Canada is one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to in recent years! I had the pleasure of heading up to our North America neighbor in the winter of 2018 with my sister and we had the most magical time in the winter wonderland. My sister, Sarah, went to Canada for work and I was lucky enough to tag along for the long weekend (more on her amazing travel job here) to explore Quebec City, Montreal, and a little bit of the countryside. It was on my travel bucket list to visit Montreal and Quebec City so the trip was a dream realized. I know we can’t all travel as freely as we would like right now due to Covid, so I hope this post gives you a little dose of much needed wanderlust. Save it for future travel planning!
Both Quebec City and Montreal were so easy to get to from the United States (especially the East Coast!) and were incredible to explore once we arrived! In my Quebec City and Montreal Travel Guide, I’m sharing how to get to both cities + where to stay, shop, eat, drink, and explore. I can’t recommend both enough for a winter wonderland weekend trip but I hear that both places really come alive in the summer and fall (I can picture the fall foliage now)!
Quebec City and Montreal Travel Guide:
Quebec City is the colonial-era town that every Francophile needs to visit asap to get a healthy dose of French food + culture without traveling across the pond. The charming city is comprised of cobblestone streets, quaint little cafés, and winter wonderland snow. In addition, Montreal is a gorgeous metropolitan city that feels both very modern and historical at the same time. Certain neighborhoods reminded me a bit of New York City so I really loved it + the restaurant and bar scene was unbeatable!
How to Get There:
There aren’t a ton of direct flights into Quebec City but you can get there direct from New York City. Sarah and I met up in New York (Newark to be exact) and both connected on to Quebec City through Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport from New York. On the way home, we flew through Montreal. I connected through Atlanta (as I have to so often from Charleston) but Sarah had a direct flight home from Montreal.
Montreal has a lot of direct flights into the states through Montréal–Trudeau International Airport so it’s super easy to travel to Montreal! In fact, Sarah and I rented a car when we left Quebec City and drove to the countryside and then on to Montreal. However, we didn’t need a car in either Quebec City or Montreal… we were able to walk, uber, and cab everywhere. We didn’t utilize any public transportation so I can’t speak to that. But it was honestly hard not to want to walk everywhere, even in the cold winter air P.S. There is also a train that runs between Montreal and Quebec City.
What I Wore:
Where to Stay:
Stay here for a luxurious boutique hotel experience filled with spiced wine, “farm-to-fork” dining (at Chez Muffy), unique bedrooms. The atmosphere and decor is such that it’s cozy in the winter but colorful and also bright in the summer. You can also walk out the front door and find yourself right in the heart of the Petite Champlain Quarter! P.S. this is where we stayed!
This hotel sits atop a hill in the middle of Old Quebec and is also the place to stay for spectacular views of the city and the Saint Lawrence River (p.s. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King met at this hotel in 1943 to plan World World II strategy!).
Where to Eat & Drink:
I loved everything about this farm to table restaurant. The menu changes seasonally and was so divine. The atmosphere is also cozy with deep booths, fireplaces, and blankets at each table (perfect for a fall or winter meal although during the spring and summer. I’m sure the fresh local menu gives the whole place a light feeling to it).
The perfect spot to grab an easy but yummy breakfast and coffee. If you’re like me, then you’ll pop back in in the afternoon for a giant delicious cookie.
Nestled on a little side street in the city, this French eatery is simply divine. Order the escargot and the mussels… you won’t be disappointed!
This restaurant felt like a true Quebec City neighborhood spot. In fact, we were the only people in the intimate space speaking English. So it felt extra French Canadian. The menu was interesting and also very tasty.
One of my favorite meals in Quebec City. We went for brunch and loved it! The staff was beyond friendly and the food was also incredibly fresh and yummy.
In the winter, this restaurant is cozy and intimate with a bit of old world charm. In the summer, the restaurant expands outside onto a beautiful terrance to dinners can watch the hustle and bustle of the Petit-Champlain district. We went for lunch and found the food to be delicious too.
Other must-visit restaurants in Quebec City (too many to describe + a few of these we didn’t make it to but wanted to!): Bistro Sous le Fort (we had our first meal of the trip here, lunch!), La Buche, Le Chic Shack (delicious burgers + fries!), Chez Boulay, Le Deux22 (the best margaritas in quebec city + great selection of microbrews), Champlain + Bistro Le Sam + 1608 (both located in Le Chateau Frontenac), Le Kraken Cru (great for drinks + oysters!), Sapristi (delicious modern Italian fare), and Q de Sac.
What to Do:
Spend an entire afternoon wandering around Old Quebec City, specifically the Petite Champlain Quarter, window shopping, admiring the gorgeous and colorful architecture, and sampling the yummy French Canadian food. P.S. I adored the boutique Lili & Olivia.
A huge frozen waterfall (bigger than Niagara Falls!)… it’s so beautiful and quite awe-inspiring!
Outdoor Winter Activities: Just outside of the city, you can go skiing (at Stoneham or Mont-Sainte-Anne), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, and snowmobiling. In addition, both the hotels I recommended can help you coordinate these activities!
Where to Stay:
Located right in the heart of Old Montreal, this historic hotel is a wonderful place to stay in Montreal because it is beautiful and you can walk right out the front door in be in one of the most beautiful parts of the city. It also has a very old world charm and glamour to it. We stayed here and loved it! The service was wonderful too. So I would definitely recommend this hotel.
This super unique luxury boutique hotel is where I want to stay the next time I’m in Montreal. The whole atmosphere and design of the hotel has a very past meets present sense to it but is super cool at the same time. In addition, the location is also hard to beat in Old Montreal! P.S. For reference, Old Montreal is super close to downtown Montreal (which is also where the underground city is).
Where to Eat & Drink:
A family-owned classic Jewish deli with a twist! The not-to-miss meal here is brunch but be prepared to wait as they don’t take reservations. So worth it though!
If I lived in Montreal I’d eat here all the time! Lov has major California vibes in both the atmosphere and the menu. In fact, they serve up vegan and vegetarian “botanical” cuisine. Our food was so fresh and delicious… a must, especially during the summer when you crave this type of food!
The best place to go in town if you’re on the hunt for a lunch of healthy juices, soups, and salads. It has a super light, bright, and airy vibe about it too that matches the menu completely. P.S. I suggest the Old Port location.
This is perhaps the most frequently recommended Montreal restaurant but for very good reason because it’s delicious (make a reservation way in advance)! In fact, the menu is perfect for meat lovers. Think: steaks, cornish hen, and lobster spaghetti for the seafood lovers.
Everything on the menu from veggies to fish to pizza is frilled over a live fire or roasted in wood-burning oven. In fact, it was rated one of the best new restaurants in Montreal the year it opened and has continued to impress since!
We absolutely loved this gorgeous spot. The decor is amazing (it’s a refurbished 1920s tavern) and our cocktails were also delicious. It’s a great spot to go for food or just drinks like we did.
This restaurant was highly recommended to us and it did not disappoint. The menu has a major French influence, which we loved. The steak frites is not to be missed! The restaurant also has a nice terrance that would be lovely in the summer.
The cutest coffee shop with lights and plants everywher. We acted like locals and popped in here for morning coffee + wifi to get a little work done on our computers. There is also a bar in the back with lots of beer on tap for when the sun goes down.
The atmosphere is best described as sleek industrial chic while the food is modern + creative Italian fare. The two work so well together… delicious!
We had drinks at this modern British inspired restaurant. The historical old building and the ambiance is unparalleled (it used to be a gentleman’s club) and über cool.
A quaint coffee shop with equal parts historical architecture, delicious coffee, and yummy baked goods. We popped in for an afternoon pick-me-up and to get warm. It was bustling!
Other must-visit restaurants & bars in Montreal (too many to describe + a few of these we didn’t make it to but wanted to!): Olive & Gourmando (the best sandwiches in the city), Schwartz’s Deli (the traditional Jewish deli you wish you had in your city), Larry’s (we had a simple yet perfect breakfast here after coffee at Darling, the fresh baked bread was unreal!), Restaurant Mélisse, Atwater Cocktail Club (a back-alley neighborhood cocktail bar), Bar Henrietta (a warmly-lite all white happening cocktail bar), Venice (clean healthy eatery), Café Parvis, Garde Manger (seafood focus), Dinette Triple Crown (southern comfort food, aka amazing fried chicken), Fairmount Bagel (they take their bagels very seriously in Montreal!), and Sparrow Bar.
What to Do:
Treat Yourself at Scandinave Spa:
Go here for everything… ultimate relaxation, Scandinavian baths, hydrotherapy, massages etc. The urban chic atmosphere + the exceptional treatments will hook you in!
Blowouts at Wonderblush:
If you want to keep the beauty treatments going, then visit this adorable beauty studio for hair, makeup, lashes, and more. My friend Blare June recommend this spot to me and I thought it was so cute!
Visit Notre-Dame Basilica:
Located in the historic district of Old Montreal, this basilica will take your breath away when you walk in. I loved this little dose of history on your trip. P.S. They only take cash (Canadian & US).
Explore Old Montreal:
This was my favorite neighborhood in Montreal. Why? Because it’s old! The architecture was beautiful and I was blown away by how many adorable little cafés and eateries there were… it was almost impossible to choose! This neighborhood is also dotted with great shops including Chance, Espace Pepin, and Maison Espace Pepin.
Other Sites + Attractions: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Parc Du Mont-Royal (next time I’m in Montreal, I really want to explore Mont Royal!), Holt Renfrew (the Canadian version of Barney’s), and The Montreal Botanical Garden.
I hope you enjoyed my Quebec City and Montreal Travel Guide! If you’re going to either city or are thinking about planning a trip and have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to reach out! P.S. most of my photos are from Quebec City because we were there longer and because it was quite cold when we were in Montreal so we were hoping from inside one place to the next. xx
If you liked this post, check out all of my travel guides.
Photography by Sarah Attaway