Use the best transportation there is: your feet. Montréal is a wonderful city for walking. You can stroll from one eclectic neighborhood to the next, shopping, dining, and taking in all the beautiful architecture. Many districts offer pedestrian-only areas, such as Rue Prince-Arthur, east of Sainte-Laurent and Chinatown. It is delightful to walk through Downtown and Old Montréal and by Le Vieux-Port (the Old Port) or by the beautiful Victorian mansions which house McGill University’s offices and libraries.
The Village and Plateau areas feature incredible outdoor staircases, lovingly tended and lush gardens, and shop after shop. For those who want a challenge, you can climb Mont-Royal via Rue Peel. Renovated staircases lead to the Chalet and its lovely views of the city. There is no better way to experience the diversity and beauty of this wonderful city than to walk through it.
That may not sound as appealing when the temperature dips to -6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees F), so Montréal offers a wide array of options for getting around the city.
Trains and Buses
The city’s Société de transport de Montréal (STM) maintains an efficient, safe, and clean metro transit system. The system is interrelated and fares are the same: for instance, one trip costs $2.75, including transfer, on bus or train. You may ride the bus and transfer to the train or vice versa on the same ticket (if you are going from subway to bus, make sure to grab a transfer stub from the train station before you go). If you buy a package of 6 rides, you get a bit of a discount and it is only $12. There are special packages for tourists: you may travel as much as you want on train or bus for one day for $9 or three days for $17. If you plan on doing lots of sightseeing throughout the city, this is a great deal. You may get these at metro stations in the peak tourist season of summer, and at Peel, Bonaventure, and Berri-UQAM stations the rest of the year. For longer stays, you may want to purchase a weekly pass for $19.25 or a monthly pass for $66.25 – student discounts for those at Montréal institutions are available.
A convenient trip-planner is available at the STM website. It is called Tous Azimuts, which allows you to plan routes. Tous Azimuts will also give you alternatives for bus, train, and taxi options so you can find the most efficient route. In the city, you can find free system maps at metro station ticket booths. The grid system is easy enough to get the hang of: there are green, orange, yellow, and blue lines. Look at your destination on the color-coded maps and take the appropriate train.
Consult the STM website to find information on fares, download a system map, plan your routes, and even find discounts on popular family attractions in Montréal available to those who use STM. These include the LaRonde amusement park, Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal, Opéra de Montréal, Imax, Centre des sciences de Montréal, and much more.
Traveling from the Downtown area is easy by taxi. There are multiple taxi stands (do not hail a taxi if you are within sight of a stand). These are metered, but a trip between Downtown and the airport is a flat fee of $38. Typical rates for other rides are: $3.30 for an initial pickup, $1.60 for every kilometer, and $0.60 for every minute spent waiting in traffic. Major taxi companies in the area include:
Taxi Diamond: 514.273.6331
Taxi Co-Op: 514.725.9885
Taxi Hochelaga: 514.256.9033
Taxi Champlain: 514.273.2435
Visitors from the United States often cross the border in their own vehicles, and many other guests rent cars in Montréal. Driving rules in Canada, and in the Quebec province, may be a bit different. For instance, in Montréal, you are permitted to turn on right on red where signs permit but it is forbidden on the island of Montréal. Driving through Downtown and other dense areas during peak traffic times is likely to result in some wait time, and during this time, street parking is hard to find. Downtown parking costs about $3 per hour in metered spots or $25 a day in parking structures. If you plan on spending the day shopping, it is less expensive to use a parking garage. Meters are in use every day until 9:00pm, even on federal or province holidays.
Drivers from warmer areas may be unprepared for Montréal winter driving. Snowstorms can dump inches of snow onto the roads and great reduce visibility. You will see plows clearing snow during these times – this is of special interest if you park your car on the street. There will be orange signs that indicate that your car may be towed after a certain hour if plows cannot remove snow. Listen for horn sirens and announcements that you need to remove your car. This is another reason why parking garages are a great option in winter!
Watch out for one-way streets, which are particularly plentiful Downtown. These streets are marked with directional arrows and colored green. Follow the arrows. Left turns in these areas are often forbidden. If you see a green flashing light, it means that left turns are given priority. This is very similar to American traffic lights which will use a green left-pointing arrow to indicate left-turning priority. Another issue that may be troublesome for foreign drivers: the signs, especially those on freeways and expressways, are written in French. Be sure to plot your route first and become familiar with basic words, such as right (droit), left (gauche), east (est), west (oust), north (nord), and south (sud).
To get the most out of your trip to Montréal, take advantage of the many available resources. The Montréal Tourism Board has a helpful site that will guide you through many of the city’s best attractions, provide essential travel information, and offers package deals. With information on where to go, what to see, and where to stay, you will be able to plan a dream vacation. There are also great tips for smooth traveling, as well as a section on great deals to be had in the city.
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