Ultimate Montreal Travel Guide

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.

Ready to see La Métropole du Québec in the Great White North? Join me for a whirlwind tour of Montreal!

So, here’s my ultimate Montreal travel guide!

What to Expect in 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 perfect English.
  • Currency: 1 US dollar will get you around 1.30 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.
  • Climate:Montreal definitely has seasons. Winters tend to be cold and snowy with temperatures rarely reaching over twenty degrees. You’ll still need a jacket in 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 temperature dropping into the seventies then slowly down to the lower forties in November.

Getting Around Montreal

Montréal 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.

  • Cars: Driving is tricky in Montreal. All street signs are in French and parking can be expensive. Unless you absolutely need a car, it is better to opt for public transport.
  • Public Transport: Montreal’s transit system is awesome. You’ll find buses every ten minutes and a subway that goes 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. 

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Get your first ride free (up to $20) with promo code GM90o (zero and letter “o”)

Where to Stay in Montreal

My favorite areas to stay are The Plateau and Little Italy. While Old Montreal is a lovely place to visit, the accommodation options are touristy and overpriced.

With the highest population density in Canada, The Plateau is a colorful neighborhood jam-packed with amazing restaurants, shops, and nightlight. Another enchanting area, Little Italy is a fascinating mash-up of Italian, French, and Canadian culture.

Budget Accommodations in Montreal

  • Auberge Le Pomerol: 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, this is an awesome spot for budget travelers who still want some contemporary style and comfort.

Boutique Accommodations in Montreal

  • Hotel GaultThis is the perfect 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.
  • Hotel Le Germain MontrealAs 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!

Luxury Accommodations in Montreal

  • Loews Hotel Vogue: This 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. 
  • Sofitel Montreal Golden Mile: Enjoy the masterful blend of minimalist design and warm sophistication at this luxurious property. Choose one of 241 elegant and stylish hotel rooms or 17 suites!

Helpful Tip: Grab an Airbnb

With comfortable private rooms in central spots for $10 a night and luxury apartments starting from $50 a night, you can get a perfect place to call home in Montreal.

Rather than staying in a cramped hotel room, live like a local!

You’ll have room to spread out, you can cook some Quebec classics, and you’ll see hidden corners of the city.

• • • FREE $35 AIRBNB COUPON CODE • • •

Sign up for Airbnb HERE and get $35 off your first $75 Airbnb stay!

 

What to Do in Montreal

What to Do in Montreal

Montreal is a vibrant, eclectic, and diverse city. You’ll find a melting pot of cultures, languages, and creativity throughout the neighborhoods of the province. You especially have to check out the world-class festivals that come through every year!

  • 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.
  • Old Port: 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 through 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: 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!
  • Jean-Talon Market: This permanent open-air market in Montreal’s Little Italy has vendors selling all types of produce, meats, cheeses, fish & baked goods.
  • Notre-Dame Basilica: There’s room for more than one Notre Dame on this earth. Be sure to snap a least a few pics at Montreal’s greatest. Currently, there’s the Aura exhibit that you have to check out!
  • Montreal Botanical Gardens: For another stunning view, get to Montreal Space for Life and wander around these world-class gardens.

Where to Eat in Montreal

Where to Eat in Montreal

Like I said, Montreal is city of always-evolving foodie scenes. You’ll find amazing produce, the classic French-Canadian cuisines, but above all, you can’t miss the city’s iconic food, poutine–mine is pictured above!

  • TOMMY Cafe: Adorable cafe and some of the best breakfast foods I’ve 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 ultradecadent pork sandwich and Canada’s most famous food, poutine. The sweet window has donuts stuffed with all kinds of fruit and custards. Be sure to try the maple syrup soda!
  • Les Infantiles Terribles: With a few locations around, this is the place to come for beautiful views, good food and craft cocktails!
  • Le Quartier Général: 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 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.
  • La Banquise: This poutine heaven had 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, picture above, as well as an awesome selection of microbrews to enjoy with your meal. Come early and be prepared to wait!
  • St-Viateur Bagel: 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.
  • Arthur’s: 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.
  • Moleskin: If you’re a fan of wine and wood-fried pizzas, I’ve found your new favorite spot. They also have a delicious selection of salads you’ve got to try!

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.