A trip to Canada isn’t truly complete without visiting Montreal, Quebec’s biggest city, and one of the country’s cultural capitals. This is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer visitors from abroad with its fusion of both European and North American cultures.
There is, of course, a lot to see and do in this must-see city. Therefore to make it easier to plan a trip to Quebec’s most popular destination the following Montreal travel guide explains a little of what tourists can expect to find when they arrive.
Quick Information About Montreal
Montreal is situated on a river island with the Saint Lawrence River on its eastern side and the Prairies River on its western shores. It is a city with a long history and an interesting mix of both colonial French and British cultural influences as well as more contemporary Quebecois and North American culture.
- Founded: 1642
- Currency: Canadian Dollar
- Province: Quebec
- Languages: French and English Spoken throughout
- Banks and Credit Cards: All major credit cards accepted and ATMs located citywide
- Population: 1.78 Million
- Restaurants: Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada
Where is Montreal Located?
Montreal is located in Quebec in the East of Canada. The city itself is situated just east of the provincial border with Ontario and just approximately 60 miles north of the US border with Vermont and New York State.
How to Travel to Montreal, Canada
There are many ways to arrive in Montreal. Numerous forms of both public and private transport make it easy to get to the city via Canada’s major cities and provinces and internationally from the USA.
Visiting Montreal by Car
It is quite easy for international travelers to get to Montreal by car. The city is connected to several major highways and is located just 400 miles from New York City, making it an ideal destination for a weekend road trip from New York and the New England area.
For visitors already in Canada, the city is also easily accessible by car from the major cities in Ontario. Ottowa is approximately a 2 and a half hour journey away and Toronto little more than 5 hours of travel time from Montreal via the Trans-Canada Highway.
Arriving in Montreal by Plane
Most international flights that travel directly to the city arrive at Montreal-Trudeau International, Canada’s third busiest airport. Be aware, however, if you’re planning to fly here you may need to travel to Canada with an eTA in order to be allowed onboard your flight. This is a requirement for those arriving to or transiting through any of Canada’s airports.
Getting to Montreal by Train
Canada has an extensive train network, which also connects up with many cities in the USA. It is therefore quite easy to enter the city by train. The train ride to Montreal from one of Canada’s other major cities or a US point of origin offers a scenic view of the local landscape and allows travelers a more environmentally friendly way to travel.
What to Expect From the Weather in Montreal
Montreal has very distinct seasons . Therefore it is important to carefully plan what to bring for the correct time of year. Depending on the time of year that you’re planning your visit you will encounter quite a variety of seasonal weather, so check the weather in Canada before plan your trip.
Montreal in Spring
Visitors planning to visit Montreal in the spring should come prepared for unpredictable weather. The climate is still quite cold until mid-April when milder temperatures become more common. Tourists are recommended to bring waterproof clothing as well as warm layers in case of a cold snap.
Summers in Montreal
The summer months in Montreal are hot and humid with temperatures reaching around 30ºC during the day in July and August. However, whilst the daytime weather is hot at this time of year, the nights often fall below 20º. It’s advised to pack breathable, loose clothing for daytime activities as well as some longer light clothing for evenings.
Montreal Autumn Time
Autumn in Montreal is a visual treat and the weather is equally pleasant. Temperatures are consistently mild through the months of fall and travelers should bring clothes that can be layered, such as long pants, sweaters, and t-shirts.
Winter in Montreal
Whilst the winters are incredibly cold in Montreal, with temperatures sometimes plummeting below -10ºC, this is a magical time to enjoy the city. Of course, when traveling to Canada in winter, it is advised to bring good thermals such as a warm coat, shoes, and hat.
The Best Places to Stay in Montreal
Montreal is home to many diverse neighborhoods. Each offers a variety of experiences and options for travelers visiting the city with different budgets.
For travelers visiting with lower budgets, locations in Le Plateau and Griffintown offer plenty of wallet-friendly options. Alternatively, for visitors with a mid-range or higher budget, there are many interesting places to stay in the Downtown and Old Montreal neighborhoods.
How to Get Around in Montreal
The city is quite easy to navigate on foot, although there are plenty of public transport options available. Montreal has an extensive and fast Metro network as well as plenty of bus connections throughout the city. It also has its own bike rental network: BIXI. This allows tourists to take full advantage of Montreal’s 780km of bicycle paths and enjoy many wonderful views of the city.
Things to Do in Montreal Canada
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Montreal. The city is notable for being the birthplace of Cirque de Soleil and boasting over 300 years of history since its original foundation in the 1600s. Naturally, there are many attractions to enjoy whilst on a trip here.
The Best Cultural Attractions in Montreal
- Old Port
- Le Plateau Neighborhood
- Notre Dame Basilica
- Sainte Catherine Street
- Old Montreal
- The Underground City
Montreal’s Most Interesting Museums
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Redpath Museum
- Montreal Science Centre
- McCord Museum
- Château Ramezay
- Maison Saint-Gabriel Museum
Montreal’s Most Beautiful Natural Sights
- Montreal Botanical Gardens
- Jarry Park
- Mount Royal
- Parc Des Rapides
- La Fontaine Park
- Îles-de-Boucherville National Park
Montreal for Sports Lovers
Montreal is a Mecca for lovers of sport. The city which hosted the Olympics back in 1974 and still has a strong sporting tradition to this day, with popular pastimes including Ice Hockey, Canadian Football, Soccer and Rugby Union.
However, of the four, Ice Hockey is the most popular sport in Montreal. The city is the home of the Montreal Canadiens, the local NHL team and a visit to its Centre Bell arena for a game is highly worthwhile.
In addition to this, the city also plays host to the Canadian Grand Prix. This takes place every July on Isle de Notre Dame at Circuit du Gilles Villeneuve, named posthumously after the legendary local racing driver.
Montreal Festivals and Events
Montreal is well known for its busy festival calendar. There is almost always an event or special festivity happening in the city at any time during the year. Some of the most notable of these include:
- Igloofest, Late January – Early February
- Fête des Neiges de Montréal, Late January – Early February
- Montreal en Lumiere, Late February 21st – Early March
- Montreal International Jazz Festival, June and July
- Montreal Fireworks, July
- First People’s Festival, August
- Gardens of Light, Late September – Early October
- Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Mid October
- Merry Montreal, Late December
Montreal is a city that tourists won’t want to miss on a trip to Canada. It offers a perfect blend of culture, natural wonder and a mix of experiences all year round.
If you plan to fly to Montreal to explore its many attractions, keep in mind that you will need to obtain an eTA to travel to Canada before you begin your adventure. You should check if your nationality is one of the 60 visa-exempt countries and see the requirements for applying for the Canadian eTA for applying for an online authorization before traveling to Canada by plane.