Planning a trip to Montreal this winter? This post is for you! Montreal is an amazing city to visit any time of the year. Let’s take a look at how to take the perfect weekend trip to Montreal in winter, including fun things to do, places to stay, delicious restaurants, and more!
This time of year, my Pinterest page is filled with posts about balmy beach towns where you can run far, far away from any temperature below fifty degrees.
But somehow, I’ve always managed to end up somewhere cold for winter. And since I can’t seem to do anything in moderation, this winter I decided to fly my butt up to Montreal. In January.
Buried under 19-feet of snow, I found a city rich in flavor and history. I found pubs with flights of local beer, double-double donuts, and toasty underground tunnels that seem to stretch for miles. If you’re like me and want to charge headfirst into winter this season, head to Quebec for a Montreal weekend trip.
Are you ready to spend a fantastic weekend in Montreal this winter? Let’s jump right in like kids in a snowdrift.
Quick Look: Montreal Itinerary 3 Days
|Day||Activities||Food and Drink|
|Day 1||Explore Old Port|
Aura Light Show at Notre Dame
Pub Saint Pierre
|Day 2||Hike Mount Royal|
Shop Golden Square Mile
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
|La Finca Cafe|
Les 3 Brasseurs
Mad Hatters Pub
|Day 3||Stroll through City Center||Olive et Gourmando|
|Extra Time||Go to a Canadiens Game|
Montreal Craft Brew Tour
|1909 Tavern Moderne|
To minimize time walking between attractions, most of my recommendations on each day are close to each other. For activities that are farther apart, Montreal is well connected by metro, bus, and ride-sharing apps.
Where To Stay In Downtown Montreal
Before you can start exploring all the fun things to do in Montreal in winter, you’ll need to grab a place to stay. If you want to stay downtown in the heart of the action, check out these highly-rated spots!
Courtyard Marriott Montreal Downtown – This well-known hotel is in an awesome downtown location. Even in winter, it’s an easy walk to the metro, the underground tunnels, the main shopping street, and Old Port. The Courtyard Marriott also has a nice gym and indoor pool if you need to pretend you’re in a tropical country to warm up!
Hotel Bonaventure Montreal – This clean and modern hotel is perfectly situated near Square Victoria and the metro. It also has a year-round patio, heated pool, and rooftop space that guests rave about, even in winter.
Auberge Bishop Hostel – This hostel has some majorly cool victorian architecture vibes going on. It’s in the shopping area of town, close to the underground malls and Mount Royal. It’s an easy walk to the metro and since breakfast and WiFi are included, this is a tempting budget-friendly option. Bunks in a shared dorm start at around $30/night.
Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal – This quirky and colorful hostel is located in Old Port, the historical side of Montreal right along the river. There’s a lot to see within walking distance and it’s near the metro. This hostel would also be easy on the budget since dorm rooms start around $30/night.
Click here to read my full post about Where To Stay In Montreal
Day 1 – Arriving in Montreal
Getting From The Airport To Downtown Montreal
If you’re arriving in Montreal by plane, you’ve got two options to get to downtown from the airport. An Uber takes about 20 minutes and costs $40 CAD. The 747 bus takes 45-60 minutes but it’s a little easier on the budget.
If you want to take the bus, there is a kiosk in the arrivals hall where you can buy your ticket. A one-way bus ticket costs $10 and includes access to the Montreal public transportation system for 24 hours. If you’ll be using public transportation a lot on your trip, you can also buy a weekend pass.
The weekend pass allows you to use public transportation as much as you want from 4 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday. It also includes transit on the 747 Airport bus. The weekend pass costs $13.75 CAD.
Once you have your ticket, go outside and you’ll see the buses waiting. Outside of the airport, power walking, skipping, galloping, or straight up running are recommended to avoid hypothermia.
Quick Tip: Download the free Citymapper App for real-time directions using public transportation. City Mapper works in most big cities around the world.
Take the bus to the city center. You can use the free Citymapper App to figure out which bus stop is closest to your accommodation. If you’re staying a bit outside of the downtown area, get off the bus at the Jeanne-Mance Bus Stop and walk into Guy Favreau Complex.
Follow the signs for the metro station called Place d’Armes. You’ll be able to get there inside these awesome heated tunnels that run all over the city.
Start With A Donut And Coffee Run To Tim Hortons
This weekend in Montreal itinerary kicks off somewhere famous. Once you’ve unpacked and flopped down on the bed for five minutes, get a quick pick-me-up from Tim Hortons. That’s right, we’re jumping right in the Canadian deep end.
Tim Hortons, along with maple syrup and hockey, is a Canadian staple. Remember Robin from “How I met your mother?” She talked about Tim Hortons. She missed it when she was in the states. If it’s good enough for Robin, it’s certainly good enough for me.
These coffee shops are everywhere and don’t worry, they are toasty warm inside. Grab a coffee and a double-double donut to start your day of exploring in the most Canadian way possible.
Spend The Afternoon Exploring Old Port
With all your winter layers on, take some time to explore the streets of downtown Montreal. Snap some pictures at the China Town Gate, the historic churches, and Square Victoria. Wander through the rainbow window convention center and admire the art installation pieces.
My favorite place to explore when visiting Montreal in the winter was Old Port. Located right along the St. Lawrence River, Old Port has been an active trade hub since the 1600s.
Today, the European influence on Montreal is evident in the cozy streets of the old city. There were times when I could have sworn I was actually walking through some quaint French village, only to have google maps remind me that actually, no, I was way off.
You’ll have to walk a few blocks from downtown to Old Port, but you can cover most of this distance in the underground tunnels. You can enter the tunnels at the Desjardins Building, the Montreal Convention Center, or any of the metro stations.
To take the tunnels to Old Port, follow signs for the convention center. Walk all the way through the convention center (it’s massive) and exit at the intersection of St. Urban Street and Saint-Antoine St SW. You’ll be just steps from the heart of Old Port.
Stop By Pub Saint Pierre
When you need to get warm and toasty again, dip into Pub Saint Pierre for a beer and appetizer. I had a ridiculously hard time deciding what to eat since every dish looked like it came from an episode of Master Chef.
This is one of those special restaurants that’s simultaneously vegetarian-friendly AND meat-lover-friendly, so you won’t leave hungry. And if you find yourself especially frozen, their wintery mulled wine will help speed up your thawing.
The Aura Light Show at the Notre Dame Cathedral
Perhaps the most obvious nod to Montreal’s European heritage is the Notre Dame cathedral, designed to look just like its big sister in Paris. In the evenings, this cathedral in Old Port puts on a spectacular light show to rival even the flashiest Christmas market or concert.
The Aura Light Show takes place at the cathedral Monday through Thursday at 6:00 pm, Friday at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Saturday at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. For $26.50 CAD, visitors get to explore the basilica and enjoy the indoor light display, nice and toasty warm.
Dinner and Drinks at Rosewood in Old Port
After watching the light show, head into Old Port for drinks and dinner at Rosewood. From the ambiance to the drinks to the food, Rosewood is the perfect balance of modern creativity and down-to-earth comfort.
Every time I stopped by Rosewood, I felt like I was friends with everyone there. It’s usually packed with people out having a good time and it’s a delicious way to end a chilly day.
If you’re feeling frisky, try the Smokey Old Fashioned. Watching the bartenders make this fabulous concoction is almost as enjoyable as the drink itself. Almost. It’s a pretty dang good drink.
After watching the bartender do all kinds of fancy things with a smoker and actual fire, the drink is served in a beautiful (Instagram-worthy) smokey glass.
Day 2 – How To Spend Your Full Day In Montreal
Start The Morning Right At La Finca Cafe
When I first walked into La Finca Cafe, I couldn’t stop smiling. If I ever opened my own cafe, I would want it to look something like La Finca.
With high ceilings, bright windows, and plenty of colorful, natural accents, this cafe feels like the kind of place where you could spend long hours talking to friends or reading your favorite book.
I immediately loved the space and never wanted to leave. Then my cappuccino and chocolatine arrived. I almost asked one of the friendly staff members if I could move in.
La Finca Cafe is also an awesome spot to hang out if you need to do some work, study, or check in with the digital world. They have stable WiFi, plenty of outlets, and even adorable conference rooms available to rent for meetings. Guys, I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to move in.
To start your morning in the best way possible at La Finca Cafe, take the metro to Place d’Armes and walk inside the Montreal Convention Center. Exit at the intersection of Viger Ave NW and Rue de Bleury, then walk a block up Rue de Bleary until you see a cafe that looks like heaven.
Hike Mount Royal
After you’re full of cappuccinos and chocolate, get some fresh air hiking Mount Royal. If it’s not too cold, you can walk from downtown to the park at the base of Mount Royal. From there, you can follow the stairs and trails up to the lookout point.
I was visiting Montreal in January and I was surprised by how many people were out walking the trails. Where I’m from, the grocery store sells out of bread and beer the minute the thermometer dips below forty.
Ice on the birdbath in the back yard? Yeah, we’re not leaving the house until spring. It’s simply too cold.
But not in Montreal. If it’s sunny and nice out, people hit the hills for hiking, fresh air, and spectacular views, arctic winds be darned. Just remember to wear shoes with a grip on the bottom so you don’t wipe out twelve times like I did.
That being said, they do sometimes close the walking paths and hiking trails if there is an extreme amount of ice and snow. In that case, your best bet is taking an Uber to the Mount Royal visitor center. There, you can enjoy the beautiful views without losing feeling in your toes.
Shop At The Golden Square Mile
Head to the Golden Square Mile for shopping and exploring the massive network of (heated) underground malls. There’s a whole series of shops and restaurants down below the storefronts, all connected by tunnels. And it just keeps going!
You could easily spend hours walking from shop to shop, far from the icy cold. Grab lunch, browse the shops, and pro tip: there’s a Lindt chocolate shop down there that gives out free samples.
When you’re ready to take a break from shopping, swing by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This museum has a little of everything with exhibits on photography, archaeology, and Canadian art. And the collections and discovery exhibitions are free on the first Sunday of the month.
Sample Poutine At Les 3 Brasseurs
Grab a cozy dinner at Les 3 Brasseurs. This restaurant and brewery is an awesome spot to try a Canadian classic. That’s right everyone. We’re eating Poutine.
No matter what you get for dinner, make sure to start your meal with this stick-to-your-ribs favorite. Poutine, if you haven’t heard, is a big bowl of french fries covered in cheese curds and dark gravy. The first time I tried it, I may have actually wept a few tears of joy.
The other star at Les 3 Brasseurs is the beer. Since they brew their own beer in-house, this is an awesome place to try some truly local Montreal flavors.
Can’t choose between all their delicious options? You can order a beer flight and try them all! If you’re traveling over the weekend, make sure to call ahead since they book up fast.
Play Bar Games At Mad Hatter Pub
After dinner, head to the Mad Hatter Pub. This underground pub has those classic, comfy vibes we all look for in winter. The drinks are strong, the staff is friendly, and pub games like Giant Jenga turn strangers into fast friends.
I kept my drink order simple at Mad Hatter because they do the classics so well. They even humored me when I asked for a zillion limes on the rim of each Gin and Tonic I ordered. I was a happy camper.
You might say you’re going out for one drink, but you’ll quickly change your mind once you settle in at the Mad Hatter.
Try Irish Coffee At Bar Darling
If you want a change in scenery during your night out in Montreal, swing by Bar Darling. I could have stayed in Bar Darling for hours just looking at all their vintage decorations.
The bar is massive and always buzzing with life, even on weeknights. Since it’s a little outside the touristy parts of the city, Bar Darling is a great way to experience life in Montreal like a local.
My go-to drink in this eclectic bar? Their delicious Irish coffee. I’ve had Irish coffees in actual Ireland and the one from Bar Darling was pretty impressive.
I didn’t get a chance to eat here, but I definitely spied on other people’s plates and the food looked amazing. This one isn’t walking distance from downtown in winter but it’s less than ten minutes by Uber.
Day 3 – Saying Goodbye To Montreal
Brunch At Olive Et Gourmando
For your last meal in Montreal, we’re heading back to Old Port. Treat yourself to a tasty brunch at Olive et Gourmando. This adorable cafe is small and popular so you might have a bit of a wait, but the brunch, breakfast, grilled-cheese sandwiches, paninis, and pastries are worth it. Phew, that’s a lot to choose from!
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also plenty of vegan-friendly options. Come hungry and good luck making it through your visit without ordering a decadent treat from their bakery.
Sweets For The Road From Patisserie Harmonie
Feeling sweeter? Make a quick little detour to Patisserie Harmonie in Chinatown. This Chinese Bakery has amazing desserts, cakes, and treats for inexpensive prices. The coffee bun and mango mochi are personal favorites.
Patisserie Harmonie is situated between the Place d’Armes metro and the bus stop on Rene-Levesque Blvd, so if you plan to take the bus to the airport, you should 1000% get a delicious pastry for the road.
Getting From Downtown To The Airport For Your Flight Home
To get back to the airport, take Uber or take the 747 bus. An Uber will cost you about $40 CAD from the city center. If you take a bus, you’ll either need to
- Carry coins in the exact amount of $10CAD
- Purchase a ticket in advance at any metro station
- Purchase a ticket in advance at a tourist center
Have More Time? Check Out These Other Fun Things To Do In Montreal In Winter
- See a Canadiens Game – Is there anything more Canadian than a Canadiens game? Seeing a hockey game at the Bell Center is definitely worth doing if you can get tickets, but if you can’t, don’t worry. You can still experience the festive atmosphere by watching the game in the massive four-story pub under the stadium called 1909 Tavern Moderne.
- Rockaberry Pies – This dessert restaurant has some of the most massive, epic cakes and pies I’ve ever seen. There are a few locations around Montreal so you can easily enjoy this dessert haven. When I was there, I tried a delicious apple coffee cake and a hazelnut chocolate cake, and the selection rotates often.
- La Cage Brasserie Sportive – La Cage has a cozy sports bar vibe and it’s a great place to catch a game if you’re a sports fan. Be sure to call ahead if you want to go watch a hockey game because they book up fast. There are several locations around Montreal, including one in Old Port and one in the Desjardins complex downtown. Beer and nachos were my favorite picks for warming up after a day out in the cold.
- Luminotherapie – If you’re visiting Montreal in the winter, go to Luminotherapie. This is a free light-up playground where you can let your inner kid run wild located at the Place Des Arts metro. It’s on from the end of November through the end of January.
- Montreal Craft Brew Tour – A few beers are a great way to beat the cold. This walking tour stops at three breweries and includes six different beer tastings. You also get to try snacks and local treats. It costs $64 CAD.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Montreal in winter?
Montreal Quick Summary
Where to stay in Montreal:
- Courtyard Mariott Montreal Downtown
- Hotel Bonaventure Montreal
- Auberge Bishop Hostel
- Alternative Hostel of Old Montreal
- See More Places To Stay In Montreal
Things To Do In Montreal:
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Hike Mount Royal
- Aura Light Show at Notre Dame
- Explore Old Port
- Canadiens Game
- Craft Brew Tour
- Explore underground malls