So you’ve finally hopped on over and made it to Canada. Located in the Quebec province of this fun and popular country, Montreal is a destination that offers a lasting impression to tourists visiting from abroad as well as continues to keep the locals wanting to live here indefinitely.
Staying here for 3 days does not seem like a lot of time to embrace and explore what this city has to offer. But it does allow you to experience some of the highlights while also being able to get a local feel for the area. This quick itinerary will give you a general idea to plan your trip here so you don’t miss out on any good opportunities.
Day 1: Explore Old Montreal and Downtown
Start by exploring the historic district of Montreal. You will find it filled with cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and a history dating back to the 17th century. Book a hop-on, hop-off bus tour that starts here and will take you all over this part of the city.
You will find it a mix of different architectural styles, ranging from French to English, both Colonial and Victorian. You will find many churches as you walk through the downtown area.
Another noted tourist attraction here is the underground city known as the Reso. Downtown Montreal has miles of tunnels that connect to the hotels, shopping centers, transportation stations, office buildings, and residential areas. Used mainly during the winter months in Canada, it gained enormous attraction for not only its vastness but also that it is one of the largest indoor cities built.
During your stay, go exploring the underground paths, but without a plan. Don’t even look at a map and just choose directions at random. You will be surprised where you end up once you go back up to the ground level.
Located in the heart of Montreal, this is a historic landmark of the Gothic Revival style constructed during the mid to late 1820s. It has become a popular tourist attraction not only for its beauty and history but also for the dazzling light and sound shows that are performed here during the summer. It’s a great evening out to sit back and watch the inside of the basilica light up in multiple colors to showcase the art and architecture.
Rue St. Paul
One of the oldest streets here in the city, it continues to give off its old-world charm with its distinctive cobblestone streets. Many of the historic buildings you will find along the street have been preserved. You will find they have been converted and filled with shopping galleries, boutique stores, restaurants, and cafes.
The area has a lot of energy with constant foot traffic from visitors. A historic landmark is the Bonsecours Market, with its classic architecture. Its popularity led it to be designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and recognized as a top heritage building in all of Canada.
Walking through this square while going to and from the Old Port and Downtown is a great option. This is a good place to get some Canadian souvenirs to take home with you or for family and friends.
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
One of Canada’s most prominent art museums, it is also one of the largest. You will find several different pavilions located around Montreal that focus on specific types of art collections and artist exhibitions. The most notable artists you can find here are Rembrandt, Rodin, and Picasso.
You will find it filled with European art, Canadian art, decorative, contemporary, and design. They also host special events, concerts, and other activities throughout the year.
Day 2: Mount Royal and Cultural Experiences
Mount Royal Park is located on the hill of Mont Royal, which helped to give the city its iconic name. The park is filled with a variety of plants and flowers. Created by the same designer who also cultivated New York’s Central Park you will find plenty of walking trails along the tall trees or simply sit down with a nice picnic. They also have plenty of outdoor activities here during the year such as skiing in the winter and kayaking in the summer. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon just exploring these parts.
Get your steps in by hiking Mount Royal, with an easy hiking path and stairs leading to the top. Once you arrive at the top you will get some more panoramic views of the city skyline. This place always draws a large crowd and you will find it consistently busy throughout the day.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory
Get back onto the hop-on, hop-off bus, and get dropped off over by another part of Mount Royal. This is where you can see the iconic landmark of Saint Joseph’s Oratory. Designed in the Italian Renaissance style, it’s the largest religious shrine dedicated to the patron saint of Canada. Find it filled with stained glass windows and mosaics as you explore inside the building.
Around the building, you will find gardens, statues, and walking paths. Once you reach the top, it will be the tallest spot in the city, and you can also see across the skyline. The best time to come here is during Christmas and Easter as the celebrations and decorations here are exquisite. Throw in some fresh snow powder and you will be amazed at the change.
Old Port of Montreal
Enjoy the scenic waterfront of the Old Port promenade. This area continues to play a crucial part in the economic development of Montreal and this province of Canada. The wide walking paths are easily accessible and you will find many recreational activities. There is cycling along the waterfront, joggers, and walkers just exploring the harbor. In the winter they set up a large outdoor ice rink for you to enjoy. There are plenty of food trucks here too for some good eating opportunities.
Here you can take a sightseeing boat tour up and down the St. Lawrence River and see Nun’s Island and St. Helen’s Island. Stop at the islands to see the family-friendly La Ronde amusement park or the impressive Biosphere. The parks and scenery here are especially noted for the natural woodlands.
Day 3: Cultural and Culinary Delights
Montreal has some of the finest culinary experiences to offer with its diverse menus. Part of this wonderful opportunity is being able to explore the smaller neighborhoods of Montreal. They are each unique and you can tell that in the food they offer.
Mile-End is our first top choice. It’s a great place for foodies to start their Montreal culinary journey. We decided to take Secret Food Tours, one of the many food tours offered here that will take you through the neighborhood’s back streets and local gems.
Here is where you can have as a start the famously noted Montreal-style bagels at locations like St. Viateur Bagel. These bagels are delicious as they are artisanal made and dipped in honey water to help give them that sweet distinctive taste. Family-owned and operated, it has been in continuous operation since the 1950’s.
This lively neighborhood is filled with decorative street art and murals to go along with your food to make it a very trendy and cultural hotspot in the city.
Take yourself over to the end of Mile-end and the start of Little Italy, one of the most prominent communities and best neighborhoods in Montreal to spend your time. Here you can discover homemade street Gnocchi in savory-sweet tomato sauce at Drogheria Fine. This tiny walk-up eatery is almost unnoticeable if you aren’t looking for it, giving it an almost locals-know-only kind of atmosphere. It is simple and delicious and shows you the kind of food vibe this place is giving off. With Montreal weather, this is the kind of quick meal to help you warm up on colder days.
Once you’re in Little Italy, you need to head over to Jean-Talon Market. This is a charming farmer’s market with so many local specialties and fresh produce. Smoked meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some delectable cheese varieties. They also provide gourmet cooking lessons and food demonstrations here. It’s a great destination to just stroll around and see these parts of the community at large.
Montreal Botanical Garden – One of the best places to stroll for an afternoon. They have plants from all over the world in their greenhouses and organized gardens. Each area is its ecosystem cultivated to bring these flora and fauna to the fullest potential. Stop and smell the aromatic scents in full bloom and enjoy the multitude of colors with seasonal plants and an annual greenery festival.
Montreal Biodome – In this domed enclosure you will find a small sample of the different ecosystems in the Americas. Each climate showcases a variety of animal wildlife, from birds to aquatic fish. Its small exhibits make this another easy activity to take a few hours of your day. If you are staying longer or plan to visit Montreal again, pick up the yearly “passport” ticket that will allow you entry into all the science-related museums.
You will get a well-rounded experience of cultural attractions, historic sites, culinary delights, and natural beauty. There is so much to do and you can adjust to your preferences. After you finish your time in Montreal, spend some time traveling to Old Quebec City. It’s only a few hours away and you can get there by plane, or train, or even take the scenic route where you can explore the countryside of Canada.