Wide awake thanks to le jet lag? Breakfast at St-Viateur Bagel Shop; its flagship bakery is always open. Chew on a sesame bagel still warm from the wood oven (stviateurbagel.com, 75¢). Jazz aficionados who miss the famed summertime jazz festival can still catch the vibe at Maison du Festival – the festival's year-round hub (montrealjazzfest.com, free entry). Check out memorabilia such as Ella Fitzgerald's wig and Buddy Guy's guitar on the second floor; watch past concerts in the third-floor mediatheque. Love a retro diner? Pull up a stool in front of the soda fountain at Wilensky and order the Wilensky Special (salami and bologna with mustard on a grilled roll, $3.90). Hike up to Parc du Mont-Royal – in summer check the views, in winter hire snowshoes (lemontroyal.qc.ca, $9 for two hours). Bed down in the Auberge Alternative, an artsy Old Montreal hostel (auberge-alternative.qc.ca, private double $75).
EASY DOES IT
Start with a shotglass-sized latte from hip Pikolo Espresso Bar (pikoloespresso.com, $3.25). Hop on the nearest bixi bike (bixi.com, $7 for 24 hours) and head to the waterfront to view Habitat 67 (habitat67.com), architect Moshe Safdie's futuristic stacked-cube housing complex. In Montreal's Old Port, try Bota Bota spa-sur-l'eau (botabota.ca, $95 for an hour massage) – a floating spa housed in a former ferryboat. Work up an appetite by cycling to Atwater Market for Premiere Moisson's shepherd's pie, known here as Chinese pate (marchespublics-mtl.com, $4.75). Meander through evocative neighbourhoods to reach La Banquise in Le Plateau Mont Royal. With more than 30 poutines, it's the place to try the iconic chips, cheese and gravy dish (labanquise.com, from $6.75). Catch a show at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill (upstairsjazz.com, from $5) before collapsing at the minimalistic Hotel Gault (hotelgault.com, from $209 a night).
Make like John Lennon and Yoko Ono: breakfast in bed in Suite 1742 at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth (fairmont.com) where the pair famously staged their 1969 bed-in for peace. An $899 package includes souvenir white PJs and nightgown, and a recording of Give Peace a Chance. During sugaring season (late February to late April), jump in a stretch limo (limousinemontreal.com, from $400 for four hours) to reach Pierre Faucher's sugar shack (sucreriedelamontagne.com) tucked within a rural maple forest. A traditional sugaring feast includes ham, omelette souffle and more, all drenched with maple syrup (from $29). Roll back into town for dinner and drinks at the opulent Suite 701 in Old Montreal (suite701.com, basil raspberry martini $14, filet mignon $36). Opera de Montreal's current season concludes on May 23 with the Pulitzer Prize-winning war story Silent Night (operademontreal.com, best seats $129.64).
The writer travelled as a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission.