With September in full swing, Montreal is brimming with newcomers. If there’s any advice I could impart to the incoming class, it would be to make the most of your experience by going out and exploring all this city has to offer. When you are new to a city, there is nothing more fulfilling (in my humble opinion) than becoming a local and learning your favourite spots to eat, drink, shop and relax.
With an abundance things to do and see here in Montreal, there is no one stop list that can encapsulate it all, but I can certainly try to curate a collection of places to start. Be it your first semester here in Montreal or your last, I hope to help you find something that peaks your interest and creates a place in your heart for this wonderful city.
- Hike up Mont-Royal
Panoramic views of the city which can’t be beat. No doubt a perfect hike on a fall day when the leaves change colours.
- Stroll through the Botanical Gardens
An escape from the concrete. Be sure to check out the Gardens of Light exhibit from September 7th through October 31st.
This spa is literally on a boat floating in the St. Lawrence, an experience unique to Montreal’s Old Port.
- Walk the streets of Old Port
You will feel like you’ve stepped out of Montreal and into the streets of Europe. The cobblestones, the architecture and the independent boutiques will make this your favorite borough in Montreal. Honourable mention goes to Maison Pepin which will inspire you to redecorate every room in your apartment.
- Admire the pieces at Musée des beaux arts
Free for students apart from the traveling exhibits, which is enough of an excuse to spend a rainy afternoon there if you ask me. If you don’t have too much time in your day, you can still walk by the outdoor art installations in the summer and early fall months!
- Check out the street art in and around the plateau
Festival Mural takes place on St.Laurent and is a great place to start! In a similar vein the Gay Village is also adorned with hundreds of pink lanterns during the summer months, which makes for a perfect photo op.
- Quartier des Spectacles
There’s always something going on in this borough. From musical swings, to light up see saws this area incorporates audio and visual elements into public art installations.
This place should be included on a list of McGill rights of passage. Located in the McGill Ghetto it is constantly filled with familiar faces from campus. And for good reason. This place has branded itself as the favourite vegetarian restaurant of non-vegetarians, with a menu filled with hearty comfort foods. Everything on the menu is great, but my personal favorites are the nachos and Red Sangria!
This place has one of the cutest patios in Montreal. The Haitian food and tropical decor will make you feel like you’re on vacation. Not to mention it played host to Gwenyth Paltrow’s latest dinner party.
Montreal is famous for its smoked meat sandwiches, so if that’s your thing you should definitely check out this world renowned deli/diner in the Plateau.
This is another vegan/vegetarian restaurant, with gorgeous decorations and delicious brunch. Perfect for all dietary needs with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options.
Montreal’s 24-hour poutine restaurant with all the toppings you can imagine. Might I say the perfect place for a greasy dish to soak up the alcohol remaining in your blood stream at 4am after a night out. Not to mention poutine is a Canadian delicacy that every newcomer should try. Coming to Montreal and not having a poutine is (dare I say) akin to going to Italy and not having a single slice of pizza.
Truffle parmesan fries. Extensive cocktail list. Rooftop views over Old Port. I will leave it at that.
Located in the same hotel as Terasse William Gray, this 2nd floor rooftop is adorned with palms and tropical decor and has a distinct VIP feel.
Going to be completely honest, I was torn as to whether or not to categorize this spot under food or drink, because this place does both so damn well (they have a great brunch with bottomless mimosas). Ultimately as you can see I’ve marked it off as a spot for drinks, as it is hands down my favorite spot for an evening cocktail, and later in the night they have a DJ who plays the best of 90s hip hop which never fails to make you want to dance.
This is a great spot for a casual afternoon drink while in Old Port, with rooftop views of the city. It has also been argued they have the best sangria in Montreal.
Perfect for a night out with the girls, Mayfair is a cocktail bar and spiked tea room in Montreal’s Plateau. The vibe is posh and Victorian, and the drinks are artisanal and delicious.
Great spot for a laid back night out, they provide board games, great music, and most importantly their drinks come in Mason Jars so you can be guaranteed a cute instagram pic!
Hope you enjoyed this list and happy exploring!