Montreal isn’t just a haven for French culture in Canada. It’s also a haven for cultures from around the world.
One of the cool things I noticed about Montreal is how well they mix their past with their present. In one city, you’ll experience relics of the past and the modernity of a western city. From the stunning 190-year-old Notre-Dame Basilica to the serene Mount Royal, Montreal is a sightseer’s paradise.
Montreal is perfect for the North American traveler looking for a hint of Europe in the Americas.
What I learned about Montreal
In most North American cities, you’ll notice that most of the architecture is relatively modern. Montreal has tall, modern buildings, but it also has beautiful, French-style architecture from the 19th and 18th centuries in the older part of the city. You’ll be able to see this gorgeous and culturally-rich architecture in buildings like the famous Notre-Dame Basilica and Montreal City hall. It’s amazing to find European architecture like this in North America.
It’s a very cosmopolitan city; it contains a diverse range of cultures from places like Brazil and Portugal. Montreal even has its own Little Italy and Chinatown.
I’ve always loved a good view and a city full of culture. Mount Royal, which overlooks the city, is a peaceful place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of Montreal. The view is absolutely stunning; don’t forget to take a good picture here.
The Montreal Tower at the Olympic Stadium, which is the tallest inclined tower in the world, is another great place to take in a view of the city. The nearby botanical gardens and insectarium are also excellent things to check out.
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Canada, as a country, is already very diverse and accepting of cultures from around the world. Montreal happens to be the most multicultural city in Canada (along with Toronto). In one city, not only will you take in the French-Canadian culture, but you will also enjoy cultures from around the globe. Unlike the United States, it’s not a melting pot of cultures here. All the cultures stand out and are celebrated in their own beauty.
Canadians in Montreal sure know how to party. During the day, the city bustles with activities for all ages to enjoy. Once the sun sets, Montreal’s nightlife comes alive. The city offers a range of bars, clubs, and strip clubs — if that’s your thing.
At night there will be lots of partiers and drunks. You might want to be aware of this if you take your kids here. However, if you like to have a good time at night, it will be a place you will love.
Remember that marijuana is legal in Canada now, so you’ll smell and see it while you’re out in the streets. I personally don’t mind marijuana at all, but if you bring children here, you may want to be mindful of that.
In the evening, a thing to take a quick note of that a lot of shops start to close. This could cause a slight inconvenience for some people.
In Montreal, you’ll find foods from all over the globe. We have a list of some must-try dishes when you visit.
Local dishes to try
- Poutine is a delicious combination of fries, gravy, and cheese. Poutine is one of the most iconic dishes of Quebec province. I’m definitely planning to come back for the poutine again one day.
- A smoked meat sandwich is a classic sandwich among locals. It’s usually served with a pickle and fries.
- Montreal-style bagels are boiled in water and honey to give them a sweeter taste.
Quick tips to surviving in Montreal:
- You MUST try the food in Montreal. It may be a little expensive, but it’s worth the money.
- If you’re looking to try the newly legalized recreational marijuana, be ready to wait in long lines. They don’t have enough dispensaries to keep up with the demand yet.
- Try learning some French. Just knowing some simple phrases can go a long way with the locals.
My review of Montreal
Cost to stay in Montreal
Montreal may be a vacation for you, but it’s not a vacation for your wallet. Montreal and Canada, in general, are more expensive than the United States. You’ll notice that the hotels and food are more expensive. Side note: the food here is amazing and definitely worth it.
Canada is known as one of the safest countries in the world. Montreal is no different.
There may be homeless people who might make you uncomfortable. If that is the case, just know that you’re most likely still safe.
Canada has always been known to be friendly to everyone. As a cosmopolitan Canadian city, everyone, including foreigners, is treated well here.
Montreal is filled with an abundance of things to see and do during the day. The European and modern architecture mix, along with the mind-blowing skyline views, make Montreal one of my favorite North American cities.
Top seven sites to see in Montreal:
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Montreal Biodome
- Museum of Archaeology and History
- Montreal Tower
- Mount Royal
- St. Joseph Oratory
- Montreal Botanical Garden
Once you’ve taken in the jaw-dropping views and toured the city, you can now take part in the city’s bustling nightlife full of bars and clubs.
French is the primary language of Montreal and the province of Quebec. Ninety-five percent of people living in Quebec speak French as their first or second language. All the signs and menus will be in French. They might have English, but it will be in the smaller text under the French.
Despite French being the primary language of the city, you’ll find that English is also ubiquitous among the locals. Montreal is a cosmopolitan city, so being an English-speaking tourist here is no problem.
Quality of life
The quality of here is excellent overall, just like in the rest of Canada.
There is a slight problem with homeless people here in Montreal. At night once the crowds thin out a bit, you’ll begin notice to see more of them. Most of the time they won’t bother you, and you’ll be on your way.
My conclusion of Montreal
After leaving Europe, I kind of missed the feeling I got from Europe’s gorgeous cities.
Montreal is, hands down, the most Europe-like city I’ve experienced in North America. I loved it here, and I’m definitely going to plan a trip to come back someday. I wish more cities were like this in America.
I fell in love with the skyline view of Montreal from Mount Royal and the variety of delicious dishes the city has to offer. There is so much to do here, and I think this city is very underrated for American travelers.
What are you curious about the most in Montreal? Leave your comments below!