Whether you plan to be in Montréal for a day, weekend or longer, be sure to pack lightly. By the time you reluctantly depart, you will have purchased, seen and eaten far more than you intended.
The best way to begin minimizing expenses is by consulting Priceline on the web for deals and bargains on accommodations. As an example, there's Le Centre Sheraton on René-Lévesque Boulevard at $100 per night for a glamourous, four-star hotel, complete with inviting furniture, lavish bathroom and several ways to access the world you left behind, all from your king-sized bed
It's wise to become acquainted with the city - pick up a map, ask the concierge for highlights and must-sees, follow a local who will lead you to Rue St. Catharine, the prominent shopping strip. There, you can find everything consumer from Apple to Louis Vuitton and in-between.
Shopping all day can be exhausting and time-consuming, but there is a solution: Bike Share. The pay-as-you-go system allows you to borrow a bike without the hassle of worrying about theft and the option to take an alternate mode of transportation should the weather prove unfit for cycling. Popular in the Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec regions, fares remain under $10 for full-day trips.
Plenty of pubs and eateries are within districts; try Sir Winston Churchill Pub or the Irish Embassy Pub & Grill. If you have an appetite for something more visually stimulating, continue towards the waterfront to discover picturesque patios, such as Le Papillon.
The Notre Dame Basilica is a good place to start - the Sound and Light Show uses theatrics and special effects to trace the historical significance of the cathedral, Montréal and its founders. In under an hour, the audience can appreciate Montreal's origins and the beautiful décor afterwards. Take a drive through Old Montreal for its cultural value and to make connections from the show.
Another day or evening activity is La Ronde, Eastern Canada's largest amusement park. Different events and entertainment are scheduled throughout the summer and fall, usually culminating with memorable fireworks. However, if you prefer to keep your feet planted, there's always the Bell Centre, the Biodome, Olympic Park and Mont Royal to name a few.
During the hockey season, the Bell Centre is alive with Montréal Canadiens fans. Although they haven't claimed the Stanley Cup since 1993, that gives enthusiasts another reason to cheer louder at home games. During the off-season, musical, comedic and dramatic performances pack a full house.
Animals, reptiles, amphibians and insects roam the jungle, navigate the water and soar through the treetops inside the Biodôme. If you're patient, you may spot the elusive sloth, but chances are that you'll learn the names of each plant species first. The penguins put on a good show and aren't shy about showing off their happy feet for the tour finale.
The Biodome sits on the same property where the 1976 summer Olympics were held. If you dare ride the funiculaire (cable car) to the highest peak of the Olympic Tower, you'll see why the financial debt was only paid off 30 years later; chief architect Roger Tallibert had a vision far bigger than the city's bank account.
If hiking or exploring is on your agenda, Mont Royal will take you to new heights. The natural heritage site is protected for its luscious landscape and breathtaking beauty. Don't forget to check their calendar of activities before planning an outdoor adventure.
A few final tips
Culture: If you hope to practice or pick up un peu de francais, initiate the conversation in your preferred tongue. Speaking English is an automatic reaction, but most will gladly revert to French. If you wish to participate in an authentic Montreal experience, time your trip with any of the annual festivals throughout the year.
Travelling: Local transit is also renowned for its direct, frequent and speedy service. Check VIA Rail for promotional deals as well.
Tanya Miller is a native of Markham, ON, but moved to Ottawa to pursue her passion for writing (and travel) in the journalism program at Carleton University. She is very active in the community and uses her interests in science, the arts, sports and politics to her advantage when reporting on an array of topics. Such pieces have been featured in One80 Youth Newspaper, VoX, The Charlatan and Centretown News.
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