A captivating fusion of the modernism of North America and the traditional charm of Europe, Montreal is a city with so many facets. With a French heart and a distinctly Canadian charm, Montreal is unlike anywhere else that you have ever been. When I visited, I had a great whirlwind tour of the city. Ready to see La Métropole du Québec in the Great White North? From where to stay in Montreal to the best things to do in Montreal, here’s my ultimate travel guide to Montreal!
What to Expect in Montreal
Language: While French is the native language of most people in Montreal, you’ll find that the majority of the population speaks English.
Currency: Canadian dollars.
Credit Cards and Banks: Many banks will hit you with pricey foreign transaction fees every time you buy across the border. Generally, your best bet is to go to an ATM to get cash for everyday purchases and reserve your card for higher ticket items. Remember that tipping is expected when it comes to restaurants and service!
Climate: Montreal definitely has distinct seasons. Summers in Montreal are humid with average highs up into the 80s Fahrenheit. In September, you’ll see temperatures dropping into the 70s Fahrenheit then slowly down to the lower 40s Fahrenheit by November. Winters tend to be cold and snowy with temperatures rarely reaching over 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
You’ll still need a jacket in the spring when temps range from 30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Getting Around in Montreal
Cars: Driving is tricky in Montreal. All the street signs are in French and parking can be expensive. Unless you absolutely need a car, it is better to opt for public transportation.
Metro: Montreal’s transit system is awesome. There are 68 metro stations and 4 different lines, so you can quickly get anywhere you need to go.
Bus: You’ll find buses that run every ten minutes and go everywhere in the city.
Taxis: You can hail a taxi pretty much anywhere and anytime in downtown Montreal. If you prefer, Uber is ubiquitous around town.
Walk: Montreal is an awesome city for walking. You can conquer a lot by foot, so you’ll really only need transportation if you’re planning to hop from neighborhood to neighborhood. Just be aware of your surroundings and try not to walk alone late at night.
Where to Stay in Montreal
My favorite areas to stay in Montreal are The Plateau and Little Italy. With the highest population density in Canada, The Plateau is a colorful neighborhood jam-packed with amazing restaurants, shops, and nightlife. Another enchanting area, Little Italy is a fascinating mash-up of Italian, French, and Canadian culture.
Here are the top hotels to stay at in Montreal!
Hotel Gault is a great place for an upscale and unique stay in Montreal. Located in the heart of old Montreal, the building has been totally renovated, and you’ll find that every room is styled with a little different charm.
Located across the street from the entrance to Chinatown, and a short walk to Old Montreal, Hotel Zero 1 is an awesome spot for budget travelers who still want some contemporary style and comfort.
As a boutique property, this hotel has a very elegant and intimate feeling. It is located quite centrally in downtown Montreal and close to the metro. The pristine rooms are large and very comfortable!
The Vogue Hotel is top-notch. Conveniently located between two Metro lines and many shops and restaurants, you’ll live in the lap of luxury at this beautiful property.
Enjoy the masterful blend of minimalist design and warm sophistication at this luxurious property. Choose from one of the 241 elegant and stylish hotel rooms or 17 suites!
Where to Eat in Montreal
Québec is home to unique French Canadian dishes but is probably most famous for its cretons (pork spread), tourtières (meat pies), pea soup, fèves au lard (slow-cooked beans), and desserts like grands-pères. And of course, born in Quebec, you have to try the local poutine!
Here are the top restaurants to try in Montreal!
Tommy CafeCafe, Breakfast
This adorable cafe has some of the best breakfast foods I’ve ever had. This is a must when in Montreal!
Au Pied de CochonCanadian, French
Au Pied de Cochon is such a cool place to eat. This à la carte restaurant is located in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal. Authentic and faithful to its Quebec and Canadian roots, the dishes are hearty and comforting.
Les Infantiles TerriblesFrench, Canadian
With a few locations around town, this is the place to come for beautiful views, good food and craft cocktails!
Le Quartier GeneralFrench, Canadian
Head here for some of the best French food you’ll ever have. This BYOB restaurant makes five-star food accessible. Call ahead and try to reserve a window seat!
Terrasse William GraySeafood, French
This rooftop terrace on top of the Hotel William Gray has stunning panoramic views of Old Montreal. Open in the warmer months, it offers a seafood-centric menu, along with charcuterie, light bites, and cocktails.
Forget NYC! Montreal has some of the best bagels in the world. St-Viateur Bagel has been embracing the art of bagel making for more than fifty years, and is the ultimate quick meal stop.
This poutine heaven has been a local staple since 1968, and from my experience it is probably the best place to sample authentic poutine. They offer 30 varieties including a vegan option! There’s an outdoor terrace, as well as an awesome selection of microbrews to enjoy with your meal. Come early and be prepared to wait!
If you’re a fan of wine and wood-fired pizzas, I’ve found your new favorite spot. They also have a delicious selection of salads you’ve got to try!
This Jewish restaurant is Montreal’s new hot spot that is bringing a modern twist to the cuisine. Inspired by Russ & Daughters in New York, this place offers delicious “deli” foods, wine service, and fresh herbs from their garden.
What to Do in Montreal
Montreal is such a great destination if you enjoy art, history, French food, and want to get an authentic taste of Quebec. They also host a number of festivals and wellness events every year, so there’s something for everyone. I loved how walkable and bikeable Montreal was when I visited—it made getting around and visiting different neighborhoods so easy.
Here are the top activities to do in Montreal!
Known as Quebec’s hipster neighborhood, Le Plateau is full of quirky treasures. Wander the countless independent galleries and take in all the youthful energy of this dynamic community.
The historic port of Montreal stretches for over two kilometers along the St-Lawrence River. It is the perfect place for dining, shopping, and enjoying sunny days at the Clock Tower Beach. Don’t miss the monthly events or epic firework shows either!
With a loft party vibe, the Apartment 200 Bar is a hip place to play classic arcade games and mingle with locals. They have unique events throughout the year like interactive art installations, so check their calendar when you’re in town.
This permanent open-air market in Montreal’s Little Italy has vendors selling all types of produce, meats, cheeses, fish & baked goods.
There’s room for more than one Notre Dame on this earth. Be sure to snap at least a few pics of Montreal’s greatest.
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