Montreal is the largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second largest in the country. A 2014 estimate found that the metropolitan area’s population is over 4.1 million. Montreal is named after Mount Royal, a triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is actually on an island at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. While French is the official language, Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Canada with 56% of the population able to speak both English and French.
THE LOCAL: Mitch
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HIM: Mitch has lived in Montreal his whole life, but he loves playing tourist in his hometown. He has family from all over the world who has visited, and Mitch always enjoys playing tour guide to these visitors. In his opinion, Montreal will alway provide a great time, no matter the reason for your visit! Check out tips from Mitch in this Local Guide to Montreal, below.
1. Favorite Street to Stroll or Wander?
In the summer, The Old Port (the historic port) is a great place for a walk, bike ride, or roller blading. The Port stretches for 2 kilometres along the St-Lawrence River, and attractions in the area include the Montréal Science Centre and the Montreal Clock Tower. In the Winter, I’d suggest Mount Royal.
2. Best weekend brunch in town?
Bishop and Bagg, and authentic British pub and restaurant. Think Fried Chicken and Biscuits, Pullman French Toast, and Brice de Nice.
3. Best Dive Bar or Hole-in-the-Wall?
4. Your Recommended Sunny Day Agenda?
Bike on the Lachine Canal to the St. Ambroise Terrace, where you can enjoy a few beers at the McAuslan brewery.
5. Essential Montreal Tip?
Be ready to party! Our bars close at 3am. Although French is the official language of Montreal, people speak more English then you might think. Also, be mindful of tourist trap bars with pushy promoters.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE MONTREAL ATTRACTIONS
1. Notre-Dame Basilica– Thumbs Up! A quick visit and great photo op. It’s in the Old Port.
2. Old Montreal– Two thumbs up! Lots of history, great food and bars, very nice hotels, and festivals weekly.
3. Mont (Mount) Royal– Another Two thumbs up.
This nice park offers photo ops galore. Imagine if central park was on a hill overlooking the city. In the summer on Sundays, you can witness a Tam tam- an outdoor picnic with people playing instruments. Also, according to bylaws, if you have food for a picnic, you’re also allowed to drink (although technically, you have to be sitting on a picnic table).
4. Montreal Botanical Gardens– Thumbs up if you’re into walks in a garden. A trip to the Botanical Gardens can be combined with a visit to the Olympic stadium, which is about 15 minutes outside of downtown, so it is not a quick stop.
5. St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal– Very cool church with a nice view. Be ready to climb stairs!
MITCH’S FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
1. Tuck Shop – A small farm to table restaurant with a seasonally changing menu. In St. Henri.
2. SUWU– A hip, new spot with a menu that changes weekly. Head to sister bar, APT 200, afterwards, which is just three doors down for drinks, arcade games, music.
3. BEVO– Wood burning pizza place right in the Old Port. The restaurant is built into the brick walls of Old Montreal. Two stories, lots of space and an extensive bar menu.
4. Gibbys– Best steak in town! Gibby’s is a traditional steakhouse located in a 200 year old building in Old Montreal. Old school vibe and always busy.
5. Joe Beef– Amazing meat and seafood in St. Henri, an up and coming young neighborhood. Make a reservation!
Montreal is too fancy for its own good! While it’s no New York, for a night out, dress to impress; many bars and restaurants have dress codes. You can always find a casual spot as well, if you don’t want to pack a suit or heels. December through March can be bitterly cold, so make sure to check the weather and pack accordingly.
Are you a local? Did we leave out any of your favorite spots in this Local Guide to Montreal? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!