18 Places You Can’t Miss in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal

No longer just the “most European city of North America,” Montreal is home to many thriving neighbourhoods that are just waiting to be discovered by visitors who’d like something other than the sights of Old Montreal.

The best example of this rejuvenation is Plateau Mont-Royal; just north of downtown Montreal, it sprawls from the edge of the emblematic mountain to the colourful, picturesque tree-lined streets that have taken over every Montrealer’s Instagram feed.

Often regarded as one of the hippest, prettiest and overall most fun areas of the city, Plateau Mont-Royal has plenty of photogenic staircases, tastefully decorated eateries, passionate residents, and heaps of charm.

All photo credits: Gaelle LeRoyer

The Best Things to Do in Plateau Mont-Royal, Montreal

Scout the colourful murals

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plateau mont-royal
 
Plateau Mont-Royal

Plateau Mont-Royal is home to some of Montreal’s most striking frescoes, notably as part of the well-respected Mural Festival. Only in Montreal could you host an event where people are encouraged to literally paint the town. The 10-day affair is largely based in the vicinity of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and features free outdoor concerts, an art fair and guided tours. That is in addition to the dozens of occasional commissioned works by local artists across the neighbourhood as well. Definitely something for your Instagram stories!

Some of my favourite murals are located here:

  • Fiery pink wall, Duluth / St-Denis
  • Leonard Cohen, Napoleon / St-Laurent
  • Parking lot, Prince-Arthur / St-Laurent
  • Lady in Red, Napoleon / Roy
  • Graffiti House, St-Dominique / Marie-Anne
  • Cats, Laval / Rachel
Book a Plateau and “The Main” Food Tour

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plateau mont-royal
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plateau mont-royal

Montreal is frequently cited as one of the most inventive, seductive places in North America as far as gastronomy is concerned, among other things. And its supporters aren’t wrong; Montrealers are a demanding hungry bunch and they will not settle for anything ordinary. Waves upon waves of immigration — from Jewish to Portuguese to Japanese — have brought invaluable traditions to the city for a truly diverse, complex heritage that has now become the city’s signature.

And only a proper Plateau Mont-Royal food tour with a knowledgeable, equally glutton guide can effectively dive in the heart of the matter that is food in Montreal.

The 2.5-hour walking tour (vegetarian and celiac friendly) encompasses 5 food stops and includes an emblematic Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich as well as craft cider. localmontrealtours.com is where it’s at.

Grab a Coffee

plateau mont-royalPlateau Mont-Royal

Travelling solely to try out new coffee shops is something more and more 20-somethings do nowadays, and Montreal certainly hasn’t missed the memo. With seemingly one or two new coffee shops opening up every week, even Montrealers have a hard time keeping track!

Some of my favourite coffee shops in Plateau Mont-Royal:

Related: The 19 Best Montreal Coffee Shops (AKA Where I Spend Most of My Waking Moments)

Explore Parks

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Although not quite as leafy as, say, London, Montreal does quite well nonetheless in terms of green grassy spaces, especially in Plateau Mont-Royal. Oftentimes, locals will gather friends (along with a couple of bottles of wine for good measure) for an afternoon of leisure in the sun at any given park in the neighbourhood — although most would argue that Parc Sir Wilfrid Laurier is the de facto picnic capital of the city.

Other great parks to discover in the area? Try reading a book in the shadow of centennial trees by the serpentine in Parc Lafontaine, admire the view of Mont-Royal mountain in Parc Jeanne-Mance or watch locals go about their daily business in compact but picturesque Parc Lahaie, flanked by St-Laurent Boulevard and the stunning Saint-Enfant-Jésus du Mile End church. And, lastly, with its perfectly aligned rows of Victorian houses, Square St-Louis is another photographer’s paradise that is not to be missed.

Instagram Picturesque Streets

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plateau mont-royal
 
plateau mont-royal
plateau mont-royal
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In addition to vivid murals, Montreal is a sight for sore eyes with perfectly aligned rows of houses, colourful windows and twirling iron staircases.

If I had to pick one social media platform, it would probably be Instagram. I often use it to scout locations when I plan my travels; to me, it’s easier to get a real sense of a place from a local’s point of view through Instagram than through any other medium. There’s a myriad of ways the shutterbug in you can capture the essence of Montreal in these Insta-friendly streets, in the stretch wedged between Prince-Arthur Street and Laurier Avenue: Drolet Street, Henri-Julien Street, Laval Avenue. Also worth a stroll: Gilford Street, rue Garnier close to St-Joseph Boulevard.

Plan for a Nightcap

plateau mont-royal

It comes as a surprise to absolutely no one that Montrealers like their drink in the evening. And Plateau Mont-Royals bars are quite abundant, and rather attractive, too. While most tourists will mistakenly opt to stay downtown or in Old-Montreal for a nightcap, there are true gems to be found just a bit further up north where the locals go and gather to celebrate a birthday, a milestone or just a plain old Tuesday.

  • Bar Big in Japan (candlelit speakeasy) / 4175 St Laurent
  • Réservoir (brewpub with craft beers) / 9 Duluth Est
  • Bar Henrietta (Portuguese eatery with fantastic cocktails and wine list) / 115 Laurier Ouest
  • Buvette chez Simone (great charcuterie plates and wines, a local’s favourite) / 4869 Park
  • Bar Suzanne (speakeasy bar with dumplings on offer) / 20 Duluth Est
  • Rouge Gorge (excellent list of French wines) / 1234 Mont-Royal
  • Le Royal (inventive speakeasy with original concoctions) / 1232 Mont-Royal
Take part in special events and festivals

plateau mont-royal

There are plenty of festivals and special events to take part in on Plateau Mont-Royal and not just in the warmer months, but in fact year-round.

Summer is, however, arguably the best time of the year to visit with major happenings like Mural Festival (see above), Marché des possibles (open-air event with free music shows/movies, food trucks, a beer garden and an artisan marketplace), Pianos publics (free outdoor pianos with occasional concerts), POP Montréal in mid-September (vibrant multi-day festival championing independence in the arts by presenting emerging talents from around the world), Montreal Fringe in June (the Montreal chapter of the infamously eyebrow-raising, groundbreaking festival), for starters. Several times yearly, locals open up their yard and homes for Restaurant Day in order to share their hedonistic love of food with like-minded gastronomes.

Winter also brings Nuit blanche to the area for those brave enough to face sub zero temperatures.

Venture Into the Mile End

mile end montreal

mile end montreal
mile end montreal
 

Call it hipster capital, call it the artsiest district in Montreal — eclectic Mile End Montreal doesn’t care for labels. Technically part of trendy Plateau Mont-Royal but infinitely more diverse, this effervescent district covers just about 10 blocks but is incidentally home to Canada’s largest concentration of artists, in addition to some of Montreal’s most acclaimed restaurants. This also is where some of the most interesting shopping in Montreal can be accomplished.

Related: Hanging out in Canada’s Most Vibrant Area: Mile End Montreal

Put on your Eating Pants

plateau mont-royal

plateau mont-royal
plateau mont-royal
 

plateau mont-royal plateau mont-royalplateau mont-royal

Rumour has it that Montreal has the second highest amount of restaurants per capita in North America – is that the best reason to wear your eating pants or what? But with so many eateries on offer, it can be hard to pick the right ones to visit during a short trip so I’ve done the legwork for you.

From century-old steakhouses (Moishes) to rotisseries that have become emblems of the Portuguese immigration in the area (Romados) and minimalistic Tokyo-style bun counter (HAO) and hip cider houses (Darling), here are some of my favourite restaurants in Plateau Mont-Royal:

Catch a show

plateau mont-royal

Downtown Montreal is where the major arena shows will be performed; Plateau Mont-Royal, on the other hand, will welcome intimate gigs and open the stage to up-and-coming artists of various backgrounds and mediums with a promising future. Casa del Popolo and sister establishment Sala Rossa, as well as Rialto Theatre, are great places to catch live music shows while The Wiggle Room is dedicated to burlesque entertainment; Montreal Improv is quite self-explanatory, while endearingly outside-the-box Mainline Theatre is indie theatre’s home in the neighbourhood.

If your French allows, don’t miss out on the chance of seeing a play in one of the area’s many legendary theatres, like La Licorne, Espace Go, Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui or Théâtre du Rideau Vert.

 

Indulge in Retail Therapy

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Sure, you could stick to the high-street and the Gaps and H&Ms of this world. But what if I told you there are plenty of cute boutiques where you could get staple pieces made with love by a local Montreal designer?

Several of the best boutiques in Montreal are located in the Mile-End area adjacent to Plateau Mont-Royal; while you’re there, make sure to head slightly east in order not to miss out on these beautiful shops:

If you need more suggestions… Get the book!

things to do in montreal city guide

For even more things to do in Montreal as well as restaurant suggestions, local photography tips, pre-set itineraries, and exclusive discounts, get the Montreal city guide for just $9. It contains everything I know and love about Montreal!

7 Comments on 18 Places You Can’t Miss in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal

  1. Krystal // The Krystal
    August 31, 2017 at 4:21 pm (4 weeks ago)

    I visited Montreal earlier this year. I didn’t make it to the Plateau Mont Royal area but I did get to wander around the Mile End area for a bit one day! I’d love to go back to Montreal and see some more areas.

    Reply
  2. Andi
    August 31, 2017 at 7:02 pm (4 weeks ago)

    Montreal is one of my top locations to visit, I have wanted to explore it for years and need to make it a prioirty to get there soon!

    Reply
  3. Patti
    September 5, 2017 at 7:14 pm (3 weeks ago)

    Marie-Eve, we used your blog to plan our visit to Montreal last month. We stayed in Mile End, went on a food tour, and generally had a great time. Thanks for all your useful information. (Next update, how about mentioning the Guilliaume bakery? It was a frequent stop for us…. amazing baking!)

    Reply
  4. Jade D'sa
    September 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm (3 weeks ago)

    Montreal is so beautiful! I spent a couple of weeks there but there was so much to do, it broke my heart to leave without doing it and seeing it all!

    Reply
  5. Valerie B.
    September 9, 2017 at 1:39 pm (2 weeks ago)

    The Plateau is my fave neighbourhood! It is so lively. Every thing is within walking distance…i love that so much that I live in the plateau!

    Reply
  6. Rhonda Swan
    September 15, 2017 at 11:36 am (1 week ago)

    What a fabulous place! Thanks for sharing your trip experience and wonderful tips. Your photos are gorgeous and show so much culture. Continue to be an unstoppable traveler!
    Cheers,
    Rhonda

    Reply

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