Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: International travelers from the U.S., the Commonwealth, and most European countries do not require visas to enter Canada, though they must travel with a valid passport. Visitors with criminal convictions may be denied entry into Canada.
Security: In Montreal, as in any big city, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings; keep your wallet and shopping bags close; and don’t leave valuables in your car.
Time: Montreal is in Canada’s eastern time zone, which corresponds to U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: The currency of Montreal is the Canadian dollar. For current conversion rates, go to OANDA Currency Converter: www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: The area code for Montreal is 514. Within Montreal, include the area code but do not dial 1 to make local calls. For phone calls to Montreal from within Canada or the U.S., dial 1 514 seven-digit phone number. For phone calls to Montreal from outside North America, dial your country’s international access code 1 514 seven-digit phone number. In Montreal, local calls from a pay phone cost 50 cents.
When to Go: Montreal’s seasonal extremes can be surprising even to the forewarned. In deepest winter, temperatures range from -4°F (-20°C) to around 21°F (-6°C), with dips toward -22°F (-30°C), plus wind chill. In the summer, temperatures shoot up to between 77-86°F (25-30°C), and the humidity soars. Conversely, spring and autumn are delightful, temperate, and short. Early spring (April) is especially joyful as locals savor the end of the long winter. In mid-fall, visitors come from far and wide to enjoy the famous fall colors.
Getting There: Over forty major airlines offer service through Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (Montreal-Trudeau, www.admtl.com). The airport’s name was recently changed; some locals still call it Dorval Airport. The airport is located 11.8 miles (19 kilometers), or a 30-minute drive, west of downtown Montreal. Public transportation and shuttles are available between Dorval Airport and Montreal. There is also a bus station, which is serviced by Greyhound and other bus companies, and two railroad stations (near the airport and downtown), run by the Canadian passenger railway, Via Rail (www.viarail.com).
Getting Around: Driving in Montreal, especially in winter, can be undesirable—confusing parking regulations and narrow one-way streets can be challenging for visitors. If you do drive, signage is the same as in the rest of North America, except in French, and you cannot turn right on a red light on the island of Montreal (though you can elsewhere in the province). The public transit system, Société de transport de Montréal (STM; www.stm.info), consists of extensive public buses and a three-line subway (métro) as well as suburban commuter trains and buses. Taxis are relatively easy to find downtown, or ask your hotel or restaurant to call one for you.
Winter Wear: “People sometimes say fashion goes out the window in winter, but you’ll notice most Montrealers sport stylish, fun winter wear.”—T’Cha Dunlevy, music critic, the Gazette. Even in the bitterest cold, nothing stops Montrealers from going out on the town, so pack under the assumption that you won’t be staying toasty by the fire. In Quebec, “winter wear” includes all, not some, of the following: Winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves, wool socks, long underwear or tights, and boots with treads. Most important: layers.
Walking Shoes: “The best way to see the town is to put on your walking shoes and just wander.”—Bill Brownstein, city columnist, the Gazette.
Dress Clothes: “Montreal isn’t Paris, but it’s not a mountain town either—people dress to go out, in chic, creative, comfortable outfits.”—Shirine Saad, lifestyle editor, VOIR Montreal. Practicality doesn’t preclude style in Montreal, so don’t let “winter wear” or “walking shoes” detract from your sense of looking good. Outfits needn’t be fussy or uncomfortable. Women tend to accessorize with heels and stylish handbags, while men eschew sneakers for dress shoes when going out to a restaurant, show, or nightclub.
Ville de Montreal
The city of Montreal’s official website. www.ville.montreal.qc.ca
A local citysearch site owned by the Yellow Pages with listings and short descriptions of some shows, bars, restaurants, and events. www.english.montrealplus.ca
Mega-blog of Montreal blogs. www.yulblog.org
Made in Mtl
An eclectic, searchable site that helps you design an itinerary for exploring the city. www.madeinmtl.com
Montreal’s official tourism board’s website. www.tourism-montreal.org
Montreal webcam network maintained by Tourism Montreal. www.montrealcam.com
Commercial website featuring services and activities in Montreal, including opinionated reviews of restaurants, clubs, and more. www.montreal.com
Société des Museés Québécois (SMQ)
A comprehensive, searchable guide to every museum in the province. www.musees.quebec.museum
A comprehensive, searchable guide to restaurants in and around Montreal. www.restomontreal.ca
Montreal’s English-language daily. Weekend pullout section lists music, movies, exhibitions, etc. www.canada.com/montrealgazette
Hour Magazine, VOIR Montreal, Montreal Mirror, and ICI Montreal
Montreal has four weekly alternative newspapers, two English and two French, all available free on newsstands in restaurants, cafés, bars, and in some métro stations and stores. All contain comprehensive entertainment listings as well as local arts criticism and alternative news.
La Presse, Le Journal de Montreal, and Le Devoir
The major French-language dailies.
Glossy monthly covering music, nightlife, lifestyle, and fashion. Free on newsstands at bars and restaurants. www.nightlifemagazine.ca
CBC Radio One (88.6 FM)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Montreal. Local, national, and international news; arts and culture coverage. www.cbc.ca
Nat Geo Traveler All Access
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!