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Montreal, Canada

Introduction

Montreal, the second largest city in Canada, is the cultural capital of Quebec and recognized as one of the worlds most livable cities.

The city is located on an island in the St. Lawrence River at the historically highest navigable point of the river which made Montreal a strategic trading center since before the arrival of Europeans. Montreals heritage is still evident in many parts of the Old City and the Old Port where attractive colonial buildings and Paris-like cafes line the cobbled streets. The city is also home to the worlds second largest population of French speakers after Paris.

Montreal has great shopping including a huge underground shopping mall, known as the Reso, which is popular in winter. In January the city hosts the Festival of Snow, a fantastic event featuring ice sculpting, skating and other snow-related activities.

Travel to Montreal

Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (YUL) is about 30-60 mins west of the city center. The airport is served by all major Canadian and U.S. airlines and is a major hub for Air Canada with many daily trans-Atlantic flights to and from many European cities.

Taxis fares from the airport to the city centre are a fixed rate.

The Arobus is a shuttle bus from the airport to the city's inter-city bus station, Station Centrale, via a number of downtown hotels. It departs roughly every 20 minutes from 7AM to 1AM. [Tickets are $15 one-way, return $25].

Public bus is the cheapest option, Take bus number 204 from outside arrivals (every 30mins) to Gare Dorval (Dorval train station). From Dorval Station, transfer to express bus number 211/221 to the Lionel-Groulx mtro. Your ticket will let you on the mtro. [Costs $3 but need exact change].

VIA Rail AirConnect service from the airport terminal to downtown by shuttle and train.


Plattsburgh International Airport in Plattsburgh, New York, on the U.S. side of the border, is about one hour by car. Domestic USA flights to Plattsburgh can be cheaper than USA international flights to Canada.


Motor Vehicle - Toronto to Montreal takes about 6 hours. Ottawa to Montreal takes about two hours. Quebec City to Montreal takes about 3 hours. New York City to Montreal takes 6 hours to the border (at Plattsburgh) and another one hour to Montreal. Boston to Montreal takes 6 hours.

Trains operate daily from Montreal Central Station (Gare Centrale) to Ottawa (2 hours), Toronto (4.5 hours) and Quebec City (3 hours). Amtrak's service to New York takes 10-12 hours.

Montreal Transport

Walking is a best way to get around the downtown area and the narrow streets of Old Montreal. Be careful during the winter months, because sidewalks can be icy and extremely hazardous after winter snow and ice storms. We recommend using the RSO, Montreal's famous Underground City, which is a network of pedestrian corridors connecting Mtro stations, shopping centres, and office complexes.

Driving in Montreal is not recommended for tourists as downtown traffic is very heavy, street parking challenging and parking stations expensive. During winter there are snowfalls and ice making driving dangerous as well as frequent snow clearing activity where parked cars can be towed to the nearest street with space. Autoroutes (motorways or freeways) can be challenging for visitors, as signs are mostly in French.

Bus journeys require exact change as the driver does not give change. If taking a bus and the metro ask the bus driver for a transfer that allows passengers to take the metro without paying the fare again. If taking the metro then a bus take a transfer stub from one of the dispensing machines from your starting station. The best value ticket is the one day pass with unlimited travel on the bus and metro for the day.

Metro operates in Montreal and is inexpensive and easy to navigate.

Commuter Train service connects to the metro and radiates out from downtown to the suburbs and neighbouring towns. Pre-purchased tickets must be validated in the stamping machines at the entrance to the platform before boarding the train. The main train station is Montreal Central Station (Gare Central).

Taxis are plentiful and safe, but relatively expensive. Try to negotiate a fixed fare to your destination.

Montreal Attractions

City Tour - travel on a converted tram and discover Old Montreal - located between the River and downtown, this historical part of the City and its Old Port will put you into close contact with the past life of this major metropolis of North America. See Notre-Dame Basilica - A masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture. Visit Olympic Park - Built for the 1976 Summer Olympics Games. Enjoy Mount Royal Park - The scenic lookout offers a striking view of the downtown area and the river. St. Joseph's Oratory at the top of Mount-Royal, it is one of the world's most visited shrines. The basilica's huge dome reaches 320 feet (97 meters) and is second in height only to Saint-Peter's basilica in Rome.

Montreal Olympic Games Stadium & Tower Observatory Montreal Canada has guided tours available of the Olympic Park beginning with a brief history of the 1976 Olympic Games. View the impressive Olympic stadium and pools. The Montreal Tower Observatory is located in the highest inclined tower in the world, with an elevation of 575 feet (175 meters) and 45-degree angle. Take a unique funicular ride up the side of the tower to reach the Observatory by a 2-level glass funicular that can accommodate 76 passengers at a time. Enjoy sweeping panoramic views of Montreal and the site of the 1976 Olympic Games. On a clear day, you can see up to 50 miles (80 km) all around, including the Laurentian Mountains. At the end of this visit, you can understand why the Stadium is considered one of the wonders of modern architecture!

Walking Tour of Old Montreal is an excellent way to discover the fascinating city of Montreal bursting with art, intriguing history and spectacular architecture. Your guide will tell you about the history and architecture of Montreal as you walk past Notre-Dame Basilica, Place Jacques-Cartier, City Hall, Champ de Mars, Bonsecours Market and much more.

La Ronde (Six Flags) is Eastern Canadas largest amusement park. The facility, which opened as part of Expo 67, today offers some 40 rides and attractions, including the Goliath, one of North Americas highest and fastest roller coasters, and Le Pays de Ribambelle, an exciting and enchanting family area. La Ronde is located on Sainte-Hlne Island in the Parc Jean-Drapeau, near downtown Montral. [take the metro to Jean-Drapeau Station, then 167 La Ronde bus or metro to Papineau Station, then 169 La Ronde bus]

Parc Jean-Drapeau was the site of the 1967 World's Fair and is now parklands, a large outdoor concert venue, the Gilles Villeneuve racing circuit, home of the Montreal Formula 1 Grand Prix, an artificial beach, an outdoor pool complex, and the Montreal Casino.

Ottawa Day Tour is an excursion to see Ottawa, Canada's capital city, on a whole day trip from Montreal. Travel by motorcoach and see major city highlights including the Parliament Building, Rideau Canal, Rockcliffe Lookout and Farmer's Byward Market. View the residences of the Prime Minister of Canada. Stroll through the grounds of the Governor General where you may see the "changing of the guards" at the entrance gates (seasonal). Cross the bridge to Hull, the home of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, where a stop includes a spectacular view of the Parliament and cliffs across the Ottawa River.

Quebec City & Montmorency Falls Tour - Visit Quebec City, the historic heart of French Canada. You'll take a full day sightseeing tour through Quebec with a local guide and enjoy a photo stop at magnificent Montmorency Falls - higher than Niagara Falls! This tour will take you back more than 350 years as you visit the former French colonial city of Quebec. You will be charmed by the old-world atmosphere of Quebec City with its narrow streets, steep hills and numerous historical treasures on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Before you return to Montreal, you will have free time to browse Quebec's Old City. Highlights include the Place Royale (birthplace of French civilization in North America), the Petit Champlain district - the oldest quarter in North America, Funicular ride on the elevator linking Upper and Lower Old Quebec, with magnificent views of the river and surroundings, the Citadel, the largest fortifications in North America, the Plains of Abraham, where the famous battle between the French and English armies took place in 1759 and the Parliament Building, Quebec's most important national historic site

Laurentian Mountains Tour is a full day trip to the magnificent countryside surrounding Montreal - the mountains, lakes and forests of the Laurentians. You'll visit numerous French villages on your journey, including Val-Morin, Val-David, Piedmont and Saint-Sauveur Village, a resort municipality nestled in the mountains. You'll be charmed by Saint-Sauveur's lively main street and distinctive shops, boutiques, cafes, restaurants and attractions with free time included to explore and cruise the lovely Lac des Sables in Ste Agathe des Monts. The 50-minute cruise on Lac des Sables takes you along a shoreline dotted with famous homes dating back to 1890. Enjoy splendid views of the lake's islands.

Montreal Nightlife and Entertainment

Montreals main nightlife areas:

Rue Crescent, in the western part of downtown, is popular with tourists and English speaking people. There are many trendy cafes, bars and restaurants.

Boulevard Saint-Laurent, between rue Sherbrooke and avenue des Pins, has many bars and night clubs and is popular with locals, university students and tourists.

Rue St-Denis, between Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve, has many good bars.

Dance clubs can be found on St. Laurent and Crescent St.

Casino de Montral, located at 1 avenue du Casino (metro Jean-Drapeau) is great for a night of fun.

Montreal Shopping

Popular shopping streets are:

Rue Ste-Catherine, between rue Guy and boulevard St-Laurent, which has many department stores as well as a few shopping malls.

Boulevard St-Laurent is one of the city's main shopping streets hosting a wide variety of stores.

Rue Laurier, between St-Laurent and its western end, is one of the city's most popular places for eating and shopping.

Rue St-Viateur between St-Laurent and avenue du Parc.

Rue Saint-Denis is known for more upmarket stores and boutiques.

Rue Sherbrooke, from McGill University west to rue Guy, has a strip of shops. At the intersection of Sherbrooke and Greene Avenue in Westmount there is a luxurious retail strip.

Montreal Dining

Montreal has been ranked as one of the best dining cities in North America with a huge variety of dining options from fast food to high class restaurants.

St. Laurent, St. Denis and Mont Royal have the largest number of restaurants in the city.

Inexpensive ethnic food such as Indian can be found near the Jean-Talon market.

Many restaurants offer diners to bring their own wine (apportez votre vin in French).

Montreal Dinner Cruise offers an evening of fine dining, music and dancing while taking in the night time atmosphere and views of the Montreal skyline. Enjoy a delicious meal of fresh salmon fillet, chicken, fillet mignon and tempting desserts! Your wine steward will offer wine suggestions to complement your gourmet dinner meal.

Montreal Hotels

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Language

The first language in Quebec is French. English is spoken by people in the tourism business. Many staff at hotels, shops, restaurants and museums will speak English. English is spoken less outside of tourist areas and in smaller cities and towns. The locals appreciate visitors who attempt to learn basic French

Beyond Montreal

Quebec City is about 3 hours to the north east.

Ottawa is two hours west by car.

Toronto is a six hour drive or 4.5-hour train trip.

Boston is a 5.5 hour drive to the southeast.