Posted on August 17th, 2011 by .

Nothing beats having a chilled drink by the water and, since Montreal is an island, there’s no shortage of bars, cafés and restaurants overlooking the St. Lawrence river – especially in Old Montreal. The trick is finding the right spot, as the best and most scenic waterside bars are mostly hidden from view. Here are some of my personal favourites…

Bistro Vü: Tucked away in a private marina, this multi-level restaurant and bar gets going in the evenings, as a sexy and mostly local crowd takes over the super comfortable couches and ottomans on the rooftop. It sits high above the water, facing Jacques Cartier Bridge and the Clock Tower Quay: the views are unbeatable! This is quite the party place, with the bar getting more attention than the downstairs bistro. On Sundays they host a party called 00SUN, with chaise lounges on a sun-filled deck for tanning and DJs playing from 4PM onwards. 550 de la Commune St. East, (514) 451-0866,

Café des Éclusiers: This open-air bar sits on top of the river, facing the Lachine canal and lots of greenery. It opens late morning, offering sun lovers loungers on vast deck. It’s a great spot for an afternoon drink, to cool off in the breeze from walking the hot streets of the city. At night it turns into a party spot, with DJs and plenty of scantily-clad girls. Another fun time to visit is on Sunday, when they host a boozy and hopping brunch. 400 De la Commune West (at McGill street), (514) 496-0109

Bota Bota: Why would I include a spa in this list of bars-by-the-water? First, because it’s one of the most incredible spas I’ve ever visited, scenery wise, as it occupies a funky boat with ultra-modern design and hot tubs on the deck overlooking transatlantic ships. Secondly, because a little-known fact about Bota Bota is that it has an on-board bistro serving lunch and drinks! The only catch: in order to eat there one must purchase a half-day pass ($45 on weekdays, $50 on weekends and holidays) and wear a bathing suit (robe and flip-flops optional!). Your best bet is to go early, enjoy the water circuit (wet and dry saunas, hot tubs, etc.) then head over to the bistro for a lovely lunch-by-the-river! They’re open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., and on Tuesdays there’s a two-for-one deal. 358 De la Commune St. West, (514) 284-0333

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