Montreal Travel Guide
Montreal brings together the attractions of a big city and the wonders of nature, making it a unique destination. This bustling Canadian metropolis with a cosmopolitan spirit occupies the largest of the islands in the Hochelaga archipelago and is located only 60 kilometres from the border with the United States.
Its chic European atmosphere and American lifestyle prove that a perfect combination between Paris and New York is possible. Once here, you will discover a city in love with festivals, the arts, good food and good living.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Montreal
- What to do in Montreal
- When to visit Montreal
- How to get to Montreal
- Where to stay in Montreal
- Getting around Montreal
- Cost of living in Montreal
- Where to eat in Montreal
Top 5 reasons to visit Montreal
Walking through its streets, you can contemplate the photogenic facades of the 17th century, discover the Saint Sulpice Church, which is the oldest building in Montreal, visit the Pointe-à-Callière Museum to learn about the history of the city and have a drink on one of the terraces on Jacques-Cartier Square.
Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica
The rich decoration and grandiose architecture of this neo-Gothic style basilica will leave you with an unforgettable memory. Don’t miss its impressive audiovisual show called Aura, during which the interior of the basilica is dressed in lights and colours to the rhythm of orchestral music.
La Grande roue de Montréal
This giant 60-meter-high panoramic waterwheel offers spectacular views of the city from any of its 41 cabins. On a clear day, visibility reaches almost 30 kilometres.
It is the equivalent of New York’s Central Park and one of the most emblematic places in Montreal. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the 233-metre high Mont Royal mountain to see the beauty of the city and its surroundings from above.
St. Joseph’s Oratory
This fabulous basilica, dedicated to Joseph of Nazareth, was built by the Quebec monk Saint Andrew, canonized in 2010. The temple, which dates back to 1924, has the second largest dome in the world, surpassed only by St. Peter’s in the Vatican.
What to do in Montreal
Breathe in the atmosphere of Old Montreal
In Montreal’s old town, past and present are intermingled. And to soak up that magical atmosphere, the best thing to do is to walk along its cobblestone streets, where elegant floats pass by as in times past, and enjoy its art galleries, elegant boutiques, restaurants and bistros full of people.
Having fun in the Old Port
Its docks concentrate the largest number of tourist activities in Montreal. In winter, the Parc du Bassin-Bonsecours is transformed into an ice-skating rink and in summer it becomes a park with a lake, ideal for organizing picnics. This is also the starting point for river cruises, which are one of Montreal’s major tourist attractions.
Visit the Bonsecours Market
Its fabulous colonial architecture makes it one of the most beautiful heritage buildings in Canada. It houses numerous showrooms, restaurants, luxury boutiques and artisan shops. At night, its dome turns into an improvised clock of different colours that alternates every quarter of an hour, illuminating everything around it.
Making the Maple Syrup Route
When nature wakes up from its winter slumber, Montrealers escape to the forest to attend the traditional maple syrup making in cabins. The visits usually include the tasting of a typical local dessert accompanied by this delicious syrup.
Enjoy the exceptional beauty of the Botanical Garden
It’s the place where nature becomes art. Here you will find several thematic areas, an insectarium and a greenhouse with sculptures recreated with trees and flowers. At nightfall, the garden is illuminated with beautiful coloured lanterns and luminous figures.
When to visit Montreal
Montreal can be enjoyed all year round, although the most popular seasons are winter and summer. During the Christmas season, the festive atmsphere floods the entire city thanks to the lighting and the Christmas markets, the open-air cinema accompanied by hot chocolate and the fun games in which participants follow the clues to find hidden gifts in different places in Old Montreal. In the summer, you can enjoy water sports, long walks around the city and boat trips.
How to get to Montreal
From Europe there are direct flights to Montreal, lasting 8 hours and a half, by the airline Air Transat.
Montreal’s international airport is located in the town of Dorval, 15 kilometres from Montreal. You can get to the city by bus or taxi. If you choose the first option, please note that the trip costs C$15 and takes 40 minutes. Taxis have a fixed rate of C$ 38 and take 25 minutes to get to Montreal.
Montreal is accessible by rail from other Canadian cities and the United States. Also, from New York, direct trains operated by Amtrak take 10 hours to reach Montreal and offer panoramic views during the journey, and their ticket costs C$ 89. From Quebec City, there are 9 daily trains to Montreal that take 2 hours and 40 minutes. The ticket costs from C$ 27.
Orleans Express operates daily routes to Montreal from different points in the country. If you are travelling from Quebec City, it takes an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to Montreal’s bus station. The ticket costs about C$ 57.
If you decide to go to Montreal by car from Quebec City, you must take Highway 73 until you reach your destination in approximately 3 and a half hours. From Toronto, follow Highway 401 for 7 hours to Montreal.
Airports near Montreal
(YUL) Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau Intl
Where to stay in Montreal
The best areas to stay in the city are the Le Plateau-Mont-Royal district, the Quartier des spectacles and Old Montreal.
Good value hotels include the 3-star Hôtel de Paris, located 5 minutes from the Notre-Dame Basilica (C$100 per night), the Maison Saint-Vincent By Maisons & co located in the Old City (C$148) and the centrally located 3-star Hôtel Faubourg Montréal (C$106).
Interesting neighborhoods in Montreal
The Little Italy neighborhood has an important Italian community, established in Montreal in the 1860s. The Catholic Church of the Madonna della Difesa, declared a National Heritage site, as well as the numerous trattorias, pizzerias, cafés and restaurants allow you to enjoy an authentic Italian atmosphere without leaving Canada.
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal is considered one of the most bohemian districts in the world. Its streets are full of gourmet shops, theatres, bookstores, alternative clothing stores and beautiful colourful houses, where writers, artists and musicians reside.
Westmount is a Jewish neighborhood that stands out for its spectacular Anglican buildings of gray stone and beautiful perennial gardens. Most of its inhabitants are English-speaking and belong to the upper-middle class.
Getting around Montreal
By public transport
Although the best way to get to know Montreal is on foot or by bicycle, you can get around the city by public transport. The Passeport MTL tourist card allows unlimited travel on the metro and bus, and offers free access to 14 attractions, including several river cruises. You can purchase the 48 or 72 hour card for C$ 85 or C$ 100, respectively.
Taxis can be stopped on the street or requested by phone. The best companies are Taxi Coop and Taxi Diamond. The flag-waving costs C$ 3,58 and the price per kilometer is C$ 2,54.
Renting a car in Montreal is relatively inexpensive. If you make your reservation 4 weeks in advance, you can get a car for C$ 54 per day from companies with a presence in the city such as Enterprise and Hertz.
Cost of living in Montreal
No visit to Montreal would be complete without a day of shopping. On its main shopping street, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, you will find shops for all tastes and budgets. The most popular shopping centres are Montréal Eaton Centre, Complexe Desjardins and Les Cours Mont-Royal.
Groceries and others
Prices in Montreal are affordable: a cup of coffee or tea in a local bar would cost you C$1.5; a liter of gasoline, C$1.3; and a menu in a mid-range restaurant, C$25. In supermarkets, a dozen eggs cost C$3; a liter of milk, C$ 2-3; and a loaf of bread, C$1.5. The cheapest ones are Walmart and Maxi.
Where to eat in Montreal
Montreal’s cuisine is rich and varied. Typical dishes include the bœuf fumée sandwich (bread with smoked beef, mustard and pickles), poutines (potatoes with cheese) and tourtiere (potato cake with meat). The restaurants with excellent value for money are Falafel St. Jacques (C$ 11-30 per person) and Ma Poule Mouillée (from C$ 6 per dish).