All around Montréal
Downtown Montréal has so much to offer that it can be tempting to spend your entire holiday there. But don’t hesitate to get out and explore! Get to know another neighbourhood on a professionally guided private walking tour: there are some catered to introduce you to architecture, history, murals—even ghosts. Some, like TourBird, even offer specials specifically for spring break.
Art galleries, coffee and treats in Old Montréal
With art galleries like Images Boréales, Héritage and Le Chariot, plus the PHI Centre and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys historic site, you’ll find lots to do to keep you inspired.
© Alison Slattery - Two Food Photographers
Along the way, stop for a café-gourmandise at Le Petit Dep, NELLi Café + Vin nature, Café Paquebot, Chez Mère-Grand or Olive and Gourmando, a veritable institution in Old Montréal.
© SDC - Les Quartiers du Canal
Antiques and restaurants along the canal
Did you know that Montréal has its own Antique District? Spring break is the perfect time to journey back in time and browse the city’s best antique shops on Notre-Dame Street, between Guy and Atwater.
© Le Richmond marché et bistro italien
After stopping by the Atwater Market to refuel and fill up on its pantry of local produce, the return trip along the Lachine Canal is a great way to extend your visit and enjoy some quality me-time.
If you’re new to the neighbourhood, you won’t want to miss a visit to Le Richmond Italian Market and then treat yourself to a sublime dinner at the one and only Foxy.
© "Tower of Songs", El Mac & Gene Pendon (Photo by Susan Moss)
Museums and shopping downtown and beyond
Discover downtown all over again. Soak up some culture at Montréal’s many world-class museums and galleries: the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d’art contemporain, the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Galerie MX are great places to start. Immerse your senses in a whole-body experience through the powerful visual projections and stunning sound at OASIS immersion.
Enjoy a little retail therapy at the many fabulous downtown shopping centres: Complexe Desjardins, Centre Eaton, Place Montréal Trust, Cours Mont-Royal, Place Ville-Marie, Alexis Nihon and Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. And to keep you going, fuel up at the many indie coffee shops in the area, including Café Myriade and Humble Lion.
© Dominique Lafond
End a perfect day with gourmet pizza or sushi. Are you yearning for Italy? Head to Moleskine. Dreaming of Japan? Ryu offers authentic flavours with an innovative twist.
© Montréal Botanical Garden – Space for Life, Gilles Murray
Fresh air and fun in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve
Nature is never far away in the very urban Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. Get outside for some fresh air at the Botanical Garden, which offers free entry in winter. You can even enjoy a little cross-country skiing throughout the gardens.
© Two Food Photographers
Just next door, Parc Maisonneuve has a skating rink as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails to get you all rosy-cheeked before that well-deserved hot chocolate, coffee or chai tea. Third-wave coffee lovers head for Hélico Café or the Club Social Wolfgang arts café – if you don’t know it, you really have to check it out. Canard Café, as well as Antidote – Comptoir végane, are also there to warm you up with the hot drink of your choice. For a more substantial meal, head to the L’État-Major or its little sister, Pizzéria Heirloom.
© Eva Blue - Tourisme Montréal
Food and shopping in the Plateau, Mile-End and Outremont
Why not start your day by tasting some of the city’s most iconic dishes? Start your gourmet journey at Schwartz’s to bite into Canada’s best-known smoked meat sandwich. Then, walk north along The Main (another name for St. Lawrence Boulevard) to Fairmount Avenue (stopping, of course, at Boulangerie Guillaume for a pastry) and get a piping hot bagel at Fairmount Bagel.
© Eva Blue
If you want to walk off some of those calories, walk on to Saint-Viateur Street to taste their famous bagels (St-Viateur Bagel) and decide which one between the two renowned bakeries is your fave. (Tough choice). If you still have room, grab a slice of pizza at Toni or taste one of the best falafel sandwiches in town at Yoni. Before you head home, get a coffee to go at the local favourite Olimpico café, and why not, a donut at Bernie Beigne.
If you’re more of an arts-culture-shopping type, download Festival Mural’s interactive map and create your own self-guided tour of local street art. Stroll along Mont-Royal Avenue for a few cool finds, then keep walking to browse many boutiques on Laurier Avenue West.
© Alison Slatter
Tasty stops in Little Italy and Villeray
Jean-Talon Market is always a great place to start. You’ll find everything you can think of, from fruits and vegetables to third-wave coffee spots – but save some room to discover the tasty gems all along the little streets nearby. Stop by the Alati Caserta pastry shop for fresh cannoli and San Gennaro for a real Roman pizza.
As you continue towards Villeray, make a little detour to the famous Quincaillerie Dante before diving into 100% local products at Arloca. Chocolate lovers will be in heaven at État de choc fine chocolate makers – the perfect boost to whet your appetite for the sublime panzerotti and salads at the newly opened Knuckles. If you want to stock up on fresh bread and pastries, La Boulangerie Jarry is an absolute must. For a little something to warm your heart and comfort your soul, take home a delicious meal from La Belle Tonki.
Fresh air activities in Parc Jean-Drapeau
Always well maintained, the 25 km of hiking trails in Parc Jean-Drapeau (a vast island park just a quick metro ride from central Montréal) offer city dwellers lots of ways to enjoy an invigorating day of winter exercise.
If you’re craving a little speed, dust off that crazy carpet and slide for free on the natural slope near Espace 67. Lace up your skates and glide along the 500 m Skaters’ Trail or wax up your skis for some cross-country skiing on the beginner train on Île Sainte-Hélène or the intermediate trail on Île Notre-Dame.
The fat bike craze is alive and well at Parc Jean-Drapeau, where it’s a great place to ride on trails designed and maintained especially with them in mind.
Whatever adventure you choose, enjoy your spring break in style!
Isa Tousignant is a Montréal-based editor and storyteller with a curiosity that runs deeper than most. She has chatted life philosophies with celebrity chefs, gemologists, arena rockers and furries. All were transformative.