Escape on a EuRoad trip to Montréal

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

If you’ve been dreaming of a European road trip this spring and summer, look no further than your own backyard: Montréal is just a few hours down the highway, after all.

Whether you’re traveling en voiture as a family, a couple or solo, you’ll discover a continent’s worth of international and Québécois art, culture, cuisine, city sights and fabulous shopping on a EuRoad trip to Montréal!

European city sights

European cities are often known for their walkability and convenient public transit, and Montréal is no exception – hop out of the car to take in the Montréal sights at a slower place. Explore the cobblestone streets, historic sites, churches and sacred spaces with roots in France and England, and other architectural feats of Old Montréal, along with unique sights in quaint neighbourhoods throughout the city on private guided tours with local guides.

Downtown, jump from the Underground City and Sainte-Catherine Street stores to Old Montréal boutiques and Plateau restaurants via Montréal’s metro system (get a glimpse of Parisian metro style at Square Victoria). On a tour or on your own, search out colourful urban murals and public art in every corner of the city. Or act like you’re in Amsterdam and take a bike tour around the city with knowledgable companies like Ça Roule Montréal On Wheels and Fitz Montréal Bike Tours.

Ride a BIXI shared bike to one of Montréal's many parks and green spaces for a picnic – it’s perfectly acceptable in Montréal to drink wine with your outdoor meal, so pick up a bottle along the way along with restaurant take-out meals or an array of French cheeses and other to-go food from Montréal’s public markets. Stroll the grounds and greenhouses of the Montréal Botanical Garden and wander around the pond in Parc La Fontaine. Make your way to the foot of Mount Royal Park to walk through the park, climb the stairs and bask in a spectacular view of the city and Saint Lawrence River. And later in the spring, take a delightful river cruise with Croisières AML, Bateau-Mouche, Navark and Le Petit Navire.

Continental food and drink

Gastronomy in Montréal is known for its creativity, diversity and multitude of incredible flavours from around the globe. For gourmet travellers and seekers of celebratory romantic dinners alike, dine on authentic French cuisine at classic and new restaurants, from L’Express and Chez Lévêque to Le Boulevardier. In Montréal’s Little Italy and beyond, try Italian restaurants like Impasto and Primo & Secondo that specialize in sun-soaked delicacies, homemade comforts, pizza and more. And make yourself at home with the locals at European-style brasseries such as Holder and Bier Markt and Québécois microbreweries like Isle de Garde and L’espace public – Brasseurs de quartier.

Every destination has its dishes you can't leave without trying, and in Montréal many local favourites have European roots: follow our guides to Québécois classics like poutine, Montréal bagels, smoked meat and other musts for foodies visiting Montréal. Pick up croissants, tartes and more at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops and indulge in the deliciously beautiful chocolates created by Montréal’s best chocolatiers. As with most European cities, Montréal has a Chinatown too, packed with restaurants serving up rice and noodle dishes, dim sum, barbecue duck, dumplings, pho and banh mi and more. And what would any European vacation be without mid-morning brunch?

Distinctive art and culture

Montréal’s arts and culture is as diverse as its food, at once highly local and incredibly international. Make a point of exploring the city’s art museums to see world-class exhibitions, from globe-spanning collections at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts to cutting-edge contemporary art at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Take a deep dive into the work of world-renowned artists at The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain and step into virtual reality at the Phi Centre. Art lovers could spend hours or days visiting the city’s galleries – and even bring some art home with them.

The history of Montréal reaches back into the history of Europe at museums like Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex, Marguerite Bourgeoys Historic SiteChâteau Ramezay and the McCord Stewart Museum. See thematic, thought-provoking exhibitions at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. And visit the Museum of Jewish Montréal to see art and photography and take a historic walking tour.

Live performances and music

Hear classical music at the acoustically astounding Maison symphonique de Montréal at Place des Arts and at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’ Bourgie Hall, performed by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Orchestre Métropolitain and many other acclaimed ensembles and solo musicians. Online or in-person, see innovative theatre and dance from Québec and around the world at Place des Arts, Agora de la Danse, La Chapelle and MAI, among many other stellar theatres, dance venues and festivals, such as the Festival TransAmériques and St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival.

Spectacular shopping

Montréal fashion is world fashion, and Montréal designers are no strangers to European catwalks. In the boutiques of Old Montréal, the Plateau and Mile End or along Sainte-Catherine Street, do some quality Montréal shopping for all styles and tastes. Or buy that perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one – or yourself! – at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city. Shop for clothing, specialty food and more in the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue or at the new Holt Renfrew downtown. And pick up a new book or three from Montréal’s brilliant bookstores and music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

Countryside day trips

Like many European cities, Montréal isn’t far from other towns with their own set of adventures. As a day trip in the midst of your vacation or on your way to or from the island of Montréal, extend your road trip with one-of-a-kind experiences a short drive away: go for a hike in the Laurentians, book a cottage in Lanaudière, swim in a lake at a B&B in the Eastern Townships and Estrie, sing songs around the campfire and visit Parc Safari in the Montérégie, and discover the Cosmodome, waterways and family activities in the nearby city of Laval.

A European getaway that isn’t so far away from home, Montréal is a must on any world traveller’s bucket list. Book your hotel stay in Montréal soon and get a Sweet Deal on your uniquely Montréal EuRoad trip vacation!

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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