Although Montreal has a long and harsh winter (December through March) it is still a year-round tourist destination thanks to its numerous festivals and underground city with more than 2,000 shops.
Summer, late June to August is the busiest and most expensive time to book flights and visit the city. During this time, the weather is warm and a number of festivals also take place, including the ten-day Festival International de Jazz in late June and Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in July.
The Festival International de Jazz has transformed Montreal into the perfect location for jazz lovers from all over the world, all booking flights for this festival. With over 800 concerts in various venues across the city, some indoor and some outdoor, you are sure to hear something you like. This event is for all the family and includes both free and chargeable events.
If you’re looking for a couple of laughs on your holiday, look no further than the Laughs Comedy Festival. Join over 2 million people who visit the city for the largest comedy festival in the world, to see over 1600 performances, galas, street art, theatre productions and stand up performances. This is a great reason to book flights to Montreal.
Many frequent visitors actually prefer to go during autumn, in particular, September and October when the crowds have disappeared and the weather’s still pleasant. In terms of value, spring (April and May) is the best time to visit because flights to Montreal, hotels and car rental prices drop dramatically, but bear in mind that it is mud season, the time when all the snow melts and getting around town can become a little uncomfortable. Spring, although pleasantly mild, can see dramatic temperature changes. The month of April sees sunny days, whereas the humidity increases through May and the city experiences thundery rainshowers. Make sure you take this into consideration when you’re packing your suitcase.
To merely call Montreal the Paris of North America is to sell it short. True, the island in the Saint Lawrence River has the architecture, the food and joie de vivre of the French capital, but it is a mix of more than 40 ethnic groups, a complicated history and a vibrant and edgy bohemian scene that confounds that description.
The city freezes during wintertime and temperatures plummet to -30, but there is no bad time to search for cheap flights to Montreal. Montrealers make the most of winter with a carnival; shopping in Ville Souteraine, the underground city, with more than 30 km of shopping, and its hearty fare (including poutine, a rib-sticking mix of chips, cheese curd and gravy).
The starting point for the majority of tourists is Vieux Montreal. Here, you’ll find City Hall, Bonsecours Market, and the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. In “new” Montreal, Le Plateau is the city’s creative heart, home to designers, writers and artists.
Mont Royal has 1,000 parks, 350 km of bicycle paths and 900 outdoor skating rinks. Prince Arthur Street, Saint-Laurent and Les Eclusiers are the places to party. Bars are open until 3am and some never close.
Skiers and snowboarders look for cheap Montreal flights in the wintertime, bound for Mont Tremblant or the super cool resort at Mont Saint Sauveur. If you’re considering taking flights to Montreal during the summer months, Mont Tremblant is open year-round. In recent years, music lovers have taken direct flights to Montreal to hear the likes of Chromeo, Arcade Fire, Footprintz and DJ A-Trak, just a few of the artists to have made it big in the mainstream, and underground. Montreal is home to Stereo, the world-famous nightclub that has been touted by many dance music luminaries as “the best club in the world”. Those who’ve spent all weekend dancing beneath its glittery disco ball will testify to that. Meanwhile, all over town there are plenty of great clubs and bars to investigate. It’s a city that you cannot fail to fall in love with.
Despite its name, Montreal’s Old Port (Vieux Port de Montreal) recently had a major face-lift. The renovated port, which is still surrounded by the city’s original 17th-century walls, now draws five million visitors to its busy wharves each year. Tour boats and ferries offer trips around the port or along the St Lawrence. You can also cross to the Parc des Iles for picnics or swimming in the summer and skating and skiing in the winter. The Old Port offers a lot of entertaining options, as well as an open-air skating rink, IMAX theatre and an interactive Science and Technology Centre. There are plenty of nearby cafés for when your stomach starts growling. Visit the clock tower for some wonderful views of the city and to learn about Montreal’s history in the exhibition inside.
The Montreal Tower was built as a showpiece for the 1976 Summer Olympics in futuristic Olympic Park. It holds as many as 80,000 people at the concerts and baseball games still held there. The tower reaches 175 m high and it has a wonderful view of the city, which you can reach by a funicular-like elevator. You can also visit the nearby Biodome, which contains four ecosystems, or the second-largest Botanical Gardens in the world.
The dome at St Joseph’s Oratory can be seen for miles around Montreal. It’s located on the northwest flank of Mont Royal and is a famous pilgrimage sight. More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims travel to the site each year. A beloved monk, Brother Andre, who was renowned for his healing abilities, founded the centre. Its dome is one of the largest in the world at 97 metres high, and was completed in 1967. If you make it up the 283 steps from the street to the basilica’s portico, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the city.
The collection at Montreal’s Museum of Fine Art s contains more than 30,000 objects, including Canadian art, contemporary art, European masters and Inuit art. Special exhibits and activities are offered regularly for people of all ages.
Visit the Montreal Botanical Garden near the Olympic Park and Biodome and explore more than 22,000 plant species laid out across 30 gardens. The garden began as a project for thousands of unemployed residents in 1931 and now is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. A variety of exhibits like the Insectarium and the Tree House highlight important aspects of the natural world.
Between the city’s smart layout and extremely efficient public transport system, you’ll never worry about getting where you need to go. There are also plenty of bike paths all over the city if you want to get a little exercise. Public transport consists of metro, bus and commuter rail and is run by STCUM. The metro is sparkling clean and has four different lines with dozens of stations. The bus routes are connected with the metro and both run between early morning and late night. There are also a few night buses running after regular service ends. You can also get into the suburbs by connecting to the commuter rail. Check out the bus and metro tourist passes to save some money. Taxis are available by phone or by hailing one off of the street. If you really want to rent a car, there are plenty of companies in the city, but with congested traffic and all the easy transport options, it’s not recommended.