Weather permitting, one of the best ways to discover Montréal is on a bicycle. This is an incredibly bike-friendly metropolis and there are thousands of designated bike paths connecting diverse neighborhoods across the island, running along the river and through parks and forests. If you like to bike but would rather not do it on city streets, ferries at the Old Port can take you to Île Ste-Hélène and the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, where riders can connect to hundreds of miles of trails in the Montérégie region.
Bixi. Available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, April through November, these bikes are a convenient way to explore the city. Public bicycle rental stations are located as far west as Notre-Dame-de-Grace, a western Montreal neighborhood, east to the Olympic Park, and as far south as Parc Jean-Drapeau and even Longueuil (a south shore neighborhood). There's a fee of C$7 for a 24-hour period and C$15 for 72 hours, which include 30 minutes bike rental for each separate trip; extra charges are incurred for longer rides. The transaction is easily done with the swipe of a credit card (a security deposit is also required). Monthly and yearly subscriptions are also available for longer stays. The bikes are designed for quick (but unlimited) trips, and to minimize extra charges always keep your next Bixi station in mind. Montréal, QC. 514/789–2494 or 877/820–2453. montreal.bixi.com.
Féria de Vélo de Montréal. The biggest bike celebration in North America includes the Tour la Nui t, a 22-kilometer (14-mile) ride through the city at night. The week-long festival culminates in as many as 50,000 cyclists taking over the streets for the Tour de l'Île, a 50-kilometer (31-mile) ride along a route encircling Montréal. Montréal, QC. 514/521–8356 or 800/567–8356. www.velo.qc.ca.
Fitz & Follwell Co.. This company's bike tour of Montréal highlights is popular, but go deeper and try "Hoods & Hidden Gems" to really learn what makes the city tick. They also offer bike rentals, walking tours, and snow tours in winter. 115 av. du Mont-Royal Ouest, Plateau Mont-Royal, Montréal, QC, H2T 2S9. 514/840–0739. www.fitzandfollwell.ca.
Lachine Canal. The most popular cycling trail on the island begins at the Old Port and winds its way to the shores of Lac St-Louis in Lachine. Pack a picnic lunch; there are plenty of green spaces where you can stop and refuel along the way. Montréal, QC.
Le Pôle des Rapides. This network of 100 km (62 miles) of bicycle trails follows lakefronts, canals, and aqueducts. The trails are open April 15 to October 15. Montréal, QC. 514/364–4490. www.poledesrapides.com. Verdun, Angrignon, LaSalle, Charlevoix, Lionel-Groulx.
Vélo Montréal. For longer cycling excursions, renting a bike from this company is your best bet. Each rental includes a bicycle helmet, bottle cage, lock, and rear carrier rack. Packages start at C$10 for one hour or C$15 for two hours and go all the way to C$120 for a full week or C$165 for two weeks. They also lease tandem bikes, a fun alternative for couples. 3880 rue Rachel Est, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Montréal, QC, H1X 1Z1. 514/259–7272. www.velomontreal.com. Pie-IX.