Your 2021 island getaway awaits – in 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.

Looking for a unique island escape in 2021? You might not have to go as far as you think. Discover beautiful shores, rest and relaxation, out-of-this-world food and bountiful culture on the island of Montréal! With one of the world's top travel destinations right in your backyard, there's no reason to miss out on an exotic getaway this year: come experience island life for yourself.

Relax along the river

The rumours are true: set between the St. Lawrence River and Rivière-des-Prairies, Montréal is officially an island. Let the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal lead you down to a multitude of waterfront attractions in the Old Port of Montréal, including a zip-line, the tallest observation wheel in Canada, an adventure park and a beach! Complete with parasols and lounge chairs, Clock Tower Beach overlooks the St. Lawrence River and the shores of Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène, also where you can lounge next to a lake at Jean-Doré Beach.

Not far from downtown, the city's newest sandy oasis, Verdun Beach, is perfect for families and a welcome break for cyclists. Cruise along the river in style on a boat tour with Croisières AML, Le Petit Navire and Navark. Relax with the water circuit and a massage at Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau, located on a ferry-turned-deluxe-spa with beautiful views of the river and the city, day and night. You can even go for a dip at Montréal's best hotels with pools.

Marvel at the mountain

A visit to Mount Royal Park puts you at the heart of one of the most iconic sights in Montréal. See the city from above at the famed Kondiaronk Belvedere and the Mount Royal Chalet, and walk a little further for a closer look at the mountain's massive cross, illuminated every night. From there, take a walk among the trees, where you can spot birds and other wildlife, stop for a picnic and enjoy the park's tranquility. And you won't have to worry about this mountain erupting: despite Montréal's unique geography and a long-running myth about the mountain being a dormant volcano, we assure you it's only an igneous intrusion, albeit an impressive one.

From Mount Royal Park's greenery stroll through the city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path, where you'll see monuments, art installations and more along the way: visit these five feats of architecture in Montréal to snap amazing photos, stop in Montréal's Chinatown for a great meal and at night spot Cité Mémoire projections, illuminating Montréal's history.

Get to know Montrealers

Montréal's city sights are one of a kind, but so are Montrealers. Rub shoulders with locals everywhere you go, whether you're shopping in Old Montréal, relaxing in Parc La Fontaine and other parks and green spaces, riding rollercoasters at La Ronde, sipping a latté at an indie café or drinking a cocktail on a terrasse. Go where the locals go for groceries at Montréal’s public markets and small neighbourhood markets, including Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market for seasonal fruit and vegetables, meats and cheeses, and all manner of desserts.

If you really want to see the city like a Montrealer, hop on a bike. Go from sight seeing to dinner with friends by using bike-sharing system BIXI or rent bikes from the best to discover even more of the city on these three bike rides perfect for visitors. Find all this and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a local.

Fall in love with local food

Montréal has always been a hotbed for creative food and today it's at the top of its restaurant game, with more fabulous destinations than ever and new foodie hot spots opening every day, whether you're looking for a romantic dinner or mid-morning brunch. Every destination has its local dishes you can't leave without trying: follow our guides to Québécois classics like poutine, Montréal bagels, smoked meat and other musts for foodies visiting Montréal.

For great food on the go, stop by upscale food courts Marché Artisans at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel, a variety of high-end food at reasonable prices at Time Out Market in Centre Eaton on Sainte-Catherine Street, delicious local fare at LE CENTRAL - MANGER MONTRÉAL at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard, and skylight-lit space Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten right downtown. Pick up something sweet or savoury at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. And try the local brew crafted by inventive Montréal microbreweries and Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers.

Get to know the city's culture

Montréal's culture is so diverse it can't be pinned down; it's at once highly local and incredibly international. Make a point of exploring the art and history museums to see world-class exhibitions, from post-impressionist painting at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and cutting-edge contemporary art at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Fondation PHI pour l’art contemporain to cinematic virtual reality experiences at the Phi Centre.

Step back in Montréal time at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, Château Ramezay and the McCord Museum. Or explore the wonders of the natural world in the sprawling and gorgeous Montréal Botanical Garden, the newly reopened Biodôme de Montréal's immersive ecosystems and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium's immersive trips through the cosmos.

A memorable island getaway of its own nature, a vacation in Montréal can be as relaxing or thrilling as you like, from the water to the mountain and everywhere in between.

Check out the latest deals on accommodations, restaurants, attractions and much more in our "Deals" section.

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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