Montreal is the cosmopolitan capital of Quebec but is better known as the ‘Paris of Canada’. It’s a city that has a European feel and youthful edge but maintains an old-world charm. From stunning 18th-century architecture to lively year-round festivals, Montreal knows how to live.
Don’t be dome, you’ll love Montreal!
Today Montreal is split into 19 boroughs and is dubbed to be one of the liveliest cities in North America. Between the endless festivals that celebrate local Canadian art and culture and the vibrant culinary scene that blends food from around the world in innovative ways, Montreal manages to maintain its historic charm.
Here’s a Pro Tip: The currency used is the Canadian Dollar. Currently the exchange rate is 1.7 C$ for each GB£.
Enjoying Mont-Royal gardens is a walk in the park!
Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport sits 20km (12miles) from downtown Montreal and is the city’s primary airport. Transferring from the airport to downtown is easy as travellers have two options to choose from; bus or taxi.
Those travelling on a budget should hop abroad the 747 lines using an STM pass. Passes cost roughly £5 and last 24 hours, so you can continue to use the STM system (which includes the metro) once in the city. The STM passes are also available as a weekend pass, a three-day pass, and a week pass. The bus journey takes between 45 – 70 minutes and terminates at either Berri-UQAM in downtown or the Lionel-Groulx metro stop.
If you’re in a hurry, opt for a taxi directly from the airport to your accommodation. The journey takes approximately 25-minutes and costs around £25 one-way.
Here’s Another Pro Tip: Though officially French, most locals speak both French and English which makes Montreal a bilingual city! I recommended learning a few basic French phrases to be polite.
Notre-Dame Basilica: Our Lady is a work of art!
Mont-Royal – Montreal’s namesake is a small but impressive mountain that offers incredible views over the city and surrounding landscape. There are over 692 acres of park to explore, including forested trails and cross-country ski runs.
- Old Montreal – Vieux-Montreal is the heart and soul of the city and a melting pot of cultures. Horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, and 18th-century buildings line the district and transport you back to the Age of Reason. Don’t miss the Gothic Revival church Notre Dame Basilica.
- Jean-Talon Market – This colourful open-air market dates back to 1933 and hosts over 300 local vendors. The market takes place at 7am daily in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Note that it’s worth visiting to enjoy the hubbub of sellers, even if you’ve no desire to buy.
- Montreal Biodome – Go wild at Montreal’s indoor zoo and aquarium! This incredible indoor space is home to over 200 species of animals and over 500 different plants. Don’t miss the collection of penguins native to Canada.
- Bell Centre – Montreal’s multi-purpose arena is the home of the Canadians, the city’s renowned hockey team. Because they predated the NHL, they are known locally as the ‘Habitants’. So, now you know why you’ll hear ‘Go Habs!’ in the arena.
- Mile End – This trendy neighbourhood is home to boutique stores, quirky cafes, and local art galleries. It’s an excellent place for thrift shopping or picking up a souvenir!
From seasonal small plates to traditional Quebec cuisine, here are my favourite places to dine in Montreal:
- Helicoptere – This fine-dining restaurant offers innovative dishes at an affordable price. Enjoy Small plates and seasonal food made with love.
- Moccione – This is my favourite Italian restaurant in the city. With a strong focus on handmade pasta, simple dishes are made using fresh ingredients. Try the squash and mascarpone stuffed Tortelli!
- Chez Tousignant – For traditional Quebec cuisine, head to Chez Tousignant. I’m talking Poutine, cheese curds, and homemade hot dogs. Enjoy comfort-food indulgence!
What do you put on your poutine?!
When the sun sets on Mont-Royal, it’s time to put on your dancing shoes and soak up Montreal’s nightlife. Here are my three favourite bars in the city:
- Nhau Bar – This hidden cocktail bar sits in Montreal’s Business district and is frequented by locals after work and tourists who’ve been tipped off about its location. The bar specialises in Southeast Asian-inspired cocktails.
- Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu – This Italian cafe serves a long list of bitter Italian drinks, including Negroni’s and Aperol Spritz, until 10 pm. It’s a great place to kick start your evening and enjoy Mediterranean snacks as you drink.
- Corona Theatre – The Corona Theatre is Montreal’s premier concert venue and a spectacular vintage theatre. Live music and shows are held throughout the year. Note: It has nothing to do with the Corona Virus!
Contemporary, boutique, and historic accommodation – you name it, and Montreal has it! Check out my top three Montreal hotels below:
- Hotel Le Crystal – This contemporary hotel sits in downtown Montreal, just a short walk from some of the city’s best shopping and museums. The hotel boasts an array of comforting amenities, including an onsite restaurant, pool, gym, and spa.
- Hotel Gault – If you enjoy stylish boutiques, check out Hotel Gault. This affordable hotel is housed in an elegant building that dates back to the 19th century and boasts just 30 rooms.
Party like it’s 1799!
- Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth – After undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment, Montreal’s most established hotel is back! Rooms at The Queen Elizabeth are bold and elegant, yet comfortable and inviting. Make use of the onsite restaurant, spa, and wellness centre.
It’s no surprise that Montreal is one of the most visited cities in Canada. Sports fans, foodies, and shopaholics will delight at the variety of things to see and do in Montreal!