Montreal is a doable 6-hour drive from the New York area. Compared to New York, Montreal is a small city. It has many quaint neighborhoods and the metro system makes it extremely easy to get around. However, it offers a lot to do, from climbing Mont Royal, visiting churches and museums to enjoying a variety of festivals. It’s also great for travelling on a budget (especially for Americans since the U.S. dollar is comparatively strong). We’ve always been able to find affordable apartments through AirBNB.
My favorite thing to do in Montreal is eat! We try to keep our trips to Montreal budget friendly by balancing eating out with preparing basic meals ourselves. Therefore, I’ve only included one big meal suggestion per day for this four day itinerary.
Day 1 – Poutine
Arriving in Montreal at dinner time? Make your first meal poutine. I’m not a huge fan of the classic poutine (fries, cheese curds and gravy), but with the right add-ins it is “oh-so-delicious”. La Banquise has more than 30 types of poutine. I really like “La Rachel” which comes with green peppers, mushrooms and onions. La Banquise is open 24 hours a day, so it’s also perfect for a late night meal.
Day 2 – Jean-Talon Market
Bread. Cheese. Produce. Montreal has several food markets but this one is the biggest. The first thing you’ll notice is the colorful displays of fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s also a great place to pick up cans of maple syrup (and other products like maple candy) if you are into edible souvenirs. You can spend at least half a day in the market. However, if it’s warm, spend some time wandering the neighborhood and find a pleasant place for a picnic. There’s seating right behind the market or you can make your way to nearby Dante Park.
The market is located in Montreal’s Little Italy, so you can also spend time exploring the neighborhood and its other food options.
Day 3 – Bagels and Ice Cream
Montreal bagels are thinner and sweeter than the dough-y New York bagels that I grew up with and love. This makes them a nice twist on the familiar. They often eaten as is (ie. no spread). St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagels are the old school Montreal bagel icons. Fortunately, they are about a ten minute walk apart in the Mile End neighborhood. My suggested itinerary:
- Stop at Cafe Olimpico for a cappuccino – 124 Rue St. Viateur O.
- Walk down to St. Viateur and eat your fill of bagels – 263 – Rue St. Viateur O.
- Walk to Fairmount to pick up some bagels for later – 74 Avenue Fairmount O.
- Make your way to Kem Coba – 60 Avenue Fairmount O.
My mouth waters as I think about the lime mint sorbet at Kem Coba, just one of a variety of unique flavors. In addition to hard ice-cream and sorbet, they also rotate their homemade soft-serve swirls – think combinations and blueberry and honey (to celebrate local Quebec products). There may be a line, but it’s always worth it.
Day 4 – Brunch
My husband judges Montreal accommodation by their proximity to L’Avenue. The appeal comes from a mix of the food, the atmosphere, and the little details like the watermelon infused water. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s in a charming section of Montreal’s plateau neighborhood. For hardy French-Canadian specialities try to Cabane A Sucre, which includes creton (a Quebecois meat spread) and beans with lard, along with pancakes, eggs and ham.