48 hours in Montreal

By Catherine Maisonneuve, Montreal based writer

Main image courtesy of Fitz & Follwell Cycle Tours

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July 2017

Montreal is often described as the perfect blend between Boston and Paris, and this cosmopolitan Canadian city offers both the lifestyle and architecture of Europe and the fast pace of its American counterparts. Local writer Catherine Maisonneuve shares her tips on where to sleep, eat and visit during your 48-hour trip in the most vibrant city in ''la belle province".

Day one

Check in

Conveniently located between downtown and the Old Port, Old Montreal is one of the most dynamic boroughs in town. W Montreal is a clever choice for travellers seeking the modern and fashionable, with its recently renovated rooms and a brand new restaurant on site. A bit further downtown, the Germain Montreal is a great option for those curious to stay in a Quebecois family-owned establishment.

The botanical decor transports you to a lush garden and the menu will surprise even the most sceptical of guests

20:00 – Get gastronomic

Montrealers love to eat and drink, so arrive ready to feast. If you're staying in Old Montreal, there are plenty of options within easy walking distance. Stop by LOV, one of the newest additions to Montreal’s food scene. Its name stands for Local-Organic-Vegan and there's absolutely nothing boring about this restaurant. The botanical decor transports you to a lush garden and the menu will surprise even the most sceptical of guests. Try the buckwheat and sweet-potato gnocchi, with hemp-basil pesto, arugula, and LOV Parmesan – but be sure to make a reservation in advance though, as it’s been a popular spot since its opening in 2016.

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  • Rest and relax the Le Germain Montreal.

    Did you know…?

    Montreal is a designated UNESCO city of design, the only city in Canada to be part of this exclusive creative city network.

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  • Savour beautifully-prepared organic cuisine at LOV.
  • Start your day the right way with a trip to Arthurs © Karolina Jez.

    Food for thought

    Montreal has more restaurants per capita than any city in Canada and the second highest rate in North America after New York City.£783 pp

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Led by chef Normand Laprise, whom many consider the precursor of Québec gastronomy, a trip to Toqué is a must. This Relais & Chateaux certified restaurant offers the most sophisticated local cuisine and boasts an esteemed alumni list including many well-known Quebec chefs.

Day two

09.00 – On the right foot

Located on St-Paul Street in Old Montreal, there's always a line outside Olive & Gourmando, but it's well worth the wait. The pastries, the coffee, and everything else you'll find on the menu (“Poached egg on your face” Panini we’re looking at you) are truly stunning. Open seven days a week, it's the perfect way to start off a day of sightseeing and city exploration.

11:00 – Tour time

To explore the city like a local, Fitz & Follwell is a locally-owned family business that offers bike and walking tours around the city’s landmark neighbourhoods. Try the Flavours of Montreal-North tour to explore one of the many multicultural sides of the city. Wander through four cultural communities (Plateau, Mile-End, Little Italy & Jean-Talon market), discovering the stories of their inhabitants, and sampling typical food. If you’d rather something a little easier on the legs, try a Montreal City Guided Sightseeing Tour to see all the major sights.

  • Marvel at the art-deco architecture of Atwater Market © carterdayne / Getty.

    Blooming lovely

    The market, known for its butchers, delis, and flower sellers, is open all year round from 07.00.Book flights from London to Montreal, plus a five night hotel stay from:£714 pp

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15.30 – Grab a bargain

Located in the heart of Montréal on Canada's largest shopping strip, Sainte-Catherine Street, Eaton Center is the number one shopping destination in the city. It’s also the gateway to the famous underground city. Whether you like to shop or not, a pit stop on both busy Sainte-Catherine and the 32km underground city network is a must. This underground trail is particularly useful during Montreal's long winters, when well over half a million citizens are estimated to use it every day.

19.00 – Cocktail chic

Time for a spot of the hard stuff and in this city, there’s plenty of choice. Kampai Garden is an impressive cocktail bar that recently opened in downtown Montreal, they serve delicious Asian-style tapas by celebrated chef Antonio Park too. Try the kung pow beef tartare washed down with a Tokyo grapefruit Sangria.

A little further south, located in a hidden alleyway you’ll find Atwater Cocktail Club. It’s the perfect place to start a stylish night out, before finishing off the evening next door at Foiegwa, which serves mouth-watering burgers and milkshakes in an up-market diner atmosphere.

  • Grab a table at Olive & Gourmando for breakfast.

    Did you know…?

    Olive & Gourmando opens seven days a week 09.00-17.00 and for brunch on weekends.

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  • Choose your cocktail at Kampai Garden.

    Peachy keen

    Open everyday from 17.00-03.00, start the night off with a cool Lucky Peach Mojito.

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  • Soothe weary legs at Bota Bota Floating Spa.

    Body beautiful

    Why not treat yourself to a Flying Cloud treatment that includes a water circuit journey, scrub, 60-minute Swedish massage, facial, and a tasting plate?

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Day three

10:00 – Spa gazing

If there's one place that showcases Montreal’s originality and creativity, it's Bota Bota. This spa – located on a boat – is a realisation of Sid Lee Architecture. Start the day with an invigorating pear and green apple sugar scrub before relaxing alongside the canal, where you'll find a heated pool, hammocks, a fire pit and a dry sauna.

13.00 – Brunch o’clock

Brunch is huge in Montreal and it should be taken very seriously. Those in the know head to Arthurs Nosh Bar, where they serve up Jewish classics with a twist like challah French toast. This family-owned restaurant is always bustling, delicious (and loud).

15.00 – Under the Boardwalk

While in the area, take a stroll around the stalls at Atwater Market. You can shop and eat local or just walk around the 14 km Lachine Canal Boardwalk that goes from Saint-Henri to Old Montreal.

17.00 – Spectacular sights

Located in downtown Montreal, the Quartier des spectacles is the city’s cultural centre and the perfect climax for your stay. Within its boundaries, you’ll find a huge array of cultural venues and goings on. Check out the events schedule to see what’s on and join the locals at one of the 40-plus artistic festivals that take place here throughout the year.

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