A captivating fusion of the modernism of North America and the traditional charm of Europe, Montreal is a city with so many faces. 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? So, here’s my ultimate Montreal travel guide!
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 perfect English.
Currency: 1 US dollar will get you around 1.31 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 seasons. Winters tend to be cold and snowy with temperatures rarely reaching over twenty degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll still need a jacket in the spring when temps range from thirty to sixty degrees. Summers in Montreal are humid with average highs up into the eighties. In September, you’ll see temperatures dropping into the seventies then slowly down to the lower forties in November.
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, and 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.
Neighborhoods: My favorite areas to stay 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.
Auberge Le Pomerol (Budget)
This hotel is probably one of my favorites for its charm and location, as well as the boutique accommodations at a budget rate. Every morning you’ll find a picnic basket breakfast outside your door, mid-day snacks, a beautiful lounge area, and the nicest staff!
Hotel Zero 1
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.
Hotel Gault (Boutique)
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.
Location: Old Montreal
Hotel Le Germain Montreal
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!
Location: Downtown Montreal
Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown (Luxury)
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.
Location: Golden Square Mile
This adorable cafe has some of the best breakfast foods I’ve ever had. This is a must when in Montreal!
Au Pied de Cochon Food Truck
An expansion of their popular restaurant, this food truck is such a cool place to eat. When you arrive, you can choose to go up to the salty window or the sweet one. The salty window will give you an ultra-decadent pork sandwich and Canada’s most famous food, poutine. The sweet window has donuts stuffed with all kinds of fruit and custards.
What to Order: Be sure to try the maple syrup soda!
Les Infantiles Terribles
With a few locations around town, this is the place to come for beautiful views, good food and craft cocktails!
Le Quartier General
Head here for some of the best French food you’ll ever have. This BYOB restaurant makes five-star food accessible.
Know Before You Go: Call ahead and try to nab a window seat.
Terrasse William Gray
This rooftop terrace on top of the Hotel William Gray has stunning panoramic views of Montreal. Open in the warmer months, it offers a seafood-centric menu, along with charcuterie, light bites and drinks.
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.
Know Before You Go: Come early and be prepared to wait!
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 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.
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!
Rent a Bike with BIXI
BIXI is Montreal’s bike sharing system. Take one when you need one, and leave it at any station when you arrive at your destination.
Art scene in Le Plateau
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!
Apartment 200 Bar
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.
Bota Bota Spa
Anchored in the Port of Old Montreal, this “floating spa” offers all sorts of wellness, healing, and beauty treatments.
Mount Royal is a small mountain just west of downtown Montreal that offers an amazing viewpoint over the city. Check out the park and events while you’re here!
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.
Montreal Botanical Gardens
For another stunning view, get to Montreal Space for Life and wander around these world-class gardens.
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