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A Dreamy 2 Days in Montreal Itinerary

A captivating city on an island, Montreal is the second most populous city in Canada. It’s vivacious, and bursting with culture, history, and a top-notch food scene. It’s often referred to as the city of murals and has a sprawling underground city. There is an abundance of things to do in Montreal in 2 days. Let’s dive into how to spend 48 hours in Montreal.

Summer is the busiest time to visit Montreal. Patios are open, there are festivals and events every week, and the city is bursting with life. Autumn is stunning, as the leaves change colour, and Mont Royal stands regally in the centre of it all. Winter is white and crispy, and filled with invigorating activities. Spring is the shortest season of the year, and perfect for quiet explorations.

Saint-Sulpice Street - in Old Montreal - Pamela MacNaughtan
Old Montreal | Photo credit: Pamela MacNaughtan

Where to Spend 2 days in Montreal

Montreal is a large city with a population of 1.7 million. While the majority of the city is French-speaking, most businesses provide services in English, too. It’s a great gateway city in Quebec, a place to dip your toes into French history and culture.

Arriving in Montreal without a basic plan can leave one feeling a little intimidated. Especially if you only have 48 hours in Montreal. It’s a large city, but totally doable. The trick to getting the most out of your time in Montreal is to pick a couple of neighbourhoods and do a deep dive.

Day One of Two Days in Montreal

Old Montreal is a great place to begin a 2-day trip to Montreal, especially if this is your first visit to the city. The colony of Ville-Marie began in 1642, and over the next 40 years, growth was small. As a result, colonists begged King Louis XIV for enslaved labourers.

He resisted at first, but in 1689 he gave in to their requests, and slaves arrived from Africa and the West Indies. Joined by Panis (Indigenous slaves), the colony of Ville-Marie grew rapidly.

Over time, the original wood structures were replaced with stone, and the city we know as Montreal took root.

Today, Old Montreal, along with Old Port, is a tourist hot spot. Home to art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and museums. Rue Saint-Paul Est is the heart of the neighbourhood, and worth exploring.

Store in Old Montreal - Pamela MacNaughtan
Old Montreal | Photo credit: Pamela MacNaughtan

Pointe-à-Callière is an excellent museum focusing on the history and archaeology of Montreal (26 CAD). Kids will enjoy the Centre des sciences de Montréal (27 CAD), and Promenade du Vieux-Port is a peaceful walking path. Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, and Château Ramezay are also recommended. Brunch at Dandy is always a good idea, and Olive et Gourmando never disappoints.

In the afternoon, explore the vibrant streets of Chinatown or discover the joys of rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest. In Chinatown, have lunch at Nouilles de Lan Zhou, my favourite, or Sammi & Soupe Dumpling. For dinner, Fleurs et Cadeaux is an excellent choice.

On rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Lola Rosa Place-des-Arts is an excellent vegan restaurant. Further up, Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse has been a neighbourhood institution since 1976. Place-des-Arts is a hub of activity in summer, with music festivals and performing arts events.

Your first day in Montreal is a full one and sets an exciting tone for your 2-day Montreal itinerary.

Brunch at Dandy Restaurant - Old Montreal - Pamela MacNaughtan
Dandy Restaurant | Photo credit: Pamela MacNaughtan

Day Two of Your Montreal Itinerary

The best way to experience Montreal in 48 hours is to venture away from downtown and into some of Montreal’s neighbourhoods. For a fulfilling itinerary, choose two neighbourhoods, one for the morning, and the other for the afternoon/evening.

Here are some of the best neighbourhoods to explore during 2 days in Montreal:

Mile-End

The heart of Mile-End is from Park Ave to boulevard St-Laurent, from Ave Mont-Royal Est up to Ave Van Horne. It’s artsy and retro, with a mixture of Italian, Greek, and Jewish shops and restaurants. Decipher who makes the best bagel, St Viateur or Fairmount, a must-try staple. Grab a quick lunch at Wilensky’s, and visit the Museum of Jewish Montréal. For a café break, head to Café Olimpico Mile End or Pastel Rita. There are a lot of fun things to do in Montreal in 2 days, including this eclectic neighbourhood.

Plateau-Mont-Royal

This large neighbourhood was once home to Leonard Cohen. Le Plateau boasts some of the city’s best murals, and there is an excellent mural walking tour which starts here. Chef Martin Picard’s famous restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon is on Ave Duluth Est. Beauty’s Luncheonette has tasty diner eats, and L’Avenue is a popular brunch spot. For drinks, check out Le Darling on boul St-Laurent. For sweet treats, go to Sophie Sucrée. Foodies, this neighbourhood should definitely be on your 2-day Montreal itinerary.

Mont-Royal Park

While this is not a neighbourhood, Mont-Royal Park is worth half a day, especially for those who love to hike. The park has a lake with boat rentals, countless shady places for lazy picnics, and over 30 km of hiking trails.

It’s one of the best things to do in Montreal in 2 days. The Escarpment Trail is best for stunning views of Montreal. In autumn, visiting the park should be at the top of every list, and in winter many of the trails are perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Saint-Henri, to see during your 2 days in Montreal Itinerary

In southwestern Montreal, Saint-Henri is a trendy neighbourhood. Marché Atwater is one of the best farmers’ markets in the city. Arthur’s Nosh Bar is perfect for brunch, and Greenspot is a can’t-miss diner experience. For delicious Italian, head to Elena. Vegans will love Conceria. On a sunny day, relax at Square Sir George-Étienne-Cartier or bike/walk along the Lachine Canal cycling/walking path. This neighbourhood is fabulous for a Montreal 2 day itinerary filled with food and light outdoor activities.

Arthurs Nosh Bar - Jewish Classics - Saint-Henri - Pamela MacNaughtan
Arthurs | Photo credit: Pamela MacNaughtan

Verdun

Verdun joined the city of Montreal in 2002 and has gone through gentrification in recent years. It’s bordered on one side by the Promenade de l’Aqueduc, and the Saint-Lawrence River on the other.

On a sunny day, hang out at Verdun’s Beach or walk along the promenades. Head to Bossa on rue Wellington for amazing Italian sandwiches. Les Street Monkeys has great Cambodian food, and Janine Cafe is a brunch go-to. Verdun’s shopping area is on rue Wellington. Architecture lovers will love Verdun and likely wish they could spend 48 hours in Montreal exploring just this neighbourhood.

Bossa Sandwicheria on Wellington Street - Verdun - Pamela MacNaughtan
Bossa | Photo credit: Pamela MacNaughtan

Spending 2 days in Montreal will spark a love affair that will likely have you planning a longer return. Whatever your travel style, Montreal has plenty to see, do, and experience.

For other inspirational and practical content on Montreal:

Looking for a cheap flight to Montreal? Have a look on Cheapoair I use regularly. Once you’re there, rent a car to roam free with AutoEurope or RentalCars or hop on a bus around Montreal and surrounding cities with Busbud.

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Montreal / Quebec Destinations / Trip Planner / What and Where to Eat / What to See and Do

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