Last updated: 10:19 AM ET, Thu March 09 2023
Quebec City and Old Port aerial view, Quebec, Canada. (rmnunes / iStock / Getty Images Plus)


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Montreal downtown at dusk (mirceax / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Montreal downtown at dusk (mirceax / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

There aren’t many cities in this world that are as diverse and dynamic as Montreal. With a mix of old-world European flavor and modern urban vitality, the city charms guests just by being itself. As the Canadian epicenter for all things cultural and trend-setting, Montreal will impress visitors with its supply of fantastic restaurants and Euro-cafes, high fashion and cutting-edge art galleries. For a taste of the old country, stroll through the cobblestone streets and museums of Old Montreal. Hike up to Mount Royal for inspiring views of the city, or try your luck at the Montreal Casino. In the colder months when temperatures drop, the Underground City is a series of connected malls, restaurants, shops and hotels underneath the city streets that stretch over 20 miles and is accessible by several Metro stops.

Downtown Montreal is really two cities in one. On the street level, towering skyscrapers and French cathedrals adorn the streets among the thousands of retail shops, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs. Rue Sainte-Catherine is the famous miles-long shopping street that runs along the downtown area and is constantly buzzing with locals and tourists. It’s also on Ste-Catherine Street that the annual Montreal Jazz Festival takes place every summer, drawing enormous, music-loving crowds. Below street level, there is another city that is simultaneously in motion. The Underground City has 19 miles of giant, interconnected passageways that make up multi-level shopping venues, as well as connections to major hotels, restaurants, universities and Metro stops.

Montreal downtown skyscrapers in autumn (jbd30 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
PHOTO: Montreal downtown skyscrapers in autumn. (photo via jbd30 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Old Montreal is what many travelers come to the city in search of. The many 17th to 19th century buildings and churches stand on cobbled streets where horse-drawn carriages stroll by, just past the waterfront. The historic heart of Montreal is home to a wonderful selection of old French and Quebecois restaurants and cafes in addition to art galleries and museums. Place Jacques-Cartier is the central square that draws in passers-by to stop and enjoy the street performers, musicians and mimes who call it home.

The jewel of Montreal’s many parks is the 200-hectare Mount Royal. Occupying part of a mountain that lies in the midst of Montreal Island, Mount Royal is the highest point in the city and offers the absolute best views. The city’s diversity can not only be found in its residents, who come here from every part of the world, but in the several ethnic sections of Montreal.

Montreal city Hall at dusk in historical Old Montreal, Canada. (Patrick_Lauzon / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Montreal city Hall at dusk in historical Old Montreal, Canada. (Patrick_Lauzon / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

With a massive variety of ethnic cuisines and restaurants, from French cafes to haute cuisine, Montreal is a foodie Mecca. Whether choosing to dine at a noodle house, Jewish deli, pizzeria or upscale restaurant serving Greek, Mexican or Moroccan fare, there’s something for everyone. The city is spackled with authentic bistros and brassiers, where local favorites like poutine (fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds), steak frites, fondue and café au lait should all be on your culinary short list.

Montreal’s main airport is Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (YUL), located 20 minutes from downtown. It’s a large city, with many public transportation options. For getting around, the best options are either taking a taxi, which are plentiful, or the Metro. Though labeled in French, the Metro line is fairly easy to use and makes frequent stops all over the city. Many areas, such as Old Montreal and parts of downtown, should be experienced on foot, as it’s easier to walk in and out of stores, galleries, churches and restaurants at your leisure.

Classified as a humid continental climate region, Montreal is characterized by warm summers and very cold, windy and sometimes snowy winters. The average high in July, when many people decide to visit the city, is well into the 90s, while the coldest month of January has seen average lows that dip into the negative numbers. As a year-round destination, any time of the year is beautiful in Montreal. Those who wish to escape the cold should not visit from October through March. Autumn can get cold fairly early in the season, though the colorful foliage is well worth it.