How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Montreal — Luxury Hotels, Beautiful Parks, and Canada's Best Restaurant Included

Here's where to eat, stay, and explore in Montreal, according to a local.

Despite its sometimes divisive language politics, extreme seasons, and chronic traffic headaches, Montrealers, or les Montréalais, are justifiably proud of their distinctive, if idiosyncratic, city — and for good reason. Travel + Leisure readers named Montreal one of their favorite cities in Canada in 2023.

The sophisticated, French-speaking (yet very bilingual), culturally diverse city lays claim to world-class restaurants, lovely parks, superb art galleries and museums, a dynamic music scene, inspiring 18th- and 19th-century architecture, and vibrant nightlife.

It can also be a lot of fun in the winter, when locals like to get out and celebrate the cold and snow, even extending the revelry at outdoor festivals and concerts at night.

<p>R.M. Nunes/Getty Images</p>

R.M. Nunes/Getty Images

Thom Seivewright, a Montreal expert and former hotel concierge, launched his small-group tour company, Tours Montreal, in the Canadian city in 2016. “Our art scene is on par with cities two or three times our size,” he says. “There’s obviously a big emphasis placed on arts and culture in Montreal.”

There’s a big emphasis on food, too. Montrealers love their bagels, cheeses, poutine, and maple syrup, and they’re loyal to their chef-owned restaurants. “It’s a little gem of a city that has world-class dining — and world-class junk food,” says Seivewright.

Long known for its exuberant after-dark scene, Montreal has it all, from cocktail bars to Irish pubs, jazz bars to pulsating dance clubs. The city is even planning to create a 24-hour nightlife district.

Here's everything you need to know to plan a memorable trip to Montreal.

Montreal, Canada

  • The fashionable, Parisian-style brasserie and rooftop terrace at Hôtel Le Place d’Armes, a boutique luxury property overlooking Place d’Armes and the Notre-Dame Basilica, attracts locals and tourists alike.

  • Designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who was also responsible for New York City’s Central Park, Parc du Mont-Royal is an oasis of greenery in the city center.

  • Mon Lapin, a cozy wine bar and restaurant in Little Italy serving natural wines and an ever-changing menu of small plates, was voted Canada’s best restaurant in 2023.

  • Bar Furco’s lovely terrace becomes lively in the summer during Montreal’s ritual cinq à sept (happy hour).

  • Saint Laurent Boulevard, a.k.a. the Main, is a good place to get a glimpse of Montreal’s 19th- and 20th-century immigrant history. It's also the historical dividing line between French and English in the city.

Best Hotels

<p>Courtesy of Four Seasons Resorts</p>

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resorts

Hotel Nelligan

Hotel Nelligan, located in the heart of Old Montreal, was T+L readers' favorite city hotel in Canada in 2023. Spanning four 19th-century graystones, the 105-room boutique property lies near the Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Port waterfront. Its seasonal rooftop terrace is a summer favorite for its picturesque views and lively happy hour.

Hôtel Place d’Armes

Another T+L reader favorite, Hôtel Place d’Armes is housed in four 19th-century neoclassical buildings opposite the Notre-Dame Basilica. The property is highly rated for its tasteful rooms featuring hardwood floors and brick walls, swanky French brasserie, and popular rooftop terrace.

Hôtel Uville

One of the city’s newer hotels, opened in 2020, Hôtel Uville got its name thanks to its location in Old Montreal’s Place d’Youville. Uville is part design hotel, part museum — a love letter to the Montreal of the 1960s and '70s. This was transformative period, a time when francophone Quebecers were turning away from the Catholic church and leading the charge in North America vis-à-vis cuisine, style, and design — the culmination of which were Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics.

“This hotel is very cool,” says Seivewright. “They did a great job. The details, like the tiled bathrooms and custom-made wallpapers, are amazing. They’ve got archival photos and artifacts from the '60s and '70s in each of the rooms, and documentary films from the National Film Board that you can watch on your room’s TV.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal

Montreal’s grande-dame hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, opened in 1912 in the city's Golden Square Mile. In addition to housing chef Daniel Boulud's Maison Boulud, the refined property offers afternoon tea in the ornate Palm Court and seasonal garden terrace, Spa St. James, and an indoor saltwater pool.

Four Seasons Hotel Montreal

Located in Golden Square Mile since 2019, the posh Four Seasons Hotel Montreal is connected via a third-floor walkway to the luxury department store Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. The hotel boasts Marcus Restaurant + Terrace, in partnership with legendary Manhattan chef Marcus Samuelsson; a Guerlain Spa; and a skylit swimming pool with an upstream current generator.

Best Things to Do

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Parc du Mont-Royal

What Central Park is to New Yorkers and Hyde Park to Londoners, Parc du Mont-Royal, or Mount Royal Park, is to Montrealers. At 764 feet high, Mount Royal may not be much of a mountain, but the park is, as Seivewritght says, “the heart and soul of the city.” He adds, “The fact that Montreal is a four-season city and Mount Royal is a four-season park makes it even better because you’ve got skiing, skating, and tobogganing in the wintertime. And in the summer, you can go biking and walking.” You can also go for a picnic and rent a rowboat or Mölkky or spikeball equipment at Beaver Lake.

Old Montreal

With its graystone buildings and narrow streets, Old Montreal can sometimes feel like a slice of Europe in North America. Certainly no visit to Montreal is complete without a stop here. Not only will you find the city’s most important historic landmarks, including the Notre-Dame Basilica, the 18th-century Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, the Second Empire-style City Hall, and the neoclassic Marché Bonsecours, but it’s also home to pretty boutique hotels, haute-couture shops, and chef-owned restaurants.


A national archaeological site, Pointe-à-Callière, now an impressive archaeology and history museum, sits above the ruins of the birthplace of Montreal. “The Pointe-à-Callière museum is amazing,” says Seivewright. “They’ll take you underground to see the ruins of the original fortifications of Montreal, the original city the French built here in the 1600s.” Visitors can also see Indigenous artifacts uncovered during a dig and part of North America’s first collector sewer, built between 1832 and 1838.

Arsenal Contemporary Art Gallery

Opened in Montreal in an 80,000-square-foot building in 2011, Arsenal Contemporary Art has since expanded to include locations in Toronto and New York City. “Outside of the museums, I would send my clients to certain galleries around town. These days, one of my favorites is Arsenal. It has an amazing [selection] in its permanent collection, but it also puts on temporary exhibits that are just mind-blowing,” says Seivewright.


Montreal is a city of festivals, with everything from jazz (the city hosts the world’s largest jazz festival) to Pride to circus arts celebrated here. There’s even a dedicated festival and outdoor performance space downtown called the Quartier des Spectacles. While there are festivals year-round, May to September is the city’s busiest period.

Best Places to Eat

<p>eyedias/Getty Images</p>

eyedias/Getty Images

La Banquise

One of Quebec's most beloved foods is poutine, traditionally a mess (translation of "poutine") of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. But poutine continues to get more upscale. A veritable institution since 1968, La Banquise doesn’t claim to be high-end, but the casual eatery serves 35 kinds of poutine and it’s open 24 hours. “La Banquise is a classic. I’m [vegetarian], and in my opinion, the veggie gravies are even more delicious,” says Seivewright. “A lot of people knock La Banquise because it’s popular, but I stand by it.”

Montreal Plaza

The design at Montreal Plaza is elegant and stylish, yet also notable for its eccentric touches like a dollhouse hanging upside down from the ceiling and Elmo sitting on the bar. Even certain dishes, like crudo or oysters, are served atop a toy triceratops or among plastic Smurfs. Chef and owner Charles-Antoine Crête and his team enjoy serving great food in a playful, joyous way. “This is my favorite place,” says Seivewright. “It’s not the just the way the food is prepared or what it is, but the whimsical, creative way it’s presented.”

Sushi Momo

Sushi Momo, from Mexican-Canadian chef Christian Ventura, is Montreal’s best vegan sushi restaurant. The sleek, dimly lit, botanically adorned space in the Plateau area is inviting, while the artfully plated confections are a feast for the eyes and the fusion of flavors a song for the taste buds.

Nora Gray

Nora Gray, a lively, casual restaurant in Griffintown, is known for its southern Italian cuisine, updated cucina povera, and privately imported natural and organic wines. The dark wood, banquettes, long bar, and warm candlelight lend the restaurant an intimate, romantic, and club-like feel.

<p>Dominique Lafond</p>

Dominique Lafond

Mon Lapin

Voted Canada’s best restaurant in 2023, Mon Lapin is a cozy wine bar and restaurant in Little Italy. It serves natural wines and an ever-changing menu of French- and Italian-inspired small plates. Each dish highlights fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients plus unexpected flavor combinations.

Best Nightlife

<p>Henryk Sadura/Getty Images</p>

Henryk Sadura/Getty Images

Cloakroom Bar

The 25-seat Cloakroom Bar, with a cloak-and-dagger atmosphere, was named Canada’s second-best bar in 2023. “It’s one of my favorite bars anywhere in the world,” says Seivewright. “It’s hidden behind a menswear shop, which makes it even cooler. It’s very exclusive feeling. You tell them, 'I like gin, I like citrus,' and they’ll create something for you. If you’re three people and you all like the same thing, they’ll create three different drinks.”

Diese Onze

Situated in the Plateau Mont-Royal, Diese Onze is an intimate jazz bar that also serves tapas and mains. “I’m a big jazz fan, and I love Diese Onze,” says Seivewright. “It’s a good mix of local and out-of-town musicians.”

Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill

A Montreal institution since 1995, Upstairs is, funnily enough, located in a basement. It attracts big-name international jazz acts who make this a routine stop on their tour itineraries.

Pub Le Sainte-Élisabeth

Established in 1997, this European-style pub between the Quartier des Spectacles and student-heavy Quartier Latin is quite cozy inside, but it’s the enclosed, leafy terrace at the back that draws people here come summer. The service many not win any awards, but Le Sainte-Élisabeth is about the ambience.

Bar Furco

The minimalist redesign of the Canadian Fur Company building (hence Furco), located on a downtown back street, is a big draw for wine lovers and the happy hour crowd. It features an adventurous food and wine menu, in addition to more traditional charcuterie and cheese plates.

Best Shopping

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Maison Marie Saint Pierre

Marie Saint Pierre's Montreal-made, ready-to-wear pieces marry timeless feminine styles with contemporary flair and function.


Entering this handsome Crescent Street atelier-cum-boutique near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is like stepping into an old-school European tailor shop. Started by their father, Arthur Der Shahinian, sons Tavit and John carry on the tradition of crafting impeccably fitted and designed bespoke men’s suits and shirts, with damask silk lining and hand-sewn button holes, never compromising on quality or friendly, professional service.


Simons is originally from Quebec City, but it’s popular in cities across Canada. The small, mid-range department store downtown carries popular fashion brands as well as its own collections, in addition to homewares. “I’m a big fan of Simons,” says Seivewright. “I buy half my clothes there. The price point is good, the quality is good, and I like that it’s a local brand.”

Holt Renfrew Ogilvy

Montreal’s answer to Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy is a one-stop shop for all things luxury, including clothing, shoes, and accessories. Clients can also enjoy a personal shopping experience in one of the five fifth-floor suites or the glamorous art-deco Café Holt, with its remarkable solar-like orb set above the central bar.

Saint Laurent Boulevard

“Saint Laurent [Boulevard], between Saint Joseph Boulevard and up to Van Horne Avenue, has the best boutique design shopping nowadays,” says Seivewright. “You could go all the way up to Little Italy and it’s still amazing. I was walking there the other day and every single window I walked by made me want to go in. There are furniture shops, clothing shops, and jewelry shops — some of it is new, some of it is vintage, and it’s all local.”

Best Neighborhoods to Visit

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure


Saint-Henri, once a francophone working-class neighborhood, is now gentrified, replete with popular, chef-owned wine bars and restaurants, antiques shops, cafes, and boutiques. Still, it retains pockets of its former self. “I love it because it has parts that haven’t changed in a hundred years and others that make it the most modern neighborhood in Montreal,” says Seivewright. “It’s got a cool, little rough-around-the-edges vibe. It’s one of those neighborhoods where you’ll have a multimillion-dollar home next to a really rundown place, and you see that contrast. Then, you listen to the people and hear French and English. You've got old people, young people — it’s a neighborhood where everything mixes.”

Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile End

Once relegated to working-class European immigrants, the Plateau/Mile End area is the epicenter of Montreal’s creativity and bohemian joie de vivre. Leafy streets lined with triplexes fronted by balconies and steep, often-winding, wrought-iron staircases invite visitors to explore this neighborhood bursting with convivial cafes, top-drawer restaurants, funky vintage shops, and trendy boutiques.


For a glimpse into how the upper crust of Montreal lived until the 1970s and '80s, head to the neighborhood of Outremont. Its two main shopping and dining strips are Bernard Ouest and Laurier Ouest avenues — part of the former turns into a pedestrian-only area come summer, with restaurant terraces sitting directly on the street.

Best Time to Visit

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Montreal is a four-season city. Late April to mid-May tends to be best for blooming trees, while October to early November is usually prime for leaf peeping. The holiday season is lovely, but a white Christmas is increasingly rare. For a stronger chance of experiencing the romance of winter snow, January and February are ideal. Summers in Montreal are hot and humid, and heat waves can now begin as early as May. Visit in May, June, or late August through September and October to avoid the worst of the summer temperatures and crowds.

How to Get There

<p>Chris Jongkind/Getty Images</p>

Chris Jongkind/Getty Images

Montreal can be reached via regular flights with Air Canada, Delta, American, and United. Flying from New York’s LaGuardia to Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, better known as Dorval (YUL), takes about 90 minutes gate to gate. Driving may be cheaper, but it takes about seven hours, and unless you’re planning to pay for hotel parking, parking in Montreal can be a hassle. For travelers living in New York or Vermont, a more scenic and leisurely option (10 hours) is Amtrak’s Adirondack train from Moynihan Train Hall to Montreal’s Gare Centrale (Central Station).

How to Get Around

<p>Patrick Donovan/Getty Images</p>

Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

In summer, the best way to get around is on foot or by Bixi, the city-wide bicycle rental system. In 2023, Bixi decided to end the storage of their bicycles during the winter, so they are now available year-round. However, there are not as many stations as in summer. The metro (subway) is fairly reliable and frequent during rush hour — and often the quickest way to get from point A to point B. Buses tend to be less reliable, but they go everywhere the metro does not. An Opus card can be purchased with several fares added, if you’re planning on using the metro and/or buses often. Taxis and Ubers are readily available, too, and taxis can be hailed on the street.

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