How to Spend 72 Hours in Montreal
Are you ready to enjoy 72 hours in Montreal? Awesome! You picked a wonderful city for a long weekend adventure. If you’re arriving from the United States or the predominantly English speaking parts of Canada, then be warned that you’re in for a real treat when you visit beautiful Montreal.
Why? Well first of all, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to France … without enduring all the hassles of a trans-Atlantic flight. Yay!
But, in all seriousness and regardless of where you are originally coming from, you’ll have an outstanding time in Montreal. It’s a vibrant city packed with plenty of attractions, free things to do and see, great food, friendly locals, and so much more.
Now you might be thinking: “Hmmm, three days, though? Is that enough time?”
Yes. Yes, it is.
Don’t even worry. You’ll still see plenty of amazing sites, even though 72 hours in Montreal doesn’t sound like much time. Not to mention, you’ll have a perfect excuse to visit again in the near future. And who doesn’t want that chance, huh?
As for me, I went on my short solo trip to Montreal in November. So keep in mind this guide may differ from other itineraries geared toward the spring and summer months. Weather counts for a lot in Montreal, which I’ll discuss later in this post.
So have fun planning your three day trip to Montreal! You will love this city!
Day #1 in Montreal
Take a stroll through Old Montreal
Exploring Old Montreal is a great way to begin your long weekend in this vibrant city! Montreal may not be as “old school gorgeous” as Quebec City, because Montreal is a very modern destination, but at the same time, charm exists in this particular neighborhood.
So take a walk down Saint-Paul street and enjoy the cobblestones and old buildings. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a classic European city. Keep in mind these streets are quite hilly so you want to wear comfortable footwear. Don’t let all the tourists put you off either.
See the Old Port of Montreal
This historical port stretches along the St. Lawrence River. At the Old Port, you can visit The Clock Tower, search for trendy and cool public art, and learn all about the history of ships that arrived at this port terminal after their long journeys.
If you’re here on a sunny afternoon, the Old Port is also the perfect place to enjoy a scenic picnic and do some people watching! Plus it’s free.
Visit Notre-Dame Basilica
This extravagant Basilica is located in Old Montreal. You definitely need to pay this church a visit even if churches normally aren’t your “thing.” It’s one of the most unique places of worship that I have seen on my own travels.
Notre-Dame Basilica is done in the Gothic Revival style which explains its spectacular designs and colors. Unlike many churches, this one isn’t free to enter. Notre-Dame Basilica has a modest entrance fee; however, if you decide to take a 20 minute tour, the guide is automatically included in your fee’s cost. You can visit Notre-Dame Basilica at 110 Notre-Dame Street West. Take plenty of pictures and awe at the stained glass.
Go back in time inside Pointe-à-Callière Museum
Pointe-à-Callière Museum is a museum of archaeology and history located right in Old Montreal. What’s especially cool about this museum is it stands above several historic sites, which have been permanently left preserved for visitors to explore. I felt like an experienced archeologist. There’s also a cool film about Montreal’s extensive history. You can find Pointe-à-Callière Museum on 350 Place Royale.
Spend an evening in Quartier Latin
Let’s shake things up after our day roaming around Old Montreal! Go to the Quartier Latin for something completely new and exciting. This area, located in the Ville-Marie borough, has plenty of bars and cafes for you to explore. The Gay Village is also nearby and a lot of fun for visitors of all orientations!
Montreal’s well known for its nightlife so you need to experience it at least once on your weekend here. Raise your glass and toast with some locals!
Day #2 in Montreal
Visit McGill University
McGill University is one of the best universities in all of Canada. Not to mention, McGill is also one of the most beautiful places you can go on your 72 hours in Montreal. Take a walk on campus to see some of the elegant stone buildings. Personally, I’m a sucker for universities. I always feel like such an intellectual even though I’ve been out of college for years now, haha.
Although meant for prospective students, you can still take yourself on a self-guided tour of McGill and have a great time. You can also see some great views of the city itself from McGill’s downtown campus.
Scale Mount Royal and Enjoy the Best Views
Want more awesome views? Well. You’re in for lots of luck, my friend.
Near McGill University, you can climb Mount Royal and see some pretty awesome views of Montreal’s skyline. Again, wear comfortable shoes and take a bottle of water to stay hydrated. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to scale the mountain, but still take your time and enjoy breaks whenever you’re tired.
Upon reaching the top, you’ll have an excellent shot of Montreal’s skyline. And it is so beautiful! Worth the climb!
Near the summit of Mount Royal, visit Mount Royal Chalet and rest your feet. This area also has free wifi for all you travelers in need of a social media check, haha!
Eat a healthy lunch at La Panthère Verte
Mmm, this popular eating establishment has some super delicious falafel as well as other healthy options. You can visit this spot close to Mount Royal at 2153 Mackay St. – although La Panthère Verte has many different locations available throughout Montreal. Give it a shot!
Go to a Hockey Game!
If you’re lucky, you’ll visit Montreal at the very height of hockey season. Canadians are crazy passionate about hockey and with good reason! The Montreal Canadiens are the official team of Montreal and man, they are talented. Hockey is my favorite sport so I’m biased about this, but still. I really think all travelers would have a blast at a hockey game since it is a popular national pastime all across Canada.
Want more advice? See if you can purchase a ticket in the “blues” section for additional rowdiness and fun! I bought my own ticket last minute, and it cost around $95. Sure, it’s expensive, but breaking your budget in Montreal is worth it when you see the Canadiens play.
Day #3 in Montreal
Go on a Mile End Food Tour
Finally Montreal is known for its food. Don’t come here hoping to count calories. You will spectacularly fail at this mission.
A wonderful way to sample Montreal’s culinary delights is taking the Mile End Food Tour. I paid for this tour out of pocket and would highly recommend it to solo travelers.
Some of my favorite spots on the food tour included St. Viateur Bagel, Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois, and Drogheria Fine.
St. Viateur Bagel is one of the best places to grab a famous Montreal bagel. Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois will make your sweet tooth crave more and more, and the gnocchi at Drogheria Fine will transform you into the happiest person on the planet.
You want to spend some more time in the area once your tour is completed. While exploring the Mile End, check out some swanky boutiques too! This is a great place to do some shopping.
Devour some Poutine at La Banquise
Still have room in your stomach for more deliciousness? Of course you do! Go eat more!
You must, must, must sample Montreal’s famous poutine at La Banquise located on 994 Rue Rachel E. This famous joint is open 24 hours a day and offers more than 30 types of poutine! I just ordered La Classique, but if that’s not your style, then be as a creative as your heart desires and order something unique.
Be warned. La Banquise usually has a line down the block. However, this line is slower for people who want to eat inside the establishment. Order takeaway for faster results.
Be an art critic at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
I looooooooove art museums. And Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is a winner! It’s the city’s largest museum which promises many cool attractions for your viewing pleasure. The main entrance to Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is located on 1380 Sherbrooke Street West in the heart of the Golden Square Mile.
The permanent collection at this museum has well over 44,000 works. So take your time here. You need at least two hours to do this museum a true justice. Photos are permitted inside the museum, but make sure the flash is turned off.
Where to Stay in Montreal
It completely depends on your wants and needs! Montreal, like any other large city, has a wide variety of accommodation choices ranging from apartment rentals to hotels to hostels. Any budget fits here.
You definitely want to stay downtown in close proximity to all the attractions. Montreal has an excellent subway system but staying within the city makes life easier especially since you only have three days to spare.
If you’re a solo traveler (and believe me, solo travel in Canada is amazing!), then you want to check out M Montreal hostel. This hostel has won many awards for its high quality atmosphere. Plus, they offer croissant for breakfast!
Yes, M Montreal is definitely a quality hostel that you won’t regret booking if you’re flying solo.
General Montreal Tips
Pack for the weather.
I don’t think you have too much to worry about if you’re visiting Montreal in the summer. Honestly, pictures don’t look much different than New Jersey, haha.
However, be warned. Montreal is really, really, really cold depending on the time of year that you visit. I’m not kidding. I think I have a high tolerance for chilly weather, but Montreal’s wind in November tested even my patience. My brother, on the other hand, went to Montreal in February and said the Canadian winter was the coolest he had ever felt in his life. So bundle up and use the subway if you’re headed to Montreal in the cold season.
Speak a little bit of French.
Everyone I encountered in Montreal speaks fluent English. However, it’s always nice to have a little French at your disposal. The locals appreciate your effort! And don’t worry, no one will laugh at your if you make a mistake or two. It’s the thought that counts.
Keep in mind French here is a little difference than Parisian French, so if you took French in high school, you may notice some changes in the language.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
Over all, I thought Montreal was a very safe city, and I experienced no problems as a solo female traveler. Rates of violent crime are super low for a city Montreal’s size, so the odds you’ll fall victim to a random nefarious act are slim. Exercise normal precautions and trust your gut.
Keep in mind that Montreal’s famous nightlife errs on the rowdy side. Limit your alcohol intake on evenings out. Use cabs if you’re not keen on walking around late at night. And as always, if your intuition feels off or you feel uncomfortable, then get out of that situation as soon as possible. End of story. Don’t worry about being rude.
Don’t count calories.
As I’ve said, Montreal has a thriving food scene and you need to indulge on your long weekend in this city. Enjoy every last morsel – especially if you’re a big fan of croissants. This city is Croissant Heaven. I had one every single morning for breakfast. All I can say is return to your diet at home. Calories don’t exist here. Cough cough.
How would you spend 72 hours in Montreal? Have you ever been to this part of Canada? Did you like it?
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