48 hours in Montreal – A 2 day Itinerary

Let’s step into Montréal, the second-largest city in Canada and the premiere city in Canada’s Quebec province.

Nestled on an island along the Saint Lawrence River, this Canadian metropolis is both bustling and cozy at the same time, while dripping in the old French vibes that are at the very heart of its history.

Montréal is a fantastic destination for any type of traveler, whether it’s history, nature, culture, or food that you crave. We’ve put together a perfect 2 Day Itinerary for Montréal, complete with what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and more. But first, here’s a little bit about Montréal…

Montreal city skyline at sunset, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Founded as a French colony for missionaries and fur-trading in the 16th century, the city quickly became a strategic hub for transportation and business due to its location on the Saint Lawrence River.

From that time onward, the city grew in importance and population, and today is one of the most fascinating historic and cultural centers in all of North America. The blend of new and old, European and North American, simply cannot be found anywhere else. 

Today, Montréal is widely considered to be the second-largest French-speaking city in the entire world (after Paris), but that is not an official figure.

Nonetheless, make no mistake that a visit to Montréal will feel like you’re stepping into an old fashioned French village, like something out of a storybook.

The historic center of Montréal (“Vieux-Montréal” in French) transports you to another place and time, with its cobblestone streets, quiet pedestrian areas, and traditional French restaurants.

Yet, at the same time, a visit to Montréal will also delight you with classic Canadian hospitality, snow-capped winter landscapes, and gorgeous nature. Where else can you find all of that in one city?

That said, a trip to Montréal is well-worth your time, even if you don’t have much to spare. For time-crunched travelers wondering how many days in Montréal is enough, this beautiful Canadian gem definitely deserves at least a few days of your time.

However, we know that not everyone can get away for that long, so we’ve planned out an ideal itinerary for those of you with just 48 hours in Montréal. While the city is large and has much to offer, we’re confident that two days in Montréal will give you a feel for all that this northern beauty has to offer. 

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Transportation options for your Montréal weekend trip

First thing’s first, let’s sort out your transportation to Montréal. As the second-biggest city in Canada (after Toronto), Montréal is a well-connected city that you should have no problem whatsoever getting to.

If arriving by plane, the Montréal–Trudeau International Airport is a major hub serving both Montréal and Quebec, offering direct connections to the United States, Europe, and South America.

Catch a direct flight to Montréal from European cities such as Amsterdam and Paris, as well as neighboring American cities like New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Houston. 

Once you’ve landed at the Montréal–Trudeau International Airport, it’s time to get to the fun part–the city itself. While there is not a train station directly at the airport, there happens to be one very close by in Dorval (2 km).

The airport offers a free minibus service to the Dorval railway station, and the minibus leaves every 20-30 minutes from door #9 on the departures level. From the Dorval railway station, it’s easy to catch a quick train to downtown Montréal. 

If arriving by train, there are direct connections to Montréal from all over Canada, such as Quebec City, Toronto, and Niagara Falls. You can also connect via Toronto from further Canadian destinations such as Vancouver.

Additionally, there is a direct Amtrak line from New York City to Montréal; it leaves New York City everyday around 8am and takes 12 hours total. 

Once in Montréal, getting around the city is easy. Not only is the city purpose-built for bike riding, with plenty of safe lanes reserved just for bike riders, but the city is also home to a robust public transportation system and is easy to explore by foot, too.

If you happen to be visiting Montréal during the winter months, you can still explore the city by foot via the “Underground City”, an extensive network of interconnected offices, shopping areas, restaurants, and more, all designed to protect you from the winter elements. 

Montreal, CANADA - Montreal Old Port in summer with Bonsecours market

Where to stay during your Montréal weekend trip

Now that you’ve successfully arrived in this beautiful Canadian city, you’ll need to figure out where to stay during your two days in Montréal. We’ve compiled the best neighborhoods in Montréal for tourists, as well as varying hotel options in each. 

The top pick on our list is Old Montréal, the famed old town of the city that feels so surreal, you almost won’t believe you’re not in Europe.

While this is the most touristy area of Montréal, it’s also well-located in terms of attractions and transportation.

If you opt to bunker down in Old Montréal, great choice, here are some solid hotel options in this charming neighborhood: Hotel Le Germain Montréal, Hotel Bonaparte, Le Petite Hotel, Hotel Le Dauphin Montréal, and Gingerbread Manor

For those wanting a less touristy option, consider the Plateau Mont-Royal, an artsy, bohemian neighborhood home to many of Montréal’s students.

There’s also Griffintown, an up-and-coming neighborhood that was once considered gritty but today has an industrial and artsy feel to it, and Mile End, which has a similarly artsy vibe with loads of cafes and shopping nearby.

For a different vibe all together, consider The Village, Montréal’s gay neighborhood that is considered both welcoming and extremely fun.

Montreal Canada - Front exterior view of Gare Viger in Quebec region during sunny summer day

What to do for 2 days in Montréal

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of things to do in Montréal in 2 days. Planned with walking and public transport in mind, this Montréal two day itinerary highlights the city’s best culture, culinary, and nature, all accessible by foot or transit. Here’s a quick preview of what to see in Montréal in 2 days.

Day 1 in Montréal

  • Have a French-inspired breakfast croissant
  • Visit the historic Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal
  • Check out the Montréal City Hall
  • Explore Old Montréal and grab lunch
  • Walk to the Old Port of Montréal
  • Soak in the views at Plateau Mont Royal Park
  • Visit the St. Joseph’s Oratory
  • Dinner in Old Montréal
  • Have a night out in Downtown Montréal

Day 2 in Montréal

  • Walk and eat on St. Lauren Boulevard
  • Explore the funky Mile End neighborhood
  • Shop in the Jean Talon Market
  • Get lost in the Montréal Botanical Garden
  • Dinner in Old Montréal

Now, let’s dive a little deeper into each of these activities and get you sorted with your Montréal two day itinerary.

Quebec City, Canada - View of the old town from the citadel, with locals and visitors, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Day 1 in Montréal

On your first official day in Montréal, it’s time to get your bearings and explore the city’s incredibly charming Old Montréal neighborhood. First stop: let’s fuel up with a French-inspired breakfast.

Grab a croissant before heading out

Given that the first stop of the day is in Old Montréal, it’s only fitting that you’ll grab breakfast in the area before beginning your day.

Given the French influence of the neighborhood, it’s even more fitting to try a delicious Montréal croissant.

Walking around the neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of options for breakfast, but we recommend trying either Les Moulins La Fayette or L’Amour du Pain Vieux-Montréal Maison Pépin—both known to have some of the best croissants in the area.

Visit the historic Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal

A few minutes’ walk from breakfast will lead you to Montréal’s flagship church, the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal– truly a sight to be seen.

Dating back to the early 1800s, this massive, stained glass adorned cathedral is reminiscent of the Notre Dame in Paris.

Painted in shades of blue and capped off by an imposing organ, this impressive cathedral hosts a number of concerts and events that you might be lucky enough to catch while you’re in town.

Montreal, Canada. Notre Dame Basilica from Montreal and Maisonneuve Monument illuminated at night time, during autumn season.  First neo-gothic church in Canada.

Check out the Montréal City Hall

Montréal’s City Hall is a stately 17th century office building located in the heart of Old Montréal.

Featuring incredible architecture and offering guided tours and a number of exhibits inside, it’s well worth a stop while exploring the old city.

The nearby Le Champ de Mars park is a green filled space to take a quick break after your visit to city hall.

Montreal City Hall at night. Montreal Quebec Canada.

Place Jacques-Cartier

Just across the street, you’ll find the Place Jacques-Cartier, a focal point of Old Montréal that’s surrounded by restaurants and shops.

If you’re opting to take a guided tour today (a great choice), it’s likely that Place Jacques-Cartier might be your meeting spot.

Some great guided tour options include this Old Montréal Walking Tour and this History Walking Tour of Old Montréal. Seeing the city through a local guide’s eyes is a great way to get acquainted with the city on your first day.

MONTREAL, CANADA - City street view  in Montreal, Canada. It is the largest city in Quebec, the second-largest in Canada and the 15th-largest in North America.

Explore Old Montréal and grab lunch

As we’ve mentioned before, exploring Old Montréal is an incredibly picturesque and almost surreal experience.

With winding cobblestone streets, imposing gothic architecture, large plazas, and endless restaurants and cafes, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a small French village.

We recommend spending a few hours exploring Old Montréal and all it has to offer–let yourself get lost, and see what you’ll find.

When you’re hungry, consider taking a break at the Crew Collective and Cafe, a grand cafe located in an old bank building. The atmosphere is incredible, but the food and drinks are noteworthy, too. 

Walk to the Old Port of Montréal

After lunch, let’s venture a few minutes by foot outside of Old Montréal (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) to the Old Port of Montréal. The Old Port is a lively waterfront area where modern meets old.

Not only will you find charming waterfront bars, restaurants, and buildings, you’ll also find a giant Ferris wheel (“Le Grande Roue de Montréal”), a children’s playground, and an old Clock Tower, just to name a few attractions.

Be sure to check out the Bonsecours Market, a gorgeous building housing a marketplace full of clothing, art galleries, and restaurants. 

Weather permitting, we recommend stopping at the Terrasses Bonsecours, where you can hang out on the sun-filled terrace and have a drink or a snack with a great view. This is also a great spot to return to at night, when it turns into a three floor nightclub.

Montreal, CA -Aerial view of the Old Port of Montreal, with Obsevation Wheel, Jacques Cartier Bridge and Bonsecours Market

Soak in the views at Plateau Mont Royal Park

A pleasant 30 minute walk or 25 minute transit ride will take you to the Plateau Mont Royal Park, perhaps the best and most famous park in Montréal.

Plateau Mont Royal, a huge park in the center of the city, is lovingly called ‘the mountain’ by locals, and it’s actually what Montréal is named after. The park is massive, and you could truly spend an entire afternoon here, however there are definitely some highlights you shouldn’t miss.

Be sure to hike up to the Belvedere Kondiaronk for the best views in all of Montréal, which are especially incredible at sunset time.

You’ll reach this viewpoint by ascending the Grand Staircase of Montréal. At the top, set aside time to take in the views. You won’t regret it.

Montreal Canada - Out of order fountain in Saint Louis square park in Montreal's Plateau Mont Royal in Quebec region

Visit the St. Joseph’s Oratory

On your descent from the Belvedere Kondiaronk, stop at the St. Joseph’s Oratory.

It’s a little bit out of the way–perhaps a 30 minute walk or so–but the walk is gorgeous, and a stop at the church is well worth the journey.

St. Joseph’s dome is the highest point in Montréal and also the third-largest dome in the world. 

Montreal, Quebec - Horizontal of the Basilica and dome at St. Joseph's Oratory with tourists and autumn colors

Dinner in Old Montréal

At this point, heading back to Old Montréal is admittedly a little tricky, so we recommend calling an Uber to head back for dinner.

An Uber ride should only take about 15 minutes, whereas a ride on public transit will take about 45 minutes. Once back in charming Old Montréal, chances are you’re probably ready for dinner.

For a classic French dinner, we love Jardin Nelson, a lively spot with a heated patio and fantastic live music. Other great options include Modavie and Brasserie 701.

Have a night out in Downtown Montréal

Not tired yet? If you’re looking for a night out on the town, downtown Montréal’s Crescent Street is a fun and laid back option for your night out.

Crescent Street is teeming with bars and restaurants which will be sure to provide plenty of bar hopping options for your night out in Montréal. 

MONTREAL, CANADA - People meander at the junction of Rue Saint-Paul and Rue Saint-Vincent in the Old Montreal section of Montreal. They are the oldest streets in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, famous for the restaurants and unique shops.

Day 2 in Montréal

On your second day in Montréal, take some time to explore the nature and less touristy areas of Montréal, and end the day with a classic Montréal in Old Montréal.

Walk and eat on St. Lauren Boulevard

St. Lauren Boulevard is one of the busiest and well located streets in all of Montréal.

If you’re staying in Old Montréal, we recommend beginning your day with a walk down the St. Lauren Boulevard, where you’ll find no shortage of cafes and restaurants to begin your day at.

Grab a coffee and a bite to eat at the Café Pista, where you’ll find both delicious coffee and treats to go along with it.

Explore the funky Mile End neighborhood

After fueling up on St. Lauren Boulevard, a pleasant walk will land you in the Mile End neighborhood, one of the quirkiest and most interesting areas in all of Montréal.

Mile End is filled with intriguing street art, vintage shops, cozy cafes, and tons of restaurants. We love Guillaume Bakery and Larry’s, if you’re looking for a bite to eat. 

Montreal - Quebec, Canada :Montreal beautiful streets by day in Rosemont district with shops and snow shelter for winter

Shop in the Jean Talon Market

After acquainting yourself with the Mile End neighborhood, a quick walk will take you to the Jean Talon Market, one of the most iconic markets in all of Montréal.

The Jean Talon Market is a sprawling, open-air market with tons of vendors, including freshly baked goods, fresh local produce, maple syrup, and tons of interesting souvenir options. 

Montreal, CA - People buy groceries at Jean-Talon Market, the largest outdoor public market in North America.

Get lost in the Montréal Botanical Garden

At this point, we’ve come to another transport debacle, and you’ll have to grab an Uber, but luckily the Uber ride will be quick.

After about 15 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Montréal Botanical Garden, a lush urban paradise where you’ll be treated to perhaps a much-needed reprise from the city.

Often regarded one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world, the Montréal Botanical Gardens are home to over 22,000 plant species, 10 greenhouses, and loads of themed gardens.

Stop by the Olympic Stadium, where the 1976 Olympics were hosted, as well as the Biodome, a nature and science museum where nature lovers will be amazed by the 250,000 animals and 500 plant species that call this place home.

Montreal, Canada - Chines style statues in the Botanical Gardens, with visitors, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Dinner in Old Montréal

For your last night in Montréal, it’s only fitting to have dinner back in its most iconic neighborhood.

So, after wandering through the endless plant life at Montréal Botanical Garden, let’s head back to Old Montréal for one last authentic meal.

Le Club Chasse et Pêched and L’Orignal are both fantastic classic Montréal options that are sure to delight. For something superbly French, try Monarque.

Either way, spending your last evening in Montréal wandering the enchanting streets of Old Montréal and enjoying the local cuisine can’t be beat. 

Open terrace with round tables and wicker chairs in Montreal, Quebec in Canada

Bonus: Things to do in Montréal during winter

Some tourists might take pause at the thought of visiting Montréal during the winter, but it’s actually a fantastic time to visit.

A snow-capped city with twinkling lights that’s known for its Christmas cheer, Montréal is a fantastic destination for winter lovers (and those who don’t love winter quite as much).

If you’re not afraid of a little cold, here are some things to do in Montréal during winter. Trust us: it’s worth the chills!

  • Visit Montréal’s iconic Christmas markets: In Montréal, Christmas markets start as early as November. You can find a complete list of markets and their opening dates
  • Enjoy the wintry outdoors: Montréal is often referred to as a winter wonderland, and for good reason. The city is home to many well-maintained parks where you can indulge in winter sports such as sledding, cross country skiing, carriage rides, and more. 
  • Go snow tubing at Mount Royal: Mount Royal Park is a highlight of the city at any time of the year, and winter is no exception. Grab an Uber and head over to ‘the mountain’, where snow tubing is a favorite winter activity for locals and tourists alike.
  • Go ice skating: Parc La Fontaine is said to be the most beautiful spot for ice skating in Montréal. Parc La Fontaine is a tree-lined rink with sparkling lights overhead, located right in the Mount Royal Park. Ice skating isn’t limited to the rink here; you can also skate on paths directly inside of the park. When you’re done, grab a delicious hot chocolate nearby at Espace La Fontaine. Another fantastic ice skating option is the Old Port Skating Rink, where you can soak up views of the river, old ferris wheel, and the city skyline all while enjoying some ice skating.
Longueuil CANADA - Christmas Market Taking Place in a Park. General Wide View of a few of the More than Fifty Vendors Present.

And that’s a wrap! We hope that this rundown of what to see in Montréal in 2 days has inspired you to book a trip to Canada, especially to the marvelous and enchanting, yet entirely sophisticated and metropolitan city of Montréal. 

Recommended tours in Montréal

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  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

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