the Notre-Dame Basilica. If you’re looking for a coffee at an offbeat spot, stop by Crew Café located in a former bank.
How time flies! Start making your way to Cirque du Soleil’s big top for the 4:00 p.m. show at the Jacques-Cartier Pier. ECHO is colorful and moving. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did! It’s an impressive two hours on the edge of your seat, trying to absorb everything that’s going on! I won’t give you any spoilers, but my favorite act is the diabolo!
All Those Acrobatics Work Up an Appetite!
To recover from all the thrills and discuss your experience, you can enjoy the Old Port by checking out the small businesses on the waterfront, admire La Grande Roue (the Ferris wheel) that’s lit up in the evening and discover lots of fun activities for everyone!
It would then be a great time to grab a drink on a rooftop in Old Montreal. I highly recommend Perché located on the fourth floor of Hotel William Gray. It’s the perfect place to see the neighborhood and watch the sunset.
Cap off your evening by going back to Place Jacques-Cartier. It’s a completely different vibe from the one you can experience during the day. There will most likely be street performers, painters or even dancers. Take the opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth with a delicious chocolate-covered ice cream or a classic vanilla milkshake at Mademoiselle Catherine.
After a very long day of sightseeing, it’s already time to go back to your hotel or home and rest with your belly sated and head full of memories. I’m sure you’ll remember this day for a long time with its awesome moments across the city, great meals and the wonder experienced thanks to Cirque du Soleil.
It’s hard not to fall in love with all Montreal has to offer, right?
Enjoy your stay!
Cover image by Magdala Cajusma