Whether you're newly dating, trying to impress someone on a second date, or you're in a long-term relationship, we've all had to juggle that difficult balance between awesome, exciting dates, and not completely emptying our wallets. It's tough, because of course no one wants to seem cheap or lazy, but we can't always afford to woo our dates continuously with grand gestures and fancy dinners.
But in reality, there are so many great, often overlooked date ideas that are different, fun, and romantic to boot. In fact, everything on this list is under $40! And I promise, they won't make you seem like you're trying to be cheap - the intention, thought, and effort will definitely shine through.
1. Theatre Saint-Denis
A lot of people think that a night out at the theatre means a night that digs deep into your pockets, but if you scope out the right shows, this doesn’t have to be the case! Scroll through the shows at Theatre St. Denis, and you’ll find some that are $35 or cheaper. Keep an eye out for student specials, and try going during the week for a generally cheaper rate.
2. Biking along the city's amazing bike paths
If you have your own bike, then this activity could be totally free. If not, BIXI bikes are available for around $5 for a full day, or even $30 for 30 days! There are tons of amazing paths to discover together, particularly around the Lachine Canal and Old Port. Check out our list to get started!
3. Go on an all-you-can-drink coffee date
Take the typical idea of a 'coffee date' to the next level and see who can out-caffeine each other. Read our piece on the amazing cafe that can set you up perfectly for this date - it's only $3 for unlimited coffee! Definitely budget-friendly, but it feels like a fun, different kind of twist on a classic date idea.
4. A ready-made picnic from Dinette Triple Crown
This delicious eatery has long-been at the top of many best-date lists, and justifiably so - they give you your food in ready-made picnic baskets complete with blankets to take to the nearby park. How perfect could that be!? And best of all, you can definitely get some truly great food for under $40 total.
5. Explore the Jean Talon Market
Great for a Sunday afternoon, Jean Talon Market is a fun, low pressure date. You and your lover can stroll casually, and you can certainly grab a cheap, yet fresh and delicious, lunch. If you want to enjoy the atmosphere of a classic Montreal experience, Jean Talon is your best bet.
6. Piknic Electronik
A better option for perhaps a third or fourth date, Picnik Electronik fits well for all the partiers, the EDM lovers, or really just anyone looking to inject some fun into their Sunday. Tickets are only $15 each, so this whole date is only $30, aside from your metro passes to get to Parc Jean Drappeau. Time to get your dance on.
7. Head to the First Friday's Food Truck Festival
If you’re heading to this unreal orgasmic food paradise tonight, see you there. Admission is free, and the plethora of insanely good dinner options won’t break your wallet. If you love food as much as I do (which is a lot), this is an all around excellent date idea. It’s only on the first Friday of every month of the summer, though, so plan accordingly.
8. Enjoy a unique terrasse or garden cafe
Taking in a nice meal or drinks on a terrace is a classic, simple date idea that does the trick every time. Some can be really pricey, but places like Santropol or Agrikol are reasonable, and they serve some great, healthy options. We've also got some more excellent suggestions for you on this list.
9. Scope out amazing eats for under $20
Consult our list for restaurants where you really get your money’s worth in taste and quality. If both of you stay within the $20 range, you can have a great dinner date while staying around $40. Don’t worry about looking cheap though, these restaurants feel super authentic and fun, and the relaxed atmosphere at places like CINKO or Satay Brothers will instantly put you at ease.
10. Wow your date with amazing (yet cheap!) oysters
So, Oysters are an aphrodisiac, which can most definitely be useful on a date, but they can sometimes be pretty pricey. Well guess what? We’ve got you covered with where to get pretty cheap oysters in Montreal; but don’t worry, the price doesn’t mean low quality. Hit up some of our recommendations and enjoy!
11. Go to Tam Tams
Bonus: Tam Tams is free! Unless you want to bring a picnic or perhaps buy some instruments to join in with the symphony. Another perfect option for a relaxed Sunday afternoon date, impress your lover with the super cool vibe and awesome location of Tam Tams.
12. Check out the Musee des Beaux-arts
Ok, maybe people don’t think that a museum trip screams romance, but some really interesting exhibits cycle through the Musee Des Beaux Arts, and everyone should take greater advantage of this world class museum. You can grab tickets for around $15, and take a quick stroll through an exhibit that you both like.
13. See some gorgeous lilacs (for free!)
Another totally free and romantic date idea? Yep, we’ve got your back, as always - consult this list of the best places to check out lilac trees in the city. And if you were prepared to spend some dough anyways, grab some gelato at some of our recommended date-friendly spots.
14. Do the baths at Spa Scandinave in Old Port
Relaxing spa date during the week? Yass, treat yourselves! The popular Spa Scandinave offers access to the baths for just $35 from Monday-Thursday, allowing each of you to stay under the $40 limit.
15. Spend an evening at the Jardins Gamelin
If you’re going just for the atmosphere, Jardin Gamelin could, again, be a totally free date. But likely, you’re going to want to grab some food and drink to truly experience the magical ambiance of this summertime beer garden. Luckily, the cafe has quick meals for affordable prices, and the beer isn’t too expensive, as long as you’re not relying on it to get turnt.
16. Road trip to a nearby beach
Road trip dates can be so fun, and they definitely break the mould when it comes to classic date experiences. Consider heading to this beautiful beach just an hour and a half from Montreal. If you pack your own lunches, your only expense is gas - and snacks for the road, of course. Escape the city and enjoy a day in the sun with your boo thang.
17. Go hiking in Mont-Saint-Hilaire
Hop on an AMT train and head to this adorable little town nestled in the hills of the Monteregie region. Aside from food and drink, your enjoyment of this area should come at no cost. Hiking, relaxing by water, and taking in the scenic views will totally impress your date.
18. Turn up with Sangria
You can’t go wrong with sangria, guys. Park yourself on a patio and both of you can get slightly tipsy while enjoying one of the greatest alcoholic creations ever. It’s summer, so treat yourself, but don’t worry - a couple of pitchers shouldn’t run you over a $40 limit. Not sure where to go? We've got a date-specific list of sangria spots for you.
19. Enjoy the Botanical Gardens
This is another quintessential date spot in the city, but again, it has every reason to be a popular location. You just can’t beat the gorgeous flowers and the overall calming ambiance of the gardens. For the gardens, greenhouses and Insectarium, tickets range from $15-20 (bring your student card if you have one!), which is definitely affordable considering the experience you get.
20. Explore Griffintown
If you happen to take my advice and rent BIXI bikes, and you find yourself along the Lachine Canal, seriously consider scoping out Griffintown. It’s an ultra-cool, up and coming area, and yes you guessed it, we have a comprehensive list of where to grab a drink within it. You bar tab shouldn’t run up too high, but honestly, after a long day of biking, go ahead and treat yourself and your date to one too many Caesars.