“It’s Paris without the jet lag… it’s Europe without the price tag!” Those are a few of the things I heard when I told people I was taking a trip to Montreal this summer. What I discovered on my trip was that Montreal is a completely unique city all its own and has a lot to offer without comparing it to anywhere else. The city is a dichotomy of sights and sounds. The modern skyscrapers are accompanied by old world architecture. French and English are used interchangeably within the same sentence. If you want to experience Paris without the jet lag, take the red eye and sleep on the plane. If you want Europe on the cheap, check out some budget friendly travel sites. If you want somewhere just “foreign” enough to feel like you’ve traveled abroad, but at the same time experience a North American metropolis, visit Montreal. Keep reading for my Four Reasons to Visit Montreal.
The Price Is Right
I’ll be honest; a major deciding factor in choosing Montreal as our vacation destination was the exchange rate. The Canadian dollar is currently about 25% less than the American dollar. Yes, they have high taxes, but even so, your American dollar will go a lot further in Canada than it will in Europe or the UK! We stayed in Airbnb rentals throughout our trip and the accommodations were about half the price you’d expect to pay for a comparable rental in other major cities. A two bedroom apartment in a modern building and prime location was about 80 $USD a night.
The Food Is Fantastic
Montreal has more restaurants per capita than any other city in North America. That means plenty of great places to get your grub on! The city is a melting pot of cultures and it’s reflected in the culinary options. During our week in Montreal we had some French cuisine as you’d expect, but we also some tasty Haitian food, a delicious Vietnamese dinner and some yummy Italian. Travel sites and locals alike will tell you that you have to try the bagels, smoked meat and poutine (French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds) during your stay. The opinions vary on which place is the best for each. We got our bagels from St Viateur in Mile End and we were not disappointed! With all the choices, don’t forget to stop by Tim Horton’s; it’s a Canadian staple! (And they have free WiFi, always a plus when traveling sans a data plan.)
The Art Is Everywhere
You can’t miss the art in Montreal. And by that I mean its right in front of you and all around you. Art in Montreal is not confined to the museums. While walking around the city you’re bound to encounter all kinds of vibrant street art, murals and graffiti. The city even hosts a Public Art Festival where artist from all over the world come to show off their urban art skills. Even at the museums the art manages to spill out onto the streets in the form of outdoor art instillations and statues.
The Festivals Are a BIG Deal
Montreal is SERIOUS about their festivals, so much so that they have dedicated an entire area of the city to them! The Quartier des Spectacles is an arts and entertainment district in Downtown Montreal that hosts a number of events throughout the year. Cultural festival, music festival, food festival, Montreal has them all! Chances are whenever you decide to visit there will be a festival in full swing. We went during Fierte Montreal (Montreal Pride). The parade, the after party, the Prime Minister, we saw it all! Check out Monti’s recap to see how much fun we had.
There are countless reasons to visit Montreal and there’s no way to experience all the city has to offer in just one visit. If you’ve been to the city, tell us some of your favorite things. We love good travel recommendations!