Why is Montreal such a unique city to live in?
Our spotters will tell you it’s the amazing food in local eateries; the unique neighbourhoods riddled with lovely hidden spots; it’s the energetic feeling of the city (never an off-day); it’s the openness and feeling of freedom experienced by the people in the city; it’s the endless parties in summer.
Here are our picks for some of the most unique, local gems in Montreal, discovered by our very own team of Spotters.
Luxury on the water
If you’re visiting Montreal, but are tired from the constant walking around that comes with a city trip, this is the solution! Give your tired feet a rest at Bota Bota: a little spa on a boat located in the old port.
Book an appointment and get a range of different treatments. Towels, robes etc. are provided on board, the only thing you have to remember is to bring you flipflops and relax! On board, the atmosphere is very relaxed and tranquil, a fresh breath of air in contrast to busy city life.
Who doesn’t need a break every once in a while?
I love to go there when I feel like treating myself and I never regret it as how I feel when I come out makes it all worth it — Clementine Pereira
Summery, sweaty tango nights
In summer it is bursting of activity in Montreal, it can be hard to keep up with all the good stuff! This event is for those nights that are a little bit more chill (and maybe romantic), but still very enjoyable. In a charming park (Parc Laurier) in the Plateau neighborhood you can let yourself get enchanted by romantic tango tunes whilst watching the “tangueros” dance in the warm summer air.
For those of us who love to dance, and will not be satisfied with solely watching, don’t worry! It is an open event, which means you can try it out and get a free tango lesson by Tango Libre.
It’s a great way to get a taste of Argentina and meet suave people — Jeremy Petrus
Technology & drinks
La SAT (La Société des Arts Technologiques) can be found in the old red light district, an area of the city with many interesting places to visit.
The place was originally created as a laboratory in 1996. The original goal was to create a place for the new generation of creators of the digital era to develop VR, immersive technologies and high-speed networks.
The best part of this place is the satosphere, where you can immerse yourself in a 360° experience! Besidesbeing a technology-focused venue, you can also grab a drink or a bite to eat here, listen to some live music or discover new artists.
La Société des Arts Technologiques is a fantastic multidisciplinary place — Julie Gauthier
You can never go wrong with a good thrift shop
Eva B is not just a thrift shop, it’s also a library and café! Besides that Eva B also hosts all kinds of events, from movie screenings to Easter egg hunts. This place truly does it all.
The food and clothing are offered for cheap prices, and don’t be surprised if you get some free snacks as well! This place is such a gem, don’t skip it on your trip!
Eva B once more proves that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. What may seem like an abandoned building from the outside, holds a true treasure on the inside.
There aren’t enough boutiques that offer free snacks. This is Eva B, the landmark thrift shop, library and café — Melissa Salvaggio
A cute, colorful little street
The city of Montreal if filled with little residential streets with duplexes and little houses. Something as mundane as a street with little houses is easy to overlook, however some of them are worth paying some extra attention to.
One of these streets is Rue Drolet, a part of this street is incredibly cute and a great spot to have a leisurely stroll. This part of the street contains cozy looking little houses, all in different vibrant colors!
Especially during the winter, these cute houses look like the backdrop of a romcom, and let’s be real romcom’s are the best guilty pleasure! So for a nice walk, or a great picture, be sure to visit this street!
It happened to be a blue sky day as well, which made the whole street look like a postcard — Clementine Pereira
A place to get your hands dirty
For the creatives amongst us, this place is perfect. Feed your inner artist at Le Ceramic Café studio.
You can go here to paint ceramics. They have a range of different items for you to get creative with, from figurines to large dishes. Simply pick the ceramic you want and get started after the staff explains to you how it all works.
Of course all that painting will get you hungry! Luckily you can also order food here, for you to recharge.
Each ceramic has its own price so there’s something for every budget — Clementine Pereira
The magic of a little boutique
In Montreal there is a little boutique called Unicorn, stuffed with local designers such as Mélissa Nepoton, Ève Gravel, Betina Lou, Grob, Barilà and much more! They have a large collection since they stock so many different local talents. Their clothing is tasteful and ranges from dresses to shoes and bags, a true fashion paradise.
The décor is calm and collected: black and white, but of course you will find some hints of unicorns in there (because duh!). The place is almost looks like a little art gallery!
And for those of us who’d rather stay in (or happen to not be in Montreal), luckily they also have a website where you can but their clothing online!
The two owners have great taste and talent, it’s personalized and we feel good in this place — Julie Gauthier
A local dish in all shapes and sizes
Poutine is a dish you will not be able to avoid when in Montreal. It’s a plate of French fries drenched in gravy, cheese curds and all other kinds of fatty goodness. Heaven on a plate.
One of the best places to get some of this ultimate pleasure food is La Banquise. They serve over 30 types of poutine! From a Mexican style with tomato and guacamole to Swiss cheese and bacon, they have it all. Even vegans can indulge here!
The line in front of the door shows the quality, but luckily it’s open 24h a day!
It’s a perfect no-fuss place to hang out with friends or family and anyone that doesn’t fancy poutine can get a burger, sandwich or salad — Clementine Pereira
Hunting for treasure
La Boutique du Collectionneur has one of the most fitting names I’ve ever encountered, for those of us who consider ourselves true collectors or treasure hunters this is the place to be. There is so much to see in this shop you might get lost there, collectibles, retro, vintage, antiques they have it all.
The shop is owned by a Catalonian father and Ivan and opened in 1967. The father travelled and collected items from 128 countries, now that’s a world traveler. He even saved 800 airplane tickets to prove it!
I’ve never seen a pirate’s lair, but I bet this comes pretty close!
When I asked Ivan about his favorite, he said it was like picking a favorite kid — Melissa Salvaggio
Let yourself be surprised
Personally I’m a big fan of going to the movies without watching the trailer first, since it gives so much away and I like a good surprise. If you agree you will love Kino Kabaret.
Every first Friday of the month you can experience Montreal’s independent movie scene through one of Kino Kabaret’s short movie events. A new topic is picked every month, and participating teams have a specific number of hours to write and produce a short movie.
The events are quite popular, so if you want to good seat make sure to be on time!
Short movie events are perfect for satisfying your love for new creation, and kino kabaret events are made for us — Jérémie Gerhardt
Swing to the music
At the Maisonneuve Blvd in Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles neighborhood there is a unique musical installation. This art piece named 21 Balancoires is not going to be around forever, it’s only around for spring so don’t miss out while it’s there!
The installation revolves around a set of swings. Hop on one of the several swings and let your movement make some music! The motion of the swing creates a specific musical note, and when all the swings are moving together you can hear a melody!
Guaranteed fun on these swings!
Ultimately, it creates a lively place for playing and having fun in the center of the city. It’s a swinging good time — Nadia Pacitto
Love-infused home baked treats
Cocoa Locale is a small homestyle bakery, that offers a narrow selection of delicious sweet treats. However their main specialty is cupcakes, with special ingredients are ginger, cayenne, tea and red peppers.
The owner, Reema Singh, is an adorable lady who spreads her love through her baking. If you decide to stop by for a little treat, make sure to do it early as she sells out quite fast!
When I’m asked to bring dessert at a dinner thing, I always think of her, and which cake or pie it will be this time — Jeremy Petrus
For more hidden gems, check out Spotted by Locals Montreal.