Montreal: The Complete Travel Guide
Montreal Vacation Ideas | Things to do in Montreal
Last Updated March 27th, 2020
Introducing the City of Montreal
Montreal has a reputation as one of the liveliest cities of Canada and also its second largest. Once there used to be a great divide between (literally, the boulevard St-Laurent) separating the French and Anglo sections of the population, but that’s a thing of the past.
Today Montreal is bilingual and multi-ethnic with populations of Scottish, Haitian, Italian, Chinese, Greek, Jewish, Arabic immigrants among others.
It has a vibrant art and indie rock music scene, swank French-Canadian eateries and a Parisian air of decadence that runs through the city.
It is the main point of entry to the province of Quebec, and offers plenty of urban and natural delights, besides opening up the beautiful surrounding forests, lakes and villages to tourists.
General information and over-view
The province of Québec is primarily a French society thanks to its language and its culture. In 1974, the National Assembly (Québec’s parliament) proclaimed French to be the official language of Québec .
The population is 83% francophone, while 11% of Québecers speak English in the home and 6% another language, i.e. Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Vietnamese or Portuguese.
More than 40% of Québec’s population is bilingual, i.e. speaks French and English. In Montréal, where this percentage is 64%, a full 16% of the population also knows a third language.
Located at the north-eastern tip of the North American continent, Québec covers an immense territory. Its 1,667,926-km 2 (643,990-sq. mi.) surface is equivalent to three times the size of France, five times the size of Japan, twice the size of Texas and seven times the size of the United Kingdom, making it Canada’s largest province .
Québec’s majestic St. Lawrence River is bordered by the Canadian Shield to the north and the Appalachian mountains to the south. Its vast forests shelter more than a million lakes and rivers.Further north, the deciduous forest makes way for the coniferous forest of the taiga, followed by the shrubs and lichens of the tundra.
Québec City, the province’s capital, is perched atop Cap Diamant, from where it overlooks the St. Lawrence. The cradle of French civilization in North America and the only fortified city north of Mexico, Québec City has been on UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List since 1985.
The province’s metropolis, Montréal, is the second-biggest French-speaking city in the world and boasts the largest inland port on the planet. Its architecture combines North American modernity with European charm. Extremely cosmopolitan , it has its own Little Italy, Latin Quarter, Chinatown and Gay Village.
About the City
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Population : city of Montreal 1.78 million (2017)
( The Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has a population of 4.06 million )
Sales Tax: Canada levies a 5 percent Goods and Service Tax. Quebec’s provincial sales tax is 9.975 percent on goods and services.
The Montreal area hotel room occupancy tax is 3.5 percent per night
Whom to Call
Temperature : (514) -283-4006
Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital ( Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont ) (514) 252-3400
Montreal General Hospital ( Hopital General De Montreal ) (514) 934-1934
St Mary’s Hospital Center ( Centre Hopitalier De St Mary ) (514) 345-3511
Others: ( 514 ) 890- 8000
Notre-Dame Hospital ( Hopital Notre-Dame Hospital )
St Luke’s Hospital ( Hopital Saint-Luc )
Tourisme Quebec, Centre Infotouiste Montreal: 1255 rue Peel, Suite 100, Montreal Quebec, Canada H3B 4V4.
Phone (514) 844-5400, or (877) 266-5687 ( in Canada )
Other centers ( Walk in centers )
1001 Rue de Square-Dorchester, ( between rues Peel and Melcalfe, and
174 rue Notre-Dame Est , Place Jacques-Cartier (Old Montreal )
Plan Your Trip: Getting in and Around
- By plane: Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport is about an hour from the city center. Most major US and Canadian airlines serve the airport. There are several daily trans-Atlantic flights to major European cities. The STM (Société de transport de Montréal) Airport Express Bus will shuttle you down to the city from the airport 24/7.
Taxi: How much is a taxi from Montreal airport to downtown?
The average cost is about Canadian $45.00
How much is an Uber from Montreal airport to downtown?
The average cost is about Canadian $25.00
- By car: If you’re driving in, you’ll find the city is about 6 hours from Toronto, 2 hours from Ottawa, 3 hours from Quebec City, about 7 hours from New York City and 5 hours from Boston.
- By train: VIA Rail Canada operates trains from all major northern cities including Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, and New Brunswick to Montreal Central Station, near the University. Amtrak operates its ‘Adirondack’ train service to New York daily with several connections along the way.
- By bus: A great system of bus services exists between Montreal and New York, Quebec, Ontario, Maine and Vermont. Service providers include Megabus, Voyageur, Adirondack Trailways, Greyhound Canada and Coach Canada to name a few.
Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport ( formely Montreal Dorval International Airport ) is the main Canadian airport east of the North American Great Lakes,serving the provinces of Quebec, Atlantic Canada as well as eastern Ontario and northern New England.
Its international travel code is YUL.
Which is the best airport to fly into Montreal?
Do I have to go through customs for a connecting flight in Montreal?
How early do I need to be at the Montreal airport?
Where can you fly direct from Montreal?
Does Southwest fly out of Montreal?
City buses and shuttles
Is there a shuttle from Montreal airport to downtown?
The STM (Société de transport de Montréal) operates as express bus ( 747) between the airport and downtown Montreal. This bus route uses dedicated low floor buses and operate 24 hours per day, 7 days a week
Is there a shuttle from Montreal airport to downtown?
The trip between Montreal Trudeau International Airport and Gare d’autocars de Montreal above Berri-UQAM metro station takes approximately 35 minutes in off-peak hours. Stops are also planned at Lionel-Groulx metro station and along Rene-Levesque Boulevard downtown Montreal.
The 747 is free to use for holders of CAM and Tram monthly passes **(Exo is operating public transit services by train and bus, as well as specialized transit in the Montreal Metropolitan Community. The exo network consists of six train lines, 62 stations, some 237 bus lines, 52 taxibus routes, and 71 parking lots offering 27,500 parking spaces and 3,500 bicycle spaces) **, and for those with 1 day or 3 day tourist passes. Individual tickets valid for 24 hours across the entire STM network are also available, priced at $10 (exact change is required).
Tickets are sold at the airport through kiosks on the international arrival level.
The STM public transit service operates a regular bus route.
204 Cardinal (night service 356) that serves Montreal-Trudeau International Airport from the Dorval bus/train terminal. Furthermore, regular bus route 209 (night service 378) connects the Roxboro-Pierrefonds commuter train station to Montreal-Trudeau International Airport.
Adult one-way. $3.25 (exact change)
Montreal-Trudeau / Trois-Rivieres / Sainte-Foy / Quebec City
Orleans Express offers a return coach shuttle service between Montreal-Trudeau International Airport and the cities of Trois-Rivieres, SainteFoy and Quebec City. Tickets can be purchase at the ICE Currency Exchange counter located on the international arrivals level. There are several departures daily.
Getting around Town
It’s incredibly easy getting around Montreal on its green and cheap public transport. You don’t need a car around the city – the chairman of the public transit body doesn’t own one himself, nor do a third of the city’s households!
The STM (Societe de Transport de Montreal) controls the bus and Metro (Montreal’s underground subway) services. Get the $6 OPUS card at any Metro station and you can simply fill it up and use it for your bus and Metro travel. If you’re not staying for too long, there are transfer passes you can buy or pay exact change on board a bus.
Areas that don’t have Metro or bus coverage run taxibuses.
For longer distances, you can use the five AMT commuter train lines that cater to the North Shore and the South Shore.
Taxis can be hailed easily on most busy streets. Cabbies are friendly, though they may be aggressive drivers. Tipping is usually 15% or more, by cash. And remember that while most drivers will understand street names in English, some may not.
Bikes are the best transport around the city’s central neighborhoods, and there are 660 km of cycling paths crisscrossing across the city. You can rent the popular Bixi bike for a flat fee of $7 for an entire day with some preconditions
You can also walk around the packed Downtown, through the narrow, charming European streets of Old Montreal, or through the waterfront parks and exhibitions of the Old Port in summer.
Walking is one of the most popular ways to explore the busy Rue Sainte-Catherine and the pedestrian-only Rue Prince-Arthur and Montreal’s Chinatown. And climbing Mount Royal to look down on the city is one of the first things that most visitors to the city do.
What is there to do in Montreal right now?
Just north of Downtown is Mount Royal, the highest part of the city at 234 meters and also the greenest park. The Belvedere Kondiaronk lookout at the top will give you a stunning bird’s eye view of the North American skyline of Downtown Montreal and its river.
You can take the staircases up for the shortest climb, or leisurely walk up (or bike up) the 6.5km long Olmsted Road. The more athletic tourists can tackle Rue Peel up to the hill’s southern edge.
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Things to Do
What are the top attractions to visit in Montreal?
The majority of the city’s historic 17th and 18th century buildings and museums lie in Old Montreal. A visit to this part of town can transport you back to a vintage Europe. Grab a Tourist Office brochure for a walking route map, visit once by day and then once by night to see many of the buildings light up. There are museums and churches to be visited in Downtown as well.
You can head to Beaver Lake for picnic to reward yourself after a busy morning of sightseeing. Or get out to the neighborhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve to take a look at the Olympic Stadium, the Biodome, the Botanical Gardens and the Insectarium.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you could rollerblade along the canal at the Old Port along with the locals, or even river surf the St Lawrence River.
You can also take lessons at the Surf 66 Boardshop if you’ve never done this before. It is also possible to kayak or go rafting in the Lachine Rapids off Lasalle’s park in the south-west along the river.
If you’re in Montreal in winter, several of the city’s parks, including Parc du Mont Royal, offer groomed paths for cross-country skiing. There are also several year-round and winter skating rinks in the city, and a couple of free ones at Beaver Lake and Lafontaine Park.
Pointe Claire Village: A small town appeal
Locate about 20 minutes drive west of downtown Montreal. This picturesque commercial stretch along Lakeshore boulevard has been affectionately named being part of the Montreal suburb on the west island called Pointe Claire. A quintessential stretch of restaurants, cafes and gift shops amid historic Victorian-style houses, this section attracts a lot of locals and outsiders alike.
Park the car! The Pointe Claire Village spans less than a mile or restaurants and shops and is a popular outing spot for all, a great place to mix and mingle with the locals. This uniquely quaint commercial stretch also boasts a boat launch (the boat club is right next door) as well as a small golf course where you can test your putting skills.
Your first stop at the bottom of Cartier street will be Wild Willie`s, a small cabin ice cream shop (This place deserves an article of it`s own). Serving a multitude of exotic flavours, this little place alone is a garden spot in the summertime for young and old alike, with traditional favourites like “monkey tail” (banana) and some newer treats like gummie bear ice cream.
For the adults, check out their “Guinness Beer” flavoured ice cream, and give Fido a treat with some milk bone ice cream (No, I am not kidding!). “You never know what we’re going to do next here at Wild Willies,” the owner once said to me.
Walking west on Lakeshore blvd (the “Main”), you’ll come to the Pioneer Bar, and that’s exactly what it looks like, nicely-styled like a ramshackle barn with regular bands performing blues and traditional ballards while you enjoy a pint.
Almost across the street is the les Moulins La Fayette pastry shop, tantalizing you with it`s tarts and artistic delicacies. It`s also a very cheery place to sit down and enjoy a coffee on a rainy day.
Moving a little bit west we come to Le Panier, with it`s large selection of novelties for the kitchen and home, including selections of spices and jams, as well as other gourmet foods and many household items as well. A relaxed, no-pressure environment, even as a guy I found it a relaxing and enjoyable place to browse.
The Deux Milles gift shop lists many gifts and house wares from overseas and Latin America. And don’t forget the clothing shops, ranging from women`s wear and bikinis to Celtic wear at the Kennedy Celtic Boutique.
For the shopper to the sportsman to the culinary connoisseur, this hotspot has a little something for everyone. Just a few minutes west on highway 20 and a left turn on Cartier and you`re there. Don’t forget to check out small town charm of the Pointe Claire village.
Montreal’s Parisian heritage is very much visible in the fancy terraced eateries of the Quartier Latin, and the posh restaurants of the Quartier International and Downtown. But Montreal also has a flurry of quality delis and bakeries for travelers looking to make their dollar go a long way.
The most popular of Montreal’s fast food is poutine, which is a greasy but delicious dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. Combine with a smoked meat sandwich for a delicious meal for under $10. Also don’t forget to sample some of Quebec’s famous local ales.
Some of the Best Restaurants in Montreal
What is the most popular restaurant in Montreal?
The city (ville) of Montreal is has a bustling culinary variety, choosing a spot to dine can often be overwhelming. After careful thought and taste testing, our team have hand selected the best eateries in Montreal that you must try on your next visit.
Great Dine out Spots:
Bird bar magically took fried chicken and made it classy, we don’t know how they did it, but we are forever grateful. This is hands down the place to be for serious comfort food. Potato Waffle with Chicken, Truffled Mac N Cheese, to name a few.
All my vegans out there know the struggle of decide on where do dine with their non-vegan friends, stress no more – there’s vegan options too!
Nestled right underneath your feet is hidden Montreal gem, Henden, a classic speakeasy with a fabulous décor and custom cocktails.
The authentic Thai menu and atmosphere of this spot will make you feel as though you just teleported to Thailand. There is even an impressive selection of Thai inspired cocktails that you get by the glass or the bucket (tip: choose bucket).
Added bonus, the place is impeccably styled for instagram worthy photos.
Need a clean break? Although Venice is known for their poke bowls, everything on their menu is equally healthy and delicious. You honestly can’t go wrong with tacos and a fresh margarita. Winter, or summer rain or shine, you always feel like its summer in Cali when you walk in.
A Montreal classic that has flawlessly fused Asian inspired cuisine with a Quebecois flair. Cho-poutine anyone? Perfect place for a casual dinner and drinks.
Note: This establishment is 100% Peanut and Nut-Free
Nothing says summer like margaritas on the mezzanine
Located in the heart of the Old Port, Emiliano’s authentic Mexican brings to life the flavors of the past in nothing but a modern scene.
Let yourself be charmed by the menu, and the tequila bar, of course.
You will not be disappointed.
*** The restaurant and bar located in Old Montreal, has ceased operations
A culinary list without an authentic Italian option would be madness. Griffintowns’ Moretti Pizzeria’s enticing menu and wine list, along with its warm vibe combine all the ingredients needed for a perfect date night (Not to mention the reasonable price list for upscale Italian)
Private events are available if you prefer a more intimate setting.
French diner meets American comfort food at Foiegwa. Open for brunch and early to late dinners with an overall cheerful atmosphere and an intriguingly scrumptious variety of dishes.
After your meal, be sure take a quick little stroll down the alley until you see a black door that leads you to hidden speakeasy, Atwater Cocktail Club for some creative cocktails and amazing vibes.
Is Montreal good for shopping?
Le Plateau is the bohemian neighborhood where you will find some of the hippest shopping streets with antique and vintage boutiques. Other similar neighborhoods include Little Burgundy and Mile End.
For high end fashion, head to Rue St-Catherine’s busy thoroughfares where several major labels have their handsomely lit stores. For French boutique shopping and eateries, try Rue St-Denis. And picturesque Rue St-Paul with its cobblestones and art will charm the arty side of you.
Montreal: The Complete Travel Guide https://t.co/dFHDtwozPd
— VR Experts (@VRPExperts) April 28, 2018
Entertainment & Nightlife
Does Montreal have good nightlife?
To appease your thirst for culture, catch a performance at the multicultural and architecturally splendid Rialto Theatre. Or turn up for one of Montreal’s several comedy (Montreal gave us Just for Laughs), theater, music and film festivals, many of them free and held outdoors in Montreal’s many parks in the summer.
What is the party street in Montreal?
For more decadent night entertainment, head to boulevard St-Laurent or Rue Crescent for its infamous bars, restaurants and nightclubs which expect you to come dressed to the nines.
Joint Post by Eva Krakowski and Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an online and offline digital marketing agency that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.
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