A month after being back from Greece, Mike and I started feeling an itch to go on a new trip. So we decided to plan a weekend getaway in Montreal in the end of August. It was a quick one, but I still got to see how beautiful the city is and I am so excited to share with you the best things to do in Montreal in 36 hours.
Traveling has become one of the things I love the most in life. I am so fortunate that my husband feels the same way. Mike travels for work a lot, so once in a while we try to combine his business trips with a little getaway. The trip to Montreal was one of them. He had to stay in town over the weekend and I didn’t think twice to get a flight and spend a couple of days with him. This will be a straightforward post to tell you exactly what we did in our stay in Montreal.
MONTREAL IN 36 HOURS
As I mentioned above, we didn’t have much time to spend in Montreal. So we decided to focus on actually seeing the city and enjoying the traditional spots rather than spend hours in museums. Montreal is a beautiful city and we were so fortunate to have had two beautiful days to wander around.
First things first, I must say that Montreal is located in the province of Quebec in Canada, which means French is their first language. This makes them the 5th most populated French Speaking city in the world. I am huge fan of the French culture and traditional old architecture, so of course I was going to love the city. However, one of the things that caught my attention the most is how multi-cultural Montreal is. First, the entire city speaks English and French fluently (so cool) and second, there is a huge diversity within their population.
We stayed only a few blocks from Saint Catherine Street (Rue Sainte-Catherine), so we checked it out first. That’s the perfect spot to go if you want to do some shopping. I must say that if you live in the US, you will find a lot of popular American stores such as American Eagle, H&M and Steve Madden. On the other hand, there are also some unique beautiful high end stores from classy to edgy styles that are worth checking out.
Next, we headed to Crescent Street (Rue Crescent). It’s a place with lots of options for food and drinks. There, you will find a variety of restaurants with outdoor setups on the street (literally), in Victorian Style buildings. We had a great time at Warehouse as they had an inviting environment and great eats.
After we were done with lunch, we kept moving north until we spotted Sherbrooke Street (Rue Sherbrooke). It’s the last street below Mount Royal (Mont-Royal) and is incredibly beautiful. This is one of the busiest streets in downtown Montreal. We only walked a couple of blocks down this street, but if we had more time we would have gone a longer route for sure as it leads you right to the Olympic Park. There you will find lots of museums such as Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and amazing architecture. While we were in town, flags of all countries were exposed along the street near the museums just like on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.
As I mentioned above we didn’t have a chance to visit the museums in town but, fun fact, you will find pieces of art outside the Museum of Fine Arts that you can admire for free on Museum Street (Rue Du Musée) and along Sherbrooke Street.
Mount Royal (Mont-Royal) is the natural landmark of Montreal and it was originally landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for designing Central Park in New York City. At 761 feet, it’s the highest point of the city and one of the largest green spaces. There you can find some of the most beautiful panoramic views of Montreal and the historic building Mount Royal Chalet (Chalet du Mount-Royal).
The park has several entrances, but we found one at the end of Peel Street (Rue Peel) all the way up on Pins Avenue (Ave de Pins). It led us to the trail to get to the summit. It’s a little bit of a hike with lots and lots of stairs (around 2.5 miles) so please choose comfortable shoes if you’re planning to go up. It took us a good 15/20 minutes to reach the balcony on top and the view was truly amazing.
The Mount Royal is a huge area and has so much more to offer. Unfortunately our time was limited, so we didn’t get to see it all. Although we didn’t explore much, we were pretty amazed by the views the park provides on top. It was so worth the hike and you should do it for sure if you have the opportunity to visit the city.
Old Montreal is the oldest area in the city of Montreal. It was by far my favorite spot. As I mentioned above, I love old architecture and Old Montreal has plenty of that. We took a quick cab from our hotel and were dropped off at Jacques Cartier Square right in front of the City Hall.
Jacques Cartier Square
Jacques Cartier Square (Place Jacques-Cartier) is a beautiful area with tons of restaurants and outdoor sitting, great for brunch and eatery in general. It’s also an entrance to the Old Port of Montreal. We made sure we went there early enough for brunch and we found this great spot in the middle of the square called Maggie Oakes.
Also in the middle of Jacques Cartier Square you will find Saint Paul Street which is also one of the must visit spots of the city.
Saint Paul Street
Saint Paul Street (Rue Saint-Paul) is the oldest Street in Montreal. This historic spot offers visitors the chance to step far back in time and experience the charm and atmosphere of Old Europe as they walk down the narrow cobblestone street.
Besides that, Saint Paul Street is a great place to spend the day wandering around, enjoying the architecture, unique shops and galleries. After you’re done exploring, you can take a break at one of the restaurants or café in the area. Old Montreal offers a huge variety of great eats and drinks for any taste. Additionally, most of these restaurants provide outdoor sitting, which allows you to enjoy the street even more as you watch the busy crowd going by.
I have been to a lot (when I say a lot, I mean A LOT) of churches and cathedrals, especially in Europe, but the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal is literally one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. From the details on the ceilings to the majestic design at the altar, the basilica is highly decorated with hundreds of wooden carvings and religious statues. Its decoration also consists of beautiful colors and golden stars all over. The church is located on Notre-Dame Street and faces the Place d’Armes Square.
The Notre-dame Basilica of Montreal is open daily: Mon-Fri at 8AM-430PM; Saturday 8AM-4PM; and Sunday 1230-4PM. The admission for adults is only $6.
The Old Port of Montreal (Vieux-Port de Montréal) is the historic port of the city and it’s located along the Saint Laurence River in Old Montreal. There you can find many restaurants with great food. When we visited the city, there was a Rodeo Festival going on there, so we didn’t get to explore the area. There were also a lot of upset people protesting against the Rodeo. That said, it was not the most pleasant time to look around. However, we could definitely see it is a great recreational spot for families and visitors in general. They have also recently opened The Montreal Observatory Wheel in Old Port. Unfortunately it wasn’t operating when we visited back in August. It sounds like a wonderful experience since it offers a panoramic view of the city, river and mountains.
WHERE WE STAYED
Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain
Chateau Champlain is a beautiful 4-star hotel located only a couple of blocks from downtown Montreal. It’s within walking distance of Old Montreal as well. We basically walked everywhere (whenever hills where not required of course lol).
Besides that, the room that we stayed in was very spacious and comfortable and had an amazing view of the city.
I totally recommend this hotel. It has a traditional French vibe thanks to its old fashion European décor. The staff was friendly and helpful and once again it’s located in such a great area.
WHERE WE ATE
Located on Rue Crescent, the Warehouse has an inviting environment. We were surprised about how delicious and cheap the food was there. The beef quesadilla and chicken quinoa salad are to die for.
Gibby’s is an upscale restaurant which we were very excited about, but unfortunately we ended up disappointed. They are best known for their steaks and that’s what brought us there. However, the steak and everything else we ordered was tasteless, including the salad. We left the restaurant hungry with an expensive bill.
We went to Maggie Oakes for brunch on Sunday. I loved it! The food was simply delicious. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful day at the charming Jacques Cartier Square.
The Holder Restaurant was a great choice to finish our getaway. It’s located in Old Montreal but at a not so touristy area. The food was incredible and the service was great.
What about you? Have you ever been to Montreal? Are you thinking about going sometime soon? Leave your comments below.
Thanks for visiting! Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Have a great week!
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