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3 Days in Montreal: The Perfect Montreal Itinerary + Map

Montreal

Montreal, a vibrant metropolis in Quebec, Canada, captivates visitors with its rich tapestry of culture, history, and modernity. Steeped in European charm yet pulsating with North American energy, Montreal offers a unique blend of old-world elegance and contemporary flair. The city’s cobblestone streets wind through charming neighbourhoods like Old Montreal, where centuries-old architecture harmonizes with chic boutiques, art galleries, and trendy cafes. Visitors can immerse themselves in Montreal’s diverse culinary scene, savouring iconic dishes like poutine and indulging in world-class dining experiences.

Moreover, Montreal’s cultural calendar is brimming with festivals and events year-round, from the electrifying Montreal International Jazz Festival to the whimsical Just for Laughs comedy festival, ensuring there’s always something exciting to discover. Nature enthusiasts can escape to Mount Royal Park for panoramic city views and outdoor activities, while history buffs can delve into the city’s storied past at museums like the Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology Museum. With its welcoming atmosphere, cosmopolitan ambiance, and an array of attractions, Montreal beckons travelers to explore its dynamic streets and uncover the essence of Quebecois joie de vivre.

Planning Your 3-Day Montreal Itinerary

Where to Stay

The Perfect 3 Days in Montreal Itinerary

Montreal has a lot to offer, so I recommend spending at least 3 days here as it’ll give you an ample amount of time to do all the most exciting things without having to rush from place to place. Seeing Montreal in 3 days will allow you to fully relax and enjoy your experience here.

Dandy - Montreal

Day 1 in Montreal

1. Brunch at Dandy in Old Montreal

If there’s one thing Montrealers take seriously, it’s brunch. They do it better than almost anywhere. So you owe it to yourself to start your visit to Montreal off right with one of the best brunches in town.

My advice is to head to Dandy near Old Town at least 15 minutes before they open. Trust me, a line will form and you’ll be hanging out on the sidewalk for a while if you’re not part of the first wave.

Dandy - Montreal

Once you get inside their retro-chic dining room and order yourself a mimosa or a cappuccino, take a moment to admire the high ceilings, open space, and cool light fixtures and circular mirrors. Then you’re going to order their famous ricotta pancakes with maple brown butter sauce and lemon cream. I also recommend you add the nut crumble. You won’t regret it.

Old Montreal

2. Take a guided walking tour of Old Montreal

Not going to lie, I love a walking tour. I think it’s a great way to get to know a new place. Montreal was founded in 1642 so there’s a lot of history in the city and by walking you can really soak it in. With a local guide you’ll get insights into Montreal’s past and present and maybe pick up a few local insiders along the way. Whether you only have 90 minutes or if you have 2.5 hours to do a deep dive, there’s a walking tour for you.

Be sure to pop into Notre Dame Basilica, the iconic Gothic revival church in the heart of Old Montreal. Its opulent, richly colorful interior is a sight to behold, especially the vaulted ceilings which are painted deep blue and scattered with stars to resemble the night sky. It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo here.

Mandy's - Montreal

3. Mandy’s for lunch

After all that walking you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Keep it light and head to my favourite Insta-ready salad joint. Mandy’s became known as much for their adorable interior design as they did for their giant, delicious fresh salads. They have over 8 locations in Montreal, including one in the Old Town. With almost a dozen regular salads plus seasonal options, you’ll find one you love. Go for photogenic mixes of veg, dressing, meat (if you like) and toppers like crispy noodles or tempura onions. They also serve grain bowls, smoothies, and soup if you’re not feeling the salad. You can pick up one of their two cookbooks or one of their signature dressings like spicy maple vinaigrette as a souvenir.

Mandy's - Montreal

4. Bota Bota

Have a relaxing and rejuvenating afternoon enjoying a riverfront spa. Bota Bota, is a family-run Nordic spa located on a refurbished river ferry boat, famous for their water circuit. There are three steps to the ritual: start off with hot (dry sauna or steam bath), move to cold (quick dip in a cold bath or shower), and finally you relax (hammocks, beanbags, sun loungers). Repeat this 30 minute circuit 3 or 4 times and you’ll leave the riverfront spa feeling like a whole new person.

5. Joe Beef for dinner

Montreal is a city for foodies. For dinner tonight, head to one of its most iconic: Joe Beef, known for its innovative take on classic French and Canadian cuisine. Established in 2005, the restaurant has gained a reputation for its creative dishes, which often feature locally sourced ingredients and bold flavours. The menu at Joe Beef is constantly evolving, showcasing the culinary talents of its chefs and highlighting the best of Quebec’s seasonal produce.

The restaurant is named after Charles “Joe Beef” McKiernan, a 19th-century Montreal innkeeper known for his generous hospitality and hearty meals. Joe Beef embodies this spirit, offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere where guests can enjoy a memorable dining experience. With its rustic charm, commitment to quality ingredients, and adventurous approach to cooking, Joe Beef has become a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts in Montreal and beyond.

La Grande Roue - Montreal

Day 2 in Montreal

1. Coffee at Crew Collective & Cafe and La Grande Roue

Start your morning at one of the most beautiful cafes in Montreal. Located in a heritage building that was once the Royal Bank of Canada, Crew Collective is a co-working space as well as a cafe open to the public. Their baristas work with local Montreal roaster Traffic Coffee to serve up classic hot and cold espresso based drinks and a custom blend of filter coffee. Crew’s signature beverages also include premium teas, lemonades, hot chocolates, and seasonal recipes crafted in house.

Grab a caramel apple cider and a spinach and ricotta turnover and go for a stroll along the riverfront to the Old Port to La Grande Roue. Keep breakfast light because of what we’ve got planned for the afternoon.

La Grande Roue - Montreal

There’s just something about seeing a city from up high and riding on a giant ferris wheel is one of the more fun ways to do it. Standing at 60 meters tall, you’ll get panoramic views of the city, the St. Lawrence River, and the surrounding areas. La Grande Roue has climate-controlled cabins, making it a year-round attraction.

You can enjoy a leisurely ride on the wheel, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, giving you lots of time to take in the sights and capture memorable photos. Get there when they open at 10am and beat the crowds.

Montreal bagel

2. Food tour in Mile End

Anytime I visit a place that has some unique local dishes I always look for a food tour. Getting to know a city through its food is one of my favourite things and a food tour in Montreal’s Mile End is no exception. Between smoked meat, poutine, and their signature take on bagels you’ll get some real insight into the people and food of Montreal. As you indulge in the mouthwatering delights, uncover the captivating stories behind some of Montreal’s most iconic architectural gems as you immerse yourself in their majestic beauty.Be sure to go hungry since you’ll end up having enough food samples to make a meal.

Montreal food tour

3. Biodome

After the food tour, hop on a bus (or take an Uber) and head to Montreal’s Olympic Park. Here you can take a tour of the spaceship looking Olympic Stadium, ride to the top of the Montreal Tower* for spectacular 360° views of the city, or visit the Biodome – an indoor walk through five ecosystems. You will go from the lush Tropical Rainforest to the penguins in the Sub-Polar Regions, with stops in the Laurentian Maple Forest and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The animals are free to come and go and you’ll sometimes see them in some surprising spots! My favourite is the tropical rainforest which is lush and warm even in the depths of a Montréal winter. Plan to spend about 2 hours exploring here.

La Banquise

4. La Banquise

You can’t visit Quebec without having poutine at least once! It’s a rule. La Banquise is famous for having authentic poutine along with 30 different varieties of the Canadian classic. If you’ve made it this far into planning a weekend in Montreal without knowing what poutine is, let me correct that. A classic poutine is french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It looks atrocious but tastes delicious. La Banquise is a perfect casual dinner before your evening activities. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a line-up to get in, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Pulled pork poutine

5. Comedy or jazz or Cabaret Mado

There is no shortage of nightlife in Montreal. Whether you want to listen to jazz while tucked away at the semi-basement location of the confusingly named Upstairs Jazz Bar, get your chuckle on at a comedy show, or stay out all night at an EDM show, you have options here.

One popular nighttime attraction is Cabaret Mado. It’s a popular drag cabaret bar located in Montreal’s Gay Village and is known for its lively and entertaining drag shows, featuring talented performers who showcase a variety of acts, from lip-syncing to live singing and comedy. The cabaret’s namesake, Mado Lamotte, is a well-known drag queen who has been a central figure in Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community for decades. Performances are energetic and engaging, creating a memorable experience for visitors looking to immerse themselves in Montreal’s vibrant nightlife scene. With its colourful decor, talented performers, and lively ambiance, Cabaret Mado continues to be a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike.

Day 3 in Montreal

1. Marché Jean-Talon

Spend your last morning in Montreal strolling around Marché Jean-Talon in Little Italy. One of North America’s largest open-air public markets, its lively atmosphere, authentic character and wide selection of fresh, local produce and specialities from here and abroad always make for a pleasant – and appetizing – outing. More than just a place to pick up groceries, the Jean-Talon Market also offers culinary demonstrations, gourmet discovery circuits, workshops and more.

If you visit in the spring you can satisfy every maple craving you’ve ever had with every kind of maple product you can imagine like maple candy, maple fudge, maple butter, and the classic, maple syrup.

There are over 150 vendors for you to peruse and maybe pick up a few souvenirs.

2. Schwartz’s Deli for smoked meat and a cherry Coke

For today’s lunch you’ll discover a Montreal icon. You’ll likely have to line up to get into Schwartz’s Deli, but that’s been part of its charm ever since it opened in 1928. While the Jewish deli serves steaks and turkey, what you’re really here for is their Montreal smoked meat sandwich (beef brisket). Order it “medium-fat” for the perfect bite. The 6-inch high sandwich comes with a dill pickle and hand-cut fries. Pair it with a cherry Coke for the perfect lunch.

Fun fact: Celine Dion has been a part-owner of the deli since 2012.

Montreal mural tour

3. Mural walking tour

If you love street art then you’re really going to enjoy your afternoon. Every June the numerous murals that cover the buildings along Saint Laurent Boulevard get a refresh during the annual Mural Festival. If you happen to be in town then you can watch the artists create their new masterpieces.

Even if you’ve been to Montreal before there’s always something new to see in this open air gallery. One of my favourite things about street art is how it brings life and colour to neighbourhoods.

I recommend taking a guided tour of the area so that you can learn more about the meaning behind the work and a bit about the artists who created them.

OASIS immersion Montreal

4. OASIS Immersion

OASIS immersion is Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction showcasing a changing line up of walk-through experiences. Located on the ground floor of the Palais des congrès, OASIS immersion presents all-immersive temporary museum-type exhibitions inspired by the people, places and trends that shape our world. You may be transported into the paintings of Van Gogh or Monet, see Japanese prints like never before, or experience a striking interpretation of biodiversity via immersive digital arts. The shows change regularly but it’s a great way to spend an evening in Montreal.

5. Speakeasy for drinks

Let’s wrap up your three days in Montreal with a relaxing drink in a hidden speakeasy. It would be too easy to just walk in right off the street so Montreal maintains a bit of mystique by making you hunt for some of its most unique spots.

For a Chinatown twist on a tiki bar follow the neon pineapple. If you want to find Le Mal Nécessaire, look for the neon pineapple, then head down into the deepest depths of Chinatown. Inside, Mexican styling meets Tiki cocktails and affordable Chinese tapas. You have to see it to believe it!

Where to Stay in Montreal for 3 Days

The best areas to stay in Montreal are the historic Old Town and downtown as they put you right in the city center, within walking distance of pretty much all the attractions to see. Here are my top hotel recommendations.

Sonder Le Victoria

Where I Stay: Sonder Le Victoria (⭐ 8.3)

If you like the space of an apartment but want to avoid unlicensed accommodations on Airbnb, you should check out the Sonder brand of vacation rentals. They’re a blend of hotel and vacation rental all in one. They have 9 locations in Montreal but Le Victoria is my pick. For a price similar to a mid-range city hotel you can stay in a beautifully designed apartment complete with kitchen and laundry. Le Victoria is located in the Old town and has studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. Unlike Airbnbs, they also have a front desk and luggage storage after you check out. Handy when you have a later flight.

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Other Great Accommodations in Montreal

Hôtel Birks Montréal (⭐ 8.3)

Hotel Birks Montreal stands out for its combination of historic charm and modern luxury, offering guests a distinctive experience characterized by elegant accommodations, refined dining options, and impeccable service. The hotel’s location in downtown Montreal also provides easy access to the city’s cultural attractions, making it an ideal choice for discerning travelers seeking both sophistication and convenience.

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Best Family Pick: Hôtel William Gray (⭐ 8.8)

A family-friendly boutique hotel choice right on the Place Jacques-Cartier in Old Montreal’s heart. The hotel features comfy rooms and suites, with custom art hanging from walls and luxe amenities. Families will love the suites with separate living space.

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Best Luxury Pick: Hotel Nelligan (⭐ 8.9)

Historic 19th-century building, around the corner from Notre-Dame Basilica and Pointe-a-Calliere Museum in Old Montreal. Named after Poet Laureate of Québec, Émile Nelligan, this boutique luxury hotel captures the essence of Old Montréal.

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Best Historic Pick: Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth Montreal (⭐ 7.8)

Perfectly located in the heart of downtown, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth has a fascinating history that unravels through a “for Montrealers, by Montrealers” concept featuring a restaurant, a bar, an urban market and a coffee shop where local products and talents take the center stage. The hotel is also a part of history; it was the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace in 1969.

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How Many Days in Montreal – Are 3 Days Enough?

To truly appreciate the history, artistic sights, and tasty experiences that Montreal has to offer, you should spend at least three days in the city. Three days are just enough to explore all the main attractions at a relaxing pace and absorb the vibrant local culture. 

If you enjoy slow travel and exploring at a very leisurely pace, though, there is definitely enough to do in Montreal to keep you inspired for a whole week.

Montreal 3-Day Itinerary Overview

Here’s a summary of what to do in Montreal for 3 days, with all the activities mentioned in the itinerary above. This is the perfect trip plan for a long weekend in Montreal!

Day 1: Brunch at Dandy, Old Montreal walking tour, Lunch at Mandy’s, Bota Bota spa, Dinner at Joe Beef

Day 2: Crew Collective & Cafe, La Grande Roue, Mile End food tour, Biodome, First Friday food trucks or La Banquise for poutine, Cabaret Mado

Day 3: Marche Jean-Talon, Schwartz’s Deli for smoked meat, Mural walking tour, OASIS Immersion, Speakeasy for drinks

3 Days Montreal Itinerary Map

Here’s a map of how to spend three days in Montreal including all the attractions and activities mentioned in this itinerary. You can click here to see it in full on Google Maps.

Travel Insurance for Montreal

Having travel insurance gives me peace of mind, and I highly recommend getting it because let’s be real — the last thing we want on any trip is for accidents and mishaps to get in the way. I use a service called Safety Wing and can highly recommend them — they offer affordable prices, great coverage, and a reliable 24/7 on-call service.

Get a Quote from Safety Wing

Montreal Metro

Getting Around Montreal

As a visitor to Montreal, you have several convenient transportation options to explore the city:

  • Public Transit (STM): Montreal’s public transit system, operated by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), consists of buses and a metro (subway) system. The metro is efficient and covers many key areas of the city, while buses provide additional coverage to neighbourhoods not directly served by the metro. You can purchase single fares, day passes, or multi-day passes for unlimited travel within a specified time frame.
  • Biking: Montreal has an extensive network of bike paths and lanes, making biking a popular and eco-friendly way to get around. You can rent bikes from BIXI stations located throughout the city, or from various bike rental shops.
  • Walking: Many of Montreal’s neighbourhoods, especially downtown and the Old Port, are pedestrian-friendly and conducive to exploring on foot. Walking allows you to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and discover hidden gems along the way.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis are readily available in Montreal, especially in busy areas and near transportation hubs. Alternatively, you can use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft for convenient point-to-point transportation.
  • Car Rental: While having a car in Montreal can be convenient for exploring areas outside the city center, it’s often unnecessary for getting around within the city due to traffic congestion and limited parking. However, if you plan to explore regions beyond Montreal, such as the Laurentians or Eastern Townships, renting a car may be beneficial.

Overall, the best way to get around Montreal as a visitor depends on your preferences, itinerary, and the locations you wish to explore. Many visitors find a combination of public transit, walking, and occasional taxi or ride-sharing services to be the most practical and enjoyable way to experience the city.

Montreal bike share

Best Time to Visit Montreal

The best time to visit Montreal is typically during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and many outdoor festivals and events take place. This is when the city comes alive with activities such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Just for Laughs comedy festival. However, Montreal also has charm during other seasons; autumn offers beautiful foliage, while winter features activities like the Montreal en Lumière festival and opportunities for winter sports. Ultimately, the best time to visit depends on your interests and what you hope to experience in the city.

Is Montreal Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Montreal is generally considered safe for solo female travelers. Like any major city, it’s important to take common-sense precautions, such as staying aware of your surroundings, avoiding poorly lit or isolated areas at night, and keeping your belongings secure. Overall, Montreal has a reputation for being a welcoming and diverse city, and solo female travelers often feel comfortable exploring its neighbourhoods and attractions. As with traveling anywhere, it’s wise to research your destination beforehand, trust your instincts, and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Montreal

Book Your Trip to Montreal

Book Your Flight

Find a cheap flight by using Expedia. It's one of my favourite search engines because it allows you to search for and compare flights from multiple airlines.

Book Your Accommodations

You can book your hotel with Booking.com as they have the most comprehensive inventory so they are best for booking a hotel. If you want to stay in a vacation rental or cottage in Montreal, use VRBO to find the perfect place for the whole family.

Book Your Car Rental

If you want to travel on your own timeline, be sure to book your car rental with Discover Cars early.

Book Your Travel Insurance

While Montreal is generally a safe city, you never know when something could happen. Be prepared with travel insurance from SafetyWing. Travel insurance has certainly saved my butt before.

 

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