Montreal in 24 hours

Way back before the cold snap of 2017/2018 hit all of Canada, my best friend was in town. This was a big deal as she lives in Hong Kong and I hadn't seen her in two years!! We had five days to spend together and we made the most of them, including a super quick road trip over to Montréal, Québec. And by super quick, I mean we spent exactly 24 hours in this beautiful Canadian city. 

Let me be clear: 24 hours in Montréal is not enough. But if you're a side hustling #girlboss, it might be all you can spare for a getaway. So make the most of it! After a six-hour car ride (complete with a 6 am wake-up time while on holiday), here's how Charmine and I spent our 24 hours in Montéal.

where to stay  

In a quick search for a deal (the night before we left), I found us a room at Hotel Universal Montréal. My initial gut feel was that this hotel would be a place neither Charmine nor myself would want to spend more than a night in, but it turned out the place was amazing. Not only was the room surprisingly cute, but I had one of the best sleeps of my life in the comfiest bed ever. Located in Montréal’s Sports, Leisure and Garden district, you're a 10-15 minute walk from the subway which will get you to all the key spots. The hotel also had a shuttle service, but it operates at odd hours so prepare to walk. 

where to go (and where to eat)

The first stop we had to make was Old Montréal. After taking the Metro (subway) to Chinatown (because of course Charmine had to see what Francophone Chinatown has to offer), we walked south to find the cobblestone streets of the shockingly quiet historic neighbourhood - I think it was so empty because we were there on a September Monday. We found Notre-Dame Basilica without initially realizing it, browsed a few boutique shops, then stopped in an adorable café/market combo, Le Petit Dep, for a cold drink (it was 31 degrees Celsius at the time). It drew us in with its pastel green doors, and made us stay thanks to its eclectic decor. 

After wandering further down Old Montréal, we found the Old Port and took a rest by the water. I found the St. Lawrence river reminded me a little of Vancouver, and it was nice to sit and admire the water once again. At this point, it was time to find a patio, meet up with another old friend and start on the drinks. 

After some pre-dinner sangria, we wandered back into Old Montréal to find a place to eat.  We ended up at Jardin Nelson, and I found (slightly alcohol-induced) pure joy. I'll start with a warning: my favourite part of this trip was the food. This was stop number one for that. We sat outdoors (it's only open during the warmer months because it's primarily outdoors) and enjoyed a live jazz trio as we continued to eat and drink. My drink was blue (that's all I can remember - I had a lot of drinks with very little food!). And my dinner? A cheese and mushroom crêpe that was well worth the lactose intolerant pains. 

Walking back to the Metro, we stumbled upon a film piece being displayed onto the side of a hospital outlining the history of Montréal. It was really fun to sit, watch and learn about this slice of Canadian history most Anglophones don't hear much of. 

At this stage of the evening (roughly 11pm), Charmine and I had a dessert craving. We took the Metro into the downtown area on the hunt for something open that offered something sweet. We found a Mexican bar that served a decent mojito, and the best cheesecake of my life. Not a word of a lie, I still dream of the creme brulee cheesecake served at Carlos & Pepe's.

Then we crashed in the aforementioned comfiest beds in the world.  

In the morning, we took the Metro to Little Italy for brunch. A Facebook friend who lives in Montreal recommended Le Vieux Vélo and I'm so grateful she did. I had the brie and avocado eggs benedict. Again, the food on this trip was mind-blowing, and this brunch was no exception. 

After visiting the Montréal office of my 9-to-5 life, and picking up some infamous Montréal bagels for the road, Charmine and I hopped back in our little rental car and hit the road for home - exactly 24 hours after arriving in the city. 

what we missed 

Like I said, 24 hours is not enough time and there were a few places I wished we had the time to see before hitting the road for home. 

  • Atwater Market or Jean Talon Market- because public markets bring me a unique type of happiness that I've been missing in Toronto.

  • Place des Arts - because I'm an artist, duh.

  • Poutine la Banquise - despite all the delicious food I did enjoy, it's a crime I didn't have poutine in Montréal.

  • Explore Mile End - let's be honest, it's probably where I'd live if I moved to Montréal.

Montreal brunch