Many international airports in the U.S. have multiple direct flights to Montreal. From New York it’s a short 90 minute flight. This makes Montreal a great weekend getaway. Fly up on Friday and back on Sunday.
When we went
A few times, late spring and winter. Winter is brutal almost everywhere in Canada. Try to go when the chance of a blizzard is low.
What we did
The most famous sight in the city is the small French (or historic) quarter which is comprised of a couple blocks of cobblestone lanes and a pedestrian street. Cute any time of the year I must admit it was more atmospheric with a light snow cover. Expect to see horse drawn carriages, public ice rinks, and the ever present smell of maple syrup.
Also in the old town you’ll find the church of Notre Dame, actually a Canadian replica of the real one. Celine Dion got married here, which in Canada, makes it a national monument.
Montreal hosted the Summer Olympic games in 1976. One of the arenas was turned in a biosphere. You need to take a metro to get there. The stadium is also the ex home of the Montreal Expos.
If you arrive in the winter, and you’re downtown but not in the French quarter you might find yourself wondering where all the people went. Answer: they’re underground. Montreal has a systems of underground tunnels that link the city’s buildings together and form a kind of subterranean mall. You can spend all down there, eating, shopping, even staying in a hotel. Some of the courtyards are impressive, several stories high complete with elaborate fountains.
Hotel St. Paul. “Urban chic” in old town Montreal
Au Pied de Cochon. Known for its poutine (unofficial national dish of Canada) with foie gras.
Bocata. Restaurant and wine bar.
Schwartz’s. Montreal’s finest delicatessen serving delicious pastrami sandwiches.
People from Montreal love to tell you that their bagels are quite delicious. There is a whole area just north of downtown (near McGill University) known for them. In this New Yorker’s opinion they were subpar and certainly not worth the $20 cab ride required to get there. If you’re looking for a good breakfast, crepes and waffles in the French quarter are the way to go.