The Best of Montréal in 1 Day: Historic Montréal

This exploration of historic Montréal allows time for random exploring, shopping, or lingering in sidewalk cafes. If you’re staying only 1 night, book a room in one of Vieux-Montréal’s boutique hotels. Visitors find themselves drawn to the plazas and narrow cobblestone streets of this 18th- and 19th-century neighborhood, so you might as well be based there.

Start: Vieux-Montréal, at Place d’Armes.

1. Place d’Armes
Begin your day in this outdoor plaza, the heart of Vieux-Montréal, at the site of the city’s oldest building, the Vieux Séminaire de St-Sulpice, erected by priests who arrived in 1657. Next to it is the Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, an 1824 church with a stunning interior of intricately gilded rare woods. Its acoustics are so perfect that the late, famed opera star Luciano Pavarotti performed here several times.

Consider taking the walking tour of Vieux-Montréal, which takes you past every historic structure in this historic neighborhood and eventually to our next stop. Or, to go to Pointe-à-Callière directly, walk down the slope from the basilica on either side street.

2. Pointe-à-Callière
The Pointe-à-Callière (Museum of Archaeology and History) is our favorite museum for a full immersion into Québec history. Its below-ground tunnels have remnants of Amerindian camps and early French settlements.

3. Olive et Gourmando

This funky cafe is a city highlight. Eat in or take out if the weather’s nice for a picnic lunch by the river. The Cuban sandwich is a popular choice.

Unless you’re a very ambitious walker, take a cab, the Métro to Guy-Concordia, or a BIXI rental bike to get to:

4. Musée des Beaux-Arts
This is the city’s glorious fine-arts museum. Temporary shows, especially, are dazzling.

5. Rue Crescent
From the museum, walk south on rue Crescent. If you’re in a shopping mood, Ste-Catherine, 2 blocks down, is the nexus for department stores and mid-priced shopping (turn left and head east). Rue Crescent itself is a touristy strip for drinking and people-watching. If it’s warm, grab a seat on one of the large terraces.

6. Sir Winston Churchill Pub
Epicenter of the rue Crescent scene for ages, this pub is filled with chatty 20- to 40-somethings. It’s a good spot to nurse a pint while taking in the passing parade.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.