Montreal: The Most Underwhelming City I’ve Ever Been To

Montreal Canada

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my travels across Canada and America, it’s this: if I think I’m going to like a place then I won’t, and if don’t think I will, then I do.

This couldn’t have been more obvious on my two day trip to Montreal. I’d heard how European the old town was (and I love Europe), so I thought it would be a nice mixture of Canada and Europe. In fact, when I’d mentioned to people in passing during my travels across Canada that I’d be visiting Montreal, they all said how great it was.

Well, all I can say is: whoever thinks Montreal has a European feel, has clearly never been to Europe.

Day One in Montreal

I’d caught an overnight flight from Vancouver (sadly, I didn’t get any sleep), so I landed at 7am in Montreal, and got a taxi straight to the hotel to drop my luggage off.

Having done some research into the best places for pastries in Montreal, I chose to visit Café Myriade, as it was only ten minutes from where I was staying. Even at 8.30am the queue was massive, but my breakfast was disappointing, and that basically set the tone for the rest of the trip.

I had a whole day to explore Montreal, so I walked through downtown, and then turned right to head to the port. Well… the port was extremely ugly. It was all grey and concrete, and not even in a cool, industrial way. I walked the length of the port and back, and there was nothing interesting to see.

Boring Montreal

What even is this?!

I then attempted to track down the “European” section of Montreal, and read that Rue St-Paul was the centre of it, so I walked from one end to the other.

Well, I’m sorry if I offend anyone from Montreal, but I really didn’t get it. It wasn’t at all European, and that street wasn’t even good to walk down. There were a handful of souvenir shops and restaurants, but there was a lot of building work going on, so most of the road had been dug up.

I was so bored, I was sat in Starbucks eating lunch at 11.15am. I then walked back to my hotel via St Catherine Street, and went into Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville… and there wasn’t even anything nice in either of them. Oh, and I went into Montreal’s Eaton Centre too, and there was no comparison to Toronto’s. I spent about five minutes in there – I think that’s the shortest amount of time I’ve spent in a shopping centre. Even Podgorica has a better shopping centre than Montreal.

I managed to check into the hotel super early at 1.30pm, and spent the rest of the day there, catching up on sleep and FaceTiming friends. By the time it got to dinner, I just couldn’t be bothered to head out, so I had Uber Eats delivered to my door. Montreal was too disappointing.

Canadian Geese

Literally the only good sight I saw in Montreal

Day Two in Montreal

I was still catching up from lack of sleep, but the fact that I disliked Montreal as much as I did, meant that I stayed in bed as long as possible… it wasn’t like I had anywhere I wanted to be. I checked out of the hotel at the last possible minute, at 12pm.

I went to Tim Horton’s for lunch (I’m basically Canadian now), and then walked the length of St Catherine Street as I went to find the Notre Dame Basilica. Honestly, the pictures of the inside on Google look nice, but when I walked up to it, it was so boring that I couldn’t be bothered to go in. I didn’t even take a picture, that’s how underwhelming it was.

Disappointed, I sat back by the port for over an hour, then sat in Starbucks for another hour, until it was time to go and collect my cases.

My train to Quebec left at 6.30pm, and I was genuinely excited to leave Montreal. I know a lot of people love it, but my personal opinion is there’s absolutely nothing about the city, and I kind of wish I hadn’t even visited.

Clock Tower, Montreal

What’s Wrong with Montreal?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it… lots of people love it, obviously. But it really wasn’t for me. I was expecting culture like you’d find in Europe (maybe not as much, but some), and I got nothing. I really thought I was going to like Montreal… in fact, Toronto (and for sure Vancouver) are much nicer.

I suppose if I’d been with someone it may have been better, just for the company seeing as there was nothing to occupy me in Montreal. But honestly, I would never visit again. I was there for two days and I’d basically done everything in half a day. The only good thing is being able to say I’ve been, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone else to visit. As I left, I was just hoping that Quebec was better.

Elle Pollicott

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