A slice of the Old World in North America, Montreal is a city of historic architecture, dazzling sights and a culture all its own. The largest city in Quebec, Montreal is a place where French colonial townhouses stand mere blocks from modern skyscrapers and office towers. Just wandering its charming and historic streets is an adventure in and of itself. For visitors looking for a truly unique and fascinating place to explore, the beautiful city of Montreal has much to offer.
Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada and the cultural and commercial center of Quebec. Its primary language is French, although visitors can get by with English as well. Montreal was first founded by French settlers in the 1600s and has since grown into a global center for business, media, culture and technology. The city can be accessed by plane, train, bus or car and enjoys a temperate, seasonal climate.
Montreal boasts a wide array of historic landmarks, world-renowned museums and other sites of interest to discover. It plays host to some of Canada’s finest parks, theaters, restaurants and shops as well. One of the city’s premier attractions is Old Montreal, the historic core of the city. Many of Old Montreal’s buildings date back between the 17th and 19th centuries, making exploring its streets like a virtual trip back in time. The district holds an impressive collection of landmarks and attractions such as the Notre Dame Basilica, a historic church known for its striking architecture, as well as the Old Port, a beautiful waterfront park and cultural district. Old Montreal holds a wealth of museums and historic landmarks worth visiting such as the acclaimed Montreal Science Centre, the Montreal Museum of History and Archeology, the Marguerite-Burgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and much more. Other attractions in Old Montreal include Place Jacques-Cartier, the Montreal History Centre, the Chateau Ramezay Museum and the district’s charming and historic streets.
Outside of Old Montreal, visitors will still find plenty to see and do. La Plateau boasts spectacular views as well as some of the city’s top shopping and dining options. Downtown Montreal holds attractions such as the Montreal Underground City complex, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McCord Museum and the idyllic Parc du Mont Royal. Parc Jean-Drapeau boasts the Montreal Casino and extensive parkland as well.
From some of North America’s most renowned historic sites to world-class shopping, dining and nightlife, Montreal offers something for everyone. With its unique blend of historic and modern, Europe and the Americas, Montreal is truly one of the world’s most unforgettable travel destinations.
Montreal Downtown Hotels
Known as the city’s business district, downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada is situated on the southern side of Mount Royal, a popular tourist attraction in the area. The business district is known for housing many regional and national headquarters for large corporations, as well as the city’s tallest skyscrapers, but it is also an area that attracts thousands of tourists each year, especially those that love to shop. Beneath the Place Ville-Marie office tower is the world’s largest underground shopping center, an area that works as the anchor of a beautiful underground city. The mall is home to over 1,600 establishments, including shops, a variety of restaurants, local businesses and museums and other tourist attractions. Many of the city’s transportation hubs can also be found underneath downtown Montreal. Another popular street in the downtown area is Saint Catherine Street, which claims he title of the busiest retail street in Canada. High end retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy call the street home. It is not uncommon to find a celebrity or two browsing the shops. Tourists that would prefer to enjoy a more natural aspect of the downtown Montreal area will find that they can view the area from several lookout points along Mount Royal. The beauty and entertainment value of downtown Montreal can be described and imagined, but its true value will not be known without visiting the area. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Montreal that are quality hotels at a affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
The weather in Montreal changes quite frequently throughout the calendar year. Life in Montreal is much more interesting due to this fact. The activities and culture available throughout the year are directly affected by the weather patterns. If you plan to visit Montreal in the near future, determine what season you’ll enjoy the most when you arrive. The activities and attractions you want to see are more enjoyable when the weather complements those things. Never try to force yourself to do something uncomfortable in relation to the weather conditions. If there’s something you want to do outdoors in Montreal, you might want to avoid winter.
Winter can be harsh in Montreal compared to where most people live. Average temperatures in January are roughly 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s plenty of snow to go around during the winter. The city usually receives 85 to 90 inches of snow between the months of November and March. Brisk breezes can cause wind chills to drop far into the negatives. Ice storms and other nuisances also happen from time to time. In January and February, there are usually only four days of rain during each month. Winter is the worst time for outdoor activities in Montreal.
Summer can be quite warm. Humidity consistently sticks around in July and August. Bad thunderstorms can happen when the seasons change. Hail storms, high winds, and flooding rains occur somewhat frequently in May and October, which coincide with the coming and leaving of summer, respectively. Temperatures during a typical summer day in Montreal reach roughly 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. While most of the summer is a pleasant time, the stickiness can sometimes cause excessive sweating and heat-related illnesses. Be sure to drink plenty of water on a summer trip to Montreal. There’s plenty to do if you like warmer temperatures.
Spring is a mystery each year in Montreal. Rapid temperatures swings commonly occur due to a number of reasons. You might have one day of temperatures near 40 degrees Fahrenheit with heavy winds and rain. The next day might be 65 degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of sunshine. There’s also a lot of rain in the spring. You’ll definitely need an umbrella for an extended stay in the spring in Montreal. People don’t seem to mind the rain very much, and their lively spirits embrace all the different kinds of weather they experience. Montreal is a city full of vigor no matter what the weather is outside.
The easiest way to get around Montreal quickly is to use the subway system known as the Metro or the above ground bus system. The Metro is easy to use, quiet and very fast. The areas between subway stations are accessible by one of the hundreds of buses in the city. Visitors in Montreal can identify Metro stations by the blue and white signs on the street. The best strategy when exploring the city is to purchase an unlimited ride card for one or three days. The subways run at all hours of the day but are particularly crowded early in the mornings.
Taxicabs are plentiful in downtown Montreal. They allow families to get to any location without having to decipher street names or bus routes. Hundreds of taxi stands are in downtown Montreal where drivers wait for fares. Visitors coming from the United States should be aware that taxis in Montreal are not always yellow and can be any color. Cabs are easy to find from a stand or on the street. Travelers who are in the outermost parts of the island in the east and west, however, might need to call a cab company for a pickup. Not all cab companies will travel to the extreme ends of the island.
There are several rental car companies throughout Montreal. Travelers do not need to have a Canadian license. The companies will normally accept a United States license. Renting a car provides freedom although parking is limited in central Montreal. Traffic during the day can be very heavy especially when drivers come into the city from Laval and other nearby areas for work or a large event. Visitors should be aware that driving in Montreal is different from many other areas and the United States. Flashing green lights indicate turning, some road signs are in French and speeds are measured in kilometers. Car rentals are convenient when traveling to several areas throughout Quebec. They are largely unnecessary in downtown Montreal.
The Bixi bike system is a good choice for active travelers visiting during the warmer months. The Bixi system consists of bike stands located throughout the city. Visitors swipe a credit card at the stand and can then remove a bike from the normally locked rack. The bike must be returned to another stand or the same stand when done. Bikes that are used for less than 30 minutes are free to use. The fee for the bike starts to accumulate after the first 30 minutes. This can be very expensive after eight or more hours. The bikes are a good way to move quickly between nearby attractions although they are not good for all-day tours.
There are a number of shuttles throughout Montreal. The most popular shuttles run constantly from the downtown area to the nearby airports. These airport shuttles are much less expensive than a cab ride to the same location. A number of private businesses including local hotels and one casino in the area also offer shuttle services. It is a good idea to check if a particular large business or hotel is offering convenient shuttle services in the city.
The Ecomuseum Zoo is a zoo that displays animals native to Canada, especially those animals who live in the Saint Lawrence Valley. Over 115 animal species live at the zoo including otters, black bears and wolves. This zoo is noted for its outstanding bird collection. The zoo has just recently opened a new aviary and waterfowl habitat filled with ducks, geese and an assortment of hawks, owls and other birds. The zoo is open every day from 9am to 5pm except Christmas.
The Notre Dame Basilica was built in 1824 on the site where churches have stood in Montreal since the 1600s. The church is well-known for its two towers. One tower is called Perseverance, and it contains a huge bell. The second tower is named Temperance, and it is the home of a carillon. Inside the basilica, visitors will see many wonderful works of art decorating this glorious building. There are many statues and carvings of saints and Biblical figures. An ornate pulpit is one of the artistic highlights of the church’s interior. Individual and group tours are available. The church is open every day.
A highlight of any visit to Montreal is the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. The museum was founded in 1860, and its current art collection numbers over 35,000 pieces. The museum is noted for its collection of Canadian art. However, the museum’s collection has many examples of the finest artistic creations from around the world. The museum’s galleries contain the work of Renoir, Rodin, Monet and Picasso to name just a few of the masters whose work is on display.
The Redpath Museum is a natural history museum that was founded in 1882. It is part of Montreal’s famous McGill University. There are three floors of exhibits at the Redpath. The highlight of the museum is the extensive collection of minerals. The museum also contains numerous fossils and ancient artifacts. The museum is closed on Saturdays and major holidays.
The place to go to see beautiful flowers and gorgeous plants is the Montreal Botanical Gardens. The garden’s 10 greenhouses contain ferns, orchids and a wide-variety of tropical plants. Several themed gardens are scattered across the property. The Japanese Garden is exceptionally stunning. The Montreal Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays.
Old Montreal is a nice place to enjoy a walk. Many of the buildings in this area date back to the 16 and 1700s. Old Montreal is the home of museums, churches, shopping and fine dining.
As far as a top culinary city in North America, Montreal ranks just under San Francisco, the #1 city for dining. Even ahead of New York, Montreal is the dining destination. One reason for its culinary success is the large Jewish community with their restaurants, cafes and delicatessens that are frequented by locals and guests to the city. Then, French cuisine is extremely popular especially in old Montreal. Every type of food is available when it comes to Montreal’s thriving food scene, and international foods as well as vegetarian are common.
When it comes to locally loved food, pizza, bagels and split pea soup are top favorites of Montreal and Quebec residents. Additionally, poutine is a fast food treasure loved by the people of Quebec. The dish is made of French fries and brown gravy with cheese curd sprinkled across the top and sometimes other tasty ingredients.
To sample local culinary specialties, the best places to go are two public market streets. The larger market area is that of Jean-Talon and De Castelnau. Neighborhood groceries, Little Italy, cafes and shops of various kinds are on the streets and side streets of this area. The second is Atwater Market, a farmer’s market on the other side of Montreal. Although completely different and smaller than the public market streets at De Castelnau, the quality is terrific and the wide selections offer local produce and specialty items. Another must-see area is China Town.
Of the many local restaurants and other particularly perfect eating establishments throughout Montreal, Europea is a high-end fine dining experience serving the best of French cuisine including desserts with exquisite presentation. Reservations should be called in ahead of time to Europea. Swartz Hebrew Delicatessen is a tradition in Montreal open since the 1920s, the place to get a fabulous and gigantic smoked meat dinner or sandwich. Then in old Montreal, guests feel right at home at Muki, a little ice cream and coffee shop where the ice cream and other desserts are wonderful.
From the shops, markets and delis selling regional specialty foods to the many restaurants with local and international fare, Montreal is a marvelous place to take food tours. Anyone who has time should check out the neighborhood businesses and stay away from food chains while they are in this grand city. Eating is certainly a pleasure that can be experienced no matter what the outdoor weather brings, and the modern capital of Quebec definitely has a thriving food scene.
The Montreal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world. It attracts more than 2.5 million people to the city over a one-week period. The festival sees over 1,000 performances from the most famous jazz musicians in the world as well as new artists just coming onto the scene. Hundreds of these performances are free to attend and are held in outdoor venues. Indoor events require ticket purchases in advance for specific shows. Montreal hotels fill up quickly during the festival. It is best to book rooms in advance or to purchase one of the package deals offered by the festival organizers and local hotels.
Les FrancoFolies de Montreal is one of the most popular events for Quebecois in the city. The event is the largest festival celebrating French music in the world. It attracts more than 1 million visitors every year. The top French musicians from Quebec play hundreds of shows during the one-week festival. The festival also draws in global French musicians from areas like France, Spain and Africa. There are dozens of performances held outdoors in downtown Montreal that are free. Indoor performances require the purchase of tickets in advance.
The Montreal International Fireworks Competition occurs on Fridays and Saturdays throughout July. The competition is the largest display of pyrotechnics in the world and has been held annually for nearly 30 years. Each day of the competitions allows one competitor to put on a 30-minute show at night. The fireworks are choreographed to music. They often express a specific theme. Visitors who want to watch the displays can view the fireworks free from several spots near the water although it might not be possible to hear the music. Purchasing tickets is easy and provides free access to the rides in La Ronde on the day of the performance. The tickets allow visitors to view the fireworks from a comfortable location near the event judges.
The Festival TransAmeriques has been held annually in Montreal since 2007. The festival is a collection of hundreds of innovative, thought-provoking and entertaining live performances from around the world. These performances include theater, dance, performance art and even puppetry. Visitors will need to purchase tickets for each individual performance. It should be noted that the performances that involve actors speaking have largely French dialogue.
The Montreal Fashion and Design Festival attracts over 500,000 people every summer. The festival showcases the newest fashions from local designers as well as international design houses. All of the shows are held outdoors and are free for anyone to watch. The models on the runways are accompanied by live performances from a diverse range of musicians. Visitors should arrive at each event early in order to beat the crowds that form closer to the start time.
Family Fun near Downtown Montreal
Cosmodome and Space Camp – Montreal boasts one of the world’s five space camps for children. The camp is designed for kids ages nine through fifteen. The rest of the family can also enjoy watching clips of people walking on the moon, a realistic copy of “Endeavor,” and learn about the history and development of spaceships and travel vehicles. Solar system exploration goes to new lengths at Montreal’s incredible space camp. Your entire family will find this a memorable and life-changing stop during your Montreal journeys.
Montreal Insectarium – Many kids are interested in all types of bugs. Though they may be a bit on the disgusting side, it’s interesting to learn about the different physical features on insects. You can also discover where certain insects originate, what their habitats are like, what they eat, and what the main role in society is. Some bugs pollinate flowers, others fertilize soils, and still, other insects have different roles. You’ll enjoy the fact that the kids learn and have fun at the same time, and you’ll leave with a smile on your face, too.
The Chocolate Economuseum – Chocolate lovers from all over the world make this stop in Montreal every year. You can see how chocolate is made as you take a quick tour of the factory. The best part of this tour is the free samples they give out to everyone who participates. There’s also a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs to take home with you. This stop in Montreal will satisfy your sweet tooth like none other.
Biodome de Montreal – This is a unique and fascinating place that people of all ages seem to love. You get to walk through the Biodome and discover four different replicas of habitats found around the world. In one section, you see a very cold climate. In another section, a tropical rainforest is seen. Two other sections include the habitat of the St. Lawrence River and a Laurentian forest. Kids and adults both marvel at the terrific sights and sounds available here.
Place des Arts – The music enthusiast inside of all people comes out to play here. You can hear stirring renditions of real classic pieces of music. The center for performing arts puts on a number of shows, each with different acts and talents on display. If you want some truly beautiful music and opera theater, go visit Place des Arts in Montreal. It’s the chance of a lifetime to be moved by beautiful performing art.
Shopping near Downtown Montreal
While visiting Montreal you will want to be sure and take advantage of all of the great shopping that is offered. No matter what you are in search of on your shopping trip you’ll have no problem finding it.
Montreal offers some of the best boutiques for arts and collectibles, Boutique Art en Mouvement will provide you with the most beautiful wood carvings that you have ever seen. You can also choose from great wind chimes and glass items that will make your visit to Montreal much more special.
Lily Ka offers the latest fashions such as dresses, tops and even handbags that are of the latest trends. Lily Ka also has some unique gift items such as picture frames and some small home decor items.
When shopping for the man in your life or the man on your trip, visit the Red Canoe where you’ll find all that you need in men’s apparel. You’ll be able to choose from great T-shirts that are casual but also sporty as well as caps and boots. Should you shop too much and need another bag to carry you shopping items home in you’ll find a great one at the Red Canoe.
Temps libre is another great shop that sells the latest fashion trends. Shirts and pants are plentiful in this shop as well as some great looking jackets that you may find that you need while in Montreal to wear on your trip.
If art is your passion you’ll find that the Les Cafe de Arts will provide you with a great selection of watercolor paintings as well as oil paintings. You can choose from various sizes of canvas that will add an artistic touch to your home or office when you return home.
To purchase your choice of sculptures, you can visit the Gallerie Ricchi art Inuit. This gallery is filled with sculptures of all sizes that are sure to add beauty to any place that they rest. You might choose a few to gift your friends and family back home with.
At Simon’s, you’ll find everything that you could possibly need for the home as well as for yourself. Whether you are shopping for the latest fashions or for a new bedspread Simon’s will provide it. You may even decide to buy some a new bathing suit or bathing suit cover while at Simon’s.
Shopping in Montreal is going to fulfill all of your shopping expectations and make your trip even more memorable than you imagined.