How to Spend 48 Hours in Montreal

by Travelbag on 23 April 2015, 11:04AM

This multifaceted city melds old-world charm with modernity. In this francophone metropolis, 18th century buildings and 21st century skyscrapers intertwine making a uniquely beautiful cityscape that is waiting to be explored.  
Among the centuries-old stone facades and cobblestone streets are a medley of world-class museums, vibrant marketplaces, a rich gastronomy and an exciting nightlife. This beautiful piece of France in Canada delights visitors with its charm and fascinating treasures. Here are our recommendations on how to spend the perfect 48 hours in Montreal:


Day 1

French Breakfast

Get an early start with a stroll down Boulevard St. Laurent, the pulsing artery of the city. Teeming with shops, cafes, restaurants and various galleries, it’s the perfect place to enjoy breakfast and people watch. Grab a fresh-baked baguette and breakfast at one of the artisanal boulangeries. Boulangerie Guillaume makes divine chocolatines and flavoured breads. 

Montreal’s Beginning

Begin the day with a tour of Old Montreal. Dating back 400 years, this quaint neighbourhood is where the city originated. Start with the Place d’Armes. The outdoor plaza is the heart of Vieux-Montréal and is home to the city’s oldest building, Vieux Séminaire de St-Sulpice (built in 1657). Also nearby is the 1824 Gothic Revival style church, Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec. The grandiose landmark features intricate woodcarvings, beautiful paintings and gilded sculptures, as well as incredible acoustics. 


From there, head underground to the Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire Pointe-à-Callière (Museum of Archeology and History) to dive deeper into Montreal’s rich and complex history. 

A True Montreal Lunch

Nothing symbolizes Montreal more than its poutine. For some of the best gravy and cheese smothered French fries, try La Banquise or Frite Alors! For true meat lovers, Three Little Pigs and Joe Beef are some of the best. The restaurants owned by the same chef are incredibly indulgent and over the top, offering foie gras, clams, beef, duck and more. 

Vibrant Culture and Picturesque Sights

Montreal is brimming with museums, art galleries and exhibition centres that cater to a plethora of tastes. For those interested in contemporary art, Musee des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) has an astonishing collection of Canadian art and the permanent exhibits are always free. 

Designated a UNESCO City of Design, Montreal is a stunningly beautiful and efficient city. Hop on a bike (Bixi Bikes stations are ubiquitous) and check out some of the sights. Particularly interesting trails include the waterfront along Lachine Canal and the Boulevard de Maisonneuve, which runs through downtown. 


Fine Dining

Hailed as one of the best restaurants in Montreal, the Brasserie T epitomizes Québécois fine cuisine. Here, fresh, local ingredients are on display as chefs serve headcheese, lobster and escargot. Another great spot is the Club Chasse et Peche, which features sumptuous seafood dishes such as ceviche, octopus and scallops. 

Night Cap

Check out La Distillerie. The pub is a trendy hangout for the younger crowd and is known for its cocktails. Sir Winston Churchill Pub is more traditional in its aesthetic. While, the famous Club Soda is an upbeat music venue that showcases a number of popular bands and musical acts.  

Day 2

Fuel for the Day

Join the locals for brunch. The mid-morning meal is somewhat of ritual in Montreal. Try any one of the highly acclaimed breakfast spots. L’Express is a classic Parisian bistro that serves superb eggs and French toast (pain perdu).  While St-Viateur Bagel Shop features delicious local-style bagels, which unlike their American counterparts are hand-rolled doughy rounds, sprinkled with sesame seeds and honey and baked in a wood fire. Beautys Luncheonette is another great option, as it has been the go-to breakfast place since opening in 1942.  


Breathtaking Views

Head towards Mount Royal Park. The lush, outdoor playground hosts numerous activities including cycling, horseback riding, running and cross-country skiing. Climb to the top of the 234m peak for spectacular views of the cityscape from Chalet du Mont Royal and of the Olympic stadium from Observatoire de l'Est.


Afternoon Snack

After burning off all the food from breakfast, it’s time to eat again – it’s obligatory since Montreal has a magnificent food scene. Try Schwartz’s for the best smoked meat in Montreal. 

Guilt-free Shopping

Old Montreal is the place to go for indie boutiques, artisanal goods and souvenirs.  Meanwhile, rue Crescent is a touristy, yet trendy shopping centre. Rue Saint-Denis, the heart of Francophone Montréal, also has a medley of cafes, bistros, quaint shops and boutiques. Meanwhile, on rue Sainte-Catherine, there is a plethora of chic shops selling designer brands and luxury goods. When it’s too windy to walk outside go to Montreal’s indoor shopping complex, Underground City.  


Flavors from Around the World

For traditional French cuisine, try Buvette Chez Simone. The cosy neighbourhood eatery in Mile End offers all the classics. Mezcla is an upscale Latin-inspired restaurant, while Milos offers tasty Greek and Mediterranean dishes. 

Perfect Ending

Quartier des Spectacles is the city’s entertainment district. Check out one of the ballets, operas or theatre performance – preferably in French. If there aren’t any shows, chances are that there is bound to be some sort of festival or showcase going on. Just walk around and ask. 

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