Please check for current openings, prices, and status of the places we have listed here prior to planning your visit to the area.
Montréal! Also known as “sin city” due to its amazing nightlife. Most of us recognize Montreal as a mostly-French speaking city but did you know that after Paris, Montreal claims to be the second-largest French-speaking city in the world?
Where is Montreal?
This city is situated on an island in Saint Lawrence River located in the Quebec province of Canada. It is also the largest city in the province and Canada’s second-biggest city.
Population of Montreal
1.78 million people live there.
Language Spoken in Montreal
It is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world. However, it is one of the most bilingual cities in Canada where people speak both French and English languages. Why tourists fell in love with this city? There you will find a combination of two periods: historical Europe and modern North America. A mix of Old Montreal and modern downtown create an interesting, charming effect along with a vast network of underground tunnels.
How to get to Montreal?
If you are coming from other countries, the most comfortable way is by plane. You will land at Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL) where you will be able to take a bus to get to downtown.
However, if you want to save some money and you are from the USA, you can take a train or bus. For example, from New York City to Montreal travel time is around 10.5 hours by train. Coming by bus on average about takes 8.5 hours. The travel time from Boston by bus is about the same, and if you want to come by train, it will take you about 15 hours. I do not suggest you take a rental car because the roads in Quebec are in poor condition due to extreme weather conditions causing a lot of wear-and-tear on the roads, and the parking downtown is very costly. Moreover, it is very easy to get to Montreal from Ottawa and Quebec City by taking the train or bus. The travel time is around 2-3 hours and the price range is from 20-60 CAD.
Currency and Money Used in Montreal
The currency used in Montreal is the same as everywhere in Canada – the Canadian Dollar (CAD). The best place to make a currency exchange is in downtown, especially at shopping centres such as Eaton Centre.
Weather in Montreal
Montreal has a semi-continental climate. It is hot and humid in the summer and very cold in the winter. The best time to visit it is from the end of the May to August. Everyone loves summer, right? However, it does not mean that there is nothing to do in winter! Montreal will not let you get bored and this is the reason there are a lot of tourists every season. Moreover, for those who love colourful views with fall foliage, you are welcome in October. Temperatures are mild and comfortable for discovering the city.
What to pack for travel to Montreal?
As the summer is pretty warm, the best clothes to wear are shorts, lightweight pants, casual dresses, etc. We are talking about a creative and festive city, right? Especially in summertime, you can wear whatever you want, and you can even add a bit of creativity in your look! For sure, if you want to explore the city during the day, do not forget the hat. The sun is more dangerous in the afternoons. What about the winter season? Take out your warmest sweater along with the winter boots and you are ready to go. Do not forget to pack your favourite scarf and hat with you for more comfortable travelling around the city. If you plan to attend Nuit Blanche or Igloofest, take everything warm you have at home. Even if it is cold, that is no excuse to miss these activities! I have some advice for you: Get thermal underwear, just in case you plan to spend a lot of time on Mount Royal walking and enjoy city views, skating, or tubing.
How to get around Montreal?
I have already mentioned a few places and events to attend, so you may now be wondering how to get to these places. The best way to move around the island is by taking metro and bus. It is cheap and comfortable to use because there are a lot of metro stations pretty close to interesting places to visit. As I have seen, tourists usually consult paper maps to navigate during urban exploration. You can get them at every metro station for free. Here is an example of a downtown map.
The prices for metro and buses are the same: 3.50 CAD for adults and 2.50 CAD for children for a one-time trip. After purchase, you will be able to use one ticket for two hours for the bus and metro in one direction. For example, you can buy a ticket for metro, then can use it to get to the Mount Royal by taking the bus. There are other fares for tourists, such as a 3-day pass or weekly pass which are offered at a good price. If you plan to come to Montreal by plane, you do not have to take an Uber to get downtown. For the same price as a one-time trip you can take the bus 747 (Aéroport Mtl-Trudeau) and in 20 minutes you will be in the heart of downtown. Visit stm.info for more information.
Where to stay in Montreal?
If you are visiting Montreal for the first time, staying in the heart of the city is the best decision. Old Montreal is one of the most romantic neighbourhoods to stay in. Also, you won’t need to use public transportation because you will be able to walk to any touristic destination. If you are taking the family, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie is a good neighbourhood to stay in.
There are a lot of parks, cheap accommodations, and good Italian restaurants. If you are interested in nightlife, The Village will meet you with rooftop bars or terraces. Moreover, on Saint-Catherine Street there are a lot of clubs for every taste. What if you are a more artistic person? Le Plateau is famous for its colourful row houses, bright murals, and the best coffee in town.
What if you want to refresh yourself?
In Montreal, there is a beautiful rooftop pool at Hotel Bonaventure Montréal in downtown. To get there, you have to book a room and then you are free to go. What a great idea to take a cool, refreshing swim after a long day of exploring the city. Also, there is a famous pool at Jean-Drapeau Park. It is perfect for families with kids because there are a lot of different activities. Finally, Jean-Doré Beach is a pretty new beach in Montreal. There is a famous Aquazilla obstacle course on the water. Just want to get a tan? You are welcome to check out Clock Tower Beach from the end of June to September. There you will find fine sand, chairs, parasols, and you can chill and relax with an Old Montreal view and the breeze coming in from the Saint Lawrence River.
Is Montreal Safe to Visit?
Montreal is safe. However, as in every city, there are neighbourhoods to avoid during the evenings. In Montreal, the neighbourhood to avoid is Montreal-Nord and Notre Dame Ouest Street. Also, be careful with your bags because pickpocketing happens in busy cafes and restaurants. On the metro it rarely happens but it is always a good idea to watch your items.
Where to go in Montreal during any season of the year
1. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA)
The MMFA is one of the most visited museums in Canada. You are invited to observe various worldwide exhibitions such as fine arts, fashion and design, music, and other artistic disciplines. There are five pavilions with permanent exhibitions with Canadian and international arts. It is an interesting place to go for kids as well as adults.
Hours: Open from 10 am to 5 pm every day but it is closed on Monday.
Tickets (based on age): Ages: 0 – 20 free / 21-30 years $16 / 31 and over $24/ Museum members free
2. Pointe-a-Calliere Museum (Montréal Archaeology and History Complex)
Pointe-a-Calliere Museum is a place that documents the archaeology and history of Old Montreal. At the beginning, there is a show about the city’s history. Then, visitors will explore the city by walking through an underground circuit featuring archaeological exhibitions. The circuits are illuminated with bright colorful lights which create an amazing effect.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday – 10 am to 6 pm/ Saturday to Sunday – 11 am to 6 pm
Tickets: $22 for adults/ $15 for adolescents 13-30/ $8 for children 5-12 / free admission for children 4 years and under.
3. Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MACM)
In MACM you can find exclusive Canadian contemporary art along with international works.
Hours: Monday – closed /Tuesday – 11 am to 6 pm /Wednesday, Thursday, Friday – 11 am to 9 pm /Saturday, Sunday –10 am to 6 pm
Tickets: $15 for adults/ $7 for students (18 and over with valid I.D.)/ $6 for youth (13 to 17)/ Free admission for children 12 years and under.
4. History Center of Montreal
History Center of Montreal is situated in an old fire station. Visitors can explore and learn about Montreal’s history from the 1600s to today. This museum is very informative for curious travelers.
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
Tickets: Adults $6.50/ Kids and teens 6-17 $5/ Children 0-6 free
5. McCord Museum
The McCord Museum has the largest collection documenting Canadian/Indigenous history. The collection includes costumes and textiles, photographs, Indigenous people’s objects, artworks, archives, and other holdings. There are a lot of exhibitions that depict a visual history of Canada and the northern U.S. in order to help visitors better understand the history.
Hours: Tuesday – 10 am to 6 pm /Wednesday – 10 am to 9 pm/ Thursday to Friday – 10 am to 6 pm /Saturday to Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
Tickets: $19 for adults/ $14 for students/ Free admission for children 12 years and under.
6. Stewart Museum
The Stewart Museum is located in Quebec’s cultural heritage site – British military depot. This museum explains to visitors how the influence of European civilization created New France and North America. There you can discover five centuries of political events (actually interesting!), cultural life, and other notable information.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm
Tickets: Adult 15$/ Children 12 and under free
What is interesting about this iconic museum? With its spherical shape (dome), easily recognizable in Montreal, the Biosphere is dedicated to environmental education/history.
It was built in the 1967 for Expo 67. There you can find a lot of interactive presentations of issues related to water and sustainable development. Also, there are a few expositions about the importance of climate change. This museum is situated on the same island as a previous museum. It is a good place for a family visit as there are plenty of activities for children.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday: 10 am to 5pm
Tickets: Adults $15/ Youth free (they offer a 25% discount with the presentation of an entrance fee proof of purchase from Stewart Museum)
8. Grevin Museum
Have you ever wondered how tall is Queen Elizabeth II? Did you ever want to have a picture taken with Celine Dion? Then Grévin Museum is the place to go! This museum is situated on the last floor of the Montreal Eaton Centre. Visitors are welcome to see over 127 wax figures, experience a sensory show, and much more. It is an amazing place to visit with children.
Tickets: Check online for dates and prices.
9. Montreal Science Centre
There are a lot of interesting exhibitions or films about science and technology in the Montreal Science Centre.
Also, there are interactive exhibitions which are both educational and entertaining. Best place with kids’ activities.
Tickets: Check online for dates and prices.
Sights and Landmarks to see during any season of the year
1. Old Montreal and Old Port
It is highly recommended that you first walk through Old Montreal before heading to the Old Port. Take a relaxing stroll with your loved ones through the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s famous historic neighborhood, with plenty of museums, sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and more.
Places to visit:
Place d’Armes – a square in Old Montreal. There is a monument in memory of the founder of Montreal, Paul de Chomedey.
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours-Chapel – one of the oldest churches in Montreal, built in the 17th century.
Saint-Paul Street – the oldest pedestrian street (1672). There you will find Place Jacques-Cartier, one of the most popular spots in Montreal! There are a lot of restaurants with a terrace.
Bonsecours Market – a 150-year-old public market with French-Canadian architecture.
Château Ramezay – a museum which explores 500 years’ history of Quebec and Montreal.
2. Notre-Dame Basilica
Notre-Dame Basilica was built in 1656 and it is Montreal’s oldest Catholic church. Located at square Place d’Armes, it attracts attention with its Gothic Revival architecture along with interesting stained glass. It is definitely a place to go and check out!
Hours: Monday to Friday – 8 am to 4.30 pm/ Saturday – 8 am to 4 pm/ Sunday – 12.30 pm to 4 pm
Tickets: There are a lot of different activities, but it is highly recommended to go to AURA
experience – Adult $26.50/ Children (6-16) $15.50. Check the dates and times online.
3. Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal was built in 1904. It is a Catholic sanctuary which is visited by over 2 million people every year. It is the largest domed Basilica in North America. You can enjoy panoramic city views, music concerts, and of course, religious celebrations. There is a votive chapel with more than 10,000 candles which makes this place very spiritually strong. The Oratory Museum depicts different nativity scenes from different places around the world.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday – 6 am to 9 pm.
4. Mont Royal
It is recommended you walk there right after seeing Saint Joseph’s Oratory. It is a large hill (233 meters tall at the summit), and at the top, you will have a breathtaking view of the city no matter which season.
There are two lookouts, and the best one is close to Mount Royal Chalet. Also, on the side of Beaver Lake, there is the Café des Amis where you can have lunch during your walking trip.
5. Montréal Tower Observatory and Botanical Garden
Montréal Tower Observatory is the world’s tallest inclined tower (175 meters) with a spectacular view of Montreal and its surroundings. You can get right to the top of it in two minutes. You will be able to see the St. Lawrence River and downtown, as well as skyscrapers, the mountains, etc.
Botanical Garden is 75 hectares long and has 10 exhibition greenhouses. This is one of the best places for romantic dates. You can have a picnic at Chinese garden or talk a walk with your loved one amidst free-flying butterflies.
Price: It is suggested you check online to get a reduced price for both places.
6. La Grande Roue de Montreal
An amazing panoramic view opens up in front of you, 60 meters high up on the largest observation wheel in Canada.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday – 10 am to 11 pm
Tickets: Adult $25/ Ages 3-17 $19.50
7. Crescent and St-Laurent streets (nightlife)
There are a lot of different good bars and nightclubs to discover here.
8. Visit Jean-Talon Market
What is so special about this place? The market is located in Little Italy, established in 1933 by local farmers. There you will find fresh fruits and vegetables along with fresh meat, fish, cheese, and bread.
In this market you will feel like a true Montrealer. In addition to fresh products, there are a lot of small cafés with homemade ice cream, pizza, and other types of good Italian street food.
What Festivals to attend in the Spring/Summer
1. Les Premiers Vendredis
At Olympic Stade, there is a gathering of over 40 food trucks, one of the largest street food gatherings in Canada. It takes place every first Friday of every month, usually starting from May to September. Check the dates online.
2. Piknic Électronik
Every Sunday from May to September, discover the best of electronic music in a festive environment.
It is located in Jean-Drapeau Park 10 minutes from downtown Montréal. How about enjoying some good music with a downtown view?
3. L’International des Feux Loto-Québec
You can catch fireworks everywhere around the city; however, the best place to see them is at La Ronde which is Quebec’s biggest amusement park. Located in Parc Jean-Drapeau, it is an expensive but unforgettable experience.
Another great place to see fireworks is from Jacques-Cartier Bridge. The Jacques-Carter Bridge is completely closed to vehicles during this time, so it allows people to enjoy the show and the wonderful views of Montreal and its surroundings. The best way to get there is from Metro Station Papineau (green line). One of the best events to attend with your family or to make a romantic date. Check online for the schedule.
4. July 1st – Canada Day.
At the end of the day, there will be fireworks – including virtual fireworks!
Note: Shopping malls are closed this day.
5. Montreal Cirque Festival
A free cirque show downtown which is interesting for both kids and adults. Check online for more details.
6. MURAL Festival
Every June, artists from all over the world combine urban art and graffiti.
For three days in a row, artists draw in the Plateau neighborhood and there is partying with music and street food. Some projects still decorate the city, creating an artistic vibe.
7. Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada
This event usually happens in June. The whole city is exited and prepares for this race. People come from everywhere to watch it and feel this atmosphere. It is not suggested to go to the race with kids due to the loud noise from the race cars. However, downtown on the main street, Rue Sainte-Catherine, closes for a luxurious car show, fashion, music, and other events to celebrate the upcoming race.
8. Montreal International Jazz Festival
This is one of the most long-awaited events in the city. Everyone loves music, which is why it is ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival in the Guinness Book of World Records. A lot of different artists come to Montreal to participate in this festival which spans 10 days. It happens at Quartier des Spectacles where all the surrounding streets are closed, except for pedestrians and music lovers. It is definitely an event to attend as soon as it starts, with kids or your other half.
9. Just for Laughs
In July, everyone eagerly awaits this humoristic event. Different comedians from a lot of different countries arrive to make you laugh until your stomach hurts!
This event is interesting for families because, again, all the streets are closed at and around Quartier des Spectacles for different comedic events. Some events are free and some cost a fee. It is up to you to choose if you want to go to downtown theatres, comedy venues, or different stages at Place-Des-Arts. Check online for more details.
10. Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
Every July, for three days, big-name artists come to Montreal to share with you their music, including genres like: indie pop, rock, hip hop, and electronic music. It is not suggested to attend this event with kids.
What Festivals to attend in the Autumn/Winter
1. Gardens of Light
The famous garden glows with hundreds of colourful silk lanterns in the Chinese garden, creating a romantic atmosphere. Check the prices online.
This is a good place to visit with kids. When you are buying tickets, you are allowed to spend the day in the big garden and the ticket price includes a visit to Greenhouses collections. There are a lot of interesting activities for kids too.
2. Zombie walk
This event might be a bit scary for kids, but it is an interesting experience to walk through downtown dressed up like a zombie along with hundreds of other participants.
3. Snow Tubing and Skating at Mont Royal
At Mont Royal, a lot of family activities are available. The most loved ones are skating and tubing. When Beaver Lake freezes, the skating season starts! There are skates available for rent or you can bring your own and skate for free.
It is a great date idea! Snow tubing is one of the best family activities. To get warmed up, you can go to the café and get a cup of good coffee or tea.
4. Fête des Neiges Snow Festival
Every January to February, Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau becomes a winter paradise for children and adults. There are a lot of different free family activities. Admission is free. There are rentals, however, like for tubes, which you must pay for.
It is a very popular outdoor electronic music event that has become world famous. Famous DJs perform at the outdoor scene every year! No worries, there are fireplaces to keep you warm. This is an adult-only event. Check for more details online.
6. Ice Skating at Old-Port
There you can skate with an amazing view of Old Montreal. Also, every weekend there are free fireworks.
7. Montreal en Lumière Festival and Nuit Blanche
Usually happens at the beginning of February to the beginning of March. There is free admission and there are a lot of interesting activities for adults and children.
The city lights up every night with beautiful light shows, colourful and bright zip lines, sides, and a Ferris wheel. Nuit Blanche is part of the Montréal en Lumière festival. Only one night, everything is open, and there are plenty of free activities such as music events, sports-oriented activities, movies, etc. It starts in the evening and continues till 6 am. It is a good idea to spend some time outside in the light with your loved one or enjoy some free activities with your family!
8. Christmas Events
The Santa Claus Parade and other events are very popular in Montreal during Christmas time. During the parade, 20 floats proceed along Ste. Catherine Street to St. You can participate too! It is an unforgettable experience.
9. Cabane à sucre (the Sugar Snack)
What is Canada best known for? The maple syrup, of course! Quebec supplies about 80% of the maple syrup in the world. Briefly speaking, you will visit a maple syrup paradise.
Usually this event is held on the farms where the syrup is made. Before tasting the food, you will be welcome to visit the farm. After walking, you will have a breakfast or lunch where all food is made with a syrup. Absolutely delicious! Check online for available farms. This event is amazing for children.
Best places to eat in Montreal
Montrealers love to eat at good places and this is why there are a lot of restaurants everywhere
1. Schwartz’s Deli
Smoked meat is actually the best at this place. There is always a line, but it is worth waiting.
Best breakfast or brunch in Montreal. There is also a line at peak hours.
3. Arthurs Nosh Bar
A creative deli classic with very delicious food.
4. Fairmount Bagel & St-Viateur Bagel
Best bagels in town.
5. Au Pied de Cochon
A place with classic Quebec food.
6. La Banquise
The best place to try traditional Canadian (mostly Quebec) food – poutine. There are more than 30 variations of it.
7. Ma Poule Mouillée
Good Portuguese food is waiting for you!
8. Juliette et Chocolat
Are you a chocolate lover? Definitely the place to go!
9. La belle et La Bœuf
Literally the best burgers in Montreal. Only go there if you are really hungry. The portions are huge!
10. Bâton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar
One of the best steakhouses in Montreal. I suggest you order the ribs. They are just amazing. This place is kid-friendly, but it is good also for a romantic date.