12 Hours in Montreal, Live Like a Local.
Montreal is the largest city in Quebec but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience a lot of what the city has to offer in a short amount of time.
Nicknamed the City of Saints, Montreal is a great place to visit year round. There is always some kind of festival or celebration going on, which makes the city a big spot for tourism. While the city may be large in size, hitting up its attractions in a short amount of time is no problem – Just use this schedule as a guideline:
9 am Wake up bright and early and head to a St-Viateur Bagel. There are a few different locations located all over the city, so find the one closest to your accommodation and enjoy one of Montreal’s unique tasting bagels. Unlike New York style bagels, Montreal’s are homemade using honey water, to give the bagels a sweeter taste, and baked in special wood fired ovens. They’re definitely a must try if you’re visiting the city.
10am – 12pm Take a stroll along the “Saints” – Something you will come to notice during your time in Montreal is that a lot of the streets are “Saint someone;” which makes sense given its nickname. Saint Laurent Boulevard is one of the major streets in Montreal. It connects Montreal’s little Italy to Chinatown which connects to old montreal. As you walk along the street you’ll encounter small shops and some good eats, as well as great street art.
12 pm If you have been researching what to do in Montreal, you have probably heard of Schwartz’s Deli. It’s located on Saint Laurent Boulevard about a 40 minute walk from little Italy, and let me tell you it is worth the hype. Definitely try the smoked meat sandwich with a black cherry soda, you won’t regret it. However, if you’re not into eating rabbit food the only thing here for you is some sour pickles. No worries though, Schwartz’s is available to go, and there are plenty of other little restaurants along Saint Laurent.
1 pm Only a few blocks from Schwartz’s is the beautiful Mont Royal Parc. Here you can take a stroll on the Olmsted Trail and see the famous Croix, or cross. Standing at 103 feet, the cross was erected by Montreal’s founder Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve in 1643. After snapping a few pics, continue walking through the park until you reach Chemin Remembrance.
2 pm From Chemin Remembrance you can either take us a bus or continue walking to St. Joseph’s Oratory. I’d suggest saving your feet and hop on the bus, because once you get to the oratory there are quite a few stairs, but it’s totally up to you. After climbing what seems like hundreds of stairs, you will get an amazing view of Montreal from the balcony of the oratory. Take some time and just take in the beautiful surroundings. You can go inside as well where there is a gift shop and access to the garden and to the basilica.
3 pm After taking in the view from the Oratory, take a bus or the metro to Montreal’s own Notre Dame. From St. Joseph’s the closest you can get to the church is the station places-d’Armes, in which Notre Dame isn’t too far of a walk from there. Also, in this area there are several little gift shops you can stop in and grab souvenirs.
4 pm – 6 pm Now would be a good time to grab dinner. There are tons of restaurants around the Old Montreal/Port Vieux area. From upscale steak houses to food trucks, this is the perfect area to grab food. Also, if you choose to eat in a restaurant don’t forget to ask for the check when you are ready to leave. In Montreal, it’s considered rude to bring someone the bill without them asking.
6 pm – 8 pm Once you have had a bite to eat continue to explore Vieux Port. Its almost like a boardwalk with little shops and a few attractions along it. For example, for $19,50 CAD + tax you can zipline nearly 1,200 feet over Bonsecours Island. There are also two maze-like experiences along Vieux Port. SOS Labyrinth is more historical treasure hunt and is open May-November , while PEUR DÉPÔT puts you in the middle of horror film with the goal of surviving and is open during the summer months. The port is also a good area to get a few pictures of one of Montreal’s major bridges, the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
8pm – Whether you choose to zipline, or go through a maze, or simply just walk around Port Vieux you will probably be feeling a little peckish, in which case you have a couple of options. There are tons of places near the port that offer dessert options. I’d definitely recommend BeaverTails. BeaverTails is the name of the place as well as the dessert, which is like a fried bread pastry in the shape of a, you guessed it, beaver tail. There are different topping options such nutella with bananas or apples with caramel, or you can do the classic which is just cinnamon and sugar. Another option is to hit up La Banquise which is a 24 hour poutine restaurant. Poutine is a dish with french fries, gravy and cheese curds; however, at La Banquise there are over 30 types of poutine to try with varying toppings. Just make sure you watch the time as the metro closes, or just know which night bus will get you back where you need to go.
P.S. Just keep in mind that Montreal’s official language is French, however, a lot of the city is bilingual, but unless you have a background in French I would suggest downloading an app or bringing a book along to help you translate some of the signs.
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