Event attendees, welcome! Prep your visit to Montréal with this quick — but impressively complete — know-before-you-go guide, packed with all the details you need to make the most of the conference and your stay in this beautiful city.
Think Canada is cold? Not in the summer! Montréal is a city of extremes: extreme fun, extreme moments and extreme weather, particularly at the height of summer — and winter. Though early and late summer evenings may bring a little chill (think: light jacket or shawl), daytimes will have you sporting your short sleeves. Winter, meanwhile, requires insulated winter jackets, waterproof, warm winter boots, as well as a hat, scarf and gloves. For more specific forecasts, check in with Environment Canada and Weather Network (useful for its 14-day forecasts).
We speak your language
The ability to speak French isn’t a necessity to feel comfortable in Montréal, but you’ll love the bonus points from locals when you attempt to speak en français. Virtually all Montréal locals are at least bilingual (if not trilingual — or beyond), so you’ll have no trouble finding service in English. Get in the mood with these fun French phrases to use in Montréal.
You might be interested to know that city has more than 120 cultural groups and over 20% of population speaks three languages or more. You’ll usually be addressed in French, but people will quickly switch to English when asked or if they detect an anglophone accent.
Dollars and cents
American dollars are accepted at some stores, but you’ll need Canadian dollars for most business transactions. You’ll find ATMs on pretty much every block. Bills start at $5 (the $1 coin with the Loon imprinted on its golden surface is called a Loonie, while the $2 coin is known by its nickname the Twoonie), and each denomination comes in a different colour of the rainbow. Credit cards — such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express — are widely accepted.
There are numerous currency exchange offices for visitors to exchange money into Canadian currency. Most exchange offices are open during regular business hours (9 am to 6 pm) and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
Taxes in Montréal are calculated as follows: a 5% Federal Goods & Services tax and a 9.975% Provincial Goods & Services tax. Only basic groceries (bread, dairy, fruit, vegetables and the like) are not taxed. Taxes paid by visitors are not reimbursable.
Passports and visas
The Government of Canada requires everyone to have a passport to enter Canada. Some international travellers may also require the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) — this regulation excludes US citizens and travellers with a valid visa. The eTA is electronically linked to your passport and is valid for 5 years or until your passport expires. Applying for an eTA is a simple and inexpensive online process ($7) that will take just a few minutes. Most eTA-eligible applicants will get their authorization within minutes of submitting the on-line form.
Fore more info about entry requirements to Canada, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Your cell phone will work in Canada, however, to avoid potentially expensive roaming charges, we strongly recommended that you turn off your data before landing on Canadian soil. Montréal has hundreds of free Wi-Fi connections in the city, not to mention hotels, the convention centre, along with restaurants and cafés, so there’s no reason for visitors to incur additional charges with their cell phone carrier.
What time is it?
Montréal switches to Eastern Daylight Time (summer time zone) on the second Sunday of March and returns to Eastern Standard Time (winter time zone) on the first Sunday of November. The time difference between Montréal time and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is less than 5 hours in the winter.
The electric current is 110V and the plugs are the same as what is found in the US. If you come from a country that uses 220V electricity, you will need an adaptor (for computers, cell phones, tablets / iPads, cameras etc.) or a converter (to transform voltage- for your hairdryer, electric shavers etc.)
Tips about tips
Service is not included in Canadian restaurants, so it’s customary to add a minimum of 15% tip to the total before taxes. For larger groups (from 6 people or more, some restaurants will automatically add the 15% service to the bill.
Taxi drivers, hairdressers, massage therapists and other service providers are also normally tipped 15%.
For bellhops, porters, doormen and the like, between $1 and $2 is considered standard. Housekeeping standards are between $1 and $2 per day. Many people simply round off the amount; for example, if you’re staying 4 nights, a $10 gratuity would be considered very nice, but not excessive.
Got something to mail?
For regular mail or postcards (30 grams and less), stamps cost $1.23 for delivery within Canada, $1.50 to the US and $3.15 for international destinations. For more details visit www.canadapost.ca.
Consult your hotel concierge to find the closest Canada Post counter to you. Some hotels will sell stamps directly and mail missives for their guests. You might also find stamps at convenient stores.
Whether from the airport or within the city, Montréal is an eminently easy city to visit. Find our detailed guide to transport to and from the airport here.
Taxis are readily available outside the airport and hotels. A trip from the airport to downtown Montréal (or vice versa) will cost you a flat rate of $48.40 (between 5 am and 11 pm) or $55.65 (between 11 pm and 5 am). It’s also easy to flag one down on the street, especially in front of a hotel.
At the airport, Uber users can choose to be picked up from either Door 20 on the arrivals level or Door 7 on the departures level.
BY METRO AND BUS
Montréal is a very walkable and safe city. However, if you require to travel further distances, the public transportation system is fast and convenient. The metro (underground subway) typically operates between 5:30 am and 1 am. The bus route is also extensive. There is an express bus that services the airport (747 Express Bus), for which a one-way fare card — valid for 24 hours — costs $11.
Montrealers are avid cyclists, and proud of it. The city has 780 kilometres of bike paths criss-crossing its territory, including natural parks and suburbs.
The BIXI public bike sharing system can be a great way to get around the city. The cost for a one-way ride is $1 + 15₵ per minute of usage. A $100 deposit is required. You must download the BIXI app to pay for your usage. Be sure to abide all traffic signs to avoid any violations which can result in a fine.
For more information visit their website at www.bixi.com.
Montréal is a very walkable city and you will see many people out on the streets. It is safe and enjoyable both in the downtown core and in Old Montréal and the Old Port area. Crossing the street on a red light or in the middle of a block can result in a jaywalking fine.
Living it up
SHOPPING WITHOUT DROPPING
Most shops are open Monday to Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday to Friday from 10 am to 9 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. They are usually closed on legal holidays — and on January 2 in the majority of cases — but some establishments (supermarkets, liquor stores and the like) may still be open.
For more information, look here.
DINING IN STYLE
Montréal has the highest concentration of eateries on the continent with 92 restaurants per square kilometre, in touristic neighbourhoods and representing various types of cuisine inspired by 120 countries and regions. There is something for every palate and budget.
Note that many restaurants are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so do check before you go.
Browse the myriad mouthwatering dining options here.
PAINTING THE TOWN
There’s never a shortage of activities and events taking place in Montréal, of that you can be sure. To find out what’s happening while you’re in town, the best source is the Tourisme Montréal calendar of events.
May your Montréal stay be unforgettable!