Planning trips can be both a blessing and a curse for me. Over time I’ve realized that what makes them worth it is the tips and tricks I can share after I travel! Looking for the best Montreal Travel Guide for first-timers? Keep reading!
The initial purpose of this spontaneous trip was creativity! A group of creatives and I wanted to go to Montreal for a photo and video shoot! Figured the city is beautiful enough that we could get a plethora of good content while there.
Of course for me though, if it’s my first time in a city, I want to enjoy the city. Which leads me to my must-have for every trip I’m on — an itinerary.
Like all plans, we usually don’t stick to them, which is why I more so create these trip itineraries as a guide, to ensure that we see the most of what we can and in an order that makes sense so we’re not running all around the city like madmen.
Choice of Travel – if you are in the tri-state area I’d recommend driving to Montreal. It’s the most cost-effective and it doesn’t bind you to a flight or train schedule. You can come and go at whatever time you like while saving money. Our drive was roughly 5.5- 6 hours and we only stopped once in Albany. It’s also a beauty to travel through upstate New York, and I got some footage that will be shown in my vlog. Lastly, when you’re entering Canada, if you’re looking for a stamp on your passport you have to ask. Don’t be silly like us and try to get one on your way out because it won’t happen lol.
Hotel Stay – Whewww! Before I get to the drama, let me talk to you about my strategy when picking a place to stay. While Airbnb’s are a great option, I always like to factor in the groups’ needs. For example, how many bathrooms will we need? Will we need a change of towels often? Is the place within walking distance from our sites? It may sometimes seem that an Airbnb is the better option but for our group, I thought not. Plus I always try to find a hotel with a free breakfast so that we have one less meal to spend money on.
Now I won’t mention the name of the hotel as I know this does happen from time to time, and they did, in the end, accommodate us. After a long drive, we arrived at our hotel only to find out that one of our two rooms would not be ready that night —they were overbooked. You can imagine my frustration, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise, because the hotel they moved us to, free of charge, was absolutely beautiful. The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
We moved back to our original hotel for the second night and were able to check out at 3 pm, which allowed us to explore longer on Monday before our drive.
Sites– there is so much to love about Montreal, it’s certainly a wandering city though, but these types of cities are my favorite. When I first got a taste of travel, I was in Barcelona and some of the best places I found were from wandering about.
Our hotel was situated in Old Montreal, which made it easy to find beautiful places to shoot within walking distance. On Monday, we also found little hidden spots and restaurants that had so much character, a little piece of Europe in North America.
Must-sees/visit while in Montreal: the Botanical Gardens ($15 USD), Champ De Mars, Rue de St Paul and Notre Dame Basilica. Although I wasn’t able to make it to Saint Louis Square, that it most certainly a place you want to see.
Food– I didn’t know this before my trip (bad researcher lol) but the well-known food of Montreal is bagels and poutine, both of which I was able to have. For bagels, find Fairmount in Mile End. That cinnamon raisin bagel I had hit the spot, but be sure to bring cash and also note that they’ll take USD but they won’t convert, everything will be charged 1:1.
After we stumbled across Les Impertinentes where we enjoyed coffee and sweets! Also, this place is a nice mixture of an Urban Outfitters and a cafe, plus it’s female-run. Loved the aesthetic and overall vibe. Our last food stop on Monday was Lloydies, another place we stumbled across and thoroughly enjoy! It’s a black-owned business and they served us poutine and jerk chicken, plus a free dessert that I inhaled pretty much.
Nightlife– we didn’t get the full spectrum of Montreal’s nightlife but there are a few places I’d like to recommend. House of Jazz, it’s a restaurant but they have live jazz music. There is a $10 cover but you can avoid that charge by coming after 10:30. Beware, the kitchen does close early so know what you want to eat in advance. On Saturday, we visited Air Terasse for dinner on a rooftop and then went to McLean’s Pub and Salsathèque. There’s a $12 cover for Salsathèque but if you’d like to beat around that just travel with a large group of girls and few dudes. We all got in for a total of $10.
Hope this guide is helpful on what to do and see while in Montreal! If you have more questions leave them in the comments below.