In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Montréal.
International flights arrive at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). Flights are a mere two hours from New York and only five hours from Los Angeles.
Montréal’s public transportation system is cheap and easy, so there is no need to rent a car or even bother taking expensive cabs!
Montréal can provide honeymooners the same European charm without the hassle or cost of flying across the ocean. Often renowned as the cultural capital of Canada, Montréal is sure to impress even the most seasoned traveler. From cosmopolitan events like concerts, festivals and art shows, to fine French dining, Old World architecture and rich history, there is something for everyone in Montréal.
When to go
Montréal’s weather ranges from absolutely freezing in the winter to pretty steamy in the summer. Therefore, the months of May and October are ideal if you’re looking for a temperate climate to enjoy outdoor activities and al fresco dining. Frugal honeymooners can plan travel starting at the end of October and through April (excluding Christmas of course). Although it will be chilly, Montréal winters can provide quite the romantic landscape for classic winter activities like skating and snuggling up next to a fireplace.
Where to stay
My top pick goes to the Ritz-Carlton Montréal. This iconic hotel just recently underwent a major renovation that endowed stately guest rooms with state-of-the art amenities like high-tech, automated (and heated) toilets, heated bathroom floors, defogging mirrors and thermostats that intuitively remember guests’ temperature preferences. This Montréal gem combines the grand luxury of the Ritz-Carlton with today’s modern elegance. Famed chef Daniel Boulud has his modern French restaurant, Maison Boulud, here and there is also a Tiffany & Co. jewelry store on site.
Another of Montréal’s great hotels is the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth, which was named by Travel + Leisure as one of the 500 greatest hotels in the world. Its convenient location above the train station connects it to Montréal’s massive underground city of restaurants and boutiques. This property is a landmark and features amenities like a full health club and indoor pool. Its restaurant, Beaver Club, is renowned as one of the best in Canada. Fun fact: Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth was where John Lennon and Yoko Ono hosted their “bed-in” after Ono was refused admission to the U.S. “Give Peace a Chance” was actually recorded here!
What to do
The city of Montréal offers plenty of entertainment all year-round. Whenever you visit, you’ll find that Montréal is bursting with culture and romance. Montréal hosts over 30 festivals each year in addition to a vast array of concerts and other performing arts events. So, in addition to the activities we list here, be sure to check and see what’s on Montréal’s calendar when you plan to go!
- A trip to Jean-Talon market is a must for food enthusiasts! This open-air market features fresh produce, handmade treats and much, much more. There are even a few outdoor food stands where patrons can grab a quick bite and dine at picnic benches.
For history buffs
- A walk through Old Montréal, or Vieux-Montréal as it’s known by the locals, is the site of the original city. Explore the streets and enjoy its well-preserved 18th-century buildings (now home to several museums and kitschy souvenir shops). Be sure to stop by City Hall, Bonsecours Market, Notre-Dame Basilica, Place Jacques-Cartier and the Old Port.
For those looking for romance
- Relax as you sip a coffee or a glass of wine in a quaint cafe along the St. Lawrence River — guaranteed to make you feel like a Parisian.
- A stroll through Le Parc du Mont-Royal is also quite romantic, especially when you reach its lookout point. Gaze together breathlessly upon the city’s spectacular lights below.
For culture seekers
- Art enthusiasts can’t miss a visit to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. The museum houses an impressive collection of fine pieces by artists like Rembrandt, Renoir and Picasso.
- Honeymooners looking to browse works by current artists and perhaps even pick one out to remember the trip by should go gallery hopping in Old Montréal.
For those looking to get lucky
- Check out Casino de Montréal. Even if you’re not a gambler, a visit here is a great reason to get dolled up for a fancy night out on the town. Gamers will revel in the more than 100 tables while diners will be impressed with the award-winning restaurants.
- If you’re looking for designer brands, look no further than Montréal’s premier department store, Holt Renfrew. This shoppers’ mecca features high-end designers like Hermès, Chanel and Gucci.
- For unique shops that the locals frequent, check out the Plateau. Stroll along Saint Denis and Saint Laurent Blvd for a fun afternoon of browsing. Be sure to stop into Zone, one of my favorite home goods stores.
- Finally, make your way underground to the subterranean city of Montréal, which is home to nearly 20 miles of streets filled with boutiques and restaurants. This is an especially wonderful option in the winter!
Where to eat and drink
- For a casual lunch in the city’s Jewish quarter, visit the city’s most famous delicatessen, Schwartz’s, a true Montréal staple. To skip the line, pop into its shop next door. Although you miss the restaurant experience, which is quite fun, if you’re in a rush, you can get the same food in a fraction of the time.
- Adventurous meat lovers can’t miss a trip to Au Pied de Cochon. Montréal’s outpost of the famed French restaurant serves up delicacies like its namesake dish: Au Pied de Cochon, which literally means “the foot of the pig.” These specialty pigs’ feet are then stuffed with pork and foie gras.
- If you’re looking for the perfect chic French bistro, Leméac serves up a traditional menu of steak frites and foie gras.
- For a fabulous restaurant that turns into one of the city’s best late-night bars, Garde Manger offers creative cuisine (think, lobster poutine) and a great party scene.
- Honeymooners can’t miss a trip to Fairmount Bagel. Montréal is famous for its slightly sweeter version of the classic. Get whatever type is fresh and hot out of the oven!
- For the best croissants in the city, stop into La Croissanterie Figaro. The authentic French ambiance — along with great espressos — is the perfect start to the day. And if you’re visiting in the summer, the patio is wonderful.
- For something a bit fancier, visit Toque! This fancy, yet contemporary, French restaurant serves up fabulous cuisine in an extremely elegant ambiance.