Hostelworld Guide for Montreal

By Rebecca Keenan

front page pic

As Canada's second largest city, Montréal boasts a huge variety of attractions to enjoy, from museums and art galleries to historic sites and beautiful parks. There's no doubt that it's also a city of neighbourhoods. A walking exploration of this enticing mix of diverse areas is a great way to get a feel for what gives this city its unique atmosphere. Whether you're looking to try Canadian specialities or Italian cuisine, you'll find it in Montréal's numerous eateries. Night owls are kept happy by a huge variety of venues including everything from sports bars to dance clubs. With so much to keep you occupied, this is one city you won't want to leave in a hurry.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Montréal-Trudeau airport welcomes flights from all over Canada and the US. To get from the airport to the city centre you can hop on the 747 express bus. The journey takes about 35 minutes.

By train: Gare Centrale, Montréal's Central Train Station, is located at 895 rue de la Gauchetière Ouest. VIA Rail Canada trains arrive here from Québec City, Ottawa and Halifax.

By bus: If you arrive in Montréal by bus you'll most likely find yourself at the Montréal Bus Central Station at 505 Blvd de Maisonneuve Est. A wide variety of bus services connect Montréal with cities in Canada and the US.

Getting Around

On foot: Walking around Old Montréal is quite manageable and you'll want to explore some of the city's diverse neighbourhoods on foot. However, as Montréal is quite a large city you will need to use public transport at some stage during your stay.

By Métro: Montréal's Métro service is run by the Sociéte de transport de Montréal (STM). These subway trains run on four different routes all across the city. It's an easy system to use and an affordable way to get around.

By bike: Cycling is a very popular way of getting around here so if you want to blend in with the locals, hop on one of the BIXI bikes and pedal away. These are communal bikes you can rent and pick up or drop off at various stations around the city.

 Montréal facts

Location: Montréal is located in the province of Québec in Canada. The city is situated on the Island of Montréal where the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa rivers meet.
Population: As Canada's second biggest city, Montréal has a population of over 1.6 million people.
Area: The city itself covers an area of approximately 140 square miles.
Founded: Montréal was incorporated as a city in 1832 but it was founded much earlier in the 1600s, with First Peoples settlements in the area dating back even further than that.

Montréal enjoys a humid continental climate and experiences four distinct seasons. Spring is generally cool, while autumn is a bit more pleasant. This is a particularly popular time of year to visit as this is when the trees on Mont Royal sport their 'fall foliage'. July is the hottest month, seeing average temperatures of between 20°C and 22°C. In winter, expect it to be cold with lots of snow. January is Montréal's coldest month when the city experiences average lows of -9°C. Rainy weather is most prevalent in the months of August and September and each month gets about 90mm of rainfall.

 Good to know...

Languages: French (official) and English
Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD)
Electricity: 110 Volts AC/60 Hz, 2-pin plug (flat) or 3-pin plug (2 flat & 1 round)
Area code: +1 (Canada), 514 (Montréal)
Emergency codes: Ambulance/Fire/Police 911
Time zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5)
Central Post Office: Canada Post, 800 René-Lévesque Blvd, Centre-Ville
Main Tourist Office: Infotouriste Centre, 1255 Peel Street, Centre-Ville


USA: +1 514 3989695
Australia: +1 613 2360841*
New Zealand: +1 613 2385991*
UK: +1 514 8665863
Spain: +1 514 9355235
France: +1 514 8784385
Germany: +1 514 9312277
Italy: +1 514 849 8351
Ireland: +1 514 8482424

*Embassy in Ottawa

Hostelworld Guide for Montreal

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Smoked meat sandwiches These sandwiches are a Montréal favourite and appear on the menus of eateries throughout the city. They're made using beef that's been cured, spiced and smoked served up on rye bread with mustard. Coleslaw and pickles are usually offered on the side and there's enough meat on the sandwiches to make them a real mouthful.

 Canadian comfort food

La Banquise, 994 rue Rachel Est, Plateau Mont Royal Since 1968, this popular restaurant has been serving up poutine, a Canadian favourite consisting of fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Lots of different variations on the classic poutine are also served up to a very diverse crowd and all the food is very reasonably priced. Open 24 hours daily.

Café Kilo, 1495 rue Saint-Catherine Est, The Village One of the coolest cafés in the Village, Kilo serves up paninis, burgers, sandwiches and nachos, along with a mouth-watering selection of cakes. Whether you fancy a meal, snack or just dessert, this casual chic spot is well worth checking out. Open Sun-Thurs 10am-midnight, Fri-Sat 10am-2am.

Juliette et Chocolat, 1615 rue Saint-Denis, Quartier Latin Packed with both locals and visitors, this lively café has lots of tables both inside and out. A huge variety of sweet and savoury crêpes are featured on the menu alongside a plethora of other sweet treats including chocolates, milkshakes and ice-cream sundaes. Open Sun-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-midnight.

Santropol Café, 3990 rue Saint-Urbain, Plateau Mont Royal This funky little place can get pretty busy, especially at lunchtime or on nice days when people come to enjoy their food out in the beautiful terrace garden. On the menu here you'll find soups, sandwiches and plenty more besides. Open daily 11.30am-10pm; cash only.

Ziggy's Pub, 1470 rue Crescent, Downtown One of the many nightspots along Crescent Street, Ziggy's stands out thanks to its welcoming, laid-back atmosphere and affordable tipples. This is a sports bar so inside you'll find lots of TVs showing plenty of different games, along with some pretty cool sports memorabilia. So grab a stool at the bar or slide into one of the booths and relax with a drink. Open Mon-Fri 3pm-3am, Sat-Sun 2pm-3am.

La Distillerie, 300 rue Ontario Est, Quartier Latin Step inside this little bar and you'll be greeted by loud rock music, friendly staff and a young crowd. Colourful cocktails are the speciality here, many of which are served up in big jars. These are all very reasonably priced but you'll also find some cheaper deals during Happy Hour. Open daily 4pm-3am.

Les Trois Brasseurs, 105 rue Saint-Paul Est, Old Montréal This is a popular place to stop for a drink after wandering around the city's Old Town area. It's a microbrewery so it always has a great selection of beers on tap and offers great value pints, half pints and pitchers. Open Sun-Thus 8.30am-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 8.30am-1am.

La Saint-Sulpice, 1680, rue Saint-Denis, Quartier Latin Spread out over a few floors, this is a huge spot with one of the most popular patios in the city. Drinks specials including cheap pitchers of beer or sangria are offered regularly and there's plenty of entertainment. This includes everything from karaoke to a disco in the basement, along with major sporting events shown on TV screens throughout the premises. Open daily noon-3am.

 Gay/Lesbian Montréal

Montréal is home to a big LGBTQ scene with lots of gay-friendly bars and clubs. These include Club Unity (1171 rue Sainte-Catherine Est), which is one of the city's biggest gay clubs, and Cabaret Mado (1115 rue Sainte-Catherine Est), which hosts regular drag shows. Le Drugstore (1366 rue Sainte-Catherine Est) is a popular lesbian hangout.

Cinema du Parc, 3575 Du Parc Avenue, Downtown If you're looking for an alternative to the bar scene, this movie theatre is a great choice. It's a comfy spot showing an interesting mix of international flicks, arthouse movies and classics. Reasonably priced retrospectives focusing on famous actors or directors are also a frequent occurrence. Check website for schedule; admission $11, $8 on Tuesdays.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

 A Gothic great

Notre-Dame Basilica, 10 rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Old Montréal The exterior of this cathedral is breath-taking but step inside and you'll find that the interior is even more impressive. Built between 1824 and 1829, it features an incredibly ornate alter. Open Mon-Fri 8am-4.30pm, Sat 8am-4pm, Sun 12.30am-4pm; admission $5.

Montréal Tower, 4141 Pierre De Coubertin Ave, Olympic Park Located in Olympic Park where the 1976 Olympic Games took place, this is the world's tallest inclined tower at a height of 165m. You can't beat the spectacular views of the city that you get from the top. Open daily Jun-Aug 9am-7pm, Sept-May 9am-5pm; admission $15.

Musée d'Art Contemporain, 185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Quartier des Spectacles The Musée d'Art Contemporain is one of Canada's top contemporary art galleries and is home to many pieces contributed by artists from Québec. Colourful and cool, it's definitely worth checking out. Open Tues & Thurs-Sun 11am-6pm, Wed 11am-9pm, closed Mondays; admission $10.

Montréal Botanical Garden, 4101 rue Sherbrooke Est, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve On a stroll through these incredibly beautiful gardens you'll see a huge variety of plants. The Japanese Garden is one of the prettiest areas but there's plenty more to enjoy in the 180 acres covered by the gardens. Opening hours change with season; admission $16.50.

McCord Museum of Canadian History, 690 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Downtown Canada's rich history is the subject of this museum. From First Nations artefacts to fascinating photographs, there's plenty here to capture your imagination. Open Tues & Thurs-Fri 10am-6pm, Wed 10am-9pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, closed Mondays; admission $13, free on Wednesdays from 5pm-9pm.

Jan-Feb - La Fête des Neiges The city's biggest outdoor winter festival, La Fête des Neiges is attended by huge crowds of people each year. Held in Parc Jean-Drapeau, it features lots of events such as ice skating and lots more.

February - Montréal High Lights Festival On the go for over 10 years, this festival is actually more like three festivals in one. Over the course of 10 days, the city plays host to numerous theatrical performances and live music acts, along with a celebration of light and a food and drink festival.

April-May - Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival Taking place over five days, this multilingual festival features around 230 writers from all over the world and includes events like readings and workshops.

May - Biennale de Montréal Featuring artists from at home and abroad, this festival focuses on a specific theme each year. A wonderful selection of artworks is displayed during the festival which also involves art workshops and more.

June-July - Montréal International Jazz Festival This long-running festival attracts jazz musicians from around the world. Lots of gigs take place in venues across the city.

June - Mondial de la Bière Check out this annual festival and you'll get the chance to sample a top-notch selection of beers from all around the world.

July - Divers/Cité This long-running festival celebrates diversity and is a favourite with the city's LGBTQ community. An arts and music festival, it features a wide variety of performances from drag shows to outdoor movies.

July - Just for Laughs Founded back in 1983, Just for Laughs attracts millions of spectators each year with its programme of live comedy. Famous comedians and up and coming acts from all over the world provide the laughs during the festival.

November - M For Montréal Emerging local musicians are the focus of this relatively new music festival. It aims to promote local acts to audiences both in Canada and throughout the world.

December - Old Montréal's Extravaganza Festival The city celebrates the holidays in style with this festival which features ice skating, carol singing, seasonal treats and the New Year's Eve Grand Bal.

Hostelworld Guide for Montreal

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Vieux/Old Montréal Vieux or Old Montréal is one of the most popular areas with visitors to the city. Stroll along its cobbled streets and you'll come across attractions aplenty including the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica. Place Jacques Cartier attracts lots of street artists and entertainers so there's almost always something happening. On top of that, it's home to some of the city's top eateries.

Plateau Mont Royal Boasting some of the best shopping in the city, the Plateau Mont Royal is also home to a varied array of bars and restaurants. The beautiful La Fontaine Park with its wide open spaces and artificial pond is another popular spot. A stroll through this typical neighbourhood will give you a real feel for this city's flair.

 Have a gay old time

The Village Montréal's Gay Village is the heart and soul of the city's vibrant LGBTQ community. Known for its lively nightlife, this area boasts a great selection of bars and clubs along with a wide variety of restaurants and cafés. You'll know you're in this funky, welcoming area when you see the bright pink parking meters.

Little Italy One of the coolest things about this neighbourhood is the Jean-Talon Market which attracts large numbers of locals with its tempting array of produce. This laid-back area is also home to a wonderful array of Italian restaurants and cafés. So if you like your food, you'll definitely want to spend some time in this part of town.

Downtown Montréal's Downtown or Centre-Ville neighbourhood is packed full of things to see and do including attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts. Nightlife is well-represented in this area too, with revellers heading to the bars along Crescent Street every night. This is where you'll find the city's premier shopping stretch, rue Sainte-Catherine. More stores can be found underneath your feet in Montréal's Underground City.

Centre Eaton Montréal, 705 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Downtown This big shopping centre is spread out over five different levels, two of which are below ground and are part of the Underground City. Some of the well-known stores in the centre include Gap, Levi's, Old Navy and Sephora. Open Mon-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

 Marketplace magic

Bonsecours Market, 350 rue Saint-Paul Est, Old Montréal Overlooking the Old Port area, this market is housed inside a beautiful historic building. Made up of a number of different halls, Bonsecours is a bit more upmarket. It's home to a selection of classy boutiques along with shops selling locally handcrafted jewellery, gift items and furniture. Open daily from 10am, closing time varies with season.

Rue Sainte-Catherine, Downtown As Montréal's main shopping drag, it's no surprise that this long street boasts a huge variety of stores. Plenty of well-known brands have branches along rue Sainte-Catherine. These including American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Benetton, Footlocker, H&M, Chapters and HMV.

Complexe Les Ailes, 677 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Downtown Another of Montréal's top shopping centres, Les Ailes takes up three different floors including a subterranean level. Tommy Hilfiger, Forever 21, Lacoste and Guess are just a small selection of the top-notch stores you'll find here so prepare to get your wallet out and start spending. Open Mon-Tues & Sat 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-5pm.

Rue Saint-Denis, Plateau Mont Royal There are great shopping opportunities to be had along the stretch of rue Saint-Denis that runs through this popular neighbourhood. Well-known brands like Mexx, Lush, Doc Martins, MAC and Calvin Klein all have shops here.

 Montreal for Free

 A Day in Montreal...

Visit the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts The displays at the Musée des Beaux-Arts are housed in two different buildings connected by an underground tunnel. There's a huge selection of objects to see including the iconic hat of the famous ruler, Napoleon. Open Tues-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, closed Mondays.

Check out the Quays of the Old Port From ice-skating to exhibitions, there's always something going on at the Quays of the Old Port. Keep in mind that one of the nicest things to do in this oft-visited part of town won't cost you a cent. It simply involves strolling along and admiring the views. Constructed on the site where European settlers first arrived in the city, these quays are more than 2.5km long.

Have a look inside Christ Church Cathedral An Anglican cathedral, Christ Church was completed back in 1859. Designed by a British architect, it's an impressive example of neo-Gothic architecture. Step inside and you'll find a colourful collection of stained glass windows under the high ceilings. It's a nice place to go if you want a bit of a break from the hustle and bustle of the city Open daily 8am-6pm.

Explore Parc Jean-Drapeau This huge park is just a short Métro ride from Downtown and is located on two islands, namely the Île Notre-Dame and the Île Sainte-Hélène. It attracts huge numbers of visitors every year and boasts plenty of free activities including biking, rollerblading and swimming. If you're looking for something a little more relaxing, why not grab some food and have a picnic.

 A breath of fresh air

Spend some time in Mont Royal Park Part of the hard-to-miss mountain in the middle of Montréal, this park dates back to 1876. Today it's a popular spot with joggers, walkers and cyclists. It boasts a couple of great lookout points, providing visitors with panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas.

After breakfast, hop on the Métro, head out to the Olympic Village and take the funicular to the top of Montréal Tower.

Wander across to the Botanical Gardens where you can stroll through the gardens and check out the glasshouses.

Hop back on the Métro and head to Beaudry station at the heart of The Village. Explore the neighbourhood and have lunch at Café Kilo.

Make your way to Old Montréal where you can check out the Quays of the Old Port, stroll along the cobbled streets and visit the Notre-Dame Basilica.

Visit some of Montréal's impressive museums including the Museum of Fine Arts and the McCord Museum of Canadian History.

Check out the stores along rue Sainte-Catherine, which is the city's main shopping stretch and is home to lots of instantly recognisable brand names.

Get on the Métro and head up to the Mont Royal station, a great place to start if you want to check out Plateau Mont Royal.

Have dinner a La Banquise and try the classic poutine, one of the most popular dishes in Canada.

chocolate pic

Head to the Quartier Latin for dessert at Juliette et Chocolat (above), followed by colourful cocktails at La Distillerie.

End the night partying in Saint-Sulpice, which boasts numerous different bars, a disco and cheap pitchers of beer.

Hostelworld Guide for Montreal