Becky Moore at Montreal rooftop party

10 Reasons Why I Fell In Love With Montreal

13 mins read

An extraordinary city overflowing with creative energy, positivity and an outlook on life like no other place on earth, after spending a week in the largest city in Canada’s Québec province, here is well I fell in love with the city and why I think everyone should add it to their travel list…

1. The dizzying array of festivals and cultural events

Go Bike Montreal Festival - GlobalGrasshopper

Name a season, an art form or even a time of year and I love that Montréal has a festival for it! Montreal’s dizzying calendar of events is chock full all year around and I’ve never been to a city with so many festivals and cultural events taking place – from a daily immersive light performance and gastronomic festivals to outdoor sports, circus acts and performance art.

Grand events, festivals and even impromptu street performances are a cornerstone of life in Montréal. My festival highlights during my week? The extraordinary Caida del cielo show for the Transamérique Festival which spectacularly combined a virtuoso flamenco with a rock concert, the Tour de l’île de Montréal – the one day of the year where cyclists rule the streets instead of cars and the fabulous Piknic Électronik.

Montrealers adore their outdoor festivals and at Piknic Électronik I saw this first hand! I thought it was a fun but somehow very peaceful outdoor festival where Montreal locals and beyond come to relax, dance to a mix of techno and progressive house and eat and drink on the idyllic grassy landscapes of Parc Jean-Drapeau.

2. Its unique outlook on life

Bota Bota Spa Montreal

I was a big fan of how Montreal is a place full of quirks, progressive ideals and idiosyncratic ways. From their eclectically decorated cafes to their bagel shop wars (two old-school bakeries in Mile End have been fighting over who makes and sells the best bagels for years!) to the ingenious parking app which even reminds you when you run out of time and can pay again (seriously why doesn’t every city have this?) it’s a place that likes to think a little differently and if you visit I bet – just like me – you’ll fall in love with the local ever-eager zest for life and slightly off-beat outlook!

Minus 10 degrees and snow-filled streets during winter? Who cares? The locals just don their coolest vintage ski suits and party like crazy at Igloo Fest, the annual outdoor music festival held in the Old Port of Montreal.

3. The Street Art

Street Art Montreal

Streetart Montreal - GlobalGrasshopper Trip

Montreal is a city seriously in love with street art and yep they even have a festival for this too (the wonderful annual MURAL Festival is held every June).

A hub for arty and creative types, I was a big fan of the beautiful – and highly impressive – street art that could be found pretty much everywhere in Montreal. I felt it was everywhere from tucked away street corners to proudly on display, such as the vivid full kilometre-long art display in The Village, one of the city’s main nightlife districts! 

4. The Underground City

Underground City Montreal -GlobalGrasshopper

Montreal is quite rightly proud of its unique Underground city, and when I visited I found a cosy rabbit warren of over 32 kilometres filled with classy restaurants, boutique stores, galleries, stores, hotels, metro stations, cinemas, nightclubs, and even a library.

I could even cross over from street to street and walk from one metro station to the next without ever having to see daylight. The idea is that it provides refuge from the city’s chilly winter temperatures but it also provides shelter from the searing summer heat too! 

5. The Hipster District – Mile End

Becky Moore at Montreal rooftop party

Montreal is made up of many vibrant neighbourhoods but my favourite was Mile End – a hip, laid-back area with an artsy vibe and multicultural roots filled with vintage boutiques stores, old-school bagel shops, Greek eateries and Italian cafes mixed in with stylish restaurants and buzzing brunch spots.

I found Indie shops selling records, books and vintage clothes dotted throughout the area, especially on Rue Bernard. I saw that the Coffee shops draw daytime crowds, while cocktail bars, music venues and brewpubs make up the lively nightlife. I also thought the abundance of tech startup offices gave the area an energetic, youthful and progressive vibe.

My favourite places include Dieu du Ciel Montreal’s top craft brewery which offered audacious and inventive home brews inspired by Quebec’s folklore and the quirky Casa del Popolo which is equal parts vegetarian eatery, coffee shop, indie music venue, and art gallery.

6. The food and beautiful restaurants

Chambre à Part Restaurant Montreal

Chambre à Part Bar Montreal

You may have heard already but when I visited I saw that Montrealers were gaga over food! I was a big fan of how the food scene here is vibrant, urban, international and eclectic with some exciting experimental dishes on offer as well as the more traditional cuisine. As well as the prevailing French influence, the city’s superb restaurants also take inspiration from all over the world. 

Stand-out places include Chambre à Part a trendy restaurant which serves up organic and creative fine food in gorgeous bohemian-style surroundings and Le St-Urbain where French technique meets high-end bistro fare. If you fancy something a little more casual, I would recommend the locally sourced and international offerings at Jean-Talon Market or the vegetarian Copper Branch which takes healthy, plant-based dishes and makes them accessible for the lunchtime rush or to grab-and-go. 

7. The French influence which is evident everywhere!

Notre-Dame Basilica Montreal

I loved that Montreal is located in North America but the place has a distinctly Parisian feel – from the dress sense of the locals to the food, the language, the passion for the arts, the cafe culture (with cafes like Cafe Parvis clearly influenced by French cafes).

Their much treasured Notre-Dame Basilica located in the Old Town is another example, located in the centre of Old Montreal, it’s been built in the same French Gothic style as the original Paris version. I’ve seen both versions and although the original one is finer, this one is pretty impressive too! 

8. The Cafe Culture

Cafe Parvis - GlobalGrasshopper

I feel the cafe culture deserves a special mention of its own and throughout Montreal, this wonderful way of life permeates every neighbourhood. From a warming cup of perfectly brewed coffee to a cooling – and rather healthy – kombucha tea mixed in with delicious pastries, Montreal prides itself on its fine array of unique cafes! 

My personal favourites cafes in the city include Paquebot Cafe where they make cold brew cocktails, including ‘Titonic’ which includes tonic water, rhubarb bitters and lemon, and the very cool Cafe OSMO. Decked out in turquoise blue metal chairs, wooden tables, and skylights, it set out to attract young entrepreneurs so they can come and network with other people creating their own startup companies which I thought was all very Montreal!

9. The gentrified Old Port

Velish Cafe Old Port Montreal

Old Port Montreal - GlobalGrasshopper

The Old Port of Montreal is a historic port located in Old Montreal and this was one of my favourite parts of the city. The port stretches along the St. Lawrence River and in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful waterfronts in North America! 

My highlights were the historic River Ferry turned upscale “floating spa” (the zen-like Bota Bota Spa which also comes complete with fabulous water gardens!), the champagne bars and the organic eateries and juice bars. This is the place where Montrealers come to kick back, eat, relax and enjoy life! 

10. The randomness! 

Outdoor beach Montreal l Global Grasshopper – travel inspiration for the road less travelled

From Barbie Expo, the largest permanent exhibition of Barbie dolls in the world, to the slightly creepy Insectarium of Montreal (which is the largest museum dedicated to insects in the world!) the city has some delightfully idiosyncratic activities!

My favorite was the Village au Pied-du-Courant, where in the summer it turns into a fun spot with a large man-made sandy beach featuring DJ sets, food trucks, tropical-themed cocktails and a slew of season-long features located right under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Montreal isn’t short on randomness, and in my opinion, that’s what makes the city so truly fabulous!

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