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Montréal Travel Guide

  • Photo: Benoit Daoust / Shutterstock
  • Photo: meunierd / Shutterstock
  • Photo: meunierd / Shutterstock
  • Photo: meunierd / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Andre Nantel / Shutterstock

Plan Your Montréal Vacation

Canada's most diverse metropolis, Montréal, is an island city that favors grace and elegance over order or even prosperity, a city where past and present intrude on each other daily. In some ways it resembles Vienna—well past its peak of power and glory, perhaps, yet still vibrant and beautiful.

But don't get the wrong idea. Montréal has always had a bit of an edge. During Prohibition,

thirsty Americans headed north to the city on the St. Lawrence for booze, music, and a good time, and people still come for the same things. Summer festivals celebrate everything from comedy and French songs to beer and fireworks, and, of course, jazz. And on those rare weeks when there isn't a planned event, the party continues. Clubs and sidewalk cafés are abuzz from late afternoon to the early hours of the morning. And Montréal is a city that knows how to mix it up even when it's 20 below zero. Rue St-Denis is almost as lively on a Saturday night in January as it is in July, and the festival Montréal en Lumière, or Montréal Highlights, enlivens the dreary days of February with concerts, balls, and fine food.

Montréal takes its name from Parc du Mont-Royal, a stubby plug of tree-covered igneous rock that rises high above the surrounding cityscape. Although its height is unimpressive, "the Mountain" forms one of Canada's finest urban parks, and views from the Chalet du Mont-Royal in the Parc du Mont-Royal provide an excellent orientation to the city's layout and major landmarks.

Old Montréal holds museums, the municipal government, and the magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal within its network of narrow, cobbled streets. Although Montréal's centre-ville, or Downtown, bustles like many other major cities on the surface, it's active below street level as well, in the Underground City. Residential Plateau Mont-Royal and its surrounding trendy neighborhoods are abuzz with restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, and cafés. The greener areas of town are composed of the Parc du Mont-Royal and the Jardin Botanique, where you can walk, bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride along miles of paths.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Browse public markets Marché Atwater, one of the city's oldest public markets, and the bustling Marché Jean-Talon, in Little Italy, are two must-see places.
  2. Check out the nightlife There's a strong heritage of late-night revelry in this city. Top spots include rue Crescent, boulevard St-Laurent, and rue St-Denis, as well as Old Montréal and the Village, Montréal's gay epicenter.
  3. Get a dose of multiculturalism Montréal is a melting pot of world culture, yours to experience by exploring ethnic neighborhoods and sampling a range of cuisines.
  4. Celebrate Jazz Fest Montréal's biggest party happens every year in late June and early July—and if jazz is your thing it's not to be missed. Reserve early hotels book up months in advance.
  5. Stroll Old Montréal Old Montréal has it all—cobblestone streets, a great waterfront, fine restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts, and the Old Port, which buzzes with nightlife.

When To Go

When to Go

To avoid crowds and below-freezing temperatures, Montréal's short spring, which typically starts in late April or early May but doesn't end until w...

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