I went twice in one year to Montreal; once during February (winter time) and another during summer time at the end of August. So I will share best of visiting in each season and things to do 🙂
Montreal – Winter (February – 3 days)
Gouverneur Hotel Montreal – I went with my university for reading week, so stayed at a very discounted price and it was a very decent 3 star hotel; accessible to various subway stations, closest being Berri-UQAM
First night – We got their close to evening time, and went to Rue St. Denis which is a major street that has bars.hotels, shops and night life; along with some great art and architecture around. Took subway, just 15 minutes from the hotel.
Next day (day 2) – Early morning all of us headed to Montreal Biodome; (again took subway from Berri-UQAM and it was 15 minutes away). Located at the Olympic park, initially built for Olympic games and later converted for visitors to a Biodome which consists of 4 ecosystem replicas; my favorite part was seeing the penguins and the planetarium; exploring the galaxies and space.
Later at night we went to checkout Montreal En Lumiere; which is a light festivals that runs from late February to early March. There are various exhibits, performers that stretch out throughout the streets. They also have marshmallows and fire places to keep you warm. To wrap it up we had dinner at Nickels grill and bar. Later at night we went to some university hosted event.
Day 3 – Next morning we got up early and headed to Old Montreal; things we did here: Walked the streets of old Montreal (very European style), visited Notre Dame Basilica (extremely beautiful and peaceful), had Montreal smoked poutine, admired the architecture and explored the shops. You can spend several hours here, easily.
Later at night we went to Casino Montreal; and you can figure what we did there 🙂 It is amazingly Grande and the largest Casino in Canada; open 24 hours/7 days a week so we spent quite a while here just exploring and once in a while trying out our luck.
Day 4 – We headed back on our way home. This trip was pretty relaxed along with some university hosted parties. Below you can see my summer trip to Montreal and Quebec city which was for a long weekend; we stayed 3 nights and 2 days.
Montreal/Quebec – Summer Time (End of August)
Crowne Plaza Montreal Airport – We did drive from Toronto on this trip, so this hotel is good, closer to the airport. But if you don’t have a car, finding a hotel in the core of the city would be better.
Day 1 : We had Chez Cora’s brunch in downtown Montreal, walked around the downtown area, there are many shops, malls and eateries. Then we drove towards Canal de Lachine, rented up some Bixie bikes from old port and rode along the river.
Later that night we had dinner back at downtown Montreal; explored the hustle & bustle of the city and went to Mount Royal; which is a great lookout hill area to view the whole city. It is worth to check it out at night and during day time.
Day 2 : We had breakfast at Eggspectation by Cote-des-Neiges; sitting at the place we had the view of Saint Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal; which has very beautiful architecture; it is a catholic church with an arts museum, gardens and other events taking place in it. We just marvelled at the beauty of it from outside. After finishing breakfast we checked out a farmers market across the street. Then we were on our way to Quebec city!
Quebec city: We arrived in old Quebec around afternoon time. Parked by the Old Port (Vieux-Port), and walked from here. There are cobblestone paths and many small shops and restaurants in this area. Along with several art exhibits by local artists. Wear comfortable shoes, as there is a lot of uphill/downhill, and since its cobblestone, it can be slippery if wet. Walked up towards the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac; which is an upscale hotel and also one of the most photographed hotels in the world, and for a good reason. Amazing architecture and a very grande hotel 🙂
Walked one last time by the old port and headed back to Montreal. Next morning we left for Toronto.
Highlights of things to do/see in Montreal
1) Old Montreal
2) Mount Royal
3) Notre Dame Basilica
4) Bike riding on Lachine Canal /Rent bike from old port montreal
5) Montreal Smoked Poutine
6) Downtown Montreal – (coming from Toronto, there are similarities between downtown Toronto and downtown Montreal (similar stores, with the exception of specialty stores within each locations)
7) Farmers market
8) Light Festival in Montreal late February & March
Things to do Quebec city
9) As we only did a day trip; I would say old Quebec and old port is a must see
Hope this gives you ideas for your trip planning, there are alot of things to do in the summer time and even in winter, in Montreal/Quebec city. Do share your experiences of Montreal, Quebec 🙂