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Planning Your Trip

With European charm and Canadian good humor, Montreal beckons visitors with history, grace and beauty — not to mention a slew of buzzy dining and culture options. At the heart of it all is The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal, which opened in 1912 and remains the city’s premier address for luxury accommodations.

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EXPLORING THE CITY

Montreal is relatively small, and it’s wonderfully easy to walk (or cycle, or use public transportation — see more for how to get around). Here’s what to pack to take advantage.

 

  • Winter in Montreal is cold; spring and fall can be too. Embrace it, as Montrealers do, with warm outerwear, winter accessories and boots.
  • That said, nothing is more Montreal than basking outside in warmer weather. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses to take advantage.
  • Sturdy, grippy boots are best for snowy or icy conditions; otherwise, bring a pair of walking shoes or sneakers to get around in style and comfort.

DAY TRIPS

If you have time for a quick jaunt outside the city, be sure to strategize what’s in your suitcase based on your interests.

 

 

  • To visit one of the many sugar shacks, or cabanes à sucre, outside Montreal, bring comfortable clothes suitable for a rustic atmosphere — and for indulging your appetite.
  • Bring hiking boots or sturdy sneakers as well as sunscreen and active clothes to explore Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville or the Calvaire d’Oka hike.
  • Water sports (swimming, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding) and snow sports (downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding) abound around Montreal; pack accordingly for your favorite.  

 

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WEEKEND GETAWAY

Montreal is ideal for exploring over a weekend, though you’ll find plenty to occupy you for longer. The key to packing for a two- or three-day trip? A little forethought.

 

  • Bring season-appropriate basics that can be easily mixed together: a pair of jeans, collared shirts and a sport coat for men; jeans, blouses and a cocktail dress for women.
  • Bring shoes that are comfortable, stylish and versatile. For women, think ankle boots or loafers. For men, weatherproof boots and minimalist sneakers are a good bet.
  • Take along sneakers, swimwear and activewear for workouts and outdoor adventures.

Don't Forget:

If you’ll be in Montreal during hockey season (October to April) it can’t hurt to pack your bleu, blanc, rouge — blue, white and red are the colors of the Montreal Canadiens, also known as the Habs. The NHL team plays at Bell Centre (off season, the arena hosts concerts and other large events). Grab a Molson for the action — you can also head to the arena’s own brasserie, La Cage, for cocktails and bistro fare before the game.

 


Whether you’re fascinated by Montreal’s old-world boulevards, bistros and stately façades or prefer to explore its modern architectural marvels and dizzying culinary scene, there’s something here for every sort of traveler. Here are some itinerary ideas worth booking in advance.

Dining Reservations


Montreal dining enjoys global recognition, especially for homegrown delicacies such as poutine — try local favorite La Banquise — and Montreal-style bagels (St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagel battle for the city’s best). But the top table here is Maison Boulud at Ritz-Carlton, Montreal, where Executive Chef Riccardo Bertolino brings an Italian sensibility to Daniel Boulud’s modern French cuisine (think knockout roasted veal loin alongside immaculate homemade pastas). Afterward, snag a plush seat at the Dom Pérignon Bar in the hotel’s iconic Palm Court. Another local gem: Joe Beef, the Little Burgundy neighborhood institution beloved by Anthony Bourdain and David Chang for its standout meat and seafood.

 

Day Trips


While you’ll find plenty to occupy you in the city, there are several attractions near Montreal worth an adventure. An unforgettable slice of Quebecois culture can be sampled at the area’s sugar shacks, or cabanes à sucre, where maple syrup is harvested in spring. An hour’s drive west of Montreal is the Sucrerie de Montagne, a charming log cabin village that is open year-round, serving decadent, syrup-laced feasts and tire sur la neige (maple taffy poured on snow). Work off the sugar with a trip to an outdoor oasis — Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville and the Calvaire d’Oka hike are both beautiful, accessible options.

Tours


Vieux Montreal, whose buildings date to the 17th and 18th centuries, is the city’s historic pulse and best explored on foot. Don’t miss the vast, Gothic revival-style Notre-Dame Basilica, the revitalized Old Port and the vibrant public square Place Jacques-Cartier. Foodies should try one of Local Montreal Food Tours’ walks; the Mile End Tour, which navigates the historic Jewish district and includes a St-Viateur bagel and craft beer, is delectable. Mount Royal Park, the city’s premier green space and home to a majestic 764-foot mountain, is a four-season gem — jogging, skiing, skating, picnicking and tobogganing are all popular choices.

MUSEUM TICKETS AND CULTURAL SIGHTS


Just steps from Ritz-Carlton, Montreal is the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, considered the city’s most prestigious museum, with over 40,000 works in its collection. Also nearby is McCord Museum, dedicated to the study and preservation of Canadian history, focusing on Montreal. Or plan your trip around a citywide celebration: Montreal International Jazz Festival draws around 2 million visitors every summer. In winter, Montréal en Lumière, a food and entertainment festival, and Igloofest, an electronic music festival billed as the world’s coldest, seduce both locals and visitors to embrace the chill.


Culinary Tour

Montreal has become legendary among food lovers for the diversity of cuisines along with the key dishes that are the city’s signature. Combining Quebecois specialties with a wide range of other nations’ cuisines has given the city a unique dining scene. Whether it’s the famous Montreal bagel or a dish of poutine dripping with gravy, you’ll want to indulge in the iconic dishes of the city and region while you are in town. Now, off you go to start eating your way through the second largest city in the country!

 

 

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Perfect Weekend

Montreal is a jewel-box of a city, with a rich cultural history, a thriving culinary scene and plenty of natural beauty. Whether your idea of exercise is shopping until you drop or running laps in a park, the second largest city in Canada has something for every visitor (especially for those who speak French). Each neighborhood has a distinct personality, so you can easily spend your weekend exploring areas like Mile End and Old City — or just settle in for a plate of poutine and watch a diverse and dynamic city go by.

 

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