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For many of us, Montreal represents a part of “somewhere else”, thanks to the paved streets, alleys and shop signs written in French. But Quebec’s largest city is not just a storehouse for escapism – after all, two million people call it home, meaning the food, culture and resources of a big city are at your fingertips. And given that it’s just a small plane flying too far anywhere in the United States, you’ll see a lot on just one weekend. Here’s how to hit the ground running.
Related: The coldest city in Canada in every province and region
11am: Check in
Aim for an early check-in at Le Germain Hotel. The newly renovated excavations of this boutique accommodation include fabrics, shapes and even swing chairs in the rooms chosen to evoke the glamor of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition. Avoid flops on their oversized beds (after that). Instead, take a shower and freshen up with a scented wood soap and shampoo made by Canadian model Ruby Brown.
Noon: Fuel up
If you are looking for an authentic city served with meat, visit Schwartz deli. (Vegetarians, use LOV, Foodchain, or Aux Vivres instead.) This head of the Jewish Quarter has been serving structurally large sandwiches and fry plates out of oil for over 90 years. Lines can be sharp, so consider sitting at the counter where you can watch the show unfold. Or take out and visit one of the many picnic-ready parks
1pm: Appreciate the outdoor art
Since 2012, Boulevard has hosted murals in the vicinity of the plateau, just off Saint-Laurent, a festival where street artists from around the world create original, wall-shaped art. While you’re not there during the June festivities, you can’t miss the homage to the late Montreal-based artist Scanner, Jackie Robinson (who first played for the Montreal Royals), and Kevin Ledor’s Purple-Ava, the city’s patron saint Leonard Cohen.
3 pm: Treat yourself
Just because you’re running doesn’t mean you have to do a little pampering. The newly refurbished Holt Renfrew Ogilvy department store is Montreal’s go-to for high fashion; It not only hosts collections of the largest luxury brands in the city, but also offers car services between private buyers and satellite locations. But the real treasure is the skincare-centric basement floor. Book a complimentary facial, where a specialist can work in their dark and completely comfortable medical room.
5pm: Take a sunset walk
Head to Park du Mont-Royal to see the expansive nature of the hills that have been named after this city. If skiing, jogging or hiking is your thing, make sure you have plenty of land to do it. But even if you’re not in training, a five-minute walk in the lookout, 764 feet above the city, offers spectacular sunset views, including the Leonard Cohen Crescent Street Mural. (That’s right, there are two Montreal tributes to the poet-musician.)
8pm: Have a campfire dinner
Even short trips should have at least one fancy meal. Foxy combines high-end dining with open flame cooking to create steaks, salads and perishable desserts that are equal parts of campfire-nostalgia and upscale.
10pm: Sip on a tropical nightcap
Do you still have some life left in you? Visit Ti-Agrikol for nightcap. Owned by Win Butler and Regin Chassagan (yes, Arcade Fire fame), the gay village-area dining hall and bar is a tribute to Chassagan’s Haitian heritage, with everything from its brightly colored walls to fruit-infused rum cocktails. Given the owners, expect a consistently awesome soundtrack.
Take a break – you’ve got it. Additional hotels include the ultra-smooth Hotel Manville, a high-tech accommodation with room service robots. If the attraction of the Old World is more than your bag, hang out at Hotel Neligan, which has boutique bedding, exposed brick walls and easy access to the Old Port.
9 a.m .: Carbo-load
Join the ongoing Bagel War in Montreal. For Mile End residents, it comes down to two bakeries — Fairmount and Saint-Viecher Bagel. Fans will passionately argue about the benefits of their chosen store, both of which have been making hot, delicious bread loops 24 hours a day for almost 100 years. (And quite honestly, you can’t go wrong with either or both!)
10am: Road hit
Biking is a way of life in Montreal and with lots of bike lanes, it is also friendly to newcomers. Rent a bike or join a guide from Fitz & Fallwell who offers themed seasonal tours such as family-friendly or even spa-friendly rides. Bonus: Montreal is one of the few cities where guides have to be licensed, which means that any tour will have a huge amount of historical help in addition to fun personal information.
2pm: Carbo-load again
Popular in the 1950s, putine is a Quebec-born staple food that combines fried, gravy and cheese curds. While everyone and their traveling cousins swear by La Banquis (which serves multiple variations of the good stuff 24/7 for the record), consider stopping at the Mile End L’Gros Luxe instead, vegetarian dreams with multiple variations of the theme, and ad- A seemingly infinite number of ones
3pm: Wet it out
Why rush around when you can get into some well-earned passive sights? From the hot tub of Bota Bota, a floating boat spa anchored in the Old Port of Montreal, take a look at one of the city’s most iconic sites without a single pruning finger, including the Brutal Accommodation 67 building, the Foreign Five Roses sign and the Biosphere from the Expo 67 World’s Fair. Complete their water circuit (hot, cold, rest and repeat), then toast to town with a glass of rose from the spa-house bar and restaurant.
7pm: Let the good times roll
Take your freshman comfort from the Old Port to the Montreal Observation Wheel, which sits right next to the St. Lawrence River. (Don’t worry জানতে you’ll find out when you see it.) The high-tech ferris wheel has climate and sound-controlled vehicles that take guests 60 meters into the air. (Read: The perfect bird’s eye view.) Wanting the next level of adventure? Request a car under the glass 42!
8pm: Eat everything … then eat
Avoid the “where to eat” battle and head to Le Central, one of Montreal’s newest dining halls, in the suburbs just off Quartier des Spectacles. Tacos, Indian, pizza, pasta, mini donuts and a bar? This place has it All. (You read this one Live Saturday night– Adjacent voice, isn’t it?)
10pm: Take a goodbye nightcap
The Cold Room is an old port staple, a dark bartender with a specialty stuff that can’t be affected by your order and no matter how complicated the cocktail. For the ultimate local experience, be sure to try “The Montreal”, a blend of gin, whiskey, apparel and suede liqueur, chosen to represent the multicultural nature of the city.
Wait, there’s more: Montreal is a city of festivities, and even in winter it is rare to spend a month without any celebration. Dining enthusiasts will admire Yule Brick, music fans will flock to Pop Montreal and Oshega, and winter fans and art admirers will enjoy the Nuit Blanc and Montreal Snow Festival, both of which illuminate the winter months with foreign creative installations.
Tagged: Canada, Montreal
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