Crazy to Go to Montreal in Winter?

Jan 4th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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Crazy to Go to Montreal in Winter?

So, am I?

I was thinking of going at the end of this month for a week to Montreal and Quebec City, and saw some great deals on nice hotels and airfare.
Obviously there's a catch. lists the average highs and lows at -1 to -10 degrees F. I like the cold and would like to see the cities with snow, but that's mighty cold even for me.

So is it typically like that? Does it ever get into the teens or twenties in January?

I also thought of putting it off till late March for my b'day, but it appears to be only about 8 -10 degrees warmer. I could put it off till the warm weather, but I was looking for a cold weather getaway.

Has anyone ever been there at these times? Any advice? Thx.
panecott is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 11:28 AM
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I've been there around Christmas and New Year, and you really need to wear the right clothing in order to enjoy yourself. Ex: insulated snow boots with traction and a thick sole, ideally higher than your ankles. Tights/long underwear under your jeans. Insulated ski gloves that are suitable for -20 Celsius. A down-filled parka that goes below your waist. A thick wooly scarf to wrap around your neck, mouth and nose multiple times, to create a barrier of warm air to breath through. Earmuffs or a toque/wooly hat to cover your ears, and your parka's hood over your head.

Montreal/Quebec City will be frozen solid in winter, and everyone will be inside hibernating. By hibernating, I mean, people will be in the cafes, the lounges, the restaurants, the bars, etc. snuggling up and keeping cozy and warm. It's an experience, and a lovely one, but you do need to bring the right clothing to enjoy yourself.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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Should also mention, once you go indoors, it's all warm and heated, so you'll be junking the parka and all the outer layers once indoors.
BC_Robyn is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 12:26 PM
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Thanks, Robyn, for the helpful information. Is it like that in late March as well?

I probably have all the right clothes that I bought for a trip to Yellowstone in Feb. 2012, including a balaclava. Ironically, the weather was pretty mild and some of the really heavy duty gear went unworn so this might be the opportunity to get some use out of them.
panecott is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 07:08 AM
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By late March, the coldest weather will have passed. However, it will still be slushy, icy and typically in the low 30's in the daytime.
zootsi is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 08:55 AM
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Thanks for the responses. Low 30's I can handle, but not too crazy about the slush and ice.

Likelihood of a pretty snowfall in late March? I would just love to see both cities in their winter glory.

Maybe I should ask, what's the best time for that, with bearable weather, if there is such a thing?
panecott is offline  
Jan 6th, 2015, 04:09 PM
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I would recheck those average temperatures you found on An average high of -1F is about -18C and the average low of -11F would be about -24C. I lived in Montréal for a number of years and now for many years in Ottawa where the weather is virtually identical. Those numbers do not make sense to me.

Without looking up historical numbers, I think the average high in January would be a bit below freezing (0C). That would put it somewhere in the high 20sF. Usually there will be a January thaw for a week or so which brings the temperature above freezing. Similarly, I think an average low might be around -15C (5F). Of course it can and does get much colder. For example the low tomorrow night is forecast to be -28C or -19F. That's cold!

I think you would enjoy a winter holiday in Montréal more in January or February then say at the end of March if you want to see it in its"winter glory". Then it will be somewhat warmer, but not very attractive with slush and dirty snowbanks as vttravler mentioned.

As soletraveler has noted, there's lots going on in Montréal in the winter. Just dress warmly if you are going to be outside for long. However, if it gets too cold for you, with the "underground city" you can shop, visit restaurants and bars and other attractions all without going outside.
laverendrye is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 08:10 AM
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Thanks for your input, laverendrye. I might have been looking at C, instead of F, which is more in keeping with what you're saying, and really more of what I expected. Anything is possible with the way my head operates sometimes.

I did more research and Jan. and Feb. seem pretty comparable, temp. and snow-wise, so maybe Feb is the answer.

It's 14F here in NY today and I was fine walking to work, in fact, I was pretty heated up by the time I got to my office, with all the layers.
panecott is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 08:15 PM
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soletraveler's source for the cut and paste -
starrs is offline  
Jan 8th, 2015, 10:18 PM
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Panecott, just saw your question. I once visited Montreal in the middle of February. While I was there, the temperature stayed in the low 20sF, but no snow.

Like the above suggestions, dress warmly. I mostly used the metro to get as close as I could to the sights. The underground city came in handy. As already mentioned, there are many things to do in the winter:

I will tell you that one day I took a half day bus tour. At the beginning of the tour everyone got off the bus for the sites and photo stops, after a while only three of us did. So, yes, it was cold, but I had a good time and am glad I took the trip.
Blueskiestwo is offline  
Jan 9th, 2015, 12:16 PM
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Hi panecott,

We do occasionally have lovely days in winter with a beautiful fresh snowfall where one can go ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc... which can be fun! However, there's too much of a chance you could get miserably cold weather where it's inadvisable and unpleasant to be outside for more than a few minutes, OR horrible slush (March) where you can't do any winter sport activity and the the city looks grey from dirty snow smattered with dog pee and trash revealed from the somewhat-melting snow, OR slippery icy conditions-- which is again not enjoyable for exploring a city.

My recommendation-- come see Montreal at its best, June through September! Whatever you decide, hope you have fun!

Best wishes, Daniel
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Jan 10th, 2015, 09:47 AM
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Ah, you just confirmed what I feared -- that the likelihood of unpleasant weather is greater than the likelihood of a beautiful snowfall. That's the deciding factor. Thank you, Daniel.

My greatest pleasure when visiting cities is just exploring on foot so I guess winter is not the best time to go way up north. So, I will definitely consider coming in the good weather.

I belong to a x-country ski club that sometimes has trips to the Laurentians - not this year, unfortunately, but probably next year again. So, I'll consider that for my winter in Canada experience. Meantime, there's always Vermont.

Thanks, everyone, for all your advice and information. I really appreciate all the input.
panecott is offline  

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