Montreal on a Budget: 3 Day Itinerary
Canada‘s cultural city Montreal is an eclectic blend of European flair and North American attitude. Old Montreal’s 18th-Century facades and modern ambiance of the new city vie for equal attention from a tourist. Montreal offers great cultural activities, thriving nightlife and an amazing choice of food. With three days to explore the fantastic city of Montreal you will have lots of opportunity to discover favorite tourist sites, and uncover the layers of culture the city has to offer.
Day One: Old Montreal
Explore the historic grounds and buildings of Old Montreal, Montreal’s place of birth in 1642. Begin your day at one of the most popular tourist destinations, the Notre Dame Basilica. Located at 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, this extremely impressive piece of architecture began as a small chapel, and was reconstructed into a massive church in the 1820’s. Tours are available throughout all of its ornate rooms, crypts and towers. Full of history and grandiose, you can choose an individual or guided tour, each only $5 for adults and $4 for children 7+. Enjoy some sightseeing as you can a nine minute walk to your next destination, the Chateau Ramezay (280 Rue Notre-Dame Est St). A popular museum of Old Montreal, this historic site was built in the 18th century and displays more than five hundred years of history with some thirty thousand historical items including paintings, photographs and historical objects. Tours charge are $9 per adult and $6.50 for students. Your final destination of the day is a short walk away, at the impressive Bonsecours Market (350 Rue Saint-Paul Est). What began as the main market in Montreal, has also been host to the legislative assembly and the Parliament of Canada. Today, visitors can enjoy the building’s indoor mall, outdoor cafes and boutiques while also enjoying the historic architecture.
Day Two: Action-Packed Excitement
Your second day is all about exciting attractions that Montreal has to offer. Whether you are with a loved one or with family members, these sites have something for everyone. Your first stop is The Montreal Botanical Gardens (4101, rue Sherbrooke Est), which showcases various exhibitions of the wild outdoors and beautiful nature all around us. Offered all year round, this location is considered one of the world’s greatest botanical gardens. Enjoy thousands of plant and animal species for hours on end for an adult ticket price of $19.25. A quick fifteen-minute walk away, Montreal is also home to the impressive Biodome de Montreal (4777 Avenue Pierre-de Coubertin). Located in the heart of the city, it offers opportunity to explore re-created ecosystems and over 4,500 animals and 500 plant species. There are regular exhibitions and educational tours are also available. Enjoy bio-diversity – rainforests, gulfs, forests and much more, in this one-of-a-kind exhibit. For the thrill-seekers in your group, make sure to check out La Ronde Amusement Park (22 Chemin MacDonald) for some thrills and great views of Montreal from up high. La Ronde is the largest amusement park in Montreal, and is great for a day with the family. Opening on May 18th, the park is run by Six Flags, and has a plethora of rides, shows and restaurants. Your evening event will offer a more relaxed tone, as you enjoy the Orchestre Symphonique De Montreal (1600 Saint-Urbain). Music lovers will enjoy visiting the stunning Maison Symphonique de Montreal to listen to beautiful collections from various conductors and musicians all year long. With a variety of seating options and ticket prices, there is an opportunity for everyone to experience a memorable performance.
Day 3: Explore the great Outdoors
On your last day in Montreal, be sure to get outside and appreciate the vibrant sights and sounds of the busy city. Start out at the Atwater Market (138 Avenue Atwater), which opens every day at 7am and offers free parking if needed. Explore the kiosks of Montreal’s best tastes, sampling old cheeses and fresh vegetables, and enjoy the bustling culture of food lover’s market. Your second stop of the day is the beautiful Mount Royal Park (1260 Remembrance Road), where there is something to do in every season. Take the green line subway, and transfer to the 165 streetcar to be there within half an hour. Hiking, biking, sledding or skating- there is something for everyone. This is a great place to take the family, and enjoy views of the city from the top of the mountain. On your last stop, return back to Old Montreal within twenty minutes by taking the 11 streetcar and the red line subway. Awaiting you is the Montreal Ghost Tour, a freaky-fun night mixed with some exploring and history of Old Montreal. Check out this 90-minute tour of the old streets and stories of Montreal’s past. Your guide will explain old practices and tortures of Montreal’s beginnings, and you can even try to speak to residents still lurking in the old streets; a great way to finish off your three-day trip, right where Montreal started.
Rue Ste-Catherines: This street is full of boutiques and trendy stores that the eager shopper can spend hours exploring. Along the street you’ll also be able to access locations such as the Centre Eaton mall and Les Cours Mont-Royal, which are both located in the underground city that is full of shopping and eating options.
St-Denis St: For those searching for a less mainstream shopping experience, St-Denis is home to independent boutiques, new designers and one-of-a-kind finds. Check out Tango for impressive antiques, Arthur Quentin for creative gifts, and stop by L’Express, to experience the strip’s popular bistro.
The Cours Mont-Royal: Located between north Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine Street, this mall is accessible by the Peel metro station and has access to various transportation routes. Made up of four levels, Cours Mont-Royal has an impressive collection of the latest trends and fashions. Health and beauty, fashions and food are all available for your trip through one of Montreal’s most impressive shopping malls.
Jardin Nelson (407 Place Jacques-Cartier): Popular not only for its amazing French food, but for its beautiful old setting built in 1812. Enjoy its blissful greenhouse terrace, nightly live jazz and a great location on Place Jacques-Cartier.
3 Brewers (105 Rue St-Paul E): This microbrewery and pub is in a great location on Saint-Paul, and its foundations began over two centuries ago. 3 Brewers has some traditional dishes like burgers, fish and chips for the kid and you can try out their signature “Flammekueches”, a flatbread tart developed in the Alsatian region of France for something different!
Schwartz’s (3895 Saint-Laurent Boulevard): Located in buzzing downtown, this restaurant has 80 years of tradition and some of the best smoked meat in the area. Incredibly fair prices and mouthwatering sandwiches have guests coming back for more.
Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain (1050 de la Gauchetiere West): If you’re looking for an accommodating hotel that has access to a lot of city transportation and locations, consider the Marriot as one of your first options. Located in downtown Montreal across from the Bell Centre, many downtown must-sees are easily accessible by bus or foot from this beautiful hotel, and Old Montreal is just a short walk away. The Marriott is also connected to Montreal’s Underground City, which has access to shops, restaurants, metro stations and train stations. This is a great choice to accommodate all of your traveling and sight-seeing plans.
Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites (55 Rue Saint-Jacques West): If you would like to experience the old charm of Old Montreal, consider Le Place for a central location with spacious rooms. Enjoy the air of old elegance and modern restoration, with easy access to its RainSpa, fitness center and restaurants. A ten-minute subway ride will get you to the downtown core of Montreal if you’d like to visit both sides of the historic city.
Auberge du Vieux-Port (97 Rue de la Commune Est): Located in Old Montreal off of the St. Lawrence River, this quaint hotel has charming details such as exposed brick and old wooden beams that add a historic charm and appreciation for the past. A fifteen minute street car can get you downtown, or stay on foot and enjoy walking along the picturesque river nearby.
Rue St. Laurent: An extremely popular street for various types of nightlife that will meet everyone’s tastes in food, music and vibes. Experience a couple of different places in one night, including McKibbins Irish Pub, Tokyo Bar and Muzique, while being on the same street.
Rue St. Denis: For those who enjoy outdoors, this stretch of street offers lots of options for patios and terraces. Enjoy the music and people, while also experiencing the sights and sounds of the busy streets at night. Packed full of different options, this street is not to be missed.
The Montreal Casino (1 Ave du Casino): Known as the largest in Canada, this casino is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to those 18+ of age. After enjoying the breathtaking building itself, immerse yourself in competitive play, four-star restaurants, shows and a magnificent view of the city.
Old Montreal: Located within the boundaries of the St. Lawrence River, along with Rue Saint-Antoine, Rue Berri and Rue McGill. Traveling there is easy, with three main public transport lines available on the orange line, which includes Square-Victoria, Place d’Armes and Champ-de-Mars. If you’re staying in the area, it is suggested you explore on foot, as parking is slightly inconvenient and you’ll get to see more while walking.
The Metro Lines: These lines are very accessible, and can get you to most places you would like to go without driving or walking. Interchanges are available to hop on trains when you’d like to travel further out of the main city, with regular fare costing $3.25, with a free street-level transfer.
City Bus: Running every ten minutes or less, city busses are available all throughout the city, and even offer all-night service seven days a week. Where buses are not available, Montreal’s taxibus service is available in a number of locations for groups. Cost is also $3.25 per ticket.
When to Visit
With all destinations, the warmer the weather the more options there are. Montreal has a plethora of festivals throughout warmer months, and offers various outdoor activities to explore the city and experience the history and beautiful architecture. Outdoor patios are a must when visiting the grand Montreal as well as taking a ride on the river, and it’s suggested to wait for spring and summer to plan your 3-day itinerary to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
However, Montreal still offers a breathtaking landscape in the middle of winter. With tons of hills for snowboarders and skiers alike, this city has lots of opportunity to enjoy chalets, pubs and views under a thick blanket of snow. Because of its chilly winters, Montreal has developed a unique underground city – a brightly lit network of tunnels and walkaways, stretching 32km under the city lined with malls, boutiques and restaurants, in a controlled temperature environment.
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, located on Île Notre-Dame, is the venue for Canadian F1 Grand Prix and many tourists prefer to visit Montreal during Grand Prix, usually held in June.