There’s nothing we love more than planning an itinerary, packing a suitcase, purchasing a train ticket, and embarking on a new adventure!
This year, we’re partnering with Canada’s VIA Rail in celebration of their 40th anniversary. As the season change, we’ll introduce you to other vibrant cities and communities across Canada through this #VIARail40 collaboration. You can take the journey with us on our blog and through social media.
Montréal is known for its bustling metropolis and old-world architecture — if you’re planning a day trip to Canada’s second most populous city, we’ve outlined a brief itinerary that will give you a good introduction to this beautiful region.
What to see
Old Montréal (known in French as Vieux-Montréal) — a collective of ancient shops, restaurants, architecture, all spanning the city’s Saint Lawrence River — is well worth the visit. As the oldest area in the city, Vieux-Montréal appealed to our team of creatives as we traversed the neighborhood’s winding streets. We visited during late spring, when the days are a little longer, brighter, and more colorful, but the city is gorgeous during any time of the year. Our team was enchanted by the architecture of Montreal City Hall, Notre-Dame Basilica, and the Old Port area.
The Palais des Congrès de Montréal
This convention center in Montréal’s Ville-Marie borough is exploding with color, a departure from the otherwise austere architecture of the ancient neighborhood. Our team was enchanted by the quirkiness of the building’s interior and exterior, and our graphic designer noted that it was ideal in the afternoon, when light streamed gently through its semi-translucent, candy-colored walls. While the center has hosted a variety of unique events over the years, it’s also an incredible venue for anyone traveling to Montréal with a camera.
If you head to Parc Jean-Drapeau on Montréal’s Saint Helen’s Island, you’ll find an incredible structure that was initially constructed for the 1967 World’s Fair. Today, the unique, geodesic dome is now home to the Montréal Biosphere, which hosts an environmental museum, plant exhibitions, and education resources about sustainable development. It offers an incredible opportunity to learn more about the unique biodiversity of the area, as well as the steps that organizations and governments are taking to support ecological sustainability in the future.
What to do
Ride the Ferris Wheel
Perhaps Montréal’s most delightful attraction, the La Grande roue de Montréal offers an incredible view — and is one in-and-of itself. The 198-foot high spoked wheel allows for gorgeous views of the city below, including the sprawl of Old Montréal and the Saint Lawrence River. After traversing the streets of the city, taking to the sky was a welcome respite for our team, who felt that the experience, complete with a birds-eye view, was the perfect way to end a long day of exploring.
See the Basilica of Notre Dame
For beautiful architecture aficionados, there’s no better place than the Notre-Dame Basilica. Statuesque, serene, and unbelievably ornate, the basilica is a standing testament to Montréal’s Gothic Revival style. When our team entered, we were struck by the rich use of color — midnight blue on the walls and ceiling and golden stars spangled across the vaults — the aisles of intricate carvings, the detailed patterns, and the stained glass. Though the basilica is surrounded by a lovely square in Old Montréal, you may feel as though you’ve been transported to Paris.
Where to eat
Located high above Old Montréal, Le Perché is an ideal dining location in the spring or summer months. With a stunning balcony and beautiful views to match, this locale is fantastic for multicultural food that you may not expect of Montréal, such as Mexican, Hawaiian, and Japanese. Our team chowed down on poke bowls, tacos, salads, and fresh seafood. Between the fresh, colorful food and stunning views, Le Perché is ideal for group outings and celebrations.
Crew Collective Coffee
Perhaps the most beautiful coffee shop in all of Montréal, Crew Collective Coffee was a unanimous team favorite. With its high, vaulted ceilings, tiled floors, and soft golden light, it’s a locale you’ll want to luxuriate in all day long. We were enchanted by its history — the Café is located in the main hall of the Royal Bank Tower, which was once the tallest landmark in Canada (found at 360 Saint-Jacques Ouest). It’s now home to a creative collective — and, of course, a host of caffeinated brews and treats.
Have you ever visited Montréal via train? Let us know what you enjoy seeing and eating in this Canadian city!