Canada, Travel
Comments 39

My little guide of Montreal

Montreal is a vibrant and international city, associating perfectly its European heritage and a very modern and outgoing North-American style. There, you’ll find cute little streets with smaller houses as well as big skyscrapers, a rich cultural scene and a plethora of restaurants specialising in all sorts of different cuisines.

As you may know, I have been to Montreal several times already, visiting my sister who lives there, and I truly feel like the more I go there, the more I enjoy this city. So, to complement my previous post about my favourite things about Montreal, here’s a little guide to the city, focusing on some of Montreal’s districts that I really love and always want to go back to when I am there!

A few words about Montreal:

Located in an island on the Saint Lawrence river, Montreal was first a trading area for the First Nations (Indigenous Canadian people), thanks to its fertile soil and strategic location. This is until the French colons arrived and built a fortress there in the 17th century, which then expanded through the influence of trade and immigration from the British, followed by many other people from all around the world. As a result, we now have a multi-ethnic and multicultural city, which is the second largest French-speaking city in the world!

When should you go?

The fact that Canada’s winters are harsh and freezing cold is no secret to anyone, so I’d say it’s best to visit in the spring, summer or autumn, especially since it will be easier to go about the city when there are no snow storms. The first time I visited, it was maple syrup season, at the end of winter / beginning of spring, but it was amazing despite the cold. The other times, I went there in autumn, and while there is a higher chance for cloudy and rainy days, the foliage there is absolutely stunning!

My favourite neighbourhoods in Montreal

The Old Montreal:

The older buildings in the Old Montreal

This part of Montreal seems to be the remnant of the city’s past, with narrower cobblestone streets and cute little shops that almost make you feel like you are back in time. After strolling about the cute Saint-Paul street, a walk along the Old Port by the Saint-Laurent river is definitely a must, followed by a visit to the lively Jacques Cartier square.

In this area, you should also check out the Notre-Dame Basilica, a gothic church with a stunning blue-and-gold interior. If you’re curious about Montreal’s history, the Pointe-à-Callière archaeological museum takes you on a journey through the city’s complex past.

The Mount Royal:

Going up the Mount Royal

No guide to Montreal would be complete without a mention of the Mount Royal. While making your way to or from the iconic illuminated cross that dominates the hill, you’ll stumble upon lookouts offering stunning views of the city and the Saint Lawrence river, cute alleyways, a peaceful lake and an historical graveyard. It is absolutely a must-do in the city and prefect if you need a quick nature fix!

Going back down, you can stop at the huge Saint Joseph’s Oratory, an enormous sanctuary that is visited by millions each year and overlooks the city,  or wander about Outremont, a beautiful neighbourhood with elegant houses.

The Plateau and Mile End:

Towards the Saint Louis square

This is probably one of my favourite areas of Montreal, thanks to its laid-back, artsy and colourful vibe. These districts basically represent most of the things that I love about Montreal: cute independent shops, lots of small restaurants, cafes and brunch places, vintage stores, multicultural influences, spiral-staircase houses in quiet streets and colourful murals.

When you are there, be sure to try the famous Saint Viateur bagels and the iconic smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz, then head towards the Saint Louis square to see beautiful and colourful houses, typical of Montreal’s architecture (see the featured image of this post).

Little Italy:

This neighbourhood got its name from a great wave of Italian immigration in the 20th century, and if you are looking for a warm and Mediterranean atmosphere, and to try some delicious Italian food, look no further. With its countless restaurants, pastry shops and Italian-style cafes, Little Italy is just a delight to walk around in – and stop by for a bite.

But Italian food is not the only thing you’ll find there: you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the Jean Talon market, walk along the Saint Laurent boulevard or stop by some of the many cute little shops!

Villeray:

A cute street in Villeray

A few minutes away from Little Italy, and with a similar vibe, you’ll find in Villeray many restaurants offering a variety of different food options, nice coffee places and small independent shops, especially if you walk along De Castelneau street. My favourite things about Villeray are all the cute Montreal-style houses with painted spiral staircases on the front and peaceful tree-lined streets – especially in autumn, when all the leaves turn gold!

Downtown:

The city centre of Montreal is a lively and busy district made of tall skyscrapers, cars rushing about and fashion stores. That’s where you get the North-American vibe of the city! It is the business and commercial centre of the city, but also home to the entertainment district and many of the city’s most popular art museums.

There are plenty of things to do there, from strolling about Sainte Catherine street, Canada’s longest commercial street and checking out the high-end and more affordable shops, to visiting one of the numerous museums, hopping to the Barbie exhibit or just grabbing a drink in a nice bar!

Westmount:

Westmount is one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods of the island of Montreal, and if you have a thing for beautiful and impressive villas and mansions, and if you don’t mind walking up quite steep hills, this is an area to check out! It is mostly residential and its residents are quite rich, so a nice stroll about the streets will certainly have you giving in to your wildest fantasies of three-stories villas overlooking the city from floor-to-ceiling windows, knowing too well that you can’t afford it – and yes, that’s what happened to me! The more you go up, the more impressive the houses become!

The Jean Drapeau Park:

The Saint Lawrence river from the Jean Drapeau park

In the middle of the Saint Lawrence river, the park Jean Drapeau is a nice area that you can go to if you want to escape the buzzing city centre for a bit, stroll along the river or have a cute picnic. A lot of events are also organised there all year round, there are lots of greener parts, some museums and lots of activities to do, so there’s a bit of something for everyone! When I went there, we just had a nice walk around, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and taking in the beautiful view of Montreal’s city centre from another perspective!


As you have seen, Montreal’s complex heritage accounts for its multicultural and vibrant atmosphere that will definitely please everyone. You’ll always have something to do, somewhere to go to or some food to try in Montreal, and that is one of the things that I love about this city!

There are also a ton of things to do nearby: trying Canadian food at a “sugar shack” (spoiler: it’s greasy and it’s sweet and it’s delicious), exploring the nearby national parks like the Mont-Tremblant or La Mauricie, visiting the city of Québec or discovering other beautiful areas of the region, like the Gaspésie or the Eastern Townships.

This entry was posted in: Canada, Travel

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Hey, I'm Juliette! I'm starting this blog to keep a record of and share my adventures. I love everything sweet, sunny days, fluffy kittens and people who smile. When I don't work I like to discover new places and try to learn languages. I hope you will find something that you like in here! ☼

39 Comments

  1. I only had a brief stint in Montréal when I was 14. Memories of my visit are fuzzy, but I recall we went in the winter when it was snowing, and it was the first time I experienced snow. Gorgeous place, and I hope to return when the weather’s warmer: Mont Royal’s on my list to check out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, winters in Montreal must be difficult and I’m not surprised that you mostly remember the snow! My first visit up the Mont Royal was in freezing cold weather but on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s probably the coldest I’ve ever been to this day ahah! I hope you’ll get to visit again some time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what a wonderful city. It must be amazing to see such a unique mix in one place – on one hand, you have distinctly European architecture, with grand old buildings and winding cobbled streets and then on the other hand there are skyscrapers towering over the skyline creating a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. I’d say it would be a great place to live if you want to experience a diverse range of cultures. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I feel like we don’t see such diverse features in European cities, and the more modern districts have lower skyscrapers, smaller streets and are not that busy anyways! For sure one of my favourite thigns about Montreal is how diverse it is, and I always try food from different parts of the world there! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, absolutely! It is already beautiful in Montreal, but when you go in national parks or in smaller towns, that’s where it gets stunning!

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    • Oh that’s so nice! Did you like the city? I’d love to visit in the summer even though I know it can get really warm! The Old Towns is really cute too! Thanks for dropping by!

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  3. I’ve never been to Montreal but I’d love to go, and your photos and summary really have me excited to visit someday. How lucky that you have a really good reason to visit so frequently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, even though having a sister that lives so far away is sometimes hard, I love that I get to visit many times! I hope you’ll get to visit Montreal one day and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well then. I sure couldn’t have asked for a better description of my city! 😀 If I wasn’t already in it, I’m pretty sure you’d have convinced me to want to go there now hahaha I’m glad that it continues to grow on you. Maybe it’ll somehow convince you and your boyfriend to get with the program and move here. 😛 Awesome post, Juliette!

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    • Yay, I’m glad I didn’t write complete non sense in this article ahah! Thanks a lot, Lashaan! I absolutely love the city and the fact that I already know some places and want to go back to them is also very special, and I always look forward to visiting you guys of course! Not sure about moving there just yet, but maybe I should draft a similar guide for Brussels to encourage you guys to move here ahah 😛 thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Excellent and comprehensive article on a city I love so much and which has so much to offer, the best transition between European and American cultures. Autumn is certainly the most beautiful season in Canada, for Montreal the summer is so full of festivals and the museums are there for the very hot days. Oh yes, think about trying a poutine, it is coming to Europe too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’d love to visit Montreal in the summer too (maybe next year?) because of the festivals and the general nice atmosphere it seems to have at that time of the year! And absolutely, poutine is a must there!

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  6. I’ve been following your pictures on Instagram. It’s so nice in Autumn! I haven’t made it to that part of the world yet but will keep Montreal in mind.

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    • I understand, and to be honest before my sister moved there I wasn’t that interested in that part of the world either, and now I loved it! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal (I almost did in 2020, but the pandemic changed everything). I grew up watching/learning about things associated with this city: Just for Laughs (which was very popular in Indonesia), Cirque du Soleil, and Bombardier — the airplanes and trains manufacturer — among other things. I love how you include artsy little streets in this post, something I’ll likely check out when I’m in the city. And the autumn foliage is just so beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Montreal really has a lot to offer in this regard, and all the different neighbourhoods look quite different from one another, so it sometimes feels like you’re visiting many small cities at once. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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