I had planned several times to visit the city of Montreal while I was living in upstate New York in the early 2000’s, but never got around to doing so. Many friends who had visited, raved about the city which has so much to offer, from historical sites to art and culture and of course a vibrant nightlife, so it was high up on the list of to-visit places. While I never made it living 3.5 hrs. away, I was finally able to plan a trip in 2019 having moved half a world away, a while back. The opportunity arose when I had to give a talk at a conference at the University of Montreal. My friends M and K also drove up from Toronto and we did some sightseeing together.
Staying in the old town area was a no brainer, I picked a small apartment in the Quartier des Spectacles by Sonder rentals, the studio apartment worked perfectly as a base for exploring the city and was very clean and well equipped, would definitely rent from them again. The place was right across from Chinatown and as I had arrived late in the day, I picked up some diner and stuff for breakfast there before calling it a day. The next morning I headed out to the metro station at the Place des Arts, the metro service is very efficient and is a great way to get around in Montreal, it took me less than 30 min to get to the University. I have found that short of a private tour a ‘hop on hop off tour’ is a good first pass at exploring any city. The tour in Montreal starts at the Dorchester Square, and runs from 10 am to 4 pm, which gives one a reasonable amount of tie to explore the various stops and note down places one would like to explore in greater detail. The old city is worth spending at least a couple of days exploring, some of the famous sights include the Basilica Notre Dame, the Bonsecours Market (where I enjoyed some good craft beer(s) at the Pub BreWesky), shops and eateries along Rue St. Paul, the Place des Armes and of course the old port of Montreal (where we took in a fireworks show).
Another area worth spending some time is the Village which has been a safe space for the LGBTQ community for decades, although it has had its ups and downs. These days the area is known for its vibrant arts scene, shops, restaurants and bars. There is an upbeat atmosphere and the the area is loads of fun to explore.
Another area I visited was Mount Royal Park , the park and the St. Joseph Oratory are definitely worth the trip and spending some serious time there. There is much more to explore and experience in the city, the few days I spent were loads of fun and I will definitely be back and soon!