Montreal is one of the most exciting cities to visit in North America. It’s a Canadian city but has an undeniable European vibe. Well connected by air to North America and beyond, it’s the perfect place for you to visit for a weekend break or an extended vacation. The rich mix of culture, food, and festivals is something you cannot get enough.
Whether you are a solo traveler or visiting as a family, Montreal has so much to offer. Yet, as with any trip, the cost is always a big factor. The good news is you can have fun in Montreal on almost any sized budget. Still, it’s important that you have a good idea of what expenses await you before you arrive there. Here’s a look at what to expect.
Traveling to Montreal
How much it will cost you to travel to Montreal varies greatly depending on where you are coming from and the means of transportation you use. If you are within Canada (or in the northeastern US to a large extent), then a train, bus or car could be a viable alternative. A bus or train ride to Montreal from a number of major Canadian cities will cost less than $100.
For international visitors, a flight would be the fastest and cheapest means of getting to Montreal. If you are traveling from somewhere in North America, your flight will likely cost a couple of hundred dollars.
Moving Within Montreal
Montreal is a walkable city, so if you are staying in close proximity to the city’s downtown areas, many top attractions are within walking distance. Alternatively, you could contact a bike rental service like the city-run BIXI, where a day-long ride will cost less than $4.
If you want to tour places further off from your accommodation where cycling would be too exhausting, then you should consider getting a three-day, weekend or weekly pass from the Société de transport de Montréal (STM). The STM’s bus or subway covers all of the city centers as well as the outskirts including the airport. This should take you back anywhere between $13.75 to $26.
Montreal has conventional taxis as well as leading taxi-hailing apps. Traditional taxis are expensive, with a base rate of more than $2.50 and $1.75 per kilometer thereafter. Taxi apps hailing are more convenient, but their costs can add up pretty quickly if you use them frequently.
If you want greater flexibility in your movement, then renting a car over your stay is something you want to look at. For the lowest priced car rental, you should use Globe Car here. Globe Car commits to match any competitor’s price and even take 5% off.
Broadly speaking, the further away from downtown Montreal you choose to stay, the cheaper your accommodation is likely to be. You could find budget hotels that cost just $100 a night. Of course, living further out of town will also increase your transportation costs, so it’s all about making sure you strike the right balance.
Since you are in the city for a short leisurely visit, it might be worth it to pay a little more to stay nearer the city center. The convenience of proximity will give you a chance to see more places within the limited time you have. Comfortable rooms closer to downtown Montreal start at roughly $140 a night. If you don’t mind splurging, there are high-end hotels with rooms hovering at $300 a night.
For less conventional accommodation, check out home rentals on apps like Booking.com or Airbnb, where you could get a nice place for under $100. Nevertheless, you have to be more thorough in your search if you opt for this. It’s no longer a given that home rentals will be cheaper than a hotel. Also, beware of hosts who load up other costs that eventually make staying in a home just as costly as a medium-range hotel room.
Couchsurfing.com and similar websites allow you to sleep on people’s couches or in their spare rooms for free. This is a great way to slash your accommodation expenses to near zero while having a real feel of how life is like for the average Montrealer. Get useful insider tips on places to go, what to see and how to cut your expenditure.
Still, you do get what you pay for with couch surfing. It’s no-frills and a lot comes down to your host’s discretion. In other words, you can make no demands since you are not paying for the roof over your head. You could, of course, motivate your host by pulling your weight in contributing to meals and other expenses.
You can’t visit Montreal without dabbling in the cuisine that Montreal (and Canada) is best known for.
At the minimum, poutine is a must. It will cost you anywhere from $8 to $15, depending on where you have it and what it comes with. Montreal’s bagels are to die for. Soft, sweet and surprisingly cheap, a dozen pieces will be about $10 and could last you a couple of days. A smoked meat sandwich goes for approximately $10 but will vary depending on where you buy it from.
What to See and Do
Montreal has many free things to see and do. The two best-known attractions are the Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Montreal. They are a must-see if you are visiting the city for the first time.
There are plenty of free festivals throughout the year. In the summer, you have the Montreal Completement Cirque, the Montreal Jazz Festival and the world-famous Just for Laughs. Paid shows are affordable and start from as low as $10, though those with prominent headliners can top $100.
In the winter, the Montréal en Lumière and Fête des Neiges are the most notable festivals. The former is famous for light shows, fireworks, Ferris wheel, and performances. The latter runs for four weeks featuring sports activities, an inflatable playground, costumed characters, ice sculptures, and live entertainment.
For the city’s paid attractions, it’s best to buy the MTL Passeport for $85. This grants you 48-hour access to more than 28 attractions, as well as unlimited use of public transport.
A couple’s three-day visit to Montreal will require roughly $1,000 but could be upwards of $2,500 if you are ok with big spending. Transportation is a big part of the cost, so the closer you live to Montreal, the less your trip is bound to cost.
Irrespective of your budget, a trip to Montreal is more than worth it and gives an experience that’s unlike any other North American destination.