For those who don’t know, my partner G moved to Canada this past April from beautiful Scotland, and much of Canada is quite new to him. Having started working just days after landing, there was little time or energy for much exploration outside the city. Thus, I was tickled pink at the idea of a getaway in time for his first birthday living in Canada.
Having broken the drive to Montreal up with a visit to my mother’s and a night in Ottawa, it was time to spend 2 gorgeous Fall days in Quebec’s biggest city.
Here are my top recommendations for how to spend 48 hours in Ville de Montreal.
Get your Passport
No, not your Canadian passport; Passeport MTL!
Available in 48hr and 72hr versions, the Passeport MTL gives you entry to many of the city’s top attractions, plus unlimited use of Montreal’s metro transit system for the time period purchased.
My personal favourites available at the time of writing include:
– Observatoire Place Ville Marie
– Montreal Botanical Garden
– Ecomuseum Zoo
– Biosphere (Environment Museum)
– Montreal Insectarium
– Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium
– Casino Montreal ($25 in Credits)
Two attractions that I can’t stop showing online are Observatoire Place Ville Marie and the Montreal Botanical Garden. With the Observatoire, you ride two elevators to the penthouse floor of one of Montreal’s tallest buildings. From there, you have a 360* view of the city; beautiful, forested Mont Royal on one side, the ports of Old Montreal on the other, and beautiful city sights in between.
Montreal Botanical Garden is a site as relaxing and gorgeous as it sounds, but don’t try to cram it in. Between the indoor greenhouse wanderings of over 3000 plants and flowers plus multiple gardens crossing 75 hectares outside, you’ll want to keep an open morning or afternoon for this one.
The Chinese Garden and Japanese Garden alone will make you want to stay and stare. I wanted so badly to remain surrounded by botanicals that I bought my own tri-colour at the gift shop to bring back to the concrete jungle with me.
Where to Stay
After a less than stellar stay during a shorter previous visit at boutique-style Hotel Zero, we decided to stay somewhere central, cozy and familiar in accommodation/hospitality; Courtyard Marriott Montreal Downtown.
Our king suite was so comfortable and quiet, we had forgotten we were staying in essentially tourism AND construction central, didn’t hear a thing. The staff are exceptionally friendly and are available to contact in person, by phone, and by mobile chat through the Marriott app, which made mobile check-in and pre-arrival room requests so painlessly easy.
The Courtyard Marriott Montreal Downtown also features underground parking (which is wonderful compared to the paid street parking that is more common there), an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, exercise room, and a gorgeous outdoor rooftop terrace. Warning: The comfort of the mattress may turn your significant other into a bedhog.
Places to Eat
Being the birthday boy, I let G choose the dinner spot; Vargas Steakhouse.
Located at 690 René Levesque W., just a 10 minute walk from our hotel, Vargas features a steakhouse menu, sushi menu, beverage menu and dessert menu. G’s dinner was a filet mignon feature, aged 28 days and seasoned with clarified butter and Montreal steak spice. Having missed this favourite fish feat back home, I enjoyed the grilled atlantic salmon with lemon-basil vinaigrette, served with steamed Asian chili butter rice, MMMMM!
Oh yeah, the desserts were so good, G had TWO.
For the enjoyer of sports entertainment in your family or coupling, Montreal has the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. &, conveniently located across the street from Montreal Botanical Garden are Stade Olympique and Stade Saputo, the two host sites for the Montreal Impact (Major League Soccer).
For the latter, there is specific away team seating available.
Let me know in the comments!