Discover Montreal like a local!
Welcome to Montreal, Bienvenue à Montréal! The bilingual city is the perfect mix between a charming western European city and a modern North American city. Between great food, beautiful views and over 30 festivals year-round, the city offers plenty of activities to do in winter as well as during summer. Known simultaneously for being a party city, a foodie heaven and being a highly cultural and historic destination, the metropolis never ceases to marvel locals and visitors alike.
Montreal can either be the perfect weekend getaway or a week-long destination combined with other day trips. The whole charm of the city really uncovers when you live in it. So, I decided to do a series of posts so you can to be seduced by the city as Montrealers do.
Be sure to scroll all the way down for all the blog articles!
Here is a quick intro about the city: Montreal is the second most populous city in Canada (after Toronto) and the biggest francophone city in the Americas. Montreal is an island in the middle of the St-Laurent River and situated in the province of Quebec, the only 100% francophone province in Canada.
Since I’m a full-time 9to5er, I will be writing about Montreal, my adoptive hometown, when I’m not travelling. Through these local guides #BRBinMontreal, I take you through my favourite neighbourhoods, where to eat the famous bagels and bike paths that will take you off the beaten path. Explore parks that are not Mount Royal, see the great murals and graffiti that embellish our streets among other tips.
Through this series, you will explore Montreal like a local!
Practical information about Montreal
Where to stay?
Montreal is a city of neighbourhoods, much like New York, every neighbourhood feels like its own little city. Most hotels are located in Old Montreal and Downtown. Other great places to stay are The Plateau, Little Italy and the South West, if you are looking for vacation rentals. All of these parts of the city are filled with great restaurants, bars and shops.
WHEN TO GO?
The weather in Montreal can be unpredictable, to say the least. Summers are very hot and winters are extremely cold. However, every season has its own charm and things to do.
In my opinion, the best time to visit Montreal is during the Summer months (May to August). It feels like Montrealers cannot get enough of the good temperatures and live outside on the bar patios and parks. The Summer is home of the best festivals such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. During the summertime, you can also enjoy outdoor patios (called terraces in Montreal) with breathtaking views of the city or enjoy the fireworks competition at one of these pop-up terraces.
Autumn is also a great time to visit with the beautiful fall foliage. Also, the temperatures are a little chilly but very pleasant. One of the major events is the POP Montreal, mishmash festival of music, art and fashion. If not, my favourite, MTL à table, a foodie festival.
Ahh Winter! The longest season in Montreal. I must admit that I hate Winter so I might not be the best ambassador for this season. However, the city does look beautiful under the white veil. If you love winter sports or just winter in general, then this is for you! The biggest event is the Montréal En Lumière, a foodie and entertainment event, with la Nuit Blanche being held outside.
You will see that Spring disappears in the blink of an eye. One day you will have positive temperatures, the next you will have snow and then it will feel like Summer again. The city comes alive in this season as everyone cannot wait to go outside and leave their boots and jacket behind. Beware that if you are allergic to pollen this could be a horrible season to come due to our seasonal allergies.
My main advice will be to look up at the temperature before coming to the city so you can pack accordingly. If you don’t have the appropriate winter gear, I would suggest coming during Summer or Autumn.
Montreal can be easily visited by foot, public transportation and bike. The Public transportation system works fairly well. The STM is the name of the public transport company and has buses as well as a subway system. The STM offers great deals on weekend and weekly passes to help you see the city by public transportation. Please be aware that the subway is not 24h and it closes between 11 pm and 1 am depending on the day and the line. Here is all the info you need for public transportation. Uber is also widely used in the city.
Transportation in and outside the city by car can be difficult since the city is undergoing a major infrastructure makeover so I would suggest to leave the car and embrace discovering the city by foot, bike or public transport. Also, the signs for parking can be extremely confusing, so you can skip having a headache of where to park.
The currency is the Canadian Dollar. The dollar can be easily found abroad at any currency exchange offices. Credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere.
It is customary to tip around 15% of the final price. If you are horible at math like me, you can sum the 2 taxes and it will give you a ball park amount of what you have to tip.
The voltage in Canada is 110 Volt, the same as in the rest of Canada and the US.
Articles about Montreal
GETTING in and out of the city
Airport: Montreal has an international airport called Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL). From the airport, you can take the bus 747 that will leave you in the main subways stations like Lionel Groulx and Berri-Uquam. However, I would suggest taking an Uber or a Taxi since the bus doesn’t come very often and often gets delayed due to the roadwork.
Whether you are looking for a day trip or a multi-day trip, here is the ultimate list for great getaway trips from Montreal that you have been looking for!
Centrally located, Montreal is 6-hour drive away from Toronto, 2-hour from Ottawa and 3-hour from Quebec City. These destinations can also be easily reached by train (Via Rail) and by bus.
If you are more into nature and small towns, you can visit the Laurentides with Mont-Tremblant being the leading destination. On the south shore, you can visit the Eastern Townships and Quebec’s wine route. The townships are my favourite region outside of Montreal.
Lastly, Montreal is only 1:00 away from the U.S. border. Bordering states are New-York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Looking for day trips or weekend getaways from Montreal?
So what are you waiting to book you next vacation to Montreal?
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Psst: Don't forget to follow #BRBinMontreal in Instagram for additional tips!