If you want to plan a romantic weekend in Montreal, let me show you exactly how it’s done. I spent hours planning our recent Montreal weekend, here’s what we did!
Montreal, the Quebecois capital, has plenty of romantic options for you and your partner to enjoy together. From some of the best restaurants in Canada, to interesting museums and cosy pubs, and Old Montreal streets to make you happy, there’s loads to do. The hard part is choosing the best activities for a weekend in Montreal to make the most of your time there.
I think I did pretty well at organising our weekend in Montreal, so here’s what we did, with a few improvements thanks to the benefit of hindsight .
A weekend in Montreal
We landed in Montreal at around 4pm on the Friday, from London Heathrow. We weren’t just in Montreal for the weekend – we were carrying on to Toronto afterwards for a few days, and then Niagara Falls for 24 hours. In total we were in Canada for 9 days.
You can read more about my adventures in Canada on my blog, but let’s focus on the Montreal weekend trip for now.
We jumped on the bus from Montreal airport to downtown Montreal and dropped our bags off at the Hilton Garden Inn Centre-Ville Hotel. Our hotel overlooked the Mount Royal Park, which was amazing to look out onto. We decided we’d be pretty chill on our first night, after the long journey, and just hang out at the park until nightfall.
I’d spent a long time choosing our hotel to ensure we were in the centre of the action for our Montreal weekend trip. It turned out to be an excellent choice with plenty of great things to do in the vicinity.
Friday evening in Montreal
Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is the highest point in Montreal, and the law here states that no building is allowed to be made higher than this (120m). This make it an excellent viewpoint at any time of the day, especially sunset on a beautiful autumnal day like we had.
As the weekend in Montreal went on I was told that people from Montreal were very proud of Mount Royal, even though it wasn’t very high by Canada standards – it was a colourful natural oasis in the city perfectly positioned to get away from the streets of the city.
We hiked up the pavement to the park (quite a puff for a pregnant woman like me at the time) and then started the ascent to the park. There are plenty of places to pause on the way, and to sit on a bench or two to admire the view.
“Green, clean and refreshing, the mountain is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. The urban wildlife (a.k.a. Montréalers) is abundant and active all year round in a host of recreational pursuits: jogging, cycling, boating, skating, skiing, and tobogganing, not to forget bird watching, dog walking, picnicking and soaking up some rays.”– MONTREAL.ORG
Highlights of Mount Royal Park include the view of course, but also the pavilions, the gift shops, and the walking and bike trails too. You could spend hours up there on a nice day!
Dinner in Downtown Montreal
We hadn’t researched where to eat dinner for our romantic weekend in Montreal, but we just so happened to pass the 900 Pizzeria restaurant, which looked lovely and cosy (and convenient). So in we went.
It might be quite a simple meal, as far as the restaurant scene in Montreal goes, but it was genuinely one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.
The dough was the perfect amount of crispy and doughy, the tomatoes were fresh and tasty (much better than you get in England) and the toppings just fab. It was such a lovely vibe in there too – definitely recommend for anyone looking for taste, convenience and cosy, over super fancy. And I found it romantic anyway!
If you want somewhere a little bit extra for your first night in Montreal, then you could try Il Campari Centro Restaurant in Downtown Montreal. It has great reviews on Trip Advisor, is know for being special, and has a great menu.
“Since 1976. Il Campari Centro is located on de la Montagne Street in the heart of downtown Montreal, just two minutes walk from the Bell Centre. Il Campari Centro offers diners an elegant decor and delicious Northern Italian cuisine artistically prepared and presented. Il Campari Centro also boasts an extensive wine list.”– IL CAMPARI CENTRO
And if pizzas not your thing, and you don’t want to splash out on the likes of Il Campari Centro, then I can definitely recommend the variety of the Time Out Food Market in the Eaton Centre. We went for sushi and mocktails, but there was also Portuguese, Vietnamese, American and Korean.
I enjoyed the atmosphere here, with some cool retro arcade games to play on too.
All of the restaurants I’ve recommended here are within easy reach of the Hilton Garden Inn Centre-Ville Hotel.
READ MORE: Why Visit Canada in 2021?
Saturday – weekend in Montreal
Breakfast at Olimpico, Mile End
After a lie in and depending on your jetlag – head to Mile End and pick up a small breakfast at the Olympico Cafe with a coffee. This is one of the most popular cafes to visit in Montreal. Relax. And people watch.
Once you’ve gathered your thoughts and while you’ve still got a caffeine buzz, have a wander around the shops and streets of Mile End. This is one of the ‘coolest’ areas to hang out in Montreal, and the multiculturalism makes it the perfect setting for a food tour.
Lunch plans in Montreal
I strongly recommend joining the Mile End Food Tour to learn more about the cuisine in this area, the history, and to get some restaurant recommendations for Montreal. You get to eat a lot on the Mile End food tour.
Our tour guide had so much energy, made it really fun, and was absolutely fabulous. Yeah, you could wander round trying the food here but then you wouldn’t get the introductions to the cool spots, the history, the stories and the other interesting participants to chat to.
If you decide not to do the food tour, then I’d recommend picking up some delicious French-Canadian fare like poutine, smoked meat sandwiches or Rueben sandwiches around here to give you the energy for your Montreal weekend trip.
As you wander around you can pick up some great gifts from Canada for your friends back home, or for yourself!
Afternoon in Montreal
I guarantee you’re going to be stuffed full right now. Only thing for it is to walk it off, or at least get a bus somewhere else for the afternoon. Time to move on from Mile End.
Leave Old Montreal for your full day out tomorrow and head to the Botanical Gardens and the Montreal Biosphere instead. We didn’t actually manage to fit this in and were pretty gutted about it, but we didn’t check the closing times and left it too tight. You could also do this tomorrow morning if that works better for you (and your jetlag).
We really wanted to go though as you can see this environmental science museum in all its glory. In Autumn there’s a special light show at the Botanical Gardens too. Great fun as dusk comes in on the Saturday of your weekend in Montreal.
Alternatively, if you want to learn a bit about Montreal’s history then go back in time 100 years ago for a glimpse into Quebecois culture at La Musee POP Museum or witness Montrealers’ resilience during World War II at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
Saturday evening in Montreal
We managed to get tickets to a Montreal hockey game at The Bell Centre. It was so cool to be part of such an important aspect of Canadian culture. We went to one of the first games of the season, which looks half empty because of social distancing, but it was great.
The game was Montreal vs Ottawa so pretty important. I had no clue about Canadian hockey before I went but it was still a great thing to do. Every few minutes the game stops for various reasons and you get to watch the entertainment, shout ‘GO HABS GO’ and enjoy the theatre of the players getting all up in each others faces over the puck.
You have to be ready and waiting when the tickets go on sale to get tickets to a Montreal hockey game, or at least, we did. Tickets to the Montreal games sell out fast!
And check out my guide to visiting Canada in 2021 here.
Sunday – weekend in Montreal
Now’s the time for one of the star attractions of any weekend in Montreal, Old Montreal.
Breakfast in Old Montreal
Head to Maison Christian Faure for a pastry, or some eggy croissants. The owner Christian Faure is a renowned pastry chef in France and this place is kind of a big deal. The cakes in there are just unreal. You can sit in or take out and enjoy along the waterfront in Old Montreal.
What to do in Old Montreal
We joined an Old Montreal walking tour to learn a bit more about the area. Granted, it was a history tour, but by the end of the three hours I felt totally OTT history. She did introduce us to some cool streets though, that we probably wouldn’t have found by ourselves.
We started at the impressive Notre-Dame Basilica, where, as I found out, my all-time favourite Canadian Celine Dion was married many years ago. The marriage was even televised – must dig that out sometime.
When I was at Montreal Notre Dame in Autumn, there was a special event in the evenings at the weekend where you could enter the Basilica and see a light show, called Aura, otherwise it was no entry. Unfortunately (I was gutted!) it was all sold out and you couldn’t get inside.
“Notre-Dame Basilica proudly welcomes the reopening of Aura, a luminous experience in the heart of the Basilica. To usher in this bright new era, starting August 13, 2021, the universally-acclaimed experience is back in a renewed form, featuring extended visual and musical moments. Immerse yourself in the Aura experience to discover a stunning universe presented upon one of the most sublime canvases imaginable: Notre-Dame Basilica.”– NOTRE-DAME
Notre Dame Basilica was constructed between 1824-1829 as part of what would become Canada’s largest cathedral ever built.
Lunch in Old Montreal
We went to the Pub St-Pierre and had a great lunch of poutine and shrimp salad. Gawd it was good. This pub was a great place to just chill with a few pints from an impressive selection. Seeing as I wasn’t drinking alcohol there was also a good amount of non alcoholic drinks too.
What NOT to do in Old Montreal
We joined a boat trip on the river as we thought it’d be a good way to feel like we were still exploring, but we didn’t have to walk anywhere (feet were aching!). We signed up to the Croisieres AML boat cruise of which the highlight was Habitat 67 – the very expensive block of flats designed to give everyone outdoor space. The architect wanted to ‘reinvent apartment living’ and this is what he came up with. Very interesting to learn about, but the brief few minutes spent looking at that were the highlight of this tour.
We spent another two hours sailing round shipping docks and shipping container yards. Other than the Jacques Cartier Bridge there was nothing to see.
Save your time and money and relax in Old Montreal on your weekend in Montreal instead.
Evening in Old Montreal
Sunday evening on your weekend in Montreal is a magical time. As darkness falls the twinkly lights light up and the area looks even more special. There are so many bars and restaurants to try too.
I strongly recommend going on the Big Wheel at sunset. You get to go round three times so if you time it just right with the sunset when you’re there, you can see it in the day and the evening. I mean, we went in the morning and it was still an impressive skyline to see.
If you’re looking for great romantic things to do in Montreal, then how about a cosy and dark speakeasy? We went to the super secret Coldroom Speakeasy in the centre of Old Montreal. Once you’ve found the secret door you have to wait a while for someone to come and pick you up. We went down some sketchy stairs to find a super cool little bar serving bespoke cocktails.
A few drinks in a cosy bar with a air of secrecy makes for the perfect end to a Montreal weekend trip.
Where to stay on your Montreal weekend trip
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville during our weekend in Montreal. It was a great hotel in Downtown Montreal and was perfectly located for the Mount Royal Park, for the Bell Centre and for generally getting around in Montreal.
We had a huge room with a massive bed, but that wasn’t my favourite bit, it got even better with the penthouse pool. Up on the top floor there was a gym, a pool and a hot pool which looked out to Mount Royal – it was fab. The pool at the Hilton Garden Inn was especially great as it was something to do at 6am when we were awake from jetlag. I loved sitting in the hot pool just watching the world go by below us. The view from the roof garden was cool too.
We paid an average of £105 per night for our double room (over 4 nights) at the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville, with a view to the mountain.
Check out the latest prices for the Hilton Garden Inn Montreal Centre-Ville on Booking.com.
Your romantic weekend in Montreal
A weekend away in the city of romance, Montreal, is a great idea for any couple looking to get out of their usual routine.
Montreal is one of the liveliest cities in North America with a bustling nightlife, rich history and amazing food. The city has so much to offer visitors that it can be hard to know where to start!
If you only have a weekend in Montreal, this is how you should spend your time in this glorious Canadian metropolis.
Where will you go after your Montreal weekend though?
- How about a day trip to Parc Omega?
- Or a few days in Toronto?
- Or maybe even, Niagara Falls?
- Vancouver is a flight away, but there are loads of great things to do in Vancouver too!