Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to a perfect one day in Montreal itinerary. Montreal isn’t always one of the first cities you think of when you imagine visiting a historically important North American city. It’s not necessarily well known as somewhere like Boston or New Orleans.
However, if you love history, architecture, or just going on scenic walks, I urge you to give Montreal a try. It’s an adorable place with a fascinating heritage. It’s also a much more diverse city than you might expect–and that means amazing food. Join me for a one day in Montreal itinerary, and I’ll show you what I mean.
Want to cut right to the chase, Internet Stranger? The best activity in Montreal is this fabulous history walking tour right here with tons of five-star reviews!
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One Day in Montreal Itinerary
Where to Stay?
Montreal is one of Canada’s largest cities, and you won’t be able to get everywhere by walking. Fortunately there’s public transportation and rideshares to get you around. However, you’ll still want to pick a central location in a safe and convenient neighborhood.
That’s why I recommend the Hotel St Denis for your one day in Montreal itinerary. It has a perfectly convenient location within walking distance of many Montreal attractions. My room was large and comfortable, and even though breakfast wasn’t served at the hotel, it was near many great places for breakfast and lunch. Plus it was quite affordable.
If you’re looking for a great deal for this amazing hotel, click here. And if you’d rather save money on tons of other hotels in Montreal click here. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your plans for your one day in Montreal itinerary. With plenty of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.
One Day in Montreal Itinerary
Morning: History Walking Tour of Old Montreal
I think Old Montreal is one of the loveliest parts of Canada, and I’m sure that after you spend a one day in Montreal itinerary, you’ll agree with me. But Old Montreal is even more charming if you have a local informative guide who can teach you all the funny stories and hidden trivia you’d never find on your own.
That’s why I recommend this History Walking Tour of Old Montreal. Our guide was a young woman who was from Montreal, and she let us know all about what it’s like being from a French-Canadian family. We had a real blast following her around this morning, and the price was very affordable.
You can go ahead and book this tour by going here. For the purposes of this itinerary, book the East and West tour because our tour is going to continue into the afternoon. Then get ready to join me for…
Approximately Top 5: One Day in Montreal Itinerary
1) Place d’Armes
Your tour will start in the Place d’Armes, which is at the heart of Montreal, right across from the basilica. In fact, in the middle of the square is a statue of Paul de Chomedey, the Frenchman who founded the city. You can tell he’s French because he has a stylish hat.
Our guide, whom I shall call Marie, pointed out that although the city was founded by the French, it doesn’t only have a French influence. In fact, the English took over the city in the 18th century, but they couldn’t get rid of the French influence.
One fun thing that Marie taught us to look for is places in the city where French monuments and English monuments are competing with each other. I’ll point some of these out to you as well.
2) Plaque to Marguerite Bourgeoys
OK, I won’t lie. A plaque itself isn’t super interesting. However, this plaque was interesting because it got us started on a discussion of women’s history in Montreal. Two of the main types of French-Canadian women who helped found Montreal were wives and nuns. And Bourgeoys was in the latter category.
However, she isn’t just famous for being a nun. She is better known for founding the first school in Montreal. (You can find that information on the plaque above, but I am letting you know what it says in case you don’t speak French.)
Marie told us that French Catholic wives in Montreal were expected to have as many babies as possible to outnumber the British Protestants. In fact, sometimes priests would tell the women that they would be excommunicated if they didn’t have more babies. That’s why French Canadian families are traditionally large. For example, Celine Dion, the famous French Canadian singer, has thirteen siblings.
However, nowadays Montreal is much less religious, and French Canadian families are getting smaller.
3) The Joys of Maple
Marie stopped us outside this store to talk about maple in Quebec. Why this store in particular? Because it was piping deranged levels of maple sugar scent out into the street. Marie said this smell was almost definitely fake, but it was tempting as all get out. It was hard to hear Marie explain about maple production because my tummy was growling.
Now, I enjoyed my one day in Montreal itinerary in the summer, so it definitely wasn’t maple season. The harvesting season lasts from February to April. Marie said that when it’s maple season, people in Quebec go all out for the stuff. Just one more reason to come back to Montreal!
4) Lieutenant Vauquelin
If I wanted to give you the entire history of the city of Montreal, I swear that we would be here all day. It’s a big and important city! However, I do want to talk a bit about how Montreal got into British hands, and this statue of Vauquelin is as good a spot as any.
The French and the British fought over the territory of Quebec during the French and Indian War. Remember, at this time, Montreal really wasn’t much of anything. Quebec City was the main bastion of French Canada, and we will talk about that place on another trip.
In 1759, the British had taken control of Quebec City during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. (This is such an important moment in Quebec history that there is an entire museum dedicated to this battle in Quebec City.) Vauquelin was in charge of the battle to take back Quebec for France! Hoh hoh hoh!
Sadly for the French, Vauquelin’s valiant effort was totally unsuccessful. Marie said that the French in Canada were discriminated against for a long time after Quebec fell into British hands. That’s why some Quebecois are maybe a little too serious about preserving their French rights, culture, and heritage. I understood why Quebec is the way that it is a lot more after taking this tour.
5) Lunch at Muru Crepe
You’ll get a one hour lunch break between this tour and the afternoon tour, where you have to get lunch on your own. So I suggest heading to Muru Crepe for a quick and delicious bite. After all, we’ve been learning all about Montreal’s French heritage, and what’s more French than a crepe?
These crepes are light as a grain of maple sugar and just as tasty, though less sweet. I mean, you can get sweet crepes here, but for lunch, I recommend something savory like the Fabuleux crepe, stuffed with chicken Dijon, white wine, and potatoes. You’ll feel totally glamorous and ready to continue your one day in Montreal itinerary.
One Day in Montreal Itinerary
Afternoon: Modern Old Montreal Tour
After lunch, you can rejoin your guide and the tour will continue in the more recent part of Old Montreal. (Don’t worry! The buildings are still very beautiful.) Just remember to book the East and West Montreal tour right here if you want your tour to continue into the afternoon. You’re also free to book just one of the tours.
We were all satisfied with our lunch, and we were happy to continue with Marie and learn more than
Three Fascinating Facts: Old Montreal
1) Can we hear more about this French vs British thing?
Oh, you’ll fight right in in Montreal with that attitude, Internet Stranger. As Marie said, there are French and British versions of many monuments in the city. There is even a defunct French bank (the Banque du Peuple) and a defunct British bank right near each other. (The French bank, in my opinion, is prettier. Oh la la!)
The only bank that you get to go inside is the gorgeous Bank of Montreal. I can prove I’m not exaggerating about how pretty it is because you can see for yourself.
This is an actual working bank, so you can’t take photos inside most parts of the bank. I guess the security guards would think we were casing the joint or something. I didn’t take weeks off work just to fly to Montreal and rob a pretty bank, but I don’t expect them to take my word for it. Anyway, taking photos from the entrance is fine.
The Canadian Bank of Commerce, is the now defunct English bank I was talking about, but you can see its classical building here. (Apparently there are so many defunct Canadian banks that “Defunct Canadian banks” is a separate category on Wikipedia. And I think of Canada as being such a stable country.)
2) What happens to the tour if the weather is bad?
Another excellent question! After all, Quebec is famous for its snowy winters, and it does rain fairly frequently in Montreal even when the weather is warm. Fortunately, Montreal has a delightful underground city for you to explore when you want to get out of the wet and the chill. The weather was good on the day of the tour, so we didn’t see as much of the underground city as we would have on a rainy day.
In many ways, the underground city is similar to the skyway in Minneapolis, only below ground. (Obviously, Minneapolis needs the skyway for similar, weather-related reasons.)
This underground city opened in the 1960s, when Montreal was a hip and booming city on the move. (A lot of things happened in Montreal in the 1960s, especially the Montreal Expo, which was a World’s Fair. This became such a big part of Montreal lore that Montreal’s old baseball team was called the Expos.)
You won’t see the entire Underground City on this tour, of course, but you will get to see just enough to make you curious!
3) Is there any entertainment on the tour?
Well, that depends on what you think of as entertainment. I found Marie’s commentary to be extremely entertaining. However, on top of that, the tour ended at the Old Custom House, which is part of the Montreal Archaeology and History Complex. I don’t know if the timing was intentional or not, but we were just in time to see a historical performance.
If you look closely in my photo above, you can see some docents dressed in historical military garb. They performed some marches, demonstrated some weapons drills, and issued some commands, all in French, of course. All in all, it was a fine end to our day touring Old Montreal.
24 Hour Tip
Those are all the secrets of the tour that I can share with you for now. You’ll have to go ahead and book the tour by going here if you want to find the rest!
24 Hour Treasure: Basilica of Notre Dame de Montreal
This church is not part of the tour, but you can’t really say you’ve spent a one day in Montreal itinerary if you haven’t been inside Notre Dame de Montreal. Tourists do need to buy tickets. You can do so in advance here. However, I didn’t buy tickets in advance, and I was still able to buy them at the door along with a nice couple from my tour.
The most remarkable thing about Notre Dame is the extraordinary blue color that you can see in my photo above. I’ve really never seen anything like it, and photographs don’t do it justice. Once you go inside, you’ll see why this church gets over 10 million visitors a year.
One Day in Montreal Itinerary
Evening: Dinner at Sushi Okeya Kyujiro
So, of all the things Montreal is famous for, I’m not sure that sushi is one of them. And yet, Sushi Okeya Kyujiro is one of the best sushi restaurants I have ever been to. (And I live in New York City, which has tons of great sushi.
There’s no menu at Okeya–you just go at your reservation time and prepare to enjoy the amazing treats that the chef has to offer. This is called an “omakase” menu in Japanese. I can guarantee that what I ate at Okeya won’t be on the menu when you go. But I am sure that you’ll have tons of fun.
I sat next to a woman who had left her husband and child at home to go party at a sushi restaurant alone, as they were not sushi fans, and we made fast friends. Let me share with you some of the things that we ate.
Jellyfish with sesame
Bonita with smoked seaweed salad
Here’s the chawanmushi unveiled.
Sweet shrimp with vegan caviar
Lobster in a mild mochi broth
Akamizuke with soy
Japanese trout with daikon
Uni uni uni
Black cod with ginger root
Amberjack shabu shabu
Fluke with monkfish liver
Unagi with cucumber pickle
Tuna with salmon caviar
Anago (salt water eel)
Tamago (egg sushi)
Seafood ramen with gold leaf
Yuzu cheesecake with a very rare crown melon
And to finish, a gorgeous matcha tea ceremony before they kick you out so the next seating can begin. There! If I haven’t convinced you to try this restaurant now, nothing will!
One Day in Montreal Itinerary
What to Pack?
- A cell charger so you can keep your cell phone charged for the entire one day in Montreal itinerary
- My favorite guide book to Canada, including Montreal
- The most reliable travel umbrella that is small enough to fit in my purse, but strong enough to stand up to powerful winds during our 24 hours in Montreal.
- These great TSA approved clear toiletries bags, so I can always keep spare toothpaste and travel sized toiletries in any carry-on.
- My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you how travel can take you on a journey of self-discovery.
One Day in Montreal Itinerary
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a bottle of Montreal’s best maple syrup. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to your one day in Montreal
But I can tell you that you can use a lovely airplane to get from many cities to the Montreal airport, and I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight to Montreal at the best time of day.
You can also use Expedia to book a car in advance for your destination. (I do not drive, so I did not use this feature myself, but it sounds like it might be useful.)
Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight, so you can head out to your one day in Montreal itinerary ASAP.
That’s a Perfect One Day in Montreal Itinerary
What would you do during a one day in Montreal itinerary? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Montreal? Please email me at email@example.com and let me know!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have a one day in Montreal itinerary