There’s no lack of smooch-happy cities abroad—think Paris, Barcelona, Vienna, Edinburgh, and Venice—but the next time you’re planning a romantic getaway, we suggest a visit to our northern neighbors. Montreal boasts the best of several worlds, so whether you melt at the thought of leisurely strolls through cobblestone streets, hiking or paddling in drop-dead stunning parks, foodie-paradise dining, eclectic shopping, or a bustling night life, you’ll find it all in this one amazing—and affordable—city.
Where to Stay
Montreal has no shortage of four- and five-star hotels, but we recommend you bypass these and instead savor the intimate feel of one of the city’s renowned bed-and-breakfasts. We love the Turquoise B&B, just two blocks from the street that never sleeps, Rue St. Catherine, and where an unbelievable $90 per night gets you a large, beautifully decorated room with a queen-size bed, free parking, a basic breakfast (in the charming outdoor garden or on the porch in the warmer weather), and the charismatic company and sage sightseeing suggestions of owner Gilles.
Turquoise B&B, 1576 Rue Alexandre-DeSève
Where to Walk Hand in Hand
Much of Montreal, from the scenic Old Montreal to Chinatown and the modern downtown, is stroll-friendly, so don’t miss this opportunity for a little extra QT and conversation. For that European feel, hit the brick-and-cobble paths of Old Montreal, or check out the river views along the Old Port of Montreal—even more romantic after dark, when the city comes alive with light. If greenery and flowers are more your speed, Montreal has several beautifully kept parks, including Parc La Fontaine and Mount Royal Park, the latter of which offers incredible panoramic views from two prime lookout points, the Chalet du Mont Royal and the Observatoire de l’Est. If you have an afternoon to spare, while away the hours in the Montreal Botanical Garden, home of lush green spaces, lakeside snuggling, steamy greenhouses, and, in September at least, a color-drenched Chinese silk lantern festival.
Parc La Fontaine, 3933 Avenue du Parc la Fontaine
Mount Royal Park, 1260 Chemin Remembrance
Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Rue Sherbrooke Est
Where to Make Moony Eyes over Dinner
For a truly romantic experience, forget the tourist meccas and BYOB hotspots and go for one of the small, ambient, looks-like-a-hole-in-the-wall-but-isn’t restaurants that line the side streets of Old Montreal. Tops on our list? Bocata, a Spanish-style wine bar—complete with exposed brick walls, tufted leather banquettes, and distressed tables—that specializes in slightly-larger-than-tapas, made-to-share dishes, boutique wines, and spot-on professional service. It ain’t cheap, but you won’t regret a moment or a candlelit bite.
Bocata, 310 Rue St. Paul Ouest
Where to Relax
Get away from it all—literally and figuratively—with the Strøm Nordic Spa. Just a few miles out of the downtown, on the shores of Lac des Battures, it’s a singular experience, with outdoor whirlpools, thermal and Nordic baths, waterfalls, and Finnish saunas. Or whisper sweet nothings during a candlelit couples massage at the beyond-luxurious Hôtel Le St-James. Follow up with a cocktail and some more sweet nothings, of both the spoken and sugarcoated variety, at the hotel’s snog-inspired (and -inspiring) XO Le Restaurant.
Strøm Nordic Spa, 1001 Boulevard de la Forêt.
Hôtel Le St-James, 355 Saint-Jacques Street
Where to Shop
Rue St. Catherine is where the shopping is at, whether you’re looking for upscale department stores, popular chains, artisanal jewelers, or unique designer goods. To satisfy your undie jollies, head for the exquisite La Vie en Rose, a lovingly curated boutique of highly mentionable unmentionables.
La Vie en Rose, 705 Rue Saint Catherine West
Where to Get Your Groove On
Coupledom doesn’t get much cooler—or sexier—than an up-close-and-personal dance. So why not try the mother of all sensual dances, the Argentine tango? Step on over to L’académie de Tango Argentin, where you can take a private or group lesson, or even schedule a private party for a few friends.
L’académie de Tango Argentin, 4445 Blvd St-Laurent
Where to Go for Duo Downtime
Around nearly every corner in Montreal, there’s live entertainment—from quiet acoustic music performances to open-air modern dance, lively drag shows, and eclectic theater. If you don’t want to wing it, check out the Théâtre Ste-Catherine for an unusual selection of improv, stand-up comedy, concerts, burlesque, and more. The House of Jazz, though only in business since 1981, has developed an unparalleled reputation for bringing the best of the music form to Montreal. Or go the budget route by hoofing it down to Place Jacques-Cartier in Old Montreal, where the square comes alive with musicians and street performers almost every night of the week.
Théâtre Ste-Catherine, 264 Rue St. Catherine Est
The House of Jazz, 2060 Aylmer