Montreal Travel Guide
old world charm, new world vibes
It’s finally here, the Montreal Travel Guide you’ve all been waiting for! Well maybe that’s a little extreme, but it’s here nonetheless.
Last month, Michael and I took our anniversary trip. We chose Montreal for a few reasons.
I wanted to travel internationally but Michael didn’t want to go overseas.
I had heard that Montreal is exactly like Europe, but closer.
I love France so I’m on board for any place whose native language is French.
A few months ago I posted my Bucket List Travel Guide to Montreal. (You can check that out here.) So we already had an idea of what we wanted to do and what to expect in Montreal. As always, I like to fly by the seat of my pants when we’re actually at our destination so itineraries are general guidelines really. It’s fun to get tips from the locals while you’re there as well. We are the type of travelers who want to see the sights but also relax. So we may have every intention to see it all but we just do what we feel like that day. It is vacation afterall!
What to know
Language: French is the predominant language of Montreal, but most citizens do speak English as well.
Currency: The Canadian dollar is the currency of Montreal. We only had one instance where we actually needed cash, otherwise most places accept credit cards. Make sure you know your bank’s foreign transaction fees.
1 USD = 1.33 CAD.
Climate: We went to Montreal in March and it was still very cold & snowy. Most people recommend visiting Montreal in the summer when the weather is nice. Either way, winter was still very beautiful there!
Tip: A local told us that Quebec City is good to go to in the Winter and Montreal is more of a summer city.
Cabs/Ride Sharing: Cabs, Ubers, Lyfts, etc. are easily accessible & affordable in Montreal.
Tip: Talk to the valet at your hotel, they can recommend cabs vs. ride-sharing. It snowed on the day we were leaving for the airport. Our hotel has a deal with the local taxi service so that the fee to the airport is a flat rate regardless of weather. Uber had been charging 1.5x the rate because of the snow.
Public Transportation: We did not take the public transportation in Montreal but everyone that we talked to said that it was very easy to navigate.
Walking: This is our favorite way to get around any city that we’re in. We are able to find cool hole in the wall places that we woudln’t have known about otherwise.
Where to Stay: Hotel William Gray
There were a lot of hotels that I looked into in preparation for our trip, but the Hotel William Gray was the best option in my eyes. The mix of Old Montreal charm and new world vibes is everything that I love about travel. Plus, the in-hotel spa and amazing restaurant were definite advantages. Michael & I like to wind down at the end of a day of sight-seeing at the hotel bar, so it’s important that it has a good feel to it. Also, the location was ideal for everything that we wanted to do while visiting Montreal.
What to do
Where to EAt
Chinatown: We stumbled upon Chinatown on a walk back to our hotel one day. It was a nice break to be able to wander in and out of the shops and experience another culture within Montreal.
Botanical Gardens: Even though we visited the Botanical Gardens in the winter, it was still extremely pretty. It is definitely a place I will visit again in the spring. We were able to see the Butterflies Go Free exhibit which was a very cool experience!
Notre-Dame Basilica: This is a definite must-see while visiting Montreal. I had seen photos of Notre-Dame before we arrived but it is even more spectacular in person. **Tip: Notre-Dame only accepts cash to enter. There is a bank across the street with an ATM.
La Grande Roue de Montreal: We had an amazing view of the Ferris Wheel from our hotel room. Michael insisted that we ride it and it was actually better than I had expected. There is also ice-skating around the Ferris Wheel which was really cool to see.
Walk around Old Montreal: Our hotel was located in Old Montreal so we spent a lot of time just walking the streets and going in and out of the shops. You could feel the history in the streets, definitely a must do!
Jean-Talon Market: Visiting the Jean-Talon Market was something that was on a lot of people’s lists while I was researching what to do in Montreal. Honestly, I didn’t know if we would visit it or not. But we were nearby one day so we did. It was probably one of my favorite things that we did! I love farmer’s markets and this one was over the top. A must-see in my opinion.
There were some more things that we didn’t have time to do or the weather was too cold to do this trip. We will definitely be back though!
Maggie Oakes: This was the restaurant in our hotel and we ate here a few times. The food and drinks were amazing every time.
Schwartz’s Deli: We were lucky to visit here during the off-season as the lines can get pretty lengthy here. But it is well worth the wait! The sandwich was so good but you can skip the fries!
Jean-Talon Market: There are plenty of unique and tasty food options while wandering about the market. We ate a nutella & banana crepe which was absolutely amazing.
Les 3 Brasseurs: We stumbled upon this restaurant while walking around Old Montreal one afternoon. The food & beer were awesome. This is where we experienced poutine, which I loved and Michael thought was good but not something he wanted all of the time!
The Coldroom: This is a must! It was our first experience with a speakeasy and it was even more fun than we expected. From the doorbell to request entry and then entering through the cooler, the mood was set instantly. The people there were so nice and the drinks were amazing.
All in all, I highly recommend Montreal. It was ten times better than I could have ever imagined.
Have you visited Montreal? What were your favorite things?