Montreal is a great place to visit for first time solo travelers, couples, bachelor/bachelorette parties, families, and anyone who has not had the chance to visit Europe (especially Paris, France). If you are looking for a taste of European flair, then Montreal is definitely the place to visit.
I visited Montreal in September which is the perfect time to visit! In September, the high season is ending and the weather is just right—chilly in the mornings and evenings (light jacket) but warm for most of the day.
French and English
For my flight I bought tickets from Air Canada (going) and American Airlines (return) for a total of $364.
I stayed at the Residence Inn Montreal Downtown by Marriott due to its proximity to the metro, attractions (Mt. Royal, Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Eaton Centre and many more), plenty of restaurants, and free breakfast.
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To get to and from the airport, I took the 747 express airport bus to Berri-UQAM station. From the metro station, I caught the train to my hotel located by Peel station. The cost is 10 CAD each each way and also serves as a 24 hour public transportation pass for the buses and the metro.
I relied heavily on the metro which was easy to use and very accessible to pretty much anywhere you want to go in the city. Uber is also available, but I did not use it at all. You can also rent a bike to get around the city.
What I did in Montreal
You must visit the basilica during your trip to Montreal. I recommend that you visit the basilica as soon as it opens to beat the crowd. The basilica also offer a 20 minute guided tour for no additional fee (with you admission ticket). Pamphlets are also located on the inside of the basilica for those who prefer to do a self-guided tour. If you have time, purchase a ticket to the Aura show in the evening to see the inside of the basilica illuminated with lights and music!
Montreal Botanical Gardens
The Montreal Botanical Gardens are absolutely beautiful! Flowers were in full bloom when I visited in early September. I spent a few hours walking around in awe of my surroundings (flowers, plants, greenhouse, garden sculptures, mini lake) that I forgot to take pictures of it. My favorite areas of the park were the Chinese, Japanese, rose, and first nation gardens. The botanical gardens are also a great place to run, jog, or walk. It is also conveniently located next to the Olympic Park, Biodome, and Planetarium.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Whether you are an art fan or not you will love this museum! Here you will find every type of paintings, sculptures, music, architecture, fashion and design. I spent 3 hours wandering around this museum as I was fascinated by everything object within it. It’s also a great rainy day activity (which is how I ended up here).
While in Montreal, I decided to take a bike tour of the south side of the city with Fitz and Fowell. This tour covers Mt. Royal, McGill University, Notre Dame, the Waterfront (clock tower), and St. Catherine. This company has some of the most amazing and helpful guides! The guides make sure to look out for everyone, especially when riding through traffic. Keep in mind that like Amsterdam, the city of Montreal has a hardcore bike culture. As such be aware of bikers when riding and crossing bike lanes and the street. I truly believe that a bike tour is the best way to get an overview of any city.
In addition to the bike tour, I also took a food tour with Fitz and Fowell called “Flavours of Montreal-North.” This tour covers an area of Montreal that is home to a number of international shop and bakeries due to immigrants that moved to Montreal many centuries ago. On this tour I got to try the famous Montreal bagel, pastel de nata, cannoli, ice cider (yum) with cheese, and Italian coffee. The tour ended at the famous Marché Jean-Talon which is a local farmers market and definitely worth a visit. Note: This tour by Fitz and Fowell is no longer offered. However, there are many other food tours you can book such as Secret Food Tours Montreal and Local Montreal Food Tours.
- Try poutine
- Go shopping in the underground mall especially if you visit during the off season (i.e. winter)
- Learn to speak a little French (the basics—Bonjour, Au revoir, Merci, S’il vous plaît)
- Attend the Festival YUL Eat (food festival usually in September)
- Try to ice wine
- Get ice cream from Chocolats Favoris and get it dipped in any flavor you desire!
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