Summer is almost over and we’ve been in upstate NY for a few months now. Although I love the greenery and thunderstorms here, I’ve been feeling a bit restless. So when we found out my boyfriend’s younger brother got his passport, we figured it was time for a trip!
Montréal is only a 3.5-hour drive from Albany, New York. Highway 87 will take you straight to the border. Along 87 you’ll see the Hudson River, pass Lake George, go through the lush Adirondack mountains, and drive besides Lake Champlain.
Montréal is an old city with tons of history and beauty. Like New York City, it’s a hub for immigrants and has been since 1642!! Insane, right? Making Montréal a vibrant city for all things culture, food, music and more! (I’ve only just left, but I already want to go back!) It has many building old and new, and it's continuing to grow year after year.
So how do how do you plan a trip in an epic city like Montréal? Well here’s my travel guide to Montréal!
Planning Your Trip to Montréal
Where to Stay
If you’re driving, flying, training, or bussing, one thing is the same. You want to stay where it’s popping! And close to everything you want to visit. We wanted to be near metros and also walking distance restaurants and bars. We were so relieved when we found an awesome spot on Airbnb.
This rental had two beds, a great view of the city, and so close to everything. It was perfect!
How to get around
Like many old cities, Montréal has a bustling metro system so it's easy to get around. As we were right outside Berri UQAM, we were stops away from old Montréal, Mount Royal, Mile End and more. Fares are CA $3.25 one, CA $6 return, and CA $12 all day.
Besides the metro, Montréal is walkable and bike friendly. If you decide to go for a stroll or rent a bike. The city bikes can be rented by the day for CA $5, but remember you must return your bikes every 30 minutes.
When to go
I’m from California, so cold is not an option for me. In winter, it can get to -40˚F, which is when Celcius meets back up with Fahrenheit. In other words, effing freeeeeezing! This is why Montréal has underground malls, so people can shop and leave the house in the winter months. No thank you.
For this reason, it only makes sense to visit in the summer! But even in summer, Montréal was about 10˚ colder than Albany. The nights in the low 50s and days no higher than 75˚. Plus it was likely to rain on the day we arrived.
I would highly recommend summer, but if you’re okay with your nose hairs turning into icicles, go on with your bad self.
What to Pack
With the weather ranging between 50 and 70s degrees fahrenheit, I knew layering would be the key to packing. Keeping with my capsule wardrobe, I packed 9 pieces
Bottoms: Black Jean Pants | Blue Denim Shorts
Tops: White & Black Thin Striped Tee | Black Silk Camisole | Pink Tee
Dress: Blue & White Patterned Silk Dress
Outerwear: White Zip Sweater | Black Duster | Camo Green Sleeveless Duster
Shoes: Black Nikes | White Vans | Beige Rothy’s
How to Pay
Because Montréal is so close to the US, many establishments accept US Dollars. Some may honor an exchange rate, where others will accept USD as Canadian dollars. IE if it’s CA $1, and you have $1 USD, you will not get any change back.
Also, Montréal is great about splitting bills. This explains why people are always out with friends because it’s so easy to split dinners.
What To Do
Montréal is 374 years OLLLLLD! Here you can find the Basilique Notre-Dame, cobble stone roads, and more mesmerizing history.
Sites: Basilique Notre-Dame + Saint Paul St + Place Jacques Cartier + Montréal Town Hall + Bonsecours Market
Museums: Pointe à Callière + Science Centre + Centre d’histoire de Montréal
Coffee: Crew Collective + Le Petit Dep
It's the heart of all the shopping in Montréal. But we didn’t spend much time here. But if you’re into shopping it’s a definite must. We strolled around downtown when we went to the Kendrick Lamar show at the Bell Centre. Fun fact, we bought nosebleed tickets, but ended up in section L! Pretty amazing if you ask me!
We were so lucky when we trekked to the top of Mout Royal and La Croix. The skies were the bluest of blue, minimal clouds, and the sun was shining on our backs. I could hear Ice Cube Today Was a Good Day playing in my mind. It wasn’t overly crowded either, which is a big plus in my books.
Le Plateau Mont Royal
This district is full of cute neighborhoods and it’s completely walkable. It has tons of amazing shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. We actually spent a lot of our time here and I highly recommend it!
This was the old garment district turned poor when jobs went overseas. But with the help of poor artist, this district became full of top cafe's and restaurants. It’s now full of fancy shops, gourmet chefs, and really good coffee. It was also the start of our amazing food tour, led by the best guide Christian. This was the only tour that was vegan-friendly. We had bagels, Falafels, Chocolate, Gnocchi, cheese and meats, sorbet and ice cream!!! Needless to say, we left happy, full and tired!
Sites: Theatre Rialto + Church of St. Michael and St. Anthony
Coffee: Cafe Neve + Noble Cafe
Drink: Dieu Du Ciel + Ping Pong
Eat: Birona Hummus Bar + La Panthère Verte + St Viateur + Drogheria Fine + Boucherie Lawrence + Fairmont Bagel
Sweets: Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois + Kem Coba
How cute is Little Italy! Full of amazing neighborhoods and tons of good Italian food!
I would go back to Montréal in a heartbeat. There's still so much to see and friendly people to meet. I could easily imagine myself living here for a few months which is always a good sign when you arrive in a city.
Have any questions about my Montréal Travel Guide? Let me know in the comments. Better yet, have travel tips of your own? Comment below to share with everyone!
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