The world is a big place, and it can be hard to pack everything you want to see in one holiday. Quite often, when Aussies are planning a long haul journey, they are generally tossing up between Europe and America. Both equally worthy, with plenty of food to try and nooks and crannies to explore; both, however, are over 14 hours away and can be pretty expensive. The time and expense are generally too much to do both, so they end up missing out on one continent in favour of the other.
What if I told you this didn’t have to be the case? What if you could bask in everything that makes North America and Canada great while still dipping your toes into some European culture and food?
Enter: Montreal. Located on the east side of Canada in the Quebec province, Montreal is the perfect culmination of French and Canadian culture. Do you want incredible croissants for breakfast and mouth-watering poutine for dinner? Done. Keen to wander the streets and hear elements of both French and English? Too easy. As Hannah Montana once said, you really can get the best of both worlds in Montreal.
To ensure you make the most of your time in Montreal, we’ve put together a guide on all the ‘musts’ for your time there.
Language: English and French are both widely spoken throughout Montreal. As you go further into Quebec (the wider province), you may find more people that don’t speak as much English.
Currency: Montreal uses the Canadian dollar.
Notes - $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes
Coins - 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, 50c, $1 and $2. Keep in mind that $1 is called a loonie and $2 a toonie, 25c a quarter, 10c a dime, 5c a nickel and 1c a penny.
ATMs: You shouldn’t have any issues finding an ATM that accepts your Cash Passport Platinum. Just be mindful as most will charge a fee of $2.50 or more.
Getting around: Montreal is well serviced by public transport, including a metro and bus network. A one-way ticket for all forms of transportation is $3.50 CAD. It’s also worth hiring a bike for a day or two from any of the bike stations scattered around the city. $5.25 will give you access to the bikes for 24 hours, just make sure you are returning the bike every 30 mins to avoid excess charges. Uber and driving is, of course, an option; however, both the drivers and the traffic are notoriously bad in Quebec and Montreal is no exception. I experienced this first hand and would recommend avoiding the roads as much as possible.
Must Eat Montreal
If your pants aren’t popping at the end of your time in Montreal, then you haven’t done it correctly. Please PLEASE make sure you try all of these when you visit.
Poutine originated in Quebec and Montreal is renowned for serving up some of the best in Canada. Whether you opt for the traditional version of chips, cheese curds and gravy, or instead veer towards another of the fantastically carbalicious concoctions, we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Croissants are done very, very well in Montreal, reminiscent of the perfect moon-shaped morsels in Paris. Look out for the specialty french patisseries to get the best croissants.
Smoked meat is a staple in Montreal. Picture thick slabs of smoked brisket piled high on rye and covered in yellow mustard.
Gnocchi is an interesting edition, considering it isn’t French or Canadian. Regardless of its origins, head to Drogheria Fine for some seriously fine gnocchi. It’s a bargain too, with a huge serving only setting you back $5.
Bagels are a cheap, delicious and very well done staple in Montreal. Perfect for a snack on the run or as a staring edition to your smoked meat sandwich. Fairmount bagels are pretty widely considered to be the best in Montreal.
Beavertail can be found throughout Canada and the USA. Don’t stress; you’re not actually chowing down on a poor lil beavers tail. Instead, imagine a beavertail-shaped pastry topped with any number of sweet delicacies. I opted for Nutella and was hit with an incredible sugar overload.
Must Do Montreal
When visiting Montreal, be sure to include these activities on your bucket list.
Eat. If you haven’t already realised eating should be your number one priority.
Hike up Mount Royal. Fun fact, Montreal is named after the small mountain in the middle of the city - Mount Royal. The hill boasts heaps of gorgeous hiking and running tracks in the summer, as well as cross country skiing in the winter. At the top, you will find epic views of Montreal city and an uber-cute chalet (another fun fact, chalet is a french word that translates to cottage in English).
Hire a bike and explore the city. Montreal has plenty of bike paths that allow you a new insight into the city. Be sure to visit the Gay Village, ride along the waterfront of the Old Port, downtown, Old Town, Plateau, Mile End and the Jewish Quarter.
Check out the street art. Montreal’s streets are adorned with some vibrant street art and murals. You won’t have to go far to be wowed by walls covered in bright pictures.