One day three ways: Montreal

PENNY PINCH

Montreal, like New York, is famous for bagels. At the narrow shopfront at Fairmount you can watch the bakers hand roll the dough, dunk it in honey water and slide it into the wood oven. There's your breakfast. Eat hot straight from the bag. (fairmountbagel.com; 85¢). Check out the excellent permanent collection at Musee des beau-arts de Montreal (mbam.qc.ca; free). It contains some great old European works and a fine Canadian curation. Take the Metro (stm.info/english/a-somm.htm, $9 for 24 hours) to Le 2-22 to discover myriad other free events. Head to Atwater or Jean-Talon Market and on-site bakery Premiere Moisson for a baguette with pate or cheese (marchespublc-mtl.com; around $3.50). Later, it's the Latin Quarter for dinner. At Pho Thanh Long on Rue Saint-Catherine get a great chicken pho with free tea. (phothanhlong.ca; $9). Stay the night at smart, downtown Le Dauphin (hotels.dauphin.ca; $150).

TOTAL: $172.35

EASY DOES IT

Do a breakfast sandwich at busy and popular Olive et Gourmando in Old Montreal (oliveetgourmando.com; $10). Pick up a bixi (bixi.com; $7 for an on-off 24 hours) and pedal to the amazing Montreal Biodome in the former Olympic velodrome (biodome.qc.ca; $18.75), which displays live microclimates. Then it's lunch at the Montreal institution Schwartz's Deli, where the smoked meat sandwiches have people queuing out the door (schwartzsdeli.com; $19.50). Do a guided walking tour of the historic and charming old town (guidatour.qc.ca; $21). Pick up a wine at an SAQ (bottle shop) and a Diamond Cab (taxidiamond.com; $20) to a neighbourhood BYO such as Little Italy's Pizzeria Napoletana (napoletana.com; $30 including wine). Later, pull on the PJs and jump into a big, theatrical bed at the arty boutique hotel, Chez Swann (hotelchezswann.com; $248).

TOTAL: $373.75

SPLASH OUT

Have a memorable brunch at Birks Cafe Par Europa above the ritzy jewellery store Birks (think Tiffany's) and set the upmarket tone for the day (birks.com; $39). A stretch limo (limousinemontreal.com; $70 an hour) delivers you to your cruise boat to see this intriguing maritime city from the water of the mighty Saint-Laurent River (croisieresaml.com; 1½ hours: $29). There are seriously good chefs in Montreal. Lunch on exquisite creations at L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel where Michelin-starred Eric Gonzalez bangs the pots (lesaint-gabriel.com; $70). If it's October-April, get yourself rink-side at the Bell Centre to see the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team (canadiens.nhl.com; average $200). Hockey is religion here, not sport. Splurge on the degustation at Normand Laprise's Toque (restaurant-toque.com; $99) and rub shoulders with celebs at Hotel Le St James (hotellestjames.com; $400).

TOTAL: $1067

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