03/21/2013 11:52 EDT | Updated 04/12/2013 10:15 EDT

How To Spend A Weekend In Montreal

montreal canada  august 8. the...
montreal canada august 8. the...

A weekend in Montreal is just enough time for any visitor to get a taste of the lively culture on display in this cosmopolitan city. You might even pick up some French along the way – it’s also the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.

Two days in Montreal will only scratch the surface of all there is to see and do, but it will definitely give you the incentive for a return visit.

What To Do In Montreal

How To Spend A Weekend In Montreal

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Bistro Le Paris

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in Montreal culture than by taking in some authentic “Francaise” fare. Centrally located bistro Le Paris is the perfect introduction. A Montreal institution since 1956, at Le Paris you can sample fried steak, traditional foie gras and crusty French bread while enjoying the intimate ambiance. It will definitely feel like an authentic bistro experience as you dine among the locals. Bon appetit!

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Montreal is a city of museums and galleries, and a weekend trip will give you ample time to explore a few. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal) is one of the city’s finest. Wander the vast permanent collection featuring international and European art from Medieval to modern, along with an impressive decorative arts and design collection. The museum also attracts world-class travelling collections like its 2013 Peruvian exhibit and its 2011 celebration of fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Rue Sainte-Catherine

Browse along Rue Sainte-Catherine, home to both high-end and more affordable clothing and shoe shops. An evening spent on this street will ensure your quick integration into the metropolitan pace.

Cirque du Soleil

Your cultural extravaganza wouldn’t be complete without taking in some Montreal entertainment. Two classic Montreal institutions won’t disappoint: Check out Les Grands Ballets Canadians at Place des Arts, or enjoy the world-famous Cirque du Soleil in the city where it was born. (Check the schedule first, as it’s a touring company and shows aren’t held all the time.)

Botanical Gardens

Set aside at least three hours to do it properly. Start at the Insectarium (even if you get the creepy crawlies, you’ll learn a lot). It’s the largest museum in North America devoted to insects, and yes, they are live. The Gardens themselves house more than 20,000 different plant species, including Chinese and Japanese gardens (which house a great bonsai collection). And don’t miss the large koi pond outside – the fish will follow you as you walk!

Olympic Stadium

Take a trip to the Olympic Stadium, also known as “The Big O,” for a unique view of the city. Ride Big O’s funicular, a vehicle that ascends the exterior of the stadium’s tower – the world’s highest inclined tower at 165 metres, positioned at a jaunty 45-degree angle. Along with concerts and CFL games, the Big O has been used in numerous Hollywood films, from Blades of Glory to Casino. At the top of the tower, gaze over Montreal and say, “Au revior.”