Montreal Through the Eyes of a Local: Sofia’s Tips

Like A Local Guide • 18 Dec, 2015

Every few weeks we ask one of our clued-up local contributors a bunch of questions about their city, from fun facts and practicalities to what to see and what to skip. This time around we quizzed Sofia about Montreal, the second-largest city in Canada. Sofia also happens to be the woman behind the classy online travel and lifestyle magazine, Coveted Places.

If you’re hungry for insider insights into other destinations, you can keep an eye out for new Through the Eyes of a Local posts here, or follow us on Facebook for updates.

When is the best time to visit Montreal? The best time to visit my city is in summer, because that’s when it comes alive after the very cold winters we have!

What are three things every visitor should see or experience?

1. You have to eat poutine, even if you think it looks gross. Believe me, you’ll quickly change your mind once you try it.

2. The view from Mount Royal.

3. Attend a festival. Montreal is known for its many events that take place all year round.


Photo credit: Tourisme Montreal

What’s your favourite hidden gem? Big in Japan – a Prohibition era-inspired bar hidden behind a nondescript door.

What’s the biggest tourist trap? Riding a horse-drawn carriage in the Old Port. Stick to walking. Also, stay away from restaurants in Old Montreal that boast “authentic French cuisine” or have obvious tourist menus.

Where can I enjoy amazing views? Visit the Mount Royal belvedere for a panoramic view of our charming city.

What’s your favourite way to spend a sunny day in Montreal? On a sunny day, I love to walk around the Mile End neighbourhood or have a drink on a terrace. We take our sunny days very seriously in Montreal, so make the most of them and go outside!


Photo credit: jphilipg

What do you like to do when the weather is bad? When the weather’s bad, I love to sip coffee in a good café such as Pikolo Espresso Bar, or hide out in a bookstore – Argo being a personal favourite.

What’s a fun way to impress someone in Montreal? When I want to impress someone, I take them to Le Lab cocktail bar. This bar specialises in mixology and serves up expertly crafted cocktails in a sophisticated space.

I want to try authentic local cuisine. Where should I go and what should I order? You should go to La Banquise and order poutine! Like I said before, don’t knock it until you try it.

What should I take home as a souvenir? Take home a Montreal-themed gift from Artpop, or an artwork from Station 16. Both are way better and more personal than typical tourist souvenirs.


Photo credit: Station 16

What’s the best way to get around in Montreal? By metro or bike. It’s super easy to rent a BIXI in most parts of the city. The metro is also easy to navigate.

How can you tell if someone’s from Montreal? You know someone’s from my city if they speak to you in English and French at the same time.

What’s your city famous for? My city has the best bagels and smoked meat.

What’s your favourite breakfast/brunch spot? L’Avenue because they have the best eggs Benedict.

Can you recommend somewhere for a tasty budget meal? Visit L’Gros Luxe for a tasty budget meal. Each menu item is under $10, and they serve food you won’t find anywhere else such as grilled cheese stuffed with poutine and Bloody Caesars garnished with onion rings.


Photo credit: L’Gros Luxe

I’m vegetarian/vegan – help! La Panthère Verte is a local favourite.

Where should I go for a classy night out? For a classy night out, eat at L’Express for a Parisian bistro feel and then go to Pullman wine bar for some drinks.

Where to go for cheap drinks? Visit Le Sainte-Elisabeth or Laïka.

What are some great local nightlife spots? Imadake is a fantastic local nightlife spot because they serve sake bombs and Japanese tapas.

What’s the event of the year in Montreal? It’s a tie between Osheaga, the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs.


Photo credit: Nick Broten

Is there anything else you think visitors to your city should know? Watch out for cyclists before crossing the street! And you should never insult the Habs (Montreal’s hockey team). Also, trying to convince a Montrealer that New York City makes better bagels is a close second.

For more local recommendations read:
What locals like to do in Montreal
Where locals like to eat in Montreal
Where locals like to party in Montreal

Special tip: For a more authentic Montreal experience, get the Like A Local mobile app

Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.

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