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Montreal City Guide
- How big is Montréal?
- The city of Montréal covers an area of approximately 140 square miles and is located in the province of Québec in Canada.
- How many people live in Montréal?
- Montréal, which is Canada's second biggest city, has a population of over 1.6 million people.
- What are the language and the currency?
- The currency used here is the Canadian dollar (CAD). French is the official language but English is also widely spoken.
- Art along Rue de la Commune
Things to see in Montreal
- What is one of the top attractions in Montréal?
- One of the city's top attractions is the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica (10 rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Old Montréal). Located at the heart of the city's Old Montréal neighbourhood, this Gothic Revival masterpiece dates back to 1824 and houses a particularly dazzling display of stained glass windows. Some of the colourful windows depict important events in local history and are well-worth a look.
- What else should I do while I
You should definitely hop on the Metro and head out towards Olympic Park where Montréal hosted the 1976 Olympic Games. This is where you'll find Montréal Tower (4141 Pierre De Coubertin Ave, Olympic Park) which offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding areas. Montréal Tower, which is 165 metres tall, is the tallest inclined tower in the world. To get to the top and check out the view, you'll have to take a quick trip in the funicular up the side of the Tower.
While you're out at Olympic Park, make sure to also check out the nearby Montréal Botanical Garden (4101 rue Sherbrooke Est, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve). Covering an impressive 180 acres, these gardens are home to a wide variety of flowers, plants and trees. One of the highlights here is the beautiful Japanese Garden, while the funky fountains are also pretty cool.
Montréal is home to a number of world class museums and art galleries, and while you're in town it'd be a good plan to check out one of two of them at least. To learn more about Canada's rich history, check out the McCord Museum of Canadian History (690 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Downtown) which boasts an intriguing collection of artefacts including First Nations pieces, dresses from the '20s and more. If you're more interested in art than history, make your way to the Musée d'Art Contemporain (185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Quartier des Spectacles). Much of the art on display was produced by local artists from in and around Québec.
- Is there anywhere I can visit for free?
Yes, there are plenty of free attractions for you to check out in Montréal.
One of the best cultural attractions in the city, the Montréal Musée des Beaux-Arts or Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission to all its permanent exhibits. Housed in two different buildings located across the road from each other and connected by an underground tunnel, the Museum boasts a huge collection encompassing everything from paintings to decorative art and plenty more besides. In the Napoleon room you'll even see the famous ruler’s instantly recognisable hat.
There's almost always something going on down at the Quays of the Old Port from ice-skating to exhibits. In terms of free things to do, one of the best ways to experience this popular area of Montréal is to go for a stroll along the Quays and admire the view. These stretch along for over 2.5 kilometres and were constructed on the site where Montréal's first European settlers arrived.
Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican cathedral which was completed back in 1859, is definitely worth a visit. The exterior is a great example of neo-Gothic architecture, while the interior is a peaceful spot boasting beautiful stained glass windows. It's a good choice if you're looking for a bit of a break from the hectic city.
Parc Jean-Drapeau, which is located on the islands of Île Notre-Dame and Île Sainte-Hélène, is one of the most popular parks in Montréal. Biking, swimming and rollerblading are some of the activities you can enjoy here, or if you're looking for something a bit less strenuous, you can check out the beautiful gardens or sprawl out on one of the big green lawns.
Located on Montréal's hard-to-miss mountain, Mont Royal Park is a favourite haunt with many of the city's cyclists, joggers and walkers. Dating back to 1876, the park also has some great lookout spots affording visitors with breath-taking views out across Montréal.
- Say I want to hit the shops. Where should I go?
There are plenty of places to shop in Montréal whether you like having all your shops under one roof or if you prefer strolling down shop-lined streets. On top of that there's also Montréal's RÉSO or underground/indoor city, a network of complexes which boasts a large variety of shopping opportunities.
A couple of the city's major shopping centres are the Centre Eaton Montréal (705 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Downtown) and the Complexe Les Ailes (677 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Downtown). Both of these centres are comprised of a number of different levels and are filled with shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, cosmetics and more. In Centre Eaton you'll find stores like Gap, Levi's, Old Navy and Sephora, while Complexe Les Ailes boasts a wide variety of shops including Tommy Hilfiger, Forever 21, Lacoste and Guess.
Rue Sainte-Catherine (Downtown) is Montréal's main shopping stretch and it's filled with stores including lots of well-known brands. Some of the top shops along this street include American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Adidas, Benetton, Footlocker, H&M, Chapters and HMV. Up in the Plateau Mont Royal neighbourhood, you'll find Rue Saint-Denis, another of the city's top shopping streets. Here you'll be able to buy everything from clothes, shoes and accessories to art and souvenirs. Mexx, Lush, Doc Martins, MAC and Calvin Klein are just a few of the big-name brands with branches along this street.
Montréal's Old Port area is home to the Bonsecours Market (350 rue Saint-Paul Est, Old Montréal) which you'll find inside an impressive historic building. This is the place to go if you're looking for something a bit more upmarket as the market's various halls boast a selection of exclusive boutiques selling clothing, handcrafted jewellery and more.
Going out in Montreal
- Where are most of the bars found?
- Montréal's numerous bars are spread out throughout the city's various neighbourhoods including Plateau Mont Royal, Quatier Latin, The Village and Old Montréal. If you're looking for somewhere with a good concentration of nightspots all in one place, check out rue Crescent, Downtown.
- Do I need to carry my ID with me when going out?
- It's a good idea to carry some form of ID with you when going out in Montréal. Keep in mind that the legal drinking age in the province of Québec is 18.
- Where would you recommend?
Ziggy's Pub (1470 rue Crescent, Downtown) is one of many bars along Montréal's popular Crescent Street and thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and affordable drinks, it's one of the better options. Filled with the requisite memorabilia and TVs, this sports bar boasts a number of comfy booths along with plenty of seats at the bar.
If colourful cocktails are more your thing, head on over to La Distillerie (300 rue Ontario Est, Quartier Latin). A small yet comfortable rock bar, the cocktails here are pretty special with lots of affordable varieties served up in big jars. Offering some great deals during Happy Hour, La Distillerie is popular with a younger crowd.
After a day spent sightseeing in Old Montréal, why not head to Les Trois Brasseurs (105 rue Saint-Paul Est, Old Montréal) for a reviving beer, the speciality at this microbrewery. A wide variety of beers are offered, both on tap and bottled, with plenty of deals available on pints, half pints and pitchers. If you're not a beer fan, don't worry as the drinks menu also includes cocktails and more.
La Saint-Sulpice (1680, rue Saint-Denis, Quartier Latin), which is spread out over a few different floors, is a much-loved bar and club complex. It's got one of the most popular patios in the city, which draws in a lot of locals and visitors. Cheap pitchers or beer and sangria are served up alongside plenty of other regular drinks offers. Entertainment includes everything from live music to karaoke to TVs throughout the bar showing the major sporting events.
The city of Montréal is home to a vibrant LGBTQ scene, with plenty of gay-friendly bars and clubs to check out, many of can be found in the Village. Popular spots along rue Sainte-Catherine Est include Club Unity, which is one of the city's biggest gay clubs, and Cabaret Mado with its regular drag shows.
- Anything else I need to know?
- If you're looking for something a little bit different or it you want a break from the bars and clubs, check out Cinéma du Parc (3575 Du Parc Avenue, Downtown). This movie theatre shows a wide variety of films, from international releases to arthouse favourites. Retrospectives showcasing the work of famous actors or directors also take place regularly and prices are pretty reasonable.
Eating Out in Montreal
- Is it expensive to eat out in Montréal?
- It doesn't need to be! Have a look around Montréal's diverse neighbourhoods and you'll find plenty of cheaper options and meal deals to satisfy your stomach and your budget.
- Where is the best selection of restaurants in the city?
- There's no one area where you'll find all the city's best eateries. From Plateau Mont Royal to the Village, each Montréal neighbourhood has its own unique charm which includes a variety of restaurants offering affordable food.
- Any places you
If you're looking to try out a truly Canadian dish, make sure you check out La Banquise (994 rue Rachel Est, Plateau Mont Royal) which serves up some of the best 'poutine' in the city. A Canadian favourite, poutine is made up of fries smothered in a generous helping of gravy and cheese curds. It might sound like an unusual combination but it really is delicious. La Banquise, which has been in operation since 1968, serves up classic poutine alongside some interesting variations to a lively and diverse crowd of diners. Prices are really reasonable and great value specials are offered every day.
Café Kilo (1495 rue Saint-Catherine Est, The Village) is one of the top choices for a laid-back lunch in Montréal. This cool café serves up a reasonably priced menu which includes burgers, nachos, paninis, sandwiches and lots more. On your way into this funky spot, you'll also see a mouth-watering selection of cakes and pies displayed at the counter.
Another of Montréal's boho chic cafés is the Santropol Café (3990 rue Saint-Urbain, Plateau Mont Royal). This place is a neighbourhood favourite thanks to the tasty and affordable menu which includes soups, giant sandwiches and plenty more. One of the coolest things about this spot is the beautiful terrace garden which is especially busy on fine days.
For those who appreciate the sweeter things in life, Juliette et Chocolat (1615 rue Saint-Denis, Quartier Latin) is the place to go. Usually packed with locals and visitors, this animated eatery serves up a tempting selection of sweet crêpes, hot chocolate, ice-cream sundaes and more. Some savoury options are also available. If you can, try to get a table with a view of the counter so you can watch as the staff create a cornucopia of chocolate concoctions.
- Anything else I need to know?
- Another Montréal favourite to try while you're in town is the 'smoked meat sandwich', which appears on the menus of lots of different restaurants and cafés all around the city. Generally a rather large mouthful, these sandwiches are made from beef which has been cured, spiced and smoked. Served up on rye bread, it's usually slathered with mustard and accompanied by pickles and coleslaw. Delicious!
Transport in Montreal
- What kinds of public transport will I find in Montréal?
- One of the most popular forms of public transport in Montréal is the Métro, a subway service run by the Sociéte de transport de Montréal (STM). Covering four different routes which traverse the city, these subway trains are an affordable way to get around and the system is pretty easy to follow.
- Will I need to use public transport at all?
- Well, it is possible to walk around Old Montréal and you'll definitely want to explore Montréal's neighbourhoods on foot. However, having said that, Montréal is big city so you will most likely need to use public transport at some stage especially if you're going to check out Olympic Park, Parc Jean-Drapeau and other attractions that are slightly further afield.
- Anything else I need to know?
- On arrival in Montréal, it'll quickly become clear that cycling is a way of life in this city. So, to blend in with the locals, why not take advantage of the BIXI rental system and pedal away. These BIXIs are communal, rental bikes which can pick up or drop off at locations all over the city.
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