© Eva Blue
In Old Montréal, Crew Collective & Café is a former bank turned coworking space and an ideal place to sit and sip a latte, especially on a rainy day. At the heart of Mile End, Café Olimpico has a spacious patio where socializing is the standard, and a sister location at the Hôtel William Gray. You’ll find plenty of chatterboxes at old-school coffeeshop Café Italia, in Little Italy. Dispatch offers tasting monthly events, perfect for learning about coffee while mingling.
As one of the most important art institutions in North America, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the premier stop for any art aficionado. For more modern tastes, visit Canada’s leading museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art: the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. For archaeology and history, check out Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. The McCord Stewart Museum holds collections of costumes, decorative art, aboriginal objects, paintings and prints. Finally, the Phi Centre showcases the arts in all their glorious forms—check out the event schedule for a listing of live performances.
© Alison Slattery
One of the best ways to savour the city is to visit one of the local public markets. With a wide range of regional products and readymade foods to munch as you explore, Jean-Talon Market—located in the heart of Little Italy—is the largest and most culturally diverse market in Montréal. For a smaller yet equally mouth-watering option, the art deco-style Atwater Market offers an array of specialty products and delicatessen treats. (Plus, it’s located in the picturesque Quartiers du canal.)
© “Personne” mural by Axel Void - Photo: Spade & Palacio Tours
Takes the guesswork out of navigating the city with Spade & Palacio, who offer non-touristy thematic walking tours that focus on less-visited neighbourhoods, perfect for the young and young at heart. For an architectural slant, opt for the cycle excursions by Montréal On Wheels. The wintertime fat bike tours of Mount Royal led by Fitz Montréal Bike Tours will introduce you to a magical side of the city, but their summertime tours are fantastic too. Try Local Montréal Food Tours for tasty gourmet tours through the Mile End and Old Montréal districts, or discover even more food tour options here. Finally, Guidatour offers personal tours available in 21 languages!
© Susan Moss
Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (the same landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park), Mount Royal Park—the “mountain” at the heart of the city—is Montréal’s most iconic landmark, and the most popular place to snap a selfie. Ranked among the most beautiful urban circuits in the world, the Lachine Canal is a stunning linear park, ideal for cycling. In the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood, Parc La Fontaine is the type of place to sit on a blanket and observe locals in their natural environment. If you’re really ambitious, here are a dozen other green spaces in Montréal.
© Tourisme Montréal - Madore - Daphné Caron
From haute couture to vintage threads to home décor, Montréal offers unlimited options for shopping. For years, Saint-Paul Street was the city’s main street and many of the renovated 19th century buildings serve as designer shops, art galleries and artist studios. Mile End is great for well-curated vintage and local designer are, while the Plateau will offer lots of handsome unique boutqiues. At Complexe Desjardins, you’ll find a store dedicated entirely to local crafts, L’Art des artisans du Québec, full of woodwork, blown glass and amazing finery. From there, you can connect to the malls in the underground network. For more mainstream shopping, Sainte-Catherine Street West (and its various shopping malls) offers the perfect place for retail rehabilitation. Find out more here.
© Alison Slattery
One of the best options for dining alone is to find restaurants where you can eat at the bar. Local favourites such as Maison Publique, Pizzeria Magpie, Restaurant Leméac, L’Express, Brasserie Harricana, Pamplemousse, Hoogan et Beaufort and Nora Gray are just a few that offer great bar seating. Of course no Montrealer would bat at eyelash at anyone settling in at a table alone, so the city is your oyster! Here’s a list to get you started. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, take a cooking class from Ateliers et Saveurs or the Chocolate Academy. You’ll make food and friends.
© Mimi la nuit
When it’s time to mingle, Montréal cocktail bars offer picture-perfect backdrops. Join the handsome crowd in Old Montréal at The Coldroom, where the cocktail menu is all hits. On the Main, aka Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Big in Japan may be hard to find (the door is unmarked!), but once you’re in you’ll feel instantly at home. Le Mal Nécessaire, in Chinatown, offers a Tiki-inspired menu and a friendly (and hipster) crowd. Anywhere that tickles your fancy will welcome you in typically warm Montréal fashion, whether your thing is fancy cocktail bars, dance clubs, show bars, sports bars or hidden gems. Happy exploring!
Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.
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