If you thought you needed to head south for spring break to feel the heat, you couldn’t be more wrong. Not only is Montréal a sizzling hot spring-break destination, it has some of the coolest urban neighbourhoods to eat, drink, and party till the early morning hours. Most importantly, you won’t have to break the bank. Thanks to an attractive U.S. exchange rate and budget-friendly prices you can indulge like a superstar on the budget of a roadie. These neighborhoods are just some of where the action is.
Little Italy and Villeray
One of the funkiest, up and coming areas in Montréal these days are the Little Italy and Villeray neighbourhoods, where a healthy fusion of old and new come together to form a uniquely original urban vibe.
Brasserie Harricana borrows amply from its Québec roots, but this popular meeting place for the locals remains a modern, experimental craft brewery with its own line of in-house beers and a long list of comfort-food offerings. Fried beer can chicken, anyone? The brewpub now also offers a very popular brunch on the weekends, making the transition from bacon and eggs to afternoon drinking effortless.
No one should visit this neighborhood without swinging by the Jean Talon Market, Montréal’s largest open-air farmer’s market has all the local action and a selection of top-notch Italian cafes and small restaurants to accommodate your hunger pangs. El Ray del Taco, an unassuming Mexican taqueria housed in a tortilla factory, will keep you in taco bowls and tamales until it’s time for dinner. Conveniently located across from the market, Le Pourvoyer offers over 20 varieties of gin and a menu inspired by the local products sold across the street.
If the relentless pace of spring-break debauchery has you needing a caffeine fix, you’re in luck because you’re in Little Italy. Head over to tiny family-run Café Vito on Villeray Street, where the service is great and the espresso is even better.
If more drinking and taking in the neighborhood scene are on the agenda, Huis Clos, a happening bar at the corner of Saint-Denis Street and Villeray keeps the oysters, the drinks, and the fun going till 3 a.m. A bit further down the street, Miss Villeray is a dive bar that’s been around since the ‘60s. It may now have a more eclectic crowd, but the industrial, “we’re too cool to care if you like us” vibe persists.
New York City may claim to be the city that never sleeps, but Montréal doesn’t even take naps. If you’re thinking shopping, partying, drinking, and socializing with the locals, then downtown is where you need to be. The city core is expansive enough to make pub crawling an attractive challenge, small enough to guarantee you will succeed.
Start the fun at Brutopia, a brew pub that’s been offering its own thirst-quenching in-house ales for the past decade. It’s fun, friendly, and has great snack food and even better live music performances. A bit further up the street, the boisterous Bier Markt offers 150 beers from 30 countries – and most of them are on tap.
It would be pure sacrilege to visit this city during the NHL season and not catch a hockey game! Montréal bleeds bleu, blanc, and rouge. Get some tickets and catch the Canadiens in their hometown. Better yet, take a stroll up Mount Royal and try some outdoor skating of your own at Beaver Lake.
With a little luck, your trip to Montréal will coincide with the city’s annual winter festival, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, and notoriously popular Nuit Blanche, an all-nighter where droves of people come out to joyfully defy the cold. We’re talking exhibitions, gourmet experiences, wine tastings, live musical performances, and outdoor dance parties that go on all night.
The next day, recover with a Sugar Shack Breakfast or their famous Breakfast Poutine at Les Enfants Terribles, located on the 44th floor of Place Ville Marie, one of the city’s tallest downtown buildings. The food is delicious and the panoramic view simply can’t be beat.
Montréal’s Gay Village is an inclusive, multi-faceted, quirky neighbourhood where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, comes to have fun.
Start the day at Le Saloon, a popular and lively local bistro bar that serves scrumptious and aptly named breakfast dishes like Le Hangover all weekend long. Once you’ve chowed down, take your inner lumberjack over to Rage and learn how to throw an axe like a badass. That’s right, an axe! Where else would you get to do this on spring break?
If you’re an unrepentant carnivore, Chez Ma Grosse Truie Chérie is just the ticket for lunch and pre-party drinking. Later on, head over to Cabaret Mado for a little uncensored fun with some of the city’s best drag queens.
If you still want to keep the party going after the city’s 3 a.m. closing call, you’re in the right part of town. The Village is home to some of the city’s best after-hours dance clubs. Check out Stéréo, or head over to Circus; it’s sure to have the club beats if you still have the energy.
Whatever you choose, one thing is certain; you’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do in Montréal this spring break.