How to plan a romantic weekend in Montreal
Is it the omnipresence of French? The cobblestone streets so reminiscent of Europe? The abundance of dimly lit restaurants or the Canadians’ innate bonhomie? Right alongside Paris and Venice —two quintessentially sentimental nations that, incidentally, saw tens of thousands of its residents emigrate to Montreal over the centuries— there is little doubt that Montreal is one of the most romantic cities in the world.
So on one hand, you have this deeply old-world-European-type of romance; on the other, you have a profoundly and well-documented sensualist society with a reputation that is not only well deserved but also historically accurate.
You see, Montreal was often referred to as ‘Sin City’ during the Prohibition era when thirsty Americans flooded the city’s cabarets —a convenient train ride from the dried-out Tri-State area— and to partake in the romantic, pleasure-driven lifestyle adopted by locals. While contraband and brothels are no longer commonplace, the epicurean ways remained, and are now one of Montreal’s most enticing features.
Here are 42 romantic things to do in Montreal with your significant other, either on a conventional date night or to celebrate a special occasion.
Pick a romantic hotel
There are many great hotels in Montreal but some of them are intrinsically romantic, be it because of their location or their interior design.
Old Montreal hotels
Downtown Montreal hotels
Go on a helicopter ride
If you’re truly in town to impress, then nothing is better than a helicopter ride over Montreal’s distinctive and unique skyline, characterised by both water and mountains.
Relax in a rooftop pool or spa
What better way to relax with your loved one than to book an indulgent R&R session at a spa, right? Montreal certainly doesn’t lack in that department several fun spas to choose from:
- Bota Bota is housed in a converted boat in the Old Port and lulled by the rhythm of the St. Lawrence River
- The Ritz-Carlton boasts a stunning indoor saltwater pool
- Hotel William Gray has an intimate yet welcoming rooftop pool in Old Montreal
- Last but not least, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth has one of the most beautiful design hotel pools in Montreal
- Scandinave is one of the best spas in Old Montreal, with a varied offer of couples massages and treatments
Shop for rings at Maison Birks
If a special someone enthusiastically said yes to a very special question, then head on over to Montreal’s most acclaimed and most respected jewellery store. Maison Birks has been in business in the same stunning building since 1894, making it one of the nation’s longest-running corporations. It was founded by a silversmith, Henry Birks, and his three sons and catered to the wealthiest families in Montreal, which at the time was the prosperous financial capital of Canada. La Maison Birks even received a royal warrant in 1934!
Dine in high-end, intimate restaurants
What could possibly be more “date night” material than a quiet restaurant with fantastic food and a smashing wine list? Montreal clearly doesn’t have a shortage in those (ahem, we have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world aside from New York City) but I do have a selection of personal favourites that’s been fine-tuned over the years. This is where you should go for a romantic restaurant in Montreal.
Attend a gourmet masterclass
Are you a gourmet kind of traveller? A tea aficionado? It’s possible to mix knowledge with pleasure in Montreal by attending a tea masterclass, an Italian cooking class led by a local celebrity mother-son duo in the heart of Little Italy, a pastry workshop with a famous French chef or even a wine tasting workshop!
Go on a cruise
Montreal is a large, sprawling city with little access to water. So little, in fact, it’s hard to remember that it’s actually an island! Take advantage of this unique vantage point to go on a romantic cruise in Montreal along the St. Lawrence River and enjoy panoramic views on this 1.5 hour nautical ride. You’ll sail past the Old Port of Montreal, St. Helen’s Island, the majestic Jacques-Cartier Bridge, Habitat 67 architectural complex, the Clock Tower and more.
Get a drink at a speakeasy or a wine bar
Even after 10 years of being in a relationship, my partner and I still plan romantic dates in Montreal whenever we get the opportunity (and by that I mean when I’m actually in town, what with being a travel writer and all); these candle-lit, quiet locales are perfect for intimate one-on-ones. My go-to spots are:
Plan an al fresco picnic
Believe it or not, but Montreal is not constantly covered in snow. In fact, it can get downright balmy in the summertime; this is when many locals like to meet up with their partner and friends in Parc Laurier — there are plenty of cute cheese shops and bakeries on East Laurier Street where it is possible to pick up supplies.
A great option for visitors (apparently not everyone carries a bottle opened and cutlery in their weekender bag!) is Dinette Triple Crown in Mile-Ex: ask for a takeaway order for the park across the street and you’ll be offered a cute picnic basket complete with flatware and the most quintessential picnic item there is, a checkered table cloth.
Enjoy the view from rooftop terraces
Weather permitting, of course, Montreal rooftop terraces are an excellent idea for a dreamy date with a unique vantage point — not to mention excellent selfie opps. My three favourites are all in Old-Montreal, which is great for both river and mountain views: Terrasse Nelligan, Terrasse Place d’Armes and Terrasse sur l’Auberge.
Refuel in a cosy coffeeshop
You guys are well aware of my obsession with cute coffee shops by now, and obviously I wouldn’t even consider writing a list of romantic things to do in Montreal without mentioning a few of my personal favourites. Not only do they have the tremendous advantage of serving exceptional coffee, they’re also aesthetically pleasant shelters from Montreal’s oftentimes rigorous weather.
Stroll in Old Montreal
Nothing beats the calm, quiet atmosphere of Old Montreal on a sunny day, winter or summer. Venture all the way to the end of the pedestrian walkway that’s along the St. Lawrence River, from the Tower Clock to the Bonsecours Market and further in the cobblestone streets of the old city. Great photo opportunities, too!
Catch an indie movie
Cinéma Moderne is a new local institution in the Mile End area of Montreal. It’s a movie theatre coupled with a small bar, which means exactly what you think it means: grab a popcorn and an expertly-mixed cocktail (or natural wine!) and head to your pre-booked seat for one of the English viewings. One of the most romantic things to do in Montreal on a rainy day!
Book an Old Montreal food tour
A visit to Montreal wouldn’t be complete without one (or two, or three…) gourmet indulgences. After all, my hometown is nothing if not a foodie destination but it can be hard to fully comprehend the extent of our culinary heritage without a knowledgeable guide. Local Montreal offers three-hour long fascinating and well-priced food tours of the Old Port and Old Montreal that include five stops and seven tastings.
Ride the Montreal Ferris Wheel
Take your date to (literally) seventh heaven on La grande roue de Montréal, the highest observation wheel in Canada. Take in the view of the city, the river and the mountains nearby over 60 metres high, four seasons a year. This may even be a good time to pop the question, if something’s been on your mind…
Visit the Botanical Gardens
100% of Montreal-based couples have attended this exhibition at one point or another in their relationship; it’s pretty much like a rite of passage, really. With reason: the thousands of colourful, intricately designed, delicate lanterns scattered everywhere illuminate the Chinese Gardens in the most beautiful way. Helpful tip: to avoid line-ups and crying infants (which would definitely defeat the romantic purpose of this outing), plan your visit at around 8PM early in the week.
Get the book!
Find out where I go in Montreal for a romantic date, for little-known artsy museums, for designer splurges, and for Instagram-friendly cafés. Inside this eBook you will find 40+ pages full of preciously handpicked, highly curated Montreal travel tips with underrated attractions, off-the-beaten path itinerary ideas, and neighbourhood highlights that locals love!