Montreal is the epitome of Canada; however, it often feels European. It is one of the five biggest French-speaking cities in the entire world, and at one point, it was considered Canada’s capital city. If you have ever visited Montreal, it is definitely an experience that you won’t soon forget. The Old Town area looks like something that is straight out of the medieval times in France, and the eclectic nightlife (particularly the jazz clubs) and amazing French-inspired cuisine leave very little to be disliked about this city. If you love the great outdoors, then all the hiking trails and bike paths are likely to call your name.
Along with being a great place to explore, Montreal is much more affordable than some of the bigger cities, too. This makes it easy to stay for a while. If you are ready to learn more about traveling to Montreal, from the best car rental service, such as Globe Car & Truck Rental, to the can’t miss attractions, keep reading.
Must-Visit Attractions in Montreal
Are you ready to learn more about what this city has to offer? If so, you should put the attractions on this list on your itinerary.
The Jardin Botanique
Did you know that Montreal is home to the second-biggest botanical garden in the entire world? Originally, this garden opened in 1931 and today it showcases ten different greenhouses, which include a rose garden, lily garden, Japanese garden, and Chinese garden. You can also visit the tranquil First Nations Garden, which is designed to represent the natural environment of Quebec’s First Nations, which includes plants from the Nordic Zone.
The Jean-Talon Market
This is the largest market in the city, and it hosts hundreds of stalls and is found right in the middle of the Little Italy area. There are shops along with specialized grocers are all around the square. While there, be sure to look out for some of Quebecois delicacies, such as ice wine and pure maple syrup. This is a great place for you to visit during lunch or to grab some fresh food to eat later in the day.
Take a Bike Tour
There are plenty of companies that offer a three or four hour guided bike tour. During these excursions, you can visit an array of exciting attractions, such as the Plateau, Mont-Royal, Mile-End, and Old Montreal. There are also themed tours that take you through specific neighborhoods, such as the North End, where you can explore street art and an array of open-air markets.
Visit the Parc La Fontaine
Do you want to spend some time enjoying outdoor activities? Things like having a picnic, tennis, beach volleyball or something else can be enjoyed in Parc La Fontaine. During the summer, there are all sorts of free performances held at the Theatre de Verdure and in the winter, you can skate on the frozen pond or you can go cross-country skiing.
Take a Stroll Around the Le Plateau
This is an area that combines old Victorian homes, shady residential streets, trendy restaurants, and boutique shopping. It is possible to walk around and enjoy the architecture and visit a few antique shops. During your visit to this area, make sure to watch for any colorful and exciting street murals.
Go for a Boat Ride
It is possible to go on several different boat tours on the harbor from Montreal’s Old town. You can also choose longer tours of the Lachine Canal along with the Boucherville Islands that are located nearby. During the trip, your guide will give you an overview of the maritime history of the area. It is important to remember that there are some tours that are limited to just 30 passengers, which is a good thing. With limited guests, it means that you do not have to compete for the very best views.
Visit the St. Joseph Oratory
This location stands almost as high as St. Peter’s which is found in Rome. It is 97 meters high, and this sanctuary and dome are towered over the skyline of the city. This is considered one of the most visited shrines in the entire world, and it also houses a crypt, chapel, and basilica. The St. Joseph Oratory is also considered the final resting place for the early 1900s Brother Andre who was a simple porter who turned to a miracle worker by having healing powers.
Travel Costs in Montreal
If you are planning a trip to Montreal, you will likely want to know some of the related costs. These include the following:
Prices for Staying in a Hostel
It is estimated that you will spend about $30 CAD each night for a bed in a four to eight-person dorm. If you choose a dorm that has ten beds or more, it will cost around $22 CAD per night.
If you choose a private room, you can expect to pay around $75 CAD each night for two people. This averages out to about $150 CAD alone.
Prices for Budget Hotels
The nightly rates for a budget, two-star hotel room that includes a private bathroom ensuite will start at around $106 CAD, if you opt for one located in the center of town. You can also choose to use Airbnb in Montreal. With this, you can opt for shared accommodations at around $33 CAD each night. If you want a private room, you will pay $46 CAD each night and a full apartment will begin at $133 CAD.
Food in Montreal
There is an endless selection of takeaway spots and fast food joints throughout Montreal. It is possible to find poutine for around $5 CAD, or small pizzas and burgers for around $10 CAD each. A smoked meat sandwich is going to cost around $19 CAD and usually comes with coleslaw and fries. If you choose a heartier bagel sandwich, you can expect to spend around $12 CAD.
If you go to McDonald’s will cost approximately $10 CAD. Meals at more affordable restaurants are around $13 CAD, but a beer to go with your meal will be around $4.50 CAD. At higher-end restaurants, you can expect to spend around $35 CAD for your entrée, but this does not include a drink.
If you are traveling and have plans to cook for yourself, you can usually spend under $40 CAD for groceries each week. This would usually include fruit and veggies, rice and pasta, eggs, bread, and meat. Some great restaurants to try while you are visiting Montreal include Drogheria, Fairmount Bagels, Sushi Momo, Damas, Moishes, Le Serpent, Olive et Gourmando, Wilensky, and Main.
Money-Saving Tips to Use When Traveling in or to Montreal
While Montreal is a budget-friendly city to visit, there are always several ways to reduce what you are spending. Some of the best ways to save money during your visit are highlighted below.
If you take steps to plan ahead, you will typically be able to find couchsurfing hosts throughout Montreal. This is an option that lets you stay somewhere for free, and you have a local host who can tell you all the best places to go and the best things to plan and see.
Schedule a Free Walking Tour
A walking tour is a smart way to become familiar with the culture and the city. There are several options around Montreal to choose from. A pro tip when taking a free walking tour is that tips are appreciated and for some, expected.
Purchase a Museum Pass
Museum passes provide you with access to more than 40 museums all around the Montreal area. You can purchase a three-day pass for around $75 CAD. You can also opt for the three-day pass that includes unlimited transportation for just $80 CAD, which is a much better deal.
There are some restaurants in Montreal that have signs out front that read “Apportez-votre ven.” This means “bring your own wine.” With these options, you can buy a cheaper bottle of wine at the grocery store and then take it to dinner. This allows you to enjoy a glass of wine without having to worry about the high prices at restaurants.
Utilize the Various Coupon Sites
If you know what your stops in Montreal are going to be ahead of time, then you can visit sites such as Groupon and Living Social to find all types of savings and deals. You will find an array of quality listings to some of the best attractions and restaurants that are going to help you save money during your time in Montreal.
Search for Free Events and Activities
You can find free events throughout the year in Montreal. While this is true, the hottest time for free events is during the summer. Some of the biggest and most exciting music festivals, such as the jazz festival will offer free shows and concerts in the streets. There is also an array of free theatrical performances, stand-up comedy shows, and art shows to partake in. You can find all the free events by visiting Go Montreal.
Getting Around in Montreal
There are several options for getting around while in Montreal. Some of the most popular options are listed here.
Rent a Car
Renting a vehicle is one of the best ways to get around while visiting Montreal. While it is a bit more expensive than other options, it is also the one that provides you with the most flexibility. You can go where you want, when you want, without having to depend on anyone else or set schedules.
The bus in Montreal will cover the whole city along with the outskirts of town – even the airport. It is around $3.50 CAD for a single ride, or you can pay $6.50 to get there an back. For an unlimited day pass, you can expect to pay around $10 CAD and receive a 10-day ride pass for $29 CAD. These tickets can be used on the subway, too.
If you are planning to travel to and from the airport, you can hop on bus 747 and pay $0 CAD each way.
If you want an easy and hassle-free way to get from point A to point B in Montreal, the STM Metro System is a smart option. The fact is, taking the bus is often slow and sometimes delayed because of ongoing road construction. While there are only a few subway lines, they cover all of the downtown areas of Montreal along with some of the suburbs. The fares for the subway are the same cost as the bus fares and you can use the tickets you purchase for both the systems.
In Montreal, taxis are not cheap. The base rate is around $3.50 CAD and it is an extra $1.32 CAD for each kilometer after. The two best companies include Atlas Taxi and Taxi Coop.
Use a Bicycle
Montreal is a city that is very bike-friendly. There are also plenty of businesses around the area that rent bicycles, too. You can use the public bike rental system, which is called Bixi Bike, and the rides cost around $2.95 CAD for each one or you can pay $5.25 CAD for the entire day.
When Should You Plan a Trip to Montreal?
Montreal will be at its busiest during the summer months. This is especially true if the outside patios are open and there is a festival going on. The hottest months are July and August, but the highs are around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind, prices for accommodations will go up during this time and the attractions will be more crowded.
A better option is to visit during the off-season. By doing this, you can take advantage of lower rates and fewer crowds, which will make your experience much more enjoyable. Being informed is the best way to ensure that you have a great trip to Montreal and that it is one that you will never forget.