For our first time in Canada, we had the opportunity to go visit my brother in Montreal in March, which ended up being a great trip! We were first a bit concerned about the weather, what to do, and what to pack, but we came out totally fine and had an amazing time. When we landed in Montreal, it was pretty cold and there was snow everywhere – which I was happy about because I wasn’t going to Canada in winter to not see any snow! But by the time we came back from our short trip to Quebec city, the snow had pretty much melted. It gave us a totally different view on the city and I was glad that we had the chance to see these two different sides of Montreal! It’s true that we went at the exact time of inter-season, which could be disappointing to some, but we were satisfied by our calm visit of the city instead.
Not quite winter, not quite spring yet, the second half of March is a time with no festival, not many activities (too much but not enough snow… …. ….) and changing weather, but we made the most of it with the time we had!
Things to do in Montreal in March
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Visiting Montreal in March
Start with Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is a gorgeous place to have fun in the snow and admire the Montreal city skyline. When we arrived it was still covered in snow even though it was mid-March. If you’re fit you can probably get there by feet but it looked pretty high so we took the easy way out and caught a bus to drive us to the peak. There’s also a car park if you want to take your car up there.
When we arrived, we started by reaching the Belvedere, from where we could admire the view on the city. The Mount Royal Chalet provides free bathrooms and a warmer place to stop at and have a hot drink.
Then we had a walk all around the Mount, watching people cross-country skiing and enjoying the snow all around us. We didn’t do it but you can ride electric fat tire bikes on Mount Royal and that seems like a pretty cool thing to do!
Visit Old Town Montreal
Since the city of Montreal is pretty big and not necessarily the prettiest town in the world, strolling around Old Town Montreal and around the Old Port is a good idea. Old Montreal is not huge and doesn’t come anywhere close to the beauty of Old Québec, but it’s a nice walk around.
If you don’t have a local to guide you around like we did, there are some cool guided tours you can book like this Old Montreal Winter time walking tour, this walking tour in Old Montreal’s West Side or this 1.5hr walking tour of Old Montreal East Side. If you want a more private experience, I suggest choosing this Old Montreal 2hr walking Tour.
Take the time to explore the locals neighbourhood
If you’re not staying right in the center, take the time to explore the neighbourhood you’re staying at. The place where my brother lives reminds me of Brooklyn and is VERY different than anything you’d see in France. We enjoyed seeing the locals going around and pulling little carts in which they put their kids in as there was still a lot of snow when we arrived. However the snow had pretty much melted when we left and it felt pretty different!
Have a look at the underground malls
You won’t see them from outside, but Montreal has huge malls hidden underground. They make it easy to go around and shop, even in the middle of winter when the only thing you’d like to do is stay home!
Things to do in Montreal in March
We didn’t do museums, but if we had to recommend two experiences we really loved, it’s the Botanical Garden and the Planetarium.
The Botanical Garden
We were invited by Space for Life to visit the Botanical Garden, and we were not disappointed! There’s a hidden plant paradise hidden in Montreal, and this is where you can find it! The Botanical Garden is huge and showcases so many specimens it will make your head turn by traveling so fast all around the world. The Butterfly show was on when we went, and we also really enjoyed seeing all of this gorgeous wildlife.
The Montreal Planetarium
I had no doubt that we would enjoy our invitation by Space for Life to experience the Montreal Planetarium because first we both really like anything related to Space, and because everyone we’ve met in the city had praised this place as one of the best thing to do in Montreal. Reality did not disappoint! The two shows were great, and the Planetarium’s settings are amazing. We strongly recommend you head there on your visit.
Eating vegan in Montreal
Lola Rosa restaurants
We had the chance of staying at my brother’s, so we mostly did groceries and cooked home to save some money. However we’ve stumbled on this great vegetarian / vegan-friendly place called Lola Rosa while going to Mount Royal and really loved it! They have several restaurants in town so be sure to check out at least one of them!
Where to drink good cocktails in Montreal
Simone being a bartender, we love to go out to drink cocktails everywhere we go. As a matter of fact, we’ve been to more cocktail bars than restaurants in Montreal, oops!
If you’re looking for a chill retro place with great cocktails but not pretentious at all, head to the Lab. We went there at apero time after a day walking around and found a great and very helpful bartender, with skills and a lot to tell. We had a great time and the place looked really cozy and vintage so we loved it!
Boho Cocktail bar
Going to this bar was not planned, but it’s the bar front of the speakeasy we wanted to go to. Since the speakeasy wasn’t ready for us (apparently there had been a group reservation and we had to wait for a while), we decided to wait and have a drink at Boho. Getting in was a bit of a mess, to be honest. There was a (vestiaire) hostess, a hostess that ‘managed’ bookings and entries… they were not very helpful nor organized and gave us a bit of attitude.
However once inside it was much better, with funny bartenders and a great atmosphere. We particularly loved the concept of using the sorbets in cocktails, you should try one!
Once the speakeasy was ready, we finally got in! Clandestino is a Mezcal and Tequila bar, and the cocktails were truly good. The atmosphere wasn’t what we like best as it was too dark for us (like difficult to read the menu dark), a bit too ‘serious’, and the prices were steep. However the finger food was great!
Great day trips to take from Montreal in March
Have a ski day at Mont Orford
We really wanted to ski in Canada, but we had no car and no desire to rent one. The good thing with Mont Orford is that there is a shuttle to take you there. It’s not the most popular place so it’s not crowded (which is great whether you’re good or not, I personally really appreciated that only Simone and the staff saw me fall from my mechanical chairs landing…).
Good thing too is that it’s a National Park so if one of your party doesn’t want to ski, they’ll have plenty other stuff to do!
Have a short trip to Quebec city
There’s an approximately 3h ride from Montreal to Quebec city so while it’s possible to do it in a day, we highly suggested you take at least a couple of days to visit this gorgeous town!
If you’re short on time but really want to see Québec City, this organized day trip will take you to Montmorency Falls (which we loved!) and Québec city all in one day.
Practical Info on Montreal in March
Weather in Montreal in March
The weather in Montreal in March can be quite unpredictable. It’s cold for sure, but it’s hard to estimate how cold it’s going to be beforehand. There are more chances for the weather to be rather cold and wet, even though we had some days of sun at the end of our trip, and practically no rain at all for the duration of our stay. The temperature usually go from -6° to 2°C (21° to 36°F).
What to pack for Montreal in March
BE PREPARED. Honestly, it was COLD. The good thing is that this cold is totally manageable if you have the right clothes. The secret is really in the layering, so try to have as many layers as possible, and make them easy to take off. As a vegan traveler, prefer fleece and polyester for better insulation and avoid having cotton fabric as a first layer to avoid trapping sweat and being wet in the cold. I personally love Uniqlo Heattech items for extra warmth!
Don’t forget to pack for Montreal in March (female edition):
- A long faux-down jacket or very warm coat
- A good windbreaker for warmer days
- Thermal shirts, long sleeves shirts and high-necks
- A cozy fleece hoodie and light sweaters, to add a layer but not get too warm
- Thermal leggings
- Comfortable warm pants and/or jeans
- A fleece jacket
- Warm socks
- Leg warmers
- A beanie and/or earmuffs/headband
- A big scarf
- Snow boots / waterproof walking shoes
- Don’t forget the sunscreen if you’re going skiing!