I'm a New Yorker who visited Montréal for the first time. These 6 things impressed me so much, I'm already planning a trip back.

The author poses in a polo with a tote bag at a view point of the city from the top of Montreal
From urban hikes to historical architecture, there's a lot to love about Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I recently spent one day in Montréal, Québec, during a train trip through Eastern Canada.

  • I explored downtown, Old Montréal, and Mount Royal, which is a small mountain in the city.

  • I loved the city's contrasting architecture, urban landscape, and poutine. I can't wait to go back.

I recently traveled from my home in NYC to Montréal, Québec, for the first time during a train trip through Eastern Canada.

The author in Montreal
Insider's reporter explores Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Montréal is the largest city in Québec, an eastern province of Canada. It's also the second-largest city in Canada after Toronto, according to the Council of Europe.

Montreal Map
Montréal is city on the east side of Canada.Google Maps

Source: Council of Europe

I spent roughly 24 hours in Montréal. Since my trip was so short, I stayed in the Vogue Hotel in the downtown area, near the train station to make the most of my time.

View of downtown Montreal
Downtown Montréal on a summer day.Joey Hadden/Insider

At the Vogue Hotel in Downtown Montréal, I was within walking distance of Old Montréal, Mount Royal, and the Underground City. I only took one cab to grab a bite at a poutine restaurant, La Banquise.

A map of everywhere the author went in Montreal
A map of everywhere the author went in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

The first thing that intrigued me about Montréal was how much green space I saw, even in the most urban areas.

Side-by-side photos of greenery in urban spaces in Montreal
Trees amidst buildings in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Throughout Downtown Montréal, I spotted greenery in every direction, from unique landscaping on buildings to lines of trees.

Greenery in urban spaces Montreal
Greenery drapes down a building in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

In between blocks of skyscrapers, I found shaded squares to cool off, too. According to a 2021 city report by Park People, Montréal has 1,300 local parks.

A shaded park in downtown Montreal
A shaded park in the middle of Downtown Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Park People

What struck me most about the trees was how much variety I saw. There seemed to be several different types planted together.

A residential neighborhood in Montreal
A variety of trees in a Montréal neighborhood.Joey Hadden/Insider

West of the downtown area, I also enjoyed visiting lush Mount Royal, a small mountain in the middle of the city with 400 stairs leading to a viewpoint overlooking Montréal.

A park at sunrise in Montreal
A crosswalk in front of the base of Mount Royal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Tourism Montréal

The entrance of the park was a 30-minute uphill walk from my hotel. It took me another half hour to climb the stairs that traversed the mountain.

Side-by-side photos of greenery in montreal
Views from the trail leading to the top of Mount Royal.Joey Hadden/Insider

The walk was tiring, but when I got to the top of Mount Royal, I thought it was totally worth it for the all-encompassing views.

A viewpoint on top of Montreal
The summit of Mount Royal.Joey Hadden/Insider

From the top of Mount Royal, I could see the whole city and I wished for more time to wander specific streets.

Buildings seen from a viewpoint on top of Montreal
A view from the top of Mount Royal.Joey Hadden/Insider

I did get the chance to wander the downtown area and Old Montreal, though. There, I noticed another cool thing about this city: the contrasting modern and historical architectural styles, from Art Deco to Gothic Revival, according to Culture Trip.

Architecture in Montreal
Various architectural styles in Downtown Montreal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Culture Trip

Downtown, I also spotted historic structures that stood out next to modern skyscrapers, like Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, one of the largest churches in all of Québec, according to the same source.

A historical building in Montreal
The side of Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Culture Trip

Another building that stopped me in my tracks was the Sun Life building, which I later found out secretly stored British gold during the second world war, Culture Trip reports. The building's old-world architecture impressed me because it was taller than some of the more modern skyscrapers.

A historical building in Montreal
This side of the Sun Life building in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Culture Trip

Another thing I love is bookstores. Window displays for these stores made me pause when I saw familiar titles written in French, like "The Little Prince." I didn't have time to shop, but next time, I'd like to go inside some of the bookstores I walked by.

A bookstore in Montreal
A bookstore in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Heading east from downtown, I could tell I had reached Old Montréal when the streets turned cobblestone, which made me feel like I was in Europe. The stone streets date back to the 1800s, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Side-by-side photos of old montreal
Streets in Old Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Montréal Gazette

Around Old Montréal, I saw several museums and historical buildings that I longed to go inside of because they looked so cool on the outside.

A Museum in Old Montreal
A museum in Old Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Next time I'm in Montréal, I plan to find accommodations in Old Montréal so I can learn more about the city's history.

A courtyard in Old Montreal
A courtyard in Old Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Another area I found fascinating was the Underground City, which is actually a horizontal building full of shops and passageways that connect to underground metro stations over a 20-mile radius.

Inside the Underground City in Old Montreal
Inside the Underground City.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Montréal Tourism

The Underground City is meant to save pedestrians from the outdoors during harsh winter months when temperatures drop to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Since I visited on a beautiful day, I found it mostly empty.

Side-by-side photos of the underground city in montreal
The author explores the Underground City.Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: NOAA

I want to go back in the winter to see it when it's more lively and full of people, and to take advantage of its main purpose to limit time outdoors.

Inside the Underground City in Montreal
The Underground City on a quiet summer day.Joey Hadden/Insider

My last stop before leaving Montréal was La Banquise, a Poutine restaurant where I tried the Canadian delicacy of fries, cheese, and gravy for the first time.

Side-by-side photos of La Banquise poutine in Montreal
Poutine from La Banquise in Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

The fries were crispy and greasy — just like I like them. I thought the gravy was reminiscent of Thanksgiving dinner, and the curds added a unique texture without adding too much flavor.

A bite of poutine
A close up of a bite of poutine.Joey Hadden/Insider

All together in one bite, I could see why this dish was so popular and comforting. I found it to be warm, filling, and nostalgic and it transported me back to Thanksgiving dinner.

The author eats poutine
The author enjoys her meal.Joey Hadden/Insider

When I left Montréal, I thought my trip was too short. On my way to my next destination, I decided I'd be back soon for the architecture, the greenery, and of course, the poutine.

The author takes a selfie in Montréal
The author takes a selfie in Downtown Montréal.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I'm a New Yorker who went to Canada for the first time. Here are 7 things that impressed me so much, I'm already planning a trip back.

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