This week’s post has kindly been written by Claire from Traveltio.
Although often referred to as Canada’s Paris, Montreal is so much more than just a copycat city; it’s got plenty of sights, shops, and restaurants that make a mark all on its own. From open-air markets to beautiful, dramatic cathedrals — a first trip to Montreal will be filled with wonders galore.
Want to know the best things to do for beginner’s? Check out my seven must-see’s to get a head start—there is plenty to do from there!
1. Eat Poutine
Poutine is easily the greatest thing to eat in Canada, even if you’re an extreme foodie who likes to taste test off the tourist menu; this fries and cheese curd dish is exemplary no matter how you take it. Grab it street side at Casse-Croute La Banquise or get fancy and have some at Au Pied de Cochon— just remember to book a table well in advance, this place is very popular and it fills up fast!
2. Explore Old Montreal
St. Paul Street is a classic example of what Old Montreal charm is really like; full of bars, restaurants and cafes, this main street is a perfect place to take in the feel of the city and experience the cobblestone street life. Pick a spot outside for people watching or pop into one of the small tourist shops to grab souvenirs, it’s a great spot to take in the local culture and great architecture.
3. Shop on Boulevard St. Laurent
Home to quirky shops with lots of Quebecoise flavor, the Boulevard St. Laurent is the place to go to experience Chinatown or Little Italy as well as lots of great restaurants and street art. As the traditional marker between the English Quebec and the French Quebec, don’t be afraid to go thrift shopping and grab some goodies; the eclectic shops may put you off at first, but inside you find friendly shop owners and great trinkets to take home.
4. Stay In The Plateau
Whether it be a boutique hotel or a charming B&B, the Plateau is where you want to rest your weary feet for good access to local ethnic food shops, great BYOB style restaurants, eclectic shopping, and lots of nightlife. It’s out of the way of the big chain hotels—think more European style accommodation nestled between nice, tree-lined residential streets—and will provide the authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience that makes discovering a new city worthwhile.
5. Visit Atwater Market
This outside farmer’s market is a perfect way to spend the day, or even grab a couple of groceries to make a sandwich or a quick snack. From top of the line produce like seasonal fruits and vegetables to many butchers and delicatessans, Atwater Market is located near the Lachine Canal offers many unique and specialty products that will ignite the senses, not just the tastebuds.
6. Take a peek at The Notre-Dame Basilica
Even if you’re not the religious type, a trip inside the Notre-Dame Basilica is a must if you are a major fan of architecture. Are you more of a wanderer? Then just grab your camera and get to walking, it’s a great place to take a couple of snaps. For those of you addicted to Instagram, grab a SIM card when you get to the airport, or at a convenient store in the city, it will allow you to have cheaper internet access than your global roaming plan and it’s easy to get started.
7. Book A Foodie Tour
I know, you’re wondering if this is really a recommendation—but I have to admit, it’s not because there’s nothing else to do, but because there is just so much great food to eat. The best culinary guides will be the locals, so look for tours that take you off the grid like the Mile End Montreal Food Tour from Local Food Tours, which includes 6 food stops and a guided tour through a historical theatre in Mile End. Or you can take a taste of Old Montreal with Montreal Food Tours and discover how the modern culinary treats were influenced by culture and history.
Whether you’re going for food or a taste of the unique, artistic culture that thrives in Montreal, you won’t be disappointed with a tour of its cathedrals, beautiful streets, tasty restaurants, and cool shops. So bon appetit and bon voyage!
Guest Author: Claire Lovesti
I’m Claire – a self-confessed travel nut. I’ve been travelling around the world since my mum farewelled me in a teary goodbye and I haven’t looked back since. You can read all about my adventures through 48 cities in 26 countries on 4 continents on my blog Traveltio.com.