A city with a history as rich as its countless activities, entertainment options, culinary wonders and varied cultures, Montreal offers a world of opportunity in a magnificent location. A traveler's paradise, the area was first discovered in October 1535 when Jacques Cartier landed there in an Indian village called Hochelaga.
He referred to the area as Mount Royal, speaking of the elevation that came up behind what is now known as the St. Lawrence River. Since then, Montreal has gone through many periods of great change, ultimately leading it to become the commercial center of Canada.
While the city is officially a French-speaking territory, its broad array of cultures makes it easy for English and Spanish speakers to navigate, as well. The city is a testament to Quebecois culture and sentiment, offering its visitors an incredible range of options when it comes to food, entertainment, lodging, nightlife and personal fulfillment.
Though the city has an estimated population of over 1.65 million, it maintains the feel of a small, family-friendly destination, even to those making their first visit here. No matter what you're looking for in your next destination, you'll find that Montreal is everything you want and more.
A culinary kingdom
If a wide assortment of dining options is an absolute must-have when planning a vacation, then Montreal is the place for you. With an incredible selection of Canadian and foreign cuisine, all done very well and at varying price point, Montreal is truly a world-class city for foodies. Make sure you hit at least one of these gems during your stay here:
Le Pegase: Widely held as one of the best restaurants in Montreal across any genre, Le Pegase celebrates the French influence on the city's history with dishes that transport you straight to France. Known for delicacies such as goat cheese profiteroles, braised veal cheek, liver pate and filet mignon, this restaurant provides phenomenal food in an intimate setting. Perfect for a romantic night out, Le Pegase is truly among the best dining establishments in all of Montreal.
Casse-Croute La Banquise: If you're after a taste of the local culture at a far more reasonable price tag, then this is the restaurant for you. Offering a casual environment that's perfect for the entire family, La Banquise specializes in different variations of the Canadian dish known as poutine. Combining french fries with such favourites as gravy, chili, cheese curds and bacon (among other things), poutine is at the heart of Montreal street food. This restaurant is also open 24 hours a day, so it's absolutely perfect for impromptu late-night snacks with friends or family!
Grenadine: If you're looking for quality French food but don't want to go somewhere as fancy as La Pegase, then Grenadine may be the restaurant for you. With a broad selection of reasonably priced French plates in a casual, BYOB atmosphere, the restaurant is a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
One of the things that sets Montreal apart as a world-class destination is the truly insurmountable amount of entertainment options all year round. No matter when you make your visit to the cultural capital of Canada, you'll find yourself surrounded by just that: culture. Whether you're here for festival season, one of the many lovely museums and art galleries or to simply take in the city's beautiful architecture, you can rest assured that there's never a dull moment in Montreal.
Fantastic festivals: With an absolutely packed social calendar, every season seems to be festival season in Montreal. Visitors with a penchant for literary excellence may want to plan their trip for April so they can attend the Blue Metropolis Montreal Literary Festival, an annual celebration of texts from around the world.
Late summer and early autumn are typically the most densely populated months for festivals, featuring everything from the Montreal Comic Convention to the St Jean Sur Richelieu Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Monumental museums: Montreal is a city with a vibrant past, and there has been a sincere effort made to preserve that history through the chartering of many museums dedicated to the city's cultural heritage. Those looking to learn more about the formation of the city (and Quebec as a whole, for that matter), should check out the Centre d'Histoire de Montreal.
Built into an old building that formerly served as the city's fire station, the museum offers interactive exhibits that explore the history of the city as far back as the 1600s.
Those looking for something more modern and with a global focus may want to take in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Boasting one of the most impressive collections in all of Canada, the museum is a favourite of the locals and proudly displays the best in contemporary art from Montreal and around the world.
Amazing architecture: Even if your idea of a good time is simply taking a stroll around town and enjoying the sights, then Montreal has something to offer you. The city's architecture is second to none in terms of both historic value and aesthetic beauty. Walk through the Vieux Montreal, the former central business district of the city that was once completely walled in, and you're sure to gain new insight into the evolution of Quebec as a whole.
For those looking for the perfect photo opportunity, a visit to Housing 67 - a famed housing complex built into the banks of the St. Lawrence River - should provide exactly what you're looking for. Walking tours of the city's architectural delights are also regularly available all over the business district.
There's simply far too much going on in Montreal for it to be adequately described on paper, but that's exactly what makes the city so exciting. No matter what you're looking for in your next vacation destination, a trip to Montreal will leave you with fond memories, innovative new culinary ideas to take home and a burning urge to go back!