Exploring Montreal: A Week-Long Adventure

how many days to travel montreal

Montreal is a city full of charm, incredible food, and diverse culture. With its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and French influence, it offers a unique blend of European charm and North American spirit. So, how many days should you spend in Montreal?

The ideal duration for a trip to Montreal is 3 days. This gives you enough time to explore the city's highlights, including Old Montreal, Mount Royal, and the Olympic Park. A 3-day itinerary allows you to discover the city's history, enjoy its culinary delights, and immerse yourself in its vibrant festivals and events.

However, if you have more time, you can extend your stay to 4 days or even a week. This will give you the opportunity to explore Montreal at a more relaxed pace and discover its hidden gems. Additionally, Montreal is a great base for day trips to nearby destinations like Quebec City, Ottawa, and the Laurentian Mountains.

Whether you choose to spend 3 days or more in Montreal, you're sure to fall in love with this captivating city and its warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Characteristics Values
Number of days to travel Montreal 2-4 days
Best time to visit May, September to November
Transport Foot, public transport, bike, car


Exploring Old Montreal

Old Montreal, or Vieux Montréal, is Montreal's oldest neighbourhood, dating back to the early 1600s. It's a historic district filled with charming cobblestone streets, elegant architecture, and fascinating historical sites. Here are some highlights and things to do when exploring Old Montreal:

Pointe-à-Callière Museum

Montreal began its journey in 1642 as Ville-Marie at Pointe-à-Callière, where the St. Lawrence River met the Petite Rivière. The Pointe-à-Callière Museum, opened in 1992 to commemorate the city's 350th anniversary, showcases the city's history through archaeological artefacts and multimedia displays. The museum complex includes the foundations of the former Royal Insurance building, which played a role in the city's expansion as a customs house. Beneath the museum lies an ancient cemetery, offering a glimpse into the early colonial history of the city.

Notre-Dame Basilica

The Notre-Dame Basilica is a grand Gothic Revival church built in the 1820s, featuring stunning stained glass, a massive pipe organ, and intricate interior details. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Old Montreal and a must-visit destination.

St-Paul Street

St-Paul Street is one of the oldest streets in Montreal, with cobblestones dating back to 1672. It was once the city's main thoroughfare and is now lined with trendy shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Walking along St-Paul Street offers a blend of history and modern culture.

Place Jacques-Cartier

Place Jacques-Cartier is a bustling square named after the explorer who claimed Canada for France in 1535. It features street performers, outdoor cafes, and a lively atmosphere. The square leads to Montreal City Hall and the Old Port, offering a mix of history and entertainment.

Old Port

The Old Port, or Vieux-Port, is a former commercial harbour that has been transformed into a vibrant waterfront recreation area. It offers dining, cycling, and walking paths, as well as attractions like the Montreal Science Centre and a winter skating rink. It's a great place to enjoy the views of the St. Lawrence River.

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, built in 1771, is one of the oldest chapels in Montreal. It houses the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, honouring the first teacher and founder of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Montreal. The chapel offers a beautiful view of Old Port Montreal from its lookout.

Bonsecours Market

The Bonsecours Market, a National Historic Site of Canada, dates back to 1847 and was once the city's largest public market. Today, it features eateries, boutique shops, and local artists, showcasing the best of Quebec's art and fashion.

Château Ramezay

Château Ramezay, located near Place Jacques-Cartier, is Quebec's oldest private history museum. It is housed in a beautiful 1705 building that was once the residence of a governor of New France. The museum offers a glimpse into the early history of the city and features a French colonial-style garden.

Centre d'Histoire de Montreal

The Centre d'Histoire de Montreal is a museum dedicated to the city's history, located in a renovated central fire station. It has three floors of exhibitions that showcase Montreal's diverse story, from its early days to the present.

Grande Roue de Montréal

For a bird's-eye view of Old Montreal, take a ride on the Grande Roue de Montréal, a 60-metre-tall observation wheel. It offers panoramic views of the historic neighbourhood and the St. Lawrence River, providing a unique perspective on the city's evolution.

Dining and Accommodation

Old Montreal boasts an array of culinary delights, from scrumptious breakfast spots to gourmet markets and fine dining establishments. It is also home to some of the city's most desirable hotels, such as Hotel Nelligan, Le Saint-Sulpice, and Le Petit Hotel, offering a blend of luxury and historic charm.


Visiting Mont Royal

Mont Royal Park is one of Montreal's largest greenspaces, offering a variety of flora and fauna to admire. Designed by the same landscape architect as New York's Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, the park boasts miles of trails and superb views of the city.

Getting There

If you're staying at the Embassy Suites, you can walk to the park in around the same time it would take to get the metro from Place d'Arms to Mont Royal. However, if you're concerned about the amount of walking you'll be doing, you can get the metro or walk to Station Place-des-Arts and take the #80 Parc bus. Alternatively, during rush hour, you can catch the #435 bus from the corner of Rene-Lesveque and Jeanne-Mance.

What to Do There

There are plenty of trails to explore in the park, ranging from paved roads to more adventurous paths through the woods. You can walk, run, cycle, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and even toboggan in the park. There's also Beaver Lake, where you can go canoeing in the summer and ice skating in the winter.

If you're looking for a challenge, climb the steps up to the top of the park, where you'll be rewarded with splendid views and a charming cafe. There are two main ways up to the viewpoint: a 15-minute walk up a series of steep wooden steps or a longer, circular path. If you're fit and healthy, the walk should take no more than 45 minutes, but if you want to explore the whole mountain, it could take up to three hours.

Once you reach the top, you'll find the Chalet and a lookout point with panoramic views of the city. There's also a small path that leads to the eastern lookout in around 10 minutes, where you can catch the #11 bus down to Mont-Royal Avenue or Mont-Royal metro in the Plateau.

Nearby Attractions

Near the park, you'll find St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe Mont Royal, as well as St-Joseph's Oratory, Canada's largest church. There's also Little Italy and the Jean Talon Market, one of the oldest public markets in Montreal.

Where to Eat

You can get snacks and drinks at the cafe in the Chalet, or head to Smith House for coffee and treats. For breakfast, try Tommy Montreal, or for a classic Quebec brunch, try Cartet. For delicious sandwiches and baked goods, check out Olive & Gourmando. If you're in the mood for bagels, head to Fairmount Bagel or Bagel St-Viateur—just be aware that St-Viateur's bagels are the local favourite!


Olympic Park and St-Laurent

On your third day in Montreal, head to the Olympic Park in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood. The Olympic Stadium, also known as "The Big O", was built in the 1970s as the main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. It is an international symbol of Montreal and the tallest inclined tower in the world. The stadium currently serves as a multi-purpose facility for special events, including concerts and trade shows. You can take a guided tour of the stadium and go up to the observation tower for incredible views of Montreal.

Nearby, you'll find The Montreal Botanical Gardens, which is among the best in the world. It features a variety of gardens, including a Chinese Garden, an Aquatic Garden, and an Alpine garden. The Chinese Garden is particularly impressive, with artificial mountains, Chinese plants, and a bonsai collection.

After exploring the Olympic Park, make your way to St-Laurent Boulevard, also known as "The Main". This vibrant neighbourhood is full of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. It is a cultural hub in the city and home to festivals throughout the year, such as MuralFest, a street art festival. You'll also find cool vintage shops, trendy independent boutiques, and delicious food options like Schwartz's Deli, famous for its authentic and delicious smoked meat sandwiches.

St-Laurent is one of the biggest streets in Montreal and is definitely worth a visit. It offers a mix of old and new, with historic buildings and modern shops and restaurants. The street has a great vibe and is a perfect place to spend your final evening in the city.


The Underground City

Montreal's Underground City, or RÉSO, is an extensive subterranean network of pedestrian tunnels that spans over 32 kilometres (20 miles) and covers 4 million square metres (1.5 square miles). It is largely climate-controlled, providing a comfortable escape from Montreal's harsh weather, especially during the long winters.

In addition to shopping and dining, the Underground City offers entertainment venues such as the Place des Arts and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. It also features public art displays and interactive exhibitions as part of the Art Souterrain festival, making it a cultural destination as well.

While the Underground City provides easy navigation and protection from the elements, some visitors have found it challenging to navigate due to confusing signage. Nonetheless, it stands as a unique feature of Montreal, allowing visitors and locals alike to explore a vast network of tunnels and venues, all while staying warm and dry.


The Gay Village

The Village was originally a poor working-class area, but it became increasingly attractive to the gay and lesbian community after the migration of LGBT businesses from other parts of the city. The area has since become considerably gentrified, in part due to significant investment from the government, which aggressively promotes Montreal's gay life as a tourist attraction.

The Village is specifically marked on official city maps as 'Le Village', and the Ville-Marie borough has shown its support for the LGBT community by displaying a rainbow flag in its council chambers and redecorating the entrance to the Beaudry Metro station with rainbow pillars.

Every summer, St. Catherine Street becomes a pedestrian mall, decked out with pink balls strung overhead. Many bars and restaurants provide outdoor terraces for their patrons at this time. Major events that are held in the Village include Fierté Montréal (Montreal's Pride festival) and Le Festival International de Montréal en Arts.

The first recorded gay establishment in North America was in Montreal, when Moise Tellier opened an apple and cake shop on Craig Street (now Saint Antoine Street) in 1869. In addition to this, there was a small gay scene in Old Montreal, and two concentrations of establishments where gays were welcomed: Downtown Montreal (mostly anglophone) and The Main (mostly francophone).

By the 1990s, the Village had expanded along Amherst Street (now Atateken Street), and by this time had become well-established, gaining political recognition and acceptance from the LGBT community and heterosexuals alike. Today, almost all gay businesses in Montreal are located in this area.

Frequently asked questions

2-3 days are enough to visit Montreal. The city is not a megacity, so you can cover the major landmarks, local spots and try the best food in this time.

Old Montreal is a must-visit, especially for first-timers. You can visit the Old Port, the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Place Jacques Cartier, the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, and the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

You can visit the Mount Royal Park, the Beaver Lake, the Little Italy, the Jean Talon Market, and the St-Louis Square.

See the answer above.

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