The largest city in Quebec and set in the shadow of the beautiful Mount Royal, this French speaking foodie city is one that’s worth visiting!
Montreal has an array of different restaurants, from local dishes to the Chinatown, there’s an abundance of great cuisines that you can get stuck into. For smoked meat, a Montreal classic, you have to visit Schwartz restaurant. It’s the oldest deli in all of Canada and has been serving customers for over 80 years so they must be doing something right! I’d recommend the smoked meat sandwich, which as under $10 is a good option for lunch. Add fries or a pickle to the side if you’re a big eater! The thing I loved so much about Schwartz is the simplicity of the whole thing, good honest food and friendly people, a lot like Montreal in general!
You can’t visit Montreal and not try Poutine, from an English perspective; it’s a northerner’s dream dish. Basically it’s chips and gravy topped with squeaky cheese! However, unlike the kebab shop alternative in England the Montreal people take pride in their Poutine and there are lots of different places you can get this delicious dish with lots of options to add on top. Anything from beef brisket to guacamole, take your pick! My favourite place is labanquise, open 24 hours, you can enjoy Poutine from dawn until dusk if you want to; although I’m not sure your heart would thank you for it!
Breakfast is a treat unto itself! Check out Eggspectation, opened originally in Montreal in 1993 it now has restaurants all over the world and offers a great option for a truly Canadian breakfast. We’re talking bacon, eggs, potato served with maple syrup and copious amounts of delicious coffee!
4) Old Port
The old port located on the banks of the St-Lawrence river and the eastern end of the Lachine canal attracts over 6 million visitors every year and it’s easy to see why. From exploring the cycle routes of Montreal, getting lost in the labyrinth or wondering around the diverse market stalls, there’s a lot to keep you busy. If you’re lucky enough to visit Montreal in the summer months and fancy getting your tan on head down to the Clock Tower Beach and soak up the sun on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. After this head up to the many food vans which reside by the old port selling everything from poutine to seriously tasty donuts.
If you’re feeling adventurous there’s a good few options. Try the SOS Labryrinthe, a 2km maze filled with obstacles and dead ends, after a tough year of teaching, testing your patience even further is just want you want!
Alternative if you fancy a birds eye view of the old port then throw yourself off the custom built Montreal Zipline.
3) Hire a bike!
With over 400 miles of cycle lanes, a third of which are completely segregated from cars, Montreal has developed into a cycling city! With the ease of hiring bixi bikes (think Boris Bikes) practically on every street corner it really couldn’t be easier. Prices start for $5 for one day and $14 for a 3 day hire, less than the price of one taxi journey most likely.
Best bit of advice I can give here is just to get on your bike and explore the city, hopping on and off where you please. A good journey to take is down from the old port cycle down the Lachine Canal heading south to the Atwater markets . The local farmers market, open since 1933 is open daily and offers a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables and patisseries, well worth visiting.
On your way, if you need refueling the McAuslan Brewery is located on the canal a short ride from the markets and has a great terrace area offering a variety of beers and ciders for you to try. A perfect excuse to rest your legs!
2) Rue St Paul Street and Old Montreal
If you want to experience the French influence on Montreal’s architecture then look no further than Rue St Paul in the old historic Montreal area.
It’s worth spending an afternoon strolling down Rue St Paul at your leisure. Shops, cafes and bars aplenty and lots of art galleries to spend some time in. Tommy coffee shop is a great place to stop and have a break, serving great coffee and fresh tasty food.
The oldest church in Montreal, the Notre-Dame Basilica is definitely worth a visit. This gothic style church stands proud on the corner of Saint Sulpice Street and entry to wander at the impressive interior costs around $6.
The place where Montreal takes its name from, Mount Royal is a spectacular volcanic hill offering unbeatable views of the city. About a 10 minute cycle north from the old port Mount Royal is a great place to start your tour of Montreal and grab your bearings. The steps and paths up to the top are well maintained and although you’ll build up a decent sweat and quad burn the climb to the summit isn’t to be feared, and once you get to the top the views are absolutely worth the effort!