Montreal Travel Guide

Wendy Ball

Centuries-old stone facades, traditional bistros, elegant boulevards, and a certain je ne sais quoi make Montreal's reputation as an Old World city manqué well-deserved. But this Francophone metropolis is no fossilized relic. When you travel to Montreal, step beyond the cobbled lanes of Vieux-Montréal, and you're surrounded by thoroughly of-the-moment buildings from the likes of I. M. Pei; innovative, globally inspired cuisine; boundary-pushing music from bands such as Arcade Fire and The Dears; and a dizzying blend of cultures that includes not just French but Italian, Chinese, and Caribbean. What binds all this together are the Montrealers themselves, who embrace their dualisms with relish. Visit Montreal to discover the European flair and sophistication of this unique Canadian metropolis.

Things Not to Miss in Montreal

• Vieux-Montréal and the Vieux-Port
 • Mount Royal
 • Place Des Arts
 • The vibrant Plateau and Mile End neighborhoods
 • St. Joseph’s Oratory and Notre-Dame Basilica
 • The Musée des Beaux-Arts
 • The Botanic Gardens and the Biodôme

When to Go to Montreal

The city is famous for its harsh winters (think sub-zero temperatures), so most tourists shy away from visiting Montreal during the months of December through March. But brave souls who can tolerate the snow will be surprised to find a number of indoor activities to enjoy, like hockey games at the Bell Center, theatre and musical performances throughout the city, and the interconnected “underground city” of shopping centers in downtown Montreal. For more mild temperatures, summers in Montreal are warm, sunny, and occasionally humid, while spring and fall bring bright, breezy days and crisp weather. If you’re making Montreal travel plans during the summer, be sure to book well in advance – summer marks festival season in Montreal, and hotels book fast.


  • Watching everyone from jazz legends and West African superstars to local, underground klezmer bands perform outdoors during the annual Jazz Fest, held every summer.

  • In winter, skating at one of Montreal’s three premier outdoor rinks: the Quays of the Old Port rink, Beaver Lake on Mont-Royal, or Parc Lafontaine, where locals play pick-up hockey.

  • Hoisting a pint of locally brewed St-Ambroise while watching the Montreal Canadiens hockey team at a neighborhood pub (no Toronto Maple Leafs paraphernalia allowed).


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