You thought Winter in Montreal was tough? Our Europeans neighbors to the north in Denmark experience days with up to 17-hours of darkness. Rough stuff. Remarkably, though, rather than getting down and blue, the Danish actually love and cherish their winter season because they perceive it as an opportunity to connect with their closest friends and family. They even created a word to capture the essence of cozying up and hibernating indoors - they call it "Hygge".
In Montreal, we have a less darkness but WAY more snow. Making winter a prime time to carve out quality moments with the people you love - and create your own magical brand of Canadian "Hygge". This should - obviously - include plenty of snowy outdoor activities playing in the winter wonderland that is our city. If you let the winter months be a time to recharge your batteries and feed the soul, you'll be ready to spread those social butterfly wings when the warm spring breezes blow into town once again.
For Restaurants/bars, click "NEXT"
1. Try Atwater Cocktail Club and get warm in a speakeasy-style bar
Going out for drinks in the middle of the winter can be tricky. It's important to pick a spot that feels like a temporary escape from all the cold and ice outside. A speakeasy type of bar is the perfect place to hideaway from the cold. Check out the Atwater Cocktail club for more!
2. Hit up a Japanese Izakaya - Otto Yakitori - for a tasting of warm and savoury treats
Nothing warms the soul like a big salty bowl of Ramen or a slab of fatty and slow roasted pork belly. Yummy. The winter is for indulging, so spend a night sharing good conversation and bite-sized Japanese treats at a local Izakaya.
3. Indulge in some comfort food in a homey atmosphere at Foxy in the Old Port
Comfort food is the way to a Canadians heart in the Winter. Your-mom's-food but-better - is an ongoing and ever-popular food trend, which I am personally very happy about - and even more happy when the weather starts dipping into the minuses. Check out Foxy in the old port for all that elevated home-cooked goodness.
4. Grab some super healthy and ultra-Instagram worthy breakfasts at Barley in St-Henri
I must say there is something kinda girly about going to eat a vibrant and colourful bowl of oats for breakfast. This new cereal bar concept just broke into the resto scene in Montreal, and is a great place to visit with your sister or BFF. They even make colourful lattes. Adorable.
5. Try a new brunch spot and hit up Restaurant Well in Verdun
Take a trip down to Rue Wellington - the downtown of Verdun - and check out Restaurant Well for a tasty brunch with your BFF or sister. Serving up some fresh and colourful dishes for brunch and lunch, this place look like it won't disappoint.
For Cute Activities, click "NEXT"
1. Spend the day ice skating on Beaver Lake
2. Spend the afternoon channeling your inner child and tobogganing on Mont-Royal
3. As of December 11th, the Biosphere of Montreal will be illuminated
The biosphere - which was built for the famous expo 67' - is now a museum located on Ile Saint-Helene, and is also an architectural marvel. To honour the 375 anniversary of Montreal and the 50th of expo 67', the city will be illuminating this beautiful and iconic structure. Check it out for free!
4. Take a short drive to Saint-Sauver for a day of snow tubing!
Snow tubing is quite possibly the most exhilarating outdoor winter activity. Perfect winter activity idea, too. It's also great for all you lazy bones out there because there is a lift that brings you and your tube back up the hill. Just sit back and enjoy the slide.
5. Hit up Bromont in the evening for a fun and night skiing session
For Spas/Salons, click "NEXT"
1. For an upscale spa experience head outside the downtown core to Strom Spa Nordique for an unforgettable winter spa experience
Nothing is quite as relaxing and luxurious as treating yourself and your BFF to a winter spa get-away. Strom Spa has several locations right outside the city, so pick one that is convenient for you.
2. Spend your date evening warming up in a traditional hammam at the Rain Spa in heart of the Old Port
3. The classic BFF date at BotaBota is a no-brainer for a winter spa experience
BotaBota is a great place to unwind for the day with a close friend. When it's minus 30 outside you will be happy to be hanging out in the tropical heat of one of their many saunas. Grab a drink afterward and get the whole experience.
4. Treat yourself to a Mani/Pedi at Spa Diva in downtown Montreal
Nothing quite like a paraffin wax manicure and pedicure to really make you feel like a million bucks. It's a small yet affordable luxury, and winter is a perfect time to take advantage. Why not bring a friend along to chat, relax and pass the time with.
5. Get a mini-makeover with your BFF and splurge on lash extensions at M Lash Bar
Grab your sister or BFF and invest in some beautiful and full lashes for the holiday season. There are plenty of places offering this ever-popular beauty service in Montreal, but few places do it well. Check out M Lash Bar downtown for more info about their prices and services.
For Getaways, click "NEXT"
1. Drive to the Big Apple for the iconic NYC holiday season sights
Only a short drive away from Montreal, NYC is a great way to spend a winter weekend. Not only is it a small - but much appreciated - break from the bitter cold but also a fun way to take in all the iconic holiday sights of the city such as the Rockefeller tree lighting or NYE ball-drop in Times Square.
2. Head south to Burlington Vermont for a day of shopping and nature appreciation
Burlington and most parts of Northern Vermont are great options for day trips or full-blown weekend getaways outside of Montreal. The quaint New England vibe is a much-appreciated escape from the busy and bustling streets of downtown Montreal. Relax with a local brew or spend the day shopping at the many outlet malls in the area. Whatever floats your boat.
3. Head to Mont-Sainte-Anne a beautiful ski resort town of Eastern Quebec
Just a few hours East of Montreal is the town and ski resort of Mont-Saint-Anne. Due to the distance, it's more of a commitment than - let's say, the classic ski choice of Mont Tremblant, but with a whole lot less touristy pretension. Mont-Saint-Anne is quebec skiing at it's best.
4. Just a short drive outside of Montreal is Montebello Quebec, a winter day trip to remember
Deer and animal sightings are almost guarantee while driving around the Montebello region of Quebec. Feeling fancy? Stop by the famous Chateau Montebello for coffee, lunch or even an overnight stay.
5. Head to the capital city, Ottawa - for a day of sights and good food and drinks
If you haven't been to Parliament Hill since your 5th grade field trip now might be the time to do it. Ottawa isn't the tiny modest government worker city you may believe it to be. Now boasting a population bigger than Vancouver, it's the 4th largest city in Canada, and also happens to be only 90 minutes outside of Montreal. Enough said.