Originally called Ville-Marie, after the famous Mount Royal extinct volcano in the heart of the city, Montreal is an important centre for technology, education, design, finance, culture, and so much more. It’s also ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world, in addition to being known as the best city in the world for university students.
But its buzzing cosmopolitan cityscape, countless attractions, fascinating history, delicious food and lively festivals don’t just make Canada’s second largest city a great place to live in. It’s also an excellent travel destination, no matter what time of the year you choose to visit.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a sightseeing spoil or a fun-filled family vacation, Montreal is the place to go. But there are plenty more reasons why you should visit, so read on to learn more about why you’ll love Montreal.
RÉSO, The Underground City
The Underground City is perhaps one of Montreal’s most alluring attractions. Known by locals as RÉSO, which is based on the French word réseau, meaning network, this multi-level system of tunnels is home to a multitude of shopping malls, hotels, schools, offices and a variety of other establishments that you’d expect to find in a city’s downtown area.
RÉSO’s tunnel network spans a whopping 20 miles in total. One of the best things about the Underground City is that it’s the perfect place for tourists to explore during winter, where temperatures outside often reach sub-zero levels. Events take place frequently in its concert halls, giving those who enjoy the arts all the more reason to visit.
Speaking of which, travellers who enjoy culture, science, history and art will be spoilt for choice by the variety of museums that Montreal has on offer. For example, there’s the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is home to a fascinating collection of antiques, archaeology and art pieces from around the world.
There’s also the Musée d’Art Contemporain, which is a more modern museum that showcases a constantly-changing variety of exhibitions. If you’re planning on bringing the kids along, they’ll be inspired by the Space for Life Museum, which features an interconnected insectarium, biosphere and planetarium.
Did you know that Montreal has more restaurants per capita than any city in the United States? It should come as no surprise then, that it’s the perfect travel destination for foodies. Aside from the plethora of award-winning restaurants, there are also many food trucks that play a key role in Montreal’s food scene, serving a variety of local cuisine.
But it’s probably the food festivals that most tourists travel from around the world to participate in. Taking place throughout the year, festivals such as La Fête des Restos, MTL à Table and Burger Week celebrate the prominent creativity of Canada’s best culinary artists.
Since the Canadian city was colonised by both the French and British, there’s an unusual mix of both historic and modern architecture. Add in the influx of a vast variety of cultures such as the Italians, Irish, Chinese and Portuguese, and you’ll find architecture in Montreal that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world.
From the jaw-dropping mansions of Outremont, to the distinctively-styled houses of Plateau Mont-Royal, to the classic cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, there’s something for everyone here. Even if you have more of a taste for modern architecture, there’s plenty to see here.
It’s a well-known fact that Canada’s biggest cities are home to some of the most fashionable folks on the planet. Montreal’s mostly French-speaking population knows how to dress, so there are plenty of shopping destinations to suit their taste for fine fashion.
From luxury fashion houses to thousands of upscale chain stores, independent boutiques and department stores, you’re going to be packing light on clothes before flying down. Being a city that is rich in culture and history, there are also a variety of other shopping destinations in Montreal that are worth taking a look at.
Montreal is one of Canada’s most affordable travel destinations, with plenty of cozy bed-and-breakfasts and comfortable apartments on offer. But it’s no stranger to luxury, with a multitude of high-end hotels for those who want the ultimate travel experience. If you’re staying in the city, be sure to book an upper floor, as you won’t want to miss the view.
It’s not known as the city of festivals for nothing. No matter when you go, Montreal is teeming with countless festivals that offer unforgettable experiences.
Whether you want to relax to some soulful tunes at Jazz Fest, taste some beer at Le Mondial de la Bière, treat your taste buds at the Food Truck festival, or cry tears of joy at Just for Laughs, Montreal has you covered.
But that’s not all. Fans of Shakespeare will want to attend Shakespeare in the Park, while gearheads should not miss the Grand Prix. Fashionistas can feast their eyes at Mode et Design, while historians should check out the 18th Century Market.
The list can quite frankly go on forever, so if a public gathering that celebrates something that you’re passionate about is your idea of a great time, then you have one more reason to visit Montreal.
While around 60% of Montreal’s population speaks French at home, it’s one of Canada’s most bilingual cities, with over 59% of residents being able to speak both French and English. That said, the variety of cultures and their accompanying languages make a key factor in Montreal’s appeal as a travel destination, as it’s a great place to learn a new language.
If you prefer heading out when the sun goes down, then Montreal is still the place to be. You can find a variety of eclectic and exciting clubs, bars and pubs throughout the city. Beer lovers will enjoy the many micro-breweries that have gained a reputation for their world-class locally produced beers.
If dancing the night away to fist-pumping tunes is more your thing, then you’ll be glad to know that Montreal’s clubs frequently attract some of the world’s most famous DJs. Those who prefer a more mellow vibe should visit the Mayfair Cocktail Bar, which is known for its Victorian architecture and delicious cocktails.
Getting to Montreal
Another great reason to visit Montreal is how affordable the whole experience can be, including getting there. Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is about 12 miles from downtown Montreal, which means you won’t be spending much on taxi rides if that’s your destination.
You’ll also be glad to know that flights to Montreal are highly affordable, especially if you use a popular service such as Porter Airlines. Once you arrive, a shuttle bus from the airport to downtown Montreal will only cost around 10 CAD, while a taxi will be 40 CAD.
Finally, it’s not only the city’s urban scenes that make Montreal such a great place to visit. There are also plenty of wild landscapes and rugged terrain, as well as the above-mentioned Mount Royal. On a clear day, tourists will be spoiled with a breathtaking panoramic view from the heart of the city from the now inactive volcano.
As you can see, there are more than enough reasons to visit Montreal, no matter what your idea of a great travel destination is. Since you can visit throughout the year, it’s never a bad time to go, so be sure to pack those bags soon.
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