The largest city in Quebec has a long history of being one of the best shopping destinations in Canada. Thanks, in part, to its French influence and its proximity to neighboring New York City, Montreal has been a hub for new designers and fashion folk for decades, and that influence has trickled all the way down from high end luxury retailers to boutique shops and everyday shopping malls.
Outside of its flair for fashion, Montreal is also home to handfuls of great farmers' markets and restaurant rows, which really come alive in the summertime. If you’re visiting during winter months, you’ll find a happy home at the infamous “Underground City,” which is great for shopping for everything from clothing and electronics to wine and groceries without having to brace the sub zero chill.
Whatever you’re in search of, be it unique fashion finds, trinkets and souvenirs, great food and drink or something in between, you’re sure to find it in Montreal.
Old Montreal is undeniably one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city and although it is admittedly touristy, it should not be missed. Here you’ll find a lot of souvenir shops and local chain restaurants, but there’s also Rue des Artistes, where local illustrators and painters sell their work on a quaint, cobblestone street. The Old Port is also (thankfully) increasingly improving its food and drink scene. Skip the big box pubs on St. Paul street and head to the William Grey terrasse for drinks and small bites or L’orignal for oysters.
On Atwater Avenue and Ste. Catherine Street, you’ll find the Alexis Nihon mall. You can get to Alexis Nihon by taking the STM green line directly to Atwater station. Here you’ll find a great food court with various healthy options from Jugo Juice to Dagwoods sandwiches. Head out of the underground to find various big box stores like Canadian Tire, Marshall’s, Winners, and more.
You can also head across the street to The Forum while you’re at it. Here you’ll find a Cineplex movie theatre, renowned comedy club, bowling alley, small food court, and arcade. Hockey fans will particularly enjoy this converted shopping complex, which was home to the Montreal Canadiens up until 1996 and still has handfuls of memorabilia throughout.
RÉSO (The Underground City)
Many visitors come to Montreal expecting the RÉSO (colloquially known as “the Underground City”) to be a sprawling, futuristic city centre functioning underneath the surface of the city. However, that’s not exactly the case. The Underground City is actually a network of underground walkways, connecting downtown office buildings and various malls.
Accessing the Underground City is easy thanks to its sprawling connecting passageways—take the STM green line to McGill station to access the Eaton Centre and Place Montreal Trust shopping malls. It’s here that you’ll find food courts, boutiques, and souvenir shops in abundance. You can also enter through Hudson’s Bay on Ste. Catherine Street (which is basically Canada’s answer to Nordstrom).
CF Fairview Pointe Claire
Staying in the suburbs? As you head out of the downtown core and into the West Island, you’ll find handfuls of great shopping malls, with CF Fairview Pointe Claire reigning supreme. Here you can expect to find over 200 brand name stores, including Hudson’s Bay and Winners, and a selection of premium designer boutiques like Michael Kors and Coach. When you need to refuel after shopping, head to the sprawling food court, which boasts everything from Starbucks and Subway to The Keg.
To access Fairview Pointe Claire, head west on the Trans Canada Highway, just past the airport. You’ll also see the various other big box stores just across the highway, including one of the last remaining Chapters bookstores in the city.
Sherbrooke Street West
Back downtown you’ll find Sherbrooke Street West. This upscale stretch of shopping is home to luxury hotels The Ritz Carlton and the newly opened Four Seasons. Head to Maison Boulud in The Ritz or Marcus Restaurant + Terrasse to fuel up before spending the day shopping. Take in the many sights of the open air art museum while popping into high end department stores Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew. You’ll also find standalone luxury boutiques, such as Gucci, Dior, and Tiffany & Co.
Just off the island in the South Shore suburb you’ll find the Dix30 shopping area. This sprawling outdoor shopping center has everything one could need, including fashion, food, electronics, and homeware. Highlights of the Dix30 include Anthropologie, Frank And Oak, Indigo, Matt & Nat, Marshall’s, Joe Fresh, and more local and international brands.
When you’re done shopping, check out one of the Dix30’s many full-service dining options including various big box restaurants like Five Guys, Les 3 Brasseurs and La Cage. For something a little more upscale, head to Brasserie T! in the Alt+ Hotel for classic French fare or Dirty D for innovative tacos on a colorful patio oasis.
Saint Catherine Street West
Downtown Montreal is a shopping hub for tourists and locals alike. Start at Place des Arts station and make your way west to Atwater Avenue. In terms of dining options, you’ll find everything from Krispy Kreme and Lafleur to Mandy’s Salads and Second Cup.
Shopping options are available for all budgets and styles, which is particularly evident on the corner of Ste. Catherine and De La Montagne Street, where you’ll find Louis Vuitton, Forever 21, Swarovski and Urban Outfitters all facing each other on opposing street corners. You’ll also find unmissable Quebec institutions like Simons, Rudsak, and m0851.
In Montreal’s Saint Henri neighborhood, you’ll find the Atwater Market. This inside-outside farmer’s market opened in 1933 and has become an institution for locals and visitors alike. The market really comes alive during the summer months, when locals pick up picnic essentials (wine, cheese, charcuterie, and fruit) from the various vendors and perch along the bank of the Lachine Canal for a lazy afternoon in the sun.
Accessing the Atwater Market is easy: you can either take the metro to Lionel Groulx (both the green line and the orange line connect here) or you can stroll down Atwater Avenue from downtown, which will only take you about 20 minutes at a leisurely pace.
St. Laurent Boulevard
Head east to St. Laurent Boulevard (otherwise known as “The Main”) for some of the more quirky shops and local boutiques in the city. Here you’ll find everything from souvenir shops and kitschy vintage stores to local designers and high end consignment shops.
As you head north on St. Laurent, you’ll find yourself in the Mile End neighborhood, which is a particularly desirable shopping destination. Head to Jeans Jeans Jeans for great deals on designer denim or a block down to the original Frank And Oak location. If you’re ready to refuel after a day of shopping, be sure to check out St-Viateur or Fairmont for a Montreal bagel.
Founded in 1954, Plaza St-Hubert is first and foremost known for its over the top prom and clubwear boutiques and shops. Here you’ll also find discount knickknack and electronic shops, bargain shoe shops and more. The architecture itself is worth the trip alone—the unique canopy allows for shoppers to enjoy the outdoor complex throughout rain and snow and also makes for a great Instagram shot.
Located at the intersection of Jean-Talon and Bellechasse streets, Plaza St-Hubert is also home to some new, innovative restaurants. Be sure to check out Montreal Plaza for creative French fare and underrated Ramen Plaza for a mean bowl of soup.
Notre Dame Street West
The stretch of shops and restaurants from West St. Henri to Little Burgundy have been evolving and changing rapidly over the past few years. These days, it’s home to trendy new restaurants and bars like Elena, Arthurs, Loïc, and Dalla Rose. It’s also peppered with unique clothing boutiques, independent bookstores and vintage shops.
To access the best of Notre Dame Street West, take the orange line to Place Saint Henri station and head west by foot. You can also get off at Lionel Groulx station and head east for more vintage shops and institutions like Joe Beef and Vin Papillon.