Saint Sulpice Seminary in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

10 Best Things About Montréal for a Weekend Getaway

As a Canadian growing up in Southern Alberta, I had never been east of Alberta until November 2022. My husband, Chris, had a work trip in Montréal and invited me to join him for a quick weekend getaway. I happily accepted his invitation.

Together, we discovered the best things about Montréal.

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Discovering Interesting Places in Montréal

Montréal, the most populated city in Quebec, has activities for every type of traveler. Are you a foodie? You’ll find trendy restaurants in Montréal. Is hiking your jam? There’s a great hiking “mountain” in the center of Montréal. Love to explore botanical gardens? Montréal has got your covered.

The official language of Quebec is French. In fact, Montréal has the most French-speaking residents in the world outside of Paris, France. However, you’ll find that Montréal is bilingual and makes it easy for non-French speakers to enjoy this diverse city and find your own best things about Montréal to love.

Even though you may not speak French, it is a good idea to learn a few key words before you visit:

  • Hello – Bonjour
  • Goodbye – Au revoir
  • Thank you – Merci

Did you know that Montréal gets its name from the three peaks in the heart of the city? Mount Royal or Mont-Royal is a small mountain (think large hill) west of downtown Montréal popular among residents and visitors alike.

What Are the Top 10 Things to See in Montréal?

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There is no shortage of things to do in Montréal to keep you busy for your weekend getaway. Here are 10 best things about Montréal to consider for your itinerary.

1. Jean Talon Market

Jean Talon Market in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

The Jean Talon Market, located in the heart of Montréal’s Little Italy, is one of the oldest public markets in Montréal. It was named in honor of Jean Talon, the first administrator of justice and economy of New France.

The market is family-friendly and homey like a village featuring many local fruit and vegetable vendors, butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and grocers. The market is open daily. If you are looking for Montréal Sunday activities, give the market a shot.

Jean Talon Market, one of the largest open-air markets from April to October in North America, bustles with activity. From October to April, walls are added around the market so you can shop in comfort, sheltered from the weather.

2. Saint Paul Street is One of The Best Things About Montréal

Wander along Saint Paul Street to admire the beautiful architecture and enjoy the quaint shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. The street is a bustling hive of activity and popular among tourists.

You’ll find cobblestone streets that are pedestrian friendly and the perfect “Europeanesque” ambiance for a weekend rendezvous. Surely Saint Paul Street is one of the best things about Montréal.

3. Bonsecours Market

Discover Bonsecours Market along Rue Saint-Paul within Old Town Montréal.

The market is a two-story domed building where you’ll find unique shops with everything from clothes, native Indian and Inuit artifacts, genuine maple syrup, handicrafts, and artistic souvenirs… definitely another one of the best things about Montréal.

4. Chinatown

Chris and I stayed at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Montréal Downtown right at the entrance to Chinatown.

You may be interested to note that the Homewood Suites occupies the upper floors while a Hampton Inn is located on the lower floors. Both hotels share the breakfast area and the rooftop pool and hot tubs.

Step into the Chinatown neighborhood as you exit the hotel lobby where you’ll find a variety of Asian restaurants, food markets, and convenience stores. You are also pretty close to the Montréal Chinese Hospital and the Montréal Chinese Community and Cultural Center.

5. Mount Royal aka “The Mountain”

Mont Royal in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

Majestically rising up in the heart of Montréal, Mount Royal or Mont-Royal (“The Mountain” as the locals call it) is a year round playground. It is one of the best things about Montréal. On any given day, you’ll find joggers, cyclists, walkers, and boaters enjoying the park.

If you happen to be wondering what to do around Montréal this weekend, you’ll find plenty of activity on The Mountain.

Popular activities also include:

  • Tobogganing
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Bird watching
  • Dog walking
  • People watching
  • Picnicking

Mount Royal Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (he also designed Central Park in New York City).

Follow the paved road to the top of “the mountain” and enjoy the view from the Kondiaronk Lookout. The panorama of Montréal from the Lookout and Mount Royal Welcome Center is stunning.

6. Old Town Montréal: One of The Best Things About Montréal

Notre dame basilica in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

Walk the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal and the Old Port where you’ll find a dynamic city vibe. You’ll find Montréal famous places in Old Town: Saint Paul Street, Saint-Sulpice Seminary, museums, the ferris wheel, river cruises, Notre-Dame Basilica and a variety of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and stores in Old Town.

Be sure to visit during the evening for an enchanting walk through streets glittering with light and full of life.

7. Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal

Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

Tickets are required for your visit to the Notre-Dame Basilica in the heart of Old Montréal. Discover the beauty of the nave as you take a self-guided tour where you will undoubtedly be amazed by the stained glass windows, the artwork and the interior decoration.

The vaulted ceiling of the basilica is a deep blue and decorated with golden stars. Blue, azure, red, purple, silver, and gold decorate the rest of the sanctuary. The Basilica is one of the must visit places in Montréal during your stay.

8. La Grande Roue de Montréal – Ferris Wheel

Ferris wheel in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

Take a spin on the La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel anytime of the year for a breathtaking view of Montréal. The ferris wheel boasts 42 cabins with ultra-clear windows and climate-controlled temperatures. Riding the ferris wheel is one of the coolest things to do in Montréal.

9. Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens in Montreal is one of the best things about Montreal

Montréal’s Botanical Garden is considered to be one of the largest and most beautiful in the world. The garden boast over 22,000 plant species, ponds, an indoor waterfall, 10 exhibition greenhouses, Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations gardens, and approximately 30 thematic gardens.

10. Garden of Light and Lantern show

Garden of Light show are one of the best things about Montreal in October

The magical Gardens of Light runs through September and October and is a feast for the eyes.

Marvel as the Japanese, Chinese and First Nations Gardens at the Jardin botanique de Montréal are transformed with lights and hundreds of lanterns. Wander the footpaths throughout gardens as they are set ablaze with millions of tiny lights.

Are you looking for unique things to do in Montréal during your visit? Be sure to bundle up for the cooler evening temperatures.

Trendy Restaurants in Montréal 

If you are a foodie, you will love trying the 11 hottest new restaurants in Montréal ranked by Eater Montréal:

  1. Les Mômes @ 586 Rue Villeray, Montréal, QC H2R 1H6, Canada
  2. Anemone @ 271 Rue Saint-Zotique O, Montréal, QC H2V 1A4, Canada
  3. LeDon Donburi @ 168 Rue Beaubien E, Montréal, QC H2S 1R2, Canada
  4. Nili @ 255 Rue Saint- Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1, Canada
  5. Cabaret L’enfer @ 4094 R. Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2W 2M5, Canada
  6. Vivace @ 101 Ave des Pins E, Montréal, QC H2W 1N8, Canada
  7. Nolan @ 1752 Rue Notre Dame O, Montréal, QC H3J 1M3, Canada
  8. NineTailFox @ 3401 Rue Notre Dame O, Montréal, QC H4C 1P3, Canada
  9. Eva’s @ 3981 Rue Notre Dame O, Montréal, QC H4C 1R2, Canada
  10. Millmans @ 3779 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G 1V1, Canada
  11. Ketiw Comptoir Cambodgien @ 866 Rue Wellington, Verdun, QC H4G 1V2, Canada

Day Trips from Montréal

Abbey St. Benoit du Lac

Visitors to the Abbey will find a wide variety of products in the Abbey shop made by the monks and residents:

  • Artisanal cheese
  • Compotes and spreads
  • Chocolate
  • Cider
  • Books
  • CDs
  • Religious objects
  • Art

The Benedictine monks who live at the Abbey work in the apple orchards, a fromagerie, and the chocolaterie. Tours are available from the middle of June until the beginning of September.

Les Laurentides (Laurentians)

The Laurentians is a vast area north of Montréal that include scenic byways, beautiful lakes, lively villages, majestic mountains and some of the best skiing in North America.

View of Lake Memphremagog in Magog outside of Montreal

Magog

Magog is a tourist town approximately 120 km east of Montréal at the confluence of Lake Memphremagog, the Rivière aux Cerises and the Magog River.

“‘Memphremagog’ comes from the Abenaki word mamhlawbagak, which means ‘large expanse of water’ or ‘vast lake’.” Wikipedia

Mont Tremblant

Chapel in Mont Tremblant outside of Montreal

As one of the top tourist attractions and cool places near Montréal, Mont-Tremblant, known for the famous Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort, is within the Laurentian mountain range northwest of Montréal about 130 km. Beyond skiing, visitors to the area can enjoy:

  • Stunning views
  • Winter sports
  • Golf
  • A shopping village
  • Hiking trails in Mont-Tremblant National Park
  • Canoeing and water sports

There are so many more items I use and recommend for travel. Be sure to visit My Favorite Travel Things and My Favorite Photography Things!

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Final Thoughts on the 10 Best Things About Montréal for a Weekend Getaway

Sometimes the best trips and weekend getaways just pop up without time to make advanced plans and you just have to be spontaneous and say “YES!” to new adventures.

You’ll discover the best things about Montréal and other nearby destinations when you do.

Having a few frequent flyer miles and hotel reward points makes the spontaneity that much sweeter. If you haven’t signed up for Hilton Honors or frequent flyer miles, now is a good time.

You may also enjoy more getaway posts…

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11 Comments
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Sue
Sue
21 days ago

I need to take another trip too Montreal, such a beautiful city. I absolutely loved the old town, botanical gardens and the view from Mount Royal was gorgeous.

Jeanine
20 days ago

I can’t wait to get to Montreal and see some of these things especially the markets and old town

Lisa
18 days ago

Great list for some Montreal ideas. I especially love the look of the Garden of Light and Lantern show! I’ll definitely check it out if I’m ever in the area.
Thanks for the ideas!

Sara
17 days ago

You met us very well. You described everything very well!

Josy A
17 days ago

Oooh nice! I am glad you enjoyed your trip East! Montreal is such a great food-filled city isn’t it!? I loved the mountain in the middle as you call it, and the possible day trips to go hiking – but most of my memories there are from good food and markets!
Garden of Light and Lantern show looks really fun at this time of year!

Josanne
17 days ago

Montreal is a great city. Living only 2 hours away, it is a quick getaway destination for us. There are a few items on your list that I still haven’t been to, thank you for the reminder 🙂

Hannah
17 days ago

I had a rough first visit to Montreal – things didn’t go to plan… but after a few days the city redeemed itself. Sitting in the sun in Mont Royale certainly helped. Now looking at your guide, it reminds me I need to go back!

Sophia
17 days ago

Thanks for the post! Montreal is amazing! I have been there many years ago, but now I reeeeeaally feel like going back 🙂

Barbara
17 days ago

What a gorgeous city to explore! I love these ideas! You have inspired me to explore deeper for myself!

Hannah
16 days ago

I would love to go to Montreal one day, to me, it’s like a mini France! I have been looking at flights to go there but it’s expensive coming from the West Coast of the US.

Pafoua
15 days ago

I’m finding myself adding Canada to my bucket list more and more! Montreal looks beautiful and picturesque! Thank you for sharing all the great things the city has to offer!