So you’re visiting Montreal for the first time and you’re completely overwhelmed by the amount of choices and places to see.
Listen: I know you really want to choose the best spots, optimize your time and perhaps even impress your partner 😉
Perhaps you’re the one who had the initial idea to visit this Montreal city, and now you’re like: “Oh shit, I better come up with a real GOOD plan that he or she is gonna love!“
GREAT. I got you my friend!
If this is you, then you’re in the right place because this list will give you some inspiration, while saving you some time and energy.
Think of it as combinations of things you can do that will make you feel like a local.
In fact, this list is completely based on the kinds of dates I like to have with my husband Jonathan, so consider this advice from one couple to another couple, ok?
If you’re into moving your body (e.g. lots of walking), eating, and drinking… then keep reading!
Off the beaten path date idea #1: Mount-Royal Mini Hike + Restaurant
This is a short hike with lots of stairs, so it’s perfect if you like short workouts with high intensity 😉
You don’t have to make it a workout, of course, you can take your time.
The best thing about this idea? You get to see great views and then be hungry and ready for some good food!
The cost of this activity is pretty much whatever restaurant you choose, and your Metro ticket, if applicable, because the access to the top of the Mount-Royal (where the chalet is) is free 🙂
My best advice for you to get there would be to get off at Peel station and then walk up to McTavish Street or Peel Street, until you find the first set of stairs at the bottom of the mountain.
From there, follow the crowds and stairs, and once you get up, enjoy the views!
Then come down the same way, and you’ll be near the Guy Concordia neighbourhood, where you’ll find some of the best Asian restaurants.
My recommendation: go to Kazu, one of the best Japanese restaurants in Montreal. Of course, check the opening times beforehand, always.
Best time of the day to go: probably before lunch (again, double check the day see if the restaurant is open), or for sunset time.
Off the beaten path activity combination #2: Bike ride + Beer
When you’re in Montreal in the summer, you’ll see lots of bike stations called BIXI.
These are all fun and nice, but I personally find them better suited for locals who are looking to go from point A to point B very quickly.
As a visitor, you want to enjoy the city and actually take your time, so I would advise using a more specialized rental company that’s better suited for visitors, like Ma Bicyclette, for example, located near the Atwater market.
If you want to visit a nice nature spot by bike, I suggest you go to Parc Rene-Levesque. It’s truly beautiful!
As for the beer place, I would recommend Terrasse St-Ambroise a big, outdoor terrasse that’s a classic spot for bike lovers as it’s near the bike path on the canal.
Best time of the day to go: early afternoon (around 2-3 pm), that way you have enough time to bring the bike back, etc.
Off the beaten path activity combination #3: Morning Walk Along the River + Coffee & Croissant
Verdun is one of the most amazing neighbourhoods in Montreal (ok, we’re totally biased because that’s OUR neighbourhood), but really.. it’s THE place to be at.
We even have a new urban “beach”… how awesome is that?
Now, one of the BEST things you can do in Verdun is simply to walk along the waterfront… it’s sooo freaking beautiful.
(Ok, if you find walking boring, although I promise you it’s not, remember you can always rent a bike from option #2 and do that kind of thing instead).
One spot that’s really fun to visit is the Natatorium building. This is a public pool that is a totally cool looking art-deco type building.
Seriously, the croissants at Sweet Lee’s Bakery are NO JOKE. I almost regret working so close to them because the temptation is always there!
Best time to go: late morning, or mid-afternoon.
Off the beaten path activity combination #4: 5 à 7 + Music show
If you’re a music geek, you’re lucky because Montreal is one of the BEST cities for music shows.
Going to a local bar or music venue totally makes you feel like a local.
It’s the best! We go see shows all the time when we travel.
Check out places like Bandsintown to see if your favorite artist is playing in the city.
Or: if you’re more into the indie rock type thing, we have a local promoter called Blues Skies Turn Black that brings some of the newest and coolest bands.
For 5 à 7 (which basically means Happy Hour), there’s plenty of bars and places, but here are two of our favorite ones:
- Benelux (for beer lovers), especially the location in Downtown on Sherbrooke Street will be closer to music venues.
- Le Mal Nécessaire (in Chinatown), perfect for cocktail lovers.
Best time to go: 5 à 7 pm 😉 because most shows start at 8-9 p.m
Price: $$$ depending on the ticket for the show.
Off the beaten path activity combination #5: Relaxation + Brunch
Ok… every yin needs a yang right?
After so many days of moving around and visiting things and combining ideas to optimize your time, you may want to have some relaxation time.
And so we’re on to the next thing that always makes me feel like a local… That is: to visit the cities’ yoga studios and gyms!
These studios offer a variety of classes, all day long, some more dynamic, some more yin and relaxing.
It can be a great opportunity to recharge your energies!
Date idea: if you go to Wanderlust, there’s an amazing and very stylish filipino restaurant called Junior close to it. That can be your after-brunch idea!
I know Junior offer brunch on weekends for sure (but again, always check opening hours on your own).
Best time to go: 10 am ish and then brunch.
And there you have it: some off-the-beaten path date ideas for your next Montreal trip.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’re visiting Montreal but you also want to visit other places in Quebec, consider renting a Lazy Camper Van.
These are minimalistic Toyota Siennas, 100% equipped with everything you need to eat, sleep and travel in nature!
Thank you for reading this post!
Co-Founder Lazy Camper Van
Loves coffee, doggos and existential questions. Habla español. Venezolana-Canadiense.