Driving into downtown Montreal after days spent in blissful solitude in Maine and New Hampshire was a tad overwhelming, but only for a moment…or perhaps two 🙂 I was swiftly swept away in the beauty and language of that vibrant city, and my three days wandering her streets felt like a dream.

I’m sure I could spend months in Montreal and barely scratch the surface of everything the city has to offer but I had only a few days, so deeper surface-scratching will have to wait. I made good use of those few days, however, and below are the top four “must-do’s” of my wanderings.

1. Wander Old Montreal

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I love warmth. In climates, in people, in hugs, in oceans. So I like shooting cities at night, because there’s so much warmth that it spills out over the edges of a photograph and makes me feel like I can step right inside.

My late-night wandering through Old Montreal was the highlight of my time in the city. Warm light and laughter spilled out of restaurant windows, and the streets were alive with music and conversations… which, since they were mostly in French, all sounded incredibly romantic. 🙂

Old Montreal is made up of cobblestone streets, glowing street lamps, street musicians, beautiful old architecture, and to many restauraunts to even begin to count. Exploring it at any time of day is wonderful, but I would say that exploring it by night is particularly magical.

 

2. Eat Poutine

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My vegetarian curry poutine

When in Canada, eat poutine. I think this pretty much goes without saving.

Poutine is traditionally fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. Sounds gross, tastes amazing. I had a vegetarian version, topped with curry sauce.

 

3. Climb Mount Royal

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View of Montreal from Mount Royal

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The “summit” of Mount Royal

Mount Royal is a tiny volcanic mountain right in the center of the city. Most cities don’t have mountains in their heart center, so this makes Montreal unique. Most of the tiny mountain is comprised of a sprawling public park, which was designed in the 1800s by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed Central Park in NYC. The huge park park has some natural, quiet trails through wooded areas, as well as well-used paved trails for bikers/runners/strollers/etc. It’s definitely worth a trip to the top because although there aren’t views at the “summit,” there are beautiful views of the city along the way up.

4. Visit the Underground City

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Montreal’s underground city

I was intrigued when I first heard about the Underground City, but found it to be a little less epic than it sounds. Still, it’s interesting and worth a walk through… particularly if it’s raining or cold above ground! The Underground City features more than 20 miles of tunnels that connect office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and subway stops. Navigating your way around can be a bit disorienting!

5. Explore a few of Montreal’s diverse neighborhoods

montrealatnight-1… there are so many! A few of my favorites were Little Burgundy, The Village, Mile End, and, of course, Old Port.