With its cobblestone streets, famously beautiful balconies, and a plethora of iconic architecture, there’s plenty of exploration to be done in Montréal. Whether you’re hoping to take in the interlocking concrete wonder of Habitat 67 at the city’s waterfront, the breathtaking Oratory of St. Joseph’s (or any of Montréal’s stunning churches and synagogues; there’s a reason that the city is known as “la ville aux cent clochers,” or “the city of a hundred bell towers”), or simply seek out the perfect café for enjoying a glass of French wine on a sunlit patio, you’ll need to have a clear plan for getting around and making the most of your day.
There are plenty of ways to travel around the city, and below we’ve highlighted some options to help you get to where you’re going. Allons-y!
The most obvious option, when it comes to Montréal, also happens to be the very best. Simply put, Montréal has so much beauty on offer that it would be a shame to miss some of those picturesque views from the subway or backseat of a taxi. And certain streets in Montréal are simply begging to be walked. Consider scenic Saint-Laurent for a stroll after dusk; even if the street isn’t exactly the shortest route to your destination, it’s worth a small detour to walk under all those strings of white lights. The cobblestone streets of Rue Saint-Paul in Old Montréal feel distinctly Parisian, as do the fountain and flowers of pedestrian walkway Rue Prince-Arthur. And if it’s a really hot evening and an urban respite is what you seek, an amble through verdant, lamplit Parc La Fontaine will do the trick.
Thanks to its hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes, Montréal is a fantastic city for cycling enthusiasts. In fact, according to the Copenhagen Index, Montréal ranks as one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America. It also yields some truly scenic routes, like the path along the Lachine Canal (a fantastic way to get to the Old Port) and the challenging, steep gravel path of the city’s beloved Mount Royal. For visitors, there’s no need to worry about bringing a bike; BIXI offers a convenient and reasonably-priced bike-sharing service. And there’s more good news: as of May 26th, BIXI bike rentals are free on Sundays!
Montréal’s underground rapid-transit system has been in operation since 1966. With a design inspired by the Paris Metro and North America’s second-highest ridership per capita after New York City, this subway system is a sure-fire, fast way to arrive at your destination without the headaches of street level traffic. Like so many things in Montréal, there’s a distinctly retro-meets-modernity, European vibe to the subway cars and beautifully designed stations. Each station was designed by a different architect and over 50 stations feature public works of art, like sculpture, murals, and stained glass. Of particular note is the original Hector Guimard entrance at Square-Victoria-OACI station, on permanent loan from the Paris Metro. It is the only Guimard entrance in the world outside of Paris.
The Montréal Metro prices are also very reasonably priced compared to, say, Toronto; an Unlimited Weekend pass, for instance, costs just $13.75.
As with any metropolitan city, there are plenty of taxi companies to get you where you need to go. According to Yelp, Atlas Taxi boasts the highest ratings, followed closely by Taxi Champlain. Both provide airport service, and Champlain is proud to offer an eco-friendly fleet. Base fares start at $3.45 and $3.50 respectively. When it comes to ride-sharing options, Lyft has yet to establish itself in the city, though Uber is a reliable (and very affordable) option. And for those with little to no knowledge of the French language, don’t be hesitant; Montréal is an incredibly bilingual city, and most cab and Uber drivers are happy to accommodate English directions and conversation.
RÉSO, or the Underground City, is a network of tunnels and shops in the city’s downtown core that connects many hotels, office towers, university buildings, residential and commercial complexes, and more. Designed to look like a mall, the RÉSO can be deceiving in that visitors can easily forget that they are actually below the city streets. As in many Canadian cities, an underground network is key for avoiding the harsh winter weather when running errands or walking to and from metro stations, though for summer visitors, an air-conditioned reprieve from the sun can be just as welcome.
For those looking to go full tourist, there are plenty of city tours on offer and many are tailored to individual interests. Consider taking a walking Food Tour of Old Montréal or an Old Red Light District Ghost Walk to learn more about the city’s haunted theatres, hotels, and brothels. And why not take advantage of the fact that Montréal is an island city? There are several options to see the sights by water, like a Guided Sightseeing Cruise that offers spectacular views of the city skyline from the sparkling St. Lawrence River.