With trendy Plateau Mont-Royal, the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal and the artsy communities of the Mile End, Montreal is an alluring destination for travelers looking for a European vibe, especially given the favorable exchange rates Americans will find while traveling in Canada. And there's no need to plan a big vacation—set on an island, Montreal's charms can be sampled on a short trip, with time to explore the surrounding area as well.
To maximize time, book a hop on, hop off bus tour that allows you to explore numerous sites around the city, including Chinatown, Crescent Street and the Notre Dame Basilica. Alternatively, a 1.5- or three-hour walking tour works as a great introduction to the city and offers the chance to admire the architecture of Old Montreal, stroll through town squares and hear stories about the city's history from your guide.
Both Plateau Mont-Royal and Mile End are worthwhile for their food, encompassing some of Montreal’s best eateries from poutine-ready greasy spoons to chic French bistros. Further afield are the Olympic Stadium and the imposing St Joseph’s Oratory on top of Mount Royal.
To escape the city, book a day trip to Quebec City, the only walled city in North America, or combine a tour of Quebec City with a trip to Montmorency Falls on the same day. Closer to Montreal, the Laurentian Mountains, a living Canadiana postcard dotted with dense forests and log cabins, are popular among outdoorsy travelers.