Montreal City Guide

Montreal is a unique metropolis combining many cultures. The spoken language is French & English, and although Montreal may be French in Lifestyle & Cuisine, it has a big warm and friendly Canadian welcome for all. The city is located south of Canada's Quebec province, only 37 miles (60km) from the US border and remains an important hub for North American trade.

City Breaks and Attractions: Montreal is a cosmopolitan city with an appealing mix of old European charm and modernism. The city is renowned for its scenic beauty, vibrant nightlife, cafe society & international Jazz festival. Montreal is a truly dynamic city, combining an abundance of culture, museums, the arts and street festivals aplenty, making Montreal the perfect destination for a city break adventure.

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Visitor information

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Top Tip: Often regarded as the ‘Paris of Canada’ - Montreal is one of the liveliest cities in North America. To help get the most out of your holiday to Canada, the city of Montreal has an active and efficient Visitor Information centre; the centre can help plan your visit and make your stay both memorable and enjoyable.

Introduction: Montreal is located along the almighty St. Lawrence River and is known as the 'city built around a mountain'. Montreal is recognised as the world's second-largest French-speaking city after Paris; it's also a city with a distinctive European feel, with its cobbled streets, craft stores, attractive public squares and restored 18th-century buildings.

Montreal's Underground City: Montreal has a secrete to tell; it has a vast underground city comprising 33 kilometres of tunnels linking to shopping malls, office buildings, 1600 shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and even a university. Located directly below central Montreal, the underground city was built to be used and enjoyed in all types of weather, including the very harsh and freezing cold Canadian winters. There are good transportation links to and from the underground city; it has 2 Metro stations, two commuter train stations and a bus terminal. Montreal's Secret is the largest underground complex in the world - making it a real shopper's paradise.

Old Town Montreal: Montreal is one of the most visited cities in Canada and offers something for everyone. Start your city adventure in the old town between the river and the city centre, where stunning 19th-century buildings and bygone eras are brought back to life. Rue Saint Paul is the oldest and most iconic street in Montreal and dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Here you'll discover cobblestone streets and old warehouses, that have been transformed into antique shops, art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants.

Montreal Coach and Horses

Downtown Montreal: Downtown Montreal is situated on the southern slope of Mount Royal and is where you'll find most of the city's skyscrapers and the business district. The city's downtown area is the 'main cultural centre' - and includes the 'Quartier des Spectacles' - a hub for Montreal's world-renowned festivals, such as the 'International Jazz Festival' and the 'Just for Laughs Festival'.

Montreal - Events & Festivals

Montreal is well known for its 'Festival & Event Calendar - it's odds on, whenever you visit, there'll be an event or festival taking place.

LES FRANCO DE MONTRÉAL (held mid-September). Les Francos de Montréal is a large annual music and performance festival featuring over 1,000 artists. The festival attracts world-renowned musicians, plus promising and rising unknown acts from around the globe. Many performances have free entry, with venues throughout downtown Montreal (in and around the Place des Arts areas of the city).

Montreal Jazz Festival

MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL (held mid-September). The festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal) is regarded as the biggest, best and most celebrated jazz festival on the planet. The festival takes place annually over 10 days, with over 400 concerts attracting over 2 million festival goers. The festival attracts more than 3000 of the world's renowned musicians - from around 30 countries and includes the true greats of the jazz world. The 10-day festival begins at noon - and attempts to finish at midnight and includes free concerts at indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown Montreal.

L’INTERNATIONAL DES FEUX LOTO-QUÉBEC (held late July or early August). One of the largest annual fireworks competitions 'in the world', viewed by over 2.5 million spectators. An impressive display is guaranteed - with various advantage spots available throughout Montreal's city limits. The competition consists of about eight teams from around the world competing to put on a spectacular and impressive pyro-musical display for a set 30-minute duration.

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. The Montreal High Lights Festival is held over multiple days during the dark mid-winter months. It combines gastronomic, musical and artistic components designed to brighten and warm the local citizens during the cold months. The annual celebration registers 1,300,000 festival site visits from fans experiencing the joy of Montreal wintertime. The festival combines over 100 concerts, various culinary and wine events, plus shows and exhibitions.

OSHEAGA MUSIC FESTIVAL (held late July or early August). Osheaga is a multi-day indie music and arts festival attracting international artists performing on several stages; the festival takes place in Jean-Drapeau Park.

Public Transport: Local transportation is reliable and affordable, and the city is eco-friendly and bicycle-friendly. The most efficient mode of city transport is the underground train/metro system, The Metro is clean and safe and operates daily from 5:30am to 1am. There is also an extensive bus network and commuter rail service. The Metro is highly efficient; it has four lines and 68 stations, with ten stations linked to the Underground City. Taxi services are safe, convenient and available from taxi ranks, major hotels and airports. Taxis can also be hailed on the street in downtown areas.

Public Transport Tickets: The STM (Société de transport de Montréal) network operates a fixed fare per journey system; there is no fare zoning. Tickets for the Metro can be purchased at Metro stations from manned kiosks or automated ticket machines. Bus tickets can be paid for with the exact change using the onboard ticket machine when boarding the bus. Individual tickets are valid for two hours and can be used on other STM services, for example, bus or metro.

Travel Card: The most convenient way to travel on Montreal's public transport network is to use the OPUS travel card system. The OPUS card is a reusable travel smartcard that can be topped up with credit at STM-authorised shops, pharmacies or any metro station. The OPUS card can be used by most transit authorities in the Greater Montréal area - plus the Québec City area. To use your OPUS card - hold it above the fare box on the bus or the card reader on the métro turnstile; after a few seconds, the card will be validated, and validation is confirmed by a green or yellow light and an audio signal.

Eating Out in Montreal: Excellent cuisine & atmosphere can be found in the terraced cafes and courtyards around Place Jacques Cartier. There are over 4,000 cafes & restaurants in Montreal - with seafood and French cuisine, very much in evidence.

Montreal's Nightlife: Montreal is the party capital of Canada and has a reputation for catering for every style and taste when it comes to partying hard, relax-drinking and having fun. Choose from a vast array of elegant cocktail and trendy wine bars, dance clubs and underground hideaways, and don't forget a visit to one of Montreal's many traditional pubs and famous microbreweries.

Montreal has an established dance scene, with many clubs repeatedly attracting the world's top DJs. - Live music runs deep through the veins of Montreal, with the city playing host to many of the world's favoured festivals, including The Jazz Festival, Osheaga and Black and Blue.

Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) The airport is located three miles (5km) northwest of Montreal city centre.

Transfers from Montréal–Trudeau International Airport YUL to Montreal city centre is by Shuttle Bus; the service operates to the centre of Montreal and to major downtown hotels. The Shuttle Bus Service also transfers passengers on the 45-minute bus ride between Montréal-Mirabel and Montréal-Trudeau airports. Taxis are also readily available.

Car Hire: All major car rental companies are represented at Montreal YUL airport, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

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