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- There are eight main car hire companies operating out of Montreal airport.
- Parking in Montreal is tricky and even if you are lucky enough to find a space it’s expensive. Check to make sure your hotel has parking available to you.
- Right turns on a red light are prohibited on the Island of Montreal, which is different from the rest of the state.
- Montreal is a veritable maze of one-way systems, make sure you plan your routes carefully or hire a sat-nav with your car.
- The minimum age to rent a car is 21 however there are surcharges that vary depending on the agency if you are under 25.
- If you are unlucky enough to be pulled over by police, do not exit your vehicle. Turn the ignition off and sit patiently with your hands visible.
- It’s illegal to use your phone while driving even if stopped at lights, fines if caught start at $115.
- Speed limits are 100km/hr on divided highways, 90km/hr on rural roads and 50km/hr in towns unless otherwise stated.
- Overtaking school buses is illegal.
- While cannabis may be legal in Canada, you and your passengers are prohibited from smoking it inside a vehicle.
- The drink drive limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood which is slightly higher than in the UK, however there is a zero limit if you are under 22.
- Up until children are 145 cm tall or 9 years old, they must be seated in a suitable car seat.
- All traffic signs in Montreal are in French so make sure you know the basics before getting behind the wheel.
- It is compulsory for drivers to move over as far as possible or stop when emergency vehicles are present.
Guide to Montreal
There isn’t really one word that you can you use to sum up Montreal. It’s a juxtaposition of old-world history melding with funky modernism, familiar English with the rapidly rolling “R’s” of French. It’s such a multifaceted city then even when you think you have seen it all there’s another surprise waiting for you just around the corner. If the over ground city isn’t enough for you then there’s a whole other underground one just waiting for you to discover it.
Things to do in Montreal
The Montreal Botanical Gardens are a great place to start your exploration of Montreal. Then greenhouses, each with a specific theme, make up this incredible 190-acre botanical garden which is home to over 22,000 species of flora. Spend the morning (or afternoon) strolling through the tranquil bonsai trees in the Japanese Garden or learn about the principles of yin and yang in the Chinese Garden, which showcases designs from the 14th to 17th century Ming Dynasty. If you’d prefer to spend more time outside, then there is a colourful rose garden and a stunning alpine garden.
If you’d like to get a feel for the Montreal of old then head quite literally for Old Montreal. A visit here is like stepping back in time, Horse-drawn carriages traverse cobblestone streets and meander past such notable sites as the Basilique Notre-Dame, the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), the Vieux-Port (Old Port). Enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking the river or one of the numerous street-performances over the summer.
Whilst in Old Montreal make sure you visit the Basilique Notre-Dame De Montreal. Constructed in 1824 in a Gothic Revival style, adorned with intricate statues and tranquil chapels this spectacular church can accommodate 3,200 worshippers. The Notre-Dame Basilica towers high over the cobblestone streets of Vieux-Montréal and is open to tourists 7 days a week (limited hours on Sunday). The audio guide is worth taking out and make sure you catch the Aura light show if you can.
The Parc Du Mont-Royale is the huge green space right at the centre of Montreal. Also known as the lungs of the city this beautiful garden covers most of Mont-Royale which is the mountain at the heart of Montreal. In winter Montréalers spending their time sledding down its slopes and skating on its frozen ponds. The rest of the year the park provides a great place to look out over the city, jog, cycle or simply walk its forested paths. An abundance of fauna and flora make this the perfect retreat for nature lovers.
If it’s a little chilly outside then head to the Biodome, comprised of four distinct ecosystems this is a one of kind attraction. You can visit the Tropical Forest, see the otters and lynx in the Laurentian Maple Forest, visit the puffins in the Labrador Coast, and see the volcanic landscape of the Sub-Antarctic Islands. There is nothing else like this in the world so in our opinion its worth the slightly higher than average entrance fee.
As we mentioned earlier Montreal is two cities in one, underneath the streets of the main city is another complete city! Almost 21 miles of interconnecting streets, metro stations, offices, shopping centres and residential complexes, you can spend an entire day or two exploring If you feel the need to escape the blistering summer sun or the icy winds of winter it’s a go-to destination for all the family.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is an ever expanding gem of a museum found in downtown Montreal. With over 43,000 works of art from antiquities up to the present day this is one of the best museums in the country. It displays paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects across four pavilions. Among the museums treasures is a wonderful collection of Inuit art and temporary exhibitions range from iconic paintings from Moorish Spain to Jean Paul Gaultier.
Eating out in Montreal
Montreal has the largest number of restaurants per capita than any other Canadian city and is second only to New York in North America, this should give you a little clue into how seriously Montreal takes its culinary scene. Whilst we highly recommend the smoked meats that city is famous for, for every French-style bistro serving up copious amounts of foie-gras and fresh seafood you’ll also find an equally delicious Thai or Syrian restaurant.
Elena is one of the newer restaurants on the scene but it should be one of the first reservations that you make in the city. This bright, cheerful Italian is one of the best restaurants in the entire city and it’s a great place to celebrate a special occasion. Famed for their wood fired pizza, the pastas are just as excellent, and you’ll want to try a few without a doubt. They also have an extensive natural wine list that will complement whichever of their delicacies you choose.
Whilst securing a reservation and Joe Beef is cause for celebration in itself once you’ve eaten there you’ll soon appreciate why it’s so popular. This restaurant is commonly looked upon as the premier dining location in the city. From the perennial dishes of lobster spaghetti and expertly grilled steaks to creations like a foie gras Double Down and Montreal smoked meat croquettes. Bookings for weeknights here have a waiting list of almost three months so as soon as you’ve booked your flights make sure you give them a call.
Stepping away from the French influences so popular in the area you’ll find Damas, a Middle Eastern inspired delight nestled right in the heart of the city. From mezzes to whatever is fresh off the grill a full spread here might set you back a penny or two but it’s worth it. When you have had your fill finish off with a cool and milky glass of arak to complete your evening perfectly.
The somewhat misleadingly named Orange Rouge is actually an Asian Fusion restaurant hidden down an unassuming lane in China Town. It has a quaint, if rather non-descript interior barring the long dark lacquered bar and bright open kitchen at one end but their amazing cocktails and prohibition vibes mean there is nothing else like it in the area. Recently raved about dishes here include chrysanthemum salad, shrimp-and-cabbage okonomiyaki and fried rice with softshell crab.
There is a reason why Montreal has recently stolen the title of the city that never sleeps, Montreal is officially the world's fifth-best party town - and it's easy to see why. With a seemingly endless selection of late-night bars and clubs catering for every taste imaginable, a good time is virtually guaranteed.
L’Axe du Mal is a cluster of venues at the nightlife crossroads of Saint-Denis Street and Mont-Royal Avenue. Combined they make the for the ultimate bar hopping experience. Each bar offers up a different experience: Quai des Brumes is a live music venue that focuses on Francophone artists playing mainly indie rock and folk. L’Escogriffe is a more intimate rock-oriented venue with local and touring bands, La Rockette is an upstairs dance club that specializes in rockabilly and pop from the 50s to the 80s. Whilst Pow Pow is a nightclub with local DJs playing electro, house and techno.
Stereo is the sort of place that you head to for an afterparty. Established 1998 and it’s situated right in the heart of Montreal. The music is unique here and they throw the best party through carefully chosen artists. The visual presentations and lighting will give you all the feels, a good night out is guaranteed here without a doubt.
Soubois is an eclectic mix of supper club come cocktail bar, this subterranean bar is named after a rainforest and has a delightful speakeasy vibe. If an elegant night out is what you are after, then this is venue for you. Frequented for the delicious seafood platters and cocktail parties in the evening, the crowds start to really grow when the tables are tucked away and music by resident and guest DJ’s starts to spin.
FAQs about Montreal car hire
How much does it cost to hire a car in Montreal?
Car hire averages at about C$36 a day.
Which car hire companies are available in Montreal airport?
You can choose from, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Discount, Dollar, Hertz, National or Thrifty.
Which car should I get for driving in Montreal?
The most popular car to hire in Montreal is the Ford Escape, it has the all-weather functionality of an SUV but is still a good budget friendly option.
How far is it from Montreal Airport to the city?
It’s 18km from the airport to the city centre and should take about 15 minutes to drive.
Anything else I should know?
In all of Canada even numbered highways run east-west and odd numbered run north-south.
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