View of Rue St. Paul in Old Montreal

Visit Rue St. Paul in Old Montreal. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Explore the Best of Montreal, Quebec on a Weekend Getaway

Montreal, Quebec, knows how to turn on the charm with centuries-old stone buildings, memorable arts and culture and endless opportunities to sit and savor the surroundings from a waterfront café. The festival-loving city also features a jam-packed annual calendar with events celebrating music, dance, art and cuisine. Nature lovers will also appreciate the city’s pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly green spaces and bike paths.

With European influences and an undeniable joie de vivre, Montreal’s neighborhoods provide countless entertainment options as well as access to palate-pleasing dining experiences. Here’s how to spend an unforgettable weekend in Montreal.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

Friday: Stroll Sainte-Catherine Street

Start the day with a café au lait and a fresh croissant or stack of pancakes with Canadian maple syrup at Tbsp. Restaurant, before strolling Sainte-Catherine Street to peek into downtown shops like Simons department store, which carries homegrown Quebec designers, such as Frank & Oak for chic casualwear and Canada Goose for sleek coats and accessories.

Spend a few hours in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, browsing both the impressive modern art collection and the fanciful gift shop stocked with art and housewares.

Roast beef sandwich with greens and tomatoes
Enjoy a roast beef sandwich for lunch. (Photo: Marriott International)

After a morning of retail therapy, consider a made-to-order baguette sandwich with a side of people-watching at Boulangerie Ange. Stop to snap a photo of the neighborhood’s newest art installation: the colorful H Anima, a sculpture by Quebec artist Marc Séguin.

Then get another dose of culture at Oasis, Canada’s first permanent immersive multimedia exhibition, located within the city’s Palais des Congrès. This hourlong video and sound experience is divided among three galleries.

Kick off your evening with a chilled glass of Dom Pérignon at the Palm Court, the Ritz-Carlton Montreal’s elegant bar, before heading to Maison Boulud (you’ll need to reserve a table well in advance), the first Canadian restaurant opened by celebrated chef Daniel Boulud.

The indulgent menu showcases artisanal Quebec ingredients in classic French presentations, like endive salad with Blue Benedictine cheese or duck with black-currant sauce. And since it’s a special occasion, order from the restaurant’s exclusive caviar menu.

Saturday: Visit Vieux-Montréal for Fine Dining and Science

Start your Saturday off with an excellent pour-over and a buttery croissant at the cozy Olive et Gourmando in charming Old Montreal.

Stroll to the district’s eye-catching Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, located at Place d’Armes, where street performers and temporary art exhibitions are often on view. The cathedral is open daily for self-guided tours, for a taste of the history, art and architecture of this 19th-century building.

If you’re interested, you can plan to come back after dark when the structure plays host to AURA, an immersive light and sound experience showcasing the church’s historic interior design and art.

Head down the hill to the Old Port, home to the Montreal Science Centre on King Edward Pier, with interactive activities, 3D wildlife films and several permanent exhibits, including “Human,” which offers insights on the body, and “Water in the Universe,” which features objects sourced from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.

Montreal's Bonsecours Market in the fall
Montreal is beautiful in the fall. (Photo: Getty Images)

Seek out lunchtime nibbles at the historic Bonsecours Market and stroll through the side-street shops for Quebec-made products. Feeling energetic? Get some fresh air along the shady paths in Mount Royal Park, Montreal’s beautiful 495-acre green space, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame.

Featuring an extensive Canadian and international wine list, gaZette is a laid-back place to enjoy a pre-dinner glass of wine and sample poutine — a famous Quebec snack of French fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.

For dinner, make a reservation at award-winning Toqué, regularly chosen as one of the top restaurants in the city. Offering market-fresh ingredients and inventive combinations for dinner, the menu is an homage to seasonal Canadian cuisine. Go for broke with the seven-course tasting menu, with a side of foie gras.

Sunday: Bike Along the City’s Canals

Rent a bicycle from BIXI Montreal, a bike rental system with 700 stations across the city, and head into Les Quartiers du Canal, made up of three areas: Little Burgundy, Griffintown and Saint-Henri. At the Lachine Canal National Historic Site explore more than 8.5 miles of flat trails, great for a cruise.

Look for the colorful mural “Alchemy of Time” by Ankhone and pick up a snack from one of the food trucks parked along the canal’s banks. You can also spin by Atwater Market for fresh-squeezed juices, seasonal products or breakfast sandwiches from the weekend vendors.

Coffee and eclair with cherry
Is there anything better than coffee and dessert? (Photo: Marriott International)

During warmer months, H20 Adventures in Little Burgundy provides on-the-water options like kayaking, canoeing and electric boats.

Follow the locals for a late brunch at Griffintown’s Perles et Paddock, where you can feast on fresh oysters with mignonette, salmon gravlax eggs Benedict or a decadent bread pudding. And definitely save room for dessert: “The Chocolactaire” is a coffee-chocolate mousse served with a maple macaron and fresh sea buckthorn berries.

Pop into stylish La Bête à Pain for a freshly baked treat for later or a foodie souvenir to take home.

Following your meal, climb the Dendrites, a tree-like public sculpture by Michel de Broin that features stairs and cantilevered branches as well as lovely views of the area, or enjoy a free tour of Espace Verre, where you can watch artisans blow glass, take in an art exhibit or purchase a piece made by one of Quebec’s finest glass artisans.

Afterward, wander to Saint-Henri to peruse the loaded shelves of popular bookstore Saint-Henri Books, where you can pick up a thriller by Quebec-based Louise Penny, or check out one of the many antiques shops for vintage clothing, accessories or distinctive turn-of-the-century home decor.

As the day comes to an end, find a table at the lively Le Tequila Bar for Mexican cocktails and cuisine. Besides the traditional nachos and quesadillas, you’ll find a few standout combinations featuring Indian flavors, like tandoori shrimp tacos. Raise a glass to a memorable weekend in Montreal with a nightcap at Lloyd.