Visiting Montreal

These are my top recommended places and strategies for enjoying Montreal:

General Recommendations

Places to See

Coffee, brunch, and/or pastries

Lunch & dinner


Evenings out

General recommendations

My main recommendation: get a subway (aka “metro”) pass. You can buy them in any of the metro stations. With a metro pass and/or a bixi (city bikes) pass, you can get to all of the places I’m recommending pretty easily.

Download the Yelp app. I find it’s pretty good for recommending places in Montreal.

Many of the public spaces and malls have free wi-fi. Look for the network connection “Ile sans fil.”

Learn at least a few phrases in French. (Tip: complete the first few lessons of Duolingo.)

Always have a scarf and umbrella on you, just in case. Bring a long winter coat for November-March.

Places to see

Mount Royal (about 2km walk up to the top of the mountain where there’s Beaver Lake and a chalet)

Parc La Fontaine (“Montreal’s Central Park”). It has an on-site restaurant, too. (Nearest subway is Mont Royal. It’s about 1.5km away from the park, though.)

The Old Port / Vieux Port (oldest part of the city, some of the oldest European settlements in North America)

L’Observatoire at Place Ville-Marie downtown (Bonaventure subway stop). Pay a $10-20 fee to visit the observatoire at the very top, or stop at the 44th floor restaurant for food and an amazing view.

-Shopping districts: Rue St Catherine, Rue Crescent, St Denis, Rue St Laurent, Ave Mont Royal, Duluth St. St. Denis, Rue Crescent, and Duluth have boutiques unique to Montreal. Saint Catherine has more of the big stores, Ogilvie’s, etc.

-The Botanical Gardens (Jardins Botaniques) and/or Insectarium and/or Biodome. Plan to spend the day exploring all of the different gardens. Nearest subway stop is Pie IX.

Bota Bota (an outdoor spa on a docked ship in Old Port).

-The Museum of Fine Arts/Musée des Beaux-Arts (right downtown. Their cafeteria food is really good, too.)

“The Plateau” – a trendy, artsy area just East of McGill University. Saint Laurent/St Denis/Ave Mont Royal area.

Westmount Library and Park. Near some cute boutiques on Rue Sherbrooke in Westmount.

Atwater Market and the antique shops and boutiques nearby

St. Joseph’s Oratory (a big church with really beautiful gardens overlooking the city) – and it’s near Duc de Lorraine Cafe (recommended below)

-Many other museums

-For parks in Montreal, as long as you have something that looks like a meal (ex. baguette/cheese), you can usually have alcoholic drinks with you, as well. This rule might only apply for summer barbecues, though. Double check local by-laws.

Coffee, brunch, and/or pastries

Crew Café in Old Port (a café in a gorgeous old bank. Closest subway stop is Place D’Armes)

Café Aunja – artsy Iranian café on Rue Sherbrooke. Closest subway stop is Guy-Concordia.

Pikkolo Café on Parc Ave (near McGill)

-Any of the Premiere Moisson cafes for pastries

Tommy’s Café (Old Port – Place D’Armes subway stop)

Patisserie Patrice near Atwater Market at Lionel Groulx metro. Get the kouign amann.

Cafe Bazin in Westmount

Le Cartet in Old Port for an amazing brunch (Square Victoria subway stop)

L’Avenue brunch (there are a few locations)

Duc de Lorraine Café (really good pastries, near St. Joseph’s Oratory)

Lunch & dinner

-Any of the Frites Alors chain (amazing fries and good burgers)

Vargas restaurant (steak and sushi, downtown)

Café Santropol (really pretty and artsy café restaurant in the Plateau

L’Auberge Saint Gabriel (one of the first inns in North America to get a liquor license – circa. 1700s. It’s in Old Port.)

Café Parvis (good pizzas and flat breads in a really pretty environment downtown)

Pasta Cassareccia on Rue Sherbrooke in West NDG. You might need to bike or taxi there, but their amazing home-made pasta is worth it.

Toucheh Restaurant in Westmount. Fantastic home-made Italian and Iranian dishes in a cozy setting. Bring your own wine. Nearest subway stop is Vendôme.

Nouilles de Lan Zhou. Delicious noodle soups in the old Chinatown area. You can see the noodles being made through the front window.

Le Nil Bleu. Ethiopian restaurant on St. Denis, East of McGill University (Rue Sherbrooke metro stop).

Next Door Pub in NDG (western area of Montreal with cute boutiques and parks). 40 cent chicken wings on Sundays.

Brasserie T or Taverne F. Romantic restaurants in Places des Arts, associated with Toque! and Fereirra restaurants, respectively. Entire buildings are made of glass.

Café Darling – bar/cafe full of plants and vintage art in the Plateau/Little Portugal area.

Beatrice Italian restaurant on Rue Sherbrooke (near the Museum of Fine Arts) for their $25 three-course lunch.

Boustan’s – delicious, affordable, fast Lebanese food on Rue Crescent (Guy Concordia metro stop, downtown).

-L’Academie – Italian food, mussels and fries.

-Any of the trendy new food halls: Le Central, Time Out Market, or Le Cathcart. For more info on these:


La Dipperie (dipped ice cream chain)

Juliette et Chocolat chain (amazing chocolate restaurant chain)

-Any of the Maison Christian Faure locations

Marche Artisans in the Fairmont

Wawel’s donuts

Evenings Out

-Go to Rue St Laurent (Place des Arts or St. Laurent subway stops), Rue Crescent, and/or Rue Saint Catherine near the Guy/Concordia Metro

Old Port / Vieux Port is busy and fun for people watching, even at night

L’Auberge Saint Gabriel (one of the first inns in North America to get a liquor license – circa. 1700s. It’s in Old Port. Closest subway stop is probably Place D’Armes)

Upstairs Jazz Bar on Rue Crescent (or Rue Bishop… can’t remember.)

-Verses in the Old Port has live jazz music, Thursdays through Saturdays, 6:30-9:30pm

Comedy Central

L’Observatoire at Place Ville-Marie downtown (Bonaventure subway stop). Pay a $10-20 fee to visit the observatoire at the very top, or stop at the 44th floor restaurant for food and an amazing view.

Pullman’s Wine Bar (near Place des Arts subway stop, downtown)

Bar George at Le Mount Stephen Hotel – amazing architecture and decor, and good drinks (Rue Drummond, near Peel subway stop)