Montreal might not be the first metropolis that comes to mind when you think of a swish cruise destination, but it’s definitely a bustling port city – and with all her international festivals, happening food scene and fashion forward style, it only makes sense that passengers love stepping out when their grand ships shimmy up to the port…
Each year from May to October more than 45,000 passengers arrive at our stylish metropolis on one of nine cruise lines, including Holland America Line, Aida Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Line, Compagnie du Ponant, ResidenSea, Crystal Cruises, Phoenix Reisen, Silversea Cruise and Quest for Adventure. If you’re touching down in Montreal before or after a cruise, or you’re here on a stopover – lucky you – here are some keys things to put on your must-do list.
OLD WORLD CHARM
Montreal is a choice cruise destination because those nice big Love Boats drop you off (and pick you up) right in the heart of Old Montreal – a captivating visual and historical experience. Just steps from the quay you’ll hit Rue Saint-Paul (Montreal’s oldest street), which is beautifully paved with quaint cobblestones traversed by horse-drawn carriages and lined on both sides with 19th century architecture.
For shoppers, Old Montreal is fast becoming the Montreal fashion mecca thanks to chic designer spots such as Boutique Denis Gagnon, SSense, Reborn, Cahier d’Excercices, and the newly opened multi-label shop Quai 417. To hit the main drag on Sainte Catherine Street West a little further north, take a short taxi ride to downtown Montreal. Ask the driver to drop you off at Phillips Square and then make your way westward. If the temperature dips you can opt to shop directly below street level in our famous Underground City, which connects five shopping centres and hundreds of retail possibilities.
Once downtown, you’re not far from the main museums: Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Arts, McCord Historical Museum, and the Canadian Centre of Architecture. The cultural centre for performing arts is at Place des Arts, adjacent to the new opera house La Maison Symphonique. And just next door is Quartier des Spectacles, which plays host to a bevy of international festivals, including the Jazz Fest and Just for Laughs. If you’d like to stick close to the port, the Museum of archaeology and history, Pointe-à-Callière, is literally a stone’s throw away.
Foodies will also appreciate the world class restaurants just steps from the ship: for Indian go to Gandhi, Italian at Venti Osteria (ask for the ricotta gnocchi or meatballs, made fresh every day), stylish crowds gravitate toward Barroco, Méchant Boeuf or Taverne Gaspar, or nearby supperclubs L’Orignal or Garde Manger. And don’t sail away before trying our local comfort food called poutine at Montreal Poutine, also on rue Saint-Paul.
If you’re in the mood to experience a local bar, Philémon is a popular choice with hipster yuppies, Garçonniere is a cosy spot for oysters and sparkling wine. Want to add a bit of live music? Take in some R&B or jazz at Le Piano Rouge (there’s dancing after midnight) or traditional Quebecois folk songs at Les Deux Pierrots.
In spring and summer, you may just feel like wandering about on your own to soak in the scenery. Square Jacques Cartier is a good starting point, you can also plan to visit the Montreal Science Centre or catch a show by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil (the circus’ founder previews many of his new shows here). You can also consider a themed walking tour, Old Montreal Ghost Tours or the less frightening Guidatour. However you choose to discover Montreal, remember times flies when you’re having fun – you don’t want to miss your boat!
Visit Tourisme Montreal for more information about cruises in Montreal