Know before you go: a Montréal guide for conference attendees
So, you’re coming to Montréal for a meeting or convention? We know you’ll love your visit to the city – 97 per cent of business and leisure travellers who’ve visited Montréal would recommend the city to their colleagues and friends, and we’ve just made space on our mantelpiece for awards from the UIA as leading event city in the Americas and the ICCA as the top city in North America for international association meetings in 2018.
To keep you prepared, here’s a handy list of helpful resources that will have you looking local from the moment you’ve stepped off the plane, train or automobile.
BEFORE YOU ARRIVE
- Weather: Montréal lives life to the utmost during four distinct seasons – and while the majority of the year is pleasant, there are some extreme moments at the height of both summer and winter. Based on when you’re visiting, make sure to pack what you’ll need for the weather – read more about Montréal’s climate here.
- Language: French isn’t a necessity to feel comfortable in Montréal, but you’ll love the bonus points from locals when you attempt a little bit of it. We’ve made a handy guide to help you out, but worry not – virtually all Montréal locals are at least bilingual and you’ll have no trouble finding service in English.
- Currency: American dollars are accepted at a few places around town, but you’ll need Canadian dollars for the majority of business transactions. Bills start at $5.00 (the $1.00 coin with the Loon imprinted on its golden surface is called a Loonie, while the $2.00 coin is known by its nickname the Twoonie), and each denomination comes in a different colour of the rainbow.
- Passports and visas: According to the rules, everyone needs a passport to enter Canada, and it’s well worth having one for all your travel. Not everyone needs a visa to enter, so it’s advisable to check in advance if you require one before your travel dates – some nationals may require the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), but it’s a quick and inexpensive online process.
- Mobile phones: Nobody likes to come home to a hefty roaming bill, so double check with your provider for charges beforehand. Getting on the internet is easy – here’s a look at where to find wifi when visiting Montréal.
- Tax rebates: There’s certain expenses related to conventions that may be eligible for rebates on federal and provincial sales tax. Bonus!
- Customs for exhibitors: When shipping exhibition materials across the border, we’d suggest connecting with a customs broker to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed for smooth sailing. And don’t worry – it’s a snap.
Choosing the right hotel
While events often link attendees with preferred rates at selected hotels, Montréal’s hotel scene offers a wealth of world-class choices and unforgettably unique accommodations in which to rest your head. Tourisme Montréal offers a full list for your perusal with options to suit any taste.
Get to know Montréal’s iconic convention centre
The Palais des congrès de Montréal isn’t just one of Montréal’s most iconic buildings – according to 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die, it’s one of the world’s unmissable pieces of architecture. And trust us, from top to bottom this building is dressed to impress.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
Things to do around the convention centre
The Palais de congrès location is at the heart of Montréal, and right at the crossroads between the modern high rises of downtown and Old Montréal’s classic beauty. There’s loads to see and do all within a few blocks.
Nearby eats and drinks close to the convention centre
Montréal’s culinary scene is unrivalled in North America, and fine eats await at some of the continent’s finest restaurants in close proximity to the convention centre. Need to satisfy a group? We’ve got you covered there too.
Shopping and culture close at hand
All within 10-minutes’ walk from the Palais de congrès, there’s a wealth of culture to explore and shopping to make the folks back home envious (although we’re sure you’ll also be bringing some treats back with you too).
AFTERWARDS & DOWNTIME
If you ask us, there’s no better way to experience a host city than arriving a few days early or staying a few days late. Montréal’s character and flair is unlike anywhere else with some unforgettable local “greatest hits” – no trip is complete without making the rounds to these ten must-dos for any first-time visitor. And once your wanderings have built up an appetite, Montréal’s world-famous food culture is ready to please.
A city of neighbourhoods
Among the list of the hippest neighbourhoods of the world, you’ll find your Williamsburgs and Kreuzbergs alongside Montréal’s Mile End, Gay Village and Plateau. Now’s your chance to get exploring quartier by quartier and see just what keeps Montrealers so happy to live here. Prefer to see things from the comfort of two wheels? You’ll love the freedom of Montréal’s bike-sharing program BIXI. Or try out one of the walks ranging from one to three hours’ duration that we’ve compiled (you can also head underground in inclement weather) and get a look at Montréal from angles that not every visitor sees.
We can tell you’re excited – and so are we. Don’t hesitate to send us any further questions at @MeetMontreal and let us be the first to wish you a warm bienvenue à Montréal!
Read this next: Refresh and reward with an incentive retreat to Montréal