In my travel guide, I am going to take you through Montreal, Canada’s francophone metropolis that I am lucky to call home since 2005.
Who Am I?
Hi, my name is Anca and I am living in beautiful Montreal, Canada.
I am originally from Romania and I moved to Canada when I was 13 yo. I always loved travelling and learning about cultures, and moving to Canada just opened more doors for me. Before the Covid-19 hit us and stopped all our travel plans, I had the chance to visit almost 20 countries.
Feel free to take a look at my Instagram travel account for more travel tips and inspiration around the world beyond my Montreal travel guide!
1. Duration of Ideal Stay and Visiting Season
The best time to visit Montreal in terms of weather is from the middle of May to October.
Montreal comes back to life in May after a long and cold winter. Colors and flowers are so beautiful throughout the city, not to mention the enthusiasm of Montrealers for the nice weather that can be felt in the air!
Summer is, however, the time I fall in love with Montreal, year after year. The city feels like a perfect mix of European and North American influences. The streets are full of cute terraces and festivals are there to entertain us almost every week.
Autumn is home to the Colours Festival. Marple trees, which are also the emblem of Canada, are so abundant in the Montreal area. Around mid-September, these trees are turning into incredible shades of red, orange, and yellows, which I think everyone must see once in their lifetime!
2. How To Get To The City From Airport?
Montreal’s airport is located 17 km from Downtown. The only available public transportation is a bus line that brings you to the metro (bus no 747 that runs non-stop). However, a train station is under construction at the airport, expected to link major parts of the city by 2023.
Of course you can always use a taxi or an Uber. A ride from the airport to Montreal Downtown with Uber will cost around 30 CAD (Canadian Dollar).
3. Where To Accommodate?
Montreal offers a huge variety of accommodations, from major hotel chains to hostels and Airbnbs. The majority of the hotels use platforms such as Expedia or Booking for reservations.
Just bear in mind that in the months of June, July, and August, there are many festivals in town, and reservations may be needed in advance.
4. In City Transportation
In order to see the whole city centre, I recommend to walk
Montreal’s public transportation is composed of metro & bus. You can buy daily or monthly passes too at every metro station’s ticket counter.
NB: you cannot buy passes when you take the bus, you need change ($3.50) for 1 trip.
5. Suggested Budget for Montreal
Montreal can be very expensive, but there are many ways to save money. If you are a planner and you book your stay in advance, you can find very good deals for accommodation and car rentals.
For food & drinks, you can go from 10$ meals to 50$ meals just by crossing the street. There are many options for all budgets, but a good meal will start at 15$, without drinks. Talking about drinks, they cost around 10$ to 15$ in most places and tap water is always free. Keep in mind that the recommended tipping in the service industry in Montreal is 15%.
Another comparison to give you an idea about prices is the BigMac Index. The price of a big mac at McDonald’s is 5,49$ CAD (+tax).
6. Best Things To Do in Montreal
Here is one of the most important parts of my Montreal travel guide! There is definitely not room for boredom in Montreal. If you want to learn about the city, while having authentic experiences, take a look at my recommendations, separated by must-see neighborhoods:
Experience the Charm of Old Montreal
Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets overflow with warm, inviting restaurants , bars, jazz clubs, boutiques, designer shops, art galleries, not to forget the Old Port Quais:
- Visit the Basilique Notre Dame of Montreal, located in the Place d’Armes
- Walk around Place Jacques Cartier and admire the beautiful 19th-century architecture
- Jump on a short cruise on the Saint-Laurent River
- Relax at Bota Bota, a spa installed on an anchored boat in the Old Port
- Grab a sunny spot at Clock Tower urban beach
Discover Downtown Montreal
Walking around downtown gives you the opportunity to observe the fascinating architecture, a unique mix of modern, historic, gothic and industrial. On your walking expedition, do not miss:
- Sainte-Catherine Street for shopping
- Crescent street, for restaurants & bars atmosphere.
- Chinatown, beautifully marked by the traditional gates, offer casual eateries shopping
- Quartier des spectacle, Montreal’s major cultural district
Discover the nature and history of Montreal’s beloved mountain. Mount Royal is like Manhattan’s Central Park, featuring 200 hectares of astonishing biodiversity and natural beauty. You absolutely need to visit Belvedere Kondiaronk, for one of the best views of Montreal Downtown, for free!
Built for the 1976 Summer Olympics, the stadium marks the history of Montreal and sports. During the ‘76 Olympics, the 14 years old gymnast Nadia Comaneci was allowed the first perfect 10.00 at the Olympics!
If you visit the Olympic Park, I highly recommend visiting the Biodome too, a museum located in the main building. The museum walks you through replicas of the 4 ecosystems found in the Americas. The beauty and interactiveness are absolutely worth the time!
Visit the Botanical Garden
Besides the 75 hectares of biodiversity, Montreal’s botanical garden features 3 cultural gardens, which gives you the opportunity to learn more about other cultures. Not to mention, a great view of the Olympic Stadium and photo opportunities!
Canadian Grand Prix
The Canadian Grand Prix is the biggest sporting event in all Canada taking place in the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal.
Even if you are not a fan of racing cars, it’s impossible not to love the energy this event brings to the city: live bands on Crescent street, games, food trucks, the presence of stars and luxury cars… all this makes F1 weekend the most exciting weekend of the year!
About 2 hours from Montreal, the Eastern Townships offer green countryside, thriving wineries, and glittering lakes. Magog Village is a must-see picturesque village.
Just 1.5 hours away from Montreal, this picturesque touristic village is the perfect road trip from Montreal. It is also one of those places that are perfect to visit during the 4 seasons!
Welcome to the Capital of Canada!
Ottawa is one of the most accessible day trips from Montreal, with numerous bus routes and a rail line.
In May, it hosts the Capadian Tulip Festival, one of the biggest in the world, displaying more than 1 million tulips and attended by more than 650 000 visitors annually.
7. Best Restaurants to Visit in Montreal?
Let’s continue with the tastiest part of my Montreal travel guide!
Interesting fact: Montreal has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America. This means only the best survive. This also means you’re guaranteed amazing food every time you visit!
That being said, no doubt that Montreal is a foodie destination. In fact, the best restaurants are busy, no matter what day it is. The city has everything from diners and cafes to ethnic restaurants, fast food, or fine dining.
Here are some suggestions that I have tried & loved:
- Pizza: Il Focolaio
- Steakhouse: The Keg
- Sushi: K2 Bistro
- Burgers: La belle et la boeuf
- Poutine: La Banquise
- Vegan: LOV
- Upscale: Restaurant Jerome Ferrer Europea
Breakfast and brunches are a thing in Montreal, and there are many specialised restaurants in this category:
- Allo! Mon Coco
- Chez Cora
Ok, let me explain this!
BYOW (bring your own wine) is a popular type of restaurant in Montreal, where, as the name suggests, you bring your own wine. In fact, these restaurants only serve the food. Stop at any SAQ (Store selling alcohol) branch, buy your favourite wine at a retail price and then go to one of these restaurants to enjoy a nice evening.
- Le Quartier Général
- La Pegase
- Restaurant Portovino
- Steak Frites St-Paul
Foodie with a View
These restaurants and terraces offer amazing city views. Choose a restaurant for an exquisite evening or a terrace for a drink with a view!
- Portus 360 – Rotating upscale Portuguese restaurant with an amazing view of the City’s Skyline
- Terrasse Nelligan
- Terrasse Place d’Armes
- Les enfants terribles (Ville-Marie Branch)
- La Voute
- Terrace Bonsecours
- Pikolo Espresso bar
- Cafe Olimpico
- Aloha espresso bar
- Crew collective & cafe
- Pourquoi Pas espresso bar
8. Warnings, Tips, and Tricks for Montreal
Montreal is, in general, a very safe city. You should however always stay awake when going through crowds or sitting in a crowded place because obviously general cautiousness is always recommended. I would recommend, however, at night, to avoid Montréal-Nord and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, as they developed a reputation of being Montreal’s most dangerous neighborhoods, mostly because of drug use and homeless presence.
I hope that you enjoyed my Montreal travel Guide! Please, do not forget to comment about your tips and suggestions below!