Above photo: Stunning views from Ile de Montreal.
- Total cost for a 5-day trip (flight was from NYC) ~ $900
- Weather: high 60s-70s
- The spectacular view of Montreal from Mount Royal Lookout
- A ridiculously delicious bagel and I don’t even like bagels!
- A pot belly pig with red painted hooves on a leash
Based on my trip, here is a quick list of my itinerary and places to hit. All places and things I highly recommend.
- La Maison du Bagel
- Old Downtown
- East End
- West Mount
- Mount Royal Lookout – make sure you hike up the steps
After my trip to NYC and Montauk, I hopped on a quick, 1.5 hour flight to our neighbors in the north (that’s Canada, in case you’re geographically challenged) and decided to explore Montreal.
My vast knowledge of Montreal:
- It’s Celine Dion’s home town
- People look very American but they also speak French
Starbucks was called Café Starbucks, not sure why that impressed me, but it felt exotic…
First impression wasn’t a lasting one
When I first arrived, I didn’t immediately fall in love with Montreal. The town felt like an odd mix of a big city in the U.S. (maybe Seattle and Brooklyn), with parts of Europe.
It was confusing because it felt familiar but wasn’t… towards the end of my stay, however, I was Googling how much a one-bedrooms rent for in the East End area because I loved it so much!
I liked that Montreal was a very nice blend of a quiet city and lovely neighborhoods, almost like the Bay Area, but on a much smaller scale.
I also really liked the people and their diverse ethnic backgrounds and colorful life stories of how they came to live in Montreal.
And the most noticeable part was that there were no hipsters! (Depending on who you are, this is good or bad.)
I arrived and stayed a few days in the Old Downtown area of Montreal. I took a bus from the airport to the city — it was a shuttle bus that goes directly downtown for about $10.
The Old Downtown area has historical churches and old architecture, with cobblestone streets and old-fashioned street lamps.
After a few days, I moved over to Montreal’s East End area and stayed in a flat there. I read that it’s considered to be more artsy and up-and-coming.
It reminded me of parts of Brooklyn (Fort Greene, Park Slope). Just like Brooklyn, the neighborhood was filled with Orthodox Jews, pushing their strollers in their black outfits.
I walked to the Westmount area which was more upscale than East End, and checked out a few street fairs and soaked in the neighborhoods.
The food (ok, I’m only talking about La Maison du Bagel)
Food in Montreal was delicious. The best part is that it’s in Canadian dollars, so when I got home and scanned my credit card statements, it was like having a nice 25% discount on my trip, thanks to the currency exchange.
There is a famous bagel place called La Maison du Bagel, and this is a MUST. Even if you don’t like bagels. Even if you don’t like bread. Basically, if you’re human, you will love this place.
Go when they are serving up some hot, fresh bagels and buy them up like they’re going out of style. I tried to order an Everything Bagel, but the guy behind the counter asked me several times to consider the plain sesame bagel since that’s what was hot out the oven. Duh!
Marvel at the giant pile of dough that is carefully cut and shaped into a circle.
The Notre Dame Basilica… not worth it
The Notre Dam of Basilica was $5-7 to get in. I suppose it’s worth it if you like staring at intricate religious architecture, but I wasn’t into it. I could’ve bought a few more bagels for the price I paid to enter the church.
Not much to do besides sit, after you walk inside. Lucky for me, I sat right in front of a group who had a tour guide, so I just nonchalantly listened in. I know, I’m terrible.
If I were to do it again, I would skip the church and instead, go straight to the Mount Royal Lookout and hike up the stairs.
Once you get to the top, take a million selfies against the gorgeous city backdrop of Montreal and do a happy dance. Then run back down.
Gallery of Montreal
Where I went in Montreal: