Itinerary: A fall long weekend 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.

This article has been updated on September 1, 2020.

A weekend in Montréal is nice, but three or four days lets you really get to know the city, especially in a quieter season like the fall. Discover creative seasonal food, take a colourful stroll through a park and along cobblestone streets, have fun with family, and experience new art, international film and star-powered live music.

Seasonal food and Thanksgiving dinners

Montréal satisfies the seasonal palate with classic and non-traditional dinners alike. Fine-dining luxuries and local delicacies make these Montréal meals worth writing home about – we've also selected some top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, several designer restaurants for those who love to eat in style and five restaurants with amazing chefs – among them, try Europea’s Épicure Land and La Grande Table Gastronomique experiences, Impasto for Italian comforts, Le Club Chasse et Pêche Restaurant Bar Salon, Leméac and Maison Boulud – be sure to call ahead for reservations. Find Parisian flair at these authentic French restaurants or tap into Montréal's DIY spirit at these cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries.

For something a little different, try a dinner cruise along the St. Lawrence River or a meal surrounded by nature at Montréal's restaurants in parks. By day, go for an excellent brunch, pick up something sweet or savoury at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops, and visit Montréal’s public and small neighbourhood markets, including Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market for seasonal fruit and vegetables, meats and cheese and all manner of pies. Sip the perfect latté at the city’s indie cafés – or the perfect cocktail at Montréal’s best cocktail bars.

For Québécois classics follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, Montréal's top chocolatières and more musts for foodies visiting Montréal. For something lighter, check out these health-conscious restaurants, great sushi restaurants and our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.

City sights and sounds

With stunning city views, leafy forest paths and fresh air right in the middle of the city, Mount Royal Park is an autumn must. Nature also abounds in the city at beautiful Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau and Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène. From Mount Royal Park's greenery stroll through the city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path, features monuments, art installations and more along the way. For a bird's-eye view of the city take a slow ride on La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Visit these five feats of architecture in Montréal to snap amazing photos. Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. See more of the city by using bike-sharing system BIXI or check out these three bike rides perfect for visitors (if you don’t have your own bike, rent bikes from the best).

At night, discover why Montréal is a city of lights too: spot Cité Mémoire projections in Old Montréal, watch the Living Connections illuminate the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and see L’Exil vaut le voyage on the façade of UQAM’s Pavillon Président-Kennedy in the Quartier des Spectacles until November 1. And if you're here on Halloween weekend, get ready for citywide celebrations. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. 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 Montrealer.

Fall for families

Along with playing in the city's many parks and green spaces, families can enjoy harvest and Halloween activities at the Montréal Botanical Garden this October and November. Visit the Ecomuseum Zoo conservation area to see 115 animal species from the St. Lawrence Valley, including otters, wolves and hawks. Among Montréal's kid-friendly indoor activities: visit the newly reopened Biodôme to explore the beautifully renewed immersive ecosystems (be sure to buy your timed tickets ahead of time); roam the cosmos in immersive multimedia experiences at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and check out the Montréal Science Centre's fascinating activities and IMAX films.

Experience high-tech multimedia exhibition Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and more at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. Or climb aboard trains and vintage street cars at Exporail.

Art and history everywhere

While the trees provide their own colourful display, Montréal’s museums, galleries, stages and screens pop with bright offerings as well. Explore the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, including  Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants (book your tickets online for an exact date and time.) See Painting Nature with a Mirror and Points of Light at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in September, exhibition La machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux, highlighting new works by 34 local artists, opening October 10, and British artist John Akomfrah’s video work Vertigo Sea. Immerse yourself in the multimedia art of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Cercania at Arsenal Contemporary Art  until September 27.

The Fondation PHI pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal presents multi-artist exhibition Relations: Diaspora and Painting. Fashion fans can explore the McCord Museum's fabulous Christian Dior exhibition, Robert Walker’s photography exhibition Griffintown and the photography of Go Play Outside! along McGill College Avenue to November 8. Discover four nocturnal worlds by four renowned Québec writers in the Stewart Museum's Nights exhibition. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Speaking of historical detail, pick up one-of-a-kind goods with our ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal. Bring something beautiful home with you while gallery hopping and antiquing, and even pick up arts and crafts at these cool (no, really) souvenir shops.


On screen and on stage

Most of Montréal’s famed festivals get even more creative this year with both online and in-person experiences. See hundreds of feature films and shorts from around the world as well as presentations by directors and other creative minds at expertly curated film festivals this fall, including the Festival du nouveau cinéma from October 7 to 18, Montréal International Documentary Festival from November 12 to December 2, and CINEMANIA Francophone Film Festival (with English subtitles!) from November 3 to 15.

Experience art and entertainment on screen as never before in immersive multimedia experiences in the Society for Arts and Technology dome and in virtual reality exhibitions at the Phi Centre. Contemporary dance fans are never at a loss for shows in Montréal: this fall, see internationally touring performances presented by Danse Danse (including shows by Sylvain Émard Danse, L-E-V and Compagnie Hervé Koubi), as well as cutting-edge contemporary dance at Agora de la danse, Tangente and Danse-Cité. Stop by La Vitrine at the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Sainte-Catherine Street for a complete calendar of the city's cultural activities.

Music in the air

Among this fall's music festivals, check out POP Montréal International Music Festival's music, film, arts and cultural programming (plus craft fair Puces POP) from September 23 to 27, featuring Backxwash, Lido Pimienta, Plants & Animals, Land of Talk and more artists. L'OFF Festival de jazz de Montréal showcases eclectic jazz artists from October 1 to 3, M for Montréal features more pop, electro and hip hop shows in late November, while Mundial Montréal shines the spotlight on world music.

The Montréal Bach Festival celebrates the composer from November 19 to December 6 with concerts in venues around downtown and Old Montréal. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Orchestre Métropolitan delight in performances all season at the gorgeous Maison symphonique, while musicians performing at Bourgie Concert Hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts explore a diversity of classical styles.

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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