Montreal Weekend Trip Getaway
For an exciting getaway, take a Montreal weekend getaway trip! From historical sites to delicious eats, there’s something for everyone in this city.
To every New Englander and New Yorker (with a passport) looking for a weekend getaway, look no further than Montreal, Canada! Since my first visit six years ago, I have had an addiction to keep returning. I am such a frequent flier to the big city of Montreal that some of my local friends forget I am from the US!
Montreal is the largest city located in the Quebec province of Canada. Known for its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning architecture, Montreal is considered one of North America’s most vibrant and fascinating cities.
The city is a unique blend of French and English cultures, reflected in its language, food, fashion, and arts scene. It is also a city that is famous for its festivals and events, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Montreal Grand Prix. Montreal is a popular tourist destination with its charming neighborhoods, diverse cuisine, and lively nightlife.
Plus, saving a few dollars while traveling in these inflation-tough times is always good. Fortunately, to those of us that are Americans, the US dollar is worth more than the Canadian dollar. Enjoy Canada with higher purchasing power!
There are several ways to get to Montreal, including by air, train, and bus.
- Air: Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is the main airport in the city, with flights from many major cities in Canada and the United States. Flying is the quickest option but can also be the most expensive. Once you get to the airport, transport between the downtown core and the airport is easy.
- Train: Montreal is served by the VIA Rail network, with trains arriving from cities such as Toronto and Quebec City. This option is slower than flying, but it can be more affordable and offer a scenic view of the Canadian countryside.
- Bus: Montreal is also served by several intercity bus companies, such as Greyhound and Megabus, with frequent services from cities in the US and Canada. This option is usually the most budget-friendly but the least convenient and the slowest. However, if you like to ‘work from anywhere,’ the bus may not be a bad option, so you can get some work done in transit!
- Drive: This option offers the flexibility to stop along the way, explore the countryside, and have your transportation once you arrive in the city. The drive from cities such as Toronto and New York can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. I have always enjoyed driving into Montreal and then using local transit to explore.
Regarding recommendations, it depends on your budget, time, and convenience. Flying is the quickest and most convenient option if you’re short on time and have a flexible budget. Taking the bus can be a cost-effective choice if you’re on a budget and are not in a hurry. Taking the train can be a good option if you enjoy scenic journeys.
Driving to Montreal can be a good option if you’re looking for flexibility and convenience, but be prepared for potential challenges such as navigating the city, finding parking, and dealing with traffic. In addition, traffic at the border can be extensive depending on how many border patrol stations are open. If you plan on being a frequent driver, I recommend getting Nexus for quicker border crossing. Otherwise, cross at off-peak times to avoid the lines!
Montreal offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels and Airbnb rentals, for a weekend trip.
Montreal has many hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury properties. The city is home to many international hotel chains, locally-owned hotels, and boutique properties. Popular tourist areas, such as Old Montreal, have a high concentration of hotels, but prices can be higher in these areas.
A personal favorite of mine during my college visits was Hotel Espresso. My roommates and I are heavy caffeine users, so we took advantage of the unlimited espresso from the front desk. Reasonably priced and only a few blocks from downtown Montreal, this hotel is a good pick if you are on a budget and want to be near everything!
Montreal is a popular destination for Airbnb rentals, with many options available in different neighborhoods and price ranges. Renting an Airbnb can offer a more immersive and local experience and often provides more space and amenities than a hotel room. However, it is vital to check the location and reviews carefully, as some neighborhoods can be noisy or less safe.
Tips for reserving your spot
When choosing accommodations, it is essential to consider your budget, location, and needs. If you want to be close to the city’s main attractions and don’t mind paying a premium, a hotel in Old Montreal or the Plateau is a good option. If you’re on a budget, consider staying in a less touristy neighborhood like Rosemont or Ahuntsic. Airbnb rentals can offer a more affordable option, especially for families or groups, but be sure to check the location and read reviews carefully before booking.
Also, it is crucial to do your planning in advance. As the king of ‘last minute’ travel, I am no stranger to elevated hotel prices. However, during certain times of the year, it is essential to book ahead. One weekend I always booked well in advance was the beginning of February. I always used to go to Montreal for my birthday, which coincides with Igloofest. As the coldest music festival in the world, this event always drew in crowds worldwide.
Montreal is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, with many options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Below are some restaurants you can check out during your weekend getaway for good food.
- Beauty’s Luncheonette: Famous for its bagels and lox.
- L’Avenue: A popular brunch spot known for its Eggs Benny and avocado toast.
- Le Cartet: A chic bistro serving locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
- Schwartz’s Deli: A Montreal institution known for its smoked meat sandwiches.
- Ta Pies: A gourmet pie shop featuring savory and sweet pies made from fresh, local ingredients.
- La Banquise: Known for its late-night poutine, this diner is open 24/7 and serves various comfort food.
- Joe Beef: A upscale steakhouse known for its creative menu and extensive wine list.
- Ma Poule Mouillée: A cozy restaurant serving traditional French cuisine.
- Le Club Chasse et Pêche: A chic eatery specializing in seafood and game meats.
- Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse: A favorite recommendation by locals, conveniently located by the shops on Rue Saint-Catherine (Saint Catherine Street) and Rue Peel
- Mclean’s Pub: Another local favorite if you want to watch some sports, have some authentic poutine, and enjoy towers of beer. I challenge you to a 10L tower of Alexander Keith’s! Wash them down with some Montreal Irish!
These are just a few of the many dining options available in Montreal. To find one of the many great restaurants that fit your tastes and budget, consider asking locals for recommendations, checking online reviews, or exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods, such as Little Italy, the Plateau, or Old Montreal.
To those that love food festivals, be sure to attend the Peel Mtl Foodies activities on Rue Peel. This event highlights some of the best eats in downtown Montreal!
The eats in this Canadian city rival some of the best in Manhattan and what you’ll find in downtown Ann Arbor restaurants. You won’t have trouble finding something to suit your tastes.
Popular Attractions within The City
You can include some of these attractions during a weekend getaway in Montreal. Whether interested in history, art museums, outdoor recreation, or culinary experiences, this city offers something for everyone.
Mount Royal Park
No matter what season you visit Montreal, visit Mount Royal Park. When I go to Montreal for my birthday in February, I always bring my snowboard, ice skates, and skis for fun things to do. Several cross-country skiing trails that will take you all around the park are hiking trails in the summer. You will see some of the hills designated for tubing/sledding/snowboarding, and the city also stages an ice skating rink!
This mountain provides a stunning panoramic view of the city and is a popular spot for picnics, hiking, and outdoor adventures. Be sure to check out the Chalet during warmer weather atop the mountain to play the piano that gets placed out on the terrace. Some great pieces of music get played by those willing to make the Chalet their stage!
The Mount Royal Cemetary is also a national historic site that you may want to check out.
This historic neighborhood is a must-visit, with its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and horse-drawn carriages. Visitors can also visit Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal City Hall, and Place Jacques-Cartier.
In the winter, Old Montreal and the old port host the coldest music festival in the world, Igloofest, right along the frozen St Lawrence River. This festival was always a must-do when I was up for my birthdays. Be sure to dress warm! As you can see in the picture, I was wearing layers and a heavy coat, and I still was cold!
Built for the 1976 summer Olympics, Olympic Park is a must-see for first-timers visiting the city. Check out the Olympic swimming pools or walk through the stadiums as if you were back in 1976.
One of Montreal’s major landmarks is the Montreal Tower. Ride the world’s tallest inclined tower to get stunning views of the surrounding city during your visit to Olympic park.
Across the street from the Montreal Tower are the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The Montreal Botanical Gardens are a great outdoor stroll all year round.
To those more science-oriented, visit the Montreal Insectarium, Biodome, or Planetarium, all located conveniently at Olympic Park. When I visit, I always see the Biodome and Planetarium. They are very family-friendly and enjoyable to adults, too!
This neighborhood is known for its bohemian vibe, charming cafes, and street art. It is also a popular shopping destination, with vintage stores and local boutiques. Very student friendly with nearby colleges and tucked against le plateau Mont-Royal.
St. Joseph’s Oratory
This stunning basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and offers a beautiful view of the city from its observation deck.
This park is located on two islands in the St Lawrence River and is a popular spot for outdoor activities, including concerts, festivals, and picnics.
This indoor/outdoor market is one of the largest in North America and offers a variety of fresh produce, artisanal foods, and local specialties.
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal
This museum features an extensive European and Canadian art collection, including works by Renoir, Monet, and Emily Carr.
Visiting Surrounding Areas
To those that may have driven in, I recommend visiting the nearby fromageries, vignobles (vineyards), and cidreries (cideries). There are several excellent options within an hour of the city.
For vignobles, if I visit in the spring or summer, I typically stop at Le Vignoble Du Domaine St-Jacques on my way home. They make an excellent iced wine that goes great with dessert!
For cidreries, my friends recommend (and I would agree) Cidrerie du Minot. If you like cider, sparking cider, or ice cider, Cidrerie du Minot is the place for you. I haven’t been able to find anywhere near me that sells ice cider, so I tend to stock up on their ice cider when I return to the states!
Absolutely! Montreal is an incredible city with something to offer everyone. The city has a unique blend of French and English culture, making it a fascinating place to explore. There are plenty of great restaurants, museums, galleries, and other attractions to keep you busy during your visit. The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife and festivals throughout the year.
If you are looking for warm weather and plenty of outdoor activities, the summer months (June-August) are the best time to go. During this time, temperatures range from the mid-20s to mid-30s Celsius and there is a wide variety of things to do outdoors. Tourist attractions such as Old Montreal, Mont Royal Park, and Jean Drapeau Park become more accessible in the warmer months.
For those who enjoy winter sports or want to experience Montreal in a different way, the winter months (December-March) offer plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and other activities. Temperatures can reach below -20 Celsius during this time but the city is still beautiful with its snow-covered streets and buildings. Plus, many events take place during this time including Christmas markets, festivals, and fireworks displays.
There is certainly enough time to get a taste of Montreal during weekend getaways, but a few days is not enough time to experience all the city offers. There are so many things to do — explore its vibrant culture and art scene, enjoy its world-famous food, and take in its breathtaking architecture.
Montreal is a close drive to Northern New England. Here’s a few spots you may want to check out if you are in Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont.
- Mount Pisgah in Vermont will reward you with amazing views during your hike.
- Cadillac Mountain Summit in Acadia Park on the coast of Maine.
- Mount Philo State Park offers views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains.