Weekending Near Boston: Guide to Montreal, QC

I love Montreal. It reminds me of Boston, just a little bigger and a little more European. Plus, it’s a city with a great mix of history, art, culture and innovation. It’s a trip you definitely want 48+ hours for.

Flying from Boston to Montreal is expensive. If you have a car, or can rent one, I suggest driving. The drive takes about 5 hours, but expect to encounter some traffic when leaving the city or crossing the Canadian border.

Ryo and I have gone on two weekend trips to Montreal together — and I went on a day trip from Vermont with my brother two summers ago. The first time we weekend-ed, we stayed in a hotel downtown. On that trip, were also attending the Osheaga Music Festival — which meant that we only had the mornings and late nights to explore. Our second weekender was a couple of weeks ago — we had a wedding to attend on Sunday, but all day to explore on Saturday, Sunday morning, and a bit of time on Monday morning before we drove back to Boston.

Below are some of my tips and recommendations for a weekend in Montreal — healthy ones at that. Follow me on Instagram for more real-time travel/health posts.

Before you go: Check Montreal events/concerts

Montreal is a hub for culture and the arts. Check online to see if there are any fun festivals going on during your stay. Decide how you are going to get there. Bostonians, you should really consider driving if you have a car. You can make stops along Interstate 89 that takes you thought Manchester (NH), Concord (NH), White River Junction (VT), Montpellier (VT) and Burlington (VT). In White River Junction, eat at Tuckerbox. In Burlington, eat at Pho Hong or a brewery.

Make time for breakfast/brunch

There are so many great cafes and breakfast spots in Montreal. Pastries, eggs, doughnuts… everything. Here are some placed I’ve gone to and loved.

  • Arthurs Nosh Bar: This place is hip. I love the decor, the owners, the food. I ate avocado toast and Ryo had this amazing egg dish with latkes.
  • Resto Cafe Quoi De N’Oeuf: This spot was close to our most recent AirBnB in Little Burgundy. I loved the neighborhood and the food was delicious and quick.
  • Eggspectation: This is one of those spots all the tourists love to check out. The food is good and there is a location right downtown. Our friend Kevin thinks this place has the best french toast on planet earth… he gets excited every time it comes up in conversation.

Stop for coffee at local cafes

Most of you know this about me: I love trying local coffee and espresso everywhere we visit. It’s not just for the caffeine, it’s for short interactions with locals and for people-watching.

  • September Cafe: A surf shop/cafe. Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood.
  • Lili & Oli: Great espresso! We didn’t have cash when we arrived and the kind folks there made our coffee and asked that we come back and pay later or the next day. I love friendly, trusting humans.
  • Pikolo Espresso Bar: Great reviews, close to downtown, cool vibe.

Shop at boutiques and other stores downtown

Downtown has some great stores. Check them out, then wander a bit out to find some cute boutiques. Little Burgundy is a great place to find boutiques. I also recommend strolling up St Laurent Boulevard.

How to be active in Montreal

Being active in Montreal all is easy. When the weather is nice, you can rent bikes, walk and run. If the weather is gloomy, there are plenty of yoga studies to pop into. My best tip: WALK EVERYWHERE. That’s how we get exercise in on vacation and earn those afternoon siestas.

  • Biking, walk, run around the city: It’s a great way to find places to shop, places to eat and places to visit.
  • Mont Royal: You can drive up, walk up or… bike up. I recommend starting near the bottom and taking a walk up earlier in the day to beat the crowds — especially if you visit in the summer time.
  • Canal Lachine Park: One morning, Ryo and I grabbed coffee and took a stroll along the canal. It was nice to get some fresh air and see how the locals spend their Sunday mornings.

Where to eat lunch or snack in Montreal

I’ve said this before. Most times, I like to do a quick lunch so I can see as much of a city as possible. If we are tired, we’ll sit down for lunch and relax, but usually it’s a pastry, ice cream, quick-bite kind of lunch.

  • La Diperrie: These dipped ice cream cones are all the rage in Montreal right now. Stop in if it’s a warm sunny day — or not.
  • Schwartz’s Deli: This is one of those gotta-try-it-once-for-the-experience kind of places. I went for lunch with my brother and were gobbled these sandwiches up after a grueling bike ride (he’s still mad at me for all the hills) and a hike up Mont Royal.
  • Healthy lunch: Try Copper Branch, Omnivore, or La Panthere Verte.
  • Doughnuts: I’ve never eaten doughnuts in Montreal… who has recommendations?

Head out for dinner, drinks, and late-night eats

The first two trips I took to Montreal, there weren’t any memorable dinners. On this most-recent trip, we had dinner… but mostly drinks… at Otto Yakitori Izakaya and Dieu du Ciel! brewery. I would love to read some of your Montreal dinner recommendations in the comments below (then, I’ll add them to this post)!

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