Montreal is one of my favourite cities in the world. The food, the art, the culture, the coffee – it’s a city that’s easy to fall in love with. As it’s only a 5 hour drive from Toronto, I visit the city whenever I can. Looking to visit Montreal soon? Here's what I'd recommend.
Brunch at L’Avenue – As one of Montreal’s trendiest brunch restaurants, L’Avenue’s menu is filled with delicious (& beautifully presented) breakfast fare. There are a wide range of options, including the “Indecisive” which lets customers try an array of items. As for their coffee menu, you can choose bottomless filter coffee for under $2, or choose one of their speciality coffees which come in a glass or bowl – yes, a bowl.
Atwater Market – Montreal’s all-year market sells a variety of produce, breads, cheeses, packaged goods, and more. One of my favourite stalls in the market is Brulerie Aux Quatre Vents, a roastery/café that has been around since 1997. At their Atwater Market location, they sell their coffee beans, drinks, food, and more. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see them roast the beans on site.
Shopping at Mile End – Trendy brunch in the morning, and even trendier shopping in the afternoon. The Mile End area is known for its boutique shops; here you’ll have no trouble window shopping for hours, and finding unique clothing and local art. Need more coffee? Check out Dispatch, a Montreal café and roastery located in the area.
Eva B thrift shopping – Located in the Mile End, this thrift shop should not be missed. The staff are great, the items are well-priced, and there is a TON of options. I have never left the store without finding at least one thing I love. The thrift store also has an affordable café and kitchen with an array of options; I’m a big fan of their $1 cookies. On top of this, there are plenty of tables in the shop, and there are even board games available to borrow. Two floors of shopping, a café… you could easily spend hours here.
Dinner – If you want to stay in the Mile End area, you’ll have no shortage of great restaurants to choose from. A classic in the area is Schwartz’s Deli, a legendary smoked meat sandwich shop. Looking to visit outside this area? Try Montreal’s Eaton Centre. I’m typically not one to ever suggest going to a mall when travelling, but theirs has recently opened a “Time Out Market” – a food hall sponsored by Time Out magazine that boasts some of Montreal’s finest eateries. This is not mall food, this is some of best restaurants the city has to offer.
Explore Old Montreal/the Old Port – Part of Montreal’s appeal is their historical charm. With beautiful buildings encompassing the area, Old Montreal and the Old Port are beautiful for a stroll. These areas possess a variety of sites, boutiques, and restaurants that make it a prime destination, especially in the spring and summer. I especially love the coffee shops in the area (examples below).
If you’re looking for a hosted tour of the area, I’d recommend the Old Port Coffee Crawl. I participated in this coffee crawl & loved it. If you’re looking for in-depth information about Montreal cafés, the coffee scene, and the area in general, try it out! (not sponsored)
Olive & Gourmando – The best croissant you’ll eat in your life. Period. I’d recommend getting their pastries to-go as their brunch can gather a queue.
Crew Collective Café – This café and co-working space is located in an old bank building in the heart of Old Montreal. The shop serves Pilot coffee, a Toronto roaster. I love Pilot, but the real reason to visit is the café’s atmosphere. High dome ceilings, vintage furnishing, a variety of seating options… the overall look is one you can get lost in. Every time I visit, I can't help but stare at the café’s ceilings (I probably look like a crazy person but it's seriously gorgeous). An extra bonus for any corporate clients visiting the establishment: the café boasts meeting rooms that can be rented at a flat fee of $30/hour.
More coffee – Still not caffeinated enough? There are even more great coffee shops to choose from! Two standouts for me are Paquebot Vieux-Mtl and ALOHA Espresso Bar. Paquebot serves ZAB coffee, a Montreal roaster, and has a wide range of unique & full-flavoured coffees. You'll definitely want to get a bag to bring home. Paquebot was also the first café in Montreal to serve nitro cold brew coffee; theirs is one of the best I’ve ever had. ALOHA, on the other hand, is a café that offers a wide range of Hawaiian- inspired coffee and meals. Their smoothie bowls and poke bowls are stand-out food items. As for coffee, I’d recommend their flavoured lattes, such as the “Aloha” & “Canadian”.
Musée d’Art Contemporain (MAC ) – Montreal is arguably the most artistic city in Canada, and as so, you shouldn’t miss visiting one of their art museums. Their larger museum, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is massive and you could easily spend hours exploring its exhibits. It’s worth a visit if you have the time, but my favourite museum in the city is the MAC. This museum pushes the boundaries of modern art, and has rotating exhibitions every few months.
La Finca – La Finca is a female-owned coffee shop that is known for its high quality drinks and treats. They close daily at 5pm so make sure you don’t visit too late in the day. Tip: ask them about their “cock-achino” story.
Nightlife - Montreal is a bustling city and their nights out are known to be wild. As their legal drinking age is 18, Montreal is infamously known as the party capital of Canada. Let loose and go out dancing, check out one of their multitude of festivals, or simply explore the city streets. You’re sure find something fun to do.
Jean Talon Market – The Jean-Talon Market has been around since 1933 and is one of North America’s largest open-air public markets. Open year-round, the Market hosts a variety of food vendors selling everything from produce, to cheeses, to flowers, and more. Here you’ll find a wide array of both international and Quebec offerings. There are also tons of great restaurants within the Market, including my personal favourite, El Rey del Taco.
Café Olimpico – If you’re going to visit any café in Montreal, let this one be it. Café Olimpico is my favourite coffee shop in the whole city: their cappuccinos are to die for, the vibe is casual yet eccentric, and they sell an array of affordable & delicious pastries. The café is cash-only so make sure you have your loonies and toonies ready!
Fairmont & St. Viateur Bagels – The never-ending debate: who truly has the best bagels in Montreal? Located less than a 10 minute walk apart from one another, I’d recommend trying both and deciding for yourself. These shops are strictly to-go, so if you’re looking for a place to sit and eat, I’d recommend the St. Viateur Bagel & Café Mont-Royal. Learn from my mistakes and make sure you buy enough bagels to bring home with you.
Arriving on a Thursday? Look into a latte art workshop, Hosted on the last Thursday of the month at Café Triangle, this AirBnB experience is equal parts fun as it is informative. Hosted by café owner Michael, this Montreal-native is the embodiment of a true barista. At the workshop, you’ll go behind the café counter & learn different latte art techniques that can be applied to home espresso machines. Here, you’ll “test your anxiety” while pouring steamed milk, learn about the coffee culture in Montreal, and leave highly caffeinated.