Share with your friends!

With its easy-to-reach location, it’s no wonder Montréal is often referred to as “Paris without the jet lag.” Montréal is the largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, so it offers Francophiles a generous dose of the language, food, architecture, cobblestone streets, and joi de vivre often associated with a trip abroad. But, Montréal deserves its own due as an international destination. After all, it’s a melting pot of worldwide cultures and heritages, with some uniquely Canadian customs, too! Here’s how to spend

How to Spend a Weekend in Old Montréal

Day One

Montréal is a straight shot from the Southeast, comparable to any other big city in the Northeast. Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport has two direct flights daily (around two hours long), with similar options in Charlotte, Washington, D.C., Miami, and Houston. (Check travel requirements for Covid issues, such as proof of testing and vaccine passports — the Canadians are serious about health matters.)

Check into Hotel Place d’Armes, conveniently located in the heart of Old Montréal. You won’t need a car here since a short visit can easily be accomplished by walking, with an occasional subway or taxi/Uber ride if needed. Four 19th-century buildings were combined to form the hotel, boasting historic charm on the outside, with modern amenities inside.

Then, it’s time for some coffee! A few blocks away is a don’t-miss: the stunning Crew Café housed in the former Royal Bank of Canada, a 1920s building with gilded ceilings, original brass elevators, and a grand entryway. The coffee and food at Crew are great – grab an early lunch such as their popular Mortadella Sandwich to fuel up for the day.

Hotel Place d'Armes in Old Montreal

Hotel Place d’Armes is a charming, convenient choice for a hotel in Old Montréal, with its 19th-century architecture and convenient location across the street from Notre Dame Basilica. Image: Chloé Crane Leroux for Tourisme Montréal

Interior of Hotel Place d'Armes

Interior rooms at Hotel Place D’Armes combine vintage architectural features updated with modern amenities. Image: Alexi Hobbs for Tourisme Montréal

Crew Collective & Café in Old Montreal

Crew Café, in the heart of Old Montréal, draws people to its tasty coffee drinks and food. The stunning setting in a historic Royal Bank of Canada building adds to the charm. Image: Eva Blue for Tourisme Montréal

Exterior of Le Petit Dep in Old Montreal

Local depanneurs (corner shops) such as Le Petit Dep are ideal places to shop for Canadian treats. You can also find baked goods or pick up a cappuccino. There’s limited seating inside, making for a cozy experience. Image: Lisa Mowry

Explore the streets of Old Montréal, starting with the gorgeous Notre Dame Basilica (tours of the interior are available). Make your way along picturesque St. Paul Street, a winding road full of historic buildings, charming shops, and restaurants. Head to the Old Port and hop on the city’s Ferris wheel, La Grande roue de Montréal, for a bird’s-eye view of the river and Montréal’s skyline. The waterfront area is usually bustling, with ice-skating in the winter. On the walk back to the hotel, stop by 3 Brasseurs (Three Brewers) Saint-Paul for dinner, a microbrewery in an old building that offers tasty pub food.

Couple posing and taking selfie outside the Notre-Dame Basilica

The Notre-Dame Basilica is the heart of Old Montreal, a Gothic Revival-style treasure still used as a house of worship. Image: Eva Blue for Tourisme Montréal

La Grande roue de Montreal

The magical Old Port area of Montréal thrives year-round, where visitors can view the city from La Grande Roue, Canada’s highest observation wheel. Ice-skating is a popular activity in the winter months, with a nearby spot for hot chocolate to warm up. Image: Eva Blue for Tourisme Montréal

Day Two

Start the day with a continental breakfast in the chic Brasserie 701, one of the hotel’s in-house restaurants with a decidedly Parisian flair. The breakfast is artfully arranged on a wooden platter with croissants, fresh fruit, and local ham and cheese. Next, meet up with a knowledgeable local guide from Montréal Food Tours for the Old Montréal Flavours and Aromas Tour. It’s a great way to explore the historic streets and learn about the different cultural influences that shape Montréal’s culinary scene. Plus, you can snag some tasty bites along the way.

Speaking of food, be on the lookout for Montréal’s culinary specialties: a Montréal bagel (thinner and crispier than its U.S. counterpart), poutine (a mix of fries, gravy, and cheese curds), and smoked-meat sandwiches. Neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Chinatown, and Little Portugal offer a chance to explore a variety of cuisines not far from the historic district.

RELATED: Small Towns We Love: 48 Hours in Madison, GA

People standing outside Old Montréal Flavours and Aromas Tour

The Old Montréal Flavours and Aromas Tour takes people on a walking tour of the historic district, tasting small bites along the way and learning about cultural influences in the city. Image: Lisa Mowry

Be prepared to spend lots of time outdoors, because there are plenty of outdoor activities year-round in Montréal. Put on your walking shoes to do the mural tour in the spring months, then hit a speakeasy (there are several “hidden” options around town). Visit the rooftop terraces in the summer and fall, and in the winter months, enjoy ice-skating next to the La Grande Roue observation wheel.

Charming residential neighborhoods such as Saint-Louis Square, full of Victorian houses, will have you checking Zillow prices and contemplating a move. For dinner, take in the plants and open-courtyard decor at NELLi Café Vin, an indoor wine bar with Montréal cuisine that offers excellent people-watching.

Couple walking through Old Montreal in winter

A percentage of Montréal’s tourism comes for the winter-wonderland experience and to enjoy the snowy historic streets, which are like something out of a movie. Image: Eva Blue for Tourisme Montréal

People shopping at Marche Jean-Talon food market in Old Montreal

The lively Marché Jean-Talon Food Market in Little Italy offers a chance to explore neighborhoods outside Old Montréal. Image: Anne-Marie Pellerin for Tourisme Montréal

Day Three

If you have time before you say goodbye to the city, we recommend walking a few blocks into Montréal’s downtown area to check out “Oasis Immersion” at the Convention Center before you head out of town. This 360-degree experience merges video and sound in an artsy, colorful, exciting way that’s hard to describe. Montréal is home to innovative entertainment such as immersion technology and the Cirque du Soleil headquarters, so Oasis gives a hint at the entertainment of the future.

When it’s time to head back, you can thank your lucky stars that there’s no six-hour time change to adjust to and no airplane journey across the ocean. We guarantee you’ll soon be planning a return trip to Montréal!

Interior of Oasis Immersion" at the Convention Center

Like being inside a kaleidoscope, Montréal’s Convention Center is also home to ” Oasis Immersion’s multi-media experience.” Image: Eva Blue for Tourisme Montréal

For more information on Old Montréal, including events and other attractions, head to mtl.org

**********

Discover more travel destinations in our archives.

Share with your friends!